Finnish Metal Bands

Finnish metal bands: The best Finnish metal bands of all time

Finnish metal bands are taking the world by storm. Today, we’ll be introducing you to the wonders of Finnish metal, and the metal bands from Finland you should know about. 

Scandinavia isn’t just a area full of beautiful scenery and amazing people — it’s also the biggest hub of metal and hard rock music in the world. Nowhere is this more evident than in Finland

Finland leads Europe in terms of metal bands per capita, with an incredible 70.6 metal bands per 100,000 people. There’s a handy graphic available to show you how the country matches up to other music-loving countries around the world. 

Finland has almost double the heavy metal density of Sweden, the second most metal-focused country.

Known for bands like Nightwish and Lordi, Finland has cemented its place as the ultimate metal monarch, and the country’s musical impact just keeps growing. 

If you’re ready to discover the best Finnish metal bands of all time, read on…

Finnish metal bands: Why is metal so popular in Finland?

Scandinavian heavy metal bands are some of the most popular in the world. Look up any list of the most heavy-metal oriented countries, and you’ll find Finland, Sweden, Iceland, and Norway usually rank at the top. 

Denmark, though not as steeped in metal culture as some other Nordic locations, also sits in the top ten. 

To put Finland’s 70.6 metal bands per 100,000 residents into perspective, let’s look at how it matches up to other countries. The UK only has 7.8 metal bands per 100,000 people, for instance, and Germany has around 13.2 metal bands per 100,000 people.

So, what makes Finland so rich in metal bands?

Compared to other countries like the UK and US, countries in the Nordic region (including Finland), were late arrivals to the heavy metal scene. However, the country has also embraced the power of metal like no other. 

The metal scene even got a shout-out from President Obama in 2016. 

Obama suggested Finland’s high number of metal bands and high levels of political governance might be connected. This definitely falls in line with the idea explored by some psychologists, indicating a high level of happiness in a country might lead to a higher number of heavy metal groups.

Finnish Metal Bands

How many metal bands are there in Finland?

It’s difficult to know for certain exactly how many metal bands are active in Finland right now. However, experts predict the country has anywhere between 50 and 70 metal bands per 100,000 residents. 

This gives the country a greater metal density than any other country worldwide.

For most parts of the world, the 1970s was the golden age of heavy metal music, but Finnish metal didn’t start making an appearance until the 80s and 90s. The impact of the Finnish heavy metal bands on the global perception of Finland didn’t appear until the 2000s. 

Finland is also home to some of the better-known metal bands in the global scene. HIM, Children of Bodom, Lordi, and Nightwish all come from Finland. Professors at Finland’s top universities have even organized conferences all about the impact of heavy metal

Many people with an appreciation of music also note Finland won the European song contest in 2006, thanks to Lordi’s shocking appearance on stage. 

Heavy metal as a musical genre can be difficult to understand for people who don’t enjoy it. The sound often feels quite harsh and aggressive, but Finnish people see the music as an expression of creativity and emotion. 

Heavy metal regularly plays on the radio around Finland too.

Metal bands from Finland: An introduction to Finnish metal

If you’re a fan of heavy metal already, there’s a good chance you already know a metal band from Finland. Groups like Children of Bodom, Nightwish, and Lordi aren’t just popular in the Scandinavian region, they’ve made an impact all over the world. 

To ensure every kind of metal band from Finland gets the right attention in this list, we’ll be splitting our overview of the best Finnish metal bands into sections. 

Here’s our must-listen selection of the best Finnish metal bands. 

Best Finnish metal bands: Finnish death metal

Death metal in Finland comes in a range of different flavors. Finnish death metal bands can feature those with melodic, haunting sounds, alongside harsher vocals, and shrieking melodies. 

Death metal is usually best known for its lyrical morbidity, with many songs connected to concepts of death, torture, and pain. 

Here are some of the best Finnish death metal bands in history: 

Children of Bodom

Easily one of the best-known death metal bands of all time, Children of Bodom formed in Finland in 1993 with the name “Inearthed”. 

The final lineup of the group (when it split in 2019), included Alexi Laiho on guitar and vocals, Jaska Raatikainen on drums, Janne Wirman on keyboard, Henkka Seppala on bass, and Daniel Freyberg on rhythm guitar. 

The band’s studio album “Follow the Reaper” gained gold certification in Finland, and the next four albums followed suit. These albums were also number 1 on the Finnish charts.

Impaled Nazarene

Starting with a focus on black metal, Impaled Nazarene has evolved over the years to include more death metal, hardcore punk, thrash metal and grindcore in their music. 

The group was infamous for its hatred of the Norwegian black metal scene in the early 90s, but they eventually separated themselves from the reputation. Impaled Nazarene also regularly wore corpse paint until the mid-90s, when black metal gained more popularity. 

Today, the group is represented by Osmose Pro Finnish death metal bands ductions.

Sentenced

A Finnish gothic metal and death metal band, Sentenced started life as “Deformity”, and changed their name in 1989. 

