Tag Archives: concert photography

PHOTO REPORT: HARDCORE SUPERSTAR


Photo Report: Hardcore Superstar – September 27, 2018 – Turku, Finland

Photography by Serena Solomon

HARDCORE SUPERSTAR

PHOTO REPORT: TUSKA 2018 – DAY 3


PHOTO REPORT: TUSKA – Day 3 1.7.2017 Helsinki, Finland

Temple Balls, Black Royal, Timo Rautiainen & Trio Niskalaukaus, Ihsahn, Europe, Grave Pleasures, Clutch, Parkway Drive

Photography by Serena Solomon

TEMPLE BALLS

 

 

 

BLACK ROYAL

 

 

TIMO RAUTIAINEN & TRIO NISKALAUKAUS

 

 

IHSAHN

 

 

EUROPE

 

 

GRAVE PLEASURES

 

 

CLUTCH

 

 

PARKWAY DRIVE

 

 

 

PHOTO REPORT: TUSKA 2018 – DAY 2


PHOTO REPORT: TUSKA – Day 2 30.6.2017  Helsinki, Finland

Tyrantti, Galactic Empire, Beast in Black, Crimfall, The 69 Eyes, Mokoma, Carpenter Brut, Emperor, Hallatar, Kreator, At The Gates, Gojira

Photography by Serena Solomon

TYRANTTI

 

GALACTIC EMPIRE

 

BEAST IN BLACK

 

CRIMFALL

 

THE 69 EYES

 

MOKOMA

 

CARPENTER BRUT

 

EMPEROR

 

HALLATAR

 

KREATOR

 

AT THE GATES

 

GOJIRA

 

Interview and Mini-Feature: Saku Solin – Turmion Kätilöt, Fear of Domination and Stereo Terror DJs


At Finnish metal festivals, it is not uncommon to see the same face on stage performing with different bands spanning the two, three, or four days the festival lasts. Many musicians (specifically Finnish ones) play with various bands as permanent or session members. However, it is a bit more rare to find a similar face as the front/co-front person of multiple acts. Saku Solin not only performed as the co-front person of Fear of Domination on Thursday and Turmion Kätilöt on Saturday as the finale of the entire festival, he also performed with his side project Stereo Terror DJ’s not once but twice on the Friday of the festival. I caught up with Saku at Nummirock to hear how being so active was going, as well as a bit about how things led up to where he is now and what the future looks like.

DSC_2178 copy rz
Turmion Kätilöt – Tuska 2018

As soon as we met, Saku begin with a question for me instead of the other way around. “How did you notice me?”, he asked, humbled and a bit baffled we had taken notice of his participation with multiple acts at Nummirock/Tuska and were eager enough to highlight his activity in a mini-feature. Conversation flowed freely as we found a quiet spot to talk. It flowed so freely, I wasn’t able to start recording until about ten minutes in, and skipped a few minutes in between due to unnoticed technical issues ((apologies to Saku for paraphrasing a bit from memory!)). I explained how I had been following Turmion Kätilöt for a long time and recently took notice of Fear of Domination as well, thus leading me to also become aware of Stereo Terror DJs and realize all three would not only be performing at Nummirock but Tuska and the after parties as well.

I asked how Stereo Terror DJs came about. Saku mentioned that him and Henry Uhlgren were both house DJs at Bar Bäkkäri in Helsinki, and realized they both wanted to take their DJing to a new level, not only playing metal but anything that sounds good “We were talking once how we love different music, disco, and rock and metal, anything good…we didn’t understand the idea of only sticking to one genre, if it’s good its good. We wanted to do something more.” They were in contact with the organizers of PRKL club’s Thrashdisco’s and decided to give that a go. They then had the idea to try to add a more visual aspect to the performance, and compile music from both of their libraries spanning genres as diverse as possible …

DSC_3627 copy rz.jpg
Stereo Terror DJs – Tuska 2018 after party at On The Rocks

“We wanted to mix up songs so badly, it sounded good!”. From there, Stereo Terror DJs was born. Saku talked about the first Stereo Terror DJ show they performed as the house DJ’s when Bar Bäkkäri hosted one of many Thrashdiscos. They felt the need to put on an extravagant performance themselves as the house DJ’s of the hosting bar. That concept provided the foundation for what is now Stereo Terror DJ’s. From there, they began playing festivals and DJ’ing at other events. They have the unique ability to modify their show to accommodate any kind of event including switching up the music and bringing on other musicians or artists. So far they have had great success doing something they love and providing the perfect atmosphere for any kind of event or party. I personally had the opportunity to experience two different sets at Nummirock (the morning show was much more low key while the night show included multiple other musicians as well as what I can only describe as a smoke machine gun and much more)

