Last year, in March, Black March Events hosted a MACHINAE SUPREMACY show with a group of bands that I hadn’t known very well at the time (headliner notwithstanding). In hindsight, having only partly seen WHERE’S MY BIBLE and missing out on PRESSURE POINTS was a big mistake. With that in mind, when BME came back with their Musta Messu V on March 18th, 2023, once again at Sammiosali, with repeat appearances from WHERE’S MY BIBLE and PRESSURE POINTS, along with other well-known acts like RED MOON ARCHITECT, KAUNIS KUOLEMATON, and …AND OCEANS; even I – a legendary non-extreme/black metal-metal-fan – had to show up to witness such a collection of acts!
Sammiosali is a nice, small-to-mid-sized venue with a bar room at the far end of where the stage is, which makes for a really nice venue when you’re working with just a few acts, but we were interested to see how it would fare with a full 6-band roster. Indeed, there was one band on the lineup that we hadn’t heard of before, called ANIMA HERETICAE playing first up on the bill, who gave us some pretty crushingly heavy blackened death metal. The band released their first single, “Cimmerian Darkness,” from their upcoming debut album the day before the show, so naturally, that was included in their set. Though there weren’t many people in the crowd at the start of the show, we were impressed by how many people were in front of the stage by the end of the first song! It seems Teppo Ristola is getting around these days, as he was behind the drum kit with these fellows as well. Corpse paint, shrieks and growls, and hefty-as-hell drums were the name of their game, and what a game it was!
Next to take the stage was PRESSURE POINTS, who very recently (like, March 17th recently) released their newest album, “The Island,” to a rather stellar review from our journalist. Personally, I most recently saw PRESSURE POINTS for the first time live at Lepakkomies, opening for SILVER BULLET‘s album release show last month, so I was disappointed to have missed them at last year’s event. Naturally, following this, we had high expectations for a good show, especially considering it was listed as the album release show for the new album in some places. Perhaps the most out-of-place amongst all the blacker metal bands, coming out to a catchy, melodic start was a nice change-up from the preceding heaviness.
The band were in good form, opening with “Our Constellation” and “So Ordinary,” focusing on new material. The layered growls between vocalist Juha Tretjakov and guitarist Kari Olli worked really well, and their music is progressive enough to contantly keep you guessing, floating from harsh black metal to soft melodic metal and anywhere in between. The crowd was pretty scared to move towards the stage, despite the intro MC’s best efforts, but luckily Juha is a great frontman and greeted the crowd and introduced the event and a lot of their material. I particularly enjoy watching their bassist, who is really enthusiastic and seems to exist in his own world of music while on stage. With six bands to play, the sets were quite short, meaning there wasn’t a ton of time to get into the new album. They did, at least, finish up with “The Island,” the 10+ minute final track from the album, which made for a solid conclusion to their set.
Following the death/prog act was RED MOON ARCHITECT, whose name we’ve known for their doomy melodic (or melodic doomy?) metal since way back in the early-mid 2010s. Frankly, I’d be hard-pressed to say if I’ve ever seen them live before – if they’ve been at a festival, surely I’ve popped by, but this offered a good opportunity to see them for what would still feel like the first time. It was also worth noting that quite a few of their band members were familiar: Jukka Jauhiainen can be seen with CRIMSON SUN; Pyry Hanski and Ville Rutanen were coming back from a break from the stage after their set with ANIMA HERETICAE, and surely we’ve seen Taneli Jämsä playing live with FROSTTIDE back in the day, as well as with ANIMA HERETICAE earlier on.
Their set began with everyone in darkness, facing away from the crowd, as an intro played for, frankly, way too long of their limited set time before they turned around. On first glance, you may have been confused about having gone back in time to see what looked very much like SWALLOW THE SUN circa 2009, with the dank lighting and even the posture of the vocalist heavily resembling their harsh doom metal style. The dual vocals in beauty and the beast style threw some extra flavor into the mix. This kind of music is too slow and brutal to warrant any moshing, meaning the stage show was as dark and ambient as their music… at least all but for the one part when the lights started randomly turning on (didn’t that also happen last year?).
At this point, I’ve acquainted myself quite well with WHERE’S MY BIBLE, having been consistently more impressed with them each and every time I see them. Unfortunately, the band recently suffered the sudden and tragic loss of their bassist, Jarno Laakkonen, only last month. Professional as ever, the band did manage to get things in order to be able to play this show, which was lucky for us, because they’re such a fantastic force on stage.
