“We’re back!” Hypocrisy stupefies grim grey Helsinki into grinning goonery

I’d been anxious about this day ever since I’d gotten wind that Hypocrisy would be returning to Finland after, what, eight years missing in action here in their neighboring nation in the North.

HYPOCRISY @ Circus, Helsinki

Anxious, yes, because I had been physically feeling the absence of this band who had almost single-handedly been my gateway drug to death metal already over 20 years back, and because I couldn’t understand why Mr. Tägtgren had shelved this legend-level metal machine in prioritization of his sexploratory electrometal hobby project Pain for such a painfully long interval.  Now, make no mistake: I’ve listened the shit out of those body-shaking, life-debasing snarky tunes he’s been kicking out for Pain since nearly the same time I discovered Hypocrisy, and many good times have been had at their multitudinous appearances here in their second home.  But Hypo’s last record End of Disclosure came a good five years back now, and a short bit of touring thereafter was followed by a glaring silence on the gig front that left many questioning the future of these extraterrestrially infatuated, pioneering penetralians.

But also anxious because, well, the rousing promise of their return to the stages was to be somewhat overshadowed by the stark realization that the night would involve sacrifice, as it would be overlapping with a guaranteed glorious weekend in the form of SteelChaos’s second edition, and that agonizing choices would need to be made.

Living in the States, I’d had dozens of opportunities to experience these Swedes live, and since I’m a lady of excess, I had taken those dozens of opportunities, and appeared at any city they played within an (un)reasonable driving distance of Philly, and each occasion was an adventure.  Perhaps, especially, because Peter was such a wildcard; a fiery, vehement figure whose chaotic and impassioned nature embodied the spirit of heavy fuckdamn metal.  And once I moved to Finland in 2008, right next door to the home of the beast of Hypocrisy themselves, I had only managed to see them twice in the following 10 years of chaos and confusion and kaamos.  And at festivals, no less, which simply is not comparable to a club gig.

So, anxious and conflicted as I may have been, my priorities for the evening were firmly in the hands of Mr. Pain, Mr. Hedlund, and the sympathetically enigmatic Mr. Horgh.  When I arrived to Circus, I was fully expecting to encounter a stagnant hall lacking the return welcome they merited, because their audience would have been fractioned off by the sold out Nosturi.  Luckily, this was not so.  And not only was it not so, but instead, there was a strange vibe in the venue that I’m not often accustomed to at extreme metal events.  There was… glee.  As the band took the stage, yelled out a heartfelt “we’re back!” and laid into “Fractured Millenium,” it was hard not to look around the crowds and notice wide grins, affectionate gestures and glances, and some cordial embracing happening, for example, in the area that cleaved open into a vast – albeit sparsely spaced – mosh pit.  Obviously I wasn’t the only one around who absolutely needed this gig.  It was like a collective breath of “finally!”

And judging from the smirks on the band’s faces, and their lightning vigor, I think they needed this return just as badly.

Peter Tägtgren

The sound at Circus was – as is typical – something of a mess, drowning the ears and throat with oppressive bass drumming, and it left much to the internal riff-muscle memory of the auditory canals to identify the melodies.  And I found, as well, my body reiterating the muscle memory of headbangs and hollers like déjà vu, or as if time had not moved forward since last I had stood amidst their manifestations.  On several occasions I desperately handed off my beer to my acquiescent co-journalist, at moments when the urge to get physical surged through my limbs, which was usually quite auspiciously timed with the receptivity of the mosh pit to intake me, as these moments seemed ordained by the lords of dynamic riffmastery.  While pitting in Finland often presents itself as a child’s game of aimless jogging, a nuisance to the plastic cup-toting thirstquenchers, or a non-instinctual outbreak of random pushing, this time it approached legitimacy, and at the very least was comprised of joyous and spirited fan activity that made it feel respectable and admirable.

Mikael Hedlund

The set consisted almost entirely of the same songs I had been going bonkers to since the turn of the century, which is perhaps an advantage of a band not touring in support of a new release, but rather in tribute to their great works and in reverence of their (inferior?) devotees, these strikingly smiley fans.  This meant there was a substantial amount of old songs in their playlist, including the usual medley of “Pleasure…”, “Osculum…” and “Penetralia,” and unlike previous times I’ve heard it performed, it didn’t sound rushed, but rather allowed the buildup of some of their recording career’s most powerful dynamic moments.

Horgh!

In fact, in their over one-hour-long set, they rarely dialed down the tempo, with “Final Chapter” towards the end being the first and only pensive selection.  The song shook me by surprise and brought out a tearful emotion; a memory of when the record of the same name came out, and was understood to be their last output.  Apparently, as a teenager, this had been a devastating and life-altering thought to me, and on this most triumphant day, many familiar sensations were triggered… big time.

“Roswell 47” ended the set, and as far as I was concerned, ended the evening.  Kataklysm, as main headliner, followed thereafter, and they were clearly on their game, demonstrating the finesse and ferocity that has established them as a death metal force, and under normal circumstances, I would’ve been fistbanging like a fish with fists, especially since I’ve been really digging the direction they’ve gone on their latest records.  But it was challenging to stay focused; I still had my post-coital blush from Hypocrisy, and I felt no need to jump back in the sack with some other band.  All I wanted at that point was the obligatory cuddles, and the Northern Hyperblasters are not cuddlers.

KATAKLYSM @ Circus, Helsinki

All that remained was to relish in that sensual satisfaction and serenity, that taste of extreme divinity, and embrace the night.

Text: Lady Enslain

Photos: Elsa Marques @ The Black Planet

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