A new year – and a new decade – has just begun, but there's already a big bunch of interesting Finnish albums to look forward to. We take a look at what's coming out in the first quarter of 2020, regarding all things pop, rock, indie, electronic, metal, jazz and folk!
Is the list missing an important album? Let us know and we’ll add it!
Apocalyptica: Cell-0 (Silver Lining Music, January 10)
On their 9th studio album Cell-0, 2018's Finnish Music Export Award winners Apocalyptica take an even deeper dive into the universe of instrumental music than before. This time, there are no guest vocalist to be found, and instead the ambitious quartet returns to their cello roots, now with richer layers of knowledge and experience. On Cell-0 Apocalyptica worked with renowned producer and engineer Andrew Scheps, who has worked with the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Lana Del Rey, Metallica and Black Sabbath among others.
Pintandwefall: Your Stories Baby (Soliti Records, January 17)
The masked indie pop quartet Pintandwefall (including Ringa Manner, alias The Hearing, whom we recently covered in an article) has been sharing their lively stage presence both in the Finnish and European music scene for the last thirteen years. Their 6th album was chosen as record of the week by the most remarkable Finnish indie radio channel Radio Helsinki on its release week. Expect vocal harmonies, soothing pop melodies, catchy hooks and driving rhythms!
Mikko Pettinen Why Not: Two Suites for the Change (Eclipse Music, January 17)
Mikko Pettinen (known from groups like UMO and Higher Ground Vocals) formed his latest group Why Not in the fall of 2018 with multi-instrumentalist Joakim Berghäll, bassist Vesa Ojaniemi and drummer Tuomas Timonen. Why Not plays Pettinen’s compositions where acoustic jazz meets world music, electronic tones, effects, loops and free improvisation. The compositions, which Pettinen states are "really honest and straight from the heart", are influenced by the state of the world: climate change, dystopia and nature. On the record, Pettinen wants to challenge both the listener and the band's musicians with some surprising time signatures. The album's first single Sea In Sahara was released in September 2019.
Marko Hietala: Pyre of the Black Heart (Nuclear Blast, January 24)
After starting his influential career a few decades ago, many rock fans have been longing for Marko Hietala’s solo studio album. However, due to the commitments to his day job with metal giants Nightwish, Hietala’s solo plans had to be pushed aside––until now. While Nightwish is taking a rest, it’s time to hear Hietala’s unique kind of playing, composing, singing and writing on a solo record. The Finnish-sung version of "Pyre of the Black Heart" was released already in 2019 as "Mustan sydämen rovio" (only in Finland) – which you can also get in the special 2cd edition of the international release!
ps. the spring will also see the forgotten 1990's albums by Hietala’s original band Tarot re-issued on vinyl and cd!
Louie Blue: Notes (Sony Music Entertainment & Booa Music, January 24)
Alec Moborg, better known as Turku-based singer and songwriter Louie Blue, is a soulful newcomer (born in 2002) still in his teens. Louie Blue’s music is a versatile mixture of genres – not very unlike international names such as Kaytranada or Kindness – where deep house meets r&b and lo-fi hip-hop beats meet indie pop. To follow his 2019 singles Confused, Blue Genes, Petals and Like That!, Louie Blue started 2020 by dropping a surprise debut album (or ep, who knows these days!) Notes.
E-musikgruppe Lux Ohr: Non Plus Ultra (Svart Records, January 31)
Through cosmic vortexes and comet zones the synthetic neo-kraut vessel E-Musikgruppe Lux Ohr has returned from its nearly four-year mission. "Non Plus Ultra" is an eight-track cosmic voyage, where the space cadets Pertti Grönholm, Kimi Kärki and Ismo Virta pilot their fellow travelers beyond space and time. The trio's music revives sounds and visions of the golden era of 1970's German electronic and experimental rock, inspired by Berlin school, ambient, space music and progressive rock.
PK Keränen: Serobi Songs (Playground, January 31)
PK Keränen, singer, guitarist, songwriter and main vocalist in 22-Pistepirkko, is to release his solo debut in late January. Keränen provided a taste from the upcoming record, as he released his debut single Let Go in October 2019. The upcoming album's songs have been described as gritty stomp blues to piano ballads to dark and deep pop, recalling the style and sound of his main band 22-Pistepirkko. Many of the tracks will also be featured on the Norwegian–Danish tv drama Mellom Oss (Between Us), including Let Go which was chosen as the theme song.
