Festival Report
Iced Earth @ Jalometalli 2011
JALOMETALLI METAL MUSIC FESTIVAL Club Teatria, Oulu August 10-11, 2012

Battlelore @ Alakerta

With last year’s dead drunk flight fiasco still in the back of our minds, this year’s Jalometalli wasn’t preceded by a night of chaotic partying, but a nice and early acoustic evening with Battlelore [to be pronounced like a motorsportsman] at one of Inferno’s Sytyke summer clubs taking place at the downstairs of Nosturi.  Although the band’s material isn’t very familiar or of much interest to me in its electric form, this special performance was an entertaining and a surprisingly enjoyable one, much thanks to its laid-back and down-to-earth vibe.  Instead of the theatrics we’ve gotten used to seeing from them on stage, the band had come as they are, and seemed to be having a jolly good time playing these unusual versions of their songs and cracking jokes with the audience.

FRIDAY

After six hours of sleep and less than an hour in the air, we arrived to Oulu so early that we had to camp in front of Lidl for twenty minutes before we could even buy beer... tragic!  Luckily the kind receptionist at the hotel let us into our room well before our check-in time, and the first part of the day was spent with some refreshments while Immu of Metal Warning!!! was entertaining us and our Moroccan fellow traveler Dr. Horrible with the piles of CDs in his bag, looking almost as if he was prepared to play a DJ set…

Gehenna @ Jalometalli 2012

Skipping the first band didn’t come into question, as Norwegian Gehenna were occupying the starter slot on the main stage.  This grim and quite static quartet certainly wasn’t in an ideal spot playing outdoors on a Friday afternoon, but had enough curiosity value to them and variety in the set not to make me walk away either.  The vile and twisted mid-tempo moments were the most enjoyable ones of the newer material, while the faster pummeling of the title track of Adimiron Black, for instance, sounded just messy and lacking in force.  The song that most stood out in its favor was “Morningstar” from their early days, though, with its more melodic approach, conveying glorious nighttime atmospheres in the Nordic black metal tradition.

Merging Flare @ Jalometalli 2012

Merging Flare were supposed to play Jalometalli already last year, but were then forced to cancel due to an injury sustained by one of the guitarists.  This time, however, they successfully opened the indoor stage with their melodic heavy/power metal.  The band pull off their style with skill and vigor, and Matias Palm has a personal and pleasant voice that avoids the traps of annoyance well, but with Merging Flare’s music not being my tankard of brew exactly, I soon headed back outside to check out the 3rd stage’s offerings.

What I found there was a young group going by the moniker Gorem, playing some kind of slow and heavy death/dark metal.  Gorem @ Jalometalli 2012Well, young at least in terms of having just a couple of years and one demo behind them, as vocalist-bassist Tepa is also known from the ranks of the thrash-vets A.R.G.  The compositions had some unusual twists to them, making it hard to draw straight musical comparisons, and the guys had quite an energetic stage vibe going.  However, the song material or the general sound of the band didn’t manage to impress me too much yet.  I’ll have to keep my eye on Gorem and see what they come up with in the future, though.

Toxic Holocaust @ Jalometalli 2012

Toxic Holocaust was the first name on the bill to truly poison my brain with radiation.  The circa 25-minute set they played warming up for Kvelertak last year had left me seriously hungry, and with a full hour reserved for them in the schedule this time, I was expecting a more extensive beating.  Unfortunately, I didn’t walk away with much more nuclear waste in my stomach, as the band used only a bit more than half of their slot, and played a set very similar to the last one.  This short ride was a thoroughly enjoyable one, though, with the trio sounding sharp, vicious and intense.  The set kicked off with the evil ol’ catchy simplicity of “War Is Hell” and “666,” and then descended into the depraved depths of the newest album’s darkest dagger, “I Am Disease.”  The band seemed to have a taste for double shots, as apart from the twosome in the beginning, they had also bundled together both tracks from the Reaper’s Grave single, as well as the video hits “Wild Dogs” and “Nuke the Cross” from An Overdose of Death…, which brought interesting dynamics to the set.  As their final blow, Joel and the boys delivered one of Conjure and Command’s most contagious pieces, “Bitch,” reminding that there’s still plenty of tasty toxic thrash metal to be expected from their direction.

After the break that Toxic Holocaust’s unexpectedly short set had left in the schedule, the indoor stage continued with power metal, courtesy of Germans Iron Savior.  I, however, snuck out the back for some more solid thrash, as Turku’s Axegressor were playing on stage three, also showcasing a bit of new material.  The next highlight of the day was up next on the main stage, though, as Vader was filling in for the crowned kings of cancellation, Deicide.  Having witnessed the miracle of Benton & the boys actually playing in Finland already the previous summer, I didn’t mind the change of plans at all, especially as it had been four years and two albums since the Poles’ last visit.

