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Metal music an important part of Finland's "brand"

Metal music artists have become an important element in Finland's international image. Over the past 15 years, top-name bands such as Nightwish, Children of Bodom and Sonata Arctica have not only gained followers worldwide, but also raised interest in their home country.

Stam1na Ilosaarirock 2014
Image: Tommi Parkkinen

Metal music, in diverse forms, has become one of Finland's highest profile exports.

Toni-Matti Karjalainen is Research Director at the Department of Management Studies of Helsinki's Aalto University and known as "Dr Heavy" for taking metal music into the realm of academia. He says the genre and the bands have become a major economic asset for the nation.  With millions of fans worldwide, Finnish metal has raised awareness of and an interest in Finland.

Research has yet to be done into the significance of Finnish metal music as an export product, but Toni-Matti Karjalainen has personal experience of how it has spread Finland's "brand" within fan communities.

"The majority abroad think of metal music when they think of Finland. Metal has put Finland on the map. Our culture interests these fans and they acquaint themselves with our country through the music. I've run into fans that have come to Finland," says Karjalainen.


According to Dr Karjalainen, Finland has been a major metal nation for only about 10 to 15 years. It was during the 1990s that Finnish metal broke onto the international scene.

One important factor in the current popularity of metal music in Finland is the attitude of acceptance it met. Metal, in its many forms, has always been seen in Finland as just one more type of popular music among many others.

A global surge in popularity in the 1980s, however, was what set the stage for today's success.

”There was a boom in metal music in Finland in the 80s and many of the artists who have now gained fame were born in the 70s. They experienced their musical awakening in the 80s when metal was big here," explains Toni-Matti Karjalainen.

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