Steelfest 2023 – Day 3 (20/05/2023)

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It’s that time of the year again: The Finnish festival summer gets kicked off properly with the black metal festival Steelfest! The gathering of the wolves of the underground is easily a yearly homecoming for anyone who has a love for the extreme and obscure. And as always, the lineup is massive with an impressive list of 46 bands filled with cult bands, legends of the underground scene, and exclusive and rare performances.

After last year’s extended anniversary edition, they decided to permanently add an extra day to what used to be a 2-day celebration of the underground. 2 days into the fest, we got back to the festival ground as early as we could to catch as many bands as possible. Though by hanging around and party with Carpathian Forest the night before, we sadly rolled out of bed too late and missed out on Ruttokosmos, Vornat and Sotherion, luckily there was more than enough interesting stuff to come and to fulfill our need for extreme and underground music…

Evil Incarnate

We made it still in time to catch the majority of Evil Incarnate‘s set on the outdoor stage in the blistering sun. The old school satanic themed death metal band from the US packed a punch, but we got to wonder if it maybe would have been more impressive if they’d have more than the 2 members that were on stage this time. Original member Mike Eisenhauer manned the guitar and gutturals, and recently joined Rick Graza gave it his all on the bass. And while the music got us to nod our heads along quite quickly, after a while the performance became a bit too “one note” to properly hold our attention. That doesn’t mean they didn’t have a dedicated group of people in front of them cheering them on, or that it was really bad, just maybe a bit lackluster.


Time again to get our asses kicked by the amount of wall of sound in the photopit, when these very young finnish dudes called Witchcraft took the stage. Beaming with Beherit inspired makeup and attires, these youngsters tore the house down with their performance, one of the most delightful surprises of the festival. I am 100% we will hear more from these guys in the future.

Pensées Nocturnes

We were already expecting something special of the Pensées Nocturnes show on the outdoor stage today, after noticing the addition of horn instruments and accordion to their style of black metal, but we were not prepared. This collective’s performance was by far the most bizzare and fun band of the whole festival. Mixing French sounding circus music with black metal, these Frenchmen were an absolute joy to witness on stage. Coming out with carny costumes covered in blood, grime, and soot while circus music is playing in the background definitely caused some interesting faces in the crowd. But through their energetic and highly engaging way of bringing their music, including vocalist/hornist Léon Harcore running through the crowd while continuing to play his small horn, they convinced many souls at Steelfest.


Going on for almost 30 years, these blackened thrash legends seemingly wont slow down ever. In the smell of incense Urn came on stage to wake up every hungover or tired festival guest by thrashing the whole audience. And they really accomplished that mission, quickly turning the room into a maelstrom of chaotic energy, encouraged by frontman, and only remaining original member, Sulphur. This was the perfect serving of unapologetic black/thrash, and felt like just what we needed at this point of the day!


Yet another French band on the stage here! With Merrimack we got served a more straightforward brand of black metal, with especially vocalist Vestal demanding a lot of attention with his rather rabid and seemingly self loathing stage presence. Despite a blistering sun that was reflecting off their with warpaint slathered faces, they blasted us with a blistering set that brought an almost palpable darkness over the festival grounds, and we saw many fans getting completely swept away and captivated by what these Frenchmen were bringing to the stage. We were actually quite impressed, as it’s not always easy for a black metal band to be convincing while playing in the full sun.


Every Steelfest edition needs their fix of true old school Norwegian black metal and Nordjevel gave it to everyone craving for it. This band was exactly you would’ve wanted from this kind of act, impressive and evil looking band giving atmospheric, raw and evil sounds praising the unholy to a packed crowd of rabid metal fans! Not the last one of the day, but a perfect warmup to what was still coming!

