Saarihelvetti 2022 was full of top notch music. A perfect omnium gatherum (yes it is a word! n. a collection of miscellaneous people or things. Merriam-Webster.com. 2022) of genres ranging from fresh new black metal to popish metal core to headlining raw industrial metal. Although the weather was epic as well (in a not so enjoyable way), festival goers were almost able to overlook the constant rain as they enjoyed the first restriction free Saarihelvetti in 3 years. Although the festival was able to slither between the lockdowns of 2020 and 2021, there were still inevitable lineup changes and restrictions which made the festival a bit more difficult to navigate. This year we were finally free!Continue reading Saarihelvetti 2022
Photo Report: Nummirock 22-25.6.2022 in Kauhajoki, Finland
Photography by Serena Solomon
Ah, to be back on the shores of Nummijärvi! Back at our midsummer home! How liberating and comforting it was to be back to normal, back to Nummirock, no restrictions, just festival life as we know it (plus a few extra bottles of hand sanitizer). I have to say though, the atmosphere was a bit more chill than I remembered, whether it was the two years break taking its toll or the simple fact that we were all two years older. Mostly, the crowd and camp grounds were back to their normal crazy selves, but maybe it was the stamina that was tuned down a few notches, or the fact that there seemed to be significantly less attendees than in past years. Either way, it had no affect on the quality of the festival! The weather stayed on the better side of “typical Finnish midsummer weather”, even a bit too much at times. The first time in my memory that the main stage crowd had to be sprayed down by security to keep cool! The festival staff took good care of the artists, attendees, media and staff.
Wednesday provided an extended “pre-party”. As previous years usually kept to the Klubi stage with a few bands, this year the Inferno stage was also open, and included a special performance from the future of music, a local band camp. Highlights from Wednesday included Rytmihäiriö setting the crowd off into their four day spin, mosh pits during Vorna, and the first Estonian band to perform at Nummi in 30 years, Metsätöll, closing out the evening!
Rytmihäiriö, Memoremains, Ember Falls, Vorna and Metsätöll
Thursday kicked off with Kaunis Kuolematon on a more melancholic note, but maybe a good decision for those of us who celebrated being back at Nummi extra hard the night before. But not to stay somber for too long! Inferno and Main stages were opened by legends! Kiuas and Korpiklaani filled up the 18+ areas as if prohibition just ended. Other highlights from Thursday included Rotting Christ blasting the Inferno stage during a firey sunset, Alien Weaponry giving one of the most memorable Main stage performances I have ever witnessed, and Chamber of Unlight closing the evening with a noteworthy night cap of modern black metal at its finest.
THURSDAY 23.6: Kaunis Kuolematon, Kiuas, Korpiklaani, Carach Angren, At the Gates, Rotting Christ, Crimson Sun, Alien Weaponry, Mimorium and Chamber of Unlight
Friday’s lineup was back to back “can’t miss that” bands. Fear of Domination opened the day with their undeniable dance party that took the conga lines all the way to the main stage for Ensiferum. Dawn of Solace gave us a mid-day cool down, but not for long before Borknagar played a highly anticipated set. Other highlights were Mgła, probably the most anticipated gig of the entire festival for me personally, which went beyond expectation, even more so with the imagery of their blacked out faces against the deep orange of the sunset. Gorgoroth and their spectacle of pure black metal aesthetics. That was really cool to see on the main stage. And last but not least And Oceans closing the evening against a dramatic evening sky.
FRIDAY 24.6: Fear of Domination, Where’s My Bible, Dawn of Solace, Borknagar, Diablo, Mgła, Gorgoroth and And Oceans
Saturday brought the tiny humans back to the festival grounds, mini-metal heads in the making came with their families to see the world famous Hevisaurus, enjoy balloons, rides, and cotton candy, joining in conga lines and flexing their little devil horns! There was a bit of a scheduling fuckup as Sepultura had travel issues, so the beauties from Tampere Burlesque went on earlier than expected to fill the space. Unfortunately many didn’t get the memo in time and missed their first set. Otherwise, highlights from Saturday included a hefty helping of folk metal from Brother of Metal, legends Sepultura and Hammerfall saturating the main stage with all the international music we’ve missed out on these past few years, Turmion Kätilöt giving us some comfort food and a proper closing of the Inferno stage and Apocalyptica as the grand finale. They never fail to impress and seemed as if they also did not want to end the show and would have continued playing all through the night!
