GALLERY: 18.3.2023 Helsinki Death Fest: March Sludge! @ Tiivistämö, Helsinki


The second half of the winter edition of Helsinki Death Fest, called Helsinki Death Fest: March Sludge!, on March 18th, 2023, turned out to be considerably less successful than its all-ages counterpart on the previous night. With only a handful of people watching the first two bands, the situation didn’t get too much better by the end of the night. The lack of a real “crowd-puller” was surely one of the reasons, but it didn’t stop at least the most loyal fans from joining this now more intimate and underage-free party.

True to the name of the event, the first band on stage was ASKEL, with their sludge noise, setting up the night with dark tones (and lots of low-key red lights). This was one of their very first live shows, but still the performance was quite enjoyable even though the atmosphere in the mostly empty venue was not exactly ideal. A smaller stage and more intimate setting would give more justice to the foursome.

HEKATOXEN from Tampere changed the atmosphere completely and gave strong (early) DEMIGOD vibes, which is only a good thing. Now, you can also tell that there wasn’t really that much sludge as the name of the event would suggest. After all, this is under HDF, so death above all. The gig went by pretty quickly and soon it was time for the only foreign band of the weekend, the young trio called RUUN from Norway.

Their music shows the positive influence of early Norwegian black metal bands, as is natural for a Norwegian band. Nonetheless, it was still good to see that younger generations picked up some good taste. They have also really good energy, which made for an engaging performance in front of a slightly bigger audience. Their shirtless-ness (except for the bass player) must be also a Norwegian thing, as Ice Dale (ENSLAVED) comes to mind, but in a much younger and less bulky way; it goes without saying that “Ruun” is also the name of ENSLAVED‘s ninth record. In any case, it was a good gig and we would not mind seeing these guys play again somewhere in the future.

Lastly came MORBID EVILS. This was the second consecutive night on duty for Keijo Niinimaa, as well as GOATBURNER‘s drummer, replacing his fellow musician for this occasion. The band is not exactly your typical headliner material, but does work fine for closing the evening, with their slower tempos and doomy/sludge-oriented sound. Of course, some of the people in the crowd were really into it, while others more quietly followed the trio’s performance, which also featured a guest appearance from Marko Neuman (DARK BUDDHA RISING, WASTE OF SPACE ORCHESTRA, CONVOCATION) during their last song. With their third album out last year, they have been growing and improving on their earlier material, but still, the night did suffer from the lack of a truly “big” act, in relative terms of course.

During the weekend, more bands for the upcoming edition of Helsinki Death Fest have been announced (ROTTEN SOUND being one of them) and we definitely look forward to coming back to Tiivistämö in a more summery setting to witness the likes of CANCER, BENEDICTION, and many other interesting acts, Finnish and foreign alike.