The sun has long faded from sight, and a displeasant breeze rattles your spine, reminding you that winter is fast approaching in gloomy gray Helsinki. Briefly veiled by the cold and the darkness, you fail to recognize the disturbing sensation until it envelops you in a sudden pang of realization: it’s Saturday fucking night; and you’re wasting it doing a whole lot of nothing.
Or, well, this might have been my feeling had I been too lame to get off my sorry ass and head to Nosturi for Rotting Christ.
Now granted, these Greeks of legend – performing the fourth and final night of their Finnish fall fling – weren’t exactly provided with the apogee of tour promotion, nor were they accompanied by a tour package of fiery hot commodities [instead supported by Rebelhead? who?]. But this hardly excuses the mediocre-minus attendance I observed while relative newcomers Mörbid Vomit defiled the stage. These Lahti-nesian boys have been solidly blazing trails throughout the year, or so it would seem to me, having both intentionally and incidentally seen them perform a handful of times over the last six months, while missing countless more opportunities due to inevitable overlaps.
Now, Mörbid Vomit was actually quite a suitable choice for an RC warmup act, with their raw and forceful death metal, and their bald and bloody external interpretation of brutally acidic and twisted lyrical stabs, yet with the added polish of an unanticipably melodic sensibility that elevates them to a higher, while thematically contradictifying, plateau. So again I ask, now more vociferously, where in Hell-sinki is everyone? Well, I guess if catchy yet utterly sincere and authentic DM from Finland sounds like balls to you, then far be it from me to deny you that opinion.
It may have been the meager attendance failing to hijack the room’s acoustics, but surprisingly for a Nosturi gig, the sound quality was decent even from afar [read: anniskelualue]. And the performance was lively, or perhaps deadly, though the lads rarely strayed from their assigned stage positions. The set was a bit shorter than ideal, but the minimal crowd didn’t much demand more attention.
This extreme metal mayhem was followed by, what else, an Anselmo-wannabe singer and his fellow Rebelheads. That makes sense, right? Now, I don’t feel like dissin’ on these guys for being in the wrong place and on the wrong damned tour, but you couldn’t help but overhear the hushed sentiments of standers-by, crucifying the decision to place these rockers in the direct support slot, interrupting the solid, miscreant vibe that Mörbid had given us in anticipation of the unique Mediterranean darkness that was about to emerge. Rebelhead played fine, I suppose, other than a few caca-phonous multi-vocalizations… but you can’t play music like that and open for Rotting Christ! Is there no standard anymore?!
Worse yet, there was no shelter from this shitstorm [pardon my French]. Alakerta was closed. The balcony with its accompanying bar was closed. And outside… well as I already described, it was fucking cold out there. Surely this also contributed to the fact that attendance seemed to triple directly after this warm-up act. Nice that Nosturi’s so precise with their schedules, but shame for MV, and those who could have reveled in their mörbidity.
But now we come to the night’s special Greek guests who, despite the pleas of a desperate article in Metro, still managed not to be received by a respectably-sized welcoming brigade. Yes, the K18 area was crowded, but the ballroom floor, though populated by impassioned fanatics, was still gappy and somewhat sad.
It does, however, take a special ear to grow an appreciation for this oddball outfit of eclectic eccentricities. While their mid-career material may have been the most stable and accessible, it was precisely these albums that were chucked to the wind on this evening, opting instead for the blacker tracks of yore, and the less definable presence of recent years. Though having a little less of that Negură Bunget-esque direction in their live set than on record, Rotting Christ still packed that organically mechanized fury and distinguishable them-ness that makes them the serious contender they are, with all the demonic feeling of becoming ritualized to their calling. With forceful precision, and being ever the performers, they had few eyes elsewhere during their lengthy but fleeting set. And the latest record’s opening track “In Yumen – Xibalba” had me fully in its grasp, with that repetitive hypnoticism they’re so skilled at inducing, drawing me witlessly and devilishly into their unholy prayer.
And to think I might’ve instead lulled myself into a false sense of comfort and warmth of the cheap neighborhood bar, and missed out on this glorious invigoration of spirit.