Text, photos, video: Mikko A

Harsh Ways Syndicate has been active setting up shows around Turku region. Turku is located in the east coast of Finland. Easy access from Sweden/Stockholm to come to check out gigs. Foreign people who fly in, have easy public transportation from Helsinki to Turku as these are the major cities in Finland. 

For some Finns it takes hours to drive from other side of country to come to the gigs, but with line-up like this, it is worth it. It was pretty intense gathering of currently active noise heads all around the country. Bands did not attract as many foreign visitors as recent Bizarre Uproar gig. That is no surprise, since many in the line-up are still fairly new names. For many people, the legendary band or artist is THE selling point. For me personally, especially this time, selling point is the opportunity to see the new ones. Nuori Veri was performing for the first time ever. Commando 15 with his second live gig. Haudat has played handful of gigs, but this was first time I could witness it. Same for The Räty and even Aprapat! Current situation in Finland means, you have plenty of opportunities to see noise acts play live, yet magnitude of underground activity means it is impossible to go to every event. Overlapping dates and so many things happening that despite having been following many of the artists from beginning, I have not been able to attend their shows before this.

It was apparently raining all the time in the center of Turku, but in the area of ​​the concert venue known as Kammio it was mostly… merely partly cloudy? In the morning it was still suffocatingly hot and after a small rain and thunder it cooled down to the suitable level. There were not many moments during the evening where rain would have caused need to go inside. It was pretty much perfect for evening. Between every act, people who gather outside to meet with others. Indeed, you could spot perhaps.. 40.. 50 different currently active artists all around the country. There was also couple merch tables of esoteric publications, noise CD’s and tapes and such things available. Plus some of the artists were selling and trading their new tapes to anyone who would know to ask.

Perhaps the large amount of gear was one of the reasons why Aprapat played first? It would have been difficult to set up quickly between other gigs. I don’t know the reason really, but it also displays how strong the line-up was that one of the most celebrated Finn-noise acts will start the event and you can still trust event will not be going downhill, but keep up the strength till late night.

This was great display how this particular venue is perfect for noise. First of all, its not a bar, not something utterly ”hip”, so people who come to the shows, really come to the shows, not just to drink. Size is rather big, so you can have decent size audience, project video art to the wall that can be actually seen by audience. Most of all, the PA system that is great for noise: Not too boomy subwoofers like in some of the rock clubs that tend to ruin the characteristics of fine detail of noise. Still, enough power that you can blast noise without going over limits of PA that usually means losing the characteristics of sound when PA distortion itself becomes the ”tone” or give flavor to everything. If you would blast Aprapat too loud with tiny speakers, you will most likely lose the neat blown out tape saturation and delicate vintage gear flavor. Now everything from the spirit and detail of the sound was preserved, yet good powerful volume. 

Apparently this was moodier live show that one before. From the video document you can’t see the longer atmospheric moments present in the set. Those longer tape loop moments were dominating over the harshness that Aprapat might be best known of. There was plenty of clatter and screech to satisfy noise heads, yet musical elements were surprisingly dominating. Some people commented that there was even martial industrial vibe. Indeed! I was already thinking in my mind when listening to the set, how suitable addition would be a bit of Test Dept/Militia type percussion on top of this! Video art was a rather bizarre sexy piece that in the end was even more explicit than… Bizarre Uproar’s background video was at their recent gig! Aesthetically, however, thoughtful and stylish, but also juicy in other ways! Most parts of the video could not be displayed on the video document so you will only see the stage.

Haudat operates a lot around tape loops, tape players and reel-to-reel machines, but unlike some of the early works, it seems he has started to add more elements. We can still see all sorts of tape sources being played, loops and such, but also quickly modulated oscillations. Some walkman pause-button action and other vintage/low-tech noise making methods were present. Good set!

The Räty worked damn well for me. In the very beginning, he was maybe searching for the perfect sound for a while, but after that it was a real blast. I like this notch more traditional harsh noise approach more than his early pure ”HWN tribute” approach. I fully know this can be splitting hairs. Yes, there was quite a wall of noise, but on the other hand, there was active sound creation all the time. Way more about loud harsh noise than a static rumble. When video displayed mr Räty winning gold medal, it was kind of moment when one felt necessary to… celebrate, hah! Kind of good vibes harsh noise!

Commando 15 was damn good. I already told many people that it was probably the best of the night. I’ll have to take back my words. First of all, because it is not a competition. And also the artists are all so different that it is not really comparable! However, Commando 15 created such a screeching and physically involved noise that really hits the spot. Absolutely brilliant. Less about pre-created elements, more about being there right at that heat of the moment. Of course, you can say that the C15 set was “one thing”, in a way. Yes it was, but it perfectly carried duration of the set and as soon as artists body language displayed all is done, he quickly ended the show before it would have become churning more of the same. In about 12 minutes? Perfect.

Nuori Veri. You can see in the video document when the artist says that this will be the last song. My reaction was that WTF! This set had just only started! What the heck?! All in all it was perhaps little less than 30 minutes. It says a lot about the quality of the set if it would definitely work with a ”stadion gig duration”. The “band-like” look and action is neat addition. Monologues between the songs, declarations and small interaction that goes further than kind of introverted approach where artists only interacts with table of gear. The set was clearly composed and well thought out. Technical/musical assistance from a master-level guy who has recorded under the name Iäinen. A calmer material than with early tapes, more in narrative approach of later releases and figurative sounds. When man declares ”ankarin tuomarisi on itsekunnioitus” (Your hardest judge is the self respect), it kind of displays the strength of Finnish language. As english translation, expression might be almost generic, yet the weight carried in the Finnish expression, especially in context it was used, gave me shivers, simply showing how the artists has ability to convey strong message via art. 

I have seen the Absolute Key + Hail Conjurer set a couple of times before. A lot of the same songs. If not even all of them? My favorite part was the instrumental at the very end of the set. Can’t really say if industrial is a good word to describe, because many do associate term in vastly different ways. Even if you say that there is a rhythm, big keyboards, a drum machine sounds, a floor tom beat… then probably if you haven’t heard what they do, you will get an image of something completely different than what they do. Absolute Key vocals remind at times the Club Moral singer, while Hail Conjurer roars in more aggressive style. Interestingly sort of ”out-of-the-genres” sound, without being anything overly weird or pretentious. Just the kind of stuff what comes from these guys.

After the set, most of the crowd left quickly, but also dozens of people still hanging out and chatting with each other. Little barbecue set up in the yard. Eventually everybody left the venue and late hours of night spend at Turku nightlife.

Next one HWS is organizing is Harsh Ways Fest II. 9-10.8.2024 


Around the fest happens other things, such as Grey Ritual in Helsinki wednesday of same week!


There could be other things as well. A lot of bands to see who you will unlikely see outside Finland very often. Even if venue is pretty large, to keep things working well, you need to contact organizer in advance for booking. This way gigs won’t be overbooked and anyone traveling long distances to see the bands, actually gets to see and hear them. Each gig announcements has the contact information. Keep eye on SI forum gig announcements for further live shows happening in Finland, and also around the world. You do not need to be a member of forum, nor have any apps, just old school of visiting site and see if there is something you want to attend. All organizers can communicate in English.