Tuska Open Air 2015, Helsinki, Finland

26.-28.6.2015 , Suvilahti

Just when it seemed certain that the summer of 2015 was a hopeless case, along came Tuska and brought the good weather with it. The morning hadn’t looked particularly promising, but when we arrived at the festival grounds, we soon noticed that we were dressed much too warm. But hell yeah, better that than the other way around. For the first time in the history of Tuska I actually used the cloakroom service. Which of course has always been there, whereas some other services were introduced for the first time this year. I’ll return to those a little further down, but let´s start from the beginning… (TS)

All text illustrations as interactive gallery:

Friday
First day of Tuska, first day of my summer vacation – I had been looking forward to this for a long time. Not least because of this Australian band Ne Obliviscaris which I totally adore. Little did I know that I would never get to see them….

And I had been curious about Britsh Krokodil , comprised of members of SikTh, Gallows, Hexes, Cry For Silence and Canaya, who had the honor to open Tuska 2015 on the main stage. And indeed, I found their trip through several Metal styles – from Doom to Melodic Death – quite appealing. It was not the first mosphit of the day the band set into motion that made me feel a certain need to sit down and watch from a distance…. (KW)
I arrived during the latter half of the Krokodil set, a band I didn’t know and actually still don’t, because they didn’t sound interesting enough to me to find out more about them afterwards. The most noticeable thing about them was the singer’s stage blurbs, approximately every other word of which was “fuck”. Seriously, I’m not expecting Shakespeare, but if speaking is not your thing, better just sing.

More bandphotos here
and here: http://www.eurynomes-photos.com/krokodil_tuska2015.html


Ghost Brigade didn’t waste much time on speeches and concentrated on the music instead. Concentration may have been necessary, because it’s difficult to create a mood of darkness and desolation on what was pretty much the first real day of summer. Not that I minded in the least to finally see them in proper light and not just on a dark club stage. The sound was great, too, and Ghost Brigade, despite their restrained appearance, are a highly intense live band. Keyboarder Joni Vanhanen, who had joined the band last year, now also did backing vocals, for example in “Electra Complex”. A very long song for a festival set, but I’m glad they fit it in. The icing on the cake was the closer, Ghost Brigade’s only song in Finnish: “Elämä on tulta.” (TS)
More bandphotos here: http://www.eurynomes-photos.com/ghostbrigade_tuska2015.html

Ouch, Metalcore, isn´t that style already hopelessly “out”? Well, I took some pictures and then fled the scene, not my cup of tea. Yet Architects from the UK seemed to have found a lot of fans in Finland, judging the impressive and very enthusiastic crowd that had gathered in front of the main stage. (KW)

When Architects entered the stage, I felt more than a little confused. I had only watched Krokodil from afar, but hadn’t that been the same singer? Same short blond hair, same tattoo coverage, same foul language between songs… A closer look revealed that it was a different dude, but the similarities were striking. Architects sounded more versatile, though, even if they’re not my musical cup of tea either. (TS)
More  bandphotos here
and here: http://www.eurynomes-photos.com/architects_tuska2015.html


That said, I hasten to add that checking out stuff you’d never listen to at home can be one of the most rewarding aspects of any festival. Case Apina: not in my dear life have I ever cared about punk-flavored rap metal, but these four kids from Oulu were totally great. I just meant to check them out briefly and take a photo or two, but then I stayed until the end of the set and had a splendid time. Not only were their lyrics very much to the point (especially “Isänmaa”), but the musical side was well in order, too. As the guitarist’s eight-string weapon discretely indicated, this was something quite different from your ordinary gang of three-chord street punks. (TS)
More bandphotos here: http://www.eurynomes-photos.com/apina_tuska2015.html


The German band who had won the Play Tuska competition took the Club stage next and surprised me with a quite sophisticated sound: Aeons Confer enchanted their audience with a mix of Black Metal and Symphonic Metal elements, singer Bernhard mastering evil growls as well as clean vocals.   More bandphotos here
True magic of some other kind happened outside, as I should soon discover, and I felt blessed that I could still watch a part of this band´s show, yet I leave the praise to the expert: (KW)


