Finnish black metal fans got a treat right before Christmas as MARRASMIELI, …AND OCEANS, & Scottish SAOR teamed up and played a show at Tiivistämö, Helsinki, on December 17th, 2022. Since we hadn’t had the chance to catch one of …AND OCEANS‘ latest gigs after their comeback yet, we thought it was the perfect opportunity to get immersed into the many facets of black metal.
We hadn’t heard yet of the opening act, MARRASMIELI, but the folk/black metal band from Tuusula definitely managed to surprise us. Their previous two full-length albums were a complete mystery to us, however, so we were glad to get acquainted with their music. While their sound could best be described by the likes of MOONSORROW, perhaps the biggest surprise was the fact that the drummer was also the vocalist. They delivered a dynamic set, with the bass player moving the most, however, the keyboardist once in a while got in front of the stage with a knife, hyping up the crowd ominously, fitting the mood of the music.
Then it was time for …AND OCEANS, one of the most legendary symphonic black metal bands in Finland. The show’s timing was a little bit awkward, as the band are about the release their new studio effort, “As in Gardens, so in Tombs,” in a month or so. This was one of two final shows to promote their previous record, “Cosmic World Mother,” the comeback album released during the pandemic.
Starting off with “The Dissolution of Mind and Matter,” the band had an engaging start. Personally, I’ve only seen Mathias Lillmåns perform with the folk metal act FINNTROLL, so it was pretty odd seeing him without his troll ears and makeup, but regardless of those aesthetics, he definitely knows how to engage with an audience. It was also the first time – for us – to see the band with the latest addition, Pyry Hanski (known from BEFORE THE DAWN, among others), who brought a good deal of energy to the table.
As …AND OCEANS had a special guest slot, it meant that they had a good amount of time to play through their entire back catalog, so the setlist was a nice mix and even included a few new songs, among which “Cloud Heads” and “The Collector and His Construct” were most exciting. Their new material, while a little bit more straightforward, fit in beautifully with the rest of their songs. Given the fact that Mathias Lillmåns had been on tour for the past few months, there was little time for them to practice as a band, something which was a tiny bit apparent for those who paid attention during “Kärsimyksien vaaleat kädet,” as Lillmåns started a little too early with his vocals. Other than that, the band sounded like an extremely solid unit – very impressive!
Finally, the Scottish Caledonian metal act SOAR were set to perform. For their shows in Finland, they had invited Finnish folk artist VERMILIA to be a special guest during a couple of songs. Admittedly, I had heard of this band before but never immersed myself in their material, so I was fairly unfamiliar with the entire setlist. However, this was once again a band that surprised me with their enchanting music. Starting off with “Origins,” the title track off their latest album, the band showed an atmospheric type of black metal with lots of Gaelic influences, making for an interesting blend of music.
While SAOR is a one-man band led by Andy Marshall; on tour, he is accompanied by Bryan Hamilton (drums), Rene McDonald Hill (guitars), and Martin Rennie (guitars). In between the first few songs, Marshall spoke to the audience and explained that they sort of had a shitty day, as they had lost their luggage and their gear at the airport. This was nothing a beer or two couldn’t fix, so he recommended that if he started walking off randomly, to send him back up the stage. In Finnish standards, he wasn’t really very drunk anyway, so thankfully they still sounded pretty tight.
The band played through “Fallen” and “The Awakening” before they invited their guest, VERMILIA, on stage. Equipped with a flute, together they started playing “Carved in Stone.” Admittedly, from where I was standing, the sound was a little off-balance and because of that, I didn’t quite understand her role in the song. For instance, during “Aura,” there was a backing track that included a tin whistle, making it very hard to hear VERMILIA‘s flute. Despite that minor flaw, there were plenty of other things to impress us with, as she also had a Shaman drum and was equipped with a decent set of lungs and once in a while, provided atmospheric vocals.
After “Tears of a Nation,” SAOR came back for one more song, “Bròn,” which concluded not only the setlist but also my last show of 2022. It was a very memorable evening with, admittedly, lots of new music to discover! Altogether, the fully-packed Tiivistämö offered a fantastic evening for fans of black metal, with three killer bands who all played excellent shows!
- The Ancient Ones
- The Awakening
- Carved in Stone (with Vermilia)
- Aura (with Vermilia)
- Tears of a Nation (with Vermilia)
- Bròn (with Vermilia) (Encore)
Article by MC & Laureline Tilkin
Photos by Laureline Tilkin