For many years, November was the month when demonic black metal tunes descended onto Helsinki with Black Flames of Blasphemy festival to keep the minds of all the naughty little black metaller sane in this season of impending doom: Christmas with all its forcibly colorful cheerfulness, elves and Santa dancing to the tunes of Last Christmas….one really needed stock up with a bunch of Hail Satan’s to keep from following up on all these thoughts of maybe adding a bit of belladonna into Santa’s milk. (Though Finnish Santa or rather ‘joulupukki’ aka Yule goat is actually pretty black metal, read more about that here.) But this beacon of darkness came to an end in 2015, so we suffered through the holiday joy with gritted teeth under our corpse painted lips. That is, till now: This year, the Steelfest organizers stepped in and brought black metal back to the shores of Helsinki with Steelchaos, a two-day festival taking place at Nosturi November 10 -11.
Friday started off with Sawhill Sacrifice and some black metal that jumped right into the face of the at that point still sparsely crowded Nosturi. But with the first songs, more people found their way upstairs and the band’s performance picked up in energy. The intensity of singer Thimns staring at the audience (or into the void) was broken up slightly by the very pop-music like (read: purple and pink) lights at times. Vritrahn from White Death joined them on Stage for a couple of songs, ripping up a bible, drinking some blood – so far, so black metal.
Sawhill Sacrifice (Photo by Eija Mäkivuoti)
Next up were legendary Urn, providing the fitting tunes to continue with this night. Not surprisingly, the audience grew for this show, and songs like Black Steel Worship and Possessed by Satan were greeted with cheers and applause. Just the right way to get into festival mood!
Urn (Photo by Eija Mäkivuoti)
For Crimson Moon Nosturi filled up even more, and the band was off to a powerful, dense set right away. After the two previous, more in-your-face bands, they developed a nice groove with even some melodic parts.
Crimson Moon (Photo by Eija Mäkivuoti)
The mood changed again with Heretic’s black’n’roll who style wise looked a bit like “Elvis-meets-Gimli” to me (I blame it on the drinks!) . They added another musical aspect to the evening, and the gig that was utterly enjoyable, making the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. The song Blood and Blasphemy was just the right hymn for the night, and while I cannot attest if it is true that they sounded the better the more they drank, as they claimed, they did sound good and everyone seemed to enjoy a drink or 666 this evening.
Heretic (Photo by Eija Mäkivuoti)
This is the perfect segway to the next band: Deströyer 666 with their new French drummer. As always, it was packed, and the crowd went for it. Mr. Warslut & Co. seemed to have fun playing and the audience answered with massive cheers. This band almost always works, and even if you are not feeling it yourself that much, the energy the crowd shows at their gigs will eventually get to you, latest with songs like I am the War God. The melodies combined with the force of the music are tight yet beautiful. Deströyer 666 delivered a fast and dirty set, that was also wet because of the amount of drinks spilled onto the floor (or from above the balcony…well, I’ve heard beer is supposed to be good for your hair, so I guess thank you to that one festival goer for sharing his beer).
Deströyer 666 (Photo by Eija Mäkivuoti)
Then it was already time for Archgoat who had stepped in on very short notice on Friday morning for Bölzer who had to cancel their appearance due to an injury. Do not get me wrong, Archgoat are a high-quality replacement especially given the time frame, but many, including myself were still disappointed that it wasn’t Bölzer playing, who would have added another dimension to this festival weekend. Still, Archgoat delivered a dark, intense gig that proved you cannot really go wrong with them.
Archgoat (Photo by Eija Mäkivuoti)
The night ended with the masters of spiked leather outfits: Nifelheim. The stage was decorated with spiderwebs, a child’s coffin and some urns. The audience knew what was to be expected, and loved every minute of this black metal show, chanting along. Nosturi was packed, and watching the performance from the balcony, feeling the energy of the audience’s excitement resonating in the hall was just an ever-marvelous sight to behold.
Nifelheim (Photo by Eija Mäkivuoti)
Saturday started with Malum and probably a few hangovers. But arriving on top of the stairs just as Malum started to play, hearing a hearty “Hail Satan!” shout immediately made everything better. Their faces half covered (except for vocalist Tyrant) and wearing bone resp. a huge lucifer sigil necklace, the band loomed over the red bathed stage as black silhouettes making sure everyone got right into the night’s mood.
