Turku Saatanalle V
February 3-4, 2017 at Gong in Turku, Finland
Photos and Report by Serena Solomon
This year, Turku Saatanalle went through hell. And not in a good way. Due to personal issues, illnesses and in one case, the venue deciding one week before the festival that they were banning Naer Mataron (their words on the issue) from playing based on a steaming pile of misinformation, the lineup was constantly evolving. Even in the days leading up to the festival, Facebook followers cringed at any new notification from the promoters. But despite the bumpy, shit covered road that lead up to the fifth consecutive Turku Saatanalle, it was a great festival and consensus seemed to agree that it was near flawless and very well arranged.
I was curious going into it, since there was such controversy from the venue, how the attendees would behave towards the venue itself. I had already witnessed on Facebook negative feedback and bashing towards the venue for their misinformed conclusions. However, I didn’t witness or hear of any drama or negative situations myself at the festival. The most memorable mishaps were mere technical difficulties that barely deterred from the live show’s aesthetic.
Early doors were announced to keep the line moving but there wasn’t much of a crowd half an hour before the first band Azaghal, who stepped in for Sielunvihollinen. The stage stayed empty for a while, and some great atmospheric music played, setting the mood. All that was missing was incense.
As Azaghal (Hyvinkää, Finland) started playing, it seemed not many people were as eager as expected to come early. However, once I resurfaced from behind my camera after the first few songs, I noticed the floor was full. They played a much more memorable performance than the last time I saw them, more into the music and successful in setting the tone for the rest of the night.
IC Rex (Jyväskylä, Finland) made a few heads turn before they even started playing. As the other members were still setting up and doing soundcheck, the vocalist was, what I gathered after watching him for a while, performing some kind of ritual that grew in intensity as it continued ending in him hastily laying down a symbol with duct tape on the floor and stomping on it while screaming.
I wasn’t sure whether or not the ritual was for the audiences benefit or his own since he started out not making much of a spectacle of it as the others were still setting up, and stayed facing away from the audience the whole time. This was one of the more active, and intense bands of the night, including the backdrop that changed from a plain black and white symbol to a whole collage of colors and symbols that only added to their somewhat trippy and “what the fuck is happening” vibe.
As Nécropole (France) took the stage, the vocalist stood there, calm and composed and almost looking out of place in comparison to IC Rex’s vivaciousness, as the band and stage crew tried to fix some technical difficulties.
It took a bit to get used to, but after a while, his vocals made sense in their unique sound. At some point there was an unexpected (to me) loud roar from the crowd after one specific song, but maybe something significant happened on stage that I missed.
It made me wonder if they had been one of the more anticipated bands, though their name didn’t come up in casual discourse with attendees much. Though their sound was high pitched, passion filled and no less raw than other bands, their ambiance seemed to transpire as one of the more peaceful/somber/melancholic bands of the festival.
Morrigan (Germany), who filled in for Naer Mataron, though only a two member band, surprisingly had the same amount of atmosphere and full sound as their predecessors. Their raw, authentic style of performance and music was a contrast to the other bands of the night. Maybe one for the fans of early black metal. They seemed to do a longer set than the other bands,
though maybe that was just my perception as a photographer… less people on stage to photograph, less to distract, more time to actually watch the band.
As the crowd eagerly waited for Ajattara (Helsinki,Finland) to take the stage, the vocalist of IC Rex provided entertainment for those who were around him in the crowd. Whether it was his own excitement to see Ajattara, or adrenaline from playing a good gig, or other influences, he was bouncing around the audience babbling chants and shouting praises and seemed to be performing rituals on/with random audience members. This heightened the anticipation of the crowd, who, based on my own excitement, was already very much looking forward to the final band of the night. And they did not fail to fulfill our expectations.
I saw them at Nummirock this past summer for the first time, and was blown away by their performance. After listening to a band for over a decade, it is always a great experience to see them live for the first time. And the second time was no less impressive. They were the perfect addition to the lineup, and a great ending to the first night, leaving us amped for the next day.
