Desert HEL 2022 – day 1 (22/04/2022)

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There is Desertfest Antwerp, Berlin, London,… but nothing of the sorts in Finland despite a pretty active stoner/psychedelic/doom scene. Time to change something about that, some people were clearly thinking. Enter the first ever Desert Hel festival for the heaviest stoner and doom music from Finnish shores and beyond. It promised to be a weekend full of loud & fuzzy shows, craft beer and psychedelic visuals and hopefully the start of a new yearly tradition after having to postpone it several times due to the pandemic! And with a quite busy first day, bands like Jupiter, Craneium, DÖ and as cherry on top, Lucifer in combination with their own festival beers, it was quite the start of our weekend!


When Jupiter started, there were already surprisingly many people that showed up early. At first it seemed to start rather slowly with a slightly doomy atmosphere, but after a bit they really got into it with uptempo bluesy and groovy parts that got the crowd cheering. The whole show felt like one big jamming session that we were allowed to attend and really was the perfect way to open a stoner/desert rock fest. At times it almost seemed as if every person on the stage was playing their own song while at the same time everything blended together into one composition as it always was intended. Especially the drummer seemed a bit out of place at times with an extremely energetic performance, reminding me somewhat of Steve Moore aka the viral “Drummer At The Wrong Gig”. But I was all for it, he’s one heck of a drummer and his beats and rhythms often really drove the songs forward. A very pleasing meeting with a band that I might be adding to my playlists regularly in the future!


Next up, a serious serving of some groovy high energy stoner/doom metal and rock from Craneium. The Finnish band from Turku has released a brand new album at the end of 2021 with ‘Unknown Heights‘ via one of my personal favorite labels The Sign Records. And this being one of the first chances to catch the band live after that release, I was set to thoroughly enjoy it. And enjoy it I very much did. We got about an hour of fuzzy rocking out that got the venue heated up even more and I noticed a couple of dancers here and there. The band brought a soulful and passionate display of their musical talents and the music almost seemed to come straight from the seventies but in a more updated and modern jacket. Very much something that was embodied by vocalist/guitarist Martin with a stage outfit that perfectly fitted the music somehow. I really like this kind of energetic groovy and bluesy type of rock and I see Craneium popping up in my roadtrip playlists in the future.

At this point of the night, all the music had been pretty much easy-going while at times quite energetic. That made taking their turn quite the wake-up call. When their set was starting, they used some deep ominous sounds that reverberated so much through the speakers, that the amps on the stage itself pretty much became living things bouncing around. The deep and intense rumbling they started off with, was a good indicator of how intense the rest of the show was going to be like. Their brand of stoner metal is the kind you feel in your gut and comes towards you in the form of an all obliterating wall of sound. Deaf Hank was hunched over his mic shouting and grumbling while cranking out some damn deep bass lines and Tarbuck added some flourishes with tasty guitar riffs and solos. But drummer Joe E. Deliverance was a whole other thing. He seemed like a madman set loose on a drumset, banging them so hard that I half and half expected them to fall apart under his forceful treatment. And the whole time he was shouting and acting manic, really ramping up the energy of the whole show if that was even possible to begin with. At the end of their show he kicked and threw part of his drumset aside with some loud yells and off they went. This was my first meeting with , but definitely one I won’t be forgetting any time soon.


It’s been years since we got to welcome Lucifer in Finland and there was clearly a whole lot of anticipation for their glorious return. By now the venue filled up to the brim with excited people eagerly awaiting the occult rockers to kick off their show. In the mean time they already have 2 more new albums with ‘Lucifer III‘ and ‘Lucifer IV‘ and this was the ultimate moment to finally get to taste their new music live. Which they must have realized themselves, cause they kicked off the show with ‘Ghosts‘ and ‘Midnight Phantom‘, followed by ‘Wild Hearses‘ and ‘Crucifix (I Burn for You)‘ of respectively those 2 albums. Bathed in smoke and blue and green lights, the band as usually threw their all into it and the enigmatic vocalist Johanna Sadonis danced and crooned the night away must to the excitement of the crowd in front of them. With 2 albums under the belt since they last performed in Helsinki, they focused mostly on songs from those albums with only as the very last song of their regular set playing the fan favorite ‘California Son‘ and in the encore ‘Reaper On Your Heels‘ besides one of the singles of the latest album with ‘Bring Me His Head‘. It’s been a while that I’ve felt On The Rocks living and breathing on that pure rock ‘n’ roll adrenaline and excitement and Lucifer‘s show very much turned it into a hot and steaming night! We can’t wait to welcome you back as soon as possible!


Midnight Phantom
Wild Hearses
Crucifix (I Burn for You)
Coffin Fever
Leather Demon
Archangel of Death
Cemetery Eyes
California Son

Bring Me His Head
Reaper on Your Heels

For more pictures of day 1 of the festival, go check out the photo report here!

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