DSC_8656 copy rz.jpg
Stereo Terror DJs – Morning show at Nummirock 2018

as well as the after party for Tuska which was held at On The Rocks and, despite my utter exhaustion from running around the festival all day and not yet recovered from Nummirock, at 3:00 in the morning, their energy had me on the dance floor (with my camera in tow).

I asked if his association with Fear of Domination and Turmion Kätilöt impacted his image in Stereo Terror DJ’s, if people see him as the vocalist of either or both of these bands being a DJ or if its a completely separate entity. He mentioned it might be the case that people identify with as the vocalist of either band but if its so, he is not aware of it. I also asked if he prepared mentally in different ways for the different acts/performances.

DSC_8352 copy rz.jpg
Fear of Domination – Nummirock 2018

“It’s just me,” he replied “though I might have different charismas [in the different bands], I try to be as honestly me as I can, to give all I have and give the audience something to take back with them tomorrow. I don’t fake anything, I’m just me, so there are some similarities between the shows and the different projects. Its just my personality. There are no aliases. Of course because I’m working with different people and different music, there are different atmospheres and different moods, but its more technical things than mental things. Just going there and doing what you love, and making sure the audience enjoys themselves and enjoys the night and will have something good to remember tomorrow.

DSC_3612 copy rz.jpg
Stereo Terror DJs – Tuska 2018 after party at On The Rocks

“Its not about me feeling good about myself, its about seeing the audience forget their problems, enjoy themselves, raising their arms, singing, dancing, like we’re in a small room together even if its a stadium show, to see them genuinely enjoying their life at that moment. That’s what I do it for. “

I was curious if he had done something similar to this, performing four times in three days with three different acts. He brought up the Metal Orgy event in December of 2017 which he organized, played both in Turmion Kätilöt and Fear of Domination two nights in a row as well as an after party on the second night with Stereo Terror DJs and a second show with Stereo Terror the following day. “So this [Nummirock] is probably even easier than that was” I joked, and asked how it was going at the festival in general, how the gigs were and if he was stressing at all… “Well if you ask my girlfriend, I think she would tell you yes, I am stressing a bit before shows but its mainly about stamina and just worrying if something goes wrong, if I do one show and something happens to me what will happen to the other shows, but its stupid because I know that if something happens it just happens, you can’t do much about it, just go with the flow”… I brought up the mishap that occurred the previous night during the Fear of Domination gig. Saku told the story….

DSC_8196 copy rz.jpg
Fear of Domination – Nummirock 2018

“Ah yeah, I was headbanging, and for some reason Sara came behind/over me and I headbanged right into her face, I didn’t even see her and I hate myself for it but I think she will be alright… and that wasn’t the only thing, we also had some technical difficulties. For example, I have in-ear monitoring, and I lost everything by the second song and couldn’t hear anything. Also Miikki did some stage diving and hit someone in the audience, she found us the next morning and showed us her bruises!” thus providing multiple examples of just how much “going with the flow”is necessary when you’re doing so much at one festival.

I also asked what else Saku has going on in his life. He mentioned he had another job, not associated with his music life, but when both Fear of Domination and Stereo Terror started gaining momentum quickly on top of his joining Turmion Kätilöt, he was starting to burn out and realized something had to go.

DSC_0895 copy rz
Turmion Kätilöt – Nummirock 2018

He quit his normal job, and reminisced about how it felt those first few days after he quit his job and had time to just sit at home for a while, and not be on the go 24/7. He talked about how much of a relief it wast to not only have time to rest and home alone, but to continue with doing things that he loves and be his own boss, in a way. “It took some time to understand that I don’t have to do everything, that its up to me on how much I do, which encourages me to do well but it means I don’t have to do everything and I don’t have someone telling me what to do. I can, in some ways, choose what I want or don’t want to do.” He encouraged people who are interested in doing something similar, to at least give it a try, and talked about how though there are quite a few sacrifices to be made,such as having to be connected 24/7 via email and social media, in the end its really rewarding.

