Solstafir and Hexvessel Mesmerize Nosturi in Helsinki, Finland
These days I’m beginning to think that I live at Nosturi. There’s always familiar faces working, and in the photo pit as well which makes for a rather comfortable aspect to an otherwise extremely exciting and unique event.
Icelandic heathen metallers Solstafir embarked on a journey through Finland last week which started in Helsinki on Thursday. I've been waiting a few years to finally see these guys live, and it was with bated breath that I arrived at the venue on a rainy Helsinki day. The tone for the evening was not the usual drunken folk metal vibe, though I appreciate that on occasion as well! All in all, the event in store was a thought provoking and contemplative one.
First band up for the night was Hexvessel, a self proclaimed “Psychedelic Folk” band out of Tampere, Finland. They were actually formed by an Englishmen, who apparently now resides in Finland and is creating this interesting cultural fusion. One can really hear the English folk influences in these ballad like melodies that seem to predominantly have a focus that consistently revolves around nature. I have to say, this was not my style of music, but I have immense appreciation for the creativity displayed by the band.
One aspect of the instrumentation that really stand out for me was the violin. As a violinist myself, I have to say I am incredibly fed up with violinists all over making the swap to electric over amplified acoustic. We are meant to be raging and lovely; melodic and captivating, and above all in my opinion: organic. In other words, not a replacement for guitars or solos. The violinist playing for Hexvessel this evening added a lovely ambience to the set, providing lovely lilting lines that melded well with the somewhat Tool like vocals of singer Mat McNerney. The set as a whole was somewhat trance inducing, and altogether interesting.
After a thought provoking set from Hexvessel, the reason for which I had left my home on this rainy spring day did not leave me disappointed. Solstafir is one of those bands that constantly leaves you wanting more. Though I may not have been happy with my unusually short session in the photo pit, I have to say that the show itself was so fantastic it more than made up for pit issues.
Highlights of the evening included an energetic and ambient performance of Köld, which started the evening off on a more straightforward note. As the room gradually filled up, I was stricken by the silence from the captivated audience. The emotion was thick in the air and permeated throughout the venue, in waves that forced even the most drunk attendee to pay strict attention to the dimly lit stage.
The moment that kind of made my night was the performance of "Fjara." I don’t speak Icelandic and I have no idea what this song is about, but I’m not ashamed to say that "Fjara" is so impossibly and utterly lovely that it brings tears to my eyes every time. The vocals in this song are heart wrenchingly ripe with emotion, and leave your heart aching and your ears ringing from the seemingly immortal notes that have been graced upon them.
The set featured a wide range of material, and especially from their latest release Svartir Sandir, and I’m quite sure not one audience member was left disappointed. After an enthusiastic and surprisingly energetic encore the evening ended, and we left to our after parties and trains still contemplating the pure musical epicness of the evening. Check back for photos 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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