Heart of Steel: Concert Reviews


“A METALLIC ONSLAUGHT OVER
PROVINSSIROCK FESTIVAL IN 2004”
Featuring live reviews for Mokoma, Exodus,
Hypocrisy and Testament

Review by Luxi “Metal” Lahtinen
Pictures by Luxi “Thrashing” Lahtinen & Niko “Mad” Karppinen

First off, it needs to be mentioned that this was my 1st appearance at Provinssirock festival for many years. I remember being there only once or twice before when I was at least 12-15 years younger than I am nowadays (hell... I´m still young – at least mentally, ha-ha!!). So a lot of water has been flowing under a metal bridge since those days... huh!

As some of you may know already, Provinssirock festival is one of the longest running and most established summer rock festivals here in Finland that has been either sold-out or nearly sold out for the last 3-5 years or so. I think that popularity of this festival is mostly based on diversity of different kind of bands and of course quality acts that the organizers of the festival always have always managed to book for the festival from one year to another. Some of the biggest names at Provinssirock this year were David Bowie, of course – who obviously was the most named and expensive artist for the organizers without doubts; then The Hives from Sweden, The Roots and Black Eyed Peads from the States, H.I.M. from Finland and last, but not least, both Exodus and Testament from a very much respected and adored US Thrash Metal scene.

The main reason, or actually reasons for my decision to travel to Provinssirock, Seinäjoki, this year, were the true pioneers of Thrash Metal, Exodus and Testament on the bill of Provinssirock 2004. I have seen both bands playing live once before, but now when this great opportunity was there to see both of them at one festival, it was very easy for me to set a destination toward Provinssirock 18th of June 2004.

I had originally planned to cover at least 6 or 7 Metal bands from Provinssirock 2004 for this festival report, but as ´The King Alcohol´ has this strange yet relatively mysterious tendency to lead my comings and goings during some certain festivals, I only managed to see the shows of four bands only at Provinssirock 2004, which is not that result after all, I guess. Without prolonging this nonsense intro any further, just keep on reading to find out which of the following bands made the hugest and most powerful impression on me on the stage: Mokoma, Exodus, Hypocrisy or Testament.

 

Friday, 18th of June

Mokoma (Venue: Rhythm–tent)

A fact: The Finnish thrashers Mokoma were one of the hardest and most actively gigging bands last year when they were touring for their rather sensational KURIMUS album, and this year has possibly been even more active for them gigging-wise. Mokoma´s new album, TÄMÄN MAAILMAN RUHTINAAN HOVI, which was released this spring here in Finland, put the band on the road for many months and it needs to be admitted that their live experience really shines through a great way when the guys perform for their audience. Their gig at Provinssirock in 2004 didn´t make an exception either. The band arrived on the stage with all their guns blazing, obviously wanting to offer the best possible live performance they could possibly be able to thrash out from their asses. And dear God, it seemed like there was simply no way that someone could be disappointed after seeing this furiously thrashing act onstage. Stage is, metaphorically speaking at least, Mokoma´s home; home sweet home, their madhouse, their slaughterhouse, their battle field, etc. if you allow me to use such cliché–infested descriptions overall about the band´s live appearance and strength. There was lots of crazy metalheads raging out in a huge moshpit during the entire show of the band, some more - some less drunk, but everyone seemed to have at least a bit of fun while the guys of Mokoma tried their best to slaughter everyone sonically in the audience, squeezing and sucking every drop of blood out from everyone. A relentless chaos was obviously meant to get spred and reign like a disease amongst the crazy crowd during Mokoma´s performance – and yes, these goals were reached relatively easily - and in no time, he-he!


I guess it was only natural and ´normal´ that these Finnish Thrash-men had chosen many songs off their latest album for their set at Provinssirock 2004; like they almost wanted to make sure everyone would become convinced what a hell of a bunch of killer and mind-pulverizing songs they have succeed to record for latest Thrash Metal opus, TÄMÄN MAAILMAN RUHTINAAN HOVI. For example, such songs off T.M.H.J. as far as I´m still able to remember - as “Hiljaisuuden Julistaja”, “Minä Elän!”, “Vade Retro, Satana!”, “Poltetun Maan Taktiikka”, “Hyinen Syli” and “Kiellän Itseni!” were aired furiously by this relentlessly thrashin´ and respectably well-moving 5-some. All of the aforementioned songs representing some of the finest and most aggressive tunes Mokoma have ever penned down during their whole existence. Also, some important yet very vital songs off Mokoma´s previous, amazingly well-received KURIMUS album (well, I guess mostly here in Finland, though) were heard during their aggressive and violent set. They played at least such songs off the KURIMUS album as “Mene ja Tiedä”, “Kasvot Kohti Itää”, “Punainen Kukko”, “Väsynyt Atlas” and “Takatalvi”. The whole band seemed to be in a great live shape, pulling through their 50-minutes set pretty damn effortlessly without even looking tired or bored onstage at all. The band´s strength is definitely based on their energetic, very high-octane and powerful stage presence. Mokoma´s entertainment level in a live situation is one of the most convincing I have ever been able to witness in my life and I can only recommend you to check them out if this bunch ever comes to your home town to disturb your lovely and close neighbors. Ya know, Mokoma RULES!!

