Between Sadistic Intent’s European tour dates in Rotterdam and Oslo, the hungry fiends of KRK had managed to snatch the cult US death metallers for one show in Helsinki. Unfortunately, the gig fell on a Monday, and as if that wasn’t unfavorable enough already, the addition of two warm-up bands and the late starting times dictated by the venue stretched the schedule far into the night. This surely hindered the attendance of some, but I was hell-bent on seeing the show from the start ‘til the end this time, as I had had to walk out in the middle of their previous Finnish performance at Black Mass Ritual Fest III due to similar schedule-related constraints.

Desolator started the evening with their primitive black/death metal, which didn’t offer much for someone like me who isn’t big on the style, but at least their riffs had more meat to them than with your average Ross wanna-Bay horde. This was in particular demonstrated by the memorable “Devil’s Hammer” that stood out as the strongest one of the set. Against my expectations, the band appeared without blood, corpse paint, or excessive bulletry, but at least Sadomaniac’s aggressive attack on the drums and Bestial Slaughter’s two-string bass and credibly shabby Bestial Warlust shirt offered something for the eyes. The guitarist-vocalist, then again, seemed anemically concentrated on his instrument, which isn’t exactly how I’d envision a guy going by the pseudonym Iron Baphomet Necrosexual Predator to perform...

The second local name on the bill was Gorephilia, who have come quite a long way from the shy demo band that I saw warm up for Grave a few years ago, having recently released a strong debut album and proved themselves as a tight and intense stage act. Their heavy US-style pummeling isn’t my favorite cup of festering slime on the table of death metal, but it’s still quite enjoyable when brewed this well, and offers a ravaging live experience. Henu’s cavernous growls are even a bit too deep for my taste, but his raspier retches of disgust provide a bit of variation, and could be utilized to a greater extent. Most of the band’s strength lies in the ominous atmosphere emanating from the guitar work, though, which endures even in the midst of the fastest drumfire, and shows its claws in the morbidly slithering leads.

By the time the headliner went on, the downstairs of PRKL had gotten reasonably crowded, considering that the clock was already nearing midnight on a Monday, and as the band launched into “Morbid Faith”, the front rows seemed to mutate into a convulsing mass of fists and hair. Other familiar classics such as “Untimely End” and “Lurking Terror” followed, along with a couple of newer songs, of which I spotted at least “Malignant Spirits” and “Numbered with the Dead”. While the first one was an instant killer in the finest Sadistic tradition, the latter was an enjoyable but more complexly structured Frankenstein that will take some more digesting. Bay’s vocals were executed with the same ghastly wrath as on record, and his short to-the-point speeches expressed acknowledgment and appreciation towards the audience, without falling into averagely American asskissery or embarrassing hey-hey-hey attempts.

The band had also made a surprising cover choice, as towards the end of the set, Darkthrone’s “Fuck off and Die” started rumbling from the speakers! As much as the newer Darkthrone albums seem like ideal live material, and it’s delightful that other bands bring some of those songs onto stages by covering them (like Hellbox once did with “Graveyard Slut”), this one seemed confusingly out of place in the midst of Sadistic Intent’s merciless massacre. The following “Funerals Obscure” made me quickly forget about this small aberration, though, and after that a single encore song concluded the roughly 70-minute set. If my previous interrupted encounter with Sadistic Intent had left me hungry, this time I walked into the night thoroughly fulfilled by a top-notch death metal show. We can only hope that the band return home equally satisfied after this tour, and finally get that damn album done...