Performing a satanic ritual onstage is such a good way to spend time with your sibling, isn’t it?
Helsinki Black Mass in Ääniwalli was an event I couldn’t miss. Not just because of the excellent lineup, but also because of the tasks awaiting me – the very gig review you’ve just started reading and, this time, taking photos. Sometimes life is full of surprises. Even the venue was quite a surprise, since I’ve always connected Ääniwalli with electronic music rather than metal. This time, luckily, this place hosted six black metal bands.
I felt like the diversity of gig-goers’ appearances reflected the different musical styles of each of the bands (there are so many styles of black metal after all). The audience didn't include only textbook examples of black metallers – some of them were rocking the gothic look, and a few metalheads went as far as putting on corpse paint.
As much as I regret not seeing Vorum (who cancelled their show shortly before the event), local band Graveborne were a good one to watch, and their gig was definitely an entertaining way to start the Black Mass.
Since I hadn’t heard too much of Graveborne before, it was a positive surprise to see how dark and thick their sound was from the start. One of my first impressions of the band was that their rhythmic yet aggressive music opened the Black Mass in a good way.
The gig’s curious sides included very creative use of a modified Jägermeister logo and antiques. Here’s the explanation: the goat’s head with an inverted cross over its head was the picture which Graveborne chose as a design for their banners. It’s also something I’d call… watch out, bad pun coming… Jägoatmeister.
And the cross one of Graveborne’s guitarists was wearing looked exactly like it had been stolen from my religious grandmother’s house, I swear! Only turned upside down, of course.
After forty minutes well spent on Graveborne’s show, Sacrificium Carmen from Tampere took the stage. Almost as rhythmic as Graveborne, Sacrificium Carmen’s music resembled the previous band's, although played a lot faster and more aggressively, which surely had an influence on the crowd. The fans went increasingly wild with each song as the mosh pit grew bigger and headbanging intensified.
One of the most memorable things was Sacrificium Carmen’s frontman, who seemed to be very dedicated to his performance throughout the whole show (the look in his eyes was almost fanatic, which only made the gig more powerful). I could say that the band in general had a strong ‘team spirit’.
In contrast to the first two bands playing more conventional (not to say ‘traditional’) black metal, Thyrane from Kemi welcomed the crowd with powerful and wonderfully melodic riffs.
I have to admit I enjoyed Thyrane’s performance even more than the previous bands' (which were already impressive). The audience apparently enjoyed it even more than I did; needless to say all the jumping and headbanging made the photography part of my job really difficult.
Worth mentioning too is the fact that despite performing very melodic songs, the set was nowhere near overly dramatic or too symphonic. Thyrane’s keyboards weren’t overused, and I’d even say that they were perfectly composed into the dark and heavy sound of black metal. The new full-time keyboardist (known as Lazarus) headbanging like hell was a very impressive sight, by the way.
Think Thyrane came from far away? Think again, ‘cause the next band was none other than Norwegians Ragnarok!
Just as expected, the Norwegian black metallers gave a loud and energetic performance. At some point the enthusiastic audience was doing their best to be just as loud, cheering loudly in both English and Norwegian (listening to metal is definitely one of the best ways to learn foreign languages, by the way). No doubt the mosh pit was very intense at Ragnarok’s gig, especially since the band’s frontman Jontho was so lively himself.
One of already drunk fans managed to grip his hand for a significant part of one of the last songs (which was quite an achievement if you ask me, because this person nearly jumped over my head to do this). It happened during one of the last songs when Ragnarok’s gig was slowly coming to the end.
When the four bands had finished their gigs, long-awaited Baptism entered the stage. With the charismatic frontman Lord Sargofagian and excellent live musicians (including Spellgoth), what could possibly go wrong?
Let me think, the only thing going wrong was Lord Sargofagian tangling his majestic blond mane into Syphon’s bass while headbanging. He untangled his hair immediately and continued singing as if nothing happened.
As if the performing band wasn’t legendary enough, Myyni Luukainen joined the concert as a guest vocalist, making an appearance on ‘The Sacrament of Blood and Ash’ for the first time during the gig. The song was one of the two tracks from Baptism’s newest album that were played live.
The rest of their show consisted of well-known older stuff. It was easy to memorize the songs when the concert was so good (although I have to say I was lucky enough to get the setlist after the gig)!
Baptism leaving the stage could only mean one thing: Archgoat were about to start playing.
It says a lot about the band if there were people making it to the first row just to take one single picture of the stage decorations before the gig. A goat’s head in the centre of an inverted cross was only one of Archgoat’s extraordinary artifacts. The band’s stage decoration included also banners adorned with pentagrams, skulls lying on the altar in the middle of the stage and, last but not least, candles burning throughout the whole gig.
I wouldn't be exaggerating if I said that witnessing a performance (perhaps the word ‘ritual’ is more suitable here) by such a dedicated and talented band was an unforgettable experience.
Archgoat’s aggressive musical style, complete with sinister, temple-like surroundings, created the perfect haunting atmosphere. I think that thanks to this band the event could truly be called Black Mass, as it was a breathtaking black metal ceremony.
In case you missed Helsinki Black Mass, you’d better have a good excuse- I mean you should definitely get your tickets to the next black metal event in Ääniwalli! Ajattara, Saturnian Mist, Asagraum and Clamosun make for such a promising lineup for January 21st. See you there!