Steelfest 2019 – Hyvinkaa Finland

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Steelfest 2019 

Hyvinkaa Finland 

The mighty Steelfest was  arranged the 9th time in the beautiful area of the former cotton factory in the centrum of Hyvinkaa, Finland.  The two-day event was completely sold out, which wasn’t any surprise as the line-up of the fest looked incredible insane great. Therefore hundreds of extreme metal fans had travelled from all over the world to witness  all in all 31 bands.  Metal-Rules.Com was present during the whole weekend.   


FRIDAY

The domestic act Discipline Of The Void  had the privilege of kicking the ninth Steelfest off.  The group is such a young and new name in the black metal genre therefore the crowd wasn’t familiar with their existence and their material.  The whole band had donned clothing with the rather typical black metal gimmicks such as some paints and a little bit bloody on their  and of course the nice looking summer shorts. Frankly they could have used some capes to create the more mythical feeling as their summer dress code looked dull. As far as the stuff is concerned, it could be described pretty normal grim sounding black metal approach.

The long time Finnish black metal squad Trollheim’s Grott didn’t rush to release the third album as there was a 15-year gap between the second and third one.  Well, the members have been rather busy with other bands and projects. Trollheims Grott just wiped the dust off from the shoulder and showed they  are definitely the leading name in the frontline of the Finnish black metal scene. The performance was strong and above all honorable to their legacy and over 20 year career. The frontman Spellgoth sounded scary good and looked truly grim with the bloodmask.

Myrskog hailing from Norway is known for musicians from Morbid Angel and Emperor and of course Odium (who was on the bill as well). The four piece delivered the uncompromising set having the intensive and brutal death metal approach with slight black metal elements.  The playing was without any doubt very tight and technical. Even though the band hasn’t released any albums since 2002, but their live performance was well prepared and trained. Why not ? Each of them has gained experience  in several other bands. Destructhor’s delivery was raw and brutal and the four piece didn’t slow down, just keeping the deadly grip in the playing through the gig.

Steelfest has always had eccentric and more underground names from other countries in the previous events. Advent Sorrow from Australia could be put in that category. Frankly offering odd and previously unknown names to the festival crowd is definitely worth it.  However some hard core black metal worshippers are truly aware of some of these names. The Australian black metal combo offered so called torturous black metal, but it wasn’t that torturous to be honest. The singer’s hilarious jump/kick movements were more than both embarrassing and hilarious. As for the Australian black metal delivery, it could be summed up by describing slow tempo combined with rock elements. Of course the keyboards brought the more melodic as well as eerie sounding feeling to the set.

The French black metal bands have constantly made a visit to Steelfest over these years. Therefore Arkhon Infaustus was basically a must. Unfortunately, the start of Arkhon Infaustus was delayed more or less 30 minutes as their gear and equipment had got lost on the way from France to Finland. However the band managed to pull the full set. Due to the hassle and extra setting, the sounds were not balanced and the performance wasn’t that tight and intensive as it could have been expected from Arkhon Infaustus. Hopefully the band will be seen on the Finnish soil to give 100 % ultimate raging French black metal.

The people started gradually crawling to the indoor venue to witness Antimateria hitting  the stage meanwhile the Frenchmen were finishing the set. Antimateria being the frontman’s own brainchild sounded splendid and above all melancholic elements definitely created the ethereal atmosphere. The audience was in one sort of trance thru the whole gig as the riffs having the elements of the Finnish grim and sorrow appealed to the audience. Antimateria’s stuff ain’t the full speed ahead stuff, instead anyone,  digging slow and as mentioned earlier melancholy stuff, would definitely love them. In this case, it could be pointed out as the whole band could have had capes as the singer did.

Brazilian extremity metal  was next on the outdoor stage. The three piece outfit simply named Evil hit the stage under the burning sun.  The guys had their faces covered with hoods and dressed up to the black clothes. The songs were short, brutal and barbaric as it could be expected.  Frankly this kind of nihilism would have worked out in some club or other type of obscure place. However the Brazilian trio definitely stayed loyal to the roots and offered a 45-minute set of extreme extremity indeed.

