The weather did not show itself from its best side on the way up north to Oulu on that Friday (August 9th) where the 8th Jalometalli was scheduled to take place for the last time at Club Teatria – the festival’s home after moving from Kuusisaari in 2006. Fog mixed with heavy rain and the occasional sunny moment accompanied us the 666km to the city beautifully located on the Gulf of Bothnia. While staring into the rainy mist that hid the Finnish landscape from our eyes, trying to make out if any deer or elk the road signs warned us of every few hundred meters were crossing the street the thought of spending two festival days in such weather was not very enticing. The mood was lifted a bit by the fact that Jalometalli or rather Club Teatria offered an indoor stage, enough (dry) sitting possibilities, proper toilet facilities, andview to the stages from all beer areas including the outdoor main stage and the small third stage in the back yard of the venue. Same as last year, two bands were playing at the same time on the indoor and the 3rd stage while the band on the outdoor main stage was always the only one playing.
Having arrived in Oulu and made it the 2 kilometers from Oulu center along the train tracks to Club Teatria just in time to hear the last song of the Finnish black metal veterans Impaled Nazarene opening up the first day on the outdoor stage it was also time to enjoy the first drink in the outdoor beer area of the festival. The outdoor bar was stocked with most of the usual suspects from beers to ciders ranging at 5-6€ as well as long drinks and wine ranging from 5-8€. If that was not enough one could count on the well-stocked indoor bar to mix the drink you thirsted for. With Slayer headlining on Friday it was only logical that the red wine served was Slayer wine and one could purchase a Slayer-Lounge VIP package for 145€ that included the two day ticked plus a goodie bag, a separate and faster entrance as well as access to the Slayer lounge that had an own bar plus other amenities. The two day ticket for mere mortals was set at 85€ in presales and 72€ respectively 67€ for Friday and Saturday. While the food prices at the booth outside ranged in atypical 6-10€ for the standard munchies such as a wok-mix, muikut (fried vendance), and a variety of meat-potato dishes including the devil’s spicy (chili) balls the merch booth inside the hall surprised with some very good offer such as band shirts at 15€ (Vorum) as well as some new undergarments for metal women at 10€ (3 Inches of Blood panties).
Having arrived at the festival both mentally and physically the weather gods were still teasing for a little while by sprinkling a few drops of rain here and there in the early evening but it seemed that the musical sacrifices appealed to the mighty ones and the rest of the festival weather showed Oulu from its dry and at times even sunny side.The crowd already seemed pleased with Impaled Nazarene but I must say while they were decent I like their beer (Impaled Nazarene Goat Brew) better and so I was inclined to agree with bass player-turned-vocalist Rauli Alaruikka from Ravage Machinery when he was joking with the crowd that Impaled Nazarene had served as their warm up act. Ravage Machinery from Rovaniemi got the festival going as the first band on the 3rd stage outdoors in front of a hand full of people. But the band did not mind and energy was running high from the first song with a sound that certainly got the growing crowd into festival mood. The dynamic gig with lots of head banging supported their death-thrash metal that combined fast and groovier parts nicely and the voice of new singer Rauli fit in well so that Ravage Machinery was a worthy second band of the festival and made hungry for what was still to come during the next two days. For the following hour that was Aborted on the main stage outside. Their fast death metal attracted a crowd however they did not seem to fully click with the audience. While some youngsters started moshing after a while and the older generations were nodding their heads appreciatively it was far from packed in front of the stage and the mood was pretty quiet for such a gig – the feeling I walked I away with after the gig was that it had been ok but not overwhelming. Heading inside the energy level of both the crowd and band changed as Lost Society from Jyväskylä took over the indoor stage. Having heard quite a hype around those Thrash-youngsters expectations were high and while it certainly was a very enthusiastic and fun show at least this time the hype was not fully justified. But the stage performance definitely was worth watching as the guys were running, jumping, head banging and at some point even SpongeBob SquarePants and Dat Ass joined the society.
The next band outdoorswas a bunch mostly very hairy Canadians and had one of these odd names – 3 Inches Of Blood – so the first guess would have been that they play everything but heavy metal with high pitched vocals. Also my presumption would have been that they are not my cup of tea but having listened to a few songs beforehand I had to break away from my comfy seat inside and take my drink to see their first ever Finland gig. It was worth it and even the sky could only start to clear up in the face of their charismatic performance that spread good mood and perfect festival feeling. You could really feel and see the enjoyment they got from playing their music live and they turned out to be my festival surprise with me liking them.
After that treat the evening breeze carried over some darker sounds from the back yard where Vorum were playing.This gig was an absolute must as the last time I saw them live it was a struggle between the music and my tiredness. At the Steelfest 2013 after party their set started delayed only at 3 a.m. and the Finnish laws that shut down all music after 3:30 a.m. also cut the gig quite short so seeing them for a full set before the hour of the wolf was something to be excited about. The atmosphere then was also less dark and mystical than in the wee hours of the morning but instead almost romantic with the sun setting behind the building. Yet, that did not do any harm to the mood Vorum created on stage. The crowd was not massive but the people there clearly liked what they saw and heard. There was head banging from the get go and the audience kept increasing. After a moment of silliness where guitarist Matti Jalava’s bone chain looked like a bony breast hair toupee (it seems not all heavy metal fun and folly had left my head yet after 3 Inches Of Blood-gig as I do appreciate bones and blood in a stage outfit) their dark sound and appearance started creeping from the stage, stretching its tentacles further and further with no chance of escape so all that was left to do was to fully surrender oneself to the music and the atmosphere that just kept getting better and more intense the longer the gig lasted. Still enchanted from Vorum’s gig there was just enough time to have a look and listen at Hobbs’ Angel of Death that were playing inside and it sounded quite decent and many seemed to think the same. Unfortunately, there was really only time for a short ear full and to notice the nice mic stand with the inverted cross as well as the Finnish flag around Peter Hobbs’ neck.
Then the moment that many had been waiting for had arrived – it was time for Slayer and one could tell as the biggest crowd so far had gathered outside in front of the main stage. As expected the audience went nuts from the first song on, and on the stairs leading outside from the hall even a metal head with crutches was head banging. The majority seemed to really have a great time and I must admit they were a lot better than when I had last seen them in 2003 in Switzerland at the Metal Dayz where they played a show that was fine but came across as being played so routinely and tired that it left a bad aftertaste. But while this gig was better the sound at times was terrible, one could just hear the vocals and a bit of guitars, otherwise just the vibrations and whomp from the bass drums. It might be that I had already been put off by hearing that the crowd backstage had been instructed to not talk to Slayer but to wait until Slayer deemed them worthy or important enough to talk to them (yes we get it, you are metal super stars and but come on guys, this is Jalometalli in Finland where people usually respect other’s privacy and wish for space and there are not incredible amounts of people backstage) or that despite liking them I had never been a huge Slayer fan but it was just not that interesting so when the tiredness of a 5 a.m. morning started creeping up the soft embrace of my hotel bed seemed so much more exciting. And therefore it was off to the wardrobe (3€ for putting something there, 1€ for each time you needed to get something out of your jacket or bag) and back to Oulu center.
Well rested the Saturday started truly evil with sunshine, blue sky and lunch at the Pannukakkutalo (pancake house) – a pancake with fresh blueberries and white chocolate makes for surprisingly good hangover food especially when it is enjoyed on a beautiful terrace and with a cool cider in hand. Most of the festival goers seemed to start Saturday slowly so when National Napalm Syndicate opened the second day on the main stage the crowd was not that big and while I liked them better than at Steelfest earlier this year the band to see was the one to follow: Archgoat on the inside stage. The size of the audience seemed to prove me right and already when stepping inside the dark hall the atmosphere had started to build up with the stage bathed in red light that highlighted the black and white inverted crosses framing the scene. It was definitely the right decision of the festival organizers to have Archgoat play inside as the gig certainly would have been good outside as well but the inside darkness added and supported the aura of the whole gig. The deep growls of Lord Angelslayer crawled through your bones and drove any remnants of a hangover out. The music filled you with a dark pulsating energy the crowd appreciated. That’s how I like to start into day no.2! The whole gig was consistent from the simple but powerful aesthetics with the colors red, white and black, all band members shirtless in black pants (yes, bands that put an effort into their aesthetic appearance should put a thought to these details as to me it always looks odd if e.g. only one band member is shirtless) to the inverted crosses, bones on the mic stand and the band’s overall appearance and minimal movements. Also Lord Angelslayer’s sparse announcements for which he kept the same voice as during the songs added to this overall impression. Nothing kills such an atmosphere faster than when the band talks in their mere mortal voices that are usually less demonic and rudely rip you out of your state of dark appreciation and shatter the whole aura. All this combined resulted in a very tight set and one of the festival’s highlights.