Vader @ Jalometalli 2012

Not so surprisingly, Peter had again renewed the rest of the line-up since last time, but this didn’t hinder the crushing force of Vader’s fast death metal at all, as the newbies handled themselves immaculately as far as I could tell.  The focus was on their highly convincing latest album Welcome to the Morbid Reich, but plenty of other material was presented as well, including the non-album video track “Sword of the Witcher” that the band contributed for the video game The Witcher.  This synth-spiced mid-tempo song was in stark contrast with the speed and heaviness of the rest of the material, but was an admittedly catchy fucker, after which the classic “Decapitated Saints” felt all the more decimating.  The conclusion of the set was a bit of a letdown, as after the ever-charming “This Is the War,” the two-song encore was closed with a rendition of “Raining Blood.”  As much as Vader is one of the few bands that can actually breathe some death into worn-out classics when covering them on record, wasting precious stage time to perform these live seems unnecessary, when the band have an extensive catalog of their own to choose from.  How about going out with “The Final Massacre” next time instead?

Septicflesh @ Jalometalli 2012

There was no rest for the wicked, as Greek Septicflesh were starting indoors, offering some more powerful death metal, but in an atmospheric vein instead of Vader’s in-your-face approach.  Although the band was only a four-piece on stage, they sounded plenty bombastic, with the orchestrations and clean vocals being played from a backing track.  Even the latter wasn’t really bothersome, but at least it caught me quite off-guard, when I noticed that none of the guys were even close to a microphone during the magnificent chorus of “Anubis.”  Other musical focal points were the spine-chilling “Lovecraft’s Death” and the less-symphonic “Unbeliever,” which was also the only song played from the time before their 2007 reunion, and probably the first Septicflesh track I ever heard.  I would’ve expected to hear at least something a bit older in the set, but being much more familiar with their newer works, I didn’t really mind the heavy emphasis on Communion and The Great Mass.  The immersive energy and impressive accuracy of the band’s performance made the gig such an intense experience that I couldn’t even mind the excessive hey-hey-inducing of the band.  After all, their songs seemed to have plenty of suitable parts for that kind of action, and maybe it’s a Greek thing, since I remember Rotting Christ being just as bad in this regard…

Septicflesh had sadly forced me to skip the hard-hitting crossover thrashers from the capital area, Final Assault, but we weren’t done with thrash for the night yet, as headlining were the mighty techies Coroner.  Having already caught the band abroad a few times after their reunion some years ago, they weren’t a mind-blowing specialty in my book, but a very welcome addition to the fold nonetheless.  However, I expected my fellow Finns being more excited about this tasty treat, but the attendance and enthusiasm of the audience seemed to be on a noticeably lower level than during Vader, for instance.

Coroner @ Jalometalli 2012

The song picks were as could’ve been expected, favoring the later part of the band’s career, which meant mid-tempo experimentalism over speed and aggression.  Sounds terrible, huh?  Seriously speaking, although their debut is probably my favorite – and “Reborn Through Hate” should’ve been accompanied with something else off of it like “Suicide Command” or “Totentanz” – the later albums have a lot to offer as well.  With a few older cuts thrown here and there, this made for a dynamically structured and thoroughly enjoyable yet unsurprising set.  The unexpected jaw-dropping factor entered the picture when the Swiss coroners returned for their encore, though, as they had added “The Invincible” from the Death Cult demo into their repertoire!  This gave the gig an especially tasty flavor in my foul mouth, and marked the top moment of Friday.

Year of the Goat @ Jalometalli 2012

The indoor stage still had one more band to go, as Swedish Year of the Goat were closing the night at Teatria with their occult rock.  Although a lot of the bands popping up with this tag these days hardly sound genuine or good, Year of the Goat are among the more interesting ones, not least thanks to the very pleasant voice of Thomas Sabbathi.  Seeing the size of this guy, you probably wouldn’t expect such a tender voice, though…  The schedule seemed to systematically give 90 minutes for the last two bands of each night, but this felt like a ridiculously long slot for a group that has only released half an hour of music so far.  At least Year of the Goat had material from their forthcoming album to showcase, but after such a busy and exhilarating night of bands, I wasn’t really feeling enough receptive for it to sink in much.  However, the catchy familiars “Of Darkness” and “This Will Be Mine” offered an uplifting glimpse of fallen glory that ended the day on a high note.

SATURDAY

We managed to make our way to the festival grounds early on Saturday as well to catch a few songs from each of the first two bands – old Ostrobothnian thrashers A.O.D. were on the indoor stage filling in the gap that Heathen’s cancellation had left on the bill, while young northerners From the Void had earned their place on the third stage by winning the Jalometalli band competition.  A.O.D.’s tunes were enjoyable as always, but hardly had as strong of an impact being performed in the big bleak hall as when delivered in a more intimate setting at Nummirock just a few months before, so we decided to see for ourselves what From the Void were made of, instead.

From the Void @ Jalometalli 2012

The attendance outdoors was surely nothing to boast about, with only about five people (including our group of three) anywhere close to the stage, and not many more in the drinking area, either.  The band was an interesting one to watch, though, as they were performing relatively energetically despite the poor audience situation, and had clearly paid a lot of attention on the visual side of things.  The members were wearing ragged filthy outfits and corpse paint, the baldies on guitar and drums managed to look about as alien-like as Aaro Seppovaara of Blake, and the small backdrop painting also had some artsy creepiness to it.  Their ominous and dark extreme metal sounded quite promising and mature, but the songs didn’t manage to make a more memorable impression at first listen.

Nekromantheon @ Jalometalli 2012

Nekromantheon was a name that I had previously encountered only because of their split 7” with Audiopain, but after giving a listen to the band’s excellent second full-length Rise, Vulcan Spectre, they became one of my main targets of the weekend.  As one could imagine, these Norwegians’ savage thrash was ideal for live presentation, and although not that many festivalers had made it to the main stage at this somewhat early hour, the band bashed out their tunes with unified zeal and rage.  While Nekromantheon is a trio on record, for live purposes they had recruited the help of an older fart from their utterly hellish countrymen Infernö, with Bestial Tormentor handling the second guitar.  Although the set was free of fillers, I was left craving for a few particular cuts off of their latest output – namely the opener “Cast Down to the Void” and especially “The Usurper Command.”  But I guess there wasn’t enough time to play through the whole album, as the band also threw in a few older ones, like the title track of their first EP We’re Rotting.  “Raised by Dogs” put a fiery end to a thoroughly ripping gig that makes me hope for their speedy return for a club gig or two.  I wonder if bassist-vocalist Sindre was a bit nervous about their Finland debut or just had hangover hands, as in the midst of the set, the poor man dropped his beer, spilling it all over the stage, and was forced to start hollering helplessly for somebody to bring him a new one…  Don’t worry, buddy – it went just great.

Achren @ Jalometalli 2012

Up next on the indoor stage was the quite obscure pick Achren, a Scottish quartet with one independently released full-length under their belts.  If their “blood metal” hadn’t raised my interest during a short listen beforehand, it sure as hell didn’t do any better when heard through Teatria’s below average live sound.  Their songs seemed to fuse elements of black, death and thrash metal, throwing in an occasional tint of melody, but whereas a band like Deströyer 666 is able to take these elements and make a killer concoction out of them, Achren’s mess had a bit of everything, but the result was a whole lot of nothing.  A bassist wearing a kilt and a beanie didn’t improve the sorry impression either.  Meanwhile, Unholy were playing something far more personal on the small outside stage, dressed in a debatably silly but at least consistent fashion.  Seeing them already the second time within a month, this confirmed the impression I had gotten at Hammer Open Air.  While the band’s pioneering and highly original works of doom will be rightfully hailed for years to come, these bizarre incantations are hardly meant for sunny summer festivals.

Gorguts @ Jalometalli 2012

The resurrected Gorguts certainly didn’t seem like a hard-on-inducing highlight, but nonetheless an enticing catch that I couldn’t have imagined any other Finnish festival grabbing.  Guitarist-vocalist Luc had surrounded himself with all new members, who only stood out with their younger age, as they were performing as equally enthusiastically as the mainman, making this no one-man show.  Not being very familiar with the back catalog of these Canucks, the set wasn’t a thrilling stream of classics, but Gorguts’ technical death metal kept me enough intrigued for a good while, with the catchily twisted riffing of “Inverted” offering the most recognizable moments of the set.


Crimson Glory maniacs @ Jalometalli 2012 The Wandering Midget @ Jalometalli 2012

Crimson Glory seemed like one of the bands that people were the most excited about at this year’s Jalometalli, with some fans even having made homespun masks out of foil in the spirit of the self-titled debut’s cover.  I, then again, hadn’t really found anything especially exhilarating in the group’s progressive heavy metal, but they seemed significant enough not to be skipped completely.  Even if the songs didn’t catch my ear live any more than on record, it was delightful to see such an energetically performing band where there was no “boring guy” on stage, and a devoted audience further fueling them.  However, after a few songs we headed out to also get a taste of The Wandering Midget’s quite unoriginal yet very competent traditional doom on the small stage.  Although the well-executed song material didn’t feel strongly convincing this time, vocalist-guitarist Samuel Wormius’ purple jeans surely took the “most awesome pants of the weekend” award.

Iced Earth @ Jalometalli 2012 Iced Earth @ Jalometalli 2012 Iced Earth @ Jalometalli 2012

Another spirited and striking live act that wasn’t my musical pint of brew was Iced Earth, who took over the main arena next.  New vocalist Stu Block was a vigorous stage persona, who didn’t only entertain with his showmanship, but also excelled in the use of his voice.  The rest of the denim-clad crew didn’t fall much behind, and the crowd seemed to be quite favorable towards the Americans as well.  All in all, Iced Earth was a decent extension to my early evening beer break before Saturday’s true headliner…

Convulse @ Jalometalli 2012

Convulse is one of those early Finnish death metal bands that I sense a particularly compelling aura around, with their debut World Without God having become one of my most cherished early 90’s masterworks since I managed to hunt it down on black gold more than five years ago.  Hearing about their recent return was stunning, to say the least, but as much as I was enthralled by the idea, I was also skeptical towards how well they’d be able to replicate what they did over two decades ago.  Half of the line-up was revised, but at least frontman Rami looked and sounded like the years had treated him kindly.

After having sent promising chills down my spine with that classic synth intro, the band launched into the crushing brutality and absorbing darkness of the debut, casting any doubts I might’ve had into oblivion.Convulse fan frenzy @ Jalometalli 2012  Blasphemous verses and cadaverous chords that I could’ve never imagined witnessing live pulled my mind beyond consciousness and forced my head to bang in utter frenzy.   The set was entirely dominated by the debut, apart from a new song “God Is Delusion” that seemed to continue loyally on the same tracks, and as much as I dig the Xysma-like groove of the second album Reflections, those songs might’ve been too much of a stylistic departure to fit in here.  Walking away after the show astonished, ecstatic and massively thirsty, I could only give Convulse a cold maggoty welcome-back hug in my mind.

 

Terror Shark! @ Jalometalli 2012

After all the exclusive and excellent performances I had already witnessed during the weekend, it was both amusing and a bit sad to see that Municipal Waste, who visit Finland so often, were the strongest audience magnet of the day, maybe even of the whole weekend.  I suppose our earlier encounter with a group of youngsters outside the festival gates carrying their own big inflatable “Terror Shark” had already been a good indication of the presence of some enthusiastic fans…  Watching a few songs quickly reminded me why they have such a following, with the band racing through their unoriginal yet well-written thrash tunes with fury and precision, while vocalist Tony was keeping the crowd entertained in between the songs with his witty comments.  However, once a chance presented itself, I didn’t have to ponder for long whether to stick around or go drink with Norwegian thrashers instead.

The Devil's Blood @ Jalometalli 2012

With the essentials of the weekend already wrapped up and the midnight at hand, socializing and beverages seemed more tempting than seeing The Devil’s Blood end this year’s festivities, but out of my affection towards their two first EP’s and some of the debut full-length, I pulled myself together to go take a look.  Material from the latest The Thousandfold Epicentre sounded as dull as on record, but at least a few catchy songs from the debut, like the opening title track and “Christ or Cocaine,” offered moments of enjoyment.  Apart from a lot of the selected songs being quite uninteresting, the progressive lingering and song-lengthening jamming that already bored me at Hammer Open Air 2010 further added to the tedium.  At least this confirmed that there was no reason to feel bad about having skipped their Helsinki gig last fall to go see Xysma elsewhere…

METAL @ Jalometalli 2012

Although our flight back to Helsinki wasn’t until Sunday evening, continuing to the after party gig at Nuclear Nightclub to see Jess & the Ancient Ones wasn’t an attractive option, as The Devil’s Blood had already given us a sufficient dose of female-fronted flatness for the night.  With the year’s supply of noble metal ingested, it was safe to say that Jalometalli really re-raised the bar after the previous year’s somewhat routine line-up, presenting perhaps the most sterling assortment of bands I’ve had the pleasure to witness in Oulu during the last five years.  This made it all the more disappointing that the attendance seemed slimmer than on many previous years.  Pearls to the swine…

~ Ossi Turpeinen with photos by Lady Enslain


Photo Slideshow:
Jalometalli Metal Music Festival 2012

Previous years:
Jalometalli 2011
Jalometalli 2010
Jalometalli 2009
Jalometalli 2008



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