I remember seeing Saor for the first time live at Steelfest 2018, and while I was charmed by the band, somehow I wasn’t completely convinced. I felt something was missing, and I was suspecting that it might have been the fact that they were playing in broad daylight on a bright and sunny afternoon. So, with the announcement of Saor coming back to Finland for a mini tour of 2 club shows, the fact they had just released the brand-new album ‘Origin’ AND that Season of Mist label mates …And Oceans would be special guests, I had to mark this event in my calendar for sure.
First up was the Finnish folky black metal outfit Marrasmieli, warming up the already gathered crowd and delivering the welcoming notes to those who were still arriving. With a sound that is very reminiscent of country mates Moonsorrow and Havukruunu, and even a touch of old school viking metal here and there, these guys were actually a pretty pleasant discovery. What was rather surprising to me, was that the main vocalist was also the drummer. Something I hadn’t really seen before in a black metal band, and quite impressive how Nattvind managed to sound perfectly steady in both his vocal delivery and drumming. Also, quite refreshing to actually get to see the drummer at a show like this… With 2 talented guitarists, a quite engaging and emotive bassist and keyboardist who at some point ran up to the crowd with a short sword to point at us while shouting, this turned into a very solid and fun show for those who were early enough to show up.
The Oaks of England
Those Who Are Long Gone
Last time I caught …And Oceans live was on the smaller stage of Hellsinki Metal Horizons and that show was something special with a completely crammed room and an atmosphere that was palpable. No idea if they’d be able to match that level tonight, but one thing is always sure with these guys: you’ll get a (symphonic) black metal show that is pretty near flawless. These Finnish legends made an impressive comeback a couple of years ago, and they’re not slowing down one bit.
The singles of their upcoming new album ‘As in Gardens, So in Tombs’ sounded amazing, and we were lucky enough to get to hear ‘The Collector and His Construct’ and ‘Cloud Heads’ live tonight, besides old classics and tracks from their comeback album. Their latest vocalist Mathias Lillmåns (also known as “Vreth” in Finntroll, of course) was as usual on point, at times barking his lines like a madman and often seeming somewhat in a trance, guitarists Teemu and T cranking out their pummeling riffs and tasty solos and bassist Pyry being right up there at the front of the stage shouting on the many fans that had gathered in front of them.
As always, a great show from an absolute legend in the Finnish black metal scene. And ‘As in Gardens, So in Tombs’ is an album you won’t want to miss out on, it might be an early contender for one of the top black metal releases of 2023…
The Dissolution of Mind and Matter
Aquarium of Children – Ajatusten Merenpinta
The Collector and His Construct
Vigilance and Atrophy
Kärsimyksien vaaleat kädet
White Synthetic Noise
The Black Vagabond and the Swan of Two Heads
Cosmic World Mother
And then the main act of the night, Saor. While my earlier meeting with the band on a stage was a bit underwhelming, tonight was on a whole other level. Somehow the dark Tiivistämo stage with appropriate lighting really gave it that much more atmosphere, fitting for the atmospheric black metal project from Scotland. The folky atmospheric bits came to shine way better in this setting, which in turn highlighted the heavier bits into headbang-inducing treats. While I missed the live violinist that I saw them last with a bit, the overall sound was so amazing that I could easily overcome that.
The many fans that showed up to welcome Saor in Helsinki felt really alive and energetic, more than at your usual black metal gig, I’d dare say. Main man Andy clearly enjoyed the waft of positive energy that came from the crowd and was ever thankful for all the people showing up. Especially since the apparently shit day they’ve had getting here, with all their gear having been lost on the travel. But honestly, if he hadn’t mentioned it, I wouldn’t have guessed that they were missing their stuff.
An overwhelming wall of sound with everything that I love and seek for in this kind of atmospheric black metal music, reminiscent of old school Alcest or Wolves In The Throne Room, but with a Scottish touch. Add to that the very special guest appearance by the Finnish artist Vermilia (who released her very own new album not too long ago), providing ethereal vocals, live flute and a short stint on a shamanic drum, and this was really a show for the books. What a way to be wrapping up my live experiences in 2022!
The Ancient Ones
Carved in Stone (with Vermilia)
Aura (with Vermilia)
Tears of a Nation (with Vermilia)
Bròn (with Vermilia)
That’s a nice review and the whole gig was spectacular from all, but Saor’s encore was Bròn instead of Aura playing second time 😉
Yeah, should have realized that something was not right with the setlist I found on setlist.fm
Thanks for pointing it out!