Heavy music hit Tallinn Music Week like a blizzard: here's our guide to the seven best alternative bands we saw in Estonia

Tallinn Music Week bands
(Image credit: Martin Lauri, Press)

Operating annually since 2009, Tallinn Music Week has become a focal point for the best up-and-coming musical acts in the region and beyond; an opportunity for creatives, industry professionals and listeners to discover “tomorrow’s music, arts and ideas” in the Estonian capital. 

The music showcase festival staged from April 4 - 6 featured a total of 175 artists from across 35 countries, with 78 hailing from Estonia alone, and the rest made up of acts from all over Europe, North and South America, East Asia, Africa, Australia and Oceania. Complementing the music showcases, the event featured a two-day industry conference, alongside a diverse City programme encompassing tours, art gallery visits, and free music events throughout the city.

Situated largely within the city’s creative hotspot, Telliskivi, the event showcased a smorgasbord of genres, from Lithuanian pop, Taiwan folk pop to Estonian heavy metal, the latter of which was hosted during the Heavy Music Estonia showcase in Tallinn’s cutting-edge Paavli Kultuurivabrik venue on April 4.

The night featured a range of heavy artists showing off what their country has to offer to an international audience, which included numerous industry executives. Speaking of why events such as this are so important, Estonian Heavy Music Association founder Ott Evestus says, “We wanted to create an organisation that is on your side when no one else is. Offering opportunities for people who love to play heavy music and people who love to listen to heavy music through events that give everyone a chance to connect and be part of something bigger. 

“Tallinn Music Week is a very important platform and we saw an opportunity there to make it more relevant for Heavy Music industry-focused people, thus helping local bands get more exposure and opportunities. We believe that Europe could use a showcase festival with more of a heavy music focus, so we took it upon ourselves to do just that with Tallinn Music Week.”

Following Thursday’s HME night, fans returned to the venue for the Blowup x Damn.Loud showcase with the promise of being “doomed, fuzzed and punk’d by bands from Finland, Estonia and the UK”; a less heavy albeit no less impressive night of alternative music. Elsewhere, fans enjoyed performances from what was billed as “adventurous and eclectic acts from vibrant European scenes” at Yugofuturism's Vikendica showcase, which saw psych rock and punk bands alongside weird and whimsical pop acts. 

Now that we’ve settled back on home turf and warmed up after spending days wandering through the snow, here is our guide to the best alternative acts we saw in Tallinn.

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If Korn, Slipknot and Linkin Park had a baby, it would probably sound a lot like Estonian metallers Evestus. Between their industrial corkscrewing riffs, vocoder-distorted vocals and angst-heavy melodies, this band are a fun time travel trip back to the days where nu metal ruled the airwaves and alternative fashion was at its most questionable. Better yet - the band look the part, donned in a mishmash of familiar nu metal looks with goth sportswear and boiler suits, blended with their own stamp of makeup and grizzly painted welder helmets.

Horror Dance Squad

Estonia’s Horror Dance Squad send riffs flying out in spades with their urgent fire of electronic-laced metalcore. Possessing uplifting choruses that call to mind new Bring Me The Horizon and Architects, the Tallinn metallers serve sweetly melodic clean vocals spliced with crunchy screams between walls of blustering noise so powerful it feels as though a Baltic blizzard has made its way inside the venue. Your next new metalcore fave!

Dome Runner

A swirling pot of doom, post-metal and sludge, Dome Runner are wickedly sombre, as they deploy drop-tuned grinding riffs against a bleak backing of industrial fuzz, flanked by smokey growls that echo out through the mix like a distant, ghostly call. In response, the Finnish sludge metallers are greeted by appreciative slow head nodding from the crowd. To sign off their set, vocalist/guitarist Simo Perkiömäki crouches over his guitar on the floor like a goblin, clawing at the strings to create a lull of gloomy feedback. If a crossover between Godflesh and Sleep sounds intriguing, then Dome Runner are for you.


Dressed casually in baseball caps and white tees, first impressions suggest that Finland’s Moshimoshi (the informal Japanese language 'Hello' when speaking on the phone) are going to be something close to the mark of your standard gang of indie post-rockers; jangling riffs, hardcore-inspired vocals, you know the drill. It doesn’t take long however for us to realise that this band are something else entirely, as they race into hyperactive, mathematical prog riffs, punctuated between stretches of tight, grunge and post-punk, the technical parts offering a whizzing jolt to the senses, keeping you on your toes at all times. 


Kitted out in vests and denim jackets, this youthful gang of Berlin-based "anti-punks" look as though they've been summoned up from the cast of Skins. Possibly the coolest band on the bill at Paavli’s Blowup showcase, they supply rumbling bass lines, smacking beats and booming monotone vocals, delivered by their swaggering frontman who cuts his way across the stage under a shower of ominous synths. Avant-garde, stylish and a little menacing, the only thing missing are a couple of cigarettes loosely hanging from their mouths. 


There’s no one at this festival quite so in their element as VIRTA frontman Antti Hevosmaa, who, despite performing while sitting down, becomes such an absorbing presence it’s hard to look elsewhere. Working in front of a synth and drum machine, Hevosmaa jostles and twitches to his peculiar blend of jazz alt-rock, intensely folded over his station like a scientist deep in experimentation, before sensually caressing the air with his hands as he melts out each Thom Yorke-style vocal line. Elsewhere, he carves out trumpet melodies through passages of pensive psychedelia, as percussionist Erik Fräki scratches metal across his drum hi-hat - an unnerving yet euphoric experience. 


Six-piece Macedonian rockers Lufthansa make quite the racket, their frisky brand of psychedelic post-punk sending heads bobbing via tumbling percussion, zig-zagging guitar licks and funk-inspired bass lines. Meanwhile frontman Ivo Nikolovski manically shakes his body as though being exorcised, his effortlessly nonchalant vocals a voguish contrast against the surrounding noise. A tantalising watch. 

Liz Scarlett

Liz works on keeping the Louder sites up to date with the latest news from the world of rock and metal. Prior to joining Louder as a full time staff writer, she completed a Diploma with the National Council for the Training of Journalists and received a First Class Honours Degree in Popular Music Journalism. She enjoys writing about anything from neo-glam rock to stoner, doom and progressive metal, and loves celebrating women in music.