Steelfest 2014 – Hyvinkää Finland
Pictures by Arto Lehtinen
Steelfest has carved its immortal marks onto the metal festival map in Finland and managed to pull through these hard times whereas other festivals have collapsed. An extremely strong line-up offered killer bands from the front lines of the death/black metal genre. Even though the festival is kind of small, it has an intimate feel passionate towards extreme metal. Metal bangers have also found the festival as the fest was completely sold out. Over 3000 maniacs visited the fest during the weekend, enjoying the metal at its best. Hail! The Metal-Rules.com team spent the whole weekend at Steelfest, witnessing killer bands…
(by Arto Lehtinen)
The domestic death metal underground jewels Lantern kicked the first day off. The young death metal combo offered solid sounding stuff. But being an opening band on stage was a bit of an unpleasant job for the band when the people were still crawling into the air. However, Lantern pulled off a good sounding death metal assault during their 30 minutes.
Baptism was forced to cancel their appearance at Steelfest last year. However the Black metal squad returned to make up for that cancellation. Baptism’s ritualistic black metal hymns echoed in the catacomb of the hall. The four pieces’ set was a pure ritualistic mass from the beginning to the end. Somehow Baptism could have been a way more brutal and nihilistic in the sounds, whereas the band replied on the sophisticated performance by doing both the new and old in their set. The gig was concluded with the frontman of Sotajumala who joined to take care of the clean vocals for the last song “The Prayer”.
Raven Woods from Turkey was an entire new acquaintance for the crowd and offered a bit of exotic metal for the Finnish crowd. The Turkish metallers delivered a good sounding death metal influenced stuff. The material sounded truly strong and catchy for sure. The frontman appeared to be the most activate person on the stage, whereas other members for some reason remained more in the background. The band definitely has the potential in the songs, but they need to improve the live performance to look more vicious, just starring at the floor.
The local black metal combo has been given a good opportunity of performing the stuff of their own. The young outfit has been formed a few years ago and got the first full length out a while ago. The Hautekammio guys have absorbed all the essential black metal gimmicks. In that way, Hautakummio relied on the old Black metal approach, not even trying to reinvent the cycle again. Hautakammio sounded as blackish as it should sound in terms of brutality and aggressive and even a bit of barbaric. Hautakammio didn’t get to kneel down, instead unleashed the lesson of the raw black metal in a good way.
Maveth presents the true unholy death metal with the deadly grip. The four piece have created the lethal set of vicious sounding deadly hymns. Maveth convinced to be in extreme deadly strike at Steelfest. However Maveth have proved being a real death metal machine, the razor sharp riff and above all sounding as evil and brutal as death metal is supposed to. Maveth didn’t let down by any manners as when the quality death metal is expected, Maveth knows how to do that for sure.
Valkyrja from Sweden got on the second stage. Judging by their stage present and the outlook, one certain Swedish black metal outfit crawled to the mind for obvious reasons. Even though Valkyrja’s material was familiar to me, but the obvious references to that same Swedish leading black metal genre popped up. Despite those eccentric mind association Valkyrja handled the gig damn well by giving a good performance, living up to the music with the passion and banging the heads off. Even though Valkyrja has been around for about ten years, but the band would need some attention for sure.
The filthy thrashing whipping by Aura Noir that had been the most expected amongst the audience. The four piece Norwegian thrashers, if that title can be used in this case, unleashed the neck crushing blackened thrash maelstrom. The four piece Norwergians’ uncompromising black/thrash stuff appealed to the crowd extreme well, when pulling a lot of people to the front stage. The frontman Apollyon’s raw and savage growling sounded extreme nihilistic. Aura Noir testified to be brutal as hell with the headbanging riff. Now every blackthrasher should pick up the whole catalogue of Aura Noir.
The Gustavsson Twin Bros have possessed the metal bangers year after year and gained fanatical possessed souls. Nifelheim is known for giving a wild and sadistical barbaric live performance. The show at Steelfest was no exception. However the Nifelheim line-up had been a little bit renewed, but the evil twins with the back-up forces truly lived up to the barbaric and nihilistic show. The crowd went utter ballistic when Tyrant and Hellbutcher whipped the kids in the frontline go insane. The band as a whole sounded tight and well trained. With the vicious look Nifelheim literally slaughtered the Steelfest crowd.
