Turmion Kätilöt, the Midwives of Destruction, have been on our list of bands to see since we caught them at Tuska 2014. Since their latest album, Diskovibrator, came out fairly recently, they’ve been playing club shows all month. The third stop was at the Virgin Oil Co. in Helsinki on October 17th, and we took the opportunity to check it out!
TK was also our first guest in episode 1 of our new mini-series on YouTube, Finnish Bands for Foreign Fans! Stay tuned for the interview, which should end up over HERE!
Virgin Oil is a venue that is notorious for being mediocre at best, but it hasn’t stopped me from checking out the occasional show. I’ve been really into Diskovibrator, so naturally I was glad that my first TK club show would be during the tour for that album. I showed up early to do the interview, and decided to lurk around the club afterwards instead of braving the heinous queues that VOc is notorious for by leaving and coming back. The floor was already quite full at 23:30, with a steady flow of new arrivals. There were a few painted faces, mostly right up front, and there was a strong air of anticipation. This, naturally, only got worse as the clock ticked midnight and there was still no band. Chants of “Kätilöt” rose up from the floor and balcony together, but as has been joked, both the band and venue are a bit notorious for being late, so in that sense they lived up to their reputations! However, if you’re at a gig that’s already playing at midnight, it’s quite unlikely that you’ve got anywhere else to be, so 15 minutes isn’t really a big deal.
After doing their utmost to get us into a state of static anticipation, the lights finally dimmed and “To Be Continued” began to play. DQ (drums) came on stage quite a bit earlier than the rest of the band, and they opened the show with “Kirottujen karnevaali” (Carneval of the Cursed). This heavy-hitter is also the first track off the new album and a personal favorite party song. I hate to say the words, “perfect start to a show,” but…
The first thought that popped into my head as this show began was that this was the most exemplary use of dual-singers (MC Raaka Pee & Spellgoth) I’ve seen, possibly ever. I have always felt that having multiple singers who don’t play instruments often ends up being gratuitous and weird on stage. I’ve said it about We Came as Romans, I’ve said it about Amaranthe… I’ve always felt that if you don’t need two singers, you shouldn’t have them. In the case of both WCaR and Amaranthe, all of the singers have different vocal styles, and still it felt a bit excessive on a stage to me. With that in mind, you would really think that I wouldn’t like TK’s dual-vocalists… but I loved it! The way they passed off lines in “Kirottujen karnevaalit” was so masterful that it sounded like one voice. The songs where they sang together had extra kick to them from the two styles mingling, continuing without pause for breath or need for a backing track for harmonies. It’s absolutely brilliant. The show would’ve been good with one singer, but somehow, even on a small stage, the addition of the second vocalist added so much. Another bonus to this set-up is that Master Bates (bass) and Bobby Undertaker (guitars) could focus on their playing and there were still two people to engage the audience. Don’t take that to mean that they didn’t move though!
From where we were by the sound booth on the balcony, the sound was surprisingly decent. Unfortunately, the disco bits of the music weren’t equal to the rest of the music. I was also sad that Virgin Oil’s disco ball didn’t get incorporated into the otherwise decent light show they were putting on. You’d think with a band that merges heavy metal with disco sounds, a disco ball would be the first thing they’d implement into their live lighting, but alas!
I’ve been told that, apart from potentially insane stage antics, the other half of the fun at TK shows is the banter between songs. In fact, to their credit, they said something between pretty much every song, from a diet that takes kilos off one of the singers and puts it on the other, to peeing in Lapland when it’s so cold that your piss freezes into an arc while you’re fending off wolves with a stick. Oh, and we can’t forget the song for the fellow who came out to sweep something off the stage. It’s something that any non-Finns will definitely lose out on at TK’s shows, but in all likelihood, if you can’t understand their banter, you can’t understand their lyrics either, so if you’re just in it for the music, you’ll still get what you came for.
The setlist was 50% new material and 50% greatest hits, which is exactly what I always hope for during new-release tours. I was quite impressed with the pacing and division of songs. On the other half of the traditional TK spectrum though, there was no freakshow whatsoever this time. I wasn’t sure if that was due to the small stage, the venue’s policies, or if they’ve simply toned that down over the years. In fact, perhaps the most questionable thing to happen was MC Raaka Pee spitting cider on the crowd. Instead, it was replaced with intimate crowd interaction. No one seemed to mind though, as the floor was equal parts dance party and moshpit for the entire evening. Most jumped like madmen for “Sinä saatana” (You Devil), and others looked like they were in a club. There was also a nice exchange of goods between the crowd and the band – some clothing was thrown onto the stage, while guitar picks and… fluids, were returned. It really made me think that I’ll have to come back sometime, off the clock and on the sauce, just to party!
They closed out the main set with “Pyhä maa” (Sacred Land), and gave us a bit of time to scream before they came back on stage (Spellgoth now without a shirt). They closed out the night with “Suolainen kapteeni” (Salty Captain) and “Lataa ja varmista” (Load and Lock). I’d love to say that this really kicked the crowd up a notch, but to be quite honest, they were already turned up to 11 for the whole show. I don’t think it was possible to get any more enthusiastic at this point.
I’m happy to go on record saying that my first live experience with Turmion Kätilöt was quite excellent. The energy from the band was almost overwhelmed by their fans, and the absolutely fantastic blend of dual-vocals with very solid playing and hilarious stage banter made this show everything you’d want in a live performance. The only thing I didn’t see that I might’ve wanted to was the freakshow. However, I’m sure there will be more opportunities in more appropriate venues sometime in the future. At least, I’m sure I’ll be there to find out!
1. To Be Continued (intro)
2. Kirottujen karnevaalit
4. Hyvissä höyryissä
5. Ranteet auki
8. Sinä saatana
10. Grand Ball
13. Pyhä maa
14. Suolainen kapteeni
15. Lataa ja varmista
Photos: Xeniya Balsara