How Finland Has Embraced Heavy Metal Music

March 21, 2019

Professor Esa Lijla of Helsinki University recently spoke to CNN's Richard Quest about why he thinks Finns love heavy metal.

He said (see video below): "We are a small country. Such a small country that many times, we only have one thing at a time. So, let's say, in the '80s, it was heavy metal; in the '90s, it certainly wasn't heavy metal — it was Euro-dance pop. Nowadays, it seems that heavy metal is more or less in the popular mainstream.

"We have private music schools, which are funded by government mostly," he continued. "The ideal behind that was that everyone should be able to learn music in a high level, if they wanted."

When the interviewer pointed out that Finland's love of headbanging heavy metal music appears to be counterculture to everything else the country is known for, Lijla responded: "It's a bit like a myth that also maybe Finnish musicians, or Finnish people in general, like to think or like to advertise that we are a strange country and strange people living in the woods."

Back in 2013, Slate reported that Finland had the most heavy metal bands per capita in the world. While Sweden and Norway were said to have had only 27 heavy metal bands per 100,000 inhabitants, Finland boasted double as much, 54 bands per 100,000.

Some even claimed that Finland was the only country in the world where metal was "mainstream," and people actually studied Finnish and Norwegian to better understand heavy metal music.

People have speculated that the climate in Finland, which is characterized by cold, and sometimes severe, winters and relatively warm summers, has contributed to the population's disproportionately high interest in heavier forms of rock. Says the A Metal State Of Mind web site: "When someone is surrounded by cold and dark for long periods of time, it is only natural that some form of depression will start to set in. And how do many Finns combat this depression, release the negative energy, and make themselves feel more positive? Well, I can't think of one form of music more tailored to the release of the negative more than metal."

Although the suicide rates of Finland are higher than those of other Nordic countries, the number of suicides among Finnish men has gone down by 48 percent since the '90s, according to a July 2014 report in the Helsinki Times.

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