Metal Crane Festival was held for the first time this year, and I was personally looking forward to that, especially to the headliners of the first night.
The event took actually place at Nosturi in Helsinki and Lutakko in Jyväskyla at the same time: the line-up which performed in Helsinki on Friday performed in Jyväskylä on Saturday and viceversa.
The line-up mainly consisted of Finnish bands and friday´s one consisted of Kalmah and Catamenia (my personal highlights of the whole festival) both originally from Oulu; Brymir, a folk/death metal act from Sipoo and Among the Prey, a more melodic death oriented band from Jyväskylä.
The bands which performed on Saturday were: The Hypothesis from Kouvola, Bloodred Hourglass from Mikkeli, Whispered from Tampere and Harakiri for the Sky, a black metal act from Austria, the only non-Finnish act added to the festival.
The 2 days event was supposed to take place in Elmun Baari, Nosturi´s downstairs club, but due to exceptional ticket sales, the organizers decided to move the festival to the bigger Nosturi area upstairs.
Friday January, 19:
Among the Prey had the honour to open the festival: I personally did not hear of the band before but I have to admit that their melodic death metal influenced by some metalcore notes was quite remarkable as an opening act. They even played “Ruin” by Lamb of God which sounded to be familiar to the audience, which at that point of the night, consisted only of 20 people or so. It was nice to spot a familiar drummer in the background: Mr. Atte Palokangas, who was previously involved with Thunderstone and Agonizer.
Brymir has been around for more than 10 years, delivering their symphonic folk/melo-death style: they do combine heavy riffs and strong keys with deep growls and some clear vocals delivered by Viktor Gullichsen and Joona Björkroth. They did intrigue the audience and me as well: one new track in particular “Ride on, Spirit”, reminded me of Slayer of Gods. The orchestrations sounded too loud sometimes but it was a remarkable performance in the end and the band looks quite popular among the audience.
Catamenia was next, and I personally was looking forward to catching the band live for many years and it looked like I was not the only one as the audience appreciated to see them back on stage after a long time. I would say it was a brilliant return gig of this legendary melodic act from Oulu. The band has come a long way as they started more than 20 years ago and I can say that I enjoyed the whole set which included most of my all time favourites!
Last but not least Kalmah. The “Swamplords” from the Northern Finnish Pudasjärvi were the headliners. Their latest record was released 5 years ago and their live return was highly anticipated: hell literally broke loose when they entered the stage. From the opening track “Pikemaster” to the final usual tune “Hades” ,they delivered a highly technical confident set. As a big fan of “The Black Waltz” album, I was in ecstasy when I finally heard “Defeat” after a million of years. In addition to their powerful live set, it was hilarious to hear all vocalist Pekka Kokko´s jokes and interactions with the audience in general, which made the show even more special.
Saturday, 20th January:
The Hypothesis opened the second and final night of the festival. The band released their first album not so long ago. Their new single “Illusion Now” introduces a more dynamic sound compared to the other tracks and their guitar style reminds me of Omnium Gatherum sometimes. The live material was full of catchy hooks but the guitar patterns sound quite technical. The band´s drummer, Rolf Pilve, who played in different bands such as Stratovarius, could not join his band mates on stage so he was replaced by Antti Rantavuo from Crimson Sun, who anyway filled in for him impeccably. They played a good set and I am sure they attracted new fans.
Mikkeli´s based Bloodred Hourglass (BRHG) followed. They have been around for more than a decade. The front stage was really packed as they took the stage. I personally had not seen them live before and even though they might not be my favourite band, I was impressed by the vocal strength of Jarkko Koukonen. BRHG also performed with a stand-in guitarist. The setlist consisted mainly of tracks taken from their latest effort “Heal”. But the crowd went hyper when they performed “Valkyrie” from their previous album “Where the Oceans Burn”.
Whispered proved once again their originality. After delivering the brilliant “Metsutan” album, the quality of their unique melodic death Samurai metal did not disappoint. Their impressive Samurai outfits and scary make up do not distract from their energetic live set. Few tracks from their debut album, “Thousand Swords” were performed. I was personally a bit disappointed that “Jikininki”, one of my favourites from their second album “Shogunate Macabre” had been dropped from their usual set. Overall, the show was lethal and I really can´t wait to catch them live again soon!
Metal Crane Festival was overall a success and it has already been confirmed that it will take place next year again…