We ended the interview talking about the break Turmion Kätilöt had and what Saku’s future looks like. I mentioned the rumored speculation of TK slowing down, but as it was just a rumor, he stated the band is keeping quite active. In the near future, the band has a new album coming, more summer festivals, a Finnish tour supporting Amorphis and a tour in Russia. “The next year is looking pretty crazy.” Saku concluded with a huge grin.

DSC_2054 copy rz
Turmion Kätilöt – Tuska 2018

 

Feature and photos by Serena Solomon

Check out our photo report from Nummirock here – https://darkartconspiracy.com/2018/07/03/photo-report-nummirock-20-23-6-2018-finland/ as well as our facebook page for even more!

Steelfest Open Air 2018


PAIVAT2_485x

 

May 18-19, 2018 in Hyvinkää, Finland

Report and photos by Serena Solomon

 

DSC_3991-2 copy rz

Steelfest Open Air is known as the metal festival to commence festival season in Finland, more so by those who are fans of extreme metal (black,death, thrash, etc.). As a first timer to Steelfest, it took a little time once there, to get into the festival mindset as a photographer and attendee, since I’m used to the season starting later in the summer.  However, the atmosphere and mood, not to mention music and location made it easy to get into the swing of things. I heard from people who had attended Steelfest regularly, that this year the weather was the best it had been in years.  Festival goers were able to lounge on the grass and enjoy the rare interminable sun and warmth  while also having the option to relax in the cool darkness of the indoor stage area. There was a lot of praise for how accommodating the festival was from the amount of seating and food/drink options available to the accessibility of the location and available accommodations not to mention how smoothly the festival ran in general. The few downsides were the compactness of the schedule; people found themselves running from stage to stage with not much time in between sets to catch a breath let alone eat or socialize. The schedule could have been a bit less hectic, specially Friday, with Havukruunu starting just a half hour after doors opened and shortened sets of more prominent bands. And, although the acts themselves catered to various music tastes, the lineup and order of bands seemed to slightly lack the diversity to keep things interesting through out the day, although ending the first day with Mortiis was probably enough diversity to carry the entire festival.

Overall there wasn’t as much bones, blood and ritual as I anticipated (basing my experience as a Turku Saatanalle regular) and a lot more color (Cult of Fire, Dødheimsgard and Mortiis). My personal most anticipated acts were Nokturnal Mortum, Necrophobic, Alghazanth and Skogen. I was also interested to see Watain, Saor, Havukurrunu, Tomentor and Dødheimsgard. Some of them were a disappointment, some delivered and there were a few performances that impressed me unexpectedly.

 

DAY 1 

Havukruunu kicked off the festival on Friday with a powerful set. However, the fact that they started so soon after doors meant there was a small crowd despite the fact that it seemed many people were eager to see their show. It all felt a bit rushed and not as solid as the performance earlier in the year at Turku Saatanalle VI.

 

Cohol was one band I started to get into weeks before the festival, I know I liked what I heard but had no expectations for their show. I was pleasantly surprised. They put on a memorable performance full of a unique kind of energy and stage presence that fit their music style. It caught the attention of many concert goers and personally left me wanting more.  Hailing all the way from Japan, their journey was well worth it.

I was honestly not familiar with One Master. I listened to their music and felt I might have been able to get more into it if they stood out more live, but for me, there wasn’t much that was memorable about their performance.

Baise Ma Hache was another band I started listening to weeks before. They seemed to have a powerful sound which was conveyed well on their live performance. They had a strong stage presence and kept the attention and participation of the crowd.  The stage presence of some of the other bands was hindered a bit by playing on the outdoor stage. Certain atmosphere was lost with the relentless sunshine, small stage area and lack of visible stage lighting. However, Baise Ma Hache’s set did not suffer one bit.

Another powerful performance was from homegrown Archgoat. Though they are not personally high on my “much anticipated” list, I respect their position within the Finnish metal scene and the fact that they are a much anticipated band to many other festival goers. Every time I have seen them live, they always deliver and never fail to get the crowd going.

Malokarpatan was another band I was not personally so into, however, their performance and sound put a bit of diversity in the lineup thus far. Their stage presence reflected on the crowd and seemed to switch the mood all together just a bit, maybe a bit lighter, maybe a bit thrashier, maybe people were simply becoming more visibly drunk. I’m not sure, but it was a positive thing either way.