Destroyer 666 along with Primordial keep visiting in Finland, playing at various obscure festivals quite regularly. Why not as Destroyer 666 always pull an asskicking show. The four piece delivered a set of the catching songs from their catalogue. Destoyer 666 literally breathes the blackened thrash metal as the Norwergian Aura Noir. The gig by the four piece offered one hell of a gig with the intensive live performance and grip on the playing. Destroyer 666 didn’t joke and play any gimmicks, just relying on the pure skull crushing riffing. Destroyer 666 went thru all the essential hymns and finally the show was concluded by Slayer’s cover “Black Magic”
The tremendous amount of people have packed the frontarea of the stage before Inquisition kicked off. Dakon unleashed the true black metal invasion. Even though Inquisition consists of two guys, but the two piece managed to create the ultimate black metal tornado with the cosmic and satanic atmosphere spreading echoeing in the indoor hall. Of course the stage performance is based on Dakon’s character and his moving on the stage. However Inquisition concluded the first day with the prestigious performance, not letting anyone down.
Steelfest 2014 – Hyvinkää Finland
(by Timo Hanhirova)
Apocryfal from Jyväskylä won a demo contest and an opening slot of Saturday. The guys’ semi-technical, semi-brutal, semi-modern death metal resides in that challenging middle-ground which hasn’t much popularity right now in the metal underground but I liked what I saw and heard. There’s touch of old death, touch of suffocationish brutality, touch of some chops from 2010ies, wrapped into the something that’s not directly cloned from anywhere. Of course they have still lots of room to develop their style, but the own identity is definitely rearing it’s head. I’m hoping these lads end up to a good real death metal label capable of handling this kind of “hard” material, not some pseudo-label Inverse Record where Finnish demo bands go to die off.
The beginning of second day was all Jyväskylä as the next band Alghazanth took the stage. This long-running patrol of black metal hasn’t been sparking my interest in ages I’m afraid. I fondly remember the second demo and that’s about it. Maybe they are just too “soft” for my taste buds nowadays. This doesn’t mean that Alghazanth is a bad band in live situation. Years passed but basically Alghazanth is still performing consistently a style that you could call “late-90ies Finnish melodic black metal. They have some good corpse-paint jobs there also, as a real black metal band should.
Nokia’s semi-legendary Convulse didn’t have second guitar this time but surprisingly it didn’t matter that much as the atmosphere of the gig was really easy-going and – paradoxically when you speak about dusty old death metal from early 90ies – fresh. Sound was clear, heavy and crushing, old songs were goodies yet again and Rami Jämsä didn’t talk any unnecessary bullshit between songs. Trio was having genuine fun on stage, and not fun in a bad, non-death metal way. Maybe the best gig out these few I’ve been witnessing during this resurrection, even without the “mandatory” second guitar. Convulse should not die again any time soon.
Archgoat is always pleasure for the eyes and ears. In Steelfest, Archgoat was somehow even more sinister than last time in Hammer I saw ‘em. Lot’s of slower stuff too which is nice. I must admit that even their material is usually great, one the main appeal is that Archgoat is one of the most “true” looking bands in the whole scene. They just look evil, bad-ass and filthy and I love it.
This year it seemed that Steelfest is doing it’s best to get every Hammer Open Air related band they can. Goatmoon was one of them. And still I have hard time to understand these guys fully. I know that they are trying to emulate some aspects of mid-90ies black metal, but they are missing the point once in awhile. Too often they sound clumsy, not clumsy-but-great like for example Gehenna in their prime. Luckily Goatmoon has also some decent highpoints in their catalogue and their live act is always energetic. I’m still annoyed by these post-teen youngsters channeling their painfully obvious party Nazism in Goatmoon gigs.
