4.2.2023 Black Royal, …And Oceans, & Kuolemanlaakso @ Kuudes Linja, Helsinki


It was a busy night at Kuudes Linja on Saturday, February 4th, 2023: three bands, a full house, and good vibes. We did not miss the chance to attend such an event, as death-doom act KUOLEMANLAAKSO, with whom we are already quite familiar, were headlining and both of the opening bands, BLACK ROYAL and …AND OCEANS, aroused our curiosity immediately. People were getting closer and closer to the stage even before the gig started, meaning that we were in good company, in terms of being impatient for the show to begin…

BLACK ROYAL took the stage at 19:30 as scheduled and one thing we noticed was how solid their music sounded. The act is usually a 4-piece, but this time there was a keyboardist too, who enriched the outcome with further depth.

Formed in Tampere in 2013, they have recently released their third full length; on this occasion, they took the chance to play its first two songs, “Earthbound” and “Ghosts of the Dead,” in the very same order. Their music can be labeled as heavy/stoner, with a bunch of death metal influences, which are easily detectable in the singer’s vocals and peculiar attitude on stage. The combination of massive riffs, skillful yet straightforward drumming, thick basslines, and deep growls made the whole set quite memorable. Some clean guitar parts, as much as old-fashioned solos, provided a fair amount of variety to the 6-song set and the audience reacted accordingly: collective headbanging, horns up, and such, making the good atmosphere quite evident. We were particularly surprised by their songwriting skills: it really felt like these tunes were born to be performed in a live setting and we will for sure keep an eye on the band’s live activities from now on.

The second band in the running order was …AND OCEANS. We are quite sure that they do not need any introduction, as they have been massively present in our interviews, reviews, and live reports as well, also quite recently, but it is worth mentioning that they have released As in Gardens so in Tombs,” their 6th studio album on January 27th this year, so we were eager to see how the new tunes would sound in a live setting. Frontman Mathias Lillmåns was the last one to step on stage – he had turned his back to the audience while holding the microphone in his hands as if it was a knife, right before a sacrificial ritual. An eerie intro led the way to “The Collector and His Construct” as an opening tune, whose furious pace and high-pitched screams did not go unnoticed; the people in the audience were impatient and excited and we were particularly impressed by the band’s accuracy when delivering such demanding songs, without giving up on spontaneity.

They spared no effort in delivering a well-balanced 9-track setlist, as there were many old tunes the audience was very happy to listen to; we noticed that, in particular “White Synthetic Noise” from their acclaimed album, “A.M.G.O.D.,” brought back so many memories in the attendants’ minds.
The magnetic attitude of both singer and bass player, who were continuously involving the audience in the show – along with the mind-blowing drummer’s technique, the excellent sound carpet provided by the keyboardist, and the skillful riffing delivered by the two guitarists – made the whole performance hard to forget.

Death-doom masters KUOLEMANLAAKSO took the stage at 21:45. “Laura Palmer’s Theme” from the Twin Peaks Original Soundtrack was playing in the background as an intro. The band was warmly welcomed by the attendants, which is not hard to understand, since it was their first gig in Helsinki in 6 years! “Me Vaellamme Yössä” from their second album, “Tulijoutsen,” worked perfectly as an opener, being that its main melody is very catchy and combines well with an overall heaviness detectable throughout the whole tune. Singer Kotamäki’s insane skills did not disappoint us, as he is well-known for his versatility, and in our humble opinion, this is the band where he makes best use of it. Many people in the audience were singing along also to the following tune, “Kuohuista Tulisten Koskien,” taken from their latest album Kuusumu.”

Visually speaking, the band members looked quite iconic: guitarists Laakso and Kouta, as well as Kotamäki, were wearing hoods, adding an eerie vibe to the performance, while bassist Usva was, as usual, showing off his dreadlocks and banging his head, as is fitting in such a situation. Drummer Tiera’s surgical precision was naturally well-balanced with effortlessness, making the umpteenth KUOLEMANLAAKSO show we have attended a class of its own.

“Minä Elän,” from their very first album, is likely to be considered a classic in their archive and its energetic and angry vibe always gets a good response from the audience. The following tune has not been played live for a while: “Tuonen Tähtivyö,” in fact, was last played in their 4-date Finnish tour setlist, back in 2018. It was a nice surprise to have the chance to listen to a re-arranged version. “Aarnivalkea” was the next one in line, whose hypnotic main melody and heavy riffs are always a special treat to the bystanders.

The second-to-last tune and closing one were both taken from their most recent release, “Katkeruuden Malja,” with its dark yet radio-friendly vibe, and “Tulessakävelijä,” which always sounds to our ears as if it was created specifically to be performed at live shows, as it worked as an appropriate conclusion. The warmth and positive energies emerging both on and off stage were palpable, and we could not be more grateful to each one of the bands for sharing such precious moments with us.

Written by Licia Mapelli
Photos by Mirko L.


  1. Me Vaellamme Yössä
  2. Kuohuista Tulisten Koskien
  3. Minä Elän
  4. Tuonen Tähtivyö
  5. Aarnivalkea
  6. Katkeruuden Malja
  7. Tulessakävelijä