Steelfest doen’t bargain nor joke when announcing bands for the fest. Its infernal and barbaric line-up has always offered a great deal of the most nihilistic and sadistic bands of the extreme metal. The line-up of Steelfest 2018 was both amazing and spectacular. The reputation of the fest has traveled fast across the border to several other countries as most tickets had been sold to foreign visitors. Obviously, Finnish metal fans doesn’t understand or appreciate bands like Tormentor, Mortiis, Watain etc. Nearly 3500 extreme metal bangers made a visit to the fest during the weekend. Metal-Rules.com visited the festival and witnessed a whole bunch of great gigs by great bands. Here is a brief article of the fest.
Review and pics by Arto Lehtinen and Timo Hanhirova
The domestic black metal squad called Havukruunu had the honor to kick off Steelfest. The four-piece did an appearance at the Steelchaos indoor fest last year and received and extremely positive response and gained quite a few new fans for sure. Therefore seeing them at Steelfest was more than a logical choice. The band has gigged quite a lot and has transferred intensive energy as the result of the experience of the constant live playing into their performance at Steelfest. The band was definitely in the good strike thru their slot.
Baise Ma Hache hailing from France as Peste Noir, who actually made a visit to Steelfest last year. Apparently they share the same kind of kindred spirit feeling even though Baise Ma Machine ain’t the PN copycat. Baise Ma Hache with two growlers were a bit sloppy. The music was quite simple, but catchy. Both the singers preached the vocals. Having two guys on the mic was quite odd, obviously it has some kind of meaning.
Archgoat needs no introduction as the three-piece black metal commando squad is such a legendary unit in the genre. The three piece is used to unleashing the blasphemous hymns and the trio didn’t make any exception at Steelfest. Archgoat always sounds raw and barbaric. Even though the bass failed to work, but it didn’t prevent the three piece from creating the murderous set of the most grim and evil sounding black metal with the Archgoat style.
Satanic Warmaster is always one of the waited acts at extreme fests for sure. The Warmarters have been spreading the blasphemous hymns for about 20 years by now and there is no end to be seen on the horizon. Their performance was one example of how the barbaric and raw black metal should sound and should be played. The frontman Werwolf has guided the band through these years and knows how to create a nihilistic/grim atmosphere, but also bombastic. Satanic Warmaster sounded truly bombastic, evil and above all bloody good.
Destroyer 666 has always been a regular visitor in Finland at various underground metal festivals. However the destroyers definitely have the most fanatical and loyal following in Finland, therefore it is pretty logical to see them playing here. The four piece hit stage and brought real intensive head banging, tight playing, and a set of merciless Destroyer 666 songs. The four-piece is one hell of tight playing unit and has a pure sacrificing attitude for live metal. Destroyer 666’s black/thrash metal storm definitely worked well.
Nokturnal Mortem did their debut gig at Steelfest a few years ago and received extremely great respond. Therefore seeing them again at the fest wasn’t that big surprise, as The Ukraine pagan metallers drawn massive crowd and received the extreme great respond. As for their triumphant return to Steelfest, well the band’s look was quite forested as the whole combo definitely draws all the influences and inspiration for the stage manners, and the way they look, from the nature and the forest culture. To be honest, their clothes looked absolutely amazing and great. Nokturnal Mortem’s folk and pagan oriented stuff is splendid, but some reason their performance and playing wasn’t that sharp. Obviously the newer material wasn’t that known amongst the audience, as afterwards there was different sorts of opinions given. Despite a bit rusty performance the Ukraine forest/folk metallers pulled thru professionally.
Watain got into the problems some time ago because of one of members was accused about all kinds of side activates. Therefore he was temporarily removed from the line-up and the front-man Erick Danielsson had to pick up the guitar. Watain as a four piece at Steelfest was quite an interesting pull. Watain’s stage looked like one hell of fiery sea. The frontman entered the stage with a flaming torch and set crosses on fire. It definitely looked impressive. Watain’s black metal assault was merciless and barbaric. The band’s brutal approach sounded time-to-time a bit chaotic and restless. That didn’t prevent Watain from creating the raw and nihilistic black metal.
When Mortiis was announced to Steelfest and above all doing the whole “Ånden som gjorde opprør” album definitely caused the real shock wave reaction among the ambient fanatics. The whole thing was carried out in the simplest way ; bringing a synthesizer, the man with the mask and a few rollups. Frankly all the artists of this genre seem to prefer quite a simple outcome with the stage construction and focused on playing on the music. So did Mortiis, who let the music speak for itself.
Asagraum being a Dutch female black metal compo. The audience was both familiar and unfamiliar with the band’s material. However Asagraum pulled a nice set of the grim sounding metal with a bit of the haunted approach. The band’s front lady Obscura has a ripping style in the vocals. Frankly, Asagraum delivered a great performance and a great set of songs from the debut album Potestas Magicum Diaboli.
Demilich has been doing a nostalgic trip to the debut material quite a while by now. Obviously Demilich relies on that easy way going and keeps doing the nostalgia flashback from now on. As for their Steelfest gig, well as stated earlier, another flashback return to the death metal era of the early 90’s. The singer’s speeches between songs were boring and were nearly to the stand-up stuff. Demilich sounded brutal and technical, but all kind of ridiculous tuning of guitars between every song and non-sense driveling was totally unnecessary. Demilich have never been any full scale live band, but their death metal is lethal.
