* Headbanger's Ball *
Author: Marina Sidyakina
Photo: Julia Sheremetyeva
Maybe Monday is not the best metal day in Helsinki, heavy hangovers after heavy Finnish weekends are usually cured by Tuesday at the earliest, when the drinking circle continues onwards. So the organizers must have known this and must have expected that attendance at the night's Ball would not be the most impressive.
Neither band is new to the Finnish ear, so the people knew what they were going to. Or did they? Because when finally arriving to Nosturi 40 minutes before the first band's set time, I saw no queue, very bored security at the doors and - oh my God! - no empty beer bottles outside of the venue! What I saw inside was a random bunch of eager youngsters actively purchasing band merchandise.
The bar upstairs was also empty, slowly filling later on, but remaining quite lonesome throughout the night. Seemed to me that most headbangers at the night's ball were coming straight from their schools, all so young and fresh, yet serious with blank faces and all about metal.
- MISERY INC.
The rising star of the Finnish scene's dark skies is very much in demand duet nowadays, playing almost every week at all possible venues, as support and as a headliner. It was surprising to find out that many people came especially to see Misery Inc right from the start and were less enthusiastic about the main guest. About 2/3 of the whole audience were there already for the Misery's start - quite an unusual situation for the supporting band, at least in Helsinki I have not seen this often.
The Nosturi downstairs floor was packed with hyper excited youngsters, punks, metallers and other bright hope of the Finnish underground youth.
I cannot name one bad song of this band, only that I prefer "Cyanide" the most, but otherwise they all, "Out Of This Alive," "Hymn For Life," "Source Of Fatal Addiction," "Suicide Serenade," and of course "Fallen Rage," were done technically spotless and emotionally overtaking. "No Excuse For Weakness" was taken quite literally and from the first chords triggered quite a serious moshpit right in the middle of the floor - youngsters were going at it mercilessly to shock even the singers on stage!
The band itself was as active, I did not know whom to watch. Jules Näveri every time comes up with a new headbanging technique, so every time I am worried the guy will take off and helicopter himself up and away. The other vocalist, Niko Mankinen has also much advanced with his stage behavior, although is still quite shy leaving his colleagues most of the space. I have rarely seen this much action from the drummer - headbanging to all the songs and still driving the instrument virtuously.
Technical problems during their short set were generously compensated with a lot of action on stage, so no one even noticed the repetitive microphones failure. I felt very proud for the band, when they having announced the next track, the crowd responded so loud and cheerfully. Most people knew the lyrics well and were singing along so excitedly, rhythmically headbanging along.
Misery always does a very vivid performance, Jules alone is the source of endless energy, along with very hyperactive band members, they got even more wound up with the audience's warm reception, so the whole show was so over-energetic - it could have electrocuted a gang of fat murderers. Although on the whole, having seen this band live often enough, I think they could have done even better. Even though all the hyper-excitement and obvious musicians' satisfaction with their own work, there was clearly something in the air between the two vocalists. The two singers were not interacting as much as always and were like two independent presences on stage, instead of one whole, as they always are.
Anyway, a very solid band, and although young, already they are quite experienced and confident. Seeing their tendency and on-growing popularity, I am quite assured this name will be wide known sooner then you learn to pronounce the singers' last names.
- ARCH ENEMY
Wonderful stage setup - the drums were placed among ruins of a haunted castles upon uninhabited hills with a pathway through them, with human skulls and bones thrown all over. Very beautiful and simple, but arranged with good quality and very technical light-work (thank you Nosturi!); it created a very believable 3D effect of ancient ruins...
...and from the ruins rose the evil, the strongest and worst evil of them all, a beautiful woman. A beautiful blonde woman, with a figure to make American Playboy bunnies hide in shame and an outfit to challenge Xena. Angela maybe is the most petite lady in metal, but sound-wise she can easily outrun some tough Vikings in the business. It is just amazing how much noise and vocal capacity such a small person with such gentile name can possess or is she possessed herself?! Call the exorcist! The sounds Angela produces are inhuman, no scary movie goes in any comparison. If I did not know who was before me, my first quess would be a playback of early Dani Filth, but some notes in her voice still sound female. The first impression was so strong, just indescribable at once: you HAVE to experience this with your own eyes and ears.
Soon Angela expressed a wish to see "your sweat dripping from the ceiling" which was not difficult to fulfill, observing the audience cooking on full heat. The singer's voice, ripped tight t-shirt and extremely hot tiny leather shorts did their magic, on front rows especially. The angry teenagers were getting even angrier, fighting for a nearer place to the stage and a closer look to the singer and her warriors. What an eye-watering sight: a LOT of young kids in front of the stage, so young - some could not even see above the fence in the front row, but still throwing their hands in the air, headbanging and screaming. Oh, how proud I am of Finnish upcoming generation!
The band just came on stage and played, as simple as that. No pre-rehearsed fancy program, special effects or ready learned tricks. All their moves and emotions were genuinely from the heart. On the musicians' face you could see just how grateful they are to be at that show, see the people, share their music with the audience, and who cares that the club is not even 2/3 full? I wish I knew the songs and lyrics, because I was just so proud being a part of this concert.
Disappointing was to see so little media attention to this event. This band really deserved a lot more than this! Arch Enemy has pulled an impressive show all together, which beyond all their musical professionalism, was also very honest and sincere emotions-wise. Although the concert was reasonably full, there were about 3-4 photographers and other journalist colleagues I have not seen at all, even the regular Finnish famous faces who attend most metal events in Helsinki were not there… I blame Monday, it is really a dead day in this country.
To give other band members a rest, drummer and guitarists took turns to do some virtuoso solos - even if I am not a fan of the band (which is now only a matter of time), nor am I very technical in playing techniques, I listened to it all breathlessly!
2 comebacks, one on encore with a couple of songs I couldn't follow, as one seemed more like a demo of all instruments put together and no vocals, although Angela was on stage at the same time. And the second return was to greet the audience separately and do a classic bow and farewell. The Enemy stayed on stage until the last notes of the outro, waved, smiled, bowed, reached out to shake some hands - it was so wholehearted and warm, very friendly atmosphere and complete satisfaction.
So far I have only seen Amorphis giving this high-class perfect performance on that same stage, but with totally packed house. Lacuna Coil, who has been the Headbanger's Ball's guest the previous time, goes in absolutely no comparison to Arch Enemy, who for 18E gave a show worth Wacken at least!