Metalheim Festival 2011: Helsinki, Finland
Band Photo: Primordial (?)
The week leading up to Metalheim festival was taut with anticipation, and excitement. The festival is hosted by the wonderful people at Metalheim Productions and takes place in two cities, Helsinki and Oulu. Each day featured five bands, and they travel between the two cities so we all partake in the epicness of the tour.
This year’s agenda boasted a fantastic lineup both days. Naturally, the week dragged on and on; and with a brand new Canon eos just waiting to be used, it felt like eternity until Friday. I finally arrived at Nosturi, and was lucky indeed to be able to interview Ville Sorvali of Moonsorrow, and later met with Kari, Gunnar and Terji of Tyr. Read the interview with Ville Sorvali here, others coming soon!
The first band of Friday night was the self described death ‘n’ roll band Ghoul Patrol. A few latecomers missed out on the thrashy and highly energetic act, and a damn shame because these guys have the kind of stage presence that fuels a great performance. Most of the set featured releases from their new album, which had just come out days before.
Second to go on was another Finnish band called MyGRAIN. Heads were banging during this set! Tommy’s deep growls complemented strong and smooth cleans; filling the venue with an air of energy that was common the whole weekend! With a quite tight rhythm section, and keyboard lines that perfectly complemented the sweeping guitar solos, these guys are completely captivating to see live. Keyboardist Eve is beautiful to watch, she loses herself in the music in a way that makes you both fascinated and unable to focus on anything else.
Next up was Norway based Audrey Horne, and four words come to mind when I recall this performance. Up close and personal. Singer Toschie pours his heart and soul into the performance in every aspect of the act. From singing into a megaphone with a microphone held up to it, and then later jumping into the crowd to perform from amidst the audience; he is ever the artist. Everything about these guys is art, whether it’s the uniqueness of what they play, or the musicians themselves. Their melodic music, and hypnotic vocals carry away the listener.
One of the most anticipated events of the night for me, was getting to see Tyr. After interviewing them prior to the show, and learning that they would be playing mostly new material, I couldn’t help but wait with bated breath to see how this show would go. They do not disappoint. Ever. (enough said, check out the new album.) The set featured mostly songs off their new release The Lay of Thrym and the crowd was highly responsive! One of the best things about their set is the complete epicness of every note they play, Heri’s vocals combine perfectly with the power metal influenced music.
The final band of the night, was Helsinki’s own Moonsorrow. Even after seeing these guys three times, it feels like a new and valuable experience each and every show. Their set plays more like a soundtrack to the wandering of the mind, and every time they end a song; tension coils like a spring, just waiting for the next note to become tangible in the mythic world they create. Images run through one’s mind, of snowy, freezing nights and long treks that chill you to the bone. Moonsorrow is an experience that is completely extra sensory. Highlights included Tähdetön and Kuuolleiden Maa. This is a band with the ability to hold each audience member completely captive, and to transport them to a place where the world is turned upside down. I was unfortunately unable to catch the encore as public transportation would have had me sleeping at Nosturi had I stayed. Thus ended Day one of the event.
Day two began with me getting up at 6 for an early morning shift that did nothing to dampen my happy Metalheim mood. I left with camera lovingly in tow and arrived just in time for the Black Crucifixion set. So tonight we started off with some Black-Death metal! Black Crucifixion recently celebrated 20 years on the music scene. I was lucky enough to catch the beginning of their set, and after my time in the photo pit was soon called to interview Alan Averill of Primordial. This lasted throughout Mors Subita's slot, so this was a band I missed.
Profane Omen was a band I was very excited to see! These guys hail from Lahti, Finland and have just celebrated the release of their third full length album "Destroy!". From the very start of the set, the audience fed off of the energy of this fantastically passionate band. The passion in their playing, was one of the high points of the night, with every member on stage you could plainly tell they are doing something they love. That alone really made the performance incredibly noteworthy. The set featured mostly songs of their new album “Destroy!” and was well received by the enthusiastic audience! A lot of bands in this genre can struggle to keep up with the live act, but Profane Omen was spot on, and did not miss a single beat. One of the highlights of their performance is they simple fact that they all look like they are having the absolute times of their lives up on that stage. Seeing musicians who love what they do, makes them a unique concert experience, and one that is intoxicating to watch.
I did miss the A.R.G. gig as I got a chance to catch up with Jules Näveri of Profane Omen. (Interview will be uploaded soon.)
The last band of the night was the highly anticipated Irish Black Metal band Primordial. After catching these guys years ago at the Paganfest tour in North America, I was impossibly eager to see them again. Primordial has a brand of stage presence that both aggressively intimidates, and yet beckons with dark appeal. The setlsit was a great mix of new songs off of Redemption at the Puritans Hand and older favorites. “Bloodied yet Unbowed” was featured early in the set, and the deep and undeniably epic performance had my heart threatening to jump right out of my chest. Soft yet ominous guitar interludes leave the listener in an almost hypnotic state. One of the most turbulent moments of the night was the performance of “Coffin Ships” in which a moment was taken to introduce the concept behind the song, which was of all the cultures that had died being displaced from their original countries. The rawness in the vocals is completely transcending all else, Primordial has the distant capability of rendering everything else but the music and the moment completely irrelevant. Every musician on stage was completely lost in this it seemed, and the audience matched them. Looking down from the second floor, all one could see in the dim red light was the figures on stage headbanging, and illuminated fists raised proudly and triumphantly in the air. Perhaps one of the best things a band has done, was to skip the useless fake leaving preceding the encore, Primordial promptly announced the show was over and that they weren’t going to do the walk off; instead they jumped right into an encore that left the crowd lost in the destructive whirlwind. At one point, whiskey bottle in hand quite empty; Averill jumped into the photo pit, and from there directly into the audience, crowd surfing among a frantic sea of hands supporting him while he sang. The audience went completely nuts, Helsinki could not have expected a more profound experience then Primordial had given to us.
Metalheim Festival was a massive success in my opinion, and I'm really looking forward to next year. Photos from Metalheim will be uploaded to the photo gallery soon.
Rachel Roth has studied classical music and folk music at the University level, and enjoys studying Folklore in her spare time. She is an avid metal fan lucky enough to be living in Helsinki, Finland, where she now studies social work. Currently, she has expanded her love of music to include photography and freelance writing. You can see more of her photography here.
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