Alghazanth has announced about calling its quits. The band’s ultimate passionate playing and performance was so intensive. Obviously the band wants to sacricife themselves for the last ritual performance before it is all over. This was obviously the last chance to see them at the stage.
Saor, hailing from Scotland, was a surprising nice and new acquaintance. The band didn’t stand for the most barbaric death/black metal outburst. Instead the Scottish band ladled the influences from the folkish elements and added some doom metal parts. The violin brought a different kind of vibe to the music. For some reason, the older My Dying Bride sounding stuff with the strong violin playing occasionally popped up to the mind. Saor truly came out of the blue for several people. They definitely attained some new fans.
When speaking about the Swedish death metal scene of the early days, everyone is able to name Entombed, Grave, Unleashed and Dismember as the big four of the scene. However, there were a lot of bands having started out in the same era, but they didn’t reach for the ultimate status and highly appreciated as the previously mentioned. Instead they have soldiered on through these years and released killer outputs. One of them is definitely Necrophobic. The band hasn’t given an inch and stayed loyal to the roots of the nihilistic death/black metal approach. Necrophobic hit the stage at Steelfest to bring a lesson in total raw death/black metal. The five sounded extreme brutal and truly conquered the stage with a passionate and raging performance. The old singer’s return to the fold happened a few years back and he has improved a lot since rejoining. His performance was pure dedication and pure anger at Steelfest. Necrophobic sounded truly great and did a real blasting deadly set.
Forteresse hails from Quebec, Canada. They seemed to be one of the waited acts on the roster. The band’s simple and kind of raw approach was accepted by the crowd more than well. Even though the crowd seemed to dig the band’s primitive and quite dry approach, but after their stuff was quite appreciated. The stuff didn’t sound quite as well live as the band definitely sounds superior on releases.
Necros Christos hailing from Germany has visited Finland and gained a loyal cult following. All the gigs of Necro Christos have been one hell of ritualistic experience. As for their appearance at Steelfest, their performance was quite stripped down. They had left out the capes etc and the ritualistic feeling was pretty much gone. Obviously Necros Christos’ blackmass work much better in a smoky club environment than an open door festival. The band focused on the newer material off from the latest output and therefore several older well-known songs had been dropped.
Cult Of Fire from the Czech Republic has visited Finland a few years back. They are known for having quite a ritualistic stage manner and. The draws from various religious aspects like Catholic and Buddist culture. Their bombastic and a bit chaotic sounding black-ish metal was truly fascinating and interesting. The singer seemed to have unexpected problems with the hooded mask as it fell off from his head. Cult Of Fire truly offered a pure ritualistic gig with the cult influenced manners and gimmicks.
Dodheimsgard must have smoked weed or eaten local mushrooms as their appearance and performance was quite “high”. Obviously not, their schizophrenic music with the fanatical singer was such a weird combination. The band’s avantgad sounds demands a listener to focus on the material as it is so complex and demanding. Their gig was truly funny as well as entertaining.
Moonsorrow did an outstanding performance a few years back at Steelfest, therefore expecting another triumphant performance by the Finnish pagan metallers was definitely obvious. The most pleasant and biggest surprise as far as the Moonsorrow performance is concerned was the temporary return of the original bass player, composer and lyricist, Trollhorn, who has rarely been seen at the stage with Moonsorrow nowadays. The playing time for Moonsorrow was more than suitable, the darkened evening created the magic and special atmosphere for the Moonsorrow gig. As Trollhorn made a special appearance for Moonsorrow at the fest, whereas the frontman Ville Sorvali focused on the stage manners and taking care of vocals and communicating with the crowd. Even though he hasn’t performed without that bass, however he did a fantastic job by taking the stage over. The set was a pure magic and gold, consisting of Pimeä, Suden Tunti, Kivenkantaja, Kuolleiden Maa. Moonsorrow offered a great great gig once again.
Tormentor is nothin a pure cult band for several underground freaks. The Hungarian black thrash metal outfit unleashed a number of demo tapes which got spread out via tape traders . As everyone is expected to be familiar how Tormentor’s frontman Attila Csihar landed the vocalist job in the Norwegian black metal squad Mayhem. Booking Tormentor to Steelfest was a real act of culture by the organization of the fest. Apparently the interest toward the cult names was huge as they sold quite a few shirts. As for the gig, it was a blasting set of the cult Tormentor songs. Even though the songs are older than time, but they still sounded vicious and aggressive and barbaric. The setlist was pure magic from the beginning to the end, including such Heaven, Elizabeth Bathory, Tormentor. The whole band had successfully updated the habits to the black metal style of nowadays. Attila was definitely on fire at the stage, his maniac acting and growling was insane and barbaric. Even though the second guitarist seemed to have some technical problems, that didn’t prevent them from doing the real crushing set. The sounds were absolutely amazing and brought the new breed to the old gems. Tormentor is without any doubts a must see band for all the old school metal fans. It is one kind of chance to witness them at the stage before getting back on the hiatus…permanently??
Even though the fest has faced all kinds of resistance and backstabbers from various organizations, Steelfest keeps going on, even stronger than ever before. It is going to be interesting to see what kind of ace the organization of the fest will pull out of their sleeve when booking bands for the next event. All in all 25 bands performed at Steelfest this year and some of them have played at the fest before. Of course it is a bit challenging to find bands that have never played before at the fest. However we’re looking forward to what they shall announce for Steelfest and Steelchaos. One thing is certain; it is going to be mind-blowing for sure!