GALLERY: 17.3.2023 Helsinki Death Fest: All Ager Rager @ Tiivistämö, Helsinki


Back in 2022, there was an idea from Helsinki Death Fest to expand their offering of death metal with a winter edition of their late-summer festival. The original idea – due to the new challenges in international travel in the aftermath of COVID – was then somewhat downsized to a single day with only Finnish bands. This year, the guys tried again and again the world’s circumstances played against it, so that the original plan of a 2-day festival was split into two somewhat separate events.

So was born the idea of this All Ager Rager, an evening with only up-and-coming young acts (and Keijo Niinimaa‘s GOATBURNER), open to all ages. Of course, not when it comes to the bar area, which was a safe haven in between the shows for all drinking-age people so they could momentarily escape the horde of excited teenagers filling the main hall. But let’s start from the beginning, queuing outside of Tiivistämö with all these youngsters to see MALFORMED.

The first band of the evening was perhaps also the one with the youngest members. Their gig started some 15 minutes later to allow more people inside, as there was still some queue at the entrance at showtime. MALFORMED is a very new band (founded in 2022) and as such doesn’t currently have too much material to share, but they came as a positive surprise per how much potential they showed with their riffs and in their music. These young guys are not your run-of-the-mill generic death metal band – one can tell they know how to play and hopefully they will grow into a name to be remembered.

The slightly older band, DISGUISED MALIGNANCE, is part of the same local teenage scene, and they got to perform in front of a quite full Tiivistämö when their showtime came around. There is a certain enthusiasm amongst these death metal kids nowadays and one could tell so easily by observing them both on and off stage. They seemed to have all the right influences and have fun playing music. It was actually quite refreshing to see. Again, curiosity goes towards seeing how many of these bands will be still around in a few years. Time will tell.

GOATBURNER was first seen in an earlier edition of the actual Helsinki Death Fest as a last-minute addition when BLOOD INCANTATION (who then still managed to perform) had some issues in getting their instruments along (back in 2018). Now the duo, comprised of Keijo “Kaos” Niinimaa and Jaakko “Spider” Forsman, compared to that time, have released at least one full-length record, as well as their EP released last year (“Danger”). Unlike with ROTTEN SOUND, in this case the singer is also on guitar duty (the same with MORBID EVILS), which made for a much more static performance. The crowd enjoyed the show nonetheless, watching carefully with a mix of curiosity and excitement. It must be really nice to be a teenager at a metal gig on an early Friday night, given the fact usually underage people are not allowed due to alcohol regulations and such. But on the other hand another good thing is that if you are an adult and you want to have a nice beer, you could just walk to Stadin Panimo right next door, which is what we eventually did before CRYPTIC HATRED closed the evening, and after accidentally noticing some teenage fornication happening in one of the toilet stalls in the room formerly known as the “male restroom.”

Clearly quite a lot of these – at this point possibly even too excited – teenagers were here to see CRYPTIC HATRED, who have been enjoying a lot of local popularity with a long streak of successful live shows across smaller and slightly bigger venues in the country, earning them even a spot at last year’s Tuska Festival, even if it was possibly the worst slot at the entire event (the first band of the last day, with showtime 15 minutes after opening the gates). The fact they have been playing so much live in the last couple of years or so also means they have been growing as a live band over time, which could be seen again on this night as well.

Their show was also made a little bit more special due to the fact it was the last with their guitar player, Jami Lamio; in fact, some of his friends not-so-secretly arranged for the audience – now much more active and occasionally starting some small circle pits – to chant his name at the end of the show.

Clearly, at the moment, death metal is cool amongst local teens and there is a new scene made of young people growing up, sharing bands, influences, and ideas, and occasionally arranging their own shows in local bars… which feels like a return to the very early days in that sense. I am not exactly sure how this happened, but for now it seems like a really good thing. And it’s also good to have people, like the Helsinki Death Fest crew, who provide them with the right setting in whcih to express themselves.