A virile legend

Little did Kirka Babitzin, a sort of grandfather of Finnish pop music, know in the early 1980s when he recommended the band of young brothers Hietala to his record company friend. The band which, at the time, went by the name Purgatory, got a record deal, changed its name to Tarot, recorded a single called Wings of Darkness and revolutionised Finnish heavy music. When it comes to Finnish metal, Tarot is an institution. It might not have broken chart records or sold the most concert tickets, but it has managed to raise a whole generation of metal music loving people. The pioneer work and the appreciation towards the band is best summarised by quoting a couple of Tarot legends: the rumour has it that Marco Hietala was too good a singer to become the vocalist of Iron Maiden and that the roadies of Metallica were amazed by the size of the amp piles that the Finnish band had with them. And there is always a little truth in every legend.

The best thing about Tarot is that it never compromised its beliefs or ended up as an antiqued remembrance of the past. This band has only got better, gaining bigger and bigger audiences year by year. Achieving the second place in the Finnish album charts with its latest album Gravity of Light is a good example of this. The album shows that Tarot is not over the hill yet: impressive songs salute classic heavy metal and the band has an ennobled, uncompromising sound that decades of playing together has helped to amalgamate. World tours with Nightwish have molded Marco Hietala into a flinty front man fit for any band whatsoever. It's safe to say that Tarot, having just released a magnificent album and touring all over the world, is in the prime of its life. Ilosaarirock Festival takes a bow of respect and welcomes the living legends to Laulurinne!


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