Black Metal from Quebec, Canada – yes – Monarque. The Quebec black metal outfit offered the melodic and kind of traditional black metal without bringing any bigger surprise. The singer appeared to be a performer as moving and gesturing on the stage during the whole set.  However the group sounded interesting and attractive, therefore their albums must be checked out for sure.

More French black metal, when Seigneur Voland began  the vicious blackish attack on the outdoor stage.  The band haven’t been that activate, being either on hold or then in active mode since 1996. However the crowd seemed to appreciate their performance. Especially the frontman appeared to be having a rude and strong delivery. The crowd definitely appreciated Seigneur Voland’s gig with memorable cheering.

Vargrav did one hell of unexpected artifice with the second album by landing on the Finnish album chart, placing third.  That definitely surprised both band and the black metal fans out there. However that brought the attention and interest toward the band. That could be witnessed as the whole indoor venue was quite packed, besides Steelfest’s show was the first ever gig of Vargrav. The melodic and melancholic riffs definitely created the magical moment, as the crowd truly lived up to it. Even though the musical side was more than perfect, but of course the stage present was quite restrained and sophisticated. As stated above, this was the first ever show by them,  however Vargrav will be seen on stages more often, they definitely develop the style for the stage presence.

When the opening intro “Masked Ball” by Jocelyn Pook started playing, people definitely picked up one’s ears and automatically pointed out to the well known welcoming intro of Ghost. No, this next band was definitely NOT Ghost, instead the Austrian death/black squad Belphegor welcomed the crowd to their ritual performance. The Austrian four piece led by Helmut definitely relies on the raw and merciless outburst of blackened death metal. Even though Belphegor seemed to divide the audience to two different camps, to love or the loathe them, but the fact is however they always put a great gig. As the sun started going down, the lights became more and more efficient, creating the great visual aspects. The intro/outro soundtracks got as well played between a few certain songs. Helmut’s voice sounded nihilistic raw and deadly. However Belphegor succeeded in doing one heck of a show for sure.

The long time Finnish metal horde Horna keeps blaspheming years after years even though members have come and gone. The current frontman Spellgoth, who did the Trollheims Grott set earlier, is one kind of dominating and impressive vocalist in the black metal scene. His philosophical and metaphoric based introductions for songs brought another kind of dimension for the meaning of each song. Above all the Baphomet blessing was effective and fitted to his way of introducing songs. However Horna’s songs were both pure extremity and harmonic elements.  Horna was once again in the vicious strike zone and  didn’t let down as they always bring evilness and darkness.

Some time had passed by since the legendary Immolation played in Finland last time.  Having them to Steelfest was a truly right place for them  along with other death/black metal bands.  Immolation received the amazing responds from the Steelfest crowd. The four piece legends gave about 60 minute set of the real technical death metal with the real brutal touch. The complex, yet catchy deadly riffs sounded splendid and made the audience enjoy the death metal. The consisted of the material from the latest amazing ATONEMENT album and all the way back to the debut album stuff. Ross Dolan’s voice sounded deep grunted deadly. His voice is definitely one hell of a trademark for the Immolation sounds. Even though it took 11 years to get them back to Finland, hopefully they will arrive here sooner.

Mysticum concluded the first day of the festival by creating the scary apocalyptic and nihilistic atmosphere in the indoor venue. The sonic  industrial meets the black metal elements sounded eerie and above all an amazingly catchy combination. Besides terrorizing the audience with the apocalyptic sonic approach, the visual aspects played the important part of their performance. The figures of the PLANET SATAN album were shown on the screen and lights created the inhuman and kind of epileptic feeling. Only the high towers were missing.