Malum (Photo: The Metal Phenomenon)
For Havukruunu it got very packed very early into the evening. The band was bursting with energy. Guitarist and vocalist Stefan’s frantic headbanging stood in contrast to bassist Vainovarjo’s more stoic energy, who had his red, woolen beanie color matching his bass guitar. Both band and audience were in to it, the mood was infectious and got even some of the “old grumpy men” in the audience to nod their heads along to the black metal tunes that carried some Moonsorrow reminiscences.
Havukruunu (Photo by Eija Mäkivuoti)
It stayed crowded for a hood clad Antimateria who had a more low-key energy than the two previous bands. A moment to catch your breath and wallow in the slow melancholy of their black metal.
Antimateria (Photo by Eija Mäkivuoti)
Up next was a performance by Ride for Revenge / Bizarre Uproar and it was….well…. interesting. Ride for Revenge provided the background droning along with one Bizarre Uproar member, clad in a military style latex coat on the mic. The other also latex mask clad Bizarre Uproar member acted as master of a guy and lady, both wearing latex masks as well, directing them around the stage, documenting everything with a polaroid and video camera. The utensils were blood, various bodily fluids and a dead rat that was cut open during the show and rubbed over various body parts and genitals. Heads dunked in blood bowls, rat intestines, and peeing all accompanied by droning sounds and screeches. And while everyone was clad in black, leather and latex, the ‘slave guy’ was wearing white cotton underwear which for me spoiled the overall picture a bit. Ok, you could see the blood better but still. The show continued, but luckily by the time shit was thrown into the audience I was downstairs enjoying a liquid that looked like it might be straight from the performance, but luckily tasted of cider not piss.
Ride for Revenge / Bizarre Uproar (Photo by Eija Mäkivuoti)
Before Entrails brought the evening back to the lighter, death metal side, Steelfest’s Jani Laine made it clear that they as the organizer of course would take responsibility for the previous performance and that if anyone literally had gotten “paskaa niskaansa” (shit onto their neck) as the Finns say, to contact them via Facebook and they would cover cleaning costs and such. With that out of the way, Entrails’ straight forward, energetic gig worked as a pallet cleanser, and they seemed to enjoy their first time playing in Finland a lot, as did the audience who happily obeyed the command to mosh and head bang. Markus Mikkonen from Sadistik Forest joined them for the last two songs, wrapping up the show with a nice and tidy death metal bow.
Entrails (Photo by Eija Mäkivuoti)
When Darkened Nocturn Slaughtercult got on stage the crowd was with them immediately. In her white dress, with the fringed, face covering hood Onielar looked a bit like a ghost Cthulhu, framed by the two guys with their ferocious, wide legged stance. The hood came off after a few songs and Onielar’s long golden locks unfolded, making her look like innocence personified when she turned her back to the audience, only to turn into a bloody, screeching demon when returning to the mic. I had forgotten how good they are live - it was a tight, fast and intense set.
Darkened Nocturn Slaughtercult (Photo by Eija Mäkivuoti)
And then the moment everyone had waited for: Master’s Hammer entered the stage to massive cheers from the audience who went wild. Franta Štorm looked like I’d expect a distinguished black metal huntsman cowboy would look like, and the band had a stage presence that took over even the far corners of the balcony. The Baphomet ladies framed the stage, and though unfortunately not completely naked as I had seen on pictures of other gigs they added the certain je-ne-sais-quoi to the show’s look. Only the moments when they were led on and off stage were slightly awkward, but very understandable that they needed guiding hands with those masks. The two kettle drums added some extra depth to the sound, and according to people who had seen Master’s Hammer at Brutal Assault this summer this show was even better. And good it was indeed, ending the first Steelchaos on a high note with Jáma Pekel, of course, sending hundreds of metal heads off into the night with a smile on their face.
Master's Hammer (Photo by Eija Mäkivuoti)
Check out the full gallery by Eija Mäkivuoti here.
Read this report in Finnish at Inferno.