SATURDAY 25.6: Hevisaurus, Brothers of Metal, Sepultura, Hammerfall, Turmion Kätilöt and Apocalyptica
As impressive as the lineup for this years Nummirock was, with headlining bands that don’t come to Finland often, the Main stage crowds seemed to be much smaller than previous years. I hope with all my heart this is only due to people being hesitant to commit to attending a festival after so many canceled and postponed gigs, and the next few years will bring things back up to the speed it was going before the world collapsed. Until next year!
The festival this year was a bit different than last. To begin, entering the festival was much less chaotic and took less time, although the first band still started quite early. The outdoor stage was much better than last year and both stages were adorned with large screens on either side. They were not so visible on the outdoor stage until the sun set, and they seemed a bit redundant on the indoor stage since you could basically see the stage from wherever you were standing, but at times they served their purpose. Both days had their ups and downs, and a balanced blend of various genres, and sounds ranging from more atmospheric Norwegian black metal to raw American death metal.
I had no expectations for the first band, Disciples of the Void, and was only able to catch the end of their set, but from what I was able to witness, although there wasn’t so much of an audience, they were able to really fill the outdoor space with atmosphere and a powerful full sound.
Advent Sorrow was one of the bands I was looking forward to seeing, however, the sound on the indoor stage really hindered their performance. This was the case for many of the bands. The acoustics on the indoor stage were not great for most of the bands sound (though it did work for some). Advent Sorrow did have really great energy and power in their stage presence, and seemed to have really good interaction with each other, though it was hard to tell because they were cloaked in smoke most of the time. To me, the performance would not have been as memorable if I had not been interested in the music beforehand. I would definitely like to see them again in a better venue.
Myrkskog was one of the few bands who’s aesthetic was not hindered by the bright outdoor stage. They had a tight performance and solid stage presence and engaged well with the crowd, which didn’t come too easily for many bands, specially with a smaller audience.
Trollheims Grott began with a blaring siren intro that captured the attention of probably everyone in the festival, inside and out. Though they were one of the best bands on the indoor stage, I personally thought their performance in Helsinki earlier in the year was better, they seemed a bit off kilter compared the the show at Nosturi. That being said, the hall was pretty full for such an early time slot, and the lighting and sound worked well for them, creating a powerful presence and what felt like the true beginning of the festival.
There was some delay before Arkhon Infaustus (almost fifteen minutes, which one might not think too much of but here at Steelfest, deviations from the schedule were not taken lightly as the bands played back to back by the minute from doors open to doors close). I’m not entire sure what the problem was, they lost their instruments? Something something, I’m not sure but their performance was not as memorable either way.
Though Antimateria didn’t impress me with their stage presence, their sound made up for it. They had a deep full sound that got to your core. They definitely seemed to be a crowd favorite, not to mention the sound of the indoor stage worked in their favor, however it felt like I was watching a different band when I was watching from the back of the venue as opposed to closer to the stage, almost like they were meant to be experienced from afar, rather than up close.
Evil did not seem to be a crowd favorite. Not one of my favorites either, specially with those ski masks, I couldn’t help thinking compared to Cohol last year and Mgła coming the next day, they looked a bit ridiculous. And what added to the “what the fuck” factor was that they seemed to be speaking to the crowd in another language (Portuguese?) .
Monarque, however, was pleasantly surprising. Another band I had no previous expectations of, but it felt like they were the first band where something was actually happening on stage, an actual performance. The indoor stage sound kept up for them, and they all around put on a great show. It was possibly my favorite thus far into the festival.
