A live show on a Thursday evening in a small venue may appear to be unusual, and it surely is, to some extent. It may require a bit of an effort to attend on a weeknight, but in the end, it’s totally worth it. There were three bands playing at Hard Rock House in Helsinki on that March 17th, 2022, and since I was familiar only with the headliner – stoner doom band ORBITER – I was particularly curious to see what the other two acts, GOMORRAN and ASTRAL CORPSE, were all about.
GOMORRAN was the first band in the running order. The 4-piece act from Helsinki published an EP in late 2021 via Inverse Records, whose title, “Excerpt from the Dark Age,” suggests what the lyrics talk about: heavily inspired by the Roman empire, the 6-track release combines death metal and black metal elements, in a well-tested balance, but it also has some new blends here and there, such that it’s not easy to say if it’s blackened death metal or black metal with some typical death metal vibes. They played all of the six tracks on the EP in the very same order, so the audience got the chance to really experience the whole thing: the instrumental intro, “Tavern” – a 2-minute long tune infused with soft melancholy thanks to the presence of a violin – worked as a perfect opening for the following tunes, which were much more heavy and aggressive. Despite the stage being quite small, the grandeur of the themes, along with the powerful musical landscape provided by GOMORRAN were not negatively affected, since the band managed to give a clear idea of their approach on a live setting: epic, straightforward, and easy going at the same time.
The second band to step on stage was black metal 4-piece act ASTRAL CORPSE, from Kerava. Their discography consists of an EP released in 2017 and a couple of demos, released respectively in 2018 and 2021. The band members proved to be quite experienced and at ease when it comes to playing on stage, clearly shown by the overall visual impact. Their outfits matched perfectly with their music: it felt like the band came straight from the ‘90s, with the old school black-and-white face paint, an inverted cross on guitarist’s forehead, and such. Musically speaking, it was pretty clear that they learned the Norwegian way to play black metal and kind of combined it with a more melodic, typically Finnish way, especially regarding the riffs. It is, all-in-all, no-frills, fast, raw, and merciless black metal… intentionally nostalgic to my ears, but everything was in its place, so it’s all good.
The headliners, stoner doom quartet ORBITER, took the stage around 21:40. The band used to have a second guitar, too, so there are some differences in the overall sound, especially when it comes to their older songs we’ve been talking about when we reviewed their first EP, “The Deluge,” released in early 2020.
The genre they play is way less extreme compared to the two previous acts’ music, giving a good amount of variety to the event. The audience seemed to be totally at ease with it, which is fairly important. Let’s also say that the energy this band is able to spread while playing is really something: the alchemy between them is almost touchable and the intensity of their performance surely comes from a good songwriting, since great riffs and a remarkable bass sound are the main ingredients in their music; the singer’s magnetic scenic impact, ethereal and powerful at the same time, do really make their live shows quite special. The setlist consisted of six songs, and three of them, as singer Carolin Koss stated, will be on their album: the hype hit us hard because all of these new tunes clearly proved that the band has evolved, by including a more rockish attitude to their sound.
The next-to-last song, “In Echoes,” gave them enough space to improvise a bit: guitarist Alexander was, at some point, playing with pedals, giving some weird, alien-like sounds as a result, Tuomas provided a catchy bassline, Sami added some obsessive rhythm on drums, and Carolin took a walk among the audience, while making some vocalizations that added a magical, shamanic vibe to the whole thing. They announced their closing tune, “Raven Bones,” as a new song that will most probably be on their upcoming album: the hype is real, but in the meantime we can’t help feeling lucky that we had the chance to witness such an engaging live gig.
- Hollow World
- Bone to Earth
- In Echoes
- Raven Bones