The original lineup changed a few times over the years, finally ending up with Milka Tenkula on guitar and vocals, Sami Lopakka on rhythm guitar, Ville Laihiala on vocals, Sami Kukkohovi on bass, and Vesa Ranta on drums. 

Milka Tenkula unfortunately died of a heart attack in 2009, ending all hopes of a reunion for the group. 

Eternal Tears of Sorrow

Often referred to as EToS by fans, Eternal Tears of Sorrow is a symphonic death metal band from Finland. The group originally formed in 1994 with Altti Vetelainen, Jarmo Puolakanaho, and Olli-Pekka Torro. 

The most recent album recorded by the band was Saivon Lapsi in 2013. However, the group has revealed it’s working on new music, leaving fans hopeful for material coming soon. Various EToS songs and albums have ranked towards the top of the Finnish chart lists.

Best Finnish metal bands: Finnish black metal

Another popular sub-genre of metal music in Finland, black metal focuses on more extreme sounds than some other heavy metal options. 

Generally, Finnish black metal bands create content including fast tempos, heavily distorted guitar riffs, a shrieking vocal style, and unconventional song structures. It’s common to see a strong focus on atmosphere from these bands too. 

Here are some of the best examples of Finnish black metal:

Ensiferum 

A black metal and folk metal band from Finland, Ensiferum (meaning sword bearing), is an interesting introduction to Finnish black metal. 

The group currently consists of Petri Lindroos offering guitars and “harsh vocals”, Sami Hinkka on bass and “clean vocals”, and Markus Toivonen on guitars and backing vocals. Pekka Montin provides clean vocals and keyboard, while Janne Parviainen is on drums. 

The group released its seventh album in July 2020, which was named Thalassic. 

Behexen

A Finnish black metal band formed in 1994, Behexen took a traditional approach to black metal with raw vocals and unique characteristics. The first full-length album the group released emerged in 2000, called “Rituale Satanum”. 

This band is often well-known for its Satanic ideology, which appears often in the lyrics and imagery of the music the group produces. The band members also have unique names, like “Wraath” on guitar, and “Horns” on drums, or even “Hoath Torog” on vocals.

Horna

Previously known as Shadowed, Horna formed in 1993, and has now appeared on over thirty studio releases, including Eps, demos, splits, and albums. 

The group currently features Mynni Luukkainen on bass guitar, Tuomas Rytkonen for lead vocals, Larui Rytkonen on drums, Ville Markkanen on bass, and Ville Pystyneen on guitar. 

The most recent studio album released by the band was Kuoleman Kirjo in 2020. 

Archgoat

Frequently mentioned as one of the most influential Finnish heavy metal bands, Archgoat formed originally in 1989. The group didn’t release their first recording in 1991, and they landed a record contract with Necropolis Records in 1992. 

Current members include Rainer Puolakanaho on bass and vocals, Kai Puolakanaho on bass and guitars, and Tuukka Franck on drums. Each member has their own unique pseudonym, from Angelslayer, to Ritual Butcherer. 

Sargeist 

Formed in 1999, Sargeist is a Finnish black metal band created as a solo project by Horna member, Shatraug. In 2000, Shatraug was joined by other members who subsequently left the band again. 

Today, the music follows a similar style to the traditional “old school” and Scandinavian black metal. Lyrics often deal with depression, darkness, hate, misanthropy, and anti-Christian concepts. 

Best Finnish metal bands: Finnish power metal

Power metal is a huge genre in Finland. The heavy metal subgenre often combines traditional “old school” metal sounds with speedier concepts and symphonic elements. For people new to the Finnish metal scene, Finnish power metal bands can be an easy introduction. 

The music usually has a more uplifting sound, unlike more extreme metal, which is much darker. 

Here are some Finnish power metal groups you should know:

Stratovarius

Originally formed in 1985, the Finnish power metal band, Stratovarius have released five live albums and fifteen studio albums over the year. 

Throughout its history, the group has gone through a range of lineup changes. The longest-standing member of the band today is Timo Kotipelto, who first joined in 1994. 

The most recent album from the band is “Eternal”, featuring the current lineup of Rolf Pilve on drums, Matias Kupiainen on guitars, Lauri Porra on bass, Jens Johansson on keyboard, and Timo Kotipelto on lead vocals. 

Nightwish

A Finnish power metal band with a presence worldwide, Nightwish comes from Kitee in Finland. The band originally formed in 1996 with the lead keyboardist and singer Tuomas Holopainen, singer Tarja Turunen, and guitarist Emppu Vuorinen. 

The most recent album from the group is Human: II Nature, releasing in 2020. Today, the lead vocalist has changed to Floor Jansen, who joined the group in 2013. Once, released in 2004 topped the charts in Finland, and Hungary, as well as reaching chat levels in 6 other countries.

Sonata Arctica

A Finnish power metal band from Kemi, the Sonata Arctica group changed its style dramatically over the years, along with members of the band. 

The current lineup includes Tony Kakko on lead vocals and keyboard, Elias Viljanen on guitar and backing vocals, Henrik Klingenberg on backing vocals and keyboards, Pasi Kauppinen on bass and backing vocals, and Tommy Prortimo on drums. 