 

SATURDAY

Morgal was the first one to open the second day. The three piece has been gigging at various extreme metal fests and gained the reputation as the merciless live act. The guys didn’t let down,  even though a handful of people had just arrived at the area. Morgul raged and whipped by delivering the raw blackened death stuff without slowing down .

Another long time blackish metal band returned from a long hiatus ; … And Oceans. The group disappeared about ten years ago and spent a silent era until now. It looked they would haven’t been absent at all, just wiping the dust off and hit the stage. The playing was tight and above all the singer had painted a not-so-typical war paints on his face that looked pretty comic. His way of acting and moving on the stage had some humouristic aspects, but he truly lived up to the performance for sure. And Oceans sounded tight and above all splendid.

More black metal from Quebec besides Monarque. A band called Deletere hit the indoor stage. The band was definitely another interesting and unknown name for the crowd.  The stuff sounded the more traditional extreme black metal. Besides having fast riffs, but the melodic and peaceful elements brought another angle to their songs. However Deletere was one of these bands, which needs to be checked out.

The Norwegian bands once again had a strong representation at Steelfest. Aeternus visited the fest back in 2014. Obviously some members are also involved in Gaahls band, therefore getting two bands was quite logical. Why not?  Aeternus’ blackened death metal’ definitely appealed to the crowd who truly appreciated it.

TotalselfHatred began their set filled with the suicidal depressive and a mourning  feeling. Obviously the band seemed to have some kind of technical challenges in the beginning, but it didn’t prevent them from creating an utterly depressive atmosphere. The songs were harmonic beautiful with some relentless approach. TotalSelfHatred could have been a bit too depressive and too slow for some people, when looking for real oppressive, sullen and pure hatred, here is the band to be witnessed.

Grave Miasma has always been nothing but barbaric and ultimate raw live band. They didn’t make any exception, just nailing the songs with the intensive deadly strikes.

When the British extreme death metallers were finishing the set, the crowd started wandering to the indoor venue as the former Gorgoroth frontman Gaahl was about to start the first Gaalhs Vyyrd gig in Finland. The debut album by Gaalhs Wyrd is supposed to see the light of day or the darkest of the night anytime soon. The man himself is a true black metal legend as being a front man for Gorgoroth, God Seed has created a real man of a myth. For obvious reasons there were songs from his Gorgoroth era as the set actually was kicked off by the Gorgoroth song “Sign Of An Open Eye”. The song truly caused a ballistic reaction in the crowd, who truly lived up to Gaahls’ performance and above all music. Gaahl’s performance was full of dedication of passion, dignity and especially his way of starring thru people’s eyes looked eerie. He definitely has a huge range of vocals, as that could have been heard in his other bands. His voice sounded from the grim black metal approach to the bombastic delivery.  As for his band, they worked and sounded perfectly. However Gaahl’s performance without any doubts came and conquered the audience who were nothing, but extremely satisfied.

Deiphago was definitely one of these mystical bands playing at Steelfest. The trio hailing from Philippines had obviously picked up influences from the old school death/black metal bands as the delivery was so hellishly raw and primitive. Deiphago blasted with the restless passion and energy through the 45 minute set. Even though the band was totally unknown, but it was interesting to see what kind of bands are there in another side of the world.

Kroda visited Steelfest some years ago and gained the good respond and following. Therefore seeing them again at Steelfest wasn’t any surprise.  The band had the massive huge crowd this time and the frontline was entirely packed. Apparently this sort of more blackish pagan metal appealed to the audience quite well. Of course there were elements in their music and performance reflecting the paganism, but also have elements from beauty and gloominess. Kroda has estabalished the good following as seeing them here in Finland is quite sure.

Didn’t Einherjer make the first visit to Finland, when opening up for King Diamond several moons ago ? Even though the band has undergone some line-up changes and been on hiatus more or less, Einherjer  keeps going strongly nowadays.  The simple and catchy songs got the attention of the audience. Even though the band pulled rather a good gig, but the band divined the opinions of people ; the ones were delighted about the set, others weren’t that pleased.  Of course Einherjer’s style looked simple, but they indeed rocked on the stage.

Naglfar hit the indoor stage and the venue was totally packed. The Swedish deadly metal squad has always had the good following in Finland over the years. The band definitely sounded rough and tight, but also melodic. The frontman’s voice was still in the strike zone and sounded extremely brutal.  Naglfar didn’t slow down, they just kept punching the audience down.

When talking about  punching down, the legendary Dutch death metal squad Asphyx, definitely knew how to do that. Asphyx is always, always, brutal primitive and raw on the stage. The four piece didn’t slow down, just offering a murderous 45 minute set of the old school death/doom metal. Martin Van Drunen’s voice sounded as usual recognizable raw and brutal. Frankly he hasn’t lost any inch in his delivery.  Even though Asphyx has undergone changes in the line-up, but the they have stuck loyal to the roots of the death metal sound. The set consisted of the older material and of course new cuts such as “Deathammer”.

Odium from Norway hit the stage after Asphyx. The band definitely attracted to the black metal fans. However the most interesting thing about their history is that the whole bands was on hiatus for about 17 years.  The band’s one and only album called THE SAD REALM OF STARS came out in 1998. Obviously other bands and projects have taken times and members were committed to them, leading to the long break. The resurrected Odium features  a couple of guys from the early days and guys like theMyrskog growler are involved in the revamped line-up.  The members are so so experienced musicians and performers on the stage as it looked Odium would have never spent that long away. The playing worked well and each member handled own position professionally. Each song sounded timeless and bombastic and the amazing lights brought its own vibe. Hopefully Odium will gather together to work on the long waited follow-up to the first album.

The long time death metal veterans Vital Remains have been terrorizing the underground scene for about 30 years. The guitarist  Tony Lazano has guided the band through years without giving up even though guys have come and left more than anyone can count.  Vital Remains have never ever visited Finland before, although several other underground death metal bands have played here. When the band hit the stage and especially the frontman Brian Werner tuned out to be a real wild and relentless one. He encouraged the audience go beserk and ordered them to start pits and wall-of-death etc. His stage moves and performance had full of anger as well as crazy passion. People either loved or disliked. It didn’t matter as long as he knew what he did.  As for Vital Remains in general, they sounded truly awesome and was totally overwhelmed about the respond of the audience.  A few weeks earlier they played in Coventry, England, there were hardly 60 people, which was quite a shame. Steelfest definitely crowned their long European tour in the most memorable way. By the way how about the new album ??

Nargaroth being Ash’s own brainchild since 1996 is basically an one-man band. Well Ash’s backup band handled the playing well and Ash himself growled. So to say it simply. A couple of inverted crossed had been placed on the stage to bring more evil feeling.

Mgła has become quite huge name within a couple of years.  It wasn’t any surprise that Mgła played on the main stage at Brutal Assault  in front of incredible huge crowd. The Polish band has visited Steelfest a couple of years ago and gained an unforgettable positive response.  Seeing Mgła was more than welcomed as the band got a really huge crowd. The band didn’t offer special gimmicks, just relying on the music, no speeches or other things, just the music. Mgła’s unique style is quite simple and on the other hand well developed approach which definitely appealed to the metal crowd.

Marduk instead stood for the entire opposite approach compared to the previous band. The set of the legendary black metal squad was a total blitzkrieg from the beginning to the end when PANZERDIVISION MARDUK was played entirely at the fest.  The set was kicked off by the album title song and was followed by songs picked up from the album in an order. “Werwolf” presented the newer material from the latest VIKTORIA album. However the rest of the set consisted of one song picked up from various albums. To be honest Marduk’s gig was like a column of the artillery would have attacked the venue. It was raging and pure hate from the beginning to the end. This was how Marduk is supposed to sound and perform on the stage. Marduk shows no mercy, no pleasure, just pure aggression.

 

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