Kreator is currently touring with Lamb Of God as support, but they managed to slot in two UK headline shows, one in Leeds and the other in Brighton on the 11th of March, which I was fortunate to attend. To make the occasion even more unique, this was the first time the German Thrash veterans have played in Brighton, and to top it off, they played a special deep cuts set list, especially for these two shows. The CHALK venue is a small intimate venue; you wouldn’t expect a band of their calibre to play here, which added to the rare thrash metal spectacle.
January 20, 2023 we in Tampere, Finland were lucky enough to catch not only the first show of an epic European tour, but also the first ones to hear Katatonia‘s much anticipated 13th full-length albumSky Void of Starslive, on its release day! Pakkahuone was sold out long before the gig in Helsinki, although that too was eventually a sold out show.
Hailing all the way from across the pond, SOM from the US opened the night with a flurry of ethereal doom-pop-shoe-gaze sounds emanating from a smoke clad stage. It felt as if their sound pulled those still trickling in slowly forward as if on a string. Their sound and presence gave me similar vibes to Hangmans Chair…. but replace the grit and grime with fluffy clouds and you get SOM. Hangmans Chair meets Deftones.
Next up was Icelandic cowboys of metal Sólstafir. Although it has been over two years since their last release, it was still fresh and new to see live. We all know why. Their gig flew far beyond my expectations. I could never have imagined such an attention grabbing, spectacle of a show after years of listening to their music. It was intriguing to see how all the members have their own style and pace on stage, yet it all blends together seamlessly. At times it felt as natural as if watching them during a jam session in someones garage. Sæþór with his chiller than chill guitar playing in the shadows, to Aðalbjörn’s most eccentric front man agility, there was not one single dull moment. They also had a special (local?) guest come on stage to play the saxophone live.
Katatonia was another first for me. It was really astonishing how all three bands had a totally different sound and stage presence yet they fit together in one lineup. Katatonia was more of a performance. All the members flowed together on the same page, not as if over rehearsed but just incredibly in sync and with the same level of passion. That dry Swedish stage humor that is becoming more and more familiar to me was hidden a bit under, maybe nerves, of playing all this new material for the first time, but it was there. Jonas’s vocals have such unimaginable soul and yet a subtle flare of eccentric charisma (fueled by his walking around the stage as if arguing with himself, and classy wine glass). The backing vocals also added a beautiful undercurrent of raw emotion that the recorded versions of these songs just couldn’t portrey. It was an honor to be the first to see these new songs live, and a real pleasure to finally be able to hear a few old classics live (not to mention to achieve the impossible of photographing Mr. Renkse’s face on stage!)
December 17, 2022 Shape of Despair and Counting Hours played an iconic gig at Olympia Kortteli in Tampere, Finland.
Counting Hours warmed the night up, or chilled it down with pounding melodic doom. Followed by an intense 2 hours of funeral doom, including Shape of Despair’s newest releaseReturn to the Voidin its entirety, plus an array of songs from their earlier albums. It was the perfect way to welcome the darkest week of the year.
October 19, 2022, Paradise Lost and Hangman’s Chair filled Pakkahuone in Tampere, Finland with the most resonating performance I’ve ever witnessed at that venue both sonically and viscerally.
Initially the gig was planned for the smaller “club” sized part of the building, but after weeks of the gig being sold out, hours before doors they announced they would move to the larger hall, opening up more tickets. It was 110% the right decision, in my opinion. Of course, the intimacy of Klubi can enhance many things when bands such as these play, it would have definitely been a completely different gig had it been kept there. However, both of these bands have such a deep, powerful sound I feel the space of Pakkahuone allowed their sound and atmosphere to expand to is full potential.
Hangman’s Chair blew me away during the first chords struck. Their sound and presence were literally and unexpectedly breathtaking. There was one audience member standing in the middle of the crowd just listening with his eyes closed, I joined him for a few seconds and yes, without sight, you could feel the music and energy in your bones. Hangman’s Chair have probably been the most energetic and raw band to fit into the “doom”genre that I have seen live. It’s pretty unique and intriguing how diverse the “doom” genre, sound and aesthetic has become. I look forward to seeing them again with Igorr in the spring.
Paradise Lost played an equally spectacular gig. Their set flowed elegantly between old and new songs, across their diverse discography of genres and vibes. The bands stage presence was chameleon-like in adapting and flowing along with the varying sounds and atmosphere of the music. Not taking themselves too seriously, they (specifically Nick Holmes) gave of a slight Type-O/Pete Steele sarcastic vibe, which, by the count of Type-O logos spotted in the audience, was just perfect. They seem to really know their fans, what they want to hear, what atmosphere to bring to the stage… would definitely love to see them again.
October 19, 2022 was a night of otherworldly music at Olympia in Tampere, Finland. Jonathan Hultén (formerly of Tribulation) opened the night with a highly anticipated show. His music and live performance is truly a work of art, and it is easy to believe his artistic abilities span many mediums. “Dark Folk” would be the most generic way to describe his music, though it is hard to label as there are so many unique elements. Hearing the music live was completely different on its own, almost as if just listening to the album was not meant to be the full experience. The sound, accompanied by Hultén‘s presence, aesthetic and stage decor made for an inimitable performance. There was a constant stream of nature/bird sounds in the background between songs that gave off a sense I had never experienced at a club gig, playing tricks with the mind as to where exactly you were standing. Hultén‘s presence was typically quite stoic, almost meditative, which enhanced his every movement and facial expression, giving them so much more meaning and power. At times it felt he was performing his own personal ritual. My only complaint was that it was too short! I could stand there and watch for hours more.
Hällas continued the night with quite a special performance in a very different way. They quite authentically give off a 70’s prog rock vibe. They have nailed everything from the sound to the shiny space boots. It truly felt like a shift in space and time to experienced their music live. Although it is easy to see where they get their inspiration, they do it justice!
Melancholy Mass 2022: Red Moon Architect, Kaunis Kuolematon, Marianas Rest, October Tide and Swallow the Sun at Olympia in Tampere, FI
What better way to welcome the beautiful gloom of Autumn than with the masters of melancholy and doom? Friday, September 23, 2022 was the Autumnal Equinox and Melancholy Mass hit the stage in Tampere, Finland.
Marianas Rest opened the mini festival with their usual presence that is almost viscerally tragic. Melancholic with a touch of extreme.
Red Moon Architect continued with their huge sound and amazing stage presence, probably the heaviest sound of the night balanced with the delicate vocals of Anni Viljanen.
The night continued with Kaunis Kuolematon endulging the audience in their own brand of melancholic metal. The contrast between Olli and Mikko’s vocals never ceases to bring chills and a unique feeling of strength and powerlessness.
October Tide blew me away. They were the only band on the bill that I had not seen before and I truly hope they make their way back soon. They added a raw heavy twist to the mix, still doom as hell but some got under your skin in a deeper and dirtier way than the other bands. Love their stage presence too, Alexander has a snarky dgaf attitude that keeps things light but heavy at the same time, i.e. (to the audience) “Are you happy?” -audience cheers- “why are you happy? We’re trying to make you sad.”
And the highlight of the evening, Swallow the Sun. I can never praise this band enough. They are always a pleasure to watch and shoot, even when their performance is a little off, it makes it all the more of a unique experience, as each show of theirs is.
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