 

 

Exodus (Venue: Island Stage)

For me, to see Exodus was one of the most important reasons in my final decision to travel to Provinssirock, Seinäjoki, this year. I had seen Exodus' performance at Wacken festival in 2002 for the very 1st time in my life and the band´s comeback back in 2002 succeeded in leaving me with a relatively good memory about their vintage, classic thrashing metal onslaught at Wacken festival even if I also have to say to see them with Paul Baloff would surely have been even a bit more “special” experience for me personally without doubts. But as Steve “Zetro” Souza said back then, the spirit of Paul was there with them onstage if that was meant to work out as sort of consolation for some people in the massive crowd at that moment back then? If I can be this honest, his words didn´t reach me or move one way or another – just don´t know why?
 

Back to Provinssirock next, though. Concerning the fact this also was the very first time both for Exodus to play in this isolated country called Finland - and for the Finnish Exodus fans to finally witness, after many years of waiting, these highly appreciated Bay Area Thrash pioneers in flesh and blood right here at Provinssirock festival, Seinäjoki. It was really nice to notice that so many both ´old´ - and ´new´ metal fans had dragged their asses to this festival this year – and as my assumption was, primarily just because of the mighty Exodus according to a vast army of people wearing Exodus shirts in the audience.

Just 15-20 minutes before the actual show time, sort of a “strange, but very special” feeling filled the air and it was clearly sensed out from the audience as many fans started shouting Exodus´ name anxiously, full of an unbridled excitement, and when the band finally came to the stage, the most devoted, die-hard Exodus fans seemed to go absolutely nuts in the front of their worshipped ´heroes´. The set was kicked off with “Scar Spangled Banner” which caused immensely reactions of a sheer chaos amongst the audience, soon being followed by “Deliver Us to Evil”, “Blacklist”, “Piranha”, “Til Death Do Us Part”, etc. that really raised the spirit of a memorable night of a fine Thrash Metal toward new, unexplored heights amongst the fanatical Exodus crowd. The band seemed to become one with the audience and that´s always a positive sign of a well-done show.


In my opinion the Exodus set list was a good, well-chosen measure of both new songs off their latest yet damn brilliant comeback album TEMPO OF THE DAMNED - and of course old classic Exodus ´hits´ off some of their previous albums. Hearing especially such songs as “Deliver Us to Evil”, “And Then There Were None”, “Bonded by Blood” and “Strike of the Beast” were definitely the true highlights of their set for an ol´ fart like I am. I was so damn happy to hear them playing those particular songs at that night – and a bunch of my friends around me didn´t hesitate to agree with me. Of course you could have also asked for more from Exodus, let´s say, just to get something “extra” as encores in order reach some sort of an ultimate satisfaction or whatever! I personally wanted them badly to play such songs as “Exodus” off BONDED BY BLOOD and “Seeds of Hate” off the band´s excellent PLEASURES OF THE FLESH album, but we weren´t meant to be that lucky this time around, I guess. But who knows, maybe next time they will do those songs, when they come back to play in Finland again. At least we will never give up hope – that´s already certain... ;)

The stage (being named as “Island Stage”) where Exodus played, was practically speaking, located in the middle of forest, providing an absolutely special atmosphere for their gig. I pretty much thought that it also was something special for the guys of Exodus to find themselves from the middle of forest and see all these Exodus fans there who had been anxiously yet patiently waiting for Exodus to arrive on the stage and to play as classic of an Exodus set as possible. I think all their prayers were answered because Exodus seemed to be in a much better and more powerful strike than two years ago at Wacken festival. So thank you Exodus for your ´disastrously´ fabulous gig – not only for me, but also on behalf of other Exodus fans who attended to see these legendary Frisco–thrashers playing live for the first time in Finland. Exodus indeed ruled, but so did their loud and definitely enthusiastic crowd as well... awesome!

