Xenoverse @ Arabiasali, Helsinki 28.04.16

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Xenoverse is a Finnish progressive metal/rock group. Its name might not sound familiar but I’m sure I’ll spark a nerve when I mention that their drummer Rolf Pilve, plays in a small band called Stratovarius. Sure enough Timo Kotipelto showed up in the audience with Lauri Porra and the ex-guitarist of Sonata Arctica Jani Liimatainen.

The rest of Xenoverse are also seasoned musicians, the backbone being the vocalist/keyboardist Arttu Juntunen. He has for example played in Iconcrash and filled in live with Wöyh! However Xenoverse is the main outlet of his. It’s been slowly coming up, songs have been composed for years and years. They have played a few gigs and are finally recording their debut album, which they’ve played live for about 2 years already.

431582_101245593371947_220753334_nThis gig was held during the recording session. Apparently the band had just recorded bass and drums for 3 days and that was apparent from the sublime cooperation of the bassist Aki Virta and drummer Pilve.

The quality of tracks and musicianship is truly astounding for a band with no records out but the gig wasn’t without problems. Most were of technical sort. Keyboard was occasionally way down in the mix and while the singer/keyboardist changed with his 3 (!) different keyboards, it seemed that it always took a while for the sound level to catch up. The keyboard setting was entertaining as all 3 were different. One was stationary, the other carried like guitar with strap and the third vertically attached to vocal mic!

In the third track the echo-pedal of keyboards broke and the band had to alter the set list while sending someone to fetch another one! The atmosphere stayed cosy because of the relaxed chatting of the frontman Juntunen. The band managed to get a few laughs out of the audience with this unfortunate breakdown and sure enough 15 minutes later a new pedal magically appeared!

Also the guitarist Aleksi Villberg seemed to suffer something broken down after the end solo of Disintegration. But he quickly attached a strap to a new guitar and I think most of audience did not even notice the difference. If that was planned I am in awe of why doesn’t own two guitar straps! Students… But Villberg handled his duties of being the lone guitar player admirably.

Xenoverse setlist

Setlist

The gig served as a final concert of the drummer Rolf Pilve and “B-degree” of the Keyboardist/vocalist Arttu Juntunen. Whatever those are. It would have been nice if the audience had been spared more light about them.

A track called The Torturer goes high in the most impressive moments list, nearly a progressive death metal track played with anger right after the breakdown of the echo pedal. I remember Disintegration being one of the most stunning moments of their earlier gig and it rocked socks this time too. The visual projections on the background dealing with the themes of the tracks added a nice element.

The final track Man From Earth ended with some completely sick progressive metal breaks and a magnificent cinematic ambient outro. The two last tracks were new tracks which are planned for their 2nd album as soon as they get the first one of the way. I really liked the space thematics and cosmosy astral sound. It’s a clear new direction from their first album which is formed over Vietnam war themes.

This is a band to really look out for. Their first album should be one of the best debut albums of 2016 or 2017.

Xenoverse will be playing live 1.6.2016 in On The Rocks. I highly suggest you to check them out if you enjoy melodic progressive metal or rock.

One can rule the sky which they announced as “their hit song” had a lot longer intro and outro compared to this old youtube version, which is also the only well recorded song so far, really more of a progressive rock track than the rest of the tracks have appeared live:

A solid live recording of Disintegration from their earlier gig:

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