MHM Conference, Helsinki

I’ve written about the metal scene in Botswana before for this blog, and last week I was very lucky to present my thoughts to an audience of metal scholars at the Modern Heavy Metal conference in the very metal city of Helsinki Finland.

The view of Helsinki from the plane as you approach the airport is cool – it’s mostly parks and forest areas all around. Not what I expected from a capital city, though all this green land explains how the hares that are Helsinki’s main pest animal are able to live in the city. At least it’s a cuter problem than rats or feral cats or wild dogs.

The conference’s opening evening featured a speech by guitarist Alexander Skolnick of the band Testament – though not working in metal academia himself, he’s a man with a lot of interesting things to say about metal and metal studies, and his own commitment to learning and scholarship is clear. He undertook a degree in jazz performance and started a second career as a jazz guitarist and bandleader, after already being hugely successful in Testament.

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Bloodstock Report Part Four: Summary and Other Thoughts

With a great lineup and lovely atmosphere, Bloodstock is definitely a festival I would consider returning to in future. As I mentioned in the second post, we bought the tickets almost a full year in advance, solely on the basis of Emperor’s appearance, when they were the only band announced. Though I would happily have returned to Brutal Assault, I chose to get the Emperor tickets while they were available and as it turned out, Bloodstock’s lineup was more suited to my tastes. In terms of cost, it is obviously a lot more expensive that Brutal Assault, due to their locations, but allowing for the cost of traveling it probably worked out about the same. This may change in future as Ryanair are now serving Prague airport. My choice of festival next year will again be based on lineup.

As I’ve already said, bar the issue of communicating with the fans, I thought the festival was excellently organised. The toilets were usually in great condition, the showers were adequate, and the one schedule change I was aware of was communicated from the main stage hours in advance. There were some disappointments at the merch stand; Emperor shirts  had sold out by Saturday afternoon, and Decapitated didn’t even have any shirts with them, but these problems can’t be blamed on the festival. If the CD selection from the independent vendors wasn’t as obscure as that I’m used to from continental festivals, that’s probably because it’s a lot easier for a merchant with a collection of releases by obscure scene bands to travel across mainland Europe than it is to travel to the UK. Even at Bloodstock, my hobby of seeking out the most offensive grind CDs is probably pretty niche, and it didn’t significantly impact on my fun at the festival, so I can’t hold it against them.

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