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Steelfest Open Air 2012 - Pt. 1 - 5/18/2012 - Villatehdas - Hyvinkää

Hyvinkää, an apparently completely anonymous, growing town, that can’t be remembered for anything particular (except just the other day the teenage shooter who killed two people and wounded others in a moment of madness). But a week before this tragic event, it was the first edition of Steelfest Open Air, a previously underground local event held indoor, now trying to come out as the opener for the festival season here in Finland.
Gathering metalheads through all the country, the event features some extreme acts, in a mixture of Black, Death and Thrash metal, as you can easily recognize from the clothes of the crowd invading this once pacific place in the middle of the woods.

When I arrive at the festival, unfortunately the first band, Hellbozer Union, has almost finished their set. It’s a pity since afterwards I got the promo from the guys and didn’t really sound bad. First thing you notice is how obvious it is that it’s a first for an event like this here. You see it from the little details: info on the schedule available only at the specific stand, few toilets, security that hadn’t any instructions on how to deal with the photographers and for the first few bands everytime was insisting to not let people into the photo pit. Well, this gets better already the next day. You learn from experience at least.
Ominous is the first band to set foot onto the main stage, in what is actually their first live show ever. The band doesn’t really give much importance about the attitude nor the image on stage, keeping it all simple and straight to the point. Some cross-talk in Finnish with the crowd in between the songs, otherwise just the music. Plain and solid Black metal.
Next, while Finland’s weather is showing its true colors and the afternoon becomes progressively freezing, it’s the occult piece Valoton, of which I had the opportunity to have already a positive impression back when I saw them last year. These masked and hooded guys (with the exception of their female guest) pull a good show on the small stage, despite there isn’t many to see that yet at this time in the afternoon. But their material is good, and I suggest you check them out.
Another Black metal band, this time playing at home, is Azaghal with a ~15-years-long career made of 9 full-lengths, among which their latest release "Nemesis", the guys have plenty to offer to their audience. Reminiscent of bands like Urgehal, they have their honest 45-minute show, even if not particularly exciting. I have seen them before, and the impression was better. Sure today the atmosphere doesn’t maybe help much either.
A.R.G. prove themselves as one of the most energetic bands of the day, even though they are one of the first Thrash metal combo from Finland, dated back in 1987. Reunited last year, we wait for the new record while listening to their classics. The facial expressions of the singer Tepa Karjalainen and the poses of Vesa Säkkinen contribute to make this show more entertaining, and now the crowd is really ready for the main acts to start, beginning with Deathchain.
The funniest thing about this band, whose members are all actively engaged in multiple bands, is always to see their Cthulhu-like keyboard player waving at the audience, making all his minions happy.
With his bone-covered microphone pole K.J. Khaos gets control over the audience, assembled now in a bigger number. For me this is mostly a good occasion to grab something to eat and take shelter from the freezing wind with some nice drink. Still I can appreciate the wall of sound coming from the stage, as well as songs like the long "Cthulhu Rising".
Time for some real fun at the sound of the old "Suomi Finland Perkele"-saying with Mika Luttinen and his Impaled Nazarene. Let’s Black’n’Roll guys! There is no need for presentations and IN is an institution among Finnish extreme music followers, as you can see from the hard-core fans going all crazy. Irreverent and venomous as ever, the show progress among songs such as "Ghettoblaster" and "Tentacles of the Octagon" (many are the songs from the last record), ending the show of course with "Total War Winter War", with the guest appearance of Sotajumala’s Mynni Luukkainen.
Despite the cold (damn you, Finland!) the crowd is now heated more than enough for the main act of the day, and for many the only reason to be here: Entombed. LG shows a pretty good shape and has his part of fun, even when some guy gives him his crutch and he takes a little walk with it on stage before returning it. One hour and a half the set for the Swedes, which offers songs like "Serpent Saints", "I For An Eye" and "Stranger Aeons" to the overly excited guys in front of the stage. It’s a really good show, powerful and in-your-face as it should be. But at this point for today I have to retire from the field, at least enough to get rid of this damn cold sensation and head to the afterparty show of Tyranex at Ravintola Pelikenttä.
Here the trio led by the charismatic Linnea Landstedt give it their all on the small stage of this tiny little club, full of people for the occasion. Their killer Thrash metal and honest approach makes them conquer immediately the audience, and many fans will later go and congratulate the guys after the gig. A perfect conclusion for a music-wise very good day, the official opener of this "summer" festival season 2012.



Impaled Nazarene






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