Once in a while I come across music that is so beautiful (in my subjective opinion) that I just want to cry when I hear it. The Finnish band Wintersun does that for me.
I don’t know when I consciously realised that as much as half of the music I love the most is Finnish. My music collection is stocked up with bands like Korpiklaani, Finntroll, Amorphis, Turisas, and Norther. I couldn’t really account for what it is about their music and culture and languages that so intrigues me. I’ve seen a couple of Finnish bands perform live here in Melbourne, Australia, namely Ensiferum and Apocalyptica. I get the impression that a number of the bands are connected to each other. Here’s hoping Wintersun make their way here at some point in the not too distant future. Otherwise one of these days I’m going to have to take a metal fan pilgrimage to Europe. From what one of my husband’s German-born metal-loving co-workers tell me, let alone what I’ve managed to glean from watching YouTube videos with a profound sense of jealousy (!), Wacken sounds like an amazing metal festival. (Then again, I was able to nearly be showered in German metalhead vomit thanks to a very drunk fan watching the Rammstein set at Australia’s Big Day Out festival in 2011, so we do get to enjoy some of the sights and guttural sounds of the European metal scene over here.)
I love the folk metal genre in general, too, and it’s not just the Finnish bands. I saw Swiss band Eluveitie perform in Melbourne a couple of years ago and they were just brilliant. Easily one of the best gigs I’ve ever seen (a room full of bearded heavy metal fans moshing to bagpipes and low whistle has to be seen to be believed – it’s glorious). I was first drawn into folk metal via accidentally stumbling across Scottish pirate band Alestorm on a community radio station as I flipped through the channels. Since then, it was a short leap from Pirate music to Viking music. I fell in love from the first moment I heard a melodic scream about Valhalla (thank you, Swedish metallers Amon Amarth). On a completely related note, I named one of my cats Odin.
I find it interesting that I was always drawn to Celtic and Norse mythology and music inspired by those cultures. After a few years of my being helplessly drawn in that direction, my genealogy-researching history-geek sister uncovered a few direct lines of ancestry through our family to the Vikings and the Normans – we have evidence for Norwegian and possibly Swedish Viking heritage, and there’s also a thread in our heritage that appears to trace back to Finland, many centuries ago. It’s kind of cool to me to realise that countless generations ago some of my direct ancestors came from a part of the world that had always held a hitherto unexplained fascination for me. I feel like that validates my interest in learning more about a part of the world that’s about as far away from Australia as I can imagine. So, in the meantime, I’ll keep listening (and picking up random words in other languages as I attempt to learn the lyrics to the non-English songs).