The infamous black friday came early in Helsinki this year in the form of the fourth Black Flames OF Blasphemy festival. And in the black friday you must spend your money. (Un)fortunately there was not that many sellers around, just one distro and the table with band merchandise, so the real soul of the underground metal scene, the hoarding of vinyl records and the other merchandise was not omnipresent like in some other festivals. We came to hear and see the latest goodies from the black/death scene and we did just that. Here is the brief article of the Black Flames Of Blasphemy festival.
Article by Arto Lehtinen and Timo Hanhirova
Pics by Arto Lehtinen
I was there right from the beginning to witness the very first band, the Finnish Arsonist Lodge. The band was personally musically unknown even though they’ve existed for a while already. The name is more or less familiar just from the distro lists, but listening their OK, but a bit bland, black metal, didn’t inspire me to run into merch stand to buy their records. Not a lousy band by any means…but forgettable. In Finnish they sang some inverted christianity (where you replace “God” with “Satan”) music before and after the show which was funny though.(TH)
Svartidauði’s slot was a bit too early because this band just kills on stage and deserves all the more attention. These Icelandic lads have injected something special into their formula of a religious-like black metal ritual to set they apart from others in the scene. They are violent, but intelligent, hypnotic, but not dully repetitive. It’s an unmerciful wall of sound but it’s still full of nuances and interesting riffs. Some may be annoyed by the rock star antics of vocalist Sturla Viðar but I think they bring in interesting contradiction as otherwise the band is as underground as it gets. I must admit that the first time couple years ago was still the most rewarding Svartidauði experience for me but this gig in BFOB was good, very good.(TH)
After this total experience, the next band should have been the mighty Funeral Winds. Due the problems in flights, they didn’t make it. At least I was very disappointed. Fortunately KRK got a worthy replacement, Kadotus, but I was too annoyed by the missing Funeral Wands and exhausted from Svartidauði to pay any real attention. They are good though.(TH)
I haven’t listened to the Québécois band Akitsa in ages so I didn’t remember any songs. Maybe because of that, the gig was a splendid surprise. They have this Burzum-esque thin black metal sound on their records, but the bassy, heavy punk sound at Nosturi worked for me. Many fans of the band disagreed though, as they hoped to hear the Akitsa of albums. The Canadians’ live presence is absolutely spot on, especially the singer is commanding in his minimalism, just standing and looking, errr, commanding. When you compare the gig to Absurd, the band from Akitsa is definitely getting some of their punkish influences, the aura was not as wild and sweaty. Akitsa is subtle, militant and authoritative, as it should be. I’m suddenly yet again interested in this band.(TH)
Satanic Warmaster enjoys a true following amongst die hard black metal fans. As there were a plenty of metal bangers from other countries, the frontman Werwolf himself communicated in English throughout the whole gig. However, Satanic Warmaster turned out to be in an extreme vicious strike, and in a brutal mood. Werwolf’s nihilistic dry growling truly pierced thru the head. Satanic Warmaster unleashed a pure black metal maelstrom thru the gig without giving any mercy or peace.(AL)
Cult of Fire is gaining some momentum around the Black Metal world, but that must be because of those funny outfits, not because their music is anything to rave about. There’s a connection to Maniac Butcher but that band is not particular great either so no bonus points from me. The “Ghost” of black metal, said my colleague, probably true but I kind of appreciate the fact that somebody has guts to go so overboard with their pretentious gimmickry.(TH)
Polish Plaga is hyped, but lazy as I am, I was not familiar with their material beforehand. Sorry to say but I didn’t get blown away. This is definitely not a new Mgła, yet. Plaga’s songs were just too basic, melodies too predictable. But maybe they will grow on me when I have a change to listen their album as I hear some potential. As a live band they didn’t look great, quite the contrary. Badly made corpse-paints and overall shyness could still be honed away, so I don’t count Plaga out yet.(TH)
Obviously, the new dresscode for black metal bands is some kind of eccentric cloak dressing. Several bands, including Inferno, had chosen that way of dressing. Does that look grim and evil? Well at least it brings one kind of mysticism and faceless as well. Of course those cloaks may refer to these religious anticipations as well. Inferno from Republic Czechia was into the raw black metal approach with the traditional hymns.(AL)