Exodus set list

Scar Spangled Banner
Deliver Us to Evil
Blacklist
Piranha
Til Death Do Us Part
Shroud of Urine
Fabulous Disaster
And Then There Were None
Forward March
War is My Shepherd
Bonded By Blood
Tempo of the Damned
Toxic Waltz
Strike of the Beast
Dirty Deeds Done Dirty Cheap (AC/DC)

 

 

Saturday, 19th of June

 

Hypocrisy (Venue: Island Stage)

Peter Tägtgren and his hellish werewolves deep down from the abyss... Hypocrisy. Without any doubts, Hypocrisy was a really cool addition to the bill of 25th Provinssirock festival, bringing a bit more status to the festival as a noteworthy Metal festival... surely more than in any previous year in the entire history of the festival. 10 Metal bands (NOTE! Finland´s H.I.M. has NOT been counted to this particular pile; they are far from being a serious Metal band!), from Swallow the Sun´s melancholic Doom/Death Metal to Dillinger Escape Plan´s strange creation of new-school Hardcore, Progressive Metal and even jazz to Hypocrisy´s melodic Death Metal to some more traditionally thrashing acts like Exodus and Testament, made quite a soup of ´something-for-everyone´ as far as a wide range of different genres of Metal´s sub-genres are concerned.

As for Hypocrisy, this was actually the 3rd time for me to see them playing live. I saw them 3 years ago playing at Wacken festival in Germany for the very 1st time – and then last year here in Helsinki, Finland, when they were touring with the Norwegian Black Metal giants Dimmu Borgir and Finland´s Norther. So it was cool to have Hypocrisy back to Finland once again and to see them conquering the stage in front of 400-500 hundreds, madly drunk (not a bloody doubt, Finnish Metalheads do know how to booze and overall have fun, ha-ha!!) and moshing Metal maniacs.

And they indeed sounded and looked fucking good on the stage, offering a carefully chosen set of Hypocrisy songs from some of their most received and successful albums. The guys´ playing was tight as it has always been, the live sound did justice to their songs. It seemed like the band has truly tightened their grip to play live, they have become more experienced during the years. At least to me it seemed like Hypocrisy´s playing was simply flawless and pretty damn effortless even if while the guys were playing professionally, they still managed to headbang their heads off from their shoulders at the same time more determinedly than any other guys from some other Metal bands were capable of doing the same thing this year at Provinssirock festival.

What else is there actually to be said about them? Well, they mangled, killed and totally ruled live. My honest eyes and ears witnessed all that for your wide use of imagination. But seriously... Hypocrisy is absolutely one of those Metal bands that have hardly failed to do a proper live gig. They indeed are an amazing live band from every possible aspect and they show no mercy for themselves either when they want to pull off a show which their audience should always both remember and appreciate in their minds when overall thinking of these relentless Swedish Death metal patrol´s ability to offer memorable and simply great live experiences. At least I enjoyed watching them a lot, especially when they also played some older material from a few of their past albums like “Necronomicon” off the OSCULUM OBSCENUM album, “Adjusting the Sun” and “Reborn” off THE FINAL CHAPTER album and “God Is a Lie” off their quite underrated PENETRALIA album. Also, I must admit that it was kind of a flattering move from Peter Tägtgren when he renamed one Hypocrisy song from “Roswell 47” to “Finland 47” for their Finnish Hypocrisy fans...I guess on purpose, getting a storm of shout of an undivided joy in return from a thankful and very responsive crowd. I was really happy to see them playing live at Provinssirock in 2004 simply because of the fact the Hypocrisy guys surely know how to entertain fans not only through their albums, but in a live situation as well. Some bands know how to rock, but Hypocrisy does know how to kill and destroy. That´s exactly what they did at Provinssirock 2004 indeed, so it goes without saying that Hypocrisy has rightfully earned its reputation as a damn fine live band. If you disagree, I take it as you have never seen them live before then... ;)

 

Hypocrisy set list:

Born Dead, Buried Alive
Fusion Programmed Minds
Adjusting the Sun
Eraser
Turn the Page
Fire in the Sky
The Final Chapter
War within
Necronomicon
Slaves to the Parasites
Reborn
“Finland 47”
Fractured Millenium
God Is a Lie
Deathrow (No Regrets)

 

 

 

Sunday, 20th of June

Testament (Venue: Nyt –tent)

One of the highlights for me personally as far as the bill for Provinssirock 2004 was concerned, was definitely to see Testament live on Sunday, 20th of June. Testament played in Finland in 2002 for the very first time and the band was simply amazingly tight and On the other hand, one of the biggest letdowns for me was to read through the official homepage of Provinssirock that Eric Petterson had broken his leg in 3 places in Slovakia as he somehow manage to lose his footing on the stairs at the venue in Martin, at the Kozel Pub Club – resulting in an unfortunate falling. It felt a bit skeptical and terrifying knowing that he is “Mr. Testament” himself; the essential general motor of Testament´s main sound. But facts were facts and he couldn´t perform with Testament this time here in Finland, so we had better to swallow this bitter news and accept this unfortunate fact as it was offered to us.

