Festival Report
Entombed @ Jalometalli 2011
JALOMETALLI METAL MUSIC FESTIVAL Club Teatria, Oulu August 12-13, 2011

The ninth annual Jalometalli graced our August for the fourth time, still taking place inside and in the surroundings of Club Teatria, with the introduction of a secondary outside stage being this year’s specialty.  This new arena was reserved for smaller domestic acts, who were playing simultaneously with the bands of the indoor stage.  Although the bands scheduled to play at the same time had been picked reasonably from different styles, I found all of the overlaps more or less unfortunate, especially since most of the third stage’s offerings were from the Oulu area and ones rarely seen in the South. Also, the lack of overlapping performances had previously been one of my favorite things about the festival, not only because of the abundance of interesting bands I didn’t want to miss, but also because of the non-hectic and relaxed mood it created.  I suppose those who aren’t hopeless gig-junkies welcomed the variety added by the extra stage, though.

Having grown more fancypants with our Jalometalli arrangements year by year, this time we hadn’t only chosen the comfort of a hotel room over camping miles away from the festival, but also booked flights from Helsinki to Oulu in order to avoid the long and tiring bus ride we had to endure the previous year.  The flight prices were very affordable, but on the downside, the departure time was at as early as seven on Friday morning, and our Thursday night wasn’t without plans…  This time Rytmihäiriö weren’t playing Jalometalli itself, but were headlining the starting day of PRKL Club’s “Pimp My Fest” the night before, and as other bands on the bill included quality local grinders Famine Year and Gaf, it just seemed too good of a night to pass because of wimpy reasons like sleep.

As the harbingers of surmacore weren’t gonna be done playing until 2am or so, we came up with the grandiose plan of staying at the bar until its closing two hours later, and then taking a cab to the airport, where we could catch a couple hours of sleep before hopping on the plane.  However, as it turned out, it wasn’t one of our best ideas, since the airport staff might not let you onboard if you pass out in the bathroom, and need to be dragged out by a security guard right before your flight – even if you’re from America and make sure to exclaim that loudly.

FKÜ @ Jalometalli

After some badly slept hours, a momentarily lost camera and new not-so-affordable plane tickets later, we managed to finally get inside the great iron bird and make our way north.  However, as we needed to stop at our hotel before heading to the festival grounds, we sadly ended up missing some of the first bands, and barely made it to the start of the second main stage act, F.K.Ü.  Being previously quite unfamiliar with these Swedes, I found their thrash attack decent musically, yet overall, they appeared overly silly.  Tyranex @ JalometalliI’m not saying that humorous horror doesn’t have a place in (especially thrash) metal, or that you can’t write songs about moshing, but when that’s all your concept is based on, it starts getting stale rather quickly.  The last nails in the coffin were their painted faces and goofy costumes – call me a party pooper, but this simply isn’t what I want from my metal.  Not that all of this came as such a surprise from a band whose name stands for Freddy Krueger’s Ünderwear

On the contrary, their fellow countrymen Tyranex weren’t fucking around, but thrashing with a no-bullshit attitude and in a more Teutonic style.  Vocalist/guitarist Linnea spiced her quite basic shrieks with some brief cleaner parts, and while this added a recognizable twist that appealed to some, I found those moments borderline annoying.  Musically everything was in place, though, but as the case often is with smaller bands playing on the Teatria side, the stage seemed way too big for the three-piece, and they would’ve surely been able to conjure a more intense atmosphere at a small club.

Napalm Death were the co-headliner of the day, and the first bigger name to force those who had been enjoying their own refreshments outside the gates to finally enter the area.  While these ever-energetic grindfathers put up a career-spanning show filled with rage as expected, and Barney’s sympathetic bouncing is always fun to follow, the band are such a frequent visitor that they seemed like an unexciting choice in Jalometalli’s roster.

Napalm Death @ Jalometalli Evildead @ Jalometalli Caskets Open @ Jalometalli

Next indoors we had something more exclusive, as LA’s Evildead were performing stuff off their semi-classic ’89 debut Annihilation of Civilization with the album line-up, minus the vocalist.  The newly recruited thrash-throat Steve Nelson handled the job well, and the tunes were – if not classics – at least solid Bay Area style bashing, but the performance would’ve needed an extra boost of spirit to really be compelling.  After the band was done with my favorite, “Gone Shooting,” I decided to exit through the back door to catch some Caskets Open, who were playing it slow on the small stage.  I walked in (or rather, out) on one of the trio’s bizarrely reverendous moments, and while they occasionally bear an amusingly strong resemblance to Lohja’s late doom masters, their mix of influences is quite original as well, with a punky rawness to it at times.  Despite their minimalistic stage behavior, the band convinced me live once again, delivering their murky heaviness with a force that even the still light outside setting wasn’t able to diminish.

