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Hammer Open Air 2011 - Day 1 - 7/15/2011 - Ilmaristen Metsäpirtti - Lieto (FI)

Friday 15th

When from the nearest city of Turku, you take the a bus full of metalheads, heading to the festival, you get the idea that you are going on some sort of coutryside trip in the middle of nowhere with a bunch of strange, drinking people. Once you get there, in the woods, with 4-5 newly built houses on one side, and the festival site on the other, you ask yourself “ok, this seems to be the entrance, but there’s more to it, right? It can’t be all here...”. Welcome to one of the smallest festivals I’ve been to up until now!
Which is not really a bad thing, all the opposite! The atmosphere is way more relaxed, you have much more freedom and definitely you don’t have to stress running kilometers during the day from stage to stage. There is one whole big drinking area, since the festival is not for underage people, one stand for food, one for the official and one for the “general” merchandise. All you need is there, without anything extra or unnecessary. Even the camping area is basically formed in the small field between the forest and this strange complex of wooden buildings that compose Hammer Open Air.
The last festival I did before coming here was the French Hellfest. Imagine the surprise when I learned that the small stage in the corner of an equally small yard, was in fact the main one! This as Maveth begins to perform under this quite unstable weather, with their two upside-down crosses standing in front of the stage. I recall the band from the show they had in May in Helsinki, which was after all not that bad. With some more light and fresh air the four guys maybe perform even better, but there is so few people at the moment that it’s hard to really get in the mood of the gig.
The indoor stage gives a feeling of those places in the country where you’d have some hillbilly guys perform and people dancing while drinking home-made alcohol. A setting properly fitting the Fathers of “Horse Metal”, Caught In The Between. This is a bit of a strange and unusual band, especially thrown in the mix of what comes today. But hey, it’s good to see some variety, and these guys from Helsinki sure enjoy up there, cheered by a small audience mostly made of curious Finns.
There is some funny moments, as when you notice that the drummer is actually wearing a horse mask, or when the singer/guitar player Otto “Ode” Trygg announces which is a 3-4 seconds song, and for the last piece of the set, dedicated to their “horse cult” covers his head with his own t-shirt while playing. Twisted guys!
After travelling from their warm-up show in Helsinki last night, Gospel Of The Horns reach the outdoor stage to perform now in front of an increasing crowd. I don’t really dig the music of this band, which seems though energetic on stage, and I’m sure their fans will have enjoyed the show more than me, who took the chance to get something to eat in the meanwhile.
Mortifera is one of those bands I was really curious about. The gloominess of the small, darkened stage (and the clouds outside) adds to the whole set in this kind of music. The live line-up around Noctu Geiistmort assemble a good performance, centered obviously on the latest “Maledictiih”. I believe though that their debut record was more interesting, but that’s just a matter of taste. I still enjoyed the show, which set up a dark and ill atmosphere right before the Irish Primordial set foot on the other side of the festival area.
Strangely enough, the guys were already performing the day before in Turku, about 10km from here, in the local warm-up party. And from what I heard the setlist was pretty much the same. But set this aside, the celtic guys are among my favourites of the day, and even if not at the same level as their show last month in France, I still liked their concert a lot. So did the audience which filled the small yard in front of the stage. “No Grave Deep Enough” open their set, and the singer seems in a very good shape, given the “show-within-the-show” he is responsible for with all his gestures and espressions aimed to incite the fans even more. As songs like “Lain With The Wolf” and “Coffin Ships” fill the air with Irish folklore, the climax of the gig is obviously with the conclusive “Empire Falls”. A really good show, the best of the day in my opinion (if we leave out the afterparty).
Still in a good mood after this, I quickly reach the other side, where Alghazanth is about to perform. I remember when Goat Tormentor was the singer of the band, as just from this year he’s been replaced by the guitar player Thasmorg. The feeling however is not too affected, although some of that stage presence is missing. Alghazanth though doesn’t really need too many extra “frills”, as it’s enough to have that rough, aggressive sound that comes at you like a rabid wolf in a dark forest. And people likes it.
The one and only problem of the whole weekend comes when Inquisition has to play. The band makes the fans wait for more than half hour, and in addition it’s the rainiest moment of these two days. This makes many people upset, given that the strict timing allows the band to play only a shorter set. Someone is still satisfied by the few songs performed, but not being really eager to stand in the rain to see a half show, I take the chance and call it dinner time.
Last band on the indoor stage, blessed by the unpleasant weather outside, is Baptism from Tampere, creation of Behexen’s bass player. The black metal scene in Tampere is really active, everybody knows everybody, and so it’s easy to get guests on stage as in today’s live performance. The show itself seems to involve especially the most extreme metalheads in the audience, as Lord Sargofagian squirm on stage in his black monk robe. As some famous guy says “it’s just entertainment, folks!”. And it’s pretty good, as being my first time to see the band live I didn’t have the occasion to listen to these songs much before. Overall a nice surprise.
The long awaited highlight of today is undoubtedly Absu. The american trio has now shifted their attention from mithology to occultism, as you can feel also in their music. But first thing is really nice to see is that the drum set is placed in the front of the stage, which gives a great view also for us photographers in the pit. Starting with “Apzu”, and thanks to the improved weather conditions, the band manage to fire up immediately their fans which now has filled the place completely.
What I didn’t mention yet, is that the band was about to play the whole “The Sun of Tiphareth” in this earlier part of the show, which is a little pearl of this performance, picking up from “Tara” and the other releases afterwards. The flow is going really well, and the sound seems good, especially for the drums. At this point though I have to leave earlier, as I don’t really want to miss tonight’s aftershow and I still have to find my way to the hotel to drop my bag there.

(see at the bottom of the page for the photos of the day)

Aftershow at Klubi, Turku

We head then quickly by cab towards Turku, and unfortunately missing the warm-up band, I manage to find the right hall inside that labyrinth that is Klubi, just in time for Jex Thoth’s show.
The whole place is filled with people, which makes the atmosphere really hot, before the bands come out with a few minutes of delay. The beautiful Jex makes her fans wait some extra moment, when she presents herself on stage with a black stripe painted on her face which divides it in two halves. “Kagemni” opens this club show, with candles lighted on the amplifiers as usual, though the knife this time’s missing. Another major thing that’s missing is the keyboard player. Which is for me the most disappointing side of this show. The sound of the band has sure gotten heavier, relying more on the guitars, but to hear live those songs which include relevant keyboard parts and these are pre-recorded... well... it certainly isn’t the same thing.
The charisma of Jessica and the enthusiasm especially of the guitar and bass player partially makes up for this, contributing to the success of the show. As “Obsidian Night”, “When The Raven Calls” and “Separated At Birth” comes, the audience is completely enchanted by the voice and moves of the american singer, so much that they push against the barrier in the front like in a way that it seems to break any moment.
“Nothing Left To Die” prepares the field to one of the major highlights of the show and favourite of the female side of the fans, “Warrior Woman”. A nice touch is the Slapp Happy cover “Mr. Rainbow”, before the conclusive “Tauti”. There’s nothing to do, everytime Jex Thoth is overwhelming with her attitude and easily captures the mass with her splendid voice. After the amazing show back ih the past autumn, I knew this would have been great, and except for the absence of real keys and a few stage props, my expectations have been once again completely fulfilled by this psychedelic doom band. Long live Jex!

Jex Thoth







Gospel Of The Horns

Caught In The Between


Report a cura di Marco Manzi

Archivio Foto


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