There was a lot of hype surrounding Seigneur Voland, since it was their first time playing in Finland, and they did a special 20th anniversary show. Their sound was decent, possibly would have been better on the indoor stage, since they were one of the more atmospheric bands that played outdoors, but I couldn’t get over the way the vocalist held himself on stage. Rigid and almost self conscious, almost reminiscent of an angry cat, and I couldn’t get past it. The rest of the band also didn’t seem too comfortable on stage. The crowd during their set, however, seemed to be the most boisterous, so maybe I was just missing something about them.
Vargrav had a lot going on. Their intro was probably the longest intro of the festival, and the first time I had seen two synth/keyboard players in a black metal band, and were also the first band to bring some kind of set on stage so far (and inverted iron cross on either side of the stage). They had a good performance but I think their sound was hindered by the indoor stage acoustics. I would like to see them again in a different venue.
Everything came together for Belphegor. They put on the best performance of the day in my opinion. They had great presence, energy, and interacted with each other and the crowd. The sound was spot on, and since the sun had set, the twilit outside stage along with the lighting and incense, provided the perfect atmosphere for their show. I had seen them years before and didn’t remember their show being so great. Would definitely want to see them again.
The guys of Trollheims Grott seemed to have better energy and overall be more into it during Horna. They had the hall packed, and the crowd was totally into the show. They commanded the attention of everyone watching, although again, the acoustics of the indoor stage hindered their sound. Spellgoth’s speeches between songs also took me off guard a bit, I didn’t remember him doing that during previous shows and wondered what others thought of it.
Immolation brought a different mood to the lineup. That raw American death metal vibe that added a welcome twist to the more European black metal streak that was running through out the day. They put on a decent show, though not one of my personal favorites, they seemed to really capture the crowd and were well received.
The night ended with Mysticum. Another band that didn’t quite fit in sound wise with the rest of the bands of the day yet somehow were just what the lineup needed. A perfect band to end the first day, somewhat reminiscent of Mortiis the previous year though possibly not as “out there” compared to the rest of the lineup.
The lineup of day 2 was all around more appealing, for me and many others it seemed. I’m not sure what the actual numbers were but it seemed there were much more people at the festival on Saturday. The earlier bands on Saturday also felt a lot more professional than Friday, like they had their shit together more and knew how to command the stage and the audience with their performance and sound.
My Day 2 started with …And Oceans. Surprised they were on so early, I was under the impression they were one of the more anticipated bands of the festival. They played the outdoor stage, and despite the direct sunlight and the early time slot, they definitely pulled it off. Kena’s yellow face paint was luminescent in the bright mid day sun, but the vibe of the entire set was perfect to start off the second day of Steelfest. They drew in a much larger crowd at that hour than the previous day and had a special guest appearance by Spellgoth, dawning a lovely black and white dress. Although they brought the definite comedic element to the festival, their set was no laughing matter, solid performance and great show all around.
Délétère had potential, their set and sound didn’t work so well for me but it felt like maybe on another day in another place they could have been great. Possibly the curse of the indoor acoustics, possibly the excess of smoke, either way, they didn’t stick out to me. Maybe the weak point of the day.
Aeternus was another band I felt should have been on later, but I guess there aren’t enough good time slots available with so many headliner-level bands. Their presence and sound filled the whole venue, everyone was at the outside stage. Great energy and interaction with each other, the audience, as well as us the photographers. They were one of the bands that made me feel like Saturday bands had their shit together more than many of the Friday bands.
Totalselfhatred was another band I was looking forward to, being familiar with their music and live performance. Unfortunately, they had bad technical difficulties for most of the beginning of their set. Due to the tight schedule of the festival, I wasn’t able to stay around to see if things got better for them towards the end of their set which sucked because I know they put on a really good show. Despite the technical difficulties, they powered through as much as they could and the audience was still supportive.
Grave Miasma was another band well suited for the outdoor stage. They filled the whole venue with power and a solid raw sound. Their presence filled the whole stage and they delivered a show full of non-stop energy and metal.
