Download Festival is making its highly anticipated return with its first full-scale festival in three years. The big rock reunion party, which kicks off the festival season, will take place on 10-12th June 2022 at the Donnington Park, Leicestershire. The massive return also will see some major site improvement plans following feedback, so it is now even more equipped to take on the hordes of metal heads. After such a long wait, the festival is packing a hefty line-up. Here are just some bands we recommend you catch over the loaded weekend!Continue reading PREVIEW: Download Festival UK 10-12th June 2022
Kanga (US) and Kælan Mikla (IS) graced Tampere’s Klubi with their ethereal and mystifying presence on May 4th . I was introduced to Kælan Mikla the last time they were in Finland, opening for Alcest right before the lockdowns in 2019. One of those bands who were way off from what I typically listened to but stuck with me afterwards and ended up being one of my favorite gigs of the year. They released a new album Undir Köldum Norðurljósum later that year, which turned out to also be one of my favorite albums, so it was needless to say I would at least attend one of the two gigs they had in Finland (though I actually ended up attending both, so I may sneak in a few comparisons).
Kanga, much like Kælan Mikla the first time around, was not music I would typically find myself searching out and getting into. It was also quite a different style gig than what I would naturally attend or write about. From what I’ve gathered, Kanga is an accomplished producer and remixer who has worked on many well known films, and is quickly gaining popularity in the darkwave and electronic scenes. My interpretation of her music would be, kinda…West Coast Pop meets the grittiest corners of dark industrial. Her performance conveyed just that. Dark, mysterious and almost melancholic while also constantly emanating the pulse of both the trendiest night club and most raw underground rave. I did enjoy the the vibe of the gig and the audience (more so in Helsinki, since the floor was packed and it contributed to the dance club vibe vs. Tampere where people were still very slowly trickling into the venue) though, at times I got more DJ vibes than performance, as if I should not really be watching her, but focusing on the music and dancing, which is a bit unfamiliar to me.
My first thoughts of Kælan Mikla’s gig was that they had matured so much in their performance from the last time I had seen them. More polished, more in sync and seemed more confident with themselves as musicians and people. Of course, their newest album is quite a bit darker than their previous music, which was also prevalent in their stage presence, attire, and the whole atmosphere of their show.
If you aren’t aware of the meaning or source of the name “Kælan Mikla”, it is the Icelandic name for the Moomin character Jäärouva or The Lady of the Cold. This knowledge tinged my perception of their gig with a touch of frost. Laufey (vocalist), moved around the stage at times, as if she was skating on ice (and only when I got closer did I realize she was barefoot in stockings, which totally fit with the witchy aesthetic they had going on!). Her nails were also long and clear and, when caught in the light, resembled icicles. Her presence, stoic and queen-like, otherwise perfectly portrayed the mystical yet powerful essence their music provides.
The performance of “Sírenur” particularly stuck out to me, the mood and the lighting made you feel as if we were all swimming underwater, peaceful yet melancholic (not to mention the sound of waves in the background and the fact that the song is indeed about, you guessed it, the Sirens of the ocean). The other most memorable moments where during “Sólstöður”. There is this intense guttural, banshee type screaming on the album and honestly didn’t expect them to do it live but they did and it was soul shattering and inspiring all at once. As exhausting as it must be to do that night after night, I truly appreciated it and was in awe by its affect live! The other thing that stuck out was Sólveige (synth/keys) playing flute live during “Stormurinn”. That also gave me chills and went beyond expectation. Margrét (bass) was also incredibly inspiring to watch. I can’t really put it into word but she seemed to really connect with the music and put great energy and emotion into playing, as well as when she sang backing vocals, or contributed to screaming. I kind of wish these two would be highlighted a bit more though they all have their spotlight moments. They are all incredibly talented and passionate musicians and I am super eager to see what they do next and catch them live again!
