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Dante´s Highlight: Before the Dawn, Elenium, Grendel, The Ocean

Stadt / City HELLsinki 
Land / Country Finland 
Web www.danteshighlight.fi
Dante´s Highlight 
Datum / Date 
Bildergalerie / Picturegalerie dantes 
Photos: Klaudia Weber, Kathleen Gransalke, Kristina Sundman, photo manipulation: Kathleen Gransalke 

A new Rock / Metal Club in the heart of Helsinki raises interest, not only because it´s still visible that the building once was a church. Moreover, the name - Dante´s Highlight... So is the first positive impression - ticket & beverage prices below the core-central average - deceptive? Should really all hope abandon, you who enter here?*


The strangeness of the sound and the bright light
Inflamed in me an ardor to know their cause,
Sharper than I had ever felt before.

First the fans of Old School Death Metal must have felt like paradise when The Final Harvest presented their debut album "The End" live in HELLcity. Old School also the presentation style, which means a bit static, and front man Ville sometimes appeared a bit insecure, but this young act will surely learn a lot as tour support for Napalm Death in Finland in early 2009.

The heaven after it, with brilliant stars...

I saw there, smiling at their sports and songs,
A Beauty who was happiness to see
For all the eyes of all the other saints.

Happy faces all around, as after a "Sneak Preview" and a short acoustic set Before The Dawn finally gave an official live presentation of their new CD "Soundscape Of Silence" that made it to the Finnish Top 15 right away. "Dying Sun", "Exile" and "Monsters" are the band´s potential new evergreens, but they also played some classics ("Deadlight", "My Darkness"). The great new "semi-acoustic" version of "My Room", performed as encore, could be a future genre-transcending superhit, please record & release that one soon!!

PS: The new art form "Death Metal Modern Dance" reached new dimensions in Finland - DM Gogo dance (see photo above). STALKER as dedicated lifestyle magazine will definitely keep following this new trend...(KW)


And look! just as Mars in the early dawn
Burns with a deep red glow through heavy mists
A light coming across the sea so fast
Nothing in flight could match its rapid motion.

Leaving behind all the stars and saints we began our descent into more sinful spheres. Bare chests, bashing hair and a singer who indulges in his Michael Jackson fantasies - Elenium shared their melodious sounds with us and had a "real" stage but there were some sound problems - sure, singer J can hardly ever stand still... no wonder, such a lot of fire in him... as a surprise the band offered besides the usual Faith No More track also a new cover song - "Rain" by Samael, pretty accurately following the original, but still typical Elenium - brutal riffing and Prog feeling. (KW)

Then the rest with sweetness and devotion
Harmonized with him through the whole hymn,
Fixing their eyes on the spheres of heaven.


But the inferno isn´t far...
In icy cold we knocked on hell´s gates to be allowed in to listen to Ghoul Patrol and Grendel.

Babbling tongues, terrible palaver,
Words of grief, inflections of deep anger,
Strident and muffled speech, and clapping hands

Ghoul Patrol entered the stage with ear-splitting death metal and infernal enthusiasm. But what´s that lolling around the sides of the stage? In the beginning we still thought it´s some kind of decoration but suddenly the zombie gogo girls (Attention! New trend coming up!) slowly wake from their sweet dreams and bewitch the audience with their lascivious-teetering performance, almost stealing the show from the band.

Where you shall listen to the desperate screams
And see the spirits of the past in torment,
As at his second death each one cries out.

I come to a place where all light is muted,

...we are waiting for Grendel.

After having seen Grendel already before, I was a little disappointed by their new album „A Change Through Destrucion“. Not always they were able to capture the same energy you feel live on record.

On stage, however, it´s a different story and Grendel frontman Mikko seems to be completely in his element. Full of energy, with flying hair and battlesome gesture he knew how to captivate the audience and bring the songs to a hellish life. That´s how we want to hear it! And so it seems that in the end the evil always wins...(YZ)

The windblast out of hell, forever restless,
Thrusts the spirits onward with its force,
Swirling and mauling and harassing them.


One man´s meat is another man´s poison - the sold-out Opeth show in HELLcity had to be cancelled at short notice due to the singer´s indisposition, but the tour-colleagues The Ocean and Cynic gained short-notice admission at Dante´s. Therefore I had a chance to check out if The Ocean were live as sensational and breathtaking as on CD. First it was like the third circle of Hell, exactly as described by the Southerner Dante Alighieri - chilly, frosty, we had to wait for an hour in the queue, until all miserable souls were judged (ID´s) and admitted into the sacred halls. But it was worth it, the purgatorial-brutal sound explosions of The Ocean purified the darkest mind, my gooseflesh was not caused by the temperature... and Cynic, with their first riffs, sent pretty much everybody in the club immediately to (Metal) paradise... (KW)

Conclusion: Every metal venue will always end up in inferno, no matter how hard you try to avoid exactly that. And so it seems that Dante´s is the new rockmekka in Helsinki and also Grendel frontman Mikko Virtanen thinks „Dante´s Highlight is great.“ Especially after the owners „invested in it and turned the place into a competent venue for concerts it´s a good place to perform” The only thing that is in his eyes still worth improving is the backstage area, which now “was a few chairs in the middle of the downstairs kitchen/storage”. This will certainly be optimised in the future, “normal” guest have comfortable if slightly unstable seats at their disposal. So whenever you´re ready to slide into sin Dante´s Highlight in HellSINki is the place for you. (KG)

Stalker wants to thank Kristina Sundman and Daniel Mühlbacher (www.widescreen-wallpapers.de) for allowing us to use their photo material. Title picture illustration: Gustave Dore.

More photos in the photogallery, follow the link above.

* Quotes from Dante Alighieri´s "The Divine Comedy", translation by James Finn Cotter, web edition by Charles Franco, http://www.italianstudies.org/comedy/index.htm

Klaudia Weber, Yvonne Zawada, Kathleen Gransalke

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