The next act was possibly my favorite show of the entire festival. Gaahls Wyrd. They were definitely the best band on the indoor stage. The wonky acoustics worked for their atmospheric melancholic vibe, and they had zero technical difficulties. Their performance was smooth, flawless and enthralled the crowd (and myself) more than any other band. They played some older material from Gorgoroth, God Seed and Trelldom, as well as stuff from the forthcoming Gaahls Wyrd album. It made me even more eager to hear the new album (which would release a week later). Though they were lacking incense, the heat of the indoor stage made the show almost a spiritual experience with the haunting reverb on the vocals during the Gaahls Wyrd songs. I could not get their show out of my head, and was so excited to hear they would be back in Finland later in the year with Mayhem because their set definitely left me wanting more.
I was so captivated by Gaahls Wyrd (and because I needed to eat at some point), I missed Deiphago, so Kroda was next up. The opposite of Antimateria, Kroda was more interesting up close. They had a lot of little details that contributed to the unique and intriguing aesthetic of their performance. They brought the first ritual type experience of the festival, and dawned some interesting yet fitting attire/costume. It seemed they brought one of the biggest crowds to the indoor stage, almost headliner-size. The crowd also seemed the most eager and engaged with Kroda, chanting for the band through out the show. Sound wise, I think they could have been better, the indoor acoustics didn’t work for them and I thought they were a little too loud.
Einherjer was another band I was anticipating, and they definitely delivered. They seemed to thoroughly enjoy themselves on stage, and their own mood filtered into the crowd. They brought a lighter, more heavy metal vibe to the crowd, which, like Immolation on Friday, was a welcome change. It seemed they too were a bit louder than the previous bands… maybe it was just that time of the day to get a little louder.
I was not expecting the performance Naglfar provided. I don’t know what I was expecting, but their show definitely seemed different from what their music implied their live show to be. I wasn’t unimpressed but they weren’t one of the most memorable acts for me.
I was pleasantly surprised by Asphyx. They also provided an energy different to most of the bands. Their energy and all around vibe was infectious, and commanded the crowd in the best way possible.
Odium was different than I expected, but not in a necessarily good or bad way. Their set seemed a bit scattered and in-cohesive but it worked at times. They had more than average amount of members (including, again, two synth/keyboardists)and yet the stage didn’t feel crowded. Though their sound and music seemed a bit sporadic, their presence was pretty well put-together and smooth. They were definitely hindered by the sound on the indoor stage though.
Much like Immolation the previous day, Vital Remains brought that iconic American sound that was absent through out the rest of the day. You could tell it was their first time in Finland, and to me their stage presence and energy screamed American. The crowd loved it though, and it was obvious many of the fans had been wanting to see this band in Finland for a while.
Everything about Nargaroth was spot on… except the sound. Their show lived up to my expectation 110%, except the fact that the sound on the indoor stage totally fucked them over. I wish they had been on the outdoor stage. Their stage set up included pigs heads speared to the tops of inverted crosses, dripping blood. Their energy was raw and fit the mood of their music perfectly. It was tangible through out the crowd.
Mgła brought the biggest crowd of the entire festival, and that was not a surprise at all. They were the band I was most looking forward to hands down, and they too, did not fail. They played the outdoor stage, but honed in the atmosphere so you felt as if it was an intimate club setting. Even with their faceless, simplistic presence, their sound was anything but. Though the lighting and smoke were perfect and complimented their unique sound, the bright screens on either side were a bit of a distraction. That said, the entire audience was still engulfed in the blue murk of their set.
Although Mgła, seemed to have the biggest draw, Marduk was the big headliner. Playing an exclusive “Panzer Division Marduk” 20 year anniversary set, they closed the festival with a most fitting show. They were the only band that seemed too big for the indoor stage, sound and energy wise. Their energy fed into the crowd and doubled in size half way through the set. I think it was safe to say it was a perfect and satiating end to yet another great Steelfest.