After this evocation of dark forces it was time for girl power on the main stage with Sabina Classen and Holy Moses. My expectations were high as I had seen them a few years ago where Sabina was rocking the stage despite having a really bad flu with high fever. A big crowd had come together and they were rewarded with Sabina being a competition for the energizer bunny with all her jumping, running and head banging. She really is one hell of a sexy Rampensau (the English term that might fit here could be stage lioness but the German one just says it so much better)! It was no wonder that when she demanded an old school moshpit she got one. The gig turned into quite a party on stage with Gerre from Tankard joining for a song and during “Too drunk to fuck” (what at least by the looks of it some festival goers already were) members from the audience joined Sabina on stage to mosh. All in all a good and fun gig and I definitely prefer to see Sabina on stage than on German trash (yes, unfortunately trash not thrash) TV where she has been hosting shows helping disturbed teenagers and compulsive hoarders.
The color spectrum that Archgoat had set was continued inside by Deathchain who were powerful as always but with what seemed a bit of extra energy that made the set even better and got hair flying on- and offstage. It then was only logical that quite a crowd had gathered and not even the sound that was not at its best at all times could take away from that. I would have preferred to see more of Deathchain but unfortunately all good things have to come to an end so Tankard was up next outside. Having seen them before when Gerre still was at his highest weight and having graced the audience of that gig with the sight of him topless I was not really looking forward to this show even if Gerre clearly was in much better shape now, running around on the stage, enjoying the show and the energy that the excited crowd threw towards the stage with arms and hair in the air. Having heard that Tankard once said they will play as long as they have enough money to open their own brewery I could not help but think that personally I probably would like their beer better than their music and so it was time to take Tankard’s motto to heart and head outside for the obligatory drinks in front of the gate where the setting sun created a nice atmosphere.
The hour was quickly over and we had rush inside to see Naglfar again after along while because the last time when they were playing at Tuska Festival Open Air still at Kaisaniemi park the temperatures under the circus tent reached at least felt 40° C and made it impossible to stick around to enjoy the show. But this time the temperatures inside were just fine though it seemed the festival goers could not fully warm up to the band as the crowd was surprisingly small. But the other’s loss was my gain as it was possible to watch the band up close and enjoy the gig as well as the always intense expressions of vocalist Wrath. He really has what one can call crazy eyes that he makes work for the stage performance and one could tell that he and the band were giving it their all which proved to pay off as slowly more people started coming in to see the Swedes. It was well worth it.
Naglfar could have easily played a longer set as Blasphemy who were to be the last band of the festival on the main stage were running over 25 minutes late in the end. Some said this was because the band did not have enough material for the 90 minute set that was scheduled for them in the first place. But then one wonders why the organizers would have booked so much time for them. Be that as it may, the delay (which was the first and only delay I had noticed for the whole festival) did not help the mood so when they finally came on stage there was a decent but not as big crowd as expected. Unfortunately, the sound again was not really good during parts of the set, singer Nocturnal Grave Desecrator and Black Winds’ (wow, that’s a mouthful) vocals could be heard but for a large part the rest of the sound was mush. Things improved throughout the set but in the end the show left behind the feeling that things had not really come together. This did not ruin the mood too much as people were enjoying the festival, the music, friends’ company and their beers as it should be.
Voivod were the final band of the overall festival playing inside but as these things go, most of the time was spent celebrating these last moments with drinks and friends instead of paying full attention to the band so what I can say is that there was a good crowd, the atmosphere was great but the sound and band left an average impression. As it was too early to call it a night it was off to Oulu center to the local bars – first to Hevimesta that had moved to a new location close to the railway station into the premises of a previous gay bar and it might be a cliché but that place was a labyrinth with so many hidden corners and pathways that I was glad to have a local guide otherwise I might never have found my way out of there and to the official after party place which again was Nuclear Nightclub just a stone’s throw away from Hevimesta. This year unfortunately there were no bands playing but enjoying one last drink at the terrace under the starry northern night sky was just the right way to end these two great days of an again very well organized and set up festival.
Nina Ratavaara, Photos: Eija Mäkivuoti