Photos and report by Serena Solomon
Slam Dunk festival is impressively heading into its 16th year and has been bringing the best punk, rock, metal and alternative acts since its inception and has grown bigger each year, and this year it boasts one of its biggest line-ups to date. Starting in a single venue, it is now held across two outdoor sites in Hatfield Park (South) and Temple Newsam Park in Leeds (North). Slam Dunk Festival 2022 will take place on Friday 3rd June (North) and Saturday 4th June (South), moving from the usual May Bank Holiday weekend to align with the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Bank Holiday Weekend, which begins on Thursday 2nd June. Slam Dunk Festival will be a blast with four incredible headliners and other massive acts to the best up-and-coming bands. Here are just some reasons why it is not to be missed!Continue reading PREVIEW: SLAM DUNK FESTIVAL UK 3rd-4th June 2022
Eivør and Lucky Lo played not one but two magical shows in Tampere Finland 11-12.4 2022. The first show at G Livelab was a very special show for both acts. Lo excitedly mentioned that it was the only show on the tour she had a piano to play and looked like she was truely enjoying herself while playing! Both acts included the grand piano in their set, as well as Lo with her banjo and Eivør (accompanied by Mattias Kapnas on the piano) with her drum and guitar. They played unique renditions of songs as well as other songs not previously played on the tour. I was only at the second gig at Olympia on “official” business but since I also attended the G Livelab gig I want to include it in the report. I really loved the idea of these two shows together, very different venues and atmosphere that complimented each other well and gave us an opportunity to see, feel and hear these beautiful artists in unique contexts.
I have to admit, Lucky Lo‘s music is not something I would naturally listen to, but I thoroughly enjoyed both sets. She has such a humble charisma that delivers her music to the audience in such an honest and comforting way its entrancing. Although her music spans themes and sounds that are light, funky and uplifting as well melancholic and fragile, it all feels intimate and warm. In the state of the current world, it was a welcome feeling.
At the Olympia show, she explained how playing simply on the banjo is a glimpse of the core of her music and writing process, and that the recorded music might sound a bit different than what we were hearing then, since it includes a full band and much funkier vibe. One moment that gave me chills was when she was introducing the song “Sunrise/Sunset” explaining it was about life and death inspired by a good friend who had passed away.
As she struck the first notes of the song, a puff of smoke shot up behind her, illuminated by a light, like a ghost. I don’t think it was intentional or if many others noticed but it struck me.
She seemed to go with the flow of the gig, and at one point was openly pondering which song to play next. Someone from the audience suggested one of her songs and she bashfully admitted she could not play it on banjo, that she had tried but she just didn’t think it sounded right. She then remembered the previous night she had been inspired by Eivør when she played a Leonard Cohen cover (which she hadn’t done on the rest of the tour), and decided to also play a cover, and excitedly jumped into “Strawberry Fields Forever”.
These two shows were also special because they were the last of the tour, at both shows they both deviated from the setlists they had stuck with for the tour, and graced us with songs they hadn’t played live in a long time or ever!
Eivør‘s set at G Livelab was quite different on many levels (an intended pun because I personally experienced the gig both from the balcony of the venue and standing in the crowd, and even that provided a different experience). Watching from the balcony felt a bit more like watching a show, still intimate with the ability to also watch the audience but a bit detached. When I went to the floor though, it was surreal. Eivør‘s voice was so ethereal and being closer to the stage and closer to the music was almost other worldly and yet made it all more real. She played a few songs there they didn’t play at the other show such as “Verð Mín”, “Silvitni”, and few covers from Leonard Cohen and Julee Cruise. As well as really interesting adaptions of the songs they had been playing, since it was a somewhat acoustic show, or at least “Duo”, minus the full band plus a grand piano. A few of the more melancholic slow songs had an almost old timey cabaret feel.
However, at Olympia, even the intro music took the night into a completely different atmosphere. It was intense. Epic yet melancholic low grumbles of orchestral, electronic music that slowly built up the anticipation. I think because it was the last show of the tour, the whole band also helped build that anticipation through out the night. As the end came closer, they all played harder, more passionately, more loose.
