One more year has passed and it was again that time of the year when black metal fans from all over the place gather in the Estonian capital of Tallinn for a weekend of live music, beer, friendships old and new, just to have a good time in general. Now in its tenth edition, Howls of Winter has become a firm staple in the scene for avid fans of underground extreme music, and a welcome yearly tradition for many.
The festival came in full force on Friday, when the additional crowd who missed the warm-up shows on the previous evening joined the gathering and came to collect their wristbands, T-shirts, and whatever other merch they had booked beforehand, while waiting for the first band.
Friday’s opener was GOATSMEGMA, a local fan favorite, since the band is deeply tied to the Tallinn scene and to this festival as well. It also made again for an interesting sight, as the vocalist performed wearing a gas mask and everything on stage was set to a war theme – perfectly fitting with the music – winking to bands like BLASPHEMY and REVENGE, for instance. Their in-your-face sound properly roused the audience, preparing them for the more traditionally black metal Finnish act BLOOD RED FOG. In case by now you hadn’t yet noticed, all of the bands performing at this year’s edition have been at HoW before, as this 10th anniversary represented a retrospective of sorts on what has been achieved so far by the organizers (Black Revalia). Back to the music though: the band’s performance was pretty much what you’d expect from your typical Finnish BM artist, going straight to the point for the satisfaction of their fans.
Bosnian project SULPHURIC NIGHT was as delightful now as during their previous time at this event, despite not having much new material to show. The band just has this mesmerizing aura to them, which can captivate the audience and glue them to the show. The biggest surprise of the night was KRINGA, however, who came on stage as a trio (there hasn’t been any big statement about this, and we respect the band in that regard). Their gig was truly the most energetic and wild of the night, proof yet again of how talented this band is, and the new songs from the latest record worked very well live.
STRID was one of the highlights on the previous occasion when they performed at this very same festival, something that still held true for many tonight. “End of Life” has been withstanding time magnificently – after 30 years now – and all people in the audience were completely absorbed in the band’s music and performance. But while this would have been a proper conclusion for this night, there was still one more band to go, so it was BLACK CILICE that had the task to wrap up this first day with their raw black metal.
The Portuguese don’t really need much of an introduction and they did put up once again another good show, however this time as well we could not take any visual proof of that (upon wishes of the band of course). This forced shooting break allowed us to finally sit down a bit, and take some rest from walking around the venue all night. Good to recharge our batteries a little before diving into the final day.