They came out to an intro, hard and heavy and enshrouded in dark blue light – great for ambience but horrifying for photos. As per what has been usual, I was immediately swept up in their sound, which is so extreme and so wonderfully melodic in equal parts, with moments for swaying, headbanging, raising your fists, and even moshing. The lights popped on again in this set, but no one missed a beat. I may be wrong but I believe they mentioned playing some new material from an upcoming release. The spell continued to be woven through this, I’m pleased to say. Jussi Mattilainen is still my favorite BM vocalist, as well as the top of my coolest-looking-vocalists list. Oh, he also brought out some truly fantastic instruments, giving way to a more acoustic segment, with Toni Hinkkala sharing melodic clean vocal parts with Jussi. This acoustic moment was a definite highlight and something I haven’t seen from them yet – awesome! This seemed to act as an intro to the next track, which returned to heavy form but with a memory of the melody from the acoustic track worked in wonderfully. A shaman drum also appeared at one point, further expanding their live performance. They dedicated their last song to Jarno, which made for a very powerful end to an already fantastic show and the crowd agreed in full. Worth mentioning: there were a lot of friendly older gentlemen at the show wearing their hoodies (and by old I mean 60+) – very cool!
KAUNIS KUOLEMATON have been getting around lately, as I just saw them on the Nordic Metal Cruise in February. While their unique brand of doom and gloom tends to be a bit much for me, they put on a strong show then and did so again on this occasion. The crowd packed up quite notably for their set, but the motion in the crowd was mainly bobbing heads or hefty headbanging. Thankfully, the light troubles were over; instead, the lights maintained a dark and oppressive backdrop, creating a feeling that the band were untouchable. One person in the audience went so far as to say the vibe was pörröinen [fuzzy], which was indeed fitting.
Their set included a lot of great material, opening with “Hautajaiset” and “Kylmä maa,” with “En ole mitään” being a common favorite. There was a deeply emotional acapella chanting of “taivalle korkeuksiin kadoten” during another fan-favorite (and closing track), “Paha ihminen,” which did not go unanswered by the crowd. Of note, though, it would be really spectacular to see them on stage with a live keyboardist, to add a bit more texture to their sound.
Finally, the new big name in black metal these days (or perhaps old new big name), …AND OCEANS, were the night’s headliner. These guys made a comeback recently after something like a 20-year break, with part of that resurgence involving taking on FINNTROLL‘s Mathias Lillmåns as their vocalist. Those in the front rows were deeply committed to doing anything the band asked of them from the start, be it headbanging or raising their fists, as the set started with the title track from their extremely popular new album, “As in Gardens… So in Tombs.” They continued from there with another new song, “The Collector and His Construct,” before dipping into something a little older: “Trollfan” from their 1998 release, “The Dynamic Gallery of Thoughts.”
While this particular type of black metal might not work for me personally, I was deeply impressed by the band on stage. Naturally, I’ve known for years and years that Mathias is a wonderful frontman, but the sheer force with which these guys played made it seem like they were thrilled to be back on stage after such a long break and hungry to please the crowd. The set included quite a bit of other new material, such as “Cloud Heads,” “Within Fire and Crystal,” “Likt Törnen Genom Kött,” and “Ambivalent God,” interspersed with older material. There were a good few melodic moments that perked me up a bit, but it was mostly crushing darkness and pulverizing heaviness. The set wrapped up with some older tracks, “White Synthetic Noise” and “Tears Have No Name,” leaving the crowd fulfilled, yet clearly wanting more.
Ultimately, Maaliskuun Musta Messu V was another rousing success and we were thrilled to be able to attend to see so many awesome acts, even if it was a pretty hellishly long day. Naturally, events of this size always have a few flaws (oopsie-lights notwithstanding)… for example, the fellows selling nachos left after around 21:00… right when people are starting to get drunk and hungry. Perhaps they sold out their food, but frankly, nachos without any sort of fork or spoon, that cost 12€, and had no cheese whatsoever felt like a bad deal, even if the taste was decent. The nacho-to-toppings ratio was not very good and without any utensils, you’d be left with a shitload of aioli/mayonnaise and nothing to eat it with, leaving a bit of a foul taste in one’s mouth, despite the fresh salsa. The merch selection was nice, since they included a couple selling jewelry alongside basic merch, but if you think about, for example, Jussi Mattilainen being one of Finland’s coolest pagan models, it might have been nicer to have someone like Riikka Palonen or Mareshah Faria, who both do bonework and the former also does poetry and other Viking-esque endeavors.
All that aside though, this was a fantastic selection of artists, sure to please even the most discriminating fans of heavy music, and we would definitely recommend this event for those in Lahti or who just really love a good black metal mass!
Written by Bear Wiseman
Photos by Juho Jokimies