The summer festival season has finally properly started after 2 years of barely anything! And while the established festivals all seem to be returning, there’s always room for new guns. And if they come with a cool and different concept like Hellsinki Metal Horizons, we can’t help but get excited. With a truly eclectic mix of both extreme, progressive and straight out left field bands, they were aiming to attract a similarly eclectic crowd and widen people’s horizons. Which seems to have worked admirably.
We made sure to get to Ääniwalli bright and early to catch the Finnish prog outfit Keoma. It had been since their comeback show back in 2020, introducing Katri as their new vocalist for the new chapter of their story, that I last saw them live. Back then, they were already quite impressive, but it was clear that they still needed to grow more comfortable in this new formation. In the meantime, they’ve also released a killer album with Katri on vocals not too long ago, so I was really looking forward to seeing what they’d bring to the table this time around. And I have to say that they really blew it out of the water. Their epic and proggy sound translated really well to the stage, and it was clear that Katri had really grown into her role as frontwoman of Keoma over the years, despite not really being able to perform much due to the pandemic. With the added projection of nebulas and constellations on the back wall, they really managed to take us on the cosmic trip that their latest album was like. So much so that even the sunlight that was sneaking its way in from the side windows didn’t take anything away from the whole experience!
Assemble the Chariots
On the other stage, a whole other beast was setting up to blow us away. Having discovered them recently through a reaction video of Tank The Tech, I was really interested to see how the very epic and symphonic infused deathcore of Assemble the Chariots would translate to a live setting. And I have to say that it simply blew my mind. It was so damn intense, so well done, that before I knew it, the show was already over. This really is a special project with loads and loads of potential that deserves to be picked up by more people. It seems there is somewhat of a deathcore revival going on, so they better catch that wave, because there is some epic shit to be expected coming from them!
Another band that has been on my checklist for quite a while now: Humavoid. I was really impressed with their latest album ‘Lidless‘ that they released a couple of years ago, and have been wanting to see them live ever since. The extremely talented musicians are able to crank out some damn tasty proggy riffs with at times an almost djenty sound, and vocalist Suvimarja has an impressive set of lungs, screaming like there is no tomorrow, while at the same time playing some crazy stuff on her portable keyboard. Their live performance was everything I was hoping for it to be, and they were absolutely killing it with massive tracks from their latest album like the title track ‘Lidless‘ and ‘Aluminum Rain‘. A band that I simply won’t get tired of ever, not on record, nor live. I can hardly wait until I have the opportunity again to see them on a stage!
Back to the other stage, I had another go at a live show of the French band Celeste that blew my mind already before when I caught them the first time at Blow Up Festival some years ago. With a brand-new record under the arm, and their usual unique show where the 4 band members all wear red headlights throughout the whole performance, they drowned us in their perfect blend of black/post-black metal, sludge and post-hardcore bringing yet another super intense show to this festival. There simply is no other band like Celeste. An absolutely massive show by some pure artists!
Sadly, due to illness, the experimental electronicore outfit Khroma had to cancel their performance at Hellsinki Metal Horizons. Kudos to the organization to ruffle up a pretty solid replacement under the form of the Helsinki locals of death metal outfit Enragement. And kind of perfect for the guys to get to present their ‘Atrocities‘ album that was released only a good month earlier! What we got was a banging show with some killer, often groovy and tasty death metal. Whipping hair, banging heads, and a drummer that was a delight to see behind his drumkit with all the excited energy that dude showed! A really, really enjoyable slab of metal before we moved on to the remaining bands of the day!
The Swedish Vildhjarta was the next to bring a set of sheer intensity to the bigger stage at Ääniwalli. Looking at the quite large gathering in front of the stage, this was a band that many visitors had been waiting for. And I have to say, it was yet another colossus of a performance, bringing their proggy/djenty music that clearly took quite a few notes from the godfathers of djent; Meshuggah. Drowning in smoke and backlights, they really pushed a pummeling wall of sound in our way and blasted us with wave after wave of blistering heaviness.
Last band on the smaller stage! …and Oceans has always been a very unique part of the Finnish black metal scene and its illustrious history. A perfect fit for a festival with the mission to widen metal fans’ horizons musically! I’ve seen them with their original vocalist at some of their comeback shows, I’ve seen them with their newest vocalist Vreth (also known from Finntroll), but I have to say that this show was something truly special. The room was absolutely packed and somehow there was something in the air tonight. The atmosphere was on a level I’ve never experienced before with …and Oceans. I’m not sure how to describe it, it was just there, and quite clearly the band felt it as well. Their performance was damn tight, Vreth was floating on the otherworldly vibe, which in turn enhanced his stage presence. Absolutely monumental show of a quite legendary band in the Finnish black metal scene!
Last, but most definitely not least, the Polish masters of death metal, Decapitated, took over the bigger stage one more time. About a week before their performance at Hellsinki Metal Horizons, they released their most recent album ‘Cancer Culture’, and it was obvious that plenty of people showed up to hear some of that new work, and of course some of their classics. As soon as they kicked off their set with all the heaviness and groove that the new album delivers, under the form of the tracks title track ‘Cancer Culture’ and ‘Just a Cigarette’, heads started to bang relentlessly, and vocalist Rafał “Rasta” Piotrowski joined the crowd in that by whipping his long dreadlocks through the air and in the faces of those who were manning the frontline. The room was shaking under the thundering death metal grooves, and it really felt like the venue was not nearly big enough for these mastodons of Polish death metal. What a way to wrap up an amazing first edition of Hellsinki Metal Horizons, that many more may follow!
The Estonians of Talbot still showed up to liven up the afterparty, but we bailed on this performance, being completely drained after this long night of mind-bending and intense music!