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Jalometalli 2014 - 8/8/2014 - *** - Oulu

Friday 08 For the third year in a row we travel once again North, farther North, to another edition of Jalometalli. Through the years there have always been good bands in this festival, and the 2014 edition has nothing to envy to the previous ones. King Diamond and Testament are the headliners respectively of Friday and Saturday, playing along with the likes of Loudness, Dark Angel, Sacred Reich and Kvelertak, to name a few. Of course also Finnish bands are included, some of which you really should keep an eye on.
Big news of this year is the change of location: after so much time of devoted service Club Teatria is no more, and so the festival moves in the proximity of Ouluhalli, becoming fully open air.
But there isn’t much time to look around the area when immediately Rotten Sound is about to start on the main stage. Keijo Niinimaa has recently left Medeia, and now can focus more on his other projects, the main of which certainly still Rotten Sound. Not so much audience at this point, but the youngsters who try to make a small moshpit sure seem to be having fun.


The weather today is exceptionally good, especially for this latitude, and it makes people go directly at the bar area to start drinking. The second band of the day is Speedtrap, which nowadays includes the former-Ranger guitar player Jaakko Hietakangas. These guys really know what they are doing, and you can tell from the audience’s reaction that they are much more involving than your average Finnish band. It’s a good warm-up before turning again at the main stage where Dark Angel makes its appearance. I was seriously amazed at their performance a few months ago during Sweden Rock, thus I had very high expectations for this one gig as well. Expectations that didn’t go disappointed, as the guys have pulled out another good performance in front of their Finnish fans. Particularly the trio Ron/Jim/Eric seems in shape, not to mention good ol’ Gene Hoglan at the drums. That guy is a killing machine! Their show ends with the fans all fired up, singing along and headbanging during “Merciless Death” and “Perish In Flames”.


Immediately we go again to the opposite side, where Matt Pike (Sleep) and his High On Fire are up and running, or not so much running, but at least they are doing a good job in sweating under the sun. Not the best show ever to be honest, but honestly it would have been hard to top Dark Angel, especially with this change of genre.
For the first time we then venture to the yet unexplored side of the festival area, where a tiny third stage, looking even smaller than the previous years, is waiting for Woland to introduce some black metal to this event. Aside the small stage there is also a fenced drinking area and one (one?) small stand where to buy food, along with a bunch of merch stands. This side looks kind of empty…


Anyhow Woland has surely a peculiar style, speaking of appearance, and the guys come on stage with sunglasses and unbuttoned shirts, revealing the singer’s tan. I remembered that back in the day black metal bands used to be different… The show is further enriched by the presence of some nice ladies in the audience. Now I see why they have that style, but unfortunately I cannot stay more than a few minutes, as Loudness is about to start on the bigger stage.
Akira Takasaki and Co. are here to promote the new “The Sun Will Rise Again”, on which most of their set is obviously focused. Classics from the era spanning from “Disillusion” to “Hurricane Eyes” are however the most acclaimed by the fans. I am fairly surprised at how crazy the Finns go during this gig, but then I soon remember that in craziness they do have quite an affinity with Japanese people. Minoru Niihara and Takasaki take most of the applauses, particularly the latter with his performance at the guitar. The show is truly entertaining, and ends with “Crazy Doctor” and “S.R.I.”.


We return now to more American thrash metal, as Sacred Reich is ready to play on the second stage. Phil Rind is always entertaining, and incites the fans teaching them how to shout “Dark FUCKING Angel” while the singer of the latter is filming from the side of the stage. “Death Squad”, “The American Way”, and of course the usual cover of “War Pigs” are heating up the atmosphere even more while the fans are wild in the first rows. “Surf Nicaragua” ends yet another positive show of the American band. Makes you want to see them live again already!


In the meantime I also managed to sneak quickly to the smaller stage to check out quickly Alghazanth. The band from Jyväskylä manages to gather still a decent amount of audience even during Sacred Reich. It’s a pity that I cannot follow their gig long enough, as I have to get ready for the show of King Diamond.


