Steelchaos 2018 - Live Report
In this grey November that was even desolate for Finnish standards there were two days where the atmosphere turned intriguingly darker, black even. But far from bleak, the two days of Steelchaos on November 9 -10 brought the vivid blackness that only extreme metal entails to a sold out Nosturi.
The first band this year were Finnish black metallers Cavus. The crowd was still quite sparse and slightly reluctant to get into festival mood. The band wasn’t deterred by that and got the groove going at least on stage. A good even though slightly restrained start into Steelchaos.
Next up were Galvanizer and their sound hit you right in the face, flat out aggressive through the fast and slow parts. Nosturi was still only filling up but Galvanizer’s seemingly boundless energy started to attract more people and got things going in the audience as well.
For Evil Angel there was finally a solid crowd in front of the stage and the band delivered a fun and energizing set. Vocalist Orgasmatron’s DIY rivet belt string underwear that provided some side balls décolleté contributed its part to the band’s attitude that brought smiles to many faces as the band’s enthusiastic mood was just too infectious to resist.
Next up was True Black Dawn with a special meat hook show, one of the most awaited gigs of the night. And of course, Murphy’s law, the one I was slightly late for after enjoying a couple of drinks at Elmu bar downstairs, catching up with friends. When I got there, the band had already enchanted a packed Nosturi, and a hooded figure on hooks was being painted in blood by vocalist and master of ceremonies Wrath while the band around him whipped up a musical storm. Before long, the hanged man (mercifully not upside down) was lifted into the air where he remained as a living backdrop for the remainder of the too short set. This was my second time seeing True Black Dawn live and it was one of the festival’s highlights – tight sound, mesmerizing visuals, an intense atmosphere that filled me with the purest of adoration for the beloved music that is called black metal, bringing all its elements together – music, aesthetics, atmosphere, intensity, blackness, magic.
The next highlight were Bölzer who finally made it to the festival after having cancelled the past 2 years. Bölzer is one of those bands that never grows old even after listening to them for hours and seeing them live countless times. So, it was no surprise that it got even more crowded for their set. It always amazes me how two people on stage can create such enthralling, all encompassing intensity. The powerful music thrashed around like the wild beast that it is, unleashed, unbound but still graceful and of astonishing beauty as the melodies gleamed on its heaving, sweating body while KzR’s voice rasps and shouts through the dimensions, a singular silhouette with wild hair enveloped in an aura of blue light, in the eye of the storm. Unbelievable beauty and rawness to be drunken up, to become one with.
After this, it was not easy for Marduk to intrigue me especially as they are probably the one band I have seen the most in my life as there was a time when they played in Switzerland almost every month. Nonetheless, this was one of their good shows and it was nice to see them again after a while with newer tunes from their album ‘Viktoria’. The audience was really into them and looking down from the balcony upstairs one could see an ocean of happy faces and flying hair in front of the stage. Just how it should be.
The night ended with the highly anticipated special old-school show of Arcturus who took the stage to the huge cheers of the crowd. Symphonic power overtook Nosturi, the band was grooving around a hooded ICS Vortex who led the enchanted audience on a journey through starry night skies, on hidden paths towards their very own cosmos. A performance that surely followed many festival visitors into their dreams for a long time still.
After a slow start, we made it to Nosturi for Azaghal who were performing in front of an already quite full Nosturi and a crowd that was digging their dirty black metal, everyone already clearly already in festival mood.
Thy Darkened Shade who stepped in for Blaze of Perdition who had to cancel were up next. The band sounded decent enough and developed a good groove with their at times fast paced sound that got parts of the audience really going. But next up were Root which was a show a lot of people were waiting for so not everyone was paying full attention.
Root then were greeted by a massive applause that erupted once again when singer Big Boss entered the stage. The whole band seemed in such a good mood that it was impossible to not smile along with them and the sound, the beat, the music demanded attention, bound you to it. Big Boss bantered with the audience, giving everyone singing lessons, looking like he thoroughly enjoyed every moment of the performance. He did take a seat behind the music stand during the middle of the set but that did not take away anything from his presence and is certainly more than acceptable at the age of 66. The rest of the band whirled around, keeping the energy high as well. It was just a pure, joyful experience seeing Root again and it was one of these too rare gigs that keep your attention from start to finish, time just flying by.
The atmosphere changed with the next band that was another personal highlight: The Ruins of Beverast, only recognizable as black silhouettes within a haze of blue or blood red lights. Hypnotic, enthralling sounds found their way out of this fog, at times emotionally charged vocals piercing through the cloud. The music drawing the audience in, longing to dive into the haze and disappear into the universe created on stage. The doomish rhythm pulsating, oozing, the band playing itself into a trance that spilled over onto the crowd who was only too willing to let itself be carried away. One of the best performances of the festival in my book.
Impaled Nazarene played next and took the night into a completely different direction, the excited crowd happily shouting along to Slutti666’s vocals, hailing Satan. The drums could not only be heard but also felt and it came to no one’s surprise that the audience was fully into the show.
This year’s Steelchaos ended with Primordial who were also greeted by massive cheers. And they were the perfect choice to end the festival with as Primordial are proper performers. The whole band delivered a great show, Alan using the whole stage, not showing any reservations but instead climbing down to the audience, interacting with them, giving them all of himself. The music providing enough power and speed while also creating atmospheric moments, sending all the festival goers into the night delighted, elated, just how a festival should end.
Check out the full gallery by Eija Mäkivuoti!