As heavy metal festival season starts to take flight all over the world, choosing which festival adventure to attend is a tough decision when limited to only a few per year. There are so many heavy metal festivals of all types, all over the world. This year I chose to explore Helsinki and Steelfest Open Air, Metal festival, in Hyvinkää, Finland. Finland is a great place to visit, as everything is modernized, clean, and very efficient. The food was always healthy, and fresh no matter where I was.
After just a short train ride from Helsinki, I arrived at Steelfest day one, surviving primarily on vitamins, vodka, and the excitement I was about to endure. Of course bars in Finland are open late, and I found my favorite metal bar Base the night before, so the next thing I realized was that it was time for the festival, and I hadn’t even slept. No matter, I was at a black metal festival for the next three days filled with some really great black metal bands that I love, some that I had never seen, and some I hadn’t even heard of that blew my mind. These black metal bands came from Europe, Scandinavia, along with other locations, including Australia and America.
The negative connotations surrounding black metal can fuck right off, because in this context I’ve never been at a more peaceful therapeutic festival in my life. First of all, there was little to no overlapping of the bands, there were two stages, one indoors and one outdoors, there was plenty of picnic style table and bench seating for everyone in both areas. The lines for drinks and food were always short, there was never a line for merch, but they definitely sold lots of it. The bathrooms were civilized, but also had the port o’ potty option along with the “circle trough of sword fights” which I found both amusing and slightly disturbing as men just whip it out in the open air to relieve themselves. Everyone for the most part was at peace at this festival, and it was beautiful to see people from all over the world coming together for their common love of dark, powerful, and heavy music.
Steelfest Open Air saved my soul from my own self hate, as black metal for me provides a beautiful aggression which releases all the negative energy I soaked up from the world in the most honest, and darkest way. What is great is that different countries bring their different cultures into their style of black metal, which creates a great variety of strong energy. Some of my favorites at this festival were Australia’s Destroyer 666, Norway’s Nattverd, Gehenna, Carpathian Forest, Nattefrost, Nordjevel, Urgehal, Finland’s Horna, Warmoon Lord, Behexen, America’s NunSlaughter, Gravespawn, and France’s Pensées Nocturnes. Despite all these favorites, there was only one band of the three days of endless black metal that I found slightly less satisfying, only since they lacked in originality. For those who think there is no variety in black metal, the facts say otherwise. I could have attended this festival for a few more days since it was the most easy festival to be able to see every band without running around, and the lineup absolutely ruled. At the end of the third day, I was extremely sad and vulnerable because the amazing energy from both the bands and the people was about to dissipate. It’s never easy to leave something so comforting, but I learned to let it all go, until the next time. Life is full of short, sweet lessons that help us grow to a better version of ourselves.
The most important take away from attending this blackened heavy metal festival in Finland, is that America as a general reputation including at festivals, is beyond selfish, cheap, and violent. During the Destroyer 666 set I was on the front edge of the pit, and had my back turned to it. I can’t do that in America without getting punched or kicked in the head. Most of these other countries have quality of life, equal give and take, and are therefore not as bottled up with anger. Mosh pits are meant for fun releases of energy, but people get hurt in America all the time. Of course there are bad apples everywhere in the world, but in general terms it is time to take a lesson from these other much more peaceful places in the world. In the wise words of Jesus of Nazareth, do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Also, stay metal, and stay peaceful!