STEELCHAOS: 10 – 11 NOV 2017, NOSTURI, HELSINKI

Let the chaos begin

The month of death calls for a proper festival. What could work better than two days filled with metal’s most extreme genres?  Last year lacked such an event, and this year definitely didn’t disappoint with its obsidious offering of SteelChaos. With the announced lineup reaching from raw through oldschool black metal and extending to a few death metal groups, the festival looked extremely promising.

The opening act Sawhill Sacrifice proved wrong all those who think that the first festival bands don’t deserve attention.

Sawhill Sacrifice

Soon after their newest album Pimeyteen ja Kuolemaan had been released, the band kicked off the first SteelChaos ever.  Their aggressive, intense show immediately got the gathering audience into the mood of a black metal festival.

In contrast to Sawhill Sacrifice’s raw energy onstage, Urn slowed down a bit and entertained the crowd with blackened thrash metal. Just like during the band’s performance in Nosturi a few months earlier, the crowd got carried away by their incredibly catchy, yet powerful songs.

Urn

The evening continued with Crimson Moon from the US, after which the Dutch Heretic hit the stage with a show described by many as one of the best concerts of Friday night.  Perhaps the most appropriate term to describe the group is ‘Black Metal Punks,’ just like the title of one of their newest songs. It was visible that the band members have just as good time as the audience.

Heretic

Similar could be said about the next band.  Deströyer 666 didn’t force themselves to play but instead genuinely enjoyed their onstage time. Honest, loud and raging – something definitely less punk than the preceding band but just as unpretentious!

Let’s keep in mind that metal festivals are not, obviously, all about having a swell time and things going smoothly.  A last-minute change in the lineup was the result of a back injury in Bölzer. The unfortunate news had been announced on Friday morning along with the replacement band information: the black metal legends from Archgoat stepped in as the second-to-last band of the evening.
As a band that never fails, Archgoat once again delivered a professional set drenched in darkness, with Lord Angelslayer’s guttural growls sounding like from the depths of hell and Ritual Butcherer’s masterful riffs creating an infernal atmosphere.

Archgoat

After six concerts it was time to welcome Friday’s headliner… Unlike the harsh and anger-filled sound most of the bands had during this black metal festival, Nifelheim rocked the venue with their blackened thrash classics.  A short walk upstairs to the balcony provided a great view of the band’s energetic set and of their ever-enthusiastic audience.

Nifelheim

With Friday evening featuring seven bands, one could wonder how the first festival day passed so fast. Luckily enough, the wait for more extreme metal was not too long as the festival’s second day began in the early Saturday evening with Malum.

Malum

Much like Friday’s opening band, Sawhill Sacrifice, Saturday’s Malum were a proof that opening bands are worth watching.
Anyone who has seen that horde from Turku before could expect a tight set, and thick, perfectly audible bass lines.

Saturday continued with another Finnish band: Havukruunu. To sum up their gig in one sentence: My expectations were too high. Far too high, judging by the onstage ambiance which was nowhere near the dense and dark pagan metal which could be heard in their albums.

R.I.P. Annika’s expectations

Let’s not get too negative. Among the festival’s positive surprises were Antimateria, without a doubt sounding more interesting live than on record. The atmospheric black metal merged perfectly with melancholic melodies, creating an eerie mood.

The last Finnish act for SteelChaos was the collaboration between Ride for Revenge and Bizarre Uproar. After the dark and melodic show of Antimateria, the merchandise stand was as busy as always and the show was over before I could see any of it. Should I call it misfortune or luck? The latter might be more fitting considering that one of the least extreme comments I heard about their appearance was ‘Tää on paska!’.  (search elsewhere if you want all the sordid, soiled details, that shit’s everywhere ~ed) Maybe some people did enjoy that unusual show…

After the spectacle of that very last Finnish band performing at SteelChaos, next up on the ob-shit-erated stage were the Swedish Entrails.

Then, the following gig deserves my title of black metal ceremony because Darkened Nocturn Slaughtercult far overshadowed the preceding Saturday bands. The contrast between mystical atmosphere and furious, aggressive sound could only be called perfect.

Darkened Nocturn Slaughtercult

Onielar, who didn’t only focus on the rage-filled riffs, but also on possessed shrieks, made sure that the crowd was mesmerized. All this while wearing a white, ghostlike gown which hid her face for the first songs of the set…  Definitely one of the SteelChaos weekend’s highlights.

Have I already mentioned that blood has been spat on the audience at least three times during Darkened Nocturn Slaughtercult’s ritual?

Master’s Hammer

Saturday ended with the long awaited performance by Master’s Hammer.  The legendary Czech band was met with insane enthusiasm, loud cheers from the crowd and raised horns. Štorm’s recognizable vocals and the bombastic sound of kettledrums were among the features of this old school show which will surely have made the gig unforgettable to many.

And the festival’s second day ended just like the first one: unbelievably fast. Sadly enough, SteelChaos’ second day was also its last (much like with the two-day SteelFest).

Now that SteelFest has been mentioned and bands announced, it’s time to await news of the next SteelChaos, already announced as being held on 09-10 November 2018.

What cult bands (and extraordinary performances) should we wait for next year? Only time will tell.

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