Photo Report: Nummirock 20-23.6.2018 in Kauhajoki, Finland
Photography by Serena Solomon
DAY 1 – Hanging Garden, Verikalpa, Barathrum
DAY 2 – Kalmah, Havukruunu,Mors Subita, The Unguided, Red Moon Architect, Alestorm, Septicflesh, Fear of Domination, Moonsorrow
RED MOON ARCHITECT
FEAR OF DOMINATION
DAY 3 – Rytmihäiriö, Beast in Black, Sodom, Saxon, Flesh Roxon, Tsjuder, Abbath, Before the Dawn
BEAST IN BLACK
BEFORE THE DAWN
DAY 4 – One Desire, Hevisaurus, Oceanhoarse, Infected Rain, Timo Rautiainen & Trio Niskalaukaus, Bloodred Hourglass, The Agonist, Danko Jones, Lost Society, Turmion Kätilöt
TIMO RAUTIAINEN & TRIO NISKALAUKAUS
Download Festival –LIVE REVIEW by Carina Lawrence / Dark Art Conspiracy
Photo credit: Matt Eachus – Download Festival 2017 (Biffy Clyro)
Download festival has a special atmosphere and is regarded as one of the ‘biggest and friendliest’ festivals in the world, and most certainly in the UK, being the largest dedicated rock/metal festival the country has to offer, with 80,000 rock and metal fans descending onto Donnington Park in Leicestershire to witness rock’s finest. The festival has hosted the biggest names in rock such as Metallica, Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden and much more. Festival organiser, Andy Copping describes the festival as the ‘spiritual home of rock’ and anyone who has ever attended will find it hard to disagree, it really does have an amazing atmosphere with everyone united to enjoy their favourite bands. The fact that this year it was some of the best weather Download had seen for years made the three days even more incredible. The weather was on metal’s side and saw the packed weekend shine and go down in spectacular style.
Friday 9th June
Photo credit: Paulo Nuno – Download Festival 2017 (Motionless In White)
Motionless in White got their moment on the main stage following their hard work. It was an early set but the crowd was out to support them and they had some good participation throughout. Because of their daytime slot frontman Chris Motionless remarked that they couldn’t have lots of lights and stage theatrics, so to pack more of a punch, they played new song ‘Necessary Evil’ from their new album ‘Graveyard Shift’ for the first time to make their set a bit more special. They also played other popular offerings ‘Devil’s Night’ and ‘Eternally Yours’ which may have also won over some new fans.
American pop punk act Four Year Strong played the smallest stage going at Download Festival, the Firestone stage, giving fans a chance to see a more intimate set before taking to a bigger stage later in the day, however they pull in a big crowd and engulf the small stage, with everyone jumping around and having fun.
Metal giants Mastodon brought the masses to their set and impress with their technically crafted prog mastery and massive hooks. They don’t need overly fancy lighting or production, they just rely on their music and showcase their excessive talent. They played songs across their back catalogue including ‘The Wolf Is Loose’ and ‘Black Tongue from 2011’s ‘The Hunter’ as well as showing their diversity with ‘Show Yourself’ taken from their latest expansive album, The Emperor Of Sand’. A glorious performance.
Photo credit: Matt Eachus – Download Festival 2017 (Five Finger Death Punch)
American heavy groove metallers Five Finger Death Punch were one of the stand out bands of the opening day, delivering a crushing set and mental mosh pits whilst firing off their best songs ‘Never Enough’, ‘Wash It All Away’ and ending with ‘The Bleeding’. However one of the highlights and most moving moments came when they performed the acoustic ‘Remember Everything’. They weren’t afraid to get up close and personal as frontman Ivan Moody and lead guitarist Jason Hook went into the crowd and grabbed the eager fans hands to show them some love back. It was a powerful set that was well balanced with hard-hitting numbers and slower songs. The band were truly humbled by the crowd’s reactions and glad to be back on the main stage at Donnington.
Photo credit: Matt Eachus – Download Festival 2017 (Prophets Of Rage)
Prophets of rage impressed with their politically charged anthems, which was particularly fitting given the UK general election the day before, so they had plenty to get motivated about in what was their first ever UK show. They went down a storm with everyone pumping their fists and united as one, grooving to their perfect festival anthems. Their set list consisted of all the well-known and classic hits that you would expect from each member, such as Rage Against The Machine’s ‘Killing In The Name’, ‘Testify’, ‘Take The Power Back’, Public Enemy’s ‘Fight The Power’ and Cypress Hill’s ‘Insane In The Brain’. The highlight of their set, and most emotional and beautiful moment, was an instrumental of Audioslave’s ‘Like A Stone’ led by band member and long-time friend guitarist, Tom Morello, which was a great tribute to their fallen comrade and legend Chris Cornell.
