1.3.2020 Fractal Universe, Thulcandra, God Dethroned & Obscura @ Tavastia, Helsinki

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The progressive death metal band OBSCURA has only been to Finland once while visiting the legendary festival Tuska in 2016. It’s been a while since, but the band finally managed to find a gap in their busy schedule to play a show in Helsinki. Tavastia hosted an evening on 1 March 2020 filled with death metal extravaganza led by OBSCURA, support acts of the evening were FRACTAL UNIVERSETHULCANDRA, and GOD DETHRONED. Check out our photo gallery here.

In our interview with Steffen Kummerer of OBSCURA, he mentioned that FRACTAL UNIVERSE is a relatively new band coming from a progressive technical death metal background, but with something fresh in their sound, he recommended the band as he called it one of the most important new bands in the scene, and joked that since they’re French of course, they need to sound like GOJIRA. As somewhat of a GOJIRA enthusiast, that last statement is what made me interested in the band. What I discovered, however, was much more than a progressive death metal band, but a fresh breeze in a crowded scene.

Given the fact that the band surprised me a lot with their latest album, I had been looking out to their (way too short) slot, ever since I started listening to their songs. Before their show, I had the opportunity to interview the band, and they mentioned that Helsinki had been one of the top locations on Spotify concerning their latest studio effort “Rhizomes of Insanity.” Finns are notorious for skipping out on support acts, so I was quite surprised and relieved that a relatively good chunk of the audience had decided to come to see FRACTAL UNIVERSE.

The band started off their set with an energetic track. Right from the start, it was clear the Frenchmen play their music in the tightest way as possible. After the strong opener, they urged the shy audience to come closer to the stage, and soon they started playing the opening track of their second album “Oneiric Realisations,” which definitely was a highlight of the evening.

Altogether watching these guys play their technically complex music is not only intriguing to watch, but also quite entertaining. The band headbangs mostly simultaneously to their songs and plays with great energy and attitude. It was the first show of FRACTAL UNIVERSE in Finland, and hopefully, there will be a lot more to come, considering the huge talent of the band. Let’s hope the great turnout may have convinced promoters of their worth.

That the Sunday evening would be a night of many firsts, was clear with the lineup. Not only FRACTAL UNIVERSE hadn’t performed in Finland before, but also THULCANDRA, and GOD DETHRONED. Second in line for the death metal experience was THULCANDRA, the first band of the evening to be led by Steffen Kummerer. Truthfully, I didn’t have much time to listen to their music beforehand, but I was told it was a death metal band, inspired by the Swedish black/death metal scene in the nineties. As the band started their show with “Black Flags of Hate,” I was surprised by how melodic the band was, something I somehow didn’t expect, and was quite impressed by the inspiring riffs, twin-guitar harmonies, and whatnot.

The atmosphere of the gig was partially created by all the fog and the atmospheric lighting. A lot of strobes were used to ensure the ambiance fitted the songs, which made the show somewhat inappropriate for anyone struggling with epilepsy. Their set included a little bit of everything, but most memorable to me where the new song of their upcoming album, and a ballad. Their last song “Spirit of the Night” especially made the audience headbang together with the guys on stage, which was proof of the outstanding set the guys had just played.

GOD DETHRONED, the legendary death metal act from The Netherlands was scheduled next. The band has recently released their new record “Illuminati,” so they had plenty of new tracks prepared for the audience. In comparison to the rest of the bands, GOD DETHRONED has definitely a little bit more of a groovy sound, which was a welcome change in the lineup. Plenty of fans had gathered for this show, as it was the band’s first time in Helsinki, and most of them were pretty excited to finally see the death metal act live.

The band started off their performance with the opener of their new album, and title track “Illuminati,” a song that works very well live. It’s immediately clear that the Dutch are an energetic live band, who have been around for a while. GOD DETHRONED mostly focused on the new material as they played tracks such as “Book of Lies,” “Spirit of Beelzebub,” “Nihilism,” and “Gabriel,” but also mixed in some old classics like “Villa Vampiria,” coming from their in 2001 released album “Ravenous.” “Villa Vampiria” definitely was one of the highlights of the evening. The band concluded their much-anticipated show with “Nihilism,” and a lot of fans immediately gathered to the stage for a chance to briefly talk with the band. GOD DETHRONED promised us that they’ll return soon, let’s hope that it doesn’t take the band as long as the last time to visit our beloved Helsinki.

Finally, it was time for OBSCURA to play their set. Founded in 2002, the band released their latest studio album “Diluvium” in 2018. The record was one of our highlights of 2018, and ever since we had been looking forward to see the progressive technical death metal band live. During my interview with Kummerer, we talked mostly about their live shows, and how to engage an audience in a show. One of the main things besides the production, according to Kummerer is to play your material as tight as possible. So, when the band started their set off with “The Anticosmic Overload,” it was clear that there is no other band that can execute such complex music with so much ease, and make it seem as if it’s the easiest thing to play in the world. With mathematical precision, the band went through their setlist, focusing mostly on “Diluvium” material. The opening track by itself sent fans into a frenzy of excitement.

When I looked around me, I noticed that I couldn’t point out a single person in the venue who wasn’t having fun. To be fair, it didn’t surprise me, the ability to not only replicate your studio material but to give a memorable performance is impressive by itself, and as a result, it was quite mesmerizing watching these guys play their music. During our interview, Kummerer mentioned that as they are not playing three-chord music, we shouldn’t expect trampolines on stage, and to me, it was immediately clear why the band doesn’t need any props to draw attention to them.

The band ended their impressive set with the duo “Akróasis,” and “An Epilogue to Infinity,” which ensured fans would immediately burst out into huge applause. Luckily the enthusiasm meant the band had two more songs left to play for us “Ten Sepiroth,” and the appropriate “A Last Farewell,” made us sad the set was already over. Let’s hope that wasn’t really a last farewell, but that with a show like this booking agents now understand why OBSCURA is a welcome band in Finland. It’s going to be pretty hard for any band to top this performance, as it already might be the show of the year for me.

All-in-all OBSCURA delivered a healthy array of perfection, with plenty of new songs and fan favorites, including a couple of surprises. The night altogether was jammed with talent and groundbreaking heavy music, that guaranteed a memorable experience for anyone who is a death metal fan. For those who are wondering whether they should attend a show on this tour, I can only recommend to not miss out on it, a tour like this is unique, all bands delivered on an equal level, and every act stood out in their own way. Definitely a night to remember.

Setlist

  1. The Anticosmic Overload
  2. The Seventh Aeon
  3. Ode To The Sun
  4. Emergent Evolution
  5. Diluvium
  6. Mortification Of The Vulgar Son
  7. Septuagint
  8. Vortex Omnivium
  9. Alone
  10. Universe Momentum
  11. Akróasis
  12. An Epilogue To Infinity
  13. Ten Sepiroth (Encore)
  14. A Last Farewell (Encore)

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