Steelfest 2022 is 4-day celebration of devil`s 10 year path.
50 bands in 4-Days full of un-compromised metal terror.
We’ve been steady supporters of the Steelfest events and now finally after 2 years of delays and much drama, the 10th year anniversary edition of Steelfest was happening! With twice the amount of days than normally, way more bands and a couple of more surprises along the way, this is simply a festival you didn’t want to miss out on if you’re any bit into underground metal without compromises!
The first day featured already an impressive collection of stellar bands. Kicking off in style, they invited the infamous Azazel to open again. Since their last show opening Steelfest in 2017 went viral due to a very clumsy, alcohol induced performance, people have been asking for their return every year. We barely saw anything of the actual show this time around since we got stuck in a long line to get in, but it seemed that this time around they got through it without incidents. Possibly to the disappointment of many there.
Onwards to the first band we properly saw: Tenebrae! The Finnish death metal act hasn’t been on stage for decades and now made a return with a special “Dysanchelium 30th anniversary” set. Clearly they were pretty excited to play, cause they kicked off before there was barely anyone in the inside stage besides some lost souls. Luckily for them that didn’t last too long as people quickly started to trickle in to enjoy a good dose of classic Finnish death metal. One of the very few on the line-up this year, Tenebrae was a good representation for death metal at the fest for sure!
Next up on the outside stage was the Belgian black metal band Ars Veneficium. Not an unfamiliar name for us at GRIMM, it was a first for Finland. They brought a solid, classic black metal show that to me felt like it was somewhat suffering from what I call the “daylight curse” for black metal bands. Some bands just come across better when they can create that extra atmosphere with the stage lights and fester in the darkness of an indoor stage. Mostly vocalist Surtur and guitarist Ronarg provided some more entertainment with their clear passion and intensity, the rest of the live band seemed somewhat more static. But really, a solid black metal show that could easily compete with a lot of the other bands and something I can look back at with some pride as a Belgian.
Back to the indoor stage we got another Immortal Frost Productions band with The Stone. The Slavic black metal outfit got on our radar when our resident underground metal reviewer wrote up a nice article about their latest release ‘Kosturnice‘ in 2021 (for the album review go here). What we got was everything you’d expect from a black metal show with solid music and a quite imposing vocalist under the form of Glad throwing his frayed coat around and the obligatory horns up in the air.
Outside, the Finnish black metal outfit Malignament set up shop with vocalist P.J. sporting a scythe with his microphone mounted on it for the first couple of tracks, being today’s black metal Grim Reaper. The show worked somehow quite well, despite playing in the full sun and the crowd enthusiastically reacted to whenever P.J. was waving his scythe in their direction. He got even more reaction when he held a short speech on how people tried to bring this festival down, tried to stop it from happening and how miserably they failed at that. A roar erupted from the crowd, showing the world that we’ve been craving for this bacchanal of everything that is dark, twisted and extreme!
Last year, out of nowhere a new project that radiated the old school and “Trve Kvlt” from every pore rose from the Finnish swamps under the form of Commander Agares. The Finnish solo project by the Commander himself had collected some excellent live musicians and 2 more vocalists of which we recognized the entity known as MT (Desolate Shrine) or Profundus (Sargeist) at a rare moment that the smoke cleared up a little bit. The sound, the atmosphere and the overall looks were all essential black metal with Sauron looking gauntlets, plenty of long spikes, cloaks, huge crosses with sheep heads on top, all bathing in deep blue and red lights. When at some point Commander Agares decided to throw a sheep’s head into the crowd, we knew we were at Steelfest for sure and it was a good feeling.
On this first day of the anniversary edition of Steelfest, the award to the most intense and in your face aggressive show has to go to the German black metal tycoon that was Sarkrista. They are tentatively naming themselves the “German servants of true satanic black metal” and with the wallop of a show they served us this day, there simply was no denying that. Vocalist Revenant is an immensely menacing character on stage, which only adds to the dread and intense danger that comes from their performance. Added to that a certain gloominess with grey skies and rain, and you got one of the early highlights of the weekend.
Polish Graveland has always been a welcome guest at Steelfest and after seeing them live for the first time, I can understand why that is. Building an atmosphere straight from the beginning with pagan folk-like soundscapes and chants and one of the guys playing a big bodhrán, this is the kind of style of black metal that simply resonates with me. The kind of pagan and Viking inspired metal that truly carries the spirit of those old folklores. Add to that the tunics to sell the themes and main man and vocalist Rob Darken dancing around to the tunes of some real Graveland classics in what you could call a ritualistic trance at times and you’re really taken to a whole other realm.
Last but not least for this first day, we turned towards the new and improved outside stage to catch what you could call a “house band” for Steelfest. It’s not the first time Horna takes a Steelfest stage by force and every single time they are absolutely supreme. Something that was no different this time around and only enhanced by the much larger stage with impressive stage lighting. Spellgoth was his usual menacing self controlling the dark forces emanating from the music and having the crowd eat from his hands, Shatraug stood by stoically playing the riffs and melodies he meticulously crafted and the blood-splattered and simply rabid Infection added a frantic note to the whole show. Horna is a legend of the Finnish black metal scene and is a mastodon of a band you simply have to catch live whenever you can.
Sadly, we had to miss out on the glorious return of Deströyer 666 to Steelfest with them starting their show well past midnight and on a Thursday night, the last trains left before that. But it’s not the first time the wolfpack has invaded Steelfest and I’m pretty sure it won’t be the last. So here I am, looking forward to the next time they come, but at the same time gearing up for the next 3 days of this celebration of all that is underground, extreme and dark.
For more pictures of the 1st day of Steelfest 2022, go check out the photo report here!
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