When Testament finally arrived on the stage at 7:35PM, we – the fans of Testament – knew right away that “Metal Mike” Chlasciak (ex-Halford band) was a perfect choice from the band to fill up Eric´s boots for the rest of the European dates. He managed to play the whole Testament set through rather effortlessly and inexpressively indeed – like he would have been a part of the Testament line-up forever. His performance was somewhat flawless and convincing enough according to this tiny fact he was alone there with his 6-stringer and responsible for all guitar parts. The only thing that I found a bit disturbing was a lack of some certain guitar solos and rhythms. I mean, most of the Testament songs require two guitars in a song; they have been built up for two guitars, so I guess it´s not hard to imagine how for example songs such as “The Haunting” or “Burnt Offerings” or “Over the Wall” sounded like indeed, having only one guitar either doing alternatively the shredding – or solo parts in them. Of course Steve DiGiorgio tried his very best to help, cover, fill up and support Metal Mike with his tricky and sometimes even very twisted bass parts. And partly he even succeeded in doing his job in a splendid way to give an extra push for the lacking 2nd guitar, although in all honesty I must confess that I missed Eric´s input in the band´s live performance from time to time. I bet a few other guys did, too – and not only me.

However, I was satisfied to hear them playing such songs as “D.N.R”, “Practice What You Preach”, “The Haunting”, “Three Days in Darkness”, “Over the wall”, “Into the Pit”, “Disciples of the Watch” and “Dogfaced Gods”. It would have been a nice addition to Testament´s set list (considering I´ve always been such a damn picky bastard, HA!) if they just had played such Testament´s immortal classic tunes as “Raging Waters”, “Curse of the Legions of Death”, “First Strike Is Deadly” and “Apocalyptic City” from the band´s brilliant debut album THE LEGACY. I cannot help it, but in my opinion no other Testament album can compete with the sparkling brilliance of THE LEGACY in my books. I guess I´m at least righteous to spit out what kind of set I personally would have loved to see them performing for their Finnish Testament fans at that night. Oh well, there´s always ´next time´, so let it wait ´til the ´next time´ then...

One of the funniest episodes in any of the concerts that I have ever witnessed in my life, happened during the late half of Testament´s set when Chuck Billy introduced “Over the Wall” off the band´s classic debut album THE LEGACY to the kinda fanatic audience by a few, but well-selected words. In his introduction he also, let´s just say, ´by accident´, asked from the audience carefully if someone wanted to climb on to the stage while they were playing this song, they were very welcomed to do so, but at their own risk. As everyone can surely imagine, the security guys weren´t too thrilled about the idea. I think it´s even very fair to say, for an obvious reason. Apparently they were quite scared and thought Chuck´s request for the already relatively wildly acting and moving audience had a serious risk to turn the rest of the event to a plain, uncontrolled chaos. For their luck, anything like that didn´t happen at all, though. There was this one skinny, brave by mind, probably even quite drunken bastard in the crowd who eventually crawled and found his way to the stage after at first dropping off straight between the security barricades and the stage, luckily not hurting himself a bit, I guess. But nevertheless, he got finally his ultimate opportunity to jam on the stage together with his “heroes”, causing lots of hilarious reactions amongst the crowd. Well, at least he had guts to go there unlike none other from us.

Too bad Testament´s set was ended to “Disciples of the Watch” as I hoped and believed they could have had a couple of ´extra numbers´ in their sleeves to give to their fanatical and really supportive Finnish audience, but unfortunately they did not. However, Testament played a decent show, leaving many fans hungry for more for sure.

David Bowie was the headlining act of Sunday and we decided to watch a couple of songs from his set just to tell our friends afterwards that we have at least seen him performing live. His (older) songs don´t suck, but since there´s nothing in him that is related to Metal itself – except his expensive teeth maybe, there´s no more stories to be told from Provinssirock 2004. So adios amigos and ´til next year: “Keep it loud, heavy and first and foremost... (eh!) Metal!! \,,/ \,,/

Testament set list:

D.N.R.
Low
Practice What You Preach
Sins of Omission
The Haunting
Electric Crown
True Believer
Three Days in Darkness
Burnt Offerings
Alone in the Dark
Into the Pit
Over the Wall
Dogfaced Gods
Disciples of the Watch


(*An additional comment/confession from Luxi: I missed or ´half-missed´ the gigs of Diablo, Meshuggah, Dillinger Escape Plan and Swallow the Sun due to some strange ´alcohol-related´ reasons...* ;)

Luxi with Exodus: