The Finnish Death Metal Maniacs fest and general holiday rant DAY 2

 Day 2

Imagine a warm place by the seaside. Hot sand like flour, a large cup beside the hammock brimming with sweet ripe fruits and grilled fish. Drinking white rum with a straw from a huge coconut. Now reverse that: Finland is the exact opposite. From a mediterranean perspective, it’s a stern, unassuming place. Compared to our cuisine the spectrum of taste is relatively narrow, mostly from what I could experience about cream, herrings, salmon and vodka. Yet, once you calibrate your tastes there are a lot of interesting variations ready to be picked up. The morning after the warm up event I went  to the city hall and market to buy something that looked like local food. The first thing I noticed was that they consume a lot of soup. Soup’s Finland equivalent of pasta fpr us pagliaccio-italianbaffi-neri-mandolino-pizza, soups over which they pour solid slabs of cream, just to make it all the more unhealthier for your cardiovascular system. Considering I am an obese person I was totally in my element as that city had the largest number of overweight people I have ever seen. Thick boned maybe, but I have seen very few skinny guys, and girls were mostly lovely smooth and curvy *deep breath*.

Raw fish is probably a blessing in these places as it helps maintaining arteries clean out all that saturated fat floating in a lot of dishes. The old fishmonger probably had a soft spot for me as after buying some random herrings she offered me a nice potato and salmon soup which was nothing short of delicious.

Other shit I ate late in the afternoon.

Other shit I ate late in the afternoon.

Another mandatory stop when I travel abroad is the supermarket. I am a freak for colored, disgustingly sweet sodas and drinks: to me the more artificial and chemical looking the better and this supermarket was like ridiculously filled with that shit – from fruit flavored water (what the?) to a wall of yoghurts and milk derived random things I could not decrypt (oddly, very few labels had english translations and the 4G signal was feeble so I could not check),

The wailing wall.

The wailing wall.

Like... Finnish variation of our vin brulè (mulled wine)

Like… Finnish variation of our vin brulè (mulled wine)

Event Day 1

We had the chance to drink a couple of beers at the Monttu pub (which actually looked way cooler than what I could tell from Google Street View before the show started especially considering there was another bigger place downstairs where the afterparty shows took place.

Monntu by evening - old guys in slippers

Monntu by evening – old guys in slippers

More drinks right out of the venue were accompanied by meeting a few new friends from all over Europe and Americas. It was cool to see people I only had written letters of paper and ink decades ago, and was also nice to meet new people. The atmosphere was so laid back and relaxed I felt like being on vacation. Cheers to all the guys I met from Spain, Poland, Estonia, USA, Chile, Germany and a couple more from Italy as well! The merchandise rotated a bit and I was tempted to buy a couple of books but some of them I already owned in different editions, other were frighteningly expensive, the shirts were too small for me and vinyl I didn’t want to carry so I just got some more tapes and let it be for now.

According to the girl who had this bottle, the best part is that when you throw up is like washing your teeth.

According to the girl who had this bottle, the best part of this liquor is that when you throw it up it’s like washing your teeth.

Witchcraft

The real event starts out in full blast with one of the bands I looked forward to see live the most. Let me state two things before I start:

  1. I am totally impressed by how well the youngest bands (year of formation 2000+) did at this festival. I flew there probably mostly for the “veteran” names but I was totally blown away by the newer bands. In more than one case I was more taken by their shows than the other ones but that after all is the reason you go to concerts – to be disappointed by bands you like on records and reconsider other ones you previously dismissed when listening to studio recordings.
  2. I am completely lost for old Beherit and I am a huge freak for the necromantic armageddon nuclear atomic satanic sound of black fucking metal or as they say “Metal of Death” – give me Blasphemy and Naked Whipper any time above all the Norwegian stuff combined.

Seeing Witchery live was a little bit like being in this land in 1990 for a few minutes. The pure bestial necro-bastard suffocating sound, the raspy, phlegmy vocals, the distorted and bass-soaked crackling sound was like a whirlwind of old school blasphemy in an ageless venue. Despite the very simple structures the result was impressive. Black, like Thash metal, is all about the riffs after all (as well as aesthetics, let’s not dismiss that). You certainly could go unnoticed with a bad Death Metal riff, but there is no hiding in this branch of music. Total 8+ performance for me, everything was just as it should have been, including the ugly corpsepaint. Brilliant.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cEqQ8AIy1CQ (video not mine, check the channel)

Pestigore

This is a band I was obsessed with during my old tapetrading days. Like I wrote on the pre-festival rants, I was a role playing nerd (well I still am, but bear with me) and the name Pestigor(e) stuck because it was the name of a pestilence demon in the Warhammer fictional setting. Pestigore certainly had some solid Bolt Thrower influences in sound, so why not in the looks? At the time IIRC Bolt Thrower even had an endorsement from Games Workshop (together with a terrible HM band whose name I can’t remember). So I finally managed to see this band live after over twenty years (by the way the average age at the festival was way higher that I even imagined thanks Pestigor this time I was not the older fuck around!) and it definitely delivered. Impressive show chock full of adrenaline, you could really perceive when passion still drives fingers and throat I guess. I am not a big fan of heavy chugging but framed in a contest of blasting and BTesque sound everything was in order. Pestigore basically gave me what I was expecting, nothing more nothing  less, honest stuff. I shall rate this as 7.

Gorephilia

I mostly compare Gorephilia as the Morbid Angel – “Formulas” era – of Finnish Death Metal, plus a couple of other more traditional stuff like Diabolic. Their sound is atypical for a Finnish band but not slamming cricket vocals kind of American. They started out with “Black Horns” and shot 7 tracks of pretty much intense, well structured stuff. This is a band of 10+ years of experience so it shows. Flawless but maybe without that dark touch that makes the Finnish sound stand out. I’ll say 7 here, maybe a little more.

Demilich

What can I say, this band has been in my top favorite three ever for a long time. Actually I still do believe they’re one of the greatest bands of all time. There is something cryptical and yet completely AWARE in their sound which sounds just touched by some cosmically evil grace (more possibly a cenobite-like kind of divine), Demilich is the gate on earth to the sixteen-sixth regional dimension. A work of art of twisted guitar structures, trippy names and classy artworks. It is a MASSIVE concept, sculpted with micron level precision. Shit, even their logo is unique. I can’t hold back the claim that this was also my favorite band at the festival, a band that also showed to be able to play their songs flawlessly AND faster than recorded on album. Singing along like a teenager, I drank avidly every second I was there in front of the stage staring at a piece of time collapsing into itself in a swollen ball of encrypted signals. Not only the show was perfect on EVERY single aspect, including the low ceiling and flashing lighting that just continued to eat itself at every frame, but it was also beyond cool to meet these guys I have been in touch for so long after the show ended. They’re also quite different from what I expected, from some interviews I thought Antti was some kind of anti social guy but that turned out to be quite the opposite, he’s a nerdy guy with a black and bleak sense of humour just like me, ah ah. The drummer Mikko was the coolest, most laid back man I have met in all my staying. Seeing such an amazing band being made up of such amazing people was just the perfect peak of the whole trip to me and still makes me wonder about all that shit about rock stars and all the fuss ordinary people go through for their shitty bands :D. This is a show that oscillates between 9 and a 10 in my book.

Demilich actually do not shy using technology

Demilich actually do not shy using technology

Cemetery Fog

Meh, wish I could like this band better. I do like the doom-death idea, hell some of my favorite bands could be filed as “Doom/Death”, but I cannot stand the “70’s Doom” vibe i find on some of Cemetery Fogs riffs. I am not a Black Sabbath fan, I do have some albums of course but I am definitely not a diehard freak. But I definitely loathe everything that tries to come close that wailing distorted sound. Influences aside, there is a thin line between unripe and minimalist and I somehow believe Cemetery Fog are kinda unripe as well. They oscillate between barely OK to No-No for my tastes. Their performance to me was a 5.

Maveth

Maveth is a good band, like with Gorephilia if I had to find them a place in a record shelf I’d go with “American Death”, with some strong Swedish crunch added in. Maveth’s sound is elliptical, riffs that churn and swallow themselves in cycles dragging you into the vortex. The show to me was quite impressive for its hypnotic properties, few bands manage to be heavy as fuck and create long waves of crushing sound like them, good stuff. 7 in my book too.

Convulse

Let’s try to forget the 1994 album “Reflections”, some blood clot must have hit these guys brains back then. But I heard the new album “Evil Prevails” several times before giving up to Convulse, because “World Without God” was solid shit. And honestly speaking, I was not completely inspired by their live show either. From what I could hear they mostly did stuff from the first album and just one song from the braindead period and just two from the last one. Whatever. I just could not get much energy at all – I would not go beyond a 5.

Now find a good riff here and tell me, because I could not find any:

Archgoat

There are bands like Convulse (or the Swedish Sorcery for instance) that just can’t make it to capture their old feelings no matter how much they struggle, and then there is Archgoat, which are every inch as good as the day they recorded “Angelcunt” almost 25 years ago. If there is a better Black Metal band existing today, let me know because the two shows I saw by them were earth shattering. Archgoat live is a forced trip to hell with your body submerged in broken glass. The only time I saw anything this mesmerizing recently was Anatomia and that was another genre entirely. Not only they play the perfect form of Black Metal / “Metal of Death” but they do it just as good on record than live. Powerful show with a huge punch  and possibly in the top three I have seen at the festival. I really like this band, but it really is even better than I can describe, if you ever have the chance to see them live, DO IT. Full 9 to the show.

Purtenance

This bands places in between the two before in terms of keeping the flame alive. Pre-reunion “Drowned records” Purtenance were in my top list with their unmatched brutality and powerful sound and you know what the last album is also good I think, not exactly as good as the old one, if not for a crisper, cleaner, more modern sound (which I do not like, obviously), but almost as good as “I’d buy it”. On stage however I was not hooked at all. I could hear a lot of chugs and a lot of crunch but no feeling at all. I’d go for a 6, just because there was nothing systematically wrong with the show in itself, but you know, I was expecting something better.

The Afterparty #1

We were drinking and frolicking during the after-show so I watched the three bands playing at the Monntu just a little, mostly listening to them on a seat while doing else. I remember Axeslaughter being somehow fun with their vicious, raw sounding thrashing Death, the rest however was mostly to forget, not to say shitty *wink*.

The Finnish Death Metal Maniacs fest and general holiday rant DAY 1

FDMMF-logo-white

Welcome back small mummies and monsters. As you could see from the logo above I just recently returned home after this fantastic festival which took place in Finland last week. This is also the first english post in a long time, as for over an year I wrote reviews and some general rants in Italian language on this parallel blog called “Abominazioni“. The experiment was certainly cool considering I certainly master my native language much better than English, but visiting the FDMM made my mind clear like it never was in the last 15 years. I might use that blog again sometimes but here is the place where the Nuclear Abominations lore belongs, and so here I will stay in the near future. In all honesty this might just be the only post you’ll read for a while and there is a reason for that which I will unveil a couple of lines below, at the end of this long rant.

So here it is, the detailed report of this amazing weekend. It will NOT be just a review of the concert, actually I am uncertain how could one review a concert at all. Recordings, sure, but live performances? Bah. Did a couple in the past probably, but really they’re not my cup of bile. Beware this is going to be a rant, a personal rant, and probably will have a couple of deviations from the main body of thought, you have been warned.

Here are the pre-reviews of the various bands playing at the fest, for those who understand some Italian or want to try luck with Google Translate.

Departure

The flight to Tampere was leaving at 6.40 AM and – while wishing cancer to whoever in Ryanair decided to plan a flight so early – I had to take into account being at the airport two hours earlier, that totals 4.40 AM. Considering there is no train that goes straight to the town of the airport and that I would need to take a bus as well, plus some extra time for eventual problems and delays which ALWAYS turn up, I might as well go there the night before and just don’t sleep at all. Since I am a lazy fuck and prefer to take at least 3 or 4 hours of sleep before a flight I had the brilliant idea to book a room with Airbnb, considering last time I was lucky and the place was enchanting and the breakfast sumptuous. Things didn’t turn out completely clear from the beginning. Despite four different requests the girl in Airbnb just didn’t want to tell me the exact address of the place. When I arrived and parked in the street close to the place a guy came in to pick me up and take me to the apartment and it looked like it was him who actually managed the room, but somehow didn’t want to appear anywhere, nor he wanted to tell Airbnb the correct address. The flat was in a dirty, shady quarter and located in a monstrous old building that probably hosted like one hundred families at minimum wage. Looked like I figured the Bronx in the 80’s. When I got in, the girl which was probably lending her name for the Airbnb account was sitting on a couch and showed me the “breakfast”. Some cookies, coffe. That’s it. Considering I don’t drink coffee, the morning after would have been quite meager. The apartment itself reeked of cigarette smoke, probably old one clinging to the walls since nobody was smoking when I arrived.

BBQ & Grill

Since it was still early, I went to a nice pub in the whereabouts (the owner suggested me a kebab, no thanks I prefer home made gourmet food) and had a real good hamburger. That was a place I saved on my Tripadvisor list because it was definitely good on the food level, even if at 13 euros for hamburger and beer it might be considered pricey.

I got back to the room just to assist the arrival of a family from southern Italy which was frying some fucking garlic at 11 PM. The smell added to the one of acrid stale smoke crept into my bedroom and I had to try to sleep with the pungent smell of garlic stuck in the nostrils. Two hours later someone started to scream in the building, shouting in some oriental language I could not recognize. It didn’t last long, however, just enough to break my sleep. I went to shit in the bathrom just to realize that the lightbulb was burned out and the toilet paper ended. The owner of the room suggested not to call a taxi in the morning and that the airport was very close, like 10 minutes. It took 40, with sweat drenching my sweatshirt and the awareness that I was late on my schedule. Ah, for those 36 euros, I managed to have breakfast at last: 2 glasses of fridge cold water as there was no juice nor yoghurt nor anything else to eat.

As soon as I arrived at the airport, tragedy struck. While kneeling to weigh in my bags on a scale, my pants ripped in half. From groin to ankle, one single huge rip. Trying not to panic, I ran to the toilet and took out a change which luckily I put in my luggage at the last minute. I have no clue what would have happened if I did not have that spare pair of pants. Azatoth was with me that day.

Clock ticking and scared to be late, I started to queue at the check in when I realized I did not need to stay there as I only had hand bags. I ran to the gate and made it at last, meeting some friends waiting there at the gate. From that point on luckily things went pretty much smoothly, but the start was really a concatenation of shitty, shitty situations.

Starving for the missing breakfast I had the clever idea to eat something on the plane: 8 euros for a gummy croissant, a tiny shot of orange juice (which was a soft drink and not a juice btw) and a bottle of water costing six euros per liter – I drank very good wines for that price. The worse thing in the picture however was that my shirt was WET as in completely SOAKED in sweat. Luckily I just bought a buff and protected by neck but the air conditioning was hammering on my upper back and I just crossed finger I was not stuck the day after.

Tea in Tampere

Tea in Tampere

We arrived safely in Finland and paid six bucks for a ride to Tampere. Since we had some spare time I stopped by an enchanting little tea room and has some warm tea with Karjalan Piirakkaa. Took some pictures around like a Japanese tourist on LSD, then I took the bus which I paid in advance online months before at the honest price of 3.50 euros. When I was on the bus something really weird started to happen. Might be the sleep deprivation, or the rough, untamed aspect of the fields and hills but I started to enter in a unexplainable close contact with the land. The sheeps, the hay bales neatly wrapped in white plastic, the water ponds and lakes. Might be I was in a complex, chaotic mindset for months but I finally relaxed after so much time. For the first time in literally years I was really enjoying the moment. I tried to nail myself awake with energy drinks, but at the same time I was in a complete state of peace and relaxation. Not only I have been wishing to visit Finland all my life, not just for the bands of course, but I was there in one of the most undefined, unstable periods of my lifetime. And I could watch all those bands I only read about in fanzines when I was a kid. Things were going to be real cool.

Finnish Farm

I thanked myself once more for having only handbags with me as the sleeping place was very close to the station and the walk was a cake. I departed with the other guys telling them I was going to have some sleep, a shower and change my fucking clothes at last. The host was a half Slovenian, very young guy who had been travelling since he was a kid. He was a very cool person, but quite unaware on many levels. He completely forgot to say he had no hairdryer except when I was already stepping out of the shower with my hair drenched. With a towel wrapped around my sadly thinning but long hair I took a brief nap on what I recognized too late was the sleeping place: a couch in the middle of the living room. The couch was comfortable but there was no wardrobe nor a place to hang clothes so I had to spread them on the floor. The weird thing is that the living room was actually a place where the guy lived and worked in the afternoon so you had better “slept fast” (like Arnold Schwarzenegger says) or you’re going to be awaken by the host doing his routine. The overall stay was cool at a very cheap price after all, yet some situations were borderline awkward. The guy asked me if I finished the bottle of water on the first day – which I did since I always sleep with a bottle beside the bed – but the weird thing is that the bottle was almost empty, just like a glass or so. Considering there was no breakfast at all in the morning I assumed I could at least drink a glass per day. Whatever. I later did some shopping at the supermarket and bought some bottles which I left there. Meh.

Finland has this weird concept of happy hour: il lasts all night not just an hour before supper. You could drink at a local Mexican pub for 3 euros per beer which is cheap even for Italian standards. I met the other guys there and we had a couple of beers coupled with some shots of liquor, while admiring some local blonde haired fauna walking back and forth all around our table. Still shivering, jeezus. After a day of travel, it was a nice start.

Beer

Day 1

A brutal sore throat welcomed me the next morning thanks to no doubt that fucking missing hairdryer. I planned to buy one the same day but then I realized there was a sauna a few hundred meters from the building where I slept, so with just 5 euros I could walk in, take a Finnish sauna and have a shower using the built in hairdryer as well. Wasn’t it for one of the biggest, most painful, bloody blister I have ever had in my life, walking through Pori would have been a great experience. I did it anyway, but throbbing pain under the foot is not the best of pals to hang with for a whole festival with no buses close. My throat was so swollen I could barely swallow so I went to the nearest aptekki (pharmacy store) asking (after an educate queue with a number to be served) for cortisone spray but they told me I had to ask permission to the doctor which was available to visit me for just 60 fucking euros. No thank you, it will go away with just some mints I bet. Luckily, it did. Armed with a new smartphone and the amazing mobile Internet technology I located a nearby Alko store to make some shopping of Finnish booze. Basically these are State owned places which are licensed to sell the “heavier” stuff, otherwise you only get to drink dishwasher reflux type beer in the supermarkets. The shopping was good as it produced two bottle of an ancient beer called sahti, a bottle of a weird liquor made of tar called Terva and a very sweet Lapp berry wine called tyrni wine or something (i believe tyrni is a berry). The most interesting part was shopping for alcoholic beverages with an old Finn drunkard with one of the deepest vocies I have heard, could have been a replacement in Type O Negative, even if I have the impression alcohol was somewhat responsible for the bass boost. The guy had a teardrop tattoo on his face and lots of jailhouse tats all around including hands and neck. He was so happy of shopping for booze with somebody else that when I left the shop he shook my hand. Ah, Finns.

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Warm Up Event

The venue was an incredibly clean place for Italian standards where puke, punks, beer and cigarette and joint reek are the norm. The entrance was checked with a table that read a QR code on the ticket. As a last moment addition, there was also a place outside where you could buy decent beer from a producer called Mufloni (which is btw also an Italian word).

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Not sure if there actually was the flea market where old bands could sell their old  merch. I went to the tent several times and all I could see was some tapes (which I bought), a couple of Cds (which I don’t buy anymore) and some vinyl (which I didn’t trust placing in my bags) as well as merchandise from the bands which unfortunately would not have fit me ever since 2002. Luckily both the great organizer and Matt from Dark Descent has circus-tent sized shirts and I scored two really cool FDDM and Dark Descent shirts to bring home. Thanks again both of you!

Despite having seen them earlier last year Ascended played the real shit. The venue was also perfect – low ceiling, no smoke, crisp powerful sound, as soon as I got inside I was hooked. I didn’t remember this band being this good. English-influenced harmonics on a backbone of Finnish brutality – top notch. Decaying I skipped after a song, too routine pummeling Death Metal in my opinion, without the proper obscurity that should be typical of every Finnish band. Can’t remember much about Stench of Decay either, they are one of those bands that sound unripe without sounding primitive, which is a no-no. Probably not that bad, but not the shade of what was about to come. Krypts showcased one of the most powerful, most intense sounds I can remember- they were the perfect incarnation of that dark, grave touched heaviness I wanted to hear. The combination of psychedelic lights and utterly powerful chords and gloomy, crushing doom created a sensation of out of time and space I only recently experienced when seeing Anatomia. It was an amazing show and probably one of the top five bands I have seen at the festival. The recordings could not explain how powerful this band is live, I am officially a fan.

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