Live!

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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The Chant, Crib45, Hanging Garden @ Vernissa, Vantaa 05.02.16

The gig Vernissa hosted could be described as a tremendous set of affordable atmospheric Finnish metal. Each of the bands is yet to gain the attention they deserve, probably because the members of each band aren’t kids anymore. They seem to be mainly around and plus 30s and have more in life than just bands.

The Chant may not be in metal-archives but they still have plenty of kick in them with the atmospheric late Anathema like soaring. Crib45 represents modern Post-Metal at its basic majestic form and Hanging Garden a sort of mixture of melodic death, again late Anathema/Katatonia, and perhaps a pinch of doom as well (combined with shameless pop hooks and idiotic cover art).

The gig was allowed for all ages but for once the drinking area for people over 18 was smartly placed. Pretty much the whole place was 18+ except the side where people came in. Far too often these areas seem to be designated for keeping people with alcohol crammed as far away as possible. Not this time, excellent Vernissa!

cover_173103152014_rThe Chant was a great opener. Their playlist included tracks like Minotaur, Falling Kind and Earthen which are my personal favourites of their 2014 release New Haven. Falling Kind managed to set up a good amount of goosebumps too. Stage was quite crowded, was it 7 or 8 people on it? It did not result in wall-of-sound though, the dynamic was very much present.

The last track Come To Pass caught me by surprise as I did not remember it being such a blissful build up. The album version does not do full justice to its magnitude indeed.

406990Crib45… or like my Belgian friend says it needs to be pronounced NOT “Crib fortyfive” BUT “Crib neljäviis” (as they call their band that in their stage banter)  …presented an expected heavier boost to the gig. They’ve been accused of being a carbon copy of Cult of Luna, and they do sound very alike. The difference between a blatant copy and Crib45 is that Cribneljäviis does their thing so damn well and the passion is so present it is very hard to accuse them being just a copy.

Again the last track Into The Abyss was the highlight. Its end with minutes of robotic posturing with a repetitive riff leading to epic end with surprising dual vocals works magnificently in a live setting.

Only thing that I do not think is very impressive on album or live is the end where music fades out but clean vocals and growls continue on for a long while. Friend accurately commented it sounding “like a humour band”. It is a brave move nevertheless. I was also glad to hear Waiting For Deliverance. I am only familiar with their newest album, 2014 Marching Through the Borderlines though. Their slot was under 1 hour, so these two monsters took about half of it already (some I missed because of beer and scenic Vantaa riverviews).

Hanging Garden‘s setlist seemed to be similar as their Lahti gig warming up Swallow The Sun a couple weeks earlier. They started with Borrowed Eyes where I am always taken aback on how much the vocals sound like Pasi Koskinen (ex-Amorphis 1995-2004). Only in the first lines though. Embers with its piercing piano lines and melancholic popdoom worked pretty damn well. Yeah I just made that genre up.

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The Vinyl cover art is pretty damn nice (and their shirts)

I was pleased how good HG sounded after strong efforts by The Chant and Crib45. Also the final track before last encore 10 000 cranes from At Every Door (2013) grew a lot since last, and first time I have heard it (in Lahti-gig). I still can’t get over that when they present the track it sounds like the vocalist says “ten thousand creams”. This gets me trying to mishear the lyrics as baking references:
Bake
I command you, bake
Bake the cake, with a furnace
Bake the cake, with darkness
Burn I command you, burn 

After the audience convinced the surprised band to come back to a second encore they ended the gig with a cover they stated they hadn’t trained much. Jeff Buckley’s Dream Brother (which I thought was something by Tim Buckley, whose Starsailor I’ve had a brief acquaintance with, Jeff is actually his son).

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The cover vomit of HG’s Blackout Whiteout does not do the album justice. Get a fucking room, ugh.

Especially the drummer did not seem to mind the cover as drumwork was a joy to follow. Upon further googling that song does actually appear in Hanging Garden’s Backwoods sessions Live ep from July 2015. Apparently only in Youtube. They are definitely a band that I will want to see again in the future. Their newest Blackout Whiteout is also a real grower of an album, highly recommended.