The domestic Obscure Burial, featuring the frontman Fyrdkal of Kadotus btw, could be described as a hybrid mix of black and death metal. Even though the band truly sounded brutal with an old school grip, something was missing, or didn’t click on this lame concert attendant. Obscure Burial is definitely a worth to be checked out as the material is truly killer and appeals to the blackened hearts.(AL)
The Ruins of Beverast definitely divides the audience into different camps; the band is either worshiped or disliked. However, Beverast’s heavy sounding tunes truly rolled the base of the Nosturi club. The band’s slow doom oriented death whatever metal is like tons of bricks falling on the head. The clean vocals sounded a bit uncontrolled whereas the deep growling fitted to the soundworld of The Ruins Of Beverast more than perfectly.(AL)
Sargeist was alarmed to replace Ride For Vengeance in the very last time. The four piece black metallers pulled the intensive ritualistic black metal worshiping. Sargeist always offer the guaranteed evilness in its true forms. The raw black metal approach appealed to the crowd cheering the anti-christian atmosphere.(AL)
Black Dawn went on a hiatus as the frontman teamed up with Enochian Crescent, when leaving EC he reactivated Black Dawn. The True Black Dawn was the true pioneer in the Finnish black metal genre back in the day. After the resurrection The True Black Dawn have rarely played live shows, but being at being at Black Mass Of Blasphemy was a right place for The True Black Dawn. The frontman Wrath’s dry and eerie vocals definitely fits to the barbaric sounds of The True Black Dawn. Wrath is definitely one hell of a character frontman on the stage. His corpse absolutely exhales the nihilism and one sort of danger. His self-dissection on his forehead refers to his passion to the self mutilation even though the wildest years are probably long gone. The True Black Dawn crowned the gig by giving a blood blessing for a young maid.(AL)
Aosoth, hailing from France, was definitely an exception compared to most of black metal styled bands on the bill. Aosoth’s stuff can be described as a mix of militant death metal and dark metal. The sounds had been turned to make Aosoth unbelievable brutal and barbaric. The frontman truly lived up to the performance by having the eccentric acting on the stage.(AL)
Yet another band with long cloaks and covered faces hit the stage. The Greek occult black metallers Acherontas created the more ritualistic atmosphere with the flaming incenses. The Greek occult metallers offered rather pleasant and sophiscated black metal approach before the legendary Marduk unleashed more grotesque black metal with an intense performance. Even though Acherontas is capable of creating a set with a dark and mystical feeling, in the long run the stuff started being a bit boring after the long day and night.(AL)
Heck, Marduk was once a great band! Their prime was relatively short and those few classic albums in early to mid 90’s tend to be forgotten as they have been churning their relentless but uni-dimensional blasting mess on way too many albums. Things could be worse though. The inclusion of Arioch/Mortuus on vocals back in 2004 is slowly paying dividends, and there’s indeed new life in this reanimated corpse. But now it’s time to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the great Those of the Unlight album and to play it in it’s entirety. I’d probably take Opus Nocturne over this but for many this it the Marduk’s finest moment and deservedly so. Marduk was basically satanic death metal band in their first album and the roots were apparent as gig started unsurprisingly with dynamic opener Darkness Breeds Immortality. Absolutely superb track and more goodies followed. Sound was optimal and the band was involved, so nothing to complain about. The Black from Dark Endless was a welcomed addition and even couple tracks from Serpent Sermon were ok, but oh my, does somebody really want to hear tracks from Panzer Division Marduk in this kind of special evening? Not me.(TH)
EPILOGUE OF EPITAPH ?
Was this the last Black Flames Of Blasphemy festival ever? Who knows? Rumours have been spinning around like wildfire about the future of the KRK organization. Will the Hammer Open Air be arranged in the next summer? There are a lot of unanswered questions. It would be an extreme pity if the guys of KRK are about to throw the towel. Hammer Open Air was a tremendous great and outstanding festival offering a real obscure dissection of the cult underground names from the traditional metal to the extreme black metal. Hopefully the Black Flames Of Blasphemy festivals will be arranged in the future.