MUSTAN KUUN LAPSET
Hollola’s finest, Mustan Kuun Lapset didn’t interest me before their break so I went to eat something during their comeback gig in Steelfest. I still caught the amusing “classic” Sodoman Ilmestys. This band is probably remembered from ridiculously named split “Uusi Suomalainen Black Metal Tulokas” with Azaghal.
Drunkards of Urfaust are also something “stolen” from usual Hammer Open Air lineup. I’ve seen them so many times in recent years that I can’t say anything special about their performance. It was very ordinary Urfaust gig with very familiar songs. I’ve seen couple better from them. The most interesting fact is that IX has a quite long hair already. Still the gig was surely good enough to look from beginning to end but I’m not sure I have any fire left to see more before the set list is fully overhauled.
Desolate Shrine’s debut gig was a treat to behold. Crushing, that’s the right word to describe this heavy-as-hell performance. ‘Ritualistic’ is already a cliché to drop in these kind of situations, but what the heck, it was ritualistic. There were plenty of, maybe too much, folk on the stage as they had two vocalists, but it was just like in records. Vocal ranges are still quite similar, so they’d be OK even without extra guy. I heard that they didn’t rehearse their sinister live presence so well done boys. Lights, sounds, foggy atmosphere, everything was spot on. Maybe their music has tendency to go quite close to the borders of boredom now and then, but still, clearly one of the best in Steelfest this year. There may be more gigs coming if the planets align, so let’s see what the future holds for the temple of Desolate Shrine.
I belong to the generation whose members were in the midst of their manic black metal years when Aeternus’ debut Beyond the Wandering Moon was released. And oh boy it was an interesting album back then. Those devilish norsecore riffs were filtered through some murky dimensions to achieve heavier-than-usual sound. Also death metal-like deep vocals contributed to the fact that Aeternus was something bit different among it’s Norwegian peers. And they still are. Unfortunately my fandom ended to that debut record and seeing them live 2006 didn’t reignite any love. But in 2014 things were better. First of all, the current material sounded pretty OK, some of it was almost comparable to some old stuff. Secondly, band just performed better, more convincingly. Old songs were the highlight, of course: Brooding Raven and Blood from Dark Sorcery and aggressive Sworn Revenge from the debut. Audience, en masse, didn’t find band that interesting though. Maybe years of hiatus and some boring material before that just made people forget that these Bergenians can churn out some pretty decent metal.
The return of the old vocalist Anders Stokirk boosted hopes up that Necrophobic would play more from the awesome first album The Nocturnal Silence. Sadly, hopes were hopes. The stark reality provided just one good old song and somewhat spiritless performance from these veteran swedes. The former vocalist Tobias Sidegård had at least some wicked presence on stage. Stokirk was rusty and a bit too “nice” in his comeback gig and the rest of the band wasn’t that enthusiastic either. Still the biggest problem is that most of recent Necrophobic material is million miles away from the superb quality of David Parland era. I actually expected some words of homage to Parland, who passed away about a year ago, but nothing.
Vader is always Vader, what else to say? This Polish institute is a well-oiled death metal machine taking no prisoners. Commander Peter is almost 50 years old already, who would believe when looking him rage on stage like a young man. Band also looks utterly metal on stage with these customized leather’n’spikes uniforms so they really try to give a show, not just play their songs. And yes, they played Wings, Sothis and Dark Age, good enough for me.
As stated with Destroyer 666, Primordial keep visiting Finland more than often. The Irish heathen metal patrol enjoy the true fanatical following in Finland and pulls a lot of people to their shows. In this case Primordial didn’t make any exception. The whole area in the front was indeed packed when A.A. Nemtheanga hit the stage with the full warcustom. Primordial came and conquered the Steelfest as the last band on the bill. The audience in the front was utter in the trance reaction when following A.A. Nemtheanga’s performance and moving on the stage. It is obvious Primordial will be seen on the Finnish soil in the future for sure.
The 2014 Steelfest is over now has gained the monumental status amongst the metal fans in Southern Finland. Steelfest will get stronger in the future when and if the line-up will stay as strong and unique as this year and years before. It is going to be interesting to see what kind of ace of space the organization of Steelfest will be having in their sleeve when creating the next Steelfesti 2015. Anyway looking forward to it.