Tampere Metal Meeting 2016 – Live Report

On June 17-18 the Tampere Metal Meeting took place for the first time in – who would have guessed - Tampere. The festival area was located in central Tampere, in Ratinanniemi, and the line-up was comprised of both Finnish and international metal favorites so I had to check it out at least for one day.

After metal hipstering at Sideways Festival on Friday in Helsinki where I managed to catch PJ Harvey’s show even though her set was moved from 10 p.m. to 7 p.m. just hours before the festival opened its doors due to a severe rain warning, it was a slightly slow start into Saturday and the trip to Tampere. Because at festivals like Sideways you can actually buy whole wine bottles which led to an evening full of liquids both coming from the clouds in the sky as well as the bar. Well, despite all that I made it to my train and even managed to pack all the necessities although some of them were still rather damp as clever me had forgotten to hang the wet coat up to dry over night – I blame it on the wine. But the forecast promised rain all day for Tampere so there was no way around taking it with me as it was, onward to another wet festival day.

Luckily, the forecast was mostly wrong. While it rained occasionally and once even quite heavily the festival weather turned out to be quite decent, and at times even the sun was peeking through the clouds. Probably just because I had decided to leave my sunglasses in the hotel. I arrived in time to hear the last few songs of Ranger who were full of energy on stage as always, looking the part with their blue jeans and moustaches. The festival area still looked quiet, people slowly gearing up for the second day.

But Jess And The Ancient Ones who played next on the main stage doused the crowd in energy. After a fulminant intro the band stepped on to the stage and the atmosphere was rocky and groovy from the start. Even Jess was looking more rock and dressed up for a festival in a knee length dress instead of wearing her usual long gown. With a nice Craft beer from Hopping Brewsters in my hand (yes to more craft beers at festivals!) it was time to let the few rays of sunshine on my face and follow the magick vibe the band created on stage into festival mood. This was my first time seeing Jess And The Ancient Ones without Tuomas on guitar which was a bit weird at first but the powerful performance soon made me forget all about that. The crowd felt the spirit and some people were head banging wildly throughout the whole gig – luckily there was a sauna on-site to relax these neck muscles afterwards.

Jess And The Ancient Ones (Photo by Nikky Holmes)

Jess And The Ancient Ones are one of these bands that no matter how many times I’ve seen them live, they never get boring and this time I was especially fascinated by Jess’ facial expressions and the intensity of her stage presence, her kohl rimmed eyes piercing, a high priestess walking over the stage putting a spell over the crowd that was clapping along with her for Astral Sabbath. Corpse seemed as if he was feeling and living every note he played, completely lost in the music. It seemed like the band was having a blast. And while the rest of the set was played in a more upbeat tempo the very bluesy beginning of The Lovers showcased just what kind of voice Jess has – more of that!

Jess And The Ancient Ones (Photo by Nikky Holmes)

While Barathrum once again showed that they are liked no matter what they do, and Kalmah gathered an excited crowd in front of the main stage, for me it was time for a food and beer break as well as some festival socializing before Nocturnus A.D. were up on the small stage. The clouds were getting darker and people were guessing on when the storm that had forced Sideways Festival in Helsinki to close three stages on Saturday and rearrange their whole program would hit Tampere. With any luck, only after the last band of the night. But even if the storm would hit immediately, the audience wouldn’t run for cover as Nocturnus A.D. were obviously a festival favorite. People were cheering and shouting for them, and they delivered a solid death metal gig. I didn’t fully feel the energy throughout the whole gig but the rest of the crowd was clearly into it, and there were some great dramatic moments like when they played Lake Of Fire and the wind was picking up.

Nocturnus A.D. (Photo by Nikky Holmes)

Then the only heavy rainfall of the day started. I sought shelter and enjoyed Finntroll from afar. They are a band that the crowd never stops loving and cannot ever get enough from. The rain stopped after a while, and after some technical issues I had gotten a fresh beer just in time to cheers with friends when the trolls were playing their all-time hit Trollhammaren.

