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 (formerly 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 the 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 mosh pit 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 sorts 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 the 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 â€“ 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 importantly, 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, a decent intense voice and sometimes funny jokes in between songs, 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 BrodÃ©n'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.