After travelling to Finland to see the excellent Vorna at Jyväskylä at the tail end of 2014 and being extremely impressed by their live show, when their European tour with German black metallers Thyrgrim was announced and it included three consecutive Finnish shows, it only seemed right to travel out for all three! Here is my tour diary of the three shows.
October 1 – Semifinal, Helsinki
The first date of the tour took us to Semifinal in Helsinki, a small bar underneath the infamous Tavastia venue, and after getting the honour of being the first customer to try Vorna’s brand new signature stout, it was time for the six-piece to take to the stage.
After the incense in front of the stage was lit, Vorna opened with their mighty song Ukkonen and the magic that I experienced in Jyväskylä in December just came flooding back and the band was on form, giving the performance their all as the set flowed tremendously into Kuolevan maan Kulkija and then their brand new single Jälkemme.
Headlining the Helsinki show was the aforementioned Thyrgrim and despite not exactly being sold on their new album Dekaden, this didn’t mean I was going to write them off before watching them because sometimes it can be the case that a band is much better live than on CD.
However, although there was no faulting the band’s passion, because it was clear they were putting a lot into their performance and the effort they had put into their stage outfits was good, but musically it just wasn’t all that gripping, with songs blending into one another and not having much variety to them – and despite the band speaking in English between songs, it was somehow easier to follow the Finnish intermissions from Vorna. The performance didn’t have that special sparkle to make it stick in your mind and although I tried very hard to connect, it just didn’t happen.
The show was alright, and Thyrgrim thankfully didn’t sound like a German version of Shining when placed in a live environment (which was an element of their sound that I commented on in my review of their latest album), but sadly it was a somewhat disappointing climax to the evening.
October 2 – Katse, Jyväskylä
After a detour to Lutakko to see Whispered and as much of Turmion Kätilöt’s set as I could manage, it was then time for a mad dash across Jyväskylä to make it to Katse in order to catch the performance from openers Enthring.
Being already familiar with the band’s music due to covering it on the site in the past and quite enjoying it, this was definitely a show I didn’t want to miss, and it was great to see the tracks performed in a live environment. Despite there being a few technical/sound problems and flaws with the performance, it was still a good show from the fourpiece and Enthring should definitely take the positives away from it as well as the negatives.
Opening with their new song We Thrive On Chaos, it was a good beginning to the set and got the night off to a powerful start. It was a good and punchy performance that got things moving, with the band members communicating and working well with one another – which was impressive to say the least, considering that two of the band members were playing with them for that one gig and there had only been a single rehearsal.
Sadly, the band struggled to connect with the audience but this could have just been down to the lack of people down at the front – which was frustrating in itself as Enthring is a great band that deserved more attention than they received – so it was like they were fighting a losing battle at times. However they persevered and kept going through sound problems and technical difficulties when they could have just given up.
Something particularly good about the performance was hearing their tracks Vengeance Orchestra and Second Vengeance Orchestra performed one after the other. In my review of their recent EP, I noted that whilst the individual songs were good, they didn’t seem to go hand-in-hand together as the titles may suggest, however my opinion on this was changed after seeing them performed as a pair – they felt like two halves of the same song and when put together, became something mighty.
As a whole, it was a good performance. Not quite a great one, but still a highly enjoyable one nevertheless – it was just unfortunate that the set was plagued with bad luck!
It was then time for Vorna performance number two and something that was especially good about the set that became apparent immediately was that they weren’t sticking to the same set each night as they opened with Ikuiseen iltaan this time round and just…wow. Words almost can’t describe how impactful this track was as an opener. The song itself is one that makes you sit up and pay attention when it starts playing on their debut Ajastaika, so to begin a set with it really works, and it was a moving rendition of an already-incredible song.
Immediately following it was Kaivatun uni, another of the band’s strongest songs, and the two tracks matched up perfectly, almost like they’d been written to be played in that order, before the band played their new single Jälkemme again, and the combination of those three songs played together was truly breathtaking.
Additionally, the sound quality in Katse was much better than the sound at Semifinal, which really helped to put the performance on another level, and as they closed with their final song of the night Muisto, I found myself wishing they could play for much longer than their allocated slot, it really was that good – and if I had to choose a favourite setlist from the three shows, it would be this one.
Still determined to try and get into Thyrgrim, it was time to give them another chance with their headline set at Katse but unfortunately it felt like the same show that I’d seen the night before and once again I just couldn’t connect, but not for a lack of trying, so I ended up ducking out before the end to try and get at least some sleep before my trip to Tampere the day after for the final show of the Finnish dates.
October 3 – Varjobaari, Tampere
Sadly all too soon, it was time for the run of three shows to come to an end and the final show of the three took place at Varjobaari in Tampere, and kicking off proceedings was melodic death metal outfit Nation Despair. Whilst the performance was good enough, there wasn’t an awful lot of movement or interactions between the members, and they gave a somewhat rigid performance, which didn’t really help the show to stick in my mind because there was nothing about their music that grabbed my attention. It was listenable and the music was good, it just wasn’t the most original or engaging at times.
Knowing that there was little point in watching a show from Thyrgrim that I wasn’t going to enjoy a great deal, and since I had friends at the show I wished to catch up with, I took a prolonged smoke-break before returning to the venue in time to see them winding things up before Vorna’s headline performance.
Opening with Ukkonen again before going directly to Ikuiseen iltaan, which was another winning combination, we were then treated to another brand new track, this time the album opener Harmaudesta, and to tell the truth, it was one of the highlights of the set. There was a great air of mystery and suspense to it, and although it would have worked better as a set opener (which is probably why this has been chosen as track one for the album!) there was no denying this was a powerful and impactful number.
An interesting thing to note was that for this show, they closed with Jälkemme. It was a fantastic way to round up the performance; as one of the more ambient and melodic tracks, it helped the set to resonate and made for a very rewarding finish, remaining in your mind for long after the closing chords rang out.
Some may say I’m mad to travel all the way out to Finland to see Vorna play three shows in a row – but when a band is this talented both on CD and live, it makes it all the more worthwhile.
VornaSemifinal, Helsinki - October 1st 2015
Photographer: Sallis Lindqvist