When the news arrived that Hatebreed and Machine Head would be coming to shake the snow off of the roof tops of Helsinki, we knew there wasn’t possibly a more hardcore way to open the gig season of 2010. As the first day of February was coming closer, the excitement was about to rise to its most dangerous “jump-out-of-your-pants” level. And it absolutely burst out all over the Helsinki Ice Hall during the show.
Right away, Hatebreed stormed out on stage and blew out everyone’s brains with “I Will Be Heard.” Jamey Jasta was like one fiery ball of energy and his charge spread out to all of the audience. There was no way in hell anybody could remain motionless to this mind-exploding music. Even in the seats, a few kids in front of me resembled windmills, testing how much their neck muscles are able to take. When Jamey threw in lines like, “Anyone who doesn’t jump along with the next song is a Sweden-fan!” – well, it became basically a matter of Finnish pride to create and support a proper moshpit. And when it comes down to it, Finns sure as hell know how to show that they’ve got what it takes!
Despite the fact that the band has been out there for more than a decade, it seemed as if they were playing their first gig ever. You know what I mean – when everything feels new and you have to earn the public’s recognition no matter what. Jamey is definitely one of the “hardest-to-photograph” vocalists, as it is impossible to catch him still at one spot on stage. From the technical point of view, Hatebreed’s set was absolutely flawless: they don’t overdo it with any cool-ass effects, letting the most essential part of the show – the music – do its job. To my disappointment, they didn’t sing “Become the Fuse” – the song I had been waiting for the most – but they compensated this loss with “In Ashes They Shall Reap,” “Live for This,” and “Destroy Everything” – it almost made me lose my voice. All-in-all, the guys played around fourteen songs and ended their performance with “Never Let it Die.” As the band had finished breeding their hate, it was time for…
Machine-fucking-Head! A few hours before the show I saw Robb Flynn – he looked like a big fluffy cat: very calm and intelligent. An outsider would never imagine that a few hours later this man will unleash hell at the venue. It was the first time I saw Machine Head live and was very surprised to hear their intro, which was “Ave Satani” – the theme song to The Omen (a horror film) – something I would rather expect from a black metal band. Machine Head kicked off with “Imperium,” and from the very first riffs I knew there was going to be some serious blasting.
The setlist for the night wasn’t the usual one, as the band had decided to add some songs they haven’t played in years. This was definitely appreciated by the crowd. Every time Robb Flynn said, “This goes out to my friends in the circle pit,” people went insane. Having a view from above, it was undoubtedly the biggest circle pit I have ever seen; it resembled the eye of the storm, and this storm had the most appropriate soundtrack: “Ten Ton Hammer,” “Beautiful Mourning,” “Spine,” “Days Turn Blue to Gray” – there wasn’t a single chance to stop for a moment and catch your breath.
That is, until… Well, I have wondered why the band plays “The Burning Red” so often – it is not a crazy gig-song and definitely not a trademark Machine Head composition. I had no more questions after I saw it. Mixed with beautiful light effects and Robb’s voice, it creates a very intense and profound sensation; it makes you feel as if you’re filled with the burning red and you have to let it out. I felt like flying in this thick red light, forgetting where I was, ’til I got smashed against the wall of pure hardcore. The songs that followed included: “Exhale the Vile,” “Bulldozer,” and “Struck a Nerve” – no mercy for your neck.
Before we even managed to understand what has happened, it was already time for the encore. The guys came out and Robb said “We’ve got one more for you.” It was “Halo”. That’s when, ladies and gentlemen, the mind behind these words you’re reading, was lost for about 7 minutes. The audience definitely felt it too; it was insanity at its wildest. Without any break to let us gather our brains, Machine Head struck us with “Davidian” and all hell broke loose. It was probably a good thing that this was the last song. A little more of this tension and the roof of the Ice Hall might have been blown off. As the last goodbyes were said, the band left the stage and a stream of people started to leave the venue. Everything looked calm and serene, but under all of these winter hats and coats, ears were still ringing, heads were still spinning, and blood was still boiling. Thank you guys for this rocking start to February!
Intro – Ave Satani (The Omen theme)
2. Ten Ton Hammer
3. Beautiful Mourning
6. Days Turn Blue to Gray
7. Seasons Wither
8. Aesthetics of Hate
10. The Burning Red
11. Exhale the Vile
13. Struck a Nerve
Text: Tanja Caciur | Photos: Jana Blomqvist | Ed: Amy Wiseman