On September 22-23, Dark Days of Helsinki took place for the first time and brought extreme metal sounds to Nosturi. The evening started off with some black metal by Kyy who weren’t deterred by the still quite empty venue. The band just unleashed its raw energy, sounding angrier than ever and really hammering out those tunes. All five guys standing in one line at the front of the stage enhanced this ‘in-your-face’ attitude, and those who only made their way to Nosturi later that evening had missed out on a forceful start into the night.
More people slowly, slowly trickled in during Necropsy so I used the time to catch up with friends to the slower paced death metal beats Necropsy released into the autumn night. The intensity grew throughout the set and it became difficult evade the clutches of death metal reaching out from the stage.
IXXI from Sweden were next, for me accompanied by some red wine as a small crowd at Nosturi also meant it was relatively chilly and what better way to warm yourself up than music and wine. After a dramatic entrance and slower start, things started to pick up and IXXI played a tight set. After two relatively static bands IXXI was also moving around on stage more, including some headbanging (and showcasing a red, see through guitar). Viktor from The Crescent joined them for a song as well and then it was already on to Cult of Occult next, who turned out to be one of my favorites. The hooded silhouettes were bathed in a sea of red light, and pleasantly droning music slowly sloshed over Nosturi, creating a warm glowing cocoon of sound that went well with the red wine warmth. Dark vibes sending delightful shivers down my spine.
Vallenfyre were closing the first Dark Days of Helsinki night and not surprisingly it got the most crowded for their gig. Besides understandably complaining about Lapin Kulta (“Get better beer, then we come more often!”), the set was a worthy ending of the night. The band warmed up throughout the set, resulting in a powerful gig so one could continue towards a bar with a metal happy smile on one’s face.
On Saturday, it fell to Amputory to ring in the second night at a slightly more crowded Nosturi. And it seemed the audience was more energetic from the get-go as a few guys in the front row were really going for it, head banging and even kinda mosh-dancing with themselves to Amputory’s heavy sounds. Next up were Foreseen who entered the stage with a blast but I quickly realized it wasn’t my thing so I retreated to the back for drinks and a catch up. But the audience in front of the stage clearly enjoyed themselves and the gig.
And finally, it was time for Cancer, probably one of the most awaited bands of the night, and for the first time at this festival quite a crowd had gathered. Cancer delivered a strong start and right of the bat the audience was into it. Headbanging, mosh pit – you name it. Ferocity grew and reached new levels during Hung, Drawn and Quartered. It was everything a good death/thrash show should be.
And then Memoriam came, saw and conquered. After seeing them at Roadburn 2017, where the gig was ok but hadn’t been as good as I had hoped, this time around it was as I expected Memoriam to be: Death metal that packs a punch, entertaining banter and grimaces from Karl Willets (How about a cartoon series based on him, anyone?!?!) and all-around excitement of a good gig. The band seemed to enjoy playing so much, like a bunch of friends hanging out rather than a band playing a show. The mood was infectious, and it was just a joy to watch and to listen to. Memoriam rolled in like an unstoppable steam train rattling through death metal planes. Karl said it best: “Celebrate our lives, to death metal!”
The night could have ended right there and I would have been happy, but there was one more band to really close the first Dark Days of Helsinki with a blast: Entombed A.D. They started a bit late but then there was no holding back. L.G. Petrov and his crew let loose a storm of tightly played music, good energy and synchronized head banging onto a cheering crowd.
Well done, Dark Days of Helsinki – thanks for two great evenings.
text: Nina Ratavaara photo: Marco Manzi