Another not very typical act for Tuska was Blues Pills from Sweden. My first love as a teenager before discovering the dark joys of metal had been Jefferson Airplane, and my senses rejoiced at the sight and sound of Elin Larsson and her merry band of hippies. I had checked them out on youtube a while ago and found them nice but not spectacular, so their jam-based live show and Elin’s power-saturated voice blew me away. The only thing that was missing was a big fat joint, but after all this was still Tuska and not Roadburn. (TS)
More bandphotos here: http://www.eurynomes-photos.com/bluespills_tuska2015.html


Quite a lot of Finnish fans had been looking forward to the Lamb Of God gig, as this band finally made their Tuska appearance with a 3-year-delay … It seemed that the band wanted to make up for this long waiting period and obviously tried to squeeze as many hits and classics as possible into their set, restricting the talking to the most necessary… As several bands before them, they had aquired the knowledge to thank the audience in their mother tongue: Kiitos!

Needless to say that the Finns celebrated this US band as if they were the headliners of the day (see wall of death video clip here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jJ4CzF9Hb1o ). A tough competition for Sabaton…
More bandphotos here
and here: http://www.eurynomes-photos.com/lambofgod_tuska2015.html


What to write about legends like Exodus? Nothing to complain about here, those Thrash icons proved once again their spot in Metal music history. Although they focused the content of their set on their new album Blood In Blood Out, ultimate hits like “Bonded by Blood” are naturally not to be left out. I was pleased that this show also inspired the youngest air guitarist I have ever spotted at a festival.

Somehow I could not muster any strength to mosh along, too, and started freezing although I wore 3 layers of clothing – and the weather was actually pretty nice … (KW)    More bandphotos here


As a general rule, pyrotechnics were the privilege of the main stage acts, but that didn’t stop the drummer of Alfahanne from starting their gig on the club stage with a freaky but stylish firebreathing performance. It set the outline for a hypnotic and at times downright groovy set, a bit monotonous perhaps – especially after the highly melodic Blues Pills – but definitely not boring. The final song was actually dedicated to Cisse Häkkinen of Finland’s legendary Hurriganes. Long live rock’n’roll! (TS)
More bandphotos here: http://www.eurynomes-photos.com/alfahanne_tuska2015.html


The popularity of Swedish Sabaton had been on the rise in recent years, which is indeed understandable witnessing their live shows. There´s always such a lot of fun on stage, and the talkative singer Joakim manages to inspire crowds with his huge boyish smile and even more boyish antics on stage. Hey, they had a drum-tank…

The song material might be a bit to much by the numbers for my taste, but undisputedly this is one of the most entertaining live acts in the scene.
Which I would have watched a bit longer, but feeling drained and freezing, I decided to leave earlier than planned, while the Tuska crowd of day 1 was still celebrating a worthy headliner, who rounded up the show with indeed a bang (or two, or even more…).

More bandphotos here
and here: http://www.eurynomes-photos.com/sabaton_tuska2015.html

The original plan had been to join the aftershow party with Black Light Discipline and To/Die/For at Bäkkäri, but my discomfort turned into a fever, which during the night, despite all efforts, reached the 40 degree mark. Realizing a) Tuska was over for me b) I urgently needed professional help, I dragged myself to a hospital, where I was kept for the following 4 days to receive treatment for what turned out to be pneumonia…

Therefore at this point all what is left for me to say is: Thanks to the nice staff at Haartman hospital to put me on my feet back again. And a big THANK YOU to all following guest contributors and dear colleagues who help us out here, because for one person alone it is hardly possible to cover a festival with 3 stages (2 being played simultaneously)… (KW)

Saturday
When I strolled towards the main stage early on Saturday afternoon, the first thing I heard from the PA was a hellish “…fuckin’ DIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIE!!!!” followed by a distinguishedly polite “Thank you very much.” Thank YOU, Mr. Holmes, and welcome home. Not only referring to Tuska as the homestead of our tribe here, but also to the fact that Old Nick growls again.

