26.3.2024 Vermilia & SIGH @ On The Rocks, Helsinki

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After over 11 years, and some failed attempts, finally, SIGH came back to perform at On The Rocks in Helsinki on March 26th, 2024, for their Finnish fans in what tonight was the first of 4 shows across the country (two of which together with TURMION KÄTILÖT). The wait was long, so the expectations of the eager crowd were pretty high, with the show being sold out well in advance.


Tonight, the task of opening the evening fell on the talented atmospheric pagan black metal act VERMILIA. The artist (and the rest of the band) entertained the audience with her melodies to the rhythm of the shamanic drum, accompanying part of the set and bringing us closer to nature while listening to the Finnish lyrics. The show largely focused on the latest album, “Ruska” (released in late 2022), with “Tuonen Joki” – where she played the flute – and “Marras” concluding the first part of the evening. A good portion of the audience seemed to enjoy the warm-up quite a bit, while some others patiently waited for what was to come, sitting closer to the bar as On The Rocks gradually filled up.

Japan has always been an oddity with their weird customs and traditions to the Western world, but so is Finland in a way, compared to most of the culture from the rest of Europe for instance, so it’s no surprise that many Finnish people have a certain fascination with some Japanese bands, and SIGH is one of them. Their last appearance in the country was at the defunct Hammer Open Air festival during its last edition in 2013. COVID didn’t help in their pursuit of coming back to this part of the globe, and the band had to cancel their planned show at Steelfest 2022. But finally they managed to come here, and the enthusiasm of their fans was well met by a show that left little to be desired if not for more blood and flames (but you know… indoor regulations and whatnot).

Starting with “Kuroi Kage” from the latest “Shiki,” the band entered the cramped stage in their traditional Japanese costumes, with Mirai on bass and the latest addition to their ranks, Nozomu Wakai, on guitar. We then jumped a decade earlier to “In Somniphobia” with “The Transfiguration Fear,” while the crowd warmly welcomed the artists. Surely, the show didn’t lack entertainment: Dr. Mikannibal showed up in a black hooded robe, carrying a book that sadly was left unripped and unburned. Later on, there was time for swordplay and blood spills with the guitarist’s katana, some costume changes, and the traditional pouring of blood on her face from a ritual chalice, with, of course, some saxophone plays in between all these colorful happenings.

The energy in the venue was completely transformed compared to the previous act, as the fans thoroughly enjoyed the show while we went even further back in time with “Hail Horror Hail” and its title track, or “Gundali” (from “Scorn Defeat”), which was followed by a couple more new tracks. While it was usually Dr. Mikannibal taking the spotlight on the stage, the guitarist often interacted with the nearby crowd, getting them even more fired up. Finally, it was time for some “Imaginary Soundscape,” as we headed to the inevitable ending of this intense and entertaining night that stunned the happy faces one could see all around. The “Evil Dead” cover (DEATH) concluded the show, with the band almost immediately coming to the merch area to chat and take photos with their excited fans. The queue for that was almost as long as that for the cloakroom. What a satisfactory ending to one of the most awaited gigs of this spring. Except the snow just outside after the gig reminded us that it’s Finland, and spring is nothing but an illusion. Still, the good memories remain!

Article and photo of VERMILIA by Marco Manzi
Photos of SIGH by Jarmo Siira

Setlist

  1. Kuroi Kage
  2. The Transfiguration Fear
  3. Hail Horror Hail
  4. Shingontachikawa
  5. Mayonaka No Kaii
  6. Satsui – Geshi no Ato
  7. Gundali
  8. A Victory of Dakini
  9. In a Drowse
  10. Corpsecry – Angelfall
  11. Bring Back the Dead
  12. The Soul Grave
  13. Introitus/Kyrie
  14. Me-Devil
  15. Evil Dead (DEATH cover) (Encore)