On the weekend of 10.8 and 11.8. the Finnish metal crowd once again gathered in the Northern Finnish city of Oulu, located a good 666km north of Helsinki at the Gulf of Bothnia for a last summer festival hooray at Jalometalli festival. Jalometalli, meaning noble metal, celebrated its 10 year anniversary this year and its 7th edition at Club Teatria. The festival offered 24 bands on three stages to its visitors. The ticket prices were in the usual range with 58€ for a one day ticket and 75€ for a two day ticket.
In order to get to Club Teatria one had to walk about 2km along the train tracks from the Oulu railway station which offered a perfect opportunity to enjoy the first cool drink of choice. And after weeks of chilly and rainy weather the gods once again proved to be metal heads with providing the perfect festival weather.It was sunny with some clouds and temperatures around 17°C so one could enjoy some more drinks in front of the festival gates and bathe in the incredibly beautiful golden Northern sunshine, stare into the magical bright sky and let yourself be enchanted by the combination of the North, music and the festival`s atmosphere.
Apart from the an occasional queue at the outside wardrobewhere people kept their drink storage for when there was a break in between “must-see”-bands you did not have to wait anywhere and even with the most popular bands it was possible to get quite close to the stage if you wanted to. The popularity of that wardrobe then probably was also the reason for the slightly high prices of 3€ for leaving your stuff there and 1€ every time you wanted to take something out of your bag.
One big plus at Jalometalli for me always has been the combination of indoor and outdoor space: Club Teatria is a normal concert venue so there is an inside bar, stage, tables and chairs to sit as well indoor toilets! Additionally, there is the main stage outside and a small third stage outdoors in the backyard as well as a beer area outdoorsduring Jalometalli. This leads me to another plus at Jalometalli: from every beer area the according stage can be seen so there is no rush to gulp down your drink in order to rush to the next band on your list. Despite that, one small hiccup occurred in the above mentioned outdoors beer area on Friday when the first visitors arrived to start the festival weekend: one could only order drinks from the tab since the bar staff did not have any bottle openers yet. The drink prices ranged at a normal 5-8€ from beers and ciders to long drinks.The other and slightly more annoying minus point was that in the indoors ladies` restroom half of the doors did not have any (functioning) door locks which should not be a difficult thing to quickly fix but is a constant source of wonder to me why it seems so challenging for many venues to keep these things in order. Well, for what it is worth this might provide curious male metal heads with an explanation why we ladies often go to the powder room together.
But otherwise, having started off Friday in style with a bit of prepartying including Motörhead Vodka, the mood for the weekend was set and all the signs from the weather to the bands and the crowd`s mood were pointing to this festival being a blast. And starting with Norwegian Black Metal from Gehenna certainly was a good start.Despite me still,after all these years,having to get used to the image of longhaired guys with corpse paint playing evil tunes in bright sunlight the festival mood was there straight away. So to say it with Abbath’s words from Tuska Festival several years ago: „F*** the sun!”It seems that this motto goes for all Norwegian Black Metal bands as Gehenna hit it off from the beginning despite the still scarce crowd. There was a lot of head nodding over folded arms and after a while there was even a pax de deux-minimoshpit. The gig had some lengths at times which did not actually harm the atmosphere but it was a different start into the festival.Other than the first show kicking you full force into festival mood the hypnotic melodies and rhythms rather wove their net around you and slowly but surely dragged you to a place of no return. With the last song “Werewolf” and its intensity as well as the captivating line “Nothing is ever quiet here” it was all up with me – Jalometalli 2012, bring it on!
After enjoying the industrial atmosphere of the construction site outside the gates with some of those wardrobe storage drinks and some festival visitor watching it was time to head back inside to check out some more bands. First up was some Power Metal with Iron Savior from Germany. As this style of metal is not really my cup of tea I can only say that they were quite enjoyable compared to other bands of that genre that make me want to run away as far and as fast as my high heeled boots will take me. Somehow they seemed to suit the festival mood.
Then it was finally it was time for Vader on the main stage! After the oh so shocking and even more surprising cancellation of Deicide in the beginning of July Vader were announced as a replacement and I was really looking forward to see them again as for some reason there are some bands that while touring tons in central Europe they rarely ever come to Scandinavia.Therefore, having gone from seeing them at least once a year to not at all for several years it was an absolute must-see band. They were also the first band of the festival whose musical style will always blow you away regardless what mood you are in and what event it is. After a few sound issues at the beginning with guitars being not loud enough but the drums too loud they then also did exactly that and it was a pleasure to see them live as always.
Next up on the indoor stage were Septic Flesh and they seemed to be the so far most awaited band of the evening as the crowd was big and instantly into the show with them sounding a good bit more intense live than on the records. Spiros and the guys then also delivered a show which left me with a smile on my face despite some people seeming very disappointed with the gig.
The last band of this first festival day on the main stage were Coroner, a band not known to me before – despite them coming from my home country Switzerland – as they had split up before my metal head days had started and had reunited only after I had moved to Finland. So feeling a slight bit patriotic I was quite curiously awaiting their show. The first thing that I noticed was how adorable the Swiss accent in Ron`s announcement sounded and how much the crowd was into their show including me and I believe the “Finland virgins” as they called themselves that were equally pleased with the crowd in “the land of darkness and Death Metal” as the audience was euphorically cheering the band from the land of cheese and watches (long live clichés!).