Malum, a local band from Turku, who stepped in for FrΩnt, started the second day. I was surprised how empty the venue was for most of their set, since all of their shows I had attended locally were near sold out. The vocalist begin the night with a “Hail Satan!”. I have to say, it has been really interesting watching this band’s stage presence evolve over the few years I’ve known them.
The visual focus is directed to their vocalist, since the other members are mainly cloaked in black, but he commands the stage well as a front man of an up-and-coming black metal band. The whole band has a stoicism and stealth about them that grabs your attention just as much as any energetic band that jumps all over the stage and spews blood at the audience.
”Ok, I’m awake now!” was my thought as Naðra (Iceland), who took the place of Mannveira, opened at full speed. They began their set as abruptly as Malum ended. In contrast, capturing the off-the-wall presence Malum did not need to portray the same amount of ambiance.
I shot the band continuously and was surprised after resurfacing half way through that the “full speed” aesthetic they begin with had not faltered one bit (the audience seemed to be keeping up as well). Though entertaining, it made me question how Misþyrming’s set would be since its basically the same members in different places.
Archgoat (Turku, Finland) was announced the day before the festival to take the place of Korgonthurus. Though they were the last band added to the ever evolving Turku Saatanalle V lineup, the anticipation was thick in the crowd. Though they lived up to expectation without question, their technical difficulties were the only memorable fuck-up moment through the whole festival.
The vocalists bass popped a string (or so I heard) and he kind of just gave up on it for a few songs. It did not deter from the sound or performance at all, in my opinion, and of course, the crowd was more supportive than ever and really into the show. They definitely maintained their status as a most desired addition to the festival, and as a respected death/black metal band from Finland.
True Black Dawn (Helsinki, Finland) was one of the pleasant surprises of the festival for me. They exuded such a specific kind of ambiance, and everything about their live presence seem to come together perfectly.
Their musical and visual style was definitely unique to this festival, yet somehow contributed to the incredible coherence of the festivals flow, and highlighted the diversity.
As previously mentioned, I was eager to see Misþyrming (Iceland). Originally, they were one of my anticipated bands, but since Naðra put on such an intense, high energy show not a few hours before, I was curious if their set would suffer. And to me, since I had never seen them live before, it did not suffer one bit.
Misþyrming seemed to be one of the bands most people I heard talking were most interested to see. It seemed the audience (and I) enjoyed the show thoroughly. It is funny though, since they are mainly the same members, how much more Misþyrming was mentioned than Naðra.
The last band of the festival was a bit of a head scratcher for me. Profanatica (USA), who took the place of the most anticipated Batushka (the band I, personally, was looking forward to most), was unique, to say the least. I had left the venue as they were setting up to grab a drink downstairs and get some fresh air. When I returned, I was fidgeting with my camera, head down until I got to a decent spot in the crowd. As I looked up, and assessed the stage, I couldn’t help the cartoonish head tilt and brow furrowing. With the drummer as the vocalist, the drum set had been brought up to the front of the stage. The band also donned unique costumes of… I don’t even know what to call it… medieval robes? Complete with head coverings.
They put on a good show, and there was still a good sized audience, but in my opinion, Batushka would have been a much more fitting and satisfying ending for the festival. But I guess you can’t have it all, and if that was the one form of a complaint, I’d say that means it was a pretty awesome and successful festival .
The bands and their uniqueness from each other flowed really well, almost creating a symmetrical balance between the two days, and despite all the last minute drama and lineup changes. Both days, we had a local up-and-coming band, a local well-known band, a band that woke us up with their insane energy, a band that confused us a bit, and a much anticipated foreign band. Out of the three years I have personally attended this festival, this years was most memorable.The bands themselves were mostly well received and gave great performance…
However, the festival this year topped all the others just based on the fact there was such diversity between the bands, yet it all flowed flawlessly, is if it were meticulously planned that way, not thrown together days before in a fit of fuckness due to cancellations and drama. Major props to the promoters and everyone involved in the success of this years Turku Saatanalle \m/
Disclaimer – my Finnish isn’t so good, so a lot of my interpretations of the events are just that… my own interpretations. Bare with me.
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