In 2019, the group released its 10th studio album, Talivyo. 

Cain’s Offering

A Finnish power metal supergroup formed in 2008, Cain’s Offering was originally created by members of the group Soanta Arctica, Jani Lliimatainen and Mikko Harkin. 

The singer from Stratovarius Timo Kotpelto also joined the group, alongside Wintersun bass player Jukka Koskinen and the Wintersun drummer, Jani Hurula. 

The debut album from the group appeared in 2009, named “Gatheer the Faithful”. 

The band has been largely inactive since 2016. 

Best Finnish metal bands: Finnish heavy metal

As you can see from this list of Finnish metal bands so far, there’s no shortage of different styles and band types to explore. With so many amazing heavy metal bands out there, it’s difficult to choose just a smalls election for this article. 

Here are some of the Finnish heavy metal groups we haven’t mentioned so far:

Korpiklaani 

An interesting example of Finnish folk metal, Korpiklaani gives listeners a completely different view of the metal genre. The group started out as just a folk band, gradually adding elements of metal as they grew. 

Part of what makes this band so appealing to fans is its humorous approach to music, including deer antler microphone setups and the use of accordions in catchy tunes. 

Current members include Jonne Jarvela, Kalle Savijarvi, Jarkko Aaltonen, Sami Perttula, Tuomas Rounakari, and Samuli Mikkonen. 

Reverend Bizarre 

Widely regarded as one of the top doom metal bands from Finland, Reverend Bizarre formed in 1995. The group has a slow and heavy approach to traditional doom metal, with dramatic vocals and distorted sounds. 

This band earned a reputation for releasing a range of very long musical pieces. Two of the band’s Eps actually ended up being more than 60 minutes long. 

Tarot

Best known for the song “Wings of Darkness”, taken from their 1986 album, Tarot is a famous heavy metal band from Finland. The band has been notable around the world over the years. The singer and bassist Marko Hietala also appeared in the extremely popular band, Nightwish. 

Current band members include Janne Tolsa on keyboards, Zachary Hietala on guitars, and Tommi Salmela on backing vocals. 

Best Finnish metal bands: Finnish hard rock

Before we bring this exploration of Finnish heavy metal bands to a close, it’s worth looking at some of the hard rock bands which don’t make it into the “heavy metal” environment completely. 

Hard rock bands are often a little closer to gothic rock than heavy metal, with easier to follow lyrics and somewhat lighter sounds. 

Lordi 

Often described as both a power metal, hard rock and heavy metal band, Lordi formed in 1992, and gained attention around the globe after winning the Eurovision Song Contest in 2006. 

Lordi has a reputation for wearing amazing outfits and masks on tour, but they don’t always appear in costume. 

The current members include Mr Lordi on lead vocals, Hella on keyboards, Amen on guitar, Mana on drums, and Hiisi on bass. 

The band released a new album in 2020 named Killection. 

Apocalyptica 

A Finnish symphonic band with alternative and neoclassical metal influences, Apocalyptica is one of the most interesting examples of Finnish metal in the landscape today, showing how classical instruments like violins and cellos can be “heavy metal”. 

The group started life as a Metallica tribute band, but eventually began creating their own music. The band has now sold over four million albums worldwide since their formation in 1993. 

HIM 

Created in 1991 by Ville Valo (vocalist), and his bassist Mikko Paananen, HIM is a hard rock band from Finland. The group originally used the name “His Infernal Majesty”, commonly shortened to “HIM”. This band has gained a lot of attention around the world for their popular songs. 

The first single from the group, “Join me In Death” charted at number one in Finland and Germany, eventually going both gold and platinum. Albums from the band in 2001 and 2003 cracked the top ten in various countries, and allowed the band to tour in the US and United Kingdom.

Swallow the Sun 

Founded in 2000 by Juha Raivo, Swallow the Sun is a death metal band and melodic death metal group with a musical style focused heavily on atmosphere. While the group focuses mainly on death metal, the style can also range into black and gothic metal. 

In total, the band has currently released six full-length albums, with the most recent appearing in 2021 — a “Live in Helsinki” recording which celebrates 20 years of music. 

Celebrating Finnish metal bands

Metal bands from Finland aren’t just popular in the Nordics — they’ve also attracted attention all over the globe. 

Compared to other Scandinavian metal bands, Finnish groups have achieved the highest level of recognition worldwide, particularly with acts like Children of Bodom, Nightwish, and Lordi. 

Today, Finland continues to be a mecca for metal lovers.

If you’re planning a visit to Finland, it’s definitely worth checking out some of the Finnish heavy metal bands for yourself. The PRKL club in Helsinki is a popular metal bar showcasing both established and newly emerging metal acts. 

The Tusk Open Air metal festival is the biggest metal festival in Finland, held every year with attendees reaching around 30,000. Previous acts have included Lordi, Sabaton, Alice Cooper and many others. 

Now go and enjoy some Finnish metal for yourself! 

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