Top Psych Rock Bands from Finland: From Death Hawks to Onségen Ensemble

We are gathered here today to go over 10 bands that have made psychedelic music and are based in the country of Finland. While these aren’t all of the bands from that area that are immersed in the genre, they are the ones that I think are worthy of including here. So, without further ado, here we go!

10. Death Hawks

I admit that I’m not totally into what Death Hawks does, but I wanted to include them to show that the psychedelic genre is more than what most of us think of when we hear the name. They tend to be more pop-oriented, with elements of jazz and 80s synth stylings, which at times brings to mind small aspects of Duran Duran and Depeche Mode. I think “Re-run” from their 2019 Psychic Harmony album and “Heed the Calling” from 2015’s Sun Future Moon best represents the many sides of the band.

9. Scarlet Thread

Scarlet Thread only released 4 albums, Pskedeelisiä Joutsenlauluja in 2003, Valheista Kaunein in 2006, Never Since in 2013, and Dreamcatcher in 2014. The music they created has psychedelic tendencies but can also be prog rock with folk leanings. Check out tracks like “Joutsenten Kaihoisa Laulu,” “Valheista kaunein,” and “Dark World” for examples of what I’m talking about. It wasn’t easy to find, but there are playlists for their albums here on Youtube.

8. Ciminero

Helsinki makes its first appearance with more of an occult rock/doom metal-based band named Ciminero. You’re probably thinking that their style doesn’t have much to do with the focus of this article, but occult rock and psychedelic do share some similarities, and Ciminero is a fantastic example. They have but two albums, November 2022’s Shadows Digging the Grave and 2019’s Subterranean Awakenings, but both are worth your music listening time, with SDTG being the superior of the two. I recommend beginning with “Invoke Me” and “Torment” from the new album.

7. Oranssi Pazuzu

Oranssi Pazuzu isn’t your Grandad’s psych; he’d probably have a heart attack upon hearing them as they take on the idea that black metal can be used with psychedelic elements to deliver something both heavy and atmospheric. I was first introduced to them in 2020 with their Mestarin kynsi album, the dark vibes, and atmosphere created in album opener “Ilmestys” pulled me in, keeping me for the album’s duration. They do have three other releases, and each of them is incredible in the same way as the one that I mentioned.

6. Malady

With three albums under their belt, Helsinki’s Malady is one of Finland’s better psych-rock bands. Their music is mellow, melodic, and sung in their native language, adding to their charm. “Alava vaara” from their 2021 album, Ainavihantaa is the perfect place to begin exploring their sound, as that album is the most recent addition to their catalog and a great example of where they’re at as a band.

5. Kamel Toast

Another Helsinki band to add to the list! Kamel Toast is on the more riff-laden end of the psychedelic genre, using influences from doom, stoner, hard rock, and metal. Their first album came out in April of 2021, titled Snake’s Loose, and just last month (November 2022), they dropped their sophomore effort, Proper Mulling. “Fun Killer” opened up the new record and served as my introduction to their music. The whole album shows a move forward on every level, and they blend their influences in a way that may not be totally new, but it works very well, nonetheless.

4. Hidria Spacefolk

This band was totally new to me upon researching bands for this article, and I’m quite happy that I’m aware of them now. They introduced the world to their style of space rock on HDRSF-1, independently released in 2001, and the following 5 studio albums (the last was in 2012) were nothing short of incredible. Songs like “Amos Ame” from their debut, “Nasha Universo” from their 2002 Symbiosis album, “Pako Originaux” from 2004’s Balansia, and “Cycloop” from their 2012 album, Astronautica, are all prime examples of what Hidria Spacefolk excels at. Much like Onségen Ensemble, Hidria Spacefolk uses various instruments, such as the cello, violin, flute, didgeridoo, marimba, mandolin, sitar, and vibraphone.

3. Jess and the Ancient Ones

I was turned on to Jess and the Ancient Ones with their 2017 release, The Horse and Other Weird Tales. I was taken aback by the tones they had gotten, the 60s/70s vibe, and the incredible vocals of Jess (Jasmin Saarela), who at times reminds me of Grace Slick of Jefferson Airplane. Formed in 2010, they have released 4 full-length albums and one EP, all of which are absolutely incredible pieces of music. Tracks to start with are “Death is the Doors” and “Your Exploding Heads.”

2. Sammal

Debuting in 2013, Sammal has cemented its reputation as one of the leaders of the Fenno-Ugrian neo-progressive and psychedelic scene while also making some waves internationally, performing at the Roadburn Festival in 2015 and bringing in a series of rave reviews from around the world. They have done all this across the span of 5 releases and are signed to Svart Records, who recently released the new album Aika laulaa, continuing their tradition of making some of the best psychedelic music on the planet.

1. Onségen Ensemble

Onségen Ensemble are composers of music that is as varied as the array of instruments that the group employs to create their signature blend of cinematic psych. Using instruments like the ocarina, didgeridoo, jazzy horns, and mellotron alongside the standout guitars, vocals, drums, and bass setup. They have carved out their own niche in the Finnish scene across all four of their albums, Awalaï (2016), Duel (2018), Fear (2020), and this year’s (2022) phenomenal Realms album, making fans across the globe.

Final Thoughts

So, there you have it, folks, a listing of some of the best psych/occult/stoner/doom albums from Finland. Remember that these lists are all opinion-based, so we both end up correct even if we disagree on the placement, inclusion, or exclusion of bands from that part of the world. That’s the beauty of music, we all have opinions, and we’re all correct based on them. So, if you haven’t heard of these artists, I hope you give them a listen and see why I added them to my list. Enjoy!

This article was written by Tom Hanno, who has been writing reviews for the last 7 years but has been sharing his love of music for the majority of his life. Originally starting out at the now defunct Chimera Magazine, he is currently contributing to Doomed and Stoned, The Sleeping Shaman, The Doom Charts, Tom’s Reviews, and The Third Eye. Read more of Tom’s reviews by checking out his Linktree.

2 responses to “Top Psych Rock Bands from Finland: From Death Hawks to Onségen Ensemble”

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: