Depeche Mode live in Oslo

Going to a concert of a band you used to listen to sometime like 15 years ago (even if back then I was on the ‘haters’ side) is one fantastic emotional roller-coaster. This is maybe the thought that followed me for the entire duration of Depeche Mode’s concert at Telenor Arena in Oslo. Prior to this, there was an opening band called Big Deal, but after the first two songs in which they didn’t show energy enough to warm up the first row in the crowd, I minded my own business of sorting some ticket for a friend and helping people find each other. So they were a little deal for me that evening.

When the lights turned off and the small flashlights showed the way the artists should walk on stage, I did get a good amount of goose bumps, followed by a big smile when I saw Dave Gahan entering the stage via a neverending pirouette and happy to look at the remaining 3 original DM members in flesh and bones. My enthusiasm shrank a lot when I saw that there are 3 keyboards on the stage, besides the drumkit. I quickly understood that if I am to rate the stage show of the artists, I can’t give them more than a 2. Later on it turned into a 3 due Dave’s constant dancing and ass shaking.

But if you ignore the static part of their show – afterall, their music is not based on guitar solos and fast headbanging tunes – then there’s plenty to enjoy. They have pretty skilled designers for their light show and the projections chosen for various songs. They must have melted the hearts of many by projecting puppies during ‘Precious’. And I really liked the live effects added to the musicians’ movements, especially when they were switching insanely quick between live images.

Dave Gahan’s voice sounds great and he knows how to get the crowd wrapped around his little finger by allowing them to sing famous chorus parts and then directing their ‘Ooooohhh’s. Or simply by taking off his jacket, followed by his vest and exposing his tattoos. Martin Gore can also sing the band’s ballads and the acoustic moments that he’s performing only with one of the keyboard players are quite touchy. That is, if you don’t focus on his outfit and try to figure out whether he is an alien or a character from the Wizard of Oz. But yes, the ballads are working great with his vocals.

The first part of the concert was well balanced between old hits and new songs that I personally never heard prior to the concert. But 2-3 songs before the comeback and all 5 after the comeback were some of the band’s biggest hits and that’s when the whole crowd in Telenor arena turned into a fantastic sight. I was dancing like crazy during ‘I just can’t get enough’ and I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face when I saw that hundreds of people were doing the same. This is the perfect concert spirit. I also smiled when one guy managed to climb the stage and started happily waving at us until the security guys took him down in a rather harsh way (or so it looked from where I watched).

The intro of Personal Jesus was nicely mixed and kept us in a bit of doubt for a while. Enjoy the silence was more or less the highlight of the evening and I never thought that Never Let Me Down Again can be such a perfect concert end. It got even better with lovely company after the show and a fantastic display of nature’s beauty during a heavy snowing session long after midnight. Perfect to, once more, enjoy the silence.

CONCERT COMBO IN COPENHAGEN

The last weekend of September 2013 meant a trip to Copenhagen, initially booked to go to a new Leprous concert together with a bunch of awesome music enthusiasts whom I meet here and there in Europe for concerts. And not only. And mainly for Leprous concerts. The venue where the event took place, Beta 2300, offered a combo ticket for both the Leprous concert and the Orphaned Land and support acts the day before. Sounded good. It sounded even better when Leprous has announced that Vulture Industries will be their support act for this part of their tour, meaning I’d end up seeing this band three times in two months. Absolutely no reasons to complain, since I don’t think there’s too many current bands in Norway who top the live performances of neither Leprous nor Vulture Industries.
bilocated02bilocate01

We skipped the first band of the first evening due logistic reasons and arrived sometime during the second show by the French band Klone. We saw a bit of the show, then went around to check the merchandise and figure out where things are around the venue and what the beer choices are, and the concert seems to end in no time. There’s talent in the musicians and the music sounded pleasant, but it didn’t seem to be catchy at that moment in time. They deserve another chance though. A really cool surprise came from the next band though, Bilocate, having its origins in the big supplier of metal music, the country of Jordan. Leaving the joke aside, I remember shaking my head in approval many times. Their music is like a rollercoaster as it walks you through a very interesting mix of doom/death and Oriental sounds, but dwelling enough in what specialists might also call progressive. The voice is good, it sings beautifully or growls the hell out of your brains. There’s a lot of surprises in the way they build the songs, nothing seemed boring, all has a proper atmosphere. So, thumbs up and they’re already added to my playlists.
Orphaned_land01Orphaned_land02Orphaned_land04Orphaned_land05
I have heard a bit of Orphaned Land’s latest release, ‘All is One’, yet, I am more familiar with the previous releases. And I got a feeling of inferiority when, during each song, whether old or new, the crowd around me would know the lyrics and sing along or jump or clap and know just about every beat. I should have expected it though, considering the amount of tshirts and hoodies with the band name. I heard many good stories from other friends who attended their concerts before and I can only agree with them. The band from Israel is very charismatic, has so much groove and intensity in the sound and, above all, is really acting like a warrior for peace. I usually like the friendly atmosphere at metal concerts, but when the main act is telling you how we all are brothers, and despite the idiocy of the politicians and the media, a band from Israel is able to share a tour bus with one from Jordan and travel the world in peace and good mood, we should all just do the same. And after that, it really feels like a brotherhood. We also got to hear some jokes during the time one of the guitars got fixed and it turned out that the singer is not actually JC. But he still has his charisma. Unfortunately, I left after the first half of the concert so I don’t know how much hotter it got in the small venue, but it’s always uplifting to see such an enthusiast crowd. Even if it is so difficult to swim through it towards the exit.

Saturday begun sometime after noon with good mood, good food and stories that were harder and harder to believe by the time we got to the venue. Once there, we started continuing the beer inspired debates until we got interrupted by drum noise, about 15 minutes prior to the expected concert time. We all thought it was a soundcheck, but it sounded too familiar so I decided to run to the stage and to actually realise that Vulture Industries had started their performance. They chose to do so with ‘Lost Among Liars’, a song for which they recently released a video and which feels a tad lazier than the avalanche of madness that they delivered for the rest of their performance. Wearing their classical dirty worker uniforms with mandatory suspenders and mainly bare footed, the five Norwegians have slowly acquired the interest of most of the audience by offering us the last drops of energy they spared for their final show of the tour. No compromise were made and after, the warm-up ‘ballad’, the band’s singer, Bjørnar E. Nilsen decided the scene is too small for all five of them so he started wandering among the crowd and singing straight into their faces. At some point, during one of the pretty dancy parts of their melodies (I’d guess it was Blood don’t Eliogabalus), all of the band members left the stage and followed the singer through the crowd. They have to find a way to take the drummer with them as well. Anyways, it’s not only the crazy actions and expressions that this band is good at. They do have some of the most interesting songs I heard lately and their recently released album, The Tower, is a piece that shouldn’t miss from your collection. There’s so many beautiful guitar parts, there’s a lot of groove in the bass, there’s very interesting drumming parts with nice, even unexpected tempos; all of them are backing up some very special type of vocals that can do just about anything they want, from clear and beautiful singing to dark and mad growls and to macabre psychotic whispers. A voice that also held us a very inspired speech at the end of the concert, saying that the CD is for sale for those who liked the music but as well for those who hated their music, since it makes a perfect present for a person you hate. You can watch the final song, including the inspiring speech, here

After finding out that I know the bartender’s brother during one of my 50 requests for a glass of water, it was time for Leprous to take over the Danish stage to perform an extended set. I already saw the band’s new bass player and I knew he would do a great job, but I didn’t know that the drummer they are using for this tour, Baard Kolstad, a drummer I saw playing solos in the middle of the night on the main street of Oslo. This practice brought him some serious skills, but it took me a while to get used to how hard he is actually hitting the drum kit. It was quite impressive to see him doing it for the duration of the whole concert.

I feel like I’m always saying the same thing about every new Leprous gig that I review, but I can’t do anything about this feeling: each show simply is above their previous one. They are a very hard working band, they have invested more and more in their image and stage appearance and for this Coal tour they brought along a pair of TV screens and their own lights that build the exact atmosphere the band desires. But there’s not much time to actually understand what the purpose of the visuals is. They are disgusting, intriguing, sad, depressive, fast, colored…but the band itself is too interesting to watch and your attention has little time to perceive anything else. Leprous is still a young band, after all they started making a name more or less three years ago. And I have a big dose of respect for them for managing to have their second headlining tour in such a short amount of time. They probably attract more and more fans through the fantastic energy that emanates from their show. When they headbang, it looks like they’d soon break into pieces due the force they put in their moves. By the end of the show, their clothes are more wet that if they had spend time outside in the rain. Plus, they also have a fantastic way of rearranging the songs live and adding some of the coolest passages ever. Dare You, a song from their first album, is a good example of such a live refinement. With each tour it makes me curious to see how far they go with the rearrangements. In a way, I can’t wait for their next tour, mainly because of this reason. The only improvement I’m expecting is the re-introduction of the song ‘White’ in their playlist. I know I have the support of other members of the audience for this one.

So, if you haven’t seen these bands live, keep an eye on their websites and make sure you don’t miss their future tours. They’re worth every cent or dime or øre or pence or whatever you use as currency subdivision. In the end, here’s a clip filmed during the Leprous performance in Copenhagen

Meshuggah – Oslo concert review

While not being the most innovative band when it comes to live shows, Meshuggah is one of those live acts that cannot get old. Not yet at least. And this was one of the reason to see them live for th X-th time when they performed at Rockefeller in Oslo sometime in May.

There were two opening acts. Next life and Kong. I arrived at the venue during the Next Life gig and while initially I didn’t understand a thing out of their music, after few minutes I went close to the stage and I might not have closed my mouth for a while. The Norwegian trio performs some sick prog/thrash ‘stuff’ and they’re somewhere in the 10th gear, while their technical level has chances to soon beat half of the lineup of any modern day metal festival. They’re a band whose evolution I (and you) should keep an eye on.

Kongh acted as some sort of transition element after the initial Next Life violence. They play some softer sludge/doom kinda like metal, with songs that sounded like ballads to my ears. But I didn’t spend much time looking at their show, so it wouldn’t be fair to make too many comments on it.

The evening ended with the Meshuggah classical kind of chaos. A well organised chaos (well, except the stupid moshpit that seriously makes no sense at their concert). I don’t recall if the stage props include more than two huge banners with images from the new album and the backdrop, but I do recall the psychadelic light show. Which brought a lot of smiles due the fact that there’s a clip on youtube where you see how the lightguy handles that. The live experience of the result makes you appreciate the videoclip even more.

The kind of energy transmitted from the stage is hard to describe with words. The singer, Jens Kidman, puts to work all his anger and insanity, plus each vein on his face and neck, in order to reflect the pissed off attitude of the songs and to kick your ass to seriously give things a second and a third thought. His vocals are probably the best sounding non melodic ones ever.

Kidman is perfectly sustained by some of the tightest guitar, bass and drums playing machines on this planet. They are able to create some sort of musical reality of their own, so ugly in its distortion, yet so appealing in its perfection. The headbanging moves actually become some sort of body banging with this band and it’s incredible that even this seem to be sinchronised down to few milliseconds.

I’m running out of praise words for this band, so instead of writing long odes tot he guitar solos and super-awesome drumming and groovy bass lines, I recommend you go to a Meshuggah concert yourself. At least once. And find a place with a good view. Then just enjoy the chaos.

Greatest show on Earth, as it is in Hell

Full photo gallery can be found at http://andreutza.biz/zenphoto/2013/hell

Hell live in Derby

Hell live in Derby

I can’t remember exactly when in 2012 I saw a poster of the band Hell announcing that in February 2013 we are invited to attend the greatest show on Earth (as it is in Hell, obviously). It didn’t take me long to buy plane tickets, book a hotel and a concert ticket. It sounded too special to be missed, and I cannot congratulate myself enough for the investment I made. An investment in some of the most awesome live experience ever. I still haven’t found the proper superlative to use for describing how the greatest show on earth turned out. Luckily, the venue in Derby also hosted a bunch of guys with video cameras who captured every moment of the madness and sooner or later a DVD will be available for the whole world to watch.

The whole Saturday in Derby should have been captured on video, I’d say. After locating my hotel and where the Darwin Suite/Assembly Rooms venue was located, I headed to the ‘The Outstanding Order’ pub which was a cool mix of regulars watching sports on the big screen and a way more numerous amount of Hell tshirt bearers (one of the reason to gather there was the fact that they were serving a 6.66% potion brewed especially for the event and called The Devil’s Deadly Weapon). Seriously, at most concerts I go, there’s a certain percentage in the audience wearing the band’s tshirts. And then a big number with classic Maiden, Slayer, Metallica etc (call classic what you want here) and then some neutrals. But I don’t think I’ve ever seen something close to 90% wearing the main act’s logo on their clothes. And out of the remaining ones, a certain part was the kind to make you turn your head on the street: a Jesus Christ costume with the adequate thorns crown; a non JC costume, yet an adequate crown and face paint; crown, red contact lenses and face paint; only face paint. An interesting bunch of folks, nevertheless. Oh, and not to forget the one who had a 666, Hell style, tattooed (or well, drawn at least) on top of his skull.

Hell live in Derby

Hell live in Derby

Before entering the venue, we (the photographers) were handed a letter warning that there will be BIG pyro effects on stage and we are not outside the 4 meters safety range (or so), hence we are not covered by insurance. And something else about mortar gargoyles. But prior to facing the dangers of being so close to Hell, we were treated ‘normally’ by the two opening acts, A thousand Enemies and Winterfylleth. The first one, a local melodic hard rock metal band, with good potential and stage presence and the second one, a black metal act from Manchester, but less convincing on stage due their lack of black metal ‘look’. But very interesting music wise, since I never heard a black metal British product. With all due respect to the young musicians, I was so thrilled and excited about the main act, that I could barely focus on their performances for more than a couple of songs.

I was probably packed with adrenaline by the time they dropped down the big curtain hiding the pedestal with the 666 labeled drum kit, the background with Hellish drawings on stained glass, the huge band logo, the ramps leading up to the drums, the organ, the gargoyles and the countless other details one hardly has time to notice and that built the perfect church of Hell for that evening. Before everything turned dark and two silhouettes covered in black robes stepped on the stage with torches and lit some big candles, we had a spokesman who wisely invited all the sinners and fornicators of all present nations to make their choice for the night. The answer was loud as Hell! And as obvious as that.

Hell live in Derby

Hell live in Derby

The rest became quickly an unforgettable legend. At least for those present at Darwin Suite. It’s hard to imagine the amount of work behind those 100 minutes that we witnessed. Besides the setup of the stage itself, the directing of all the pyro effects, the stage movements, the costumes, the lights, the sound, the…everything. Probably everyone backstage at that concert deserves a round of applauses. Yet, we only got to see the final product delivered by the British quintet: David Bower – Vocals, Kev Bower – Guitar, Keyboards, Vocals, Andy Sneap – Guitar, Tony Speakman – Bass and Tim Bowler – Drums.

The vocalist deserves a 10 pages review, and then you’d need 5 more to fully try to evoke the theatrical aspect of such a show. It’s in the way they picked the clothes and the face paint and the contact lenses. Then the way there’s a thorns crown worn by the singer. The way the guitarists do synchronised head banging, body bending and small jumps. They even turn into fakirs for a short moment when they had to ‘spit fire’. But most of the show is stolen by Dave Bower’s art of acting. He’s good at it. He’s one of the best I’ve ever seen. He probably manages to make everyone in the crowd feel like at least once they established eye contact with him. After that, they are bound to follow his every move. Whether he kneels on stage, whether he points up, down, left, right, whether he comes dressed as a priest, as a plague collector or as a demon walking on stilts covered in black fur and wearing massive horns on his head and a trident in his hands. And the trident spits fire and sparkles and it’s being rotated in the air so that the white sparkles fill the stage. On the next song he’s back to his normal size, goes up in the pulpit where his face is lit in green and from where he spits more fire from a big cross he’s holding. The same pulpit was used to throw out more fire out of a gigantic Bible. Actually, I believe that everything Dave held during the show ended up spitting fire or sparkles. Except a red whip. He only used that to, well, whip himself and then threw it in the crowd for one of the dedicated fans to go on the tradition.

Hell live in Derby

Hell live in Derby

He must have made the Swedes present in the audience really happy when he borrowed their flag and wrapped his chest in it. But overall he made everyone happy with his performance. Everyone I talked with after the show was mind blown, even if they had seen the band live before. Actually it felt like everyone in the band just set new standards for what a high quality show means. I’ve previously seen metal shows with way more pyro and way more stuff happening on stage, but they were all on those big stages and you ‘share’ the band together with 50.000 other people. I never saw such a majestic event together with so few other people and I doubt any full stadium will ever beat the familiar feeling you get by being part of that evening’s crowd.

Let’s try to say a bit about the music, which the band didn’t compromise at all. We didn’t miss any of those catchy solos, we didn’t miss the creepy playful intros on songs from Human Remains. We didn’t miss new materials either. Actually some old and some new, since, as far as I understand, at least one of the ‘new’ songs was previously heard live. But we got to hear Darkhangel, Something Wicked This Way Comes and Disposer Supreme. For me, Bedtime was also a first audition and for everyone it was the ending tune of the evening. Tune dedicated to the band’s previous frontman, Dave Halliday.

I don’t know if my words have even remotely managed to tell you how impressive the performance was. But I know for sure that if this is how it is on Hell, then may it always be like that on Earth! It’d be a much better place!

Here’s some of the photos I snapped during the gig, more to come on my page, andreutza.biz/zenphoto

Stone Sour and Audrey Horne, live@Rockefeller, Oslo

Stone Sour live@RockefellerBefore the stage was to be well handled by the Iowa based Stone Sour, Rockefeller was first the host of the Norwegian hard rockers from Audrey Horne. A band with a lot of good mood and drive once they begin their performance and whose classic rock beats was well received by the numerous audience. They will probably never win an award for being too innovative in the genre, but they sure have some nice ideas in going out of the standard verse-chorus-verse-chorus pattern. We got a mix of nostalgic and dynamic songs, with pretty classic drumming and guitaring, but the plus of the band is their stage presence. All the musicians are part in various projects and have touring experience, and that can be seen when the two guitarists meet up to play a solo face to face or when the singer entertaining the crowd through screams and talks and no less, by jumping off the stage and singing while climbed on the fences that mark the photopit. If you’re a fan of the genre, I’m pretty sure the songs become catchy pretty quick and I guess many were happy with the choice for tonight’s support act.

The main act went few levels up though. Everything from lights to sound and to music was meant to build an incredible rock show. And above all, Corey Taylor’s voice. This is the reason I started listening to Stone Sour and this is what made the concert such an incredible experience. A simple backdrop and an immense drum kit is what we see while we hear the intro of Gone Sovereign, the opening song on their latest release, House of Gold & Bones (part 1). After that, we are treated with an explosion of classics that quickly raise the temperature in the huge hall by several degrees. Hell & Consequences, Made of Scars, Blotter, perfect combo to get most of the hands up in the air and continuous cheering.

Taylor know how to get the audience wrapped around his small finger. Despite the fact that sometimes he’s somewhat close to rude. Like, for example, spilling a glass of water over the mobile phones and cameras of the people in the first row, or, later during the show, directing the crowd to do some ‘ooooooooooooo’s and in the end showing them the middle finger. Yet, we hear a big ‘I love you’ from a woman in the audience, statement to which he replied that, unfortunately, he’s married. But he also is generous in telling the crowd how much they rock and asking them to sing along and simply gesturing for more applause. I admit that during the comeback, when he played a bit of an Alice in Chains song and then Bother, followed by Through glass, I got big goosebumps when more or less everyone present would sing along. Especially since the other band members had left the stage and only Taylor was singing, accompanied by his guitar.

After watching Corey Taylor’s show for a while, I focused my attention on the band he plays with and I did really enjoy when my eyes stopped on the drumkit. Besides pounding the cymbals and toms with as much power as he had, Roy Mayorga fools around a lot with his sticks and it’s fun to watch how oddly he bends his hands in order to kick the hi hat or some cymbals. The guitarists are tightly holding on to the rhythms, not going much to very extreme riffs, simply working together to get the best out of each melody. And all these is really well sustained by a mad light show, such as a band of their caliber should have on tour.

It all ended on the rhythms of 30/30-150 and Taylor stated that since this is part of a two year long tour, Oslo will most likely see them again soon. I can only recommend you give them a try, next time they are in town!
Stone Sour live@Rockefeller

Motorpsycho – The Death Defying Unicorn live@Opera

I simply love it when the Oslo Opera house is holding non opera shows. It’s a place where I witnessed special shows from Ulver and Vreid and this 2012 November evening, my eyes and ears were fully captivated for 90 minutes by one hell of a mad show put up by the three Norwegians in Motorpsycho together with gues musicians Ola Kvernberg, Kåre Chr. Vestrheim and Ståle Storløkken plus a bunch musicians from Trondheim Jazzorchestra and Trondheimsolistene (if I got those info right). These folks were responsible for handling a wide range of brass and strings instruments (trumpets, violins, bass, etc).

One advantage of the Opera is the seating, especially those at the balconies where you really get a cool full view over the entire stage and you can say you fully digest the show from there. Then, its acoustic. Probably also thanks to a talented soundguy, but the sound of each instrument and effect and voice were so clear as you could easily focus on whatever you enjoyed best in the madness of stimuli goinng inside your ears.

Madness is actually the word I associate best with Motorpsycho, a band who’s been around since the beginning of the nineties. First times I heard them, I didn’t make any sense of their tunes so I simply gave up my attempts. I don’t know if it was a live show or some more ‘normal’ song who caught my attention later after that, but ever since I am simply fascinated by their live performances. They have a way of making a perfect disorder in their music, full of rhythm and yet, atypical. Feeling that hasn’t left me when I briefly browsed through the songs of their latest release, ‘The Death Defying Unicorn’, release on which the band also collaborated with today’s guests: Ståle Storløkken on keyboards/organ, jazz violinist Ola Kvernberg, string group Trondheimsolistene and the Trondheim Jazz Orchestra. And today’s event had the same name as the album, so one could easily figure that it might be fully performed on stage. What you couldn’t predict though, was the stage setting. There’s some carton waves in front of the stage, the orchestra people wear sailor tops and hats, the band musicians look like magicians, Storløkken wears a white robe while standing behind his countless keyboards and all I could see of Vestrheim was a tall pointed greenish hat. And a gong by his side.

The show is opened by a guy dressed as sailor who quickly announces that Motorpsycho will perform the album and what we’re about to experience is nothing less than a sailor’s tale. Ah, now the decor makes sense. Lots of applauding, main hall lights turn off, stage lights turn on and, surprise. A transparent material is hung from the ceiling in front of the musicians and a wild show of lights is projected on it (projection that will follow all the way through the end, getting less wilder and even funnier, in the shape of some flying fish, and then wild again, depending on the music).

The music is rarely leaving you time to realise how many songs you’ve been through. Actually, they didn’t even stop between songs, making everything flow nicely from mad sea storms, to peacefully visits in the harbor inns, then back to sea and starting all over again. I guess the fact that all the artists collaborated on the album itself, and it wasn’t just orchestra quickly learning the band’s metal songs, it never felt like two opposite teams trying to overcome the others. It was a perfect harmony between the two, except the fact that Motorpsycho music is anything but harmonious. Yet, there were lovely slow instrumental moments when you could just close your eyes and think of, well, unicorns afterall.

At the end, the band got a well deserved portion of applause and an extra one when they came back for a final bow. I also bow to them since they actually played that show twice, in the same day, with only few hours distance between them. And they didn’t seem to be sparing any energy while guitaring or drumming, which I believe was the case with the first show as well. It was a lovely evening that allowed me to discover this album in a ‘complete’ manner, assuming that for the live shows they got to fix whatever musicians consider ‘oh, I should have done this better on the album’. But at least now I’ll have the right imagery in the back of my mind whenever I put it on play again.

Gotthard live in Oslo – concert review

Even if they’ve been around since 1992, I only discovered Gotthard’s music this year at Graspop festival and I quickly fell in love with the voice of their current frontman, Nic Maeder. That’s why I gladly decided to go to their Oslo show, held at John Dee venue, but I was less glad today before the show as the day before I attended few other insane concerts and the amount of headbanging made it impossible for me to move much on Sunday. So I witnessed the Gotthard concert from way back, stiff like a plank of wood and very annoyed by that. Plus I also missed the first band, Gotham Saints, a Norwegian-Swedish mix of glam metallers. But I got in just in time for the opening tune of Gotthard, ‘Dream On’.

I was glad to see a pretty active Oslo crowd, who bothered to lift their hands in the air, sing along and applaud often. But then again, the singer has a lot of charm and energy and easily gets the audience to do ‘Oooohh’ and ‘Aaaaahs’ in any way he wants. He gets good support by the two guitarists and the bass player who do a lot of faces towards he crowd, inciting them to applaud or to sing, or they simply come forward and play a guitar solo in a fancy way, enough to trigger even more intense applause. They’re really cool to watch, even if after my Saturday’s concerts, where each band was trying to break a bunch of musical rules and patterns and would come up with a unique sound, Gotthard’s solos and rhythms felt kinda dull. I don’t mean to say they make bad music, yet, if it hadn’t been for the lovely voice, I’d simply have considered it another hard rock band that is cool live and that’s about it. But since the taste is a subjective matter, I’d much rather focus on enjoying the whole live experience and most of all, of being glad when a band succeeds in being so acclaimed by the Norwegian crowd.

The playlist probably followed the pattern of most other shows they played, trying to cover most of their discography but also to promote their 2012 release, ‘Firebirth’, with some decent time dedicated to a very intense ‘Hush’ cover. Like they did at Graspop, the ballad ‘One life, one soul’ was dedicated to the band’s original singer, Steve Lee, who died in a motorcycle accident almost two years ago. Then the sound gets a bit heavier with some of the tunes from the new track, especially with the presence of a double necked guitar during the rhythms of ‘Give me real’. Each song is a good example of good band communication and chemistry, as the smiles are always present and the guitar duos are often and done with good mood. Another funny moment of the show was when they announced ‘Mountain Mamma’ as the next song, yet the singer had to stop his colleagues as they were playing the wrong song intro. It’s obviously a rehearsed act, but it’s efficient in building a good mood. ‘Mountain Mamma’ was followed by ‘Right on’, songs during which the guitarist, Leo Leoni used a talk box to modify his voice and make robotic sounds and speak oddly to the Oslo audience.

They left the stage after ‘Right On’ and I’m pretty sure there was a comeback, but it was really frustrating not to be able to even clap nor sing along, so I just left and hope to make up for the missed fun next time I see them.

Therion – Les Fleurs Du Mal tour – Review of Bucharest show

Full photo gallery available here http://andreutza.biz/zenphoto/2012/therion

A little while before the start of ‘Flowers of Evil’ tour, headlined by the Swedes in Therion, it was announced that these would be the latest live appearances for a long time now, as Christofer Johnsson plans to spend a while finalising an old and demanding project. Besides that, Therion related stuff has brought quite a lot of lovely or daring moments in my personal life, hence I thought to invest in a trip to their concert in Bucharest, Romania. It was organised in a tent built up for the event and it felt like it attracted quite a lot of audience and even the band admitted it was pretty special to play again in Romania.

There were two opening bands, Antalgia (Spain) and Elyose (France). I personally wasn’t much impressed by any of them, but I admit that I was mixing the attempt to listen to their music with chats with old friends and colleagues. But, overall, nothing on stage caught my attention, yet I am pretty sure that the cute vocalist of Elyose was followed with enthusiasm by the people gathered in front of the stage. I don’t like writing too much negative stuff in my reviews so I’ll just stop here and talk about Therion’s show.

Actually, before starting to talk about the show, let’s mention the fact that Therion has recently launched an album fully sung in French, with a French title – ‘Les Fleurs Du Mal’ and mainly made of covers of old French songs. As explained during the band’s last come back on stage, the album is meant to celebrate the band’s 25th anniversary. They prefered to do something odd like this, rather than releasing a remastered version of whatever album that sold well in the past. There’s obviously plenty of skepticism from people reviewing the album, but whether one enjoys its music or not, I think people should take into account that the band showed enough strong will to not follow the path of ‘wow, we made a successful album, let’s do 10 more if they sell’. Instead, C. Johnsson wrote and recorded the music he enjoys, changed band members and rebuilt Therion over and over again and didn’t submit to the wishes of promoters or record labels. Plus, I believe it’s obvious for quite a while now that you can’t really predict what next Therion album will sound like, so I believe that comparing what they did 10 years ago with what’s been released today is something pretty childish.

Prior to the start of the tour, Snowy Shaw, one of the male vocalists, announced his departure from the band. It wasn’t much time to find someone to replace him, so the band left on tour with only one male vocalist, Thomas Vikström and two lovely female voices, Lori Lewis and Linnea Vikström (the daughter of Thomas). A new appearance on stage for me were the keyboards played by Stefan Jernståhl, which sounded so sweet during certain songs, but which are easy to forget about when the guitar riffs stand out so lovely as played by the talented Christian Vidal. Overall it’s hard to find a single word to describe the whole show. Since Therion is not only offering a bunch of people gathered on stage to perform some tracks. They’re putting together a magic show, in which every single one of them plays a small part. There’s often moments when Lori comes alone in front of the stage and enchants everyone with her voice and looks, other times she’s accompanied by Thomas or Linnea, or she goes back to let the other vocalists play their main parts. But what I actually like is that the vocalists often step back and sing behind some microphones placed between the drums and the keyboards, hence leaving plenty of room for the instrumentalists to become showmen for a while. Then, we either see duos between Vidal and Johnsson or Nalle Pålhsson showing his love for bass. There’s, of course, special outfits that everyone wears so that you can feel like attending a theater performance as well. Plus a lot of communication between people on stage, who move and make jokes towards each other, vocalists coming closer to the crowd and singing for him or for her for a short while. In the end, it feels like all these put together manage to form some sort of magic energy floating over the stage and that is quickly inhaled by the audience who screams and jumps and waves and headbangs continuously. Or they just take photos and videos.

Another thing that this band does really well is to quickly be loved as they bring a big local flag on stage and sing certain songs covered in it. Thomas Vikström even had a small speech comparing Hungarian audience to the Romanian one, and when the ones in Bucharest had won the screaming duel, I think some people would have paid for him to have a statue built. In case you wonder why, there’s certain historical aspects between the two countries.

Music wise, it was another journey through the band discography, all the way back to 1996’s Theli. I think they managed to include at least one song from each album, thus not making it difficult for those who never heard the newer stuff. A personal highlight for me was ‘Via Nocturna’ which I consider to be their best song. But there was a lot more intense moments on stage when they played slow touching songs like ‘Siren of the Woods’ or ‘The Wondrous World of Punt’. A lot of guitar magic was unleashed during the short and fast ‘The Flight of the Lord of Flies’, I can’t even explain how nice ‘Lemuria’ sounds as accoustic version (but they played it like this for quite a while now, so there’s plenty of bootlegs of it out there). The madness in the crowd reached higher and higher peaks with each of the ‘hits’ like ‘The Rise of Sodom and Gomorrah’, ‘The Blood of Kingu’ and, of course, the final encore, ‘To Mega Therion’.

I am happy to have been there and dance and jump and take pictures. Speaking of which, this is my main complain about this concert, the fact that the photo pit was only half of the stage wide so every photographer has more or less similar photos due the impossibility of changing angles. But it was a detail quickly forgotten once I lost myself in the first rows and enjoyed the performance. The band is almost done with the shows in Europe, they are going to have several concerts on Russian land and, as announced, there’ll be silence for a while. A silence whose result I’m really looking forward to.

Dark Bombastic Evening – review of the 4th Ritual

Photo gallery for the below review is available here.

The number of festivals held in Romania is slowly increasing every year, but as far as I notice on the web or through news from my friends, they follow the same pattern: rent a huge space, bring ‘big’ bands that sell your tickets, cage the participants within some fences and tell them to have fun there, there’s hardly any interaction between fans and artists, the crowd is offered the classical piss draught beer, everything is on the run and so on. I was ‘warned’ by my friends that DonisArt events build up to a different kind of experience, but my imagination was way far from what I was about to experience during the three August days spent in Alba Iulia, with the occasion of Dark Bombastic Evening festival and its fourth ritual.

We arrived there Thursday afternoon after an interesting start of the day, involving some pigeon shit and few hours spent with the car in a service. But driving through Romania through Valea Oltului can be rewarding as it offers some pretty landscapes and cool, narrow and/or steep driving sections. The hotel we stayed at, Transilvania, besides missing a letter in the name and some basic comfort related details, offered us a friendly stuff and comfortable beds for a good rest. It was also located pretty close to the Ryma area, the place where DBE took place. This Ryma area is a part of the Alba Iulia fortress, a place that played some important roles throughout Romania’s history. As I am not writing the review with the purpose to give a history lesson, for those of you interested, you can maybe start reading a bit here – http://www.uab.ro/sesiuni_2008/limbi_moderne/pagini/venue.htm – and then use the search engines’ power in order to find out more. Overall, it is a fantastic location for such a festival as it contributes to the authenticity and the coziness of the atmosphere.


I have no idea how many participants the festival had. I noticed an impressive number of people who came from abroad. But my amazement was quite obvious when I realised how ‘big’ the stage and the festival designated area were. Yet, it worked perfectly I’d say. There was place for tents all the way in the back, a place for the ‘kitchen’ where we would be served some really tasty authentic foods (I so had enough of festival fast foods prior to this event), a climbing wall, an outdoor bar, a bunch of tables, a stage, a merch stand and even few parked cars. Inside the fortress walls at the Ryma spaces there was place for another bar, an artists area and an art gallery that I personally forgot to visit. Yet everything was reachable within thirty seconds of walking. It was that small and I hope you can imagine how special the two evenings become under such circumstances. Wherever you walk you most likely run into a familiar face. And if not, after few hours of moving around, every face becomes familiar. Old acquaintances blend with new ones, there’s a certain friendliness floating all over the place and most of all, a lack of stress that I rarely felt in Romania. Even the guards somewhat managed to ‘hide’ their presence, meaning that I never felt them threatening in any way like it might happen at concerts. I actually didn’t notice any of them in front of the stage, another thing that I never experienced before.

Besides the multitude of bipeds in the area, we had the company of some local(?) stray dogs who occasionally added their barks as effects to whatever was performed on stage. Plus, next to these performances that I will try to summarise below, we could admire all sorts of acrobatic performances (jugglers, slackline, one wheeled bikes), kids fighting with wooden swords or brave folks trying to reach the top of the climbing wall. The best thing was that you didn’t need to relocate at all in order to admire the show. When it would be dark enough, some small balloons carrying candles would be sent out in the air, hopefully offering some entertainment to the Alba Iulia citizens who filed complaints about the noise in the fortress. I was really sad to hear that one of the only two events hosted by the fortress and that must generate a lot of income for some of the locals, is treated with so much hate. Oh well, let’s focus on the nice memories of the weekend, mainly the music on stage. And the friendliness of the staff who always had a good joke to tell and a smile on their faces. Which is a big plus for a festival in this country.

The ‘noise’ would start each day at four PM, each band getting around forty five minutes on stage then fifteen minutes for the instruments change and set up and all. The fourth DBE ritual was opened by the Scottish band Falloch and their Folk, Atmospheric and Post Rock mix, but due some previous running back and forth to/from the fortress, I missed a part of their show so I only got to notice little of the atmosphere they might try to build, but I must say that the music was, occasionally, way too badass for the softer and clean vocals. But then again, I heard too little of it to fully remember what happened on stage. After a short while, the stage was taken over by one of the many Swedish bands in the festival’s schedule: Isole. They brought along over twenty years of experience and music and a very dark/doom metal that felt like perfectly belonging to the fortress walls. Slow tempos and very long songs, whose depressiveness was quite ruined by daylight, yet it allowed you to focus more on the skills of each musician (one of them being a member in Loch Vostok, a band that will visit many European places pretty soon on their tour). All in all, I found it to be a pretty direct and fanciness free doom that’s worth checking out.

I only recently discovered the Finns from Oranssi Pazuzu and their psychedelic black metal (one of the band members called it cosmic metal, but since that description is taken, we left it to psychedelic cosmic metal). But they are rather catchy, for me at least. They have such odd songs and riffs (one guitar player occasionally uses a lightbulb over the chords) that simply get stuck to your brain. I dare you to fully listen to the song ‘Komeetta’ and take it out of your head afterwards. The band’s name seems to translate into the expression ‘exorcist cosmos’, which suits pretty well the evilness transmitted through their music, a music that at times felt able to even darken the sunlight. I believe the band regretted a lot their stage uniforms involving very thick black coats/hoods, considering everyone in the crowd was boiling and wearing only tshirts. But they did offer an intense performance and probably made some new fans right away. Another small break and time for Alcest, a French band that is ‘on the wave’ right now, playing countless of concerts and festivals and gaining more and more attention in the press. They had played DBE the previous year and, despite their busy schedule, they decided to make the effort to play Alba Iulia once more. They were very loved by the crowd as far as I noticed, and I was glad to finally experience live the interesting mix of black metal and some soft, cozy harmonies, that I lately found described as dreamy post-romantic blackgaze.

Next, we would be taken towards a more atmospheric and post black metal music, spiced up with jazzy influences, with the help of the Germans from Lantlôs. As far as I understood, it was their first live show. It started feeling like the music would get darker and darker, impression enforced by the two bands that followed. The music was not easy to digest at all, as it certainly has a genuine way of combining elements that end up sounding so ‘noir’ and heavy and like nothing you (or maybe I) heard before. It has a certain melancholy and monotony, yet, strangely it doesn’t feel repetitive. I guess they need some congratulations for managing to obtain this. All this was followed by even more slower rhythms coming from the Finns in Unholy, a project that was formed back in the nineties, but kept on splitting, hence, there’s not that many chances of seeing them live. Even fewer, if none, in the future. And I feel bad for not bothering to understand more of the bizzare mixes and sounds on stage, but my stomach was demanding its rights so I had to spend time filling it up with food and taking a little rest for the day.

I returned to watch more Finnish dark music, from Dark Buddha Rising. As it started to get dark, the atmosphere was well built in combination with the bloody show offered by the singer who poured ‘blood’ all over his body using some slow, adequate motions. Their silhouettes were perfectly matched with the DBE fiery logo projected behind the drums. Their music totally requires a certain mood or state of mind to comprehend. I saw people who were simply adoring it and a lot of the audience was simply wondering ‘wtf?’. Don’t think I heard anything in between about the band’s sound, that most likely feels like a neverending repeating riff for an untrained ear. Because, at the times when I did try to figure something out, I realised that the repeating riff actually comes with something new after a little while. And then something else new. So I totally put a new name on my list of ‘bands to be explored’, and maybe one day I might either comprehend or simply just hate this. We’ll see.

The Mount Fuji Doomjazz Corporation was one of the day’s highlights in my program, as I liked the sound of their ‘sister’ project, Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble. But TMFDC is based on live improvisation putting together elements of noise, jazz, experimental and ambiental music. I must admit that the live experience was not as cool as expected. It’s the kind of concert I’d much rather enjoy in an opera hall or so, and I’d prefer more ‘action’ instead on the stage. The whole band is kinda static and they prefer to play ‘in the dark’ and have you focusing on a projection on the background. They had small problems with one of the laptops, hence the show was a tad delayed, but they probably couldn’t cut it shorter as the movie would no longer make sense. By the time they ended, the energy felt kinda low all around, and luckily the night was revived by the Icelanders from Sólstafir and their boundaries breaking blend of metal, rock and a dark rock’n’roll like sound. Equiped with their stage ‘suits’ reminding you of some wild west characters, performing mainly from their latest release, Ljós i Stormi, having to cut their set off by one song, the band offered the most energic gig I witnessed. I say this because I never saw the guitarist called ‘Gringo’ moving from his spot, nor the singer doing so much changes in the way he interprets the songs. Another important change was during the song ‘Fjara’ where the choir was replaced by a sweet pan flute played by Gadinet from Negura Bunget. I guess the late night atmosphere combined with the energy on stage was a perfect winner for the end of the DBE’s first evening and made me count quite plenty of Sólstafir tshirts in the audience, the day after.

The night ended with an afterparty ‘around the corner’, still in the Ryma spaces but not in the area where the stage was located, where a bunch of people would headbang and jump and dance on the metal rhythms played by the evening’s DJ, using his vinyls (as far as I read prior to the event). I was surprised that they used more ‘commercial’ tunes, as last year the music was chosen more in the underground direction, but as long as people had fun, it must be all that maters. This was, again, a chance to sit down with old and new friends and enjoy a drink and some jokes. This led to a slow morning the next day but it was well worth it. Due the insane heat outside, I only left the hotel to eat lunch with some friends in a pub close to the festival area, a pub whose owner has a rather weird conception about business and how he should handle a multitude of customers at the same time. Hence, I’d gladly stay away from Pub13 anytime I am in Alba Iulia.

My friends and I called the second day of DBE a ‘folk day’, considering the names on the lineup. And it started as such, with the Italians from Rose Rovine e Amanti and their neofolk rock with a red rose attached to the hat. We actually thought several times that they sing in Romanian, this is how much the two languages sound alike (unless he used a special Italian dialect in his lyrics). Musically, we were treated with a continuous change between electric and acoustic guitar for the main singer, keyboards, violin and a drummer who maintained the grooviness of their songs. I was happy that they seemed to set a good mood among the audience, setting the right state for the bands to come after them. The first one in the series was the Romanian – Italian mix going by the name Sunset in the 12th House, also invited for the second time at this festival, due an unfortunate cancellation of another band. But this was rather fortunate for me as the guys had the chance to perform live songs from their first album and what a thrill for the ear this was. With two percussionists on stage, one on regular drums, one on African like ones, hand held (I can’t recall if they have a dedicated name), I was immediately sold to the grooviness of each tune. There were hardly any vocals used in the lyrics, leaving place for a sweet flow of guitars, bass and mandolin mix and an increased level of curiousity for the upcoming album. I recommend you don’t miss it. Plus, I was more than happy to see the great response from the Romanian crowd, who didn’t seem to have enough of the guy’s performance.

A bunch of musicians filled the stage for the next concert and they are playing with the name Hexvessel and bring us a psychedelic forest folk rock as far as I was informed. But irregardless of the music categorisation, they bring us beautiful music. It was fantastic to stand in front of the stage and try to visually capture what each musician does and at the same time trying to figure out the overall sound entering your ears. It felt really pretty, like it did when I shortly listened to some tunes prior to the festival. I saw people dancing and clapping with enthusiasm between songs. It was the band’s second performance at the festival and I’m pretty sure they had a great time both on stage and also among the Romanian audience. They kept smiling as long as I saw them on stage and, even if they couldn’t release their newest album at Alba Iulia, I was told they played some of the new compositions that, like the entire setlist, sounded fantastic.

Fantastic (and more than that) is one of the words to describe the next performance on stage. I somehow missed the name Coulisses in the list and thought that the next performers are called Isobel & November. They started as a duo on stage, with one guy on keyboards and a bearded guitarist in front of the microphone. When he started to sing, I felt like hypnotised. It’s been a while since I heard such an awesome voice that simply leaves me with my mouth open and unable to move away from the stage. The duo played few more songs, quite intimate and dark, folkish sounds. The keyboard player switched to drums eventually, keeping a soft and surprising back rhythm for the lovely voice and the guitar. After a while, the guitar and its carrier left the stage, making room for a cool drum solo, after which the other people in the band came up on stage, taking over the bass, the drums (the previous drummer went back to his keyboards and/or guitar). The singer also came back and all of a sudden the music switched to a bit more psyched (apparently country and goth) music. Extremely beautiful stuff, usually starting softly and cozy and ending up in a madness of sounds during which Per Erik (the singer) seemed to go berserk. He didn’t even bother to replace the broken string on his guitar. So, actually what happened on stage was that Coulisses is another project of Per Erik’s, but as they didn’t have a lot of material for a full concert, they combined their set with Isobel & November. Actually, this was the first live appearance of Coulisses as far as I understand and I am more than happy to have been able to witness that. It was the biggest and most beautiful surprise of the festival for me. Not to mention I always had to move back and forth as the light kept on changing during their set, making it for more and more interesting photos as well. Another mention about this concert is that for one of the songs, everyone in the audience was called ‘pussy’ and so were the band members. That was because it was dedicated to the ‘Pussy Riot’ scandal, in order to show the solidarity with the imprisoned musicians.

I don’t even recall when I was done with the eating process, but pretty soon it was time for the Russians in Theodor Bastard. I had listened to their ethno trip hop before and I found it rather beautiful and full of emotions. The live experience raised the beauty to even higher standards. The darkness had surrounded the stage so their pretty singer was interpreting and gracefully dancing under various colors dictated by the stage lights. Her voice was simply beautiful from one end to another and they even got to play an extra song, that’s how much the crowd and Doru, the organiser, loved it. Once again I saw a bunch of people dancing in front of the stage or along the walls and benches. There were such good vibes in the air going from and to the stage that I somehow wished that concert would end the evening and would last for few more hours. Yet, it had to stop and the Russians had to leave the stage to make room for the Poles in Job Karma. A duo presenting their ambiental computer music (as all I noticed on stage were two laptops and a bunch of cables) with a heavy accent on visual images projected in the background. With all my respect for the artists’ work and ideas, I was too tired at that hour to watch anything on a screen and I simply can’t spend more than 3 minutes looking at people playing music behind the computers. Hence I took a small retreat in the ‘party’ area of Ryma (quiet at that time) and enjoyed the silence and an encounter with some familiar faces.

I returned later to the main stage to have a look at the Danes from Of the Want and the Moon and check out the sound of their neo folk tunes which felt quite shamanistic at times. It seemed like there’s plenty of beautiful, almost magic, music coming out from the speakers but my level of tiredness didn’t allow to focus for too long, so I just had to put them on my ‘to listen to’ list. I sort of regret not being able to enjoy their music live, but after so many lovely moments during that day, I guess I was allowed. I do hope to see them live again on a better day. The last show of this incredible festival was delivered by The Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensamble. The albums that I listened from this Dutch project are full of mystery and a dark, intense ambience, which they try to replicate live and combine with a set of moving images that play on the background. There’s a bunch of instruments either working together or allowing one of them to stand out and let you discover its beauty (the trumpet sounds were hypnotising). I was sad that they didn’t have a drummer on stage (unless he was well hidden behind all the tall supports for PCs and such), but glad I got to experience them live. Probably a god choice for the final show as the music invited you to retreat in a corner of your mind and enjoy the silence around you. Yet, my brain was feeling as if it’s about to shut down, so I spent a big part of the show trying to find someone to walk back to the hotel with. I was too tired to even think of the idea of catching a cab.

I think there’s many other words that can be said about this festival. And about each of the bands. Probably someone with more and deeper knowledge of these underground genres might have succeeded in giving you a better picture of what the two days in Alba Iulia have offered us, music wise. For me, it was a lovely treat. I’m glad to have discovered new bands and re-experience the ones I already knew from before. But most of all I am glad for the two days of openness and friendly atmosphere. I believe the best ending for this review is to send big thanks to Doru and everyone in his team involved to make this event happening and running so smoothly. I heard rumors that maybe this might be the last DBE edition. It would be a real pity if this is the truth, yet, people who got to attend the events are probably left with some amazing memories and stories to tell over and over again. But with or without this festival, after having experienced such an event, I believe that the words on DBE’s page footer (http://www.darkbombasticevening.com/) state the truth – ‘Underground will never die!’ Amen!

PS: Many thanks to Andrei who helped me with some pieces of advice about what I wrote in the review

Tuska festival 2012 – Day 2 review

Full photo gallery can be found here http://andreutza.biz/zenphoto/2012/tuska

Not the easiest of mornings in the Finnish capital, yet I managed to make it by 13:30 to the festival grounds to watch the performance of the Finnish hard/heavy rock (former death metal) band Amoral, as I was going to have an interview later on that day and it would have made my life easier if I got to ‘know’ them a bit by watching them perform. I liked the show. You could see that the band had just returned from touring on other continents as they had a good energy and would always make the scene look crowded. They warmed us even more by the intensive use of pyro effects and all in all made a good impression for such a young band. I was also impressed by the vocalist’s abilities to perform songs that were obviously from the band’s ‘death’ era and then come back to sing some very nice and clean, melodic parts. Actually, upon writing these lines I realise I got to the festival in time to even catch the beginning of Anaal Nathrakh show and to get to see how their singer surprisingly emerged from the middle of the crowd and climbed through the photographers to get his place on stage. Then they started blasting their way though a very extreme and powerful mix of black and death, but with very annoying (for me) industrial parts. Not sure if the annoyance came from how the sound was right in front of the stage or simply the way those parts didn’t feel right, but they certainly made me leave before the three songs allowed for photographing.

I had no idea who Mokoma was and why they’d be on the main stage (and didn’t get the chance to check before the festival), but heck, what a nice surprise it was to discover the Finnish thrash/death legends. Another band whose verse I couldn’t understand, yet, when they are so passionately interpreted by many in the audience, they feel just about right. What it also felt right about Mokoma was the purity of their metal. They didn’t seem to bother much with fancy extreme stuff, they have nice clean-singing parts in the songs and everyone in the band would constantly headbang or move around, giving the impression of a good mood among musicians. Later on, on the other ‘main’ stage, another band was to take me by surprise. This time the Dutch band Textures and their technical mix of just about everything, a mix that manages nicely to jump from soft, melodic moments to mean and intense screams touching death metal and metalcore boundaries. You hardly have any time to get bored with a pattern, as the band already switched to something different. Besides the interesting music, they have a certain stage-appeal and it was fascinating to stand by the side of the moshpit formed in front of the stage and look at how much energy the crowd gets from the musicians on stage. And also watch the musicians jump high in the air and play the guitars in all sort of ways. Textures show was one of the absolute highlights of the day.

The mad show was followed by even more madness on the main stage, when the Brits from Napalm Death came around with their grindcore and the vocalist who seems to suffer from the most intense form of ADHD when on stage. Their show must have been the classical mix of brutal drumming, catchy riffs and insane screaming, but as I had an interview scheduled during the time they were on stage, I didn’t stay to watch much of it. But honestly, photographing Napalm Death is one of the most demanding acts for me. I probably need to revise my technique. Anyways, once I was done with the interview, I had just the right amount of time to go to the tent stage and watch Battle Beast, a Finnish heavy metal, female fronted band that I discovered at 2010 edition of Helvation Festival. Their singer, Nitte Valo, has a voice to embarrass half of the males in the genre and both her and everyone else in the band has gained a lot of stage confidence and skills at going wild on their instruments while they manage to headbang and interact with the crowd. A very pleasant surprise to see them evolving in such a short time and fingers crossed that they keep on the good path.

Once again, I had to give up some of the previous show in order to catch another highly recommended one, from the Finns in Insomnium. Their songs had a certain epicness in their intros and bridges, pretty angry growlings in the style of death metal, and despite the band’s quality show on stage, I guess the melodic death metal was feeling a bit too soft compared to the heavy metal that I just witnessed in the tent. But I give them the fact that there’s some nice catchy riffs scattered all over their songs. Once Insomnium was done, we relocated to the main stage to see live one of the bands I used to listen at the beginning of my ‘metal’ lessons – Sonata Arctica. A band that I loved so much until I saw my first bootlegs with them, moment after which I stopped listening to the band. I was very curious to see this show and to my surprise, I was not at all disappointed. Tony Kakko is a talented frontman who’s never tired to pose and make everyone feel included in the show, but most important, I think I caught him in a good day for playing live. He sounded more than decent, the songs I recalled from the older albums were not ruined by useless failed screamings, so I managed to enjoy them. And even if power metal hasn’t been at the top of my playlists lately, I’ll go back to trying out Sonata Arctica’s releases.

When I moved back to the Inferno tent to watch Swallow the sun, it was surprisingly packed, but I believe it was also because of the weather that seemed to offer more decent quantities of rain. But it could as well be because of the band, since I noticed most of the people cheering and enjoying the doom death mix played on a stage drowning in smoke and on which the band members would interpret the music by adding some ‘ritualistic’ gestures at the times when they wouldn’t play guitars or bass. The singer, same as for Barren Earth, showed once again how fantastic his vocal skills are and he easily convinced me not to go and watch Behemoth and rather stay in the tent and enjoy more of the mystery and atmosphere that the band tries to create on stage. Yet, I left before it ended since I was supposed to attend the only show of the day on the smallest stage, another Finnish surprise by the name of ‘For the Imperium’. It felt again that the band on stage didn’t bother much to stay in any musical genre. Nor did they actually bother to stay much on stage. The singer ended up in the middle of the crowd (probably starting a moshpit), the bass and guitar players kept going forward on some big monitors placed in front, yet on the sides of the stage. Probably the drummer would have moved as well if he could. I honestly have no idea when the first few songs passed. It felt like I had been there for 5 seconds, since there’s absolutely no moment to be bored at the band’s show. I also can’t recall much of what they actually sounded like (except that I felt like recognising 20 different styles), so now I have to give them some proper listens on my computer, to make up my mind.

Last band for Saturday on the main stage were the Swedes from Sabaton. While they are really cool with how they keep on moving and being happy on stage, plus they almost always have pyro effects, I really can’t watch a full Sabaton show. There’s intensity in their songs, I give them that, but there’s one annoying thing: I can’t tell the difference between songs. So, I enjoyed my photography moments, even capturing Joakim Brodén’s picking his nose for photographers, but both me and the rest of the gang was more than happy to end the day and go somewhere for a beer. And what an epic beer that was, since it somehow materialised in several bottles of cider for me, but most of all, in very painful jaws caused by stupid jokes in the range of Arnold famous quotes.

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