Fight The Night festival
Article and pics by Marco Manzi
Every once in a while, when you live in a place like Finland where there are so many metal bands and a lot of enthusiastic fans, you find yourself in some new, interesting event. This time also the venue is totally new for me. Looking like something in between an abandoned factory and an hangout for young people (there are even skateboard ramps here and there), for two days Ääniwalli, this strange place in the neighborhood of Vallila, Helsinki, is filled with metalheads. The occasion: Fight the Night, featuring band such as Goblin (Claudio Simonetti’s version), Mortuary Drape, Master, Antichrist, and several other talented acts.
The beginning is not however so smooth: the doors open some 45 minutes later, as from outside is possible to hear the soundcheck in the venue. Unfortunately the delay is only going to get worse during the evening, messing up the entire schedule.
Despite that, the bands performing tonight are worth the wait. In fact I am not so surprised to see already so many people gathered for the Psychedelic Warlords, Alan “Boomer” Davey’s creation in tribute to his big musical love: Hawkwind, of course. The band will open both nights with two different sets, tonight is the turn of Captain Lockheed and the Starfighters. The surreal atmospheres created by these guys with their psychedelic rock are really fitting to open this Fight the Night with style. I strongly recommend to everyone to go see their show live if you ever have the opportunity. I would do that again immediately.
In the meanwhile I manage to briefly check out also a few songs of Obnoxious Youth’s gig, which is playing in the club stage. The Finno-Swedish band bring some lively show up there, with a very interesting musical mix, completely involving the crowd. Something I will have to check out on record, that’s for sure. It’s kind of funny that it’s impossible to hear what’s happening from one room to another inside this place, but the sound is indeed very loud, and the design of the hall is so that it doesn’t really seem to have the best acoustic ever.
Indeed the guys of Master are not so satisfied, as there seems to be a combination of technical issues delaying the show. The Death metallers lead by the bearded singer/bass player Paul Speckmann, however, don’t get discouraged so easily, and hit the audience with their powerful sound, starting from the opener “Master”. The show goes on among songs like “Slaves To Society”, “Submerged in Sin” and “Funeral Bitch”, as the crowd is getting heated up by the American/Czech band. Far from their latest gig in Helsinki, but still an enjoyable 75 minutes of old school thrash-influenced death metal.
Today is filled with good bands, so if you are not familiar with Jumalation, you have to see them live. These thrashers, featuring at the vocals Rytmihäirö’s drummer, are a really energetic and spirited lot. They also are a great fun to see play, which is why I recommend it again. Don’t miss them!
The highlight of today is the Italian band Goblin. Currently having two versions, the one performing here is Claudio Simonetti’s, featuring Bruno Previtali (bass), Federico Amorosi (guitar) and Titta Tani (drums). It takes an awful amount of time to set up properly the keyboards, and the band is so kind to apologize for making the fans wait so much. It’s surprising how everybody has been waiting more or less patiently, inciting the guys several time in the meanwhile.
The magic of the show is in the complex melodies filling the air with a surreal feeling in the almost complete darkness of the venue. “Phenomena”, “Tenebre”, “Zombi”, “Dawn of the Dead”, “Profondo Rosso”, are only some of the most well-known soundtrack which the guys perform today. The audience is completely captivated. Funny that I, as an Italian, had to go to Finland to see them play live for my first time.
Again running against time, I am lucky enough to see a small part of Lord Fist’s gig on the other side, as this is yet again another of those Finnish bands that gives its best live. Traditional heavy metal in all its epicness is their daily bread: the guys know how to play it, the fans knows how to enjoy it. I just regret having missed a big part of the show.
When Antichrist finally gets under the spotlight, everything should have already ended. In fact, unaware that Malicious Death has already started their set on the club stage, I miss them completely. On the other hand, the Swedish thrashers manage to keep about half of the crowd still glued against the main stage, in fact some people now seem more full of enthusiasm and energy than ever, and others attempt crowdsurfing. It’s normally rare to see Finnish people getting excited, but some guys are really into the show. I, for once, am way too tired, and have to forfeit the ending, as work is still waiting me the day after. Another of those bands I’ll have to give a proper chance in a better occasion.
Tomorrow is another day!
Saturday I have to skip the first half of the festival due to its clashing with ZZ Top’s performance in the center. Nothing to complain about, except that after yesterday I was even more looking forward to see this Hall of the Mountain Grill set from the Psychedelic Warlords, as well as Ride For Revenge. Anyway, I enter Ääniwalli just when the latter is already towards the end of the show, and so I decide not to skip at least Tombstoned on the club stage. The singer Jussi has to play sitting on a chair due to an injured (broken?) leg, but that doesn’t affect the show, which goes on riding the sound wave of stoner/doom mixed with 70’s psychedelic rock influences. It’s with these kind of bands that you can really say it’s true that “you are what you listen to”.
Again today the main course is another Italian act, although way different from what we saw yesterday with Goblin. Mortuary Drape is one of the earliest Black Metal bands on the Italian scene, and despite not being extremely active, is impressive that Walter “Wilderness Perversion” Maini has been able to carry on for almost thirty years, especially when Italy is traditionally a very difficult territory where to survive for this kind of music scene. The band is regarded surprisingly well here in Finland, where they played last at Black Flames of Blasphemy a few years ago (that was indeed a memorable gig).
Starting the show immediately with “Primordial” and “Mortuary Drape”, the red-hooded guys have no intention to go easy on the crowd today, and so does the audience itself, going completely nuts in the front. From my point of view is amusing to see Finnish people so excited for an Italian band, but I guess one could say the same when foreigners are all so pumped up about some local Finnish bands.
“Necromancer”, “Tregenda” and “Vengeance From Beyond” are some of the best moments of this intense as much as obscure ritual of darkness, and in the encore there is still room for “Inquisition” and “Cycle of Horror”. It’s hard to pick a favorite between yesterday’s and today’s headliner as they are so different. So I won’t, as they have been both very interesting shows, and for me is always a pleasure to see some good bands from my home country being so appreciated abroad.
Salem’s Pot show is pretty unique: the mysterious stoner/doom metallers hide their faces behind masks, and play with the only light given by the psychedelic images projected on the wall behind them. I didn’t know their music before, and I really enjoyed what I saw of their concert tonight. Now their debut “…Lurar Ut Dig På Prärien” will enter my “to check out”-list of bands I have been seeing live.
The good stuff hasn’t yet finished (and we are not even running as late as yesterday! good improvement), so it’s now the turn of the American Chrome, long running experimental rock band. Their music is very particular compared to everything else seen so far in this festival, and sets a totally different mood than the guys of Mortuary Drape. This might be one reason why I somehow cannot give my full attention to the show, despite part of the crowd seems really fired up. Also tiredness from a long week is starting to affect me, and luckily we are at the final moments of this event. Oh, and like yesterday I somehow miss the last band of the club stage, so hopefully I will make it up to Krypts soon.
This festival was without doubt a positive experience. Even if not without troubles, things have been already improving on the second day, and I expect that next time they will be even better. After all you learn by doing, and in addition to this, the quality of the bands make it unique and appealing at the same time to an audience who wouldn’t otherwise have many chances to see these kind of foreign bands often without traveling. Everything is well-mixed with a few talented Finnish acts as well. The location was also very interesting and in many ways appropriate to the event, even if at first it sort of looks like it’s about to fall apart any minute (and a window shutter actually did!), with some adjustments it might become even a nice venue for hosting regular events.
Looking forward to the next Fight the Night!