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President Obama Is Familiar With Finland's Heavy Metal Scene. Are You?

Children of Bodom is one of the many bands in Finland's vibrant — and unique — heavy metal scene.
Children of Bodom is one of the many bands in Finland's vibrant — and unique — heavy metal scene.

At White House state dinners, it's customary for a president to nod to the strengths and contributions of guest countries. And when hosting Nordic nations on Friday, President Obama paid tribute to a particular Finnish export.

"I do want to point out, that Finland has perhaps the most heavy metal bands in the world, per capita," he said, "and also ranks high on good governance. I don't know if there's any correlation there."

Albert Mudrian is the editor-in-chief of the heavy metal-loving Decibel Magazine. He says that many metalheads took note of President Obama's comment.

"The metal underground got pretty excited about the President of the United States referencing the Finnish metal scene," he says.

He says Finland has one of the most vibrant metal scenes in the world. It's estimated the country has 54 metal bands for every 100,000 Finns. But why Finland?

"I'm sure the 200 days of a bone-crushing winter have something to do with it," he says. "And perpetual darkness."

He might be on to something. Finland does share that climate with its neighboring Scandinavian countries, and metal is a flourishing genre all over the region. But while Sweden is known for its death metal bands, and Norway is famous for black metal, Mudrian says the Finns are less homogeneous.

"There's so many different types of bands, but the one thing, to me, that kind of unites them is that they all have kind of a difficult sound," he says. "Finland is making the weirdest heavy metal imaginable."

Whether there's a connection between bizarre heavy metal and good governance, however, is still anybody's guess.

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