10.2.2024 Metal De Facto @ On The Rocks, Helsinki

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Finnish power metal ensemble METAL DE FACTO recently unveiled their second album, “Land of the Rising Sun – Part 1,” which delves thematically into Japanese tales. To celebrate the release, they performed two shows across Finland. Opting for the more cost-effective option of experiencing Japanese culture in Helsinki rather than traveling to Japan, we attended their performance at On The Rocks on February 10th, 2024.

Due to a scheduling conflict and our photographer’s unexpected medical emergency, we arrived at the bar only in time for the conclusion of DREAMTALE‘s set. However, we gathered from numerous audience members that both supporting acts, EVERFROST and DREAMTALE, delivered stellar performances, leaving us eager to catch them live in the future. Arriving just in time for METAL DE FACTO‘s set, we initially noticed the floor seemed a little empty. However, as the band’s performance drew near, the venue swiftly filled to nearly maximum capacity, creating an enjoyable atmosphere with still lots of space to move and enjoy the show, unlike a sold-out On The Rocks.

Kicking off their set with the opening track from the new album, “Rise Amaterasu,” METAL DE FACTO ignited the crowd’s enthusiasm from the get-go. Anticipation for this song had been high, given that it was an instant personal highlight to me when listening to it for the first time. Its live rendition certainly lived up to its hype. Notably, guitarist Mikko Salovaara‘s absence led to Petri Lindroos (ENSIFERUM, WARMEN, and SATANIC NORTH) stepping in as his replacement, offering a dynamic on-stage chemistry with Sami Hinkka and an entertaining dynamic alongside Esa Orjatsalo, a familiar face from the ENSIFERUM crew, yet rarely seen on stage with them.

The band revisited tracks from their debut album with “Inferno” and “Legionnaire’s Oath,” both mid-paced songs that encouraged ample audience participation. The performance of “Code of the Samurai,” one of their latest singles, stood out as particularly impressive. The momentum slightly eased with the heartfelt ballad “Heavier than a Mountain,” showcasing one of the album’s many highlights. “Tame the Steel” followed suit as another standout live track, though the absence of the backing vocals featured in the studio version towards the end was noticeable.

During the instrumental interlude “Colosseum,” lead vocalist Aitor Arrastia was afforded a brief break before returning with the powerful “The Ascending of Jupiter,” a track that perfectly complemented Arrastia‘s vocal prowess, which made me think that a re-recorded version of “Imperium Romanum” featuring his vocal interpretations, would be definitely an interesting to have perhaps some time in the future. Continuing with a couple of new tracks, “Divine Wind” and “Superstars,” the latter saw a guest appearance for backing vocals – I was told that this was one of the DREAMTALE people – adding an element of surprise and delight to the performance.

As the set drew to a close, the energy surged with “The Conqueror” and “Bacchanalia,” leaving the audience thoroughly amused. Those songs are so fun they have the power to engage even the shiest of people and altogether, left the crowd with a smile on their face. Following the set’s conclusion, a fan took the stage to embrace Esa Orjatsalo, which I’m sure was an expression of gratitude and proof of how well these musicians put on their show.

Text and photos by Laureline Tilkin

Setlist

  1. Rise Amaterasu
  2. Inferno
  3. Legionnaires’ Oath
  4. Code of the Samurai
  5. Heavier than a Mountain
  6. Tame the Steel
  7. Colosseum
  8. The Ascending of Jupiter
  9. Divine Wind
  10. Slave to the Power
  11. Superstars
  12. The Conqueror (Encore)
  13. Bacchanalia (Encore)