I was not initially particularly interested in Satanic Warmaster. The last few times I had seen them live, it was a bit of a let down. However, their performance at Steelfest was an unexpectedly impressive show. Their energy was spot on and they, themselves, seemed more into the music than I had remembered which, in turn, got the crowd more into it as well. I personally had a hard time tearing myself away from the indoor stage to rush to the next band

Deströyer 666 was also a much anticipated band for many festival goers. They were another a band who’s energy and presence was not hindered by playing on the outdoor stage. They definitely rose up to the expectations and anticipation of the crowd as well as gave yet another twist of something different with their sound and stage presence.

Nokturnal Mortum was initially the band that made me say “sold” when contemplating whether or not I would attend Steelfest this year. Which didn’t take long, since they were one of the first bands announced. They were one of the bands I was most familiar with and had never seen live. For me, their energy was spot on, but their setlist could have been improved upon. However, I heard a rumor that their set was cut short due to the hectic schedule (specially since Watain was up next). I personally thought their energy and presence was great and reflected in the audience as well, however, some people I spoke to who had seen them before said this was one of their least favorite performances. Either way, it was a great experience to finally see (and shoot) them.

Finally, Watain. I was quite surprised that they were playing on the smaller stage, however, it made sense once they started lighting up. Though they seemed a bit cramped among the pitchforks and flames, their performance did not suffer. Again, they were not personally one of my most anticipated bands but I was eager to see their set, since I had never seen them before.  I heard they had some technical difficulties and their sound was not as up to par with other gigs they had previously done. I also heard mixed reviews of how the guitarist did taking up playing guitar as well as singing. Some people were impressed, specially since he played the solos as well, and others said his vocals suffered from it.

Then there was Mortiis. Not everyones cup of …whatever. For me it was an odd placement all together, in the festival itself,  its placement in the schedule and the fact that it was specifically a show dedicated to the “Ånden som gjorde opprør” album. This did, however pique my interest to see how the performance would pan out and what people would think about it. From what I heard, people were either really into it or really confused and uninterested by it. Some felt it was a great ending to the first day, some couldn’t bare to stay more than five minutes.  For me personally, it was a unique opportunity to see this character and the atmosphere he creates on stage live,  but it was near impossible to photograph (though the cloak of low light, fog, and a stage prop that made it hard to see him was part of the mysticism and appeal of the show) and after maybe ten minutes, the music lost me. It seemed one had to be a fan and familiar with that particular album to truly enjoy the show, or simply in the right mental space for that kind of atmosphere after a day of extreme metal. One could have likened it to the “get the fuck out” music at closing time, or a more chill way to end the night.

 

DAY 2

Starting even earlier but an hour after doors this time, Hin Onde opened the small stage for the day. They had good sound but this was one occasion I believe being on the outdoor stage detracted from their show. I personally felt it might have been more fitting for them to be inside, and again, possibly have played later in the day since it seemed many were interested to see the band.

 

Nattfog had great sound that filled the indoor area but their stage presence did not convey the power and command their sound provided. They seemed a bit stagnant and not so connected with the fact that they were performing live on stage. The drummer helped bridge the gap between the band and crowd at times but otherwise they seemed like they were not simply rehearsing rather than performing live.

Skogen, on the other hand, had no problem connecting with their own music as well as the audience and provided a visual to support the solid sound that emanated from the stage. They had no problem creating a powerful ambience and getting the crowd enthralled with their performance.

Next up on the indoor stage, Asagraum. Of course, I was curious to see how an all female black metal band would do live, though their music was not one of the most memorable sounds in the lineup. They commanded the stage quite well and brought some of the black metal vibe and aesthetic that I had felt some of the other bands were lacking. Each member had their own performance style but it melded together well and they interacted with the audience directly and indirectly which made them stand out for me more than their music.

Demilich was a much anticipated band for many people, specially since just coming off a headlining US tour. They delivered with their performance and were not hindered by they lack of atmosphere on the outdoor stage. They brought the vibe in the festival up a notch and got the crowd on their feet.

I was quite eager (as many) to see Alghazanth. They had impressed me with thier live show before, and since Steelfest 2018 marked the end of their live career, it was a must see for me and many of the other festival goers. They did not disappoint. For a mid day band, they had one of the bigger crowds filling the indoor stage area. They were well respected within the Finnish black metal scene and could not have said farewell in a better way.

