Last year we went to Blowup festival in Finland for the very first time and quickly discovered it to be a dark gem of an event. Every year it offers some of the most interesting artists of the realm of underground music like doom metal, sludge, stoner, industrial, experimental,… We called it a “mini Roadburn” and looking at the interesting and eclectic mix of artists they offered us again this edition, that only got confirmed again!
Getting to the venue a bit late, I was worried about a long line to get in, having last year’s edition in mind. Luckily, it seemed that having the extra day on a Thursday got the festival to a slow start. We got in with plenty of time before the first band and even some room to scope out the surroundings. A nice change to last year, was the opened up garden where you could sit to have a drink, a beer or a conversation or everything at once. So no more squeezing everybody in the same tight area between shows!
Kælan Mikla (****1/2)
The Icelandic outfit Kælan Mikla was a nice little treat to start the festival officially with. The 3 girls each have their own intriguing presence on stage and bring a damn quirky and moody performance. Pure darkness in a sauce of catchy synth punk/pop music and the exotic and mesmerizing Icelandic language, all drowned in smoke and sporadic light. Front woman Sólveig Matthildur croons, shouts and shrieks in the microphone to then in a very girly voice thank us after almost every song. Dancing around on socks to the beats and bass provided by her companions Margrét and Laufey, looking like a blond little elf and simply creating something magical on the stage. I’m already looking forward to seeing them again supporting Alcest on their European tour, better get ready for this!
The American Morne was a whole other beast with their blend of doom metal, crust and black metal bleakness. Compared to the delicate magic we experienced earlier, we really got blasted away by some majestic riffs. It immediately reminded us that the music at this festival easily can go both ways from one artist to the other. These guys put down a simple, straightforward but intense show that fulfilled my every need for proper metal that day.
JK Flesh (***)
The first artist of the smaller corner hall brought yet another musical style to the table. An early performance of JK Flesh, one half of the legendary industrial metal outfit Godflesh, played an intense set of industrial/techno/dub/… In other words, no guitars, no instruments, just him with a laptop and a mixing table and lights flashing around sporadically.
Ved Buens Ende (***1/2)
The music of Norwegian avant-garde outfit Ved Buens Ende is something very eclectic and intricate. They mix jazzy sounding bits with an aggressive black metal vibe among other influences. From what I heard and saw, this is a band that deserves more recognition and has some really talented musicians. Definitely an outfit that will end up on my list of bands to further check out in my free time! Sadly, instead of watching the whole show, I already had to move on to the next artist taking over the other stage.
Louise Lemón (*****)
Louise Lemón was an amazing experience live. She turned quite some heads with her release ‘A Broken Heart is an Open Heart’ earlier this year. What felt like a culmination of her years of honing down the details of her music, got translated beautifully to the stage. A Swedish journalist baptized it “death gospel” and I couldn’t think of a better name for it. It’s gloomy but at the same time uplifting, drenched in soul with Louise’s impressive vocals and stage presence. With her she brought a collection of talented and energetic musicians and, while she barely said a word to us, all of us in the room felt a true connection and literally uplifted & re-energized.
Godflesh is back again! Last year they made the whole room vibrate on their industrial metal tunes and this time they clearly intended to top it. We felt the vibrations of the heavy riffs and pulsations of the beats straight to our core. The wall of sound that comes at you, created by only 2 guys is simply crushing. Sadly they seem to be plagued by issues when they come to Finland, but to the persistent one goes the reward, I’d say. Yet again an impressive experience.
The Well (****)
Back to the smaller stage for one last late night show. The American trio of The Well came on stage and they immediately steeped us in heavy rock. Riffs till kingdom come with a combo of raw power and melodies that just drags you in. Psychedelic, doomy, occult and damn groovy rock tunes clearly inspired by some of the greats in the rock history. They absolutely blew me away with their songs and I couldn’t get enough. A true surprise and one of the discoveries of the weekend for me, be sure to check them out yourself as well if this sounds any bit interesting to you!
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