The Danish artist makes his appearance following his fellow band members on the intro of “The Candle”. Hal Patino has been recently replaced at the bass by Pontus Egberg (The Poodles), and he has been touring with the band during this summer. Today is the last date of the European leg of the King’s tour, and the band seems in a fairly good shape, as “Sleepless Nights” and “Welcome Home” follow. In the latter we encounter again our old acquaintance, Grandma, who comes back on her wheelchair and wander around pointing at the audience with her cane. Hint: it won’t be her last appearance tonight. “The Puppet Master” is one of the few surprises compared to the previous set on last year’s show, and of course Livia Zita-Bendix is here for the backing vocals. There is room also for Mercyful Fate of course, with “Evil”, while “Eye Of The Witch” precedes the encore. Here Dr. Landau appears, with what looks like a cremation casket. The song is obviously “Cremation”, and again our old granny is carried forcefully inside and burnt by King Diamond. When the casket opens, only ashes and burnt bones remain, but be relieved that no real granny has been truly harmed during this show.
The final moments of the gig come with the super-classics “The Family Ghost” and “Black Horsemen”, and I would have expected no less. Personally I think King was today even better than last year in Helsinki, although the band’s alchemy might have to re-adjust to the bass player change. Nonetheless Egberg did his good job, and now we wait to see first of all the new record, and then whether King will resuscitate Mercyful Fate, at some point.



It’s difficult to think that the evening has not ended yet, but Kuolemanlaakso have the harsh task to wrap up this first day, when tiredness start kicking in badly, and half of the people has already left after King Diamond. Definitely a terrible spot, and in fact to me it all sounds some sort of “jadda jadda jadda” all the time. But well, hopefully somebody has been able to appreciate the show despite this.
We thus head back to the city center, hunting for some well-deserved beer and a proper sleep before the next day!


All photos from Friday: Day 1
All photos from Saturday: Day 2 Saturday 09 Jalometalli day two. Yesterday it was sunny and hot as hell, today the main feat is the rain which will just keep increasing into a storm just during the headliners. Now one can really see the advantages of an indoor stage…
At the moment Insomnium have it pretty good in the Finnish music scene. They have a dedicated audience, so much that the area in front of the stage is already quite packed compared to yesterday. “Shadows Of The Dying Sun” follows the path of its predecessors, and the new songs work just as much as the older live material. One thing I must admit is that the guys’ shows seems to become better every time, as the band is now well-trained in its routine. Markus Vanhala today is twice at work as he performs also in his other band Omnium Gatherum.


In contrast with Insomnium’s melo-death, Ranger brings some fresh air with their lively-as-ever show, based on classic speed/heavy metal, but damn, that’s THE good stuff. You do not see often the Finnish audience get so fired up in a concert, here it’s almost a given. “Shock Skull” works as well as the previous “Knigths Of Darkness”, and the new guitar player seems now to be fully integrated into the band’s ranks also in terms of mood and energy on stage. Maybe not to your skull, but sure the gig gives a nice shock to start the day!


At the same time plays Behexen, who looks a bit tight on the small third stage. Incense is burning on an altar in front of the stage, decorated with animal bones, although the time of the day (mid afternoon) doesn’t quite cut it for setting up the proper atmosphere. The band tries to make the best out of it, and after all it’s good traditional black metal we are talking about, either you like it or you don’t. I am personally looking forward to their 20th anniversary gig at Black Flames of Blasphemy in November, that’s going to be really something.


Another band with a strange spot in the running order is Uncle Acid And The Deadbeats. I would have seen them so much better as the last band of the evening, but of course it is not easy to plan such things when bands have tight schedules and all sort of time constraints. On this smoke-filled stage, the four guys pull off a good one regardless, especially I enjoyed songs such as “Mind Crawler”, “I’ll Cut You Down” and “Desert Ceremony”. One final remark: after seeing them twice I am now sure that the guys of UAATD definitely don’t have a face, but just hair.


