With the release of “The Ascending of Jupiter” last year, as well as the Trio de Facto tour with Ensiferum, it goes without saying that the debut show for Metal de Facto has been highly anticipated! Bringing in the horror/shock metallers of Silver Bullet as their warm-up act, Helsinki‘s On the Rocks was sure to be hopping on February 8th, 2020, as these two bands celebrated the release for MdF’s debut, Imperium Romanum!
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Silver Bullet was first up with their unique brand of horror rock. The intro, “1590 Edinburgh” has a lot of church organs, and is also the intro to their new album, Mooncult. Vocalist Nils Nordling had an undertaker/executioner’s mask that also seemed slightly like a gimp mask – there were leather strips hanging from it that made it seem a bit unsettling, mysterious, scary, and… dirty. They opened with “She Holds the Greatest Promise” and they had great drive. There is good depth to the music, with thrashy parts equal to the power metal bits.
The set was fairly balanced between the first and second album and they all looked great on stage. The music has a deep and thick sound, though at some points the music mix was a bit tinny; it’s hard to say if it was the venue’s fault or what had caused it. Guitarist Hannes Horma was really into it and gave his all to the performance from start to finish. He played well and was really fun to watch at the same time, regularly at the edge of the stage, smiling and energetic, really happy to be there. They put in a lot of effort to make the show memorable, and succeeded.
The melodic keyboards in the backing melodies were a bit too quiet at many times, which unfortunately made the music lose some of its oomph compared to the album due to the muddled mix. “Under the Spell” from their debut, Screamworks, was one of my personal highlights, hard and melodic and powerful.
Though there’s not a lot of space to physically move around at On the Rocks, the band still felt very active and really have the performers’ feel. This time, a priest came to the stage to rally the people and sing some backing vocals, which was very cool. At some points he seemed like he wasn’t quite sure what to do, but it was a still a nice addition to the show.
The last song was “Tormentor” from the first album, which is a bit slower and menacing, and worked well as a final song. Nordling spoke about how revenge is so satisfying beforehand, which added to the spectacle of the song. It worked well to add to the haunting nature of the song.
Ultimately, these guys really gave it their all and we hope to see them on stages more in the future!
Silver Bullet setlist:
Intro: 1590 Edinburgh
1. She Holds the Greatest Promise
3. More Than Meets the Eye
4. Under the Spell
5. Eternity in Hell
6. The Witches Hammer
7. Forever Lost
Finally, it was time for Metal de Facto to take the stage! Celebrating the release of their 2019 album, Imperium Romanum, they put on a show of pure power metal. There were no bells and whistles – this was just honest metal. There was a lot of fog/smoke on the stage throughout the set, creating an excellent atmosphere for the show, opening things up with “Conqueror,” following with “Inferno” and “Naturalis Historia.”
Every member of the band was really active, making sure to give all they had. They felt hungry, as if they had been waiting to get on stage for a while now. Vocalist Mikael Salo was an energetic frontman, gesturing and amped up on the music; passionate, with a positive aura that enveloped the audience. In proper frontman form, he was also making an effort to connect with people in the crowd during every single song. While he has a great and powerful sound, he still feels relaxed and articulates easily, with no strain on his voice. The keyboard melodies by Benji Connelly made a big difference in the music, elevating things above and beyond the already great musical foundations. There were no gimmicks; the pure power metal vibe was easily felt and they did everything they could with the smaller stage. It was hard to tell that some of these guys have been in bands for ages while others haven’t, as they all played with pure confidence. “Legionnaires’ Oath” had a powerful feeling of declaration when Salo sang “the imperium never falls!” Surrounded in fog and belting it out, it was glorious to behold.
Since the band only has one album, there was a special section in the middle with some songs from the members’ other bands. The first was “Warrior Soul” (originally by Kiuas, guitarist Mikko Salovaara‘s former band), featuring their second vocalist, Asim Searah on guest vocals, which was a clear crowd favorite. The two voices worked well together, making it a really good version of a Finnish metal classic that got everyone pumped up… especially me. They followed this with “Deathbringer from the Sky” by bassist Sami Hinkka‘s other band, Ensiferum, featuring their vocalist, Pete Lindroos. When he first came out, his mic was dead, though this was quickly remedied. This too was totally badass and the growls combined with Salo’s clear vocals made for a magnificent iteration of the song. Finally, there was “Dreamland” by Dreamtale, guitarist Esa Orjatsalo and Silver Bullet vocalist Nils Nordling’s shared (though I think never at the same time) former band. Their latest vocalist, Nitte Valo, was the guest for this song. Ther did a great job playing with the song, and the younger band members (namely Salo and Connelly) were really excited, giving it a lot of life. This portion of the show was a cool moment where paying homage to their previous bands allowed old fans a special treat, and was also a totally unique experience with this line-up.
Not stopping the metal train, they went on to “Ides of March” and ended the set with the first single, “The Ascending of Jupiter.” There was no fatigue, no cease to the performance, it was all highs and no lows. The only flaw was that Connelly was tucked away a bit where he didn’t have the space to let loose as much as he could have; he was so active and energetic that they should have put him closer to the audience.
Of course, suiting the atmosphere of the whole event, they returned for an encore with “Bacchanalia,” not slowing or stopping or giving anyone even a moment to be bored. It was the perfect culmination of the entire show, with a happy, dance-y, drink-y feeling that allowed the crowd to go wild. They beckoned the audience to join in and raise their glasses and have fun, and we did!
I felt quite speechless watching these guys; it was one of, if not the best show I’ve ever seen at On the Rocks. The band felt like gladiators in a Colosseum with the stage as their battleground, giving all they have for our amusement.
Metal de Facto setlist:
1. The Conqueror
3. Naturalis Historia
4. Legionnaires’ Oath
6. Warrior Soul (Kiuas cover) ft. Asim Searah
7. Deathbringer from the Sky (Ensiferum cover) ft. Pete Lindroos
8. Dreamland (Dreamtale cover) ft. Nitte Valo
9. Ides of March
10. The Ascending of Jupiter
Ultimately, this was a fantastic night of pure power metal. Silver Bullet’s special brand of horror metal was a real delight to see and Metal de Facto really brought it. It was nice to see experienced and fresh musicians working so seamlessly together. It was a night of talent, energy, and tons of fun. Hopefully they’re both out on the touring scene again soon!
Photos: Sander Burmeister