Listening to Bloodbath and especially seeing them live makes it easy to understand the back-to-the roots vibe of the new Paradise Lost album. Now that’s another band I’d love to have at Tuska. The last time I saw them was together with an orchestra in the ruins of a Roman theater in Bulgaria, a distinguished affair starkly contrasting with the gory appearance of Bloodbath. According to Holmes, “this is the last time you’ll ever see Bloodbath in the sunlight”, but trust me, the gig was much more enjoyable this way than it would had been in the hailstorm that had poured down on Helsinki just three hours earlier.
More bandphotos here: http://www.eurynomes-photos.com/bloodbath_tuska2015.html


Since my colleague had fallen acutely sick and I had to do the afternoon’s reporting by myself, I decided to eat something at this point, knowing well that there wouldn’t be time for it later on. I therefore didn’t see much of Bombus, who offered some nice melodic rock and looked like a band I might want to watch again some day. But now, lunchtime..
More bandphotos here: http://www.eurynomes-photos.com/bombus_tuska2015.html

In the Kaisaniemi days, Tuska used to be famous for its minimal food offering, but since moving to the present location four years ago, the offering has been steadily increasing and was better than ever this time around.

The Black Dining restaurant remained untested due to its price level (cool idea though!) and the same goes for the unfortunate stand that tried to sell simple meatballs for twelve euros while its neighbor offered gourmet falafel rolls for eight, but the latter, tested on Friday, were excellent and so was the feta burger I had in the beer garden on Saturday.

The band that had traveled farthest for Tuska was Ne Obliviscaris from Australia, visiting Finland for the first time ever. But hopefully not for the last – I thought they were still fairly unknown over here, but the crowd in front of the main stage was impressive. And what an amazing gig it was!

The complexity of their material notwithstanding, it works extremely well on stage, and let’s face it, there’s more to enjoy here than the aural pleasures. Tim Charles is so gorgeous that one might almost overlook the fact that he also happens to be an excellent singer and violinist, and his growling colleague Xenoyr is easy on the eye and ear as well. Benjamin Baret said afterwards that it didn’t go as well as usual (he had to play his guitar in an uncomfortable position due to a hand injury and the drummer had been troubled by his in-ear system), but if this truly was a suboptimal gig, I don’t even dare to imagine how mind-blowing they must be under normal circumstances.
More bandphotos here: http://www.eurynomes-photos.com/neobliviscaris_tuska2015.html


The sextet from downunder was followed by a trio from Norway. I had seen Einherjer once before, in their hometown Haugesund back in 2011. That show hadn’t been fully convincing, but their latest release Av Oss, For Oss was one of my favorite albums of 2014, so my expectations were high anyway. Unfortunately the impression was reinforced that Einherjer simply isn’t a particularly exciting live band. Maybe Frode Glesnes is a bit too serious for the job… I nevertheless enjoyed myself, as they played some old and new favorites of mine such as “Nidstorm” and “Ironbund”, plus I listened from a sunny spot right in front of the soundboard, but the band’s material would have allowed for a better set.
More bandphotos here: http://www.eurynomes-photos.com/einherjer_tuska2015.html

Loudness

Japan’s Loudness have an passion for the stage that makes no excuses. This passion flows through their energetic performance to their crowd, who find themselves in a fit of Japanese fan fever. Playing high quality heavy metal with a glam rock edge, their music isn’t all fluff but is filled with addictive riffs that will get bound up in your head for days. Speed, aggressive lines, but also some moderation, Loudness show that being around since 1981 doesn’t give any excuses for slowing down. Though it was only the second song in the show, I had Like Hell stuck in my head for days. (NH)
More bandphotos here: http://www.eurynomes-photos.com/loudness_tuska2015.html

Amorphis are a regular guest at Tuska, but this year’s set was special, as the band played the classic Tales From The Thousand Lakes in full. Despite the enduring popularity of this album, some of its songs had not been played live for twenty years, among them my personal favorite “Forgotten Sunrise”.