It started drizzling again for Deströyer 666 and KK Warslut wasn’t too happy about it – no wonder he felt it was too cold wearing only a leather vest on top. But trveness knows no pain, and the reception that the band got from the audience should have warmed their black hearts as the crowd was on fire for them. The volume seemed constantly too low throughout the gig but that didn’t stop the atmosphere from being intense. From Wildfire to Traitor there was head banging and shouting, and one of the biggest crowds of this Saturday had gathered in front of the second stage. And while Warslut dedicated I Am The Wargod to Odin, it seems that also Thor had answered as the birches were swaying in the wind under grey skies that seemed to predict thunder, doomsday mood and Ragnarök. Deströyer 666 are masters in combining melodies and heaviness, a poisonous metal potion that kicked ass also this time, as the moshpit to Satanic Speed Metal proved. And not only the Norse gods were hanging around in the sky, but surely also Lemmy stopped by to hear the version of Iron Fist by this other metal umlaut band.

Deströyer 666 (Photo by Nikky Holmes)

The last band of the first ever Tampere Metal Meeting were Tiamat. I had seen them at House Of Metal in Umeå in 2012 and I was really looking forward to seeing them again. And they didn’t disappoint – the charisma was dripping of that stage, and they had put a spell on the whole crowd that was singing along. Former Sirenia singer Henriette Bordvik joined them on stage for a few songs, and one could see that there was a connection between the band and her, it seemed like they were bonded by close friendships that translated into the performance. The gig was more melancholic and full of dark beauty than harsh metal. And the show lived from small moments rather than grand gestures like when Johan Edlund rolled his eyes back so that only the white could be seen in the midst of the black eye makeup, or when he strangled guitarist Roger Öjersson during a solo. And of course when Edlund dedicated Wings Of Heaven to the deceased T.T. Oksala who had mixed their 2003 album ‘Prey’ at the Finnvox Studios. “See you soon, but not today.”

Tiamat (Photo by Nikky Holmes)

The gig went from fast beats to deepest bittersweet melancholy, and even sexy vibes. Sometimes no show is needed, just the music and a voice to lose yourself into the atmosphere. The crowd welcomed every new song with cheers. What a friend had said after the gig in Umeå also applied for this gig: “I could just melt into a puddle on the floor listening to them.” Well, let’s maybe not do that because the ground was dirty and wet, but you get my point.

With this energy surrounding us photographer Nikky Holmes (who graciously allowed me to use some of her stunning pictures for this report so you wouldn’t have to figure out which band was actually depicted on my crappy phone images) and myself made our way to the official after party at Yö-Talo to see Saturnian Mist, Gloria Morti and Catamenia. Perfect timing because it was getting chilly outside, so warming up inside with some chilled drinks in hand sounded like the perfect end to this festival day.

And HOLY FUCK (and yes I have to write this in all caps) Saturnian Mist blew me away. For some reason I had always missed them live, and the few songs I had heard didn’t stuck with me for very long so I hadn’t expected anything. But they kicked some serious ass!!! They had five (I think at least) drummers/percussionists on stage that built up a beat thunderstorm par excellence. This was one of these all too rare gigs that deliver a physical - and almost meta(l)physical experience - that grabs your guts, engulfs you in energy and makes your heart beat to the pounding rhythm blasting off the stage. It was pure raw fucking punk black metal power. One of the festival’s surprise highlights.

This festival climax left me depleted so it was tough if not impossible for Gloria Morti and Catamenia to follow this, and the drinks just tasted too good so my attention was wandering a bit. Gloria Morti sounded good however, but Catamenia couldn’t connect me with the teenage days when I listened to them. And after 3 a.m., the summer morning already dawning, it was time to head back to the hotel to get some rest.

This festival is definitely a great addition to the metal festival scene, and I’ll be back!

You can find the complete gallery of Nikky Holmes’ images of day 2 here.

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