Sunset over crystal blue Lake Lucerne waters crossed by the famous Chapel Bridge – Time to leave the picturesque city centre and walk along the rails to cosy venue called “Schüür”, literally translated into “barn”. Indeed, the charm of this historic building makes a perfect setting for metal concerts.
Tonight is the night. A very special night, no doubt. The program consists of two parts: First, the semi-final of the Swiss Wacken Open Air Metal Battle demands the ultimate performance of it’s competitors. Then Bloodred Hourglass, the Finnish Melodic Death Metal heroes play their first ever headlining gig outside their home country! Quite some reasons for all who appear on stage tonight to be a good deal more nervous.
Wacken Open Air Metal Battle
When Strained Nerve open the competition the audience is small. It’s early, all the more by international standards and considering the competition to take place on a Saturday night. They don’t mind but shred the stage with a natural and enthusiastic performance obviously enjoying as much as can be their gig. The five-pieces band has been around for ten years already and released two albums. Their style – somewhere between Melodic Death and Modern Metal is perfect appetizer for Bloodred Hourglass whose band logo is omnipresent on the shirts and patches in the crowd.
Competitor number two are Eternal Delyria, taking the slightly grown audience on a journey into the world of atmospheric darkness and horror. Their riffs stir deeply in your guts and the screams of the two vocalists cause creepy goose bumps running on my spine. It is their second appearance in the WOA Metal Battle after 2017 and made it to the finals back then.
When Judge Minos begin setting up their stage the audience grows – at the very least by the numerous friends and family they have brought along. Their show is in the typical style of classical heavy metal bands – in the best of senses. A bit of stage decoration, straight play, no costumes. They arouse a sudden hurry among the majority of the media representatives. With their charismatic frontman they apparently are a favourite of most of the folks present.
With Almøst Human (despite the name, nothing reminds me of good old KISS) appearing on stage the crowd grows again. The skilful instrumentalists and their vibrant as well as highly emotional vocalist perform passionately and are celebrated by the audience.
One last time for tonight the stage is taken down and set up again. Only setting up the loaner drum kit comes with some difficulties and takes a little longer. But Swiss fans have waited years to see BRHG live. Who cares for a couple of minutes?
A Finnish Force Of Nature
The crowd has grown once more. It has become a bit, let’s say ‘cosy’ off stage. The tension is rising – on and off stage! This is the first time Bloodred Hourglass play in Switzerland and even more, it is their first headliner gig abroad ever! The promo for the show promised a band with the potential of none less than Wintersun, Insomnium, Amorphis or Children Of Bodom! Big words. Will they meet this standard? Who would know the Finns in Switzerland so far? This question receives an answer, when Jarkko pops up behind his kit, pulling up his arms. Within in seconds, the crowd is going wild – and loud! Now that is hot welcome! The storm evolves into sheer rage when the string wielders play the first chords and finally Jarkko roars into the mic: “Did you hear the rumble of the morning rain?”
“Alysia” and “Waves Of Black” make a thundering opening of the show. Speed and rhythm fuel the rage of the crowd. The next two songs are milestones in the history of Bloodred Hourglass. “Valkyrie” is rage, despair, hate and love – an eargasm, so abundant with all sorts of dark emotions, perfectly transcribes into riffs and tunes, beats and growls. This song opened many doors and even more music fans’ he arts all over. Coming up with an album after, creating soundscapes matching this level, that was a challenge! But they made it and brought “Quiet Complaint” as the first single, an appetizer ahead of the album’s actual release. A perfect choice back then and no less tonight. It is a killer song. No way this leaves anybody cold-hearted. Jose and Lauri take a step back from the front end of the stage and let their hair fly. The stage is where they belong! And Jarkko’s blasts dictate the pulse while the windmills in storm wield their strings!
The set comprises mostly songs from their two latest albums “Godsend” and “Heal” but is spiced with more songs from their earlier albums such as the incredible gut-stirrer “Castle Ashtray” (album “Lifebound”).
Ask And You Shall Receive
The “Schüür” is on fire. With some confidence the vocalist’s gaze scans the celebrating crowd, the crowd celebrating them! A smile sneaks out. The show is running fine. No. Way more than that. The floor is shaking, hair is flying on and off stage. Ecstatic passion rules. There is a “but”, however. I stand on the side, little higher than the rest and watch the banging and moshing, just like the Jarkko from the center of stage. I wonder if he notices the same. Rather not, I suppose. “Ask And You Shall Receive” demands his full attention and vocal contribution again. I am all but pleased by the ‘rough manners’ of the ecstatic audience. In Germany and Finland (at the very least), the moshpit is a place of mutual respect and shared passion. But what is going only a few meters away, it is a good deal too tough and unfortunately even violating partially. It seems not to matter much if at all. Still I miss the respect for the choice not to take part in it and most of all the attention and care for another that normally assures no one gets actually hurt.
Bloodred Hourglass on stage have always delivered a blast. I have seen some of their earlier shows in Finland. Their passion has set any crowd on fire. Now, seeing the Swiss audience running wild fuels them in return. It is a give and take. Tonight, they are outplaying themselves.
Sweat and adrenalin from the stage and the audience fill the air way more than the stage fog. “Times We Had” tests the statics of the venue when all the crowd is jumping before a circle pit forms – following the demand of roaring voice at the mic. Anyway and sad enough, even their longest-ever set, well over 90 minutes, comes to an end – the traditional way with “Where The Sinners Crawl”.
Relieved, and deeply happy they promise to come to the merch soon and they do. Very relaxed they enjoy the chats, photo and autograph requests with their audience because this is obvious: they have come for them tonight. The audience have come to experience the Bloodred Hourglass way of setting ‘a barn’ on fire. This was definitely their best show I have attended and as it seems, the longer the set, the even better it gets. Take this a challenge, guys! And don’t let us wait too long for your headlining tour!
What remains to be mentioned?
More importantly, Almøst Human won the Wacken Open Air Metal Battle semi-final as Jarkko had the honour to reveal during their gig. Congratulations! My personal favourites, however, had been Eternal Delyria. Anyway each band tonight was worth the while!
If you want to see Bloodred Hourglass, there will be plenty of opportunities. They will play several festivals during the summer and have been working hard already on their next album!