Photo credit: Caitlin Mogridge– Download Festival 2017 (System Of A Down)
Headliners System Of A Down didn’t disappoint, delivering an incredible set comprised of all their best hits, the whole arena was buzzing, singing and head banging to their spectacular non-stop 31 song set; ‘Chop Suey’ was particularly special. They played all the songs the crowd wanted and more, including ending on ‘Sugar’ from their debut self-titled album which was unleashed in 1998 and showcased their weird individual kooky style wonderfully. No other band in the world sounds like them and all their songs translated perfectly blasted out in a festival environment. Let’s hope a new System Of A Down album is on the way soon but in the meantime, we are more than happy to listen to their impressive backlog.
Saturday 10th June
British rap metallers Hacktivist did a great job of opening day two of the festival on the main stage, managing to draw a good crowd and injected some high energy into their early 11 am slot, demonstrating just why they earnt their spot there.
Creeper draws in an even bigger crowd, highlighting that putting them on the main stage was a wise decision with their goth-tinged punk. They take to the stage ahead of their idols AFI. They had good crowd participation, with lots of swaying arms, singing and applause. Definitely a successful main stage debut to be proud of. They offered something a bit different and refreshing with nice powerful live dual vocals from frontman Will Gould and keyboardist/vocalist Hannah Greenwood and a largely fun uplifting sound, which included songs such as ‘Black Rain’, ‘Misery’ and ‘Hiding With Boys’, before ending on a powerful emotive ‘I Choose To Live’, giving a motivational talk about living life instead of in fear, in light of the recent tragic terrorist events in the UK.
Photo credit: Ross Silcocks – Download Festival 2017 (Alestorm)
Everyone’s favourite pirate metallers Alestorm took to the second stage to play their first ever set at Download, bringing in a large crowd, most of whom were suitable dressed for the occasion, clad in their best pirate outfits. They played all their best party anthems, such as ‘Drink’ and the popular ‘Shipwrecked’. Most of their songs are about drinking, which was perfect for a sunny Saturday afternoon festival vibe. They also treated us to some new songs from their latest album ‘No Grave But The Sea’, including self-titled song ‘Alestorm’, the excellent ‘Mexico’ and their most hilarious and ridiculous offering to date ‘Fucked With An Anchor’ which provided many laughs and lots of fun, with everyone comically shouting as one the lyrics, “Fuck you, you’re a fucking wanker, we’re gonna punch you right in the balls, fuck you, with a fucking anchor, you’re all cunts so fuck you all!”. A definite highlight that won’t be forgotten. Frontman Christopher Bowes later tells us that said “for a brief time we were selling more records than Shikira” with their new album, and asked if anyone had brought or illegally downloaded the album declaring they didn’t care either way. They finish their epic set with their superb cover of Taio Cruz’s ‘Hangover’ which seems fitting. This was a very successful quest for Alestorm and hopefully, we will be seeing them again at Download as a result of this, with their piratical comedic tracks bringing both humour and party vibes, the perfect combination.
American deathcore quintet Suicide Silence took to the Zippo (second) stage next, making for an extreme change of pace and tone, being one of the heaviest bands of the day. They managed to produce some pits and played the likes of the brutal ‘Disengage’ and ‘Conformity’, taken from the latest self-titled album, which was a bit tamer for them, offering up some diversity. However, they seemed to find it hard to build real momentum and therefore didn’t stand out as much as some other bands. This may have been because of the triumphant set Alestorm put on, so in comparison, it seemed a bit bleak and bland.