As a series of storms start raging on the area, Mantar is expected on the second stage. The German duo is actually quite entertaining and straight-to-the-point, but the band is definitely unlike from the technical point of view. Half of their show sees different crew members going to fix microphones for the drums. Thank god somebody invented duck tape and that solved the issue.


Back to the main stage for Samael the first of the two Swiss bands performing here today. Now we have a massive pond in front of the stage, which makes it all the more ‘fun’ to take pictures. The guys are in good shape, and the bass player keeps jumping around as if he had springs under his shoes. Vorph is as charismatic as ever, and the show seems pretty solid from the get-go. Honestly Samael is not on my frequent listenings, but I have to admit it was nice also from the beer tent.


Kvelertak’s gig is definitely much more intense, and these guys are in my opinion one of the best live acts that came in the scene in the recent years. You really get pulled into their shows, and you can do nothing else than follow the music and be infected by the overwhelming energy of these Norwegians. Among their aces “Mjød”, “Bruane Brenn” and “Blodtørst”, with a personal preference for the tracks from the debut album. Despite the weather is getting harsher, there is still a whole lot of people moshing and banging their heads out there.


The highest (and rainiest) moment of the evening is about to come, when Chuck Billy and the guys of Testament are ready to pour some proper Thrash Metal into our ears and deliver us yet another amazing show. The set is divided between old and new, and the guys appear to be unperturbed by the buckets of heavy rain flooding this parking lot. I would say Testament today is once again guarantee of great music, and with such a killer line-up (Billy/Skolnick/Peterson/Hoglan/DiGiorgio) it would be strange otherwise. Following “Disciples Of The Watch”, “D.N.R.” opens the encore, while “The Formation Of Damnation” concludes what is my absolute favorite gig of the weekend. If the band is always is this shape, long live Testament!



Last band for this edition of Jalometalli is Triptykon, creation of ex-Celtic Frost’s Tom G. Warrior. The guys have two merits: to keep still most of the people glued to the festival area despite the awful weather (wind and water-soaked clothes don’t go well together), and to end finally the rain, although I don’t think the second one is really their doing, but that would be cool. Celtic Frost pops up in “Circle Of The Tyrants” and “The Prolonging”, and we also have Hellhammer’s “Messiah” as part of the set. The guys are very professional and don’t get scared by “few drops” of water at the beginning of the concert, and they give to their fans exactly what they expected. At least I see no complains, and I am personally quite satisfied with the performance.


I also am really really looking forward to head to the hotel for a warm shower and a dry change of clothes after all the rain, so right after the gig I do my best to reach the center at full speed.

The festival ends again with lots of good memories, but also some very strange things organization-wise and some lack of communication that lead to few problems between media and the security personnel. I don’t know what kind of instructions these people were given, but they were sometimes contradicting what has been told to the journalists (e.g. access forbidden to the VIP area early on the first day), and I have witnessed often security crew people hanging around and stopping colleagues with a camera. Either the media instructions or the security policies should be definitely more specified, and no matter how these people are doing “what they are told to do”, there are plenty of less rude/threatening ways of explaining to a photographer that - for some to me yet unknown reason - you are not allowed to shoot from the audience during King Diamond’s gig. For instance instead of shouting on someone’s face while covering the lens with your hand, a written or spoken notice to all photographers prior to the shooting would be way more friendly.
This said, I have to at least give credit to the organizers for maintaining again a high level in the quality of the bookings for this year, making Jalometalli one of the most interesting metal happenings in Finland. Let’s hope that the festival will improve also on the other aspects, as I consider this year a sort of trial in the new location. It’s never easy to arrange and run smoothly an event of a certain size, even more so when you have to relocate it.

All photos from Friday: Day 1
All photos from Saturday: Day 2

Report a cura di Marco Manzi

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