Saor was a favorite for many, from what I heard. I was also eager to see them, since I had been listening to them for a long time and had never seen them live. They had a solid performance but I felt it did not convey the distinct mood their music provides. I cannot put my finger on exactly what it was, whether it was again being on the outdoor stage or the band themselves, but I felt it was missing something. However, the diversity of their music was much needed within the lineup on day 2 and provided a nice change of pace.

Necrophobic. Possibly the best performance of the entire festival. I was looking forward to see them but did not have any expectations. I was incredibly and pleasantly surprised by their sound and energy and everything about it.  They took control of the stage and commanded the entire indoor area with their presence visually and sonically. This was another band I had trouble tearing myself away from to run to the next stage, and one of the few bands that left me wanting more and eager to see again.

Since Necrophobic left such a lasting impression on me and I was not so familiar with Forteresse, their performance was a bit lost on me. I didn’t hear much spoken about them amongst the festival goers before or after the show and was not impressed nor let down by their performance. They had a solid presence but the music just wasn’t captivating for me.. but it was probably a welcome thing since they were between two of the strongest acts of the festival.

After listening to Cult of Fire for a while before the festival and seeing some photos from their previous live shows, I was a bit skeptical since I am a fan of Batushka, and felt they seemed quite similar in their aesthetic and visual appearance. However, aside from the candles/alters and ceremonial ambiance, their live show was something much different than I was expecting (not as Batushka-esque). They brought to the table the ritual aspect I had expected more of which had been absent for most of the festival thus far, but despite the fact that they were all cloaked head to toe and were not easy to see beyond the inferno presented in front of each musician, they had an intoxicating energy. While waiting in the photo pit, I was already enthralled by their presence standing on the side of the stage. The mixture of their intro track and seeing these dark figures in ethereal costumes moving in the shadows off stage sent a chill through me in a good way and, once they started playing, the chill did not subside.  The smallest details of their aesthetic contributed greatly to their haunting presence and their sound provided an energy all of its own that greatly differed from Batushka. They were yet another band that I could not tear myself away from and left me slightly unsettled in a good way and wanting more.

I noticed a lot of discourse about Necros Christos and was curious what all the hype was about. It was their first live gig after two years which included new material from their final album “Domedon Doxomedon”released the day before their show. Their sound was much bigger than the stage they were performing on but somehow it did not hinder their presence. I could feel the power in their music and how it resonated through the crowd with the praises I heard before hand sticking at the back of my mind, it was easy to understand why this band was highly anticipated and a definite unexpected highlight of the day.

 

Dødheimsgard was another unexpected and pleasant surprise for me. Their music caught my ear when listening to Steelfest bands in the weeks before the festival and I was interested to see how their sound and unique aesthetic would translate live. They definitely brought a substantially diverse act to the Steelfest lineup in the best way possible. It’s not a difficult observation to make that their sound, presence and visual aesthetics were unlike any other band, but were easily one of the strongest performances at the festival.

 

My familiarity with Moonsorrow made them one of the acts I was certain I would enjoy. However, it was quite unexpected and a bit of a breath of fresh air to see Ville Sorvali roaming freely around the stage and Henri Sorvali taking up the role as Bassist (a.k.a. Moonsorrow ft. Trollhorn from Finntroll, as the joke goes). Immediately, my mind was brought to none other than Wintersun and their recent transition of Jari becoming only a frontman sans instrument as well. I’m still not sure how I feel about this new setup with Moonsorrow but I have a few more festivals to see to make my mind up. Either way, the performance at least did not suffer at all from the recent transition. The crowd was possibly the most active and engaged I had seen through out the festival thus far, and the band was in no way hindered by the small outdoor stage. Not only was their energy spot on, as always, they played a perfect balance of old and new. Also, their use of smoke struck me as an interesting contrast to Watain’s use of fire the previous day during the same time slot.

And the finale of Steelfest 2018, Tormentor. In my opinion, a much stronger final act than the previous day and a strong enough act to provide a satisfying ending to an amazing start to festival season. Tormentor did not disappoint one bit. They played an exclusive set which coincided with the 30th anniversary of the “unrelease” of their first full length recording “Anno Domini”. It was hard to not get into the show even if one wasn’t a fan of theirs. They took off at full force and didn’t slow down one bit until the end, and managed to look like they were enjoying themselves as well. It was a flawless act to wrap up Steelfest 2018.