Photo credit: Sarah Koury – Download Festival 2017 (AFI)
Punk rock legends AFI put on a mighty performance which also marked their first time gracing the main stage at Download. For some reason the band don’t play in the UK often, which is a damn shame as they put on a flawless performance, especially with Davey Havok’s exceptional and varied vocals. They stormed through their set, barely without a pause, so managed to play all their hits such as opener ‘Girl’s Not Grey’, the classic ‘The Days Of The Phoenix’ and ‘The Leaving Song Pt II’, before ending on the energetic ‘Miss Murder’. They had great presence, aided largely by Davey, who was alluring and engaging, especially as at one point he looked directly into the camera so only his face was visible on big screen, whilst passionately singing and baring his soul and getting up close and personal for the crowds. A very powerful non-stop set.
Photo credit: Ben Gibson – Download Festival 2017 (A Day To Remember)
Florida rockers A Day To Remember have come a long way earning the main stage slot before headliners Biffy Clyro. They make an interesting comical entrance with a voice pretending to be the actual stage talking. As you would expect they draw a large turnout and their catchy anthems cause many to crowd surf and singalong. The open with well-known hit ‘All I Want’, and go on to play other popular songs ‘Right Back At It Again’, new song ‘Naivety’ which is made all the better, as the band kindly decide to throw out free t-shirts to the crowd. They surprised fans with ‘End Of Me’ which they hadn’t played in a while but thought this prestigious appearance was the perfect time to bring it back. Their set saw some of the biggest and best stage productions of the day with well-placed fire and massive beach balls dispersed into the crowd. Saving their best until last, they closed their brilliant and fun set with ‘The Downfall Of Us All’.
Photo credit: Paulo Nuno – Download Festival 2017 (Wednesday 13)
Ex-Murderdolls frontman Wednesday 13 and co headline and demolish the Dogtooth stage. His solo project sees some of the best and strongest work he has done to date. The tent was absolutely packed with everyone cheering and doing whatever Wednesday commanded. He said it would be a special show and didn’t disappoint, especially as they enlisted the help of performers Pyrohex who added to the dark creepy ambience with their fire show and undead makeup to match the eeriness of the band. Wednesday 13 had a few outfit changes throughout including a sinister mask on the back of his head which again added to all the wonderfully weird imagery. Following the recent release of new album ‘Condolences’, they primarily focused on this and played single ‘What The Night Brings’, ‘Cadaverous’ and ended on title track ‘Condolences’. A killer and unforgettable set that confirmed just why they were headliners.
Photo credit: Ben Gibson – Download Festival 2017 (Rob Zombie)
Keeping up the dark horror themes, legendary horror-rock filmmaker and musician Rob Zombie headlined the second (Zippo Encore) stage and turned it into his own weird and wonderful world for the duration, with superb visual production, including fire and confetti and theatrics including some alien sex dolls to accompany ‘Well, Everybody’s Fucking in a U.F.O’ with Zombie declaring what a big issue alien abduction in the world is and that not enough people talk about it, which made for a change of subject from the norm. They played all their massive hits such as ‘Living Dead Girl’ and ‘Dragula’ as well as gracing us with some great covers of Ramone’s ‘Blitzkrieg Bop’ and Alice Cooper’s ‘School’s Out’ which went down brilliantly with the huge crowd. Zombie was obviously impressed with the crowd and reaction himself declaring that there was “nowhere else like this in the world”.
Photo credit: Matt Eachus – Download Festival 2017 (Biffy Clyro)
I opted for the heavier offering of Rob Zombie who catered for the metal heads on the second stage but I did manage to catch some of the Scottish rock trio and Saturday headliners Biffy Clyro. Despite being an interesting and perhaps slightly controversial headliner choice, they pulled in a massive crowd and played all their best hits, with brilliant stage production and pyrotechnics, before ending on an epic firework display. I think it’s safe to say they won everyone over and completed their first ever Download headliner slot with style.
Sunday 11th June
The first act of the day for me was heavy metallers Orange Goblin from London who had an early slot on the mainstage, but despite this, they had a decent turnout considering and delivered a belting set which ended on the massive ‘Red Tide Rising’.