Foreshadowing the more progressive direction Amorphis would start taking a couple of years later, its short guitar solo basically revealed that Esa Holopainen had been listening to Dave Gilmour since age eleven, and it was sweet to finally hear it live. Another “finally” was Tomi Koivusaari back at the microphone, if only for a few additional growls in “Into Hiding”, “First Doom” and a couple of others. Instead of reproducing the album note for note, the band introduced some nice little updates, such as the prolonged outro of “Castaway”, the new keyboard arrangement in “First Doom” or the Kingston Wall reference in “Magic & Mayhem”. The Tales set was followed by a few more songs from the early days, most surprisingly “Folk Of The North” from the Black Winter Day EP. A great gig, and a nice nod to the past from a band that, as their new material proves ( our report about the exclusive listening session HERE ) , is still very far from becoming a nostalgia act.
More bandphotos here: http://www.eurynomes-photos.com/amorphis_tuska2015.html


The next gig was another special affair: Abbath’s first solo show ever. Or maybe I should write, the first show in his own name, as his new band has actually more members than Immortal. Much of the setlist was made up of Immortal songs, which of course is understandable as there is not much solo material to draw from yet. In a way I had the same problem with Abbath than with his countrymen Einherjer – my interest was high, but the momentum didn’t carry all the way through. Furthermore, their sound was strangely muddy – since the other bands on that stage had all sounded fine, I couldn’t help wondering if this was on purpose. But after all it was the band’s first gig, so it’s okay if there is still room for development. And if all goes well for Abbath’s solo career, we might yet some day fondly look back at this debut show.
More bandphotos here: http://www.eurynomes-photos.com/abbath_tuska2015.html

In Flames

As In Flames graced the stage, no amount of momentary technical hitches were going to dissuade their crowd from pushing closer, roaring out and raising their fists. The Tuska crowd was as pleased to see the Swedes as it seems these masters of melodic death metal were to see the sea of Finns. I had to remember to keep my camera up during Only for the Weak, as there would be time for head banging later, but sang along as I tried to keep my lens focussed on Fridén, Gelotte, Ewers, Engelin and Svensson. With barely room to move in the photo-pit I had wedged myself up against the crowd-barrier, when prompted by Fridén the first crowd surfers came over in the early bars of Everything’s Gone. The photographers soon found themselves ejected from the pit as surfer after surfer risked ejection from the festival to travel the heads and hands of the moshpit to the music of In Flames. Not satisfied with this frenzy, Fridén encouraged circle pits, determined to leave this crowd in a state of happy exhaustion. And, with a good balance of old and new In Flames, this crowd were sinking everything they had into the music. From the arms reaching over the crowd barriers, to the friendly but energetic circle pits, out to the dancers losing their minds on the edges, Tuska was transfixed. (NH)
More bandphotos here: http://www.eurynomes-photos.com/inflames_tuska2015.html

Sunday

Mors Subita is up an coming in Finland. The Melodic Death band recently released their second album “Degeneration” and are doing very well with it. Now opening the big main stage at Tuska Sunday and doing so with bravura. Compared to the album they seem a bit more approachable and with the energetic show these guys give today they have no problem to entertain the early birds at this last Tuska day.

A song that stands out is “World Separated”, it has a certain aggression in it that easily transfers the energy from the song to the audience. Often seen at stands on the stage vocalist Eemeli connects with them by giving the idea he is addressing everyone personally. A good opener for the day!


Warmen has been around for many years already and with five full length albums on their name the band is ready to select some songs from varied albums for us today. In Fall 2014 the guys released their latest one called “First of The Five Elements” (means we get four more albums at least?) and so come they have something to promote here. With a couple of guests along the guys are in favour already.