Sepultura @ Jalometalli

The headliner of the day felt like quite a lame pick on the festival’s high standards, as Sepultura had just visited Nummirock the year before, and didn’t seem to be that much in line with the otherwise old-school line-up either.  Although the setlist had gotten fresh tunes from the new album Kairos (a quite good one, I might add,) the representation of the older material was disappointingly similar to last year, with the same troopsofdooms and innerselfs being played.  They sure gave the audience a strong gig otherwise, and I guess with a band that has changed as much over the years as Sepultura have, one can rejoice that they don’t neglect their early albums live, but for me, the Brazilians just weren’t able to offer anything special.  Exhumed @ JalometalliThe case might be entirely different for those who didn’t spend their previous midsummer at Nummijärvi, though…

However, Friday did get its gory climax, as ending our day on the indoor stage were US gore metal pioneers Exhumed.  Having just returned with a murderous new album All Guts, No Glory after a five-year hiatus, these guys were a real gem in the line-up, and my most awaited act of the weekend.  The band was in great live shape as well, and although their post-midnight spot wasn’t ideal when it came to the energy level of the audience, it didn’t seem to slow down these headbangers.  Being generous with the slots of the foreign visitors, Jalometalli had granted Exhumed 90(!) minutes of playing time, which seemed like an overdose of this kind of disemboweling, but luckily the band kept it more compact than that, apart from the quite useless guitar and drum solos.  All full-lengths got rightfully represented in the set, and as my fierce favorite “Forged in Fire (Formed in Flame)” was heard as well, the night ended on a positive note.


Vorum @ Jalometalli

Luckily we didn’t miss the start of Saturday, as Vorum, those young hopes of dark death metal från Åland, were the first item on the menu.  Although the band have proved to be more at home on small inside stages, their fast and violent tunes were quite effective and enjoyable in the daylight as well.  I was hoping to hear something familiar from their EP Grim Death Awaits – “Cthonic” in particular, if you please – but Vorum had decided to only showcase material from their upcoming full-length this time.  Better keep my eyes open for that release, as these guys show great promise.

Recently resurrected reindeer metallers A.R.G. were up next on the main stage, so it was time to see how these old goats were holding up after an over 15-year break from breaking necks in the old-school way.  Having dug up and given a listen to quite a few of our old thrash bands, A.R.G.’s violent and savage bashing has definitely been one of the best findings, being further than a Stone-throw away from the typical 80’s Finn-thrash sound with its lazy-sounding vocals (Stone rules, though.)  Although the reunited classic line-up – minus late drummer Pasi Takkula, now replaced by Timo Hanhijoki – had already performed at Jalometalli Winterfest, I hadn’t gone frantically searching for live videos on YouTube beforehand, and therefore was excited but not sure what to expect.

A.R.G. @ Jalometalli A.R.G. @ Jalometalli A.R.G. @ Jalometalli

These Graveguards might be Ancient, but they hardly seemed Rotten, as classics like “Pesticide” were bashed out with such convincing enthusiasm and aggression that I have a hard time imagining even oldheads who had witnessed them back in the day being disappointed.  It was also delightful to notice that the band guys haven’t deteriorated into boringly conservative-looking family men, but still have their hair intact, and the neck muscles to bang those heads.  Although the set was highly enjoyable, I think “Massey Ferguson” was more of a distraction than a highlight, and would’ve been better left as just one of those short 80’s humor tracks that have little value as anything other than a one-time joke.  Oz @ JalometalliAnyway, I’m curious to see what A.R.G.’s future holds, as there hasn’t been a confirmation whether new material will follow or not.  A great comeback so far, though!

Another highly interesting blast from the past followed right after, as the legendary Nakkila heavy metal heroes Oz had come for their first Finnish appearance in a long, long time.  These veterans’ return clearly wasn’t about a sorry search for lost youth either, as they pulled off a vivacious show with not only an emphasis on their classic works, but also showcasing some of their solid new compositions, like the video song “Dominator.”  Evile @ JalometalliWhile the fresher tracks didn’t have to feel ashamed in the midst of Fire in the Brain and III Warning material, there was simply no beating the amusingly dramatic storytelling of “Gambler” or the Satanic ecstasy of “Turn the Cross Upside Down.”

British thrashers Evile were performing like a well-toured professional band, seemingly enjoying their time on stage, and the riffery was solid as well, but something about it just wasn’t doing it for me.  It must’ve been partly because of my unfamiliarity with the songs, but mostly because of them sounding a bit too pro and thought-out without a sense of spontaneity, instead of just vomiting out molten aggression.  But I guess that’s what the problem is with most thrash in the US vein…

Napoleon Skullfuck & their Mgł shirts @ Jalometalli

Luckily, the following act Grand Magus were more to my liking with their proud Nordic heavy metal.  They’re not really a band of divine hit songs, but have a reliably consistent quality to their material, and when performing it with that vibrant Swedish stage energy, were quite a convincing live act.  Seeing these Northmen hammer it out on the outside stage would’ve added more to the overall atmosphere, though.  Unluckily, Mgła fan club Oulu – Napoleon Skullfukk, I mean – were overlapping with them on the small stage, as there haven’t been many sightings of these groovy death metal crushers in the southern parts.

Nifelheim @ Jalometalli

The evening proceeded with two bands that have not only proved their worth with classic records and extremely strong live appearances, but also played in Finland a bit more than necessary recently, considering that it’s been four years since either of them have released anything.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s always a pleasure to see L-G and co. bash out their undying death metal masterpieces along with the groovier shit of the later days, and the extremely spiked iron maniacs of Nifelheim never fail to deliver their storming assaults with a possessed rage that very few other acts can achieve.  However, there are more great bands in Sweden and elsewhere than are dreamt of in your philosophy.  So maybe we could get something less obvious next time – fucking Necrophobic, for instance?!

Sodom @ Jalometalli

This year’s Jalometalli was starting to draw closer to its inevitable conclusion, and it seemed like some of the sweetest treats had been saved for the end.  As 2007 had Kreator, and 2010 Destruction, Sodom was now finally completing the unholy Teutonic trinity with their first Finnish show in some years.  While all of the three have had their glorious classic moments, and the two other ones have re-sharpened their claws during the last decade or so, Sodom has managed to stay consistently relevant throughout their career, so especially in this case there was no fear of letdown songs.  I was left bloodthirsty for some Persecution Mania, though, as I consider that the peak of their career.  However, I hadn’t seen these blasphemers before, so just witnessing “Sodomy and Lust” and “Outbreak of Evil” played by the original sodomites was quite a metal milestone already.

There could’ve hardly been a better way to end the festival than with Cathedral’s last Finland gig, as I’ve gotten used to Jalometalli offering something special, and this would be classified as such without a doubt.  Having already seen them bid farewell to the States at Maryland DeathfestCathedral @ Jalometalli some months ago, it wasn’t my most anticipated moment of the weekend, but still worth sticking around for, not least for Lee Dorrian’s wildly entertaining stage presence.  While the crushingly desolate “Ebony Tears” was again the most hypnotically captivating moment of the set, those rocking yet harsh The Ethereal Mirror cuts were highly enjoyable as well.  They seem to consider The Carnival Bizarre as their Holy Grail, though, as it seemed to form the spine of the setlist, from “Vampire Sun” to “Hopkins (The Witchfinder Genereeelll).”  Those songs are surely very catchy, but I find the stonery groove in them a tad annoying at times, not to mention Lee’s sometimes overly flexible vocalization.  The rest of the audience seemed to be very pleased, anyway, so I guess I’ll just fuck off with my puritan-doomster whining.

Although this year’s Jalometalli wasn’t quite up to par with what I’ve come to expect from them bandwise, it still ended up being a highly enjoyable August weekend in Oulu.  Lots of quality bands, along with a couple of special and excellent ones – not to mention some insane afterparty action and other legendary drunken mishaps – made up for another fine trip definitely worth taking.  Until next time!

~ Ossi Turpeinen with photos by Lady Enslain

Photo Slideshow:
Jalometalli Metal Music Festival 2011

Previous years:
Jalometalli 2010
Jalometalli 2009
Jalometalli 2008