After a long cold spell in Finland, Hell(sinki) had literally frozen over by the first weekend in March. Just the right setting to travel to Turku for the sixth edition of the indoor black metal festival Turku Saatanalle (Turku for Satan) by organizers Metallihelvetti on the Finnish southwest coast. Over the two days, 12 bands in total would bring their own brand of black metal to the stage of Club Kåren.
It was the first time the festival was taking place at that venue, and the first time for me ever at Kåren. Three bars and a 50’s vibe greeted me there. In the main hall bare chested ladies in togas and dudes in renaissance frocks watched over the debauchery on stage from the wall mural, concerned. Besides the main hall with the stage, there was enough space to sit, drink and chat making Kåren a good choice for a festival. Apparently, in the 90s a lot of metal gigs in Turku had taken place at Kåren but they had only now returned there after a long break.
Ravintola Kåren wall mural (Photo by Marco Manzi)
Friday started with a quite new Finnish band, Norrhem, and already a bunch of people had arrived to watch them even though Kåren was far from crowded yet. The band propelled me right into black metal festival mood. I let the music wash over me, and arrived to a weekend where you feel home within the moment, the music and with people. The crowd seemed to be decently interested in the band and their more often than not fast black metal. Towards the end the music got more of a drive and was broken up by occasional melodic and clean vocals parts. The band overall seemed a bit shy on stage still, but no wonder if this was one of their first gigs.
Norrhem (Photo by Marco Manzi)
Favorite new Finnish underground (hype) band Havukruunu continued the night, marking this the second time I had seen them in a short while after their Steelchaos gig in November. Again, it got quite packed for their show, the first beers were lifted into the air to cheer for them. The audience soaked up the band’s energy and vocalist Stefan kept on with his for a black metal event atypically friendly and entertaining speeches during the songs which seemed more authentic than grim pretending. Overall another enjoyable gig.
Havukruunu (Photo by Marco Manzi)
Next up were Barathrum, playing their ‘Legions Of Perkele 20th Anniversary Show’ for which it got fuller once again. The band sounded decent and developed a good groove, the songs had aged well and Demonos Sovas’ character voice made its way even to the furthest corners of Kåren. For some reason though, during the gig a strong smell of baby wipes started unfolding in front of me, standing towards the back by the mixing desk…a smell I usually do not associate with a black metal festival though probably some bands still use baby in stead of cosmetic wipes to get that corpse paint off.
Barathrum (Photo by Marco Manzi)
With Whoredom Rife from Norway it was finally time for one of the bands I had looked forward to seeing the most. Unfortunately, they started about 20 minutes late which then had a knock-on effect for the rest of the night. And from what the band itself shared online, they had major sound issues on stage. Despite the delay and sound issues that also could be heard off stage especially at the beginning where the vocals and the echo were overpowering the music I still enjoyed the gig very much. It was dirty, right in your face black metal full of intensity mixed with just the right amount of aggression. During the gig the sound got a bit better, and Whoredom Rife unleashed a storm over a receptive audience, the blue lights pulsating on stage. For some reason vocalist K.R. seemed to have some troubles keeping the mic in his hands but this didn’t affect the raw energy coming off that stage. Can't wait to see them again, without sound issues.
Whoredom Rife (Photo by Marco Manzi)
The night continued with French Merrimack. And while singer Vestal kept the mic in his hands, one couldn’t say the same for the beer cans. And I cannot say I enjoy getting doused in beer or hit by a full can no matter how trve throwing cans might be considered. Also, audience members: Just cos someone does something on stage, that doesn’t mean you then have to repeat that with your (luckily only plastic) beer cup. When one didn’t have to duck to escape cans and cups, Merrimack also brought a show filled with intensity to stage even though the crowd had cleared up a bit after Whoredom Rife. I really enjoyed the gig though. The might of Merrimack’s songs kept growing during the set, and the 'in your face' mood and attitude that arose during Whoredome Rife continued. An another worthwhile gig.
Merrimack (Photo by Marco Manzi)
Not surprisingly, it got packed again for the last band of the night, Satanic Warmaster. It had been a while since I saw them last. They proved to be a worthy headliner, setting the atmosphere with red lights droning behind the curtain moments before the show started. Because of the delay earlier in the night, the set was cut short to the dismay of many, but it was still just the right way to end the first night.
Satanic Warmaster (Photo by Marco Manzi)
Saturday seemed to be off to a quieter start, at least based on the amount of people that were already at Kåren by the time Obscure Burial started the night. On stage however, it was not quiet at all. Obscure Burial played raw and wild, accompanied by a strobe light storm – worth coming on time for.
Obscure Burial (Photo by Marco Manzi)
The evening took a more ritualistic turn with Blood Chalice who brought the big black metal prop ‘guns’ with them: Incense, candles, barbed wire, bones, spikes, blood. All giving their show very marialitic aesthetic. Never a dull moment, the set started off at break neck speed, and the band marked their presence on stage. Occasional more atmospheric and slightly slower parts didn’t break the spell, the band kept tearing forward.
Blood Chalice (Photo by Marco Manzi)
With WAIL the atmosphere changed quite a bit. The band appeared as simple black silhouettes in a sea of red or blue lights, their faces covered in black masks all but for the eyes. It finally also got a bit fuller though the overall mood was chilled, and the audience just seemed to bath and wallow in the sinister atmosphere of WAIL that picked up on energy towards the end.
WAIL (Photo by Marco Manzi)
Another band I had awaited were Hellfire Deathcult from the US, playing their first show in Finland. Unfortunately, the sound was very mushy which took away from the gig a lot. Trying to get as much out of it as I could, the show was still a red thunderstorm rolling right over you. Definitely something I would want to see again, with better sound.
Hellfire Deathcult (Photo by Marco Manzi)
Just in time for Warloghe it got a bit fuller for the first time that night. It was the second time seeing them for me after their gig at Nosturi in February 2017. And it was worth it. The 'no pictures or videos' request was respected, and one could immerse oneself into the gig fully, soak up the presence of the band on stage. While Warloghe played, outside a group of Christians had gathered to, I assume, pray for our lost souls and gave festival co-organizer Jussi from Metallihelvetti a ‘back to the 90s’-moment: Christians outside, Warloghe playing inside, under the worried eyes of the priest of the mural.
Ravintola Kåren wall mural (Photo by Marco Manzi)
Aura Noir made sure to kick the audience into their tired festival asses once again before calling it a night. The band played an forceful set, and I think for the first time that weekend moshing ensued. The banter between the audience, Aggressor and Apollyon between new and old songs made the mood even better.Plus, it’s always impressive to see a drummer sing as well as drum when most of us (read: me) struggle to coordinate our extremities just walking around. Thanks to Aura Noir the night ended with an explosive rock’n’roll attitude and a mosh pit, bidding the festival farewell with a surge of energy. Turku Saatanalle proved to be an excellent festival once again.
Aura Noir (Photo by Marco Manzi)
Check out the full photo gallery by Marco Manzi here.