Jalometalli Metal Music Festival – Club Teatria, Oulu – August 9–10, 2013
Just like the year before, one of the acoustic Sytyke summer clubs at Nosturi’s downstairs served as our capital area Jalometalli foreplay, this time featuring the particularly alluring twosome of Mörbid Vomit and The Crescent. Despite the harsh reality of our traditionally fuck-ass early Friday morning flight to Oulu, there was additional cause for mild celebration on this Thursday evening, as a few dozen boxes of Enslain #11 had just arrived to our headquarters earlier the same day, and hadn’t come out of the pressing plant looking like total shit.
Assuming that the schedule would be as casually late as at Dead Shape Figure’s Sytyke show that we had attended about a month before, we didn’t bother showing up too early, and were disappointed to only witness one and a half songs of Mörbid Vomit. Anyway, these Business City deathsters were covered in blood and filth as usual, but their commanding death metal tunes had transformed into calm, cleanly sung pieces. There was surely some puzzling awesomeness in vocalist Rösti beautifully lullabying a song like “Fuck the Dead.”
Whereas Mörbid Vomit’s non-electric experiment had more of the curiosity/humor value, The Crescent was something I was seriously looking forward to, not least because of the unforgettable acoustic appearance of Enochian Crescent in Turku in 2011. The minimalistic piano version of “Tango Absinto” was just as blood-chilling as I recalled, driven by Victor’s majestically powerful vocals, and the fresh Risti material bent into acoustic shape solidly as well. Hellwind’s throatwork was harsh but more subtle than on the album, and some of the vocal arrangements had been slowed down considerably, like in “Käärmeen polulla.” Guitarist Vilhelm’s voice was also more prominent than ever before on “Muisto sorkasta,” where one could hear some insecurity, yet it was overpowered with pure emotion. The closing number “Risti” was the pinnacle, though, sounding impressively much at home in its stripped down shape.
After landing in Oulu a bit after 8am, we caught a bus to the center, stocked up on some liquid refreshments at a grocery store, and headed to our humble hotel next to the railway station. However, as the special early 10am check-in we had agreed on beforehand now seemed impossible – apparently having been just a mistake by a newly hired employee – we had several morning hours on our hands to hang around. Luckily, the town cemetery was not far, and its closest part was also its eldest, providing plenty of classy 1800’s tombstones to admire. The gentle drizzle added to the atmosphere, giving me quite strong “Hetki hautausmaalla” vibes. Despite plenty of maintenance workers around to eye on the suspiciously wandering heavy metal ghouls, we were surprised how run-down the boneyard appeared at times, with several crooked and even broken crosses and gravestones, adding to the decaying charm of this morbid park. Quite surprisingly, we also discovered the final resting place of the previous year’s most mediocre foreign guests Achren.
After a few hours of cemetery-creeping and bar-hopping, it was past noon, and we finally had a room to dump our belongings into. Nearby Italian restaurant Toscana made for an excellent early dinner – taking our tastebuds on an impressively authentic-seeming ride – and not too much chillaxing later, it was already time to start heading towards Teatria. After all, Impaled Nazarene were getting the party started at 4:30. Despite having seen this nuclear death squad plenty of times during recent years, they’re always worth the effort, bound to provide a tight presentation of first-class extreme metal, with the sharp and ever-delicious spice of Luttinen’s genuinely pissed-off ramble. Clad in combat-like filth paint, this time the quartet appeared a bit less au naturel than usual, while timeless sonic middle fingers like “Let’s Fucking Die” cradled us into the Northern festival mood nicely.
Being an indistinctive demo-level thrash band that has done close to zero in the last half a decade, Swedish Altair’s presence at Jalometalli seemed bizarre, and must’ve been because of “connections” of some sort. If I had heard their kind of material from a local band, it might’ve deserved a careful thumbs-up, but from foreign visitors that have been around for more than fifteen years, I’d be expecting a whole lot more. Seriously, Sweden’s quite the heavy metal wonderland, so there would’ve been so many infinitely better bands to bring over. Ravage Machinery’s apt death/thrash on the third stage didn’t catch our ears that strongly either, but surely was another reminder of how many up and coming quality metal acts there are up here that we rarely bump into in the South.
Aborted’s brutal yet melodic death metal had definitely been something that I’d been eagerly waiting for to land in Finland, and once again, Jalometalli had come to the rescue. Having already witnessed a short and surgical warm-up set from them in the States some years back, I had my expectations, but was still surprised how immensely enjoyable the cuts they performed on the main stage were. Although the entire procedure was impressively precise yet cruelly disfiguring in its execution, vocalist and primus motor Sven scored the brightest medical medal with his multifaceted and utterly intense oral interpretation. Now you’ve brought us Exhumed and Aborted – Impaled next, aye? Oh yeah, Carcass were alright, too…
Jyväskylä younglings Lost Society are quite worthy of the recent hype, but their overly prominent presence at this summer’s Finnish metal festivals made them skippable here, and Clock Paradox’s more complex and thoughtful tunes didn’t sit right with my somewhat spasmodic mood either. Bringing Canucks 3 Inches of Blood over was another agreeable conquering from Jalo, but the band’s attempt at combining old and new school has never sounded very appealing, leaving them floating in a compromising limbo of sorts in my books. Therefore, after checking out a few songs of their approvably energetic show, we were back to loitering and liquids.
Hobbs was a charismatically fierce oldhead, and must’ve been a highly awaited visitor with his Angel of Death in some circles, but I found the scorching flame of Åland’s Vorum on the smaller outside stage more alluring. This was definitely the most painful overlap of the day, but after being faced with the fiery grip of Poisoned Void, I just had to catch a fresh taste of blood from these young hellbound bone collectors at the expense of the Aussie thrash legend. The voracious hunger and rabid rush that Vorum’s grim and fast interpretation of the unholy metal of death reeks of is astonishing, and it made me long for our next encounter to be in a more intimate ritual chamber instead of the daylight festival setting that seems to have become the standard for seeing them lately.
Despite the yet again thoroughly solid roster, for a lot of Friday’s festival guests, Jalometalli 2013 translated to only one word: SLAYER. Scoring one of heavy metal’s most exalted masters as a headliner was a dream come true to the organizers, and this booking surely gave the event an extra mile of exposure. And I guess they really needed that in order to reach enough ticket sales to cover the band’s presumably heavy tax. While Slayer playing in Finland was undeniably one of the summer’s most notable metallic occasions, a lot of pre-whine had lingered around, understandably due to Jeff Hanneman’s recent passing and Dave Lombardo’s quarrelsome departure.
I can’t say I’m able to relate to the accusations of the line-up being a mere “Slayer cover band,” as for me, their music isn’t too bound to personalities, but more to teeth-bared sonic savagery. Gary Holt has been successfully filling in for Jeff on stage for years now, and to be honest, as long it’s Tom Araya violently screaming up there, I’m too ignorant to give that big of a shit who else is twitching alongside him. This was surely the closest most of us are ever going to get to Slayer, and they gave us Hell, sounding possessingly powerful and sharp as a blade shining in the night. The set left me craving for some Show No Mercy heavy metal steamrolling, but overall, the legends put an imposingly big fucking period at the end of Friday, after which grooving to Orange Goblin didn’t attract me at all.
Northerners National Napalm Syndicate were opening up Saturday’s sodomies, and after failing to get a proper look at these 80’s thrashers at Steelfest, I was seriously planning on doing better this time. However, after a merry visit to our Turku buddies’ hotel room closer to the coast, and a mandatory food stop – courtesy of Pannukakkutalo – I had to face failure again. The quite suspicious sounding clash of cold-smoked reindeer and Finnish squeaky cheese [or bread cheese, leipäjuusto] on a pancake was amazingly delicious, though, so our afternoon had gotten an excellent start nonetheless.
Contrary to the norm, two of our friends actually accompanied us to Teatria early instead of lamely loitering around the hotel for several more hours. They had their eye on the second band of the day, the Turku black metal veterans Archgoat, and the guys’ excited babble about seeing them made me forget for a while that an even more interesting group shared the same starting time on the smallest stage. As we arrived to the area about ten minutes late, I suddenly remembered the reindeer grinders Nistikko, and realizing that they would probably be already halfway through their set by then, rushed out the back.
These Laplanders had claimed their spot at the festival by winning the Jalometalli band competition earlier in the year, and represented a punkier kind of extremity than any of the other names on the bill. Being already familiar with their tightly executed crusty grindcore, but having never seen the five-piece in the flesh, their addition was a delightful surprise. Once we got to the scene, their set was indeed in full blast, with its utter intensity being best embodied by the two vocalists, who didn’t only create an all-out aural attack with their voices, but also took control of the stage like chimps on cocaine.
Even this brief glimpse of Nistikko’s live energy left me highly impressed, and after that, returning to the shadows of Teatria and Archgoat’s more hypnotic musical mutilation was a slight downer. The trio’s riffs have so much more to offer than the averagely bestial boredom of most of their peers, and their stage essence emits a notably merciless darkness, but unfortunately I wasn’t able to deeply delve into it this time.
The early evening in the main arena was the dominion of Teutonic thrash, as perhaps its two most classic names – outside of the more prominent trinity, of corpse – were here to shake off the Slayer-hangover for good. Despite having seen an exhilarating show from Holy Moses less than a year ago, the band’s briskness still managed to amaze. Most of the credit goes to the iron lady Sabina Classen, with her furious vocals and highly spirited and joyous performance somewhat expectedly stealing the spotlight.
Despite highly looking forward to finally getting a proper sip from the Tankard, my mind wasn’t without small bubbles of doubt, as their later studio brewings haven’t been pure cold and fresh deliciousness, but have also had their share of embarrasingly warm flatness that would’ve been better poured down the drain. With more than a dozen crates to pick from for their live selection, though, the band weren’t able to go wrong with this mix. I could’ve downed a way bigger portion at a club gig, but admittedly this kind of festival setting was an ideal way to experience the songs, inebriated and alongside friends. With a gripping wave of energy blazing from the thrashing tunes, and a booze-scented charm emanating from the weathered yet untiring quartet interpreting them, Tankard presented one of the tastiest sets of the whole weekend.
It had been many years since Naglfar’s previous visit, and having never seen them live, they appeared as one of the most interesting names on this year’s Jalo roster. They also acted as a good reminder that there are plenty of less Finland-travelled quality names across the gulf to be picked from instead of hauling over someone like Nifelheim or Demonical yet again… However, the preceding thrash treats had gotten me a bit too pumped up to fully enjoy the highly Swedish sound of Naglfar’s melodic black metal, despite its fine delivery. With Kristoffer solely concentrating on vocals live, there was a familiar face to be spotted on stage, as Alexander from Necrophobic was handling the low end.
The long awaited Finnish coming of D.R.I. would’ve surely been one of the weekend’s highlights, but the crossover kings had been forced to cancel their whole European tour due to Spike Cassidy’s middle finger injury [Quite a proverbial middle finger to him, the rest of the band and the fans, huh? Thanks a lot, universe.] As no suitable replacement had been found, Saturday’s line-up had weakened considerably. The summer’s only European appearance of war metal legends Blasphemy provided some noteworthy exclusivity, though. Occupying the headliner spot equivalent to Slayer’s, the fanaticism they incited was naturally much more limited, but all the more fervent in those who worship the ways of the Ross Bay Cult. Giving 90 minutes of playing time to a band whose studio material doesn’t even add up to that much was a generous move as well…
Blasphemy has never offered me that much on record, not to even mention the numerous inferior hordes who try to imitate them but just end up drowning in yawn-inducing mediocrity. However, when these iconic and intimidating Canadians launch their aural attack full-on live, it’s a violently crushing one, radiating with hostile darkness and feverish possession, particularly present in Nocturnal Grave Desecrator and Black Winds’ [that’s only one guy, in case you got confused] forceful roar. Not quite as intense nor nearly as uncomfortable as at the sold out Dante’s Highlight a few years back, but very enjoyable nonetheless.
The veterans of wonderful weirdness Voivod had landed in Finland for the first time during their long career in order to headline Jalometalli ’09, and had this time been granted the honor of putting an end to the last one of these late summer metalfeasts taking place at Club Teatria. Whereas they had been an exclusivity to truly get excited over four years before, by now they had visited us several times, which made for good enough of an excuse to only watch a couple of songs, and instead try to squeeze a bit more action out of the night.
This was indeed the last Jalometalli arranged at Teatria’s current location, as what used to be chaotic-looking construction sites around the area has turned into a bunch of apartment buildings, whose residents might not be too thrilled by the devilish decibels. Having already heard rumors about this inevitable move years before, I’m actually surprised it didn’t happen until now. Anyhow, hopefully the festival will be able to find a new home, as during the last six years, Jalometalli has become an integral part of our summer routine, and has claimed its own important and unique spot on the Finnish festival map.
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