Alexi Laiho of Children of Bodom is a known name and very welcomed guest, that although he is the last one to get introduced at the last couple songs of their set, is really making that convincing slam on the table for those who were not sure about Warmen yet. They are not around often, but when they do they know how to make a party!


Thrashers Mokoma are often playing at Tuska and since they have a wide-spread fanbase in Finland, after all they sing completely in Finnish, there is a good reason for Tuska to invite these guys to come around again. Of course their album “Elävien kirjoihin” that came out in February was a little help to that as well. Mokoma is not the kind of band that is extremely extrovert. They give energy and such, but the majority of their power comes from the music and the skills and they do not have that extremely active stage encounter going on. Yet, they are working the stage with profession. The songs that are so familiar to the fans, who sometimes chant them along are doing the work and with a little extra the guys are having an easy job today in showing why they are always welcome at Tuska. (SvG)
Sabine´s page: http://tempelores.com/

The third day of Tuska started with the discovery that a bike thief had visited my back yard during the night (thanks for leaving me the sawed-through lock, asshole!) and the indirect consequence of missing At The Hollow, but it’s impossible to feel bad while listening to Anneke van Giersbergen.

In her new band Sirens, she is accompanied by two equally capable colleagues from Norway: Liv Kristine (Theatre Of Tragedy) and Kari Rueslåtten (The Third And The Mortal). Anneke herself had been to Tuska before with Devin Townsend and was clearly the one of the three who felt most at home on the stage of a metal festival. The set consisted of some songs they had recorded together as well as material from their respective former bands and solo albums. They not only sung together but also took turns performing songs on their own. The trio concept might be more exciting if the three voices were more different from each other, but as it is, they blended well together and offered a nice contrast to the testosterone-driven majority of Tuska acts.
More bandphotos here: http://www.eurynomes-photos.com/sirens_tuska2015.html


Opeth hadn’t visited Tuska since 2006, and the material they have recorded since then has been less metal and more progressive. Upon the release of Heritage, I thought that the metal world had lost them for good, and although I’m a prog fan, I didn’t like that album too much. Its successor Pale Communion, however, turned out to be excellent, and in recent times their live shows have again included more of the older, heavier material. At Tuska, Opeth offered a well-structured mix of old and new, and the whole set from “Eternal Rains Will Come” to “Deliverance” was a steady parade of highlights. The competition from young bands like Ne Obliviscaris is on the rise, but it seems that Opeth do not yet have much to fear. (TS)
More bandphotos here: http://www.eurynomes-photos.com/opeth_tuska2015.html

Stratovarius

More bandphotos here: http://www.eurynomes-photos.com/stratovarius_tuska2015.html
Stratovarius are well known the Finnish audience, and despite lacking any founding members are still considered by many to be one of the influential leaders of the Power Metal genre. Unfortunately, Power Metal is not my cup-of-tea and lacking a great stage presence I often elect this genre at festivals as time to find food or a bathroom. I had high hopes, yet the lacklustre performance and bad live sound mix drove me from being a diligent reporter. It may just have been because I had been enjoying Opeth and the antics of the Strong Scene Collective just beforehand, or it may have been my excitement to see Alice Cooper grace the stage. But without a solid gripping sound to lead me back to the stage, I left Stratovarius to their loyal fans. (NH)
Nikky`s pages: http://www.facebook.com/nikkyholmes.photography http://www.helrocks.com/photos/tuska-open-air-2015-day-1/

Of the new services mentioned earlier, the one I loved best was the free sauna. Even the best festival has its share of less interesting bands, and while they are occupying the stage, what better refuge could there than a beer garden with beautiful old trees and a sauna?

A large military tent sauna it was, equipped with a twin oven that produced a pleasurably soft steam. And much as dressing up for the occasion is part of the Tuska experience for me, I utterly enjoyed relaxing with my friends in the sun, wrapped only in a towel (black of course and provided by the kind festival staff) and a cold beer in my