28.10.2023 Black Box Mikkeli – Day 2 @ Saimaa Stadiumi, Mikkeli

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The third edition of Black Box Mikkeli, a two-day indoor music festival, kicked off with a bang on October 27th, 2023, at Saimaa Stadiumi in Mikkeli, Finland. Organized by the renowned melodic death metal act BLOODRED HOURGLASS, the festival brought together an array of prominent Finnish metal bands for a day filled with electrifying performances. This year’s festival expanded into Saturday October 28th, 2023, with a new day of fresh acts.

The festival’s second day commenced with an exciting performance by LASTOUT, an up-and-coming modern metal band. They had recently won a competition, earning them the opportunity to open the festival’s Saturday. The band recently got signed to Ranka Kustannus, their YouTube music videos have gathered an impressive amount of views, yet, we hadn’t heard of them before. We were thus curious to see what the band would present us with. Although it was apparent that the band lacked extensive stage experience, their performance showcased potential and youthful enthusiasm. It was evident that with more opportunities, LASTOUT could have a bright future ahead in the metal scene.

One of the reasons we wanted to attend the festival was the Rovaniemi-based melodic death metal act I AM YOUR GOD, who were up next. We have been following them ever since they got signed to Out Of Line Music, and unfortunately, never had the opportunity to watch them live. We were surprised by their endless energy, which was at times impressive to watch. Singer Julius Vetämäjärvi‘s performance was rock solid, even headbanging intensely while still growling all at the same time, which is something mainstream pop performers like Madonna or Britney Spears can’t deliver without lip-syncing. I AM YOUR GOD‘s set featured a fair few tracks from their recent album “SINister” and a perfect blend of melodic and heavier songs, leaving the audience captivated. “My Venom” was a song that stood out to us, although it was deemed too catchy because it got stuck in our heads until the early hours of the next day. The band also nodded to BLOODRED HOURGLASS while taking their photo and made the audience chant “How the Heart?” when they took the photo with the audience. We can’t wait to see them live again!

Hailing from Mikkeli, metalcore act BALANCE BREACH, provided an energetic and bombastic performance, which was in terms of what we are used to from the band. Their familiarity with Mikkeli as their home base seemed to add an extra spark to their show compared to their recent performance in Helsinki. Their set was filled with banger tracks, and the crowd thoroughly enjoyed their energetic performance. Shout-out to whoever did their lights as the combination of lights and smoke was done beautifully.

Black metal act GAEREA brought a unique touch to the festival with their captivating performance. Despite the band’s members being fully covered with masks, they engaged with the audience in an entrancing manner. The singer’s performance was particularly noteworthy, making GAEREA‘s set stand out in its uniqueness. Not knowing any of their songs prior to their performance, despite having heard a lot of good things about them, I was glad that they were added to the festival’s lineup adding that little touch of diversity that is always welcome!

Finnish melodic death metal veterans INSOMNIUM made a special appearance on the verge of their European tour. The band recently released a new album, “Anno 1696” and is also soon to release a new EP, featuring three new songs, “Songs of the Dusk.” It was no surprise that their setlist was packed with a lot of new songs, especially “White Death” and “Godforsaken” standing out, but we were also glad to hear some of their best songs, like “While We Sleep.” While guitarist Ville Friman sat out this show in Finland, the rest of INSOMNIUM delivered the show like they always do: energetic, filled with headbanging, and encouraged by their audience. It comes as no surprise that the melodic death metal band is an absolute fan-favorite. Admittedly, it was a little disappointing that their merch selection was so limited, considering their renowned status in the metal scene.

The moment many had been waiting for arrived as melodic death metal act BLOODRED HOURGLASS took the stage to headline their own festival. The band had promised that they had some surprises in store for those going all the way to Mikkeli. While not technically a surprise, this included the full live performance of their new album, “How the Heart?,” from start to finish.

We were really happy the band decided to do this again, especially since admittedly we were a little disappointed they didn’t include the smashing banger “Anomaly,” in the set during their show at Helsinki’s Vanha Ylioppilastalo. I wasn’t at all surprised that this turned out to be a killer live track. This allowed the audience to experience the entire album in a live setting but also was a good opportunity for the band to learn from their fans what songs work live and which ones don’t.

The band enhanced their performance with pyrotechnics, atmospheric lighting, and their trademark headbanging and high energy. Altogether, the show’s atmosphere was really great and they managed to really deliver a rock-solid show. After the album performance, they pleased the crowd with some of their greatest hits, such as “Waves of Black,” “Drag Me The Rain,” and “Where the Sinners Crawl.” BLOODRED HOURGLASS once again delivered an exceptional and electrifying show, creating a fitting climax to the festival.

The second day of Black Box Mikkeli 2023 provided a perfect conclusion to this two-day metal extravaganza. The festival showcased both emerging and established talent from the Finnish metal scene (with the exception of Portuguese black metal act GAEREA) leaving fans with unforgettable memories. Despite the long drive back to Helsinki, the day was a resounding success, celebrating the best of Finnish metal and cementing Black Box Mikkeli‘s reputation as a must-attend indoor event for metal enthusiasts.

Written by Laureline Tilkin
Photos by Laureline Tilkin & Oskari Mäkisarka

Setlist

  1. Of Course I Still Love You
  2. In Lieu of Flowers
  3. Fragile
  4. Anomaly (Live Debut)
  5. The Sun Still In Me
  6. Song of Forgotten
  7. Leina (Live Debut)
  8. Devotion
  9. The End We Start From
  10. How’s the Heart?
  11. Leaves
  12. Waves of Black
  13. Drag Me the Rain
  14. Nightmares Are Dreams Too
  15. Veritas
  16. Where the Sinners Crawl