The closing act for the official part of the first day were Year of the Goat from Sweden. Some crowd had already left to unofficial after parties or one of the official after clubs in town or maybe even to pass out in Oulu’s comfy parks and (hotel) beds. But there were still a good number of people left to see what their neighbour countrymen had to deliver. It took a while to get into the gig as first it sounded like a slightly weird and uncoordinated mixture of styles but over time everything came together. It turned out to be a nice last show of the night and I was wondering if there is a secret conspiracy why of late most Swedish bands seem to have quite eye pleasing bass players. As it then turned out it was not the last gig of the day for me after all as I still made it to see Hooded Menace at Nuclear Nightclub as part of the official after club programme which was very fairly priced with 7€ and all I can say is despite being quite tired after such a long day it was worth it!
The Jalometalli time schedule allowed for a relaxed start into the second day since the first bands were to start only 4 p.m. again under a sunny summer sky. First up were the Finnish A.O.D. and From The Void. A.O.D. played on the indoor stage and had gathered quite an audience from which they beat out all residua of hangover with their Thrash Metal. The singer’s voice took some getting used to at times for me but it was definitely a good wake up band. Straight from the Arctic Circle and Santa’s hometown Rovaniemi From The Void started the day on a slightly slower and darker pace on the small third stage outside. From the Void were the winners of the first ever Jalometalli band contest organized by Arctic Live Entertainment Ry and the first thing I noticed was the quite interesting corpse paint which made singer J.S. look a bit like an Uruk-hai while the other’s paint reminded me of Khold´s Gard.Overall the band seems to have put some thought in their appearances so only H.P.`s orange guitar broke the overall image. There were only a few people watching and listening but the band did not let that steal their thunder. They have not re-invented the wheel with their music but they created a quality wheel so to speak with good melodies and sound, at times slightly reminding me of Ajattara with the booming vocals, especially when singing in Finnish. And as singing in your mother tongue always scores bonus points with me “Puhdistus” became my favourite song of the set. There was some feedback at times but this seemed to be a problem that occurred with most bands on the third stage.Overall a promising gig which awoke interest to what the band might create in the future.
Then it was time to grab some hangover cure in the form of a plate of muikut (small fried vendace) and see what the main stage had to offer. And as you can’t go wrong with muikut as hangover food you can’t go wrong with watching the four long haired Norwegians of Nekromantheon play Thrash. This band was the surprise of the festival for me as I had not previously listened to them but they instantly grabbed my attention made me focus on their show rather than on my food which is something that does not happen that often. After their energetic show I was ready for whatever day no. 2 had to offer.
This was the band with hats, Unholy,that was playing on the third stage and allowed the audience to calm down after Nekromantheon. Not only their songs were slow but it also took some time to really get into their show but as usual with doom you can’t escape it, it will get you sooner or later. For those of a faster taste Achren were trying to drink the audience under the table on the indoor stage and telling tales about their favourite serial killers but both bands attracted only medium crowds as a lot of people were enjoying the last golden rays of sun outside the gates.
Next up was Crimson Glory from the U.S….and well, what can I say, they sounded like German Power Metal so if that is what you like – which a good part of the crowd seemed to do – then they were probably good but if you don’t like that kind of music, then it was better to join the people outside the gates for another drink as fast as possible.
Iced Earth were one of the long awaited bands of the second day for many and you would not even have to have known beforehand that they were from the U.S. as after a few of their announcements you could have guessed anyways by their frequent use of the F-word and otherwise very talkative ways which seems to be a requirement for any U.S.-band. After some sound issues with the first songs where the vocals could not be heard properly one could finally enjoy their melodies and the crowd then was also chanting along, creating a great festival atmosphere.
To balance out all that talk Baptism on the third stage kept the announcements to a minimum, Black Metal style. The quite good crowd seemed to appreciate that and personally the gig warmed my little black (metal) heart. It was one of my festival highlights even if it was none of these shows that completely blew me away but one of those that you walk away from and it was just exactly what you needed. Pure f***ing Black Metal!
The final ritual and one of the most magical gigs of Jalometalli 2012 started when The Devil’s Blood took the stage. It being my third time seeing them expectations were to see a good, enjoyable show – nothing more, nothing less. But how wrong I was because despite them not reaching the magick of their first gig at Hammer Open Air 2010 they excelled their 2011 performance at Korjaamo in Helsinki. Regardless of tired feet, eyes and overall exhaustion after two days of festivaling their melodies and Farida’s voice reached out to you and found their way into your blood, heart and soul and filled the air with almost palpable energy. You could not help but feeling like you wanted to move and emerge yourself completely and absolutely into that moment, every tune and note. Alas, nothing can last forever but what afinale to the festival marking summer’s end in Finland!
Powered with this energy the night was far from over and after a brisk walk back to Oulu’s centre it was time for a nightcap at Nuclear Nightclub again, this time to continue the magick with Jess and the Ancient Ones. Nuke (as the locals call it) was more packed than the night before, one even had to queue to get inside but there was still enough space to enjoy the gig downstairs, again for a fair 7€. After the powerful energy of The Devil’s Blood show this gig was more intimate and tender both by its setting and its melodies, often touching on the bittersweet, melancholic feeling that summer’s end brings with it. After the last song it was definitely time to head back to the hotel and continue in the land of dreams, both happy and sad as always when a great weekend, a great festival and a great summer has come to its end.
Nina Ratavaara, Photos: Eija Mäkivuoti
The photographer used Olympus EM-D / EM-5 camera gear in the photo shoot (borrowed from Olympus Finland).