Label feature: VapaaPäivä Records

Exploring the insatiable hardcore punk impulse behind Finland's VapaaPäivä label and distro.

For many, the spirit of punk is an enduring flame that burns with unwavering intensity. It’s a sentiment that encapsulates the ethos of VapaaPäivä Records, a Finnish punk label that emerged from the shadows to champion the DIY punk scene and its political ethos with unbridled passion and fervor.

The name VapaaPäivä, which translates as “day off”, first appeared on the scene in the 1990s, when its founder Jari published two issues of a fanzine under this name. The zine, which ran for two issues between 1994 and 1998, focused mainly on local Finnish DIY punk bands.

Fast forward two decades and Jari’s passion for punk was as strong as ever. A renewed sense of purpose surged through, fueled by a desire to pick up the mantle that many friends had reluctantly laid down. As the digital age continued to reshape the music industry, the challenges of selling physical records grew more daunting. However, the commitment to the tactile experience of sifting through records from various distros at gigs remained steadfast. Thus, the VapaaPäivä label and distro was born with the co-release of Finnish hardcore punk band Bad Jesus Experience’s 2019 LP Kaikki On Hyvin with three other labels.

Now, let’s take a look at the label’s seven releases so far. It should be noted that all the bands on the label boast non-male members and strong feminist leanings.

7 Karkaisu – Tulenarkaa EP (2023)

Karkaisu – Tulenarkaa EP (2023)

Featuring Maria of Vivisektio on bass and Toni of Blossom Hill on guitar, Karkaisu is an up-and-coming band from Finland with a really well-rounded sound that fires on all cylinders with breakneck speed and relentless thrashing riffs. While the unstoppable rhythm section is influenced by many of the fast hardcore bands currently in vogue, singer Laura’s vocals really shine with sheer power and originality. Seven relentless but creative tracks packed into a seven-inch vinyl. This is great hardcore punk.

6 Bad Jesus Experience – Ovat Muistojemme Lehdet Kuolleet EP (2023)

Bad Jesus Experience – Ovat Muistojemme Lehdet Kuolleet EP (2023)

Almost four years after the release of Bad Jesus Experience’s LP, the band returns with another wild and unforgiving record, pressed on 10-inch vinyl by VapaaPäivä in collaboration with Nunchakupunk, Tuhoutuvat Levyt and Mögähead. Ten new tracks of unrelenting ferocity, each barely exceeding the one minute mark. The same unhinged energy with even more fastcore and powerviolence influences than on the previous record. It sounds fresh and the Finnish lyrics really seal the deal.

5 Tuhoon Tuomitut – Nälkä Kasvaa Syödessä (2022)

Tuhoon Tuomitut – Nälkä Kasvaa Syödessä (2022)

Hailing from the Finnish city of Tampere, Tuhoon Tuomitut play a furious blend of crusty anarcho-punk with dual vocals arranged in the classic trade-off style that was popular in the 1990s, with deranged high-pitched screams spewing rage about important political issues in their native Finnish. Relentless from start to finish, this record harkens back to some of my favorite eras of hardcore punk, and I absolutely love it. VapaaPäivä released this together with Nunchakupunk and Blistering Barnacles Records last year and I think you can still find a copy.

4 HersteRRRia – Gniew (2022)

HersteRRRia – Gniew (2022)

Coming out of Bielsko-Biała, Poland, HersteRRRia’s debut album Gniew (Anger) sounds exactly as it should—angry queer anarcha-feminist punk that takes the best out of the riot grrrl movement and decades of unique punk rock history in Poland, finding the perfect balance between sounding as angry and revolutionary as it is melodic. Lyrics about women’s reproductive rights and intersectional feminist revolution are at the forefront of HersteRRRia’s work, but the music is just as good and inspiring for smashing the patriarchy. Probably the most important release in VapaaPäivä’s catalog and a band not to be missed.

3 Rotura – Estamos Fracasando (2021)

Rotura – Estamos Fracasando (2021)

Hailing from Barcelona’s vibrant punk scene, Rotura recorded a demo in February 2020, but it wasn’t meant to be released on a physical record since the factories were closed due to the Covid pandemic. Once the band was able to get together to rehearse and play shows again, they continued to write new music, and in October 2020 Rotura recorded five new tracks for what would become the A-side of Estamos Fracasando. The record was released on vinyl in February 2021, with the 2020 demo as the B-side. VapaaPäivä released the LP in cooperation with seven other labels. Musically, Rotura reminds me of other melodic punk bands from Spain with female vocals and angry political lyrics. FFO: Elektroduendes, Accidente, Suicidas, etc.

2 Vivere Merda – Noi Non Ci Saremo (2020)

Vivere Merda – Noi Non Ci Saremo (2020)

This one is a pure punk firecracker with eight tracks of fearsome efficiency. Hailing from Italy, Vivere Merda combine the intensity of old Italian hardcore (Negazione, Declino, Indigesti) with the experimental spirit of Contropotere and a touch of the filthy, raw and chaotic punk of British legends Disorder, with whom they actually released a split LP in 2014. Noi Non Ci Saremo contains eight eclectic tracks in Italian that tread the fine line between Contropotere and Disorder, Chaos UK, etc. Some moments and the vocals also remind me of the perfect Capitalism is the Disease EP from Løst Wørld that came out in 1998. VapaaPäivä released Noi Non Ci Saremo with 13 other labels in the true spirit of DIY punk cooperation.

1 Bad Jesus Experience – Kaikki On Hyvin (2019)

Bad Jesus Experience – Kaikki On Hyvin (2019)

Bad Jesus Experience appeared in the early 2010s, but somehow didn’t get the international attention they deserved, even though they boast members of such legends as Kyklooppien Sukupuutto and Totuus. VapaaPäivä Records, however, decided to serve some justice and release a Bad Jesus Experience full-length as the debut release for the label. Kaikki On Hyvin features eleven fast and intense hardcore punk tracks with political lyrics in Finnish, and after several listens this band has become a personal favorite that I’ll proudly put alongside Juggling Jugulars and Hero Dishonest. Not because they sound like those particular Finnish bands, but because of the sheer energy and passion they have in their songs. Great stuff here!

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