Torture Killer

The last day of Steelfest was a surprisingly death metal heavy day compared to the rest of the weekend. On the outdoor stage we saw the return of a band that has become quite the legendary name by now in the Finnish death metal scene, and a regular visitor at Steelfest events. Torture Killer has brought over 2 decades of brutality to the fans with a clearly Six Feet Under inspired vibe, but in the meantime with a completely own identity. Every single time we’ve seen them live, they’ve impressed us with the groovy, banging tracks that make many hairs to be whipping through the air, and simply results in a whole lot of simple and pure metal fun. The musicians are one for one impressive, cranking out some tasty riffs and solos, while vocalist Pessi has been proving for over a decade that he’s a monster of a voice and stage presence. It’s always a good day when you get a shot of Torture Killer to wake you up about halfway!

True Black Dawn

Back inside, the Finnish black metal legends True Black Dawn took over, bringing again some real evil feeling music to us. In the past, we’ve had them doing some special and theatrical things, including some suspension performance during a while set. But this time they kept it simple, and all about the music. That made it a quite static show, with vocalist and main man Wrath barely moving between his shrieks and often seemingly in a trance. But that didn’t really bother any of us, because the music, oozing in captivating and mesmerizing darkness seemed to put everyone almost as much under a spell as the band playing it!


We were wondering how the depressive black metal of the Australian outfit Austere would translate to an outdoor stage setting, but we didn’t need to worry. Even though their rather dark and sad themes, the musicians managed to bring across the atmospheric vibes of the music perfectly, tugging on our heartstrings and absolutely captivating us from start to finish. Supported by Totalselfhatred guitarist Saturnus, they somehow overcame the rather sunny and bright setting and brought one of the most simplistic, yet best performances of the weekend! Highly recommended!


When Carpathian Forest is on a Steelfest line-up, good chance that Nattefrost will make an appearance on stage as well with his solo band while he’s around anyway. After a very successful closer the night before, a whole lot of people showed up to experience the chaos and high energy that the illustrious frontman brings with him. With a higher degree of rock n roll and punk attitude, Nattefrost and his band steamrolled over us for yet another serving of highly entertaining Trve kvlt black metal showmanship!


Time for another highly anticipated act of the festival, a rare show on unholy Finnish grounds, the death metal legends Nunslaughter! Playing a top notch set of new and old material, these gentlemen gave their all smashing the proverbial head of christ and spitting on the remains with their unrelenting sound. By far the top 3 best performances of the festival, and by looking at the crowd response, I am definitely not the only one who thought of that.


Time for one last Norwegian black metal legendary band to take over the Steelfest stages with Urgehal. From start to finish we got hit with a relentless blitzkrieg of pure and unadulterated black metal. If you were still in doubt of how raw and unforgiving black metal was like back in the day, Urgehal will quickly give you a crash course. At the side stage we saw plenty of their colleagues nodding to the music approvingly and throw up some horns while shouting their praise. Clearly a band that many visitors and musicians alike were really looking forward to and they damn right  delivered!

Satanic Warmaster

This year’s Steelfest wasn’t without its struggles, having 2 of today’s main bands canceled quite last minute. But luckily the organisation always has something in their back pocket to fill up those gaps and still keep the fans happy. First of those replacements was the infamous Satanic Warmaster closing the outside stage this year. And as always, they know how to get the crowd going with a fantastic set, turning the festival grounds into a last proper huge black metal party. Having seen them several time already by now, we still can’t get enough of them, seeing how they deliver every single time. A true legend of the Finnish scene!

Warmoon Lord

And last but not least, the second replacement was set to close the indoors stage and the whole fest with another serving of traditional black metal. The Finnish outfit Warmoon Lord is a relatively new one, but one that made a quick rise among all the bands the scene has to offer. The couple of releases they unleashed upon the world were met with tons of praise, and live they know how to translate that quality to perfection. Complete with capes, harnesses and blades, they stormed through a blistering set, leaving many black metal fans one last time out of breathe and already looking forward to next year’s edition for another fill of excellent extreme music!

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