Emmi Kujanpää: Nani (Nordic Notes, January 31)
"Nani" is Emmi Kujanpää’s first solo record released by the Nordic Notes label, as a part of Sibelius Academy’s release series. The subject matters touch some intense themes, such as #metoo and violence. Echoes of these severe topics can be heard especially in Kujanpää’s vocals, which blends Finno-Ugric and Bulgarian folk singing traditions: in the ornaments, keens, screams and dissonances, yet along with beauty. The album also features 11 and 40 string kanteles, Jewelry percussions as well as the Le Mystère des Voix Bulgares Vocal Academy choir from Bulgaria. While many of the tracks are performed as a cappella, musicians include Eero Grundström (keys, vocals), Jarkko Niemelä (trumpet, vocals) and Sauli Heikkilä (vocals).
Lordi: Killection (AFM, January 31)
In spite of the fact that Lordi was formed in 1992 and released their first full-length in 2002, their new album "Killection" toys around with the idea of a parallel universe where Lordi would have been around much longer. "Killection" is a fictional greatest-hits compilation containing songs that Lordi “would have written between the early 1970's through the mid-90's”. In addition to the fictional “hits from the past”, the album contains one fictional "new song" from 2019. Because of course it does!
Joonas Widenius Trio: New Nordik Sagas (Rockadillo Records, January 31)
"New Nordik Sagas", the new album by Joonas Widenius Trio is a journey into a new Scandinavian musical landscape inspired by nature, folk tales and mythology, where new Europe meets the and old northern Europe meets the southern. Widenius' northern roots and exceptional mastery of the flamenco guitar techniques are unequaled in his style, and the resulting music is something entirely new.
NIEMI: Spiraalit / Spirals (Bafe's Factory, February 7)
NIEMI: Spiraalit / Spirals (Bafe's Factory, February 7)
NIEMI, the new project by singer-songwriter Inka Niemi is a mystical combination of lullabies and ambient music born from the healing power of nature. Niemi immersed herself in the core of traditional lullabies and wrote an album of folk songs inspired by the folklore of the modern era, under the artistic production of Venla Ilona Blom (Tuuletar). On NIEMI's music, soft vocals, strong melodies, chimes of kantele, embracing soundscapes and lyrics seizing wildlife imagery lead the listener to a place where stress, anxiety and sorrows don't extend. NIEMI's live shows are accompanied by an orchestra, laden with electronic effects by Janne Storm, creating magical atmospheres.
Lost Society: No Absolution (Lost Society, February 21)
Beloved metal foursome Lost Society, are back after a four-year break, with a new album entitled "No Absolution", their fourth and also the first on their own label. Originally known for their old-school thrash, Lost Society has been moving towards a more versatile direction: the three singles from the upcoming full-length, No Absolution (already gaining over a million streams on Spotify), Deliver Me and Into Eternity – with traces of metalcore and even a bit of gigantic arena rock.
Timo Lassy: Big Brass (Live at Savoy Theatre Helsinki) (Diamond T, February 21)
In 2018, Timo Lassy, one of Finland's most famous saxophonists, joined forces with the renowned Ricky-Tick Big Band's brass section for the first time. The special concert, performed with fourteen of Finland's top jazz musicians, will now be released as a live album. The setlist of the concert, adapted by conductor Valtteri Laurell Pöyhönen for a rare "big brass" line-up, consisted of songs from Lassy's album "Moves" and a selection of his older compositions that have already become classics.
Mokoma: Ihmissokkelo (Sakara, February 21)
The eleventh album from thrash metal giants Mokoma is promised to take the band into new directions. The title "Ihmissokkelo" translates to "human maze" – and this is how Mokoma frontman Marko Annala describes the writing process: "This time I let myself sink into the depths and let the subconscious speak". The band will tour across Finland through March-April and hopefully will head abroad after that!
Ville Herrala: Pu (We Jazz, February 21)
PU is described as "the boundary-breaking solo debut of bass player Ville Herrala". Herrala utilises only the double bass but approaches the instrument from various different perspectives. The end result is an inspired set of 14 miniatures, each pushing the concept forward in a highly personal way. The first single Pu: 12 presents a rhythmic approach with echoes of from the world of minimal classical music and electronic music. Ville Herrala, known from top ensembles such as Jukka Perko Jazztet, U-Street All Stars, Jukka Eskola Orquesta Bossa and UMO Helsinki Jazz Orchestra, is one of the most highly-regarded bass players in Finnish jazz.
Jaakko Laitinen & Väärä Raha: Börek (Playground, February 28)
On Jaakko Laitinen & Väärä Raha’s upcoming record "Börek", the Lapland-Balkan superstars continue their dive into the mystery of human existence. We are promised songs about "vitamins, politics, leaving and returning, as well as about life and its ending", with Laitinen's trademark humoristic yet poetic style.
