Sunday, July 17, 2011

Urgamla, Axegressor, Primordial - 7/14/11 at Klubi, Turku, Finland; and Summer Wars

Something extra for you today. Not just a concert review but also a short movie review! And there will be a book review when I get back to the States. I finished One Jump Ahead in June but I left the draft of my review on my laptop. So it will be posted when I get back. Now I'm reading Kadonneet Kyyneleet (Lost Tears) by Mike Pohjola, so you may get a double review. And now on to the good stuff...

In Finland, everything is death metal

I thought there'd be this huge metal scene in Finland but it seems to be concentrated in Helsinki and Tampere - then again I have to drive an hour to most metal shows in my area too. But I did find a couple of shows in Turku as part of Hammer Open Air Metal Festival and decided to go see Urgamla, Axegressor and Primordial at Klubi.

Getting into Klubi is a little disorienting but once inside its quite cozy, kind of like Jaxx. You have to go into this alley, down some stairs, through a restaurant/bar area (empty both when I arrived and left), up some stairs and finally you're at the entrance to Klubi Live. The floor is a little smaller than Jaxx (I'm terrible with measurements though so don't ask me what the dimensions are) but there are more tables, chairs and benches for sitting and a little room to the back that I didn't really explore.

Hardly anyone was there when I arrived - and Urgamla had already started even though it was only ten minutes past their scheduled start time. Perhaps in Finland concerts actually start on time? Anyway, Urgamla is a black metal band from Turku with a very brutal and death metal like sound - growled vocals (mostly in Finnish) and heavy guitars, with very headbangable riffs and melodies, and a little folk flavor. They were going for a very evil image - the singer was covered in fake blood and at some point brought out an inverted cross with some candles on it. I wish they had more CDs (they only have two short demos) and/or more stuff on youtube. I liked them better out of the two openers.

Axegressor bills themselves as a thrash metal band and if you really listen for it, you can hear the thrashiness in their songs. The heaviness and melodic touches were more reminiscent of Scandinavian death metal, though, and I (who doesn't like thrash too much, I find it kind of boring) thoroughly enjoyed their set. I thought the singer had some kind of odd shorts on of some kind of printed fabric, and then toward the end I realized they were actually covered in band patches. Hoped he would be hanging out somewhere afterward so I could compliment him on the awesome shorts but didn't happen. However, I just realized that Axegressor will be at Tuska the day that I'm there so I'll get the chance to hear them again, yay.

Primordial, lastly, is a pagan/black metal band from Ireland. They started late and I had to leave early, so I only got to hear 45 minutes of them (4 songs, I think?). But they were well worth the wait and I would happily have stayed for the whole set (although my neck might not have liked me the next day). This is the start of their set (not my video). I was shocked to see that the singer had a shaved head since I had the impression they all had lovely long hair, and everyone else in the band had epic long wavy hair. Instead, the singer had corpse paint, but it fit the mood of the songs - a little bit slow paced, but very heavy. I didn't headbang much, because of the slow beat, but there were some epic melodic moments that were quite headbangable. There were a definite Celtic influence and the songs seemed to have Celtic themes, including the fall of Rome. We got to sing along to that one.

For three unknowns - I'd never heard of any of these bands before this concert - this was a great find. Definitely a fan of all three of these bands now, looking forward to seeing Axegressor at Tuska, and hoping Primordial will tour the US.

next concert: TUSKA, Helsinki, Finland, 7/23

Summer Wars

Now for my first ever movie review (on this blog at least).

Someone pointed out a review of an anime movie in the paper, which turned out to be Mamoru Hosoda's Summer Wars. I'm a bit of anime fan but not an expert, so I hadn't heard of this movie or director before. The picture in the paper looked a bit goofy, but it said the director was a big Miyazaki fan, so I figured, it's got to be ok at least. And I was kind of bored. So I went to see it at Turku's biggest (and only) movie theater. There were exactly three other people in the that theater with me - everyone headed to the Harry Potter movie next door.

The movie started out plunging us straight into a virtual world called OZ, moving very fast, with lots of bright colors and cute images - it was very disorienting, and I thought, if the whole movie is like this, then I'm going to get tired of it very fast. But luckily, it soon moved to the "real" world. And once the main conflict emerged - BEGIN SPOILER - OZ, which controls everything from GPS navigation to cell phone and TV transmission, was hacked by a powerhungry AI thing, and an unlikely team of programmers and game fanatics got together to beat it - END SPOILER - I was hooked and followed the story on the edge of my seat.

The characters were not very deep, but easy to relate to - the shy and awkward computer geek, the girl he likes and tries to help, the kid who spends all his time on the computer and turns out to be the game champion of OZ. The girl Natsuki's huge family was very interesting - the aunt who just wanted to watch baseball, the silly kids and the spitfire great grandmother were very memorable. It was probably because there was such a huge cast that no one in particular could be excessively complicated, and props to the director that in spite of the huge cast, I didn't have any trouble keeping track of who anyone was - they were very distinctive (although, I'm not sure I could say for sure how anyone except the most important characters were specifically related. For instance, I have no idea whose kid Kazuma, the game fanatic and martial arts genius, was.)

The action sequences - battles between Kazuma and the hacker, which took place in OZ - were downright amazing. So much fun to watch.

The story a bit simple, so I don't know if this is a movie I would want to watch over and over (unlike other anime favorites like Appleseed and Perfect Blue). But I certainly enjoyed it this time and would recommend it to other anime fans. Non anime fans might find it less than amusing due to unapologetic animatedness of the OZ segments and not quite logical moments (ex. magical girl costume morph) that anime fans take for granted.

Next movie: don't know..I hardly ever watch movies.