GALLERY: 17.5.2024 Steelfest XII – Day 2 @ Villatehdas, Hyvinkää

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The second day of Steelfest, on May 17th, 2024, was marked by even more unforgiving weather than the previous day, making it quite surreal to see CADAVERIC INCUBATOR growling at the crowd in the full sunlight of the early afternoon. Sweat and sun didn’t stop the trio from brutally kickstarting the day, waking up those who had already ventured into the festival area.

CHAMBER OF UNLIGHT has become a familiar presence in the last few years, given the band shares multiple members with many of the other bands involved. They also tend to deliver pretty nicely live, as was the case today. Their vocalist especially really lets himself go during the performance, and this fuels the show itself.

Mexican ERESHKIGAL brought some of that Central American madness and wild energy to Steelfest. Their old-school black metal was reflected in their stage attire—bonus points for the bassist’s “black metal-KISS” corpsepaint—and they seemed very enthusiastic about being here in Finland to play in front of such a dedicated audience. It looks like every year there needs to be some band like this in the lineup, and it sure works.

Czech ritualistic black metallers INFERNO were next inside, which definitely was more fitting the mood. Needless to say, though, that after the previous band this didn’t have the same effect, and the result was far less engaging. So, without further ado, we went to see more death metal with Järvenpää-based CORPSESSED.

The guys were another familiar sight for these festival grounds, having been here for the first (public) edition of the event. The heat and brightness of the sun didn’t help, but they pulled off a solid show as we have become accustomed to from these five. It was also a really nice change of pace before heading to more gloomy sounds with STRID. The Norwegians don’t play too many shows, so it’s always good to catch them live (the last time for us being at Howls of Winter back in 2020, which seems so far away now). Not too much action on stage, but everyone was mostly waiting for “End of Life,” that’s for certain.

This parenthesis of depressive black metal cooled us down enough to get back outside reinvigorated before DÉLÉTÈRE began their gig. The Canadians were very close to canceling as some of the band members could not make it here and were replaced by THORNSPAWN‘s Hella (bass), IFERNACH‘s Finian Patraic (guitar), and there was also the Finnish presence of Ari from CURSE UPON A PRAYER. So, all in all, it was more of a “supergroup” than an actual DÉLÉTÈRE, but the fact that the guys still wanted to, and managed to, deliver an enjoyable show to their fans was really worthy of respect—as was all the hard work from the replacement musicians in learning the material.

Back indoors, the stage had been fully decorated with religious icons, skulls, coffins, and such for one of the BATUSHKAs, namely in this case, not the one that people are normally used to seeing touring around, but Krzysztof Drabikowski‘s version. The concept is not really different, nor the costumes, music, and, well, basically everything except the musicians underneath those costumes. So if you are into this kind of stuff you were in for a treat, otherwise, it could have been a good opportunity to grab a beer or some food, or both, and chill.

Soon after was the turn of VED BUENS ENDE, as Aggressor was dragging his chair on stage. Seeing (and listening to) these Norwegians is always a great experience, although understandably this kind of music is not for everyone. In our case, we love it and we were glad to say that from what we could see of the show, the band did a pretty good job. This was also your typical “calm before the storm” kind of moment, as the chilling cold from Iceland was about to bring on stage MISÞYRMING and their ever-captivating live show.

Playing a set equally divided among their three full-lengths, the guys put the pedal to the metal from the beginning to the end, leaving the audience both excited and dazzled, but also extremely happy. It’s hard to think of another of these “young(-er)” black metal bands that can give so much energy from their shows and constantly perform so well, yet these Icelanders make it seem so easy.

With the head still reeling—in a good way—from the previous show, it was time for INFERNAL WAR. The Poles had the chance to finish what they started the last time here when their set came abruptly to an early end for some reason. They did so with great enthusiasm, which was reciprocated by their fans. The show turned out to be more engaging than expected, keeping the flame alive before passing the torch to HORNA for their second set of the weekend.

HORNA with Corvus on vocals is something I don’t think I ever had the chance to see before, so in that sense, this was the most interesting of the three sets. Not just that, but the setlist included, of course, the “second decade” of the band’s career, which means records like “Sanojesi Äärelle” and “Envaatnags Eflos Solf Esgantaavne.” Last but not least, Corvus himself is an excellent frontman and no matter which band he plays with, he always delivers. With this mindset, there were very high expectations, which were mostly met nicely. Again the biggest complaint was the lighting that was making it difficult to focus on the show. It’s rather annoying if you are watching a band and you are constantly thinking, “Oh, now I see it! Now I don’t… now I see it! Now I don’t…” I am just so glad that for the third show the following day, they had a true professional handling this. It turned out so beautiful in comparison that I was almost moved.

It was time for some pagan/folk black metal with Ukrainian KRODA, who, unlike their compatriots from NOKTURNAL MORTUM, managed to make it here to Steelfest (as for NM, maybe the third time is the charm?). Right at the start, the band received at least as many cheers as any other Ukrainian act playing anywhere these days, and the set was rather good, but the performance was a little more detached than what we are used to from these guys, especially as the vocalist spent most of the time walking around in front of the drums, and very rarely ventured towards the audience.

As the night was at its darkest, the most awaited duo of the weekend closed this second day on the indoor stage: INQUISITION. At the beginning, it felt like the sound was a bit off, but that sensation faded after moving to a better spot and enjoying the weirdly eerie vocals of Dagon and the drumming of Incubus.

Walking and posing left and right, back and forth, using the whole stage, the frontman filled in quite easily the space that would normally feel quite empty when there is just one person. Of the whole set, only the first two songs were from the latest “Veneration of Medieval Mysticism and Cosmological Violence,” leaving enough room to span the band’s ample catalogue. Curiously, it felt like there could have still been more, or at least I don’t think many people would have minded having another half-hour or so in this set. It was just the perfect ending to a long, exhausting, yet satisfactory second day of Steelfest.

CADAVERIC INCUBATOR

CHAMBER OF UNLIGHT

ERESHKIGAL

INFERNO

CORPSESSED

STRID

DÉLÉTÈRE

KRZYSZTOF DRABIKOWSKI’S BATUSHKA

VED BUENS ENDE

MISÞYRMING

INFERNAL WAR

HORNA

KRODA

INQUISITION