The Finnish pagan metallers of BRYMIR have slowly and surely been captivating audiences progressively more and more with each album. They were a staff favorite in the 2019 festival season and their newest album also received a few votes in our end of the year staff nominations for “Wings of Fire.” More recently, they’ve passed through Helsinki on a short Finnish tour, playing at On the Rocks on February 28th, 2020. Check out the full gallery here.
The show was set to start at 22:00, with the opener, MISTERER – a thrash metal band from Helsinki, finishing up their set around 21:30. The stage change-over took longer than expected, and the intro didn’t start playing until 22:20. The beautiful and ambient music was very theatrical and built up a lot of excitement as the show began. The band came on stage to “Gloria in Regum,” under dark, colorful lights. The front rows immediately put their fists and beers in the air. We were pleased to see that the venue was quite full, with just enough space for a small moshpit but not much else on the floor.
Vocalist Viktor Gullichsen chatted pleasantly with the crowd, greeting everyone and doing a great job getting the crowd hyped and cheering before introducing “Ride On, Spirit.” Every other time I’ve personally seen BRYMIR, I haven’t been familiar with their material. Having now listened to their latest album many times, the live performance was elevated to a whole new level. Joona Björkroth and Sean Haslam on guitars each got chances to show off their skills soloing early on. They continued with the new material into “Sphere of Halcyon,” more intense and full of blast-beats and intense atmosphere. Gullichsen‘s voice was powerful and diverse in “And So We Age.” It’s easy to appreciate the strength of their incredible, emotive soundscapes, combined with the oldschool skill of rad guitar solos, rhythms that are 100% metal, and vocals covering the full spectrum of what makes this type of music awesome.
They split from the “Wings of Fire” path and went back to 2016’s “Slayer of Gods” for “Pantheon of the Forsaken Gods,” with really intense drums with a ton of double-kick and an even bigger moshpit. The song that followed, “Starportal,” had every hand in the air, chanting every time the crowd was prompted. On the Rocks hasn’t been holding back the stage props lately, as “Vanquish the Night” had huge dramatic fog blasts in the beginning. Even though songs like this are quite hardcore, the synth sound adds a different dimension to the sound, creating beauty in the harshness.
“Laments of the Ravenous” slowed things down a bit but didn’t ease up on the intensity; the backing chants by the band are particularly memorable in this song. Seeing Gullichsen‘s passion really helped elevate it in the live setting as well. The band grouped up to headbang in sync as more fog blasted… it was a great performance. They kept the great feeling up for “Chasing the Skyline,” one of their most epic tracks. Gullichsen checked to see if the crowd was still breathing midway through; the answer was yes, but only barely. The two guitarists had a moment in the spotlight to shred together as opposed to one-by-one.
The show reached an epic finale with “Wings of Fire” and the band passed out Patrik Fält‘s broken cymbal before leaving the stage. Fält didn’t leave the stage though, changing cymbals and staying seated as the encore intro played, getting the crowd clapping and teasing them with a few beats. The band came back to finish up the show with “For Those Who Died,” a song with everything you expect from BRYMIR. The guitarists had another face-off, literally facing each other, before soloing together again to the crowd. It was an explosive conclusion to the night… and they weren’t even done yet, offering one more song, their biggest hit, “Ragnarök,” which gave the crowd one last chance to go crazy before they wrapped up for the night.
Is it weird to just say, “fuck, this band is cool”? It’s really a shame that I’ve only discovered them recently, but better late than never! The whole show was a ton of fun – the performance was powerful, the music was great, the crowd was active… I had no complaints.
1. Gloria in Regum
2. Ride On, Spirit
3. Sphere of Halcyon
4. And So We Age
5. Pantheon of the Forsaken Gods
7. Vanquish the Night
8. Laments of the Ravenous
9. Chasing the Skyline
10. Wings of Fire
11. For Those Who Died (encore)
12. Ragnarök (encore)
Written by Bear Wiseman
Photos by Laureline Tilkin