Melodic extreme metal act In Flames from Sweden had the crowd clapping in anticipation before the emerged on the main stage and later chanted their name in appreciation. Although their music may be serious, lead vocalist Anders Fridén has quite the sense of humour and in between songs he made the crowd laugh with his dismay at the lack of beer they were supplied which he clearly was not impressed with. They end with the crushing ‘Take This Life’ to the joy of fans.
Photo credit: Ross Silcocks – Download Festival 2017 (Steel Panther)
One of the highlights of the whole weekend was glam rock masters Steel Panther with their crude, hilarious and debaucherous antics, which had the vast crowd laughing immensely throughout. You get two for one with them, as the deliver a comedy show just as much as they put on a brilliant rock show. Some particular notable comedic moments were when the band claimed that other bands were trying to sabotage their setup as they are intimated by the ‘best band in the world’, their many sex tales and jokes poking fun at bassist Lexxi Foxx. The best thing about the band is yes they are silly and don’t take themselves seriously, but they are damn good musicians also and demonstrate this with all the best and funniest hits such as ‘Just Like Tiger Woods’, ‘Death To All But Metal’, ‘Poontang Boomerang’ and the standout ’17 Girls In A Row’ where the fittingly invited women on stage, so the stage was absolutely packed with ecstatic women posing and dancing with the band which was a brilliant moment. They closed their epic and slapstick set with the super catchy and perfect festival anthem ‘Party All Day’ (Fuck All Night).
Swedish progressive metallers Opeth brought class and sophistication to the second stage, and simply oozed with skill and craftsmanship from the start to the finish whilst delivering classic songs like ‘Ghost Of Perdition’ and ending on ‘Deliverance’. The new title track song from their new album ‘Sorceress’ made for the perfect opener and worked well in the live environment. Mikael Akerfeldt’s vocals impressed, going from sweet and ethereal to sinister and dark. A stunning set, the only downside being how short it seemed and given some of their songs can be on the long side, they didn’t manage to play all the songs you would expect.
Photo credit: Matt Eachus – Download Festival 2017 (Slayer)
American Thrash metal heroes Slayer headline the second stage and get straight to business with a non-stop relentless set. As you can imagine being one of the heavy hitters of extreme metal they brought carnage and immense mosh pits, only like Slayer could. It was a chilling and exciting moment to hear the monstrous classics ‘Reigning Blood’ and ‘Angel Of Death’ blasted out which they saved for the encore.
Photo credit: Ben Gibson – Download Festival 2017 (Aerosmith)
So the time came for rock royalty Aerosmith to take to the stage at Donnington for the final time, after many fond memories, with this special performance also marking their last UK show as part of their farewell tour, as a legendary band that have been around impressively for nearly 50 years. They kept the eager crowd waiting, and as the festival neared to an end you saw the full scale of the masses that had descended on the site. They made quite an entrance with a montage video intro accompanied with the dramatic O Fortuna music to show the history of the band and their performances at Donnington over the years. The wait was worth it as they played all their top hits such as ‘Crying’, ‘I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing’ which gets the biggest singalong as expected, along with ‘Dude’ (Looks Like A Lady) and of course in the encore they go out on their world known ‘Walk This Way’. Being a band of their magnitude and reputation they were geared up with massive production and visuals to fit each song such as elevator imagery for ‘Love In An Elevator’ and fire engulfing the band on the screens, adding to the grandeur. One thing is for certain Aerosmith will truly be missed.
Photo credit: Paulo Nuno – Download Festival 2017
This was a special year for Download festival celebrating their fifteenth anniversary and the weather was perfect for the occasion, enhancing the experience and atmosphere whilst watching rock and metal’s finest, including witnessing a few goodbyes and debuts, adding to the rich rock history of Donnington Park. The atmosphere was brilliant, with dedicated rockers seeing the festival as ‘home’ and a place to be yourself and enjoy the music old and new. The increased security in light of the recent tragic events in the UK was dealt with professionally and extremely well and everything was smoothly run, making everyone feel safe and they should be highly praised for this. The bands and the festival goers all had a blast and now we all eagerly await Download 2018.
#darkartconspiracy #metal #festival #download2017 #downloadUK #UK
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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