Karina: 2 (Playground, February 28)
Folk pop duo Karina, consisting of Karin Mäkiranta and Helmi Tikkanen is regarded as one of the most intriguing indie acts in Finland. Their delicate and intimate sound combines elements from Sufjan Stevens inspired indie folk to 4AD-esque melancholic dream pop. Nominated for the 2019 Hyundai Nordic Music Prize, their self-produced debut "Karina" was released in 2018 to widespread critical acclaim from the Finnish media and followed by more singles and shows in Norway, Estonia and UK, as well as support slots for the group Beirut in Luxembourg and Germany. The duo's much awaited second album was preceded with the single En oo tän enempää last year.
Blind Channel: Violent Pop (Ranka Kustannus, March 6)
Blind Channel: Violent Pop (Ranka Kustannus, March 6)
Hard rockers Blind Channel will be releasing their anticipated 3rd album "Violent Pop" on March 6th via Ranka Kustannus / Out Of Line Music. The long-awaited record includes eleven tracks of "pure violent pop anthems" as the band calls their music, adding that it is "definitely the sickest Blind Channel record ever made". Guests on the full-length include EDM producer Alex Mattson and Amaranthe's GG6.
Frigg: Frixx (Friggmusic, March 12)
The leading act of the Nordic fiddle scene, Frigg draws influence from fusing Nordic and bluegrass flavors to create their own signature: Nordgrass. The upcoming album Frixx marks a journey of two decades together. Once again, the arrangements are built around a quartet of fiddle players: Tommi Asplund, Tero Hyväluoma, Alina Järvelä and Esko Järvelä. The album was already released in the UK on January 31––during the band's showcase trip to Celtic Connections festival––but the rest of the world still has to wait to hear the parade of "contrasting moods, dam-bursting energy and long, sublime moments of Scandinavian melancholy" until March 12.
Nightwish: HUMAN. : II: NATURE. (Nuclear Blast, April 10)
One of the most successful Finnish bands of all time, metal giants Nightwish release their ninth studio offering, “HUMAN. : II: NATURE.” on April 10. The upcoming album consists of two parts, including nine tracks and an instrumental set of eight sections. “HUMAN. : II: NATURE.” was recorded in scenic landscapes in Röskö, just like the previous Nightwish release "Endless Forms Most Beautiful" (2015). Additional recordings were made at Finnvox Studios, Petrax and Troy Donockley's home studio in Yorkshire. It was mixed by Mikko Karmila with Tuomas Holopainen and Tero Kinnunen and mastered by Mika Jussilla.
Hexvessel: Kindred (Svart Records, April 17)
Psychedelic forest folk-rockers Hexvessel will release their new nature-mystic opus "Kindred" via Svart Records on the 17th of April 2020. This is their fifth album altogether and the follow up to last year's "All Tree". Taking a darker and more esoteric path, "Kindred" sees Hexvessel re-forge their eclectic melting cauldron or “vessel” of sound into a potent “hex” of spell-binding songcraft.
DANTCHEV:DOMAIN: Say It (Glomama Music, release date TBA)
Dantchev:Domain portrays powerful cinematic melodies and tight Bulgarian rhythms, combined with narratives experienced throughout the journey of life. The band is helmed by Finnish-Bulgarian singer-songwriter Anna Dantchev, known also by her artist name Bulgarian Voice from Finland. The debut album, to be released in spring 2020, titled “Say it”, for the first time highlights the musical legacy of the Bulgarian minority in Finland, and the musical aesthetics as part of the Finnish multilayered culture.
Piirainen Blom Company: TBA (Bafe’s Factory, release date TBA)
Acclaimed solo guitarist J-P Piirainen founded this duo with beatboxer and singer Venla Ilona Blom, known from the accapella group Tuuletar, in 2018. Their musical roots are deep in Nordic folk music even though using highly modern instruments and sounds. The duo promises to bring Finnish folk dances to the new decade, combining fingerstyle guitar, beatboxing and singing in a way that is never heard before. The album’s release date is yet to be confirmed, but in the meantime, take a listen to the first single Kuiskaaja/Whisperer, out January 16.
ALMA: Have U Seen Her? (PME Records, Release date TBA)
In mere three years the yellow-haired pop powerhouse ALMA has taken the world by storm – in streaming services with her own hits like "Dye My Hair" and "Chasing Highs", being featured on songs by Felix Jaehn, Clean Bandit and Charli XCX and writing hits for the likes of Matoma and Miley Cyrus. The only thing missing is the full-length – but not nor long! ALMA has announced her first full-length Have U Seen Her? to be released as a series of multiple EP's, with the first part (including the title track Have U Seen Her? and Worst Behaviour) as well as the second single Bad News Baby out already. We are almost literally hanging at the edge of our seats!