Eivør‘s music strings together such a wide spectrum of emotion and sound into a short space of time its really intense to see live! One moment you’re dancing to a light-hearted beat, the next you’re traveling into another time and place, something ancient and foreign yet nostalgic, and the next you’re almost in tears with a raw melancholic comfort. And of course those ethereal chants and throat singing she does with her drum are always an experience on their own. Although they are simply sounds and chants, her movements and facial expressions while she’s singing almost tell a story of their own, up for interpretation on a personal level yet clear somehow.
It was great to finally be able to see her “new” songs live, unfortunate that her latest album Segl had been released amidst the first year of the pandemic. Although I had seen her perform some of them during her live stream shows during the 2020 summer (I have to mention it was really great to kind of get to know her and her music during those weekly home recorded live streams that summer, and made me even more eager to see her live again!). And was also a treat to see, again, some songs they had not played during the rest of the tour, since it was the last show (I have a personal history with the song “Boxes” and that was one extra song they played, not to mention seeing that insane vocal magic live, gave me chills!).
To introduce the song “Gullspunnin” she recited a poem and explanation of the song and its meaning, with low atmospheric background sounds as accenting her words. It almost felt like a guided meditation, which, as I think now, isn’t such an unexpected thing to experience at her gig. Her spoken words, and sung words, chants, throat singing, growls, laughs and all the lows and highs of the music hit so many different themes and emotions its like acupuncture of the soul, in some ways providing a release that ends in peace and contentment. Even if you aren’t familiar with her music, or don’t have any personal history with her songs, it is such an intense and magical yet humble performance it will be an unforgettable experience for anyone.
Lucky Lo at Olympia
Eivør at Olympia
Eivør Pálsdóttir – Vocals / Guitar / frame drum
Mattias Kapnas – Keyboard /Piano and Synth
Mikael Blak – Synth / Bass
Per Ingvaldur Højgaard Petersen – Drums
Photos and report by Serena Solomon
Words about the world opening up again part 2? Part 3? Hopefully the last part anyway… ah to be at a club gig again! The Frozen Oceans Abyss tour played in Tampere’s Olympia-Kortteli on March 18th. Local band Kuoleman Galleria opened with full energy and edgy yet funky energy, followed by the fan favorite Frosttide and the black/industrial headliners who had their comeback right as the epidemic was birthing, And Oceans.
The club gigs post lock down these past few years have all had a similar “getting back on our feet” aura about them… people are happy to be out but it feels a bit rusty and unfamiliar. Although there were not restrictions on time, or capacity, people tended to stick to the sidelines and came and went through out the gig. It felt there were more people in the audience in the beginning than the end, and the crowd wavered through out the night.
Kuoleman Galleria had a surprisingly solid and enthralling performance. With no previous knowledge of the band, they left me wanting more, or more like a “what did I just watch, I need to see that again” kind of lasting impression. Unexpected, unpredictable and a unique twist to the evening wit their dark yet groovy sound, and somewhat eccentric stage presence. Hope to see again soon!
Next up was Frosttide. Familiar faces and sounds all around! Somewhat comfort food of the evening. The audience was obviously full of hard core fans, and it felt like an intimate family gathering. Although the band seemed to take a little while to warm up after the all to well known hiatus of live performance, the crowd was pleased and they definitely woke the venue up for the final act.
And Oceans never fail to impress. With a balanced mix of new and old songs…and new and old members… they didn’t miss a beat. They played from start to finish as if there had never been a break in live gigs, and as if they had all been playing together since the start. The energy and chemistry between the band themselves and the audience was flawless and began to fill the void of gigless months. Although the crowd and atmosphere of the gig still had holes and an obvious unsettled, unfamiliar feeling, it faded once they hit the stage. Lets hope it fades all together and we can truly get back to this essential part of life!
photos and report by Serena Solomon
by Carina Lawrence / Dark Art Conspiracy
Swedish Power metal heroes and history buffs are back, and like their previous album 2019’s ‘The Great War’, this new tenth assault, ‘The War To End All Wars’, deals with the First World War. The band had plenty more stories to tell from that time, so they continued with this theme, and the result is some of their best and most epic tales of battles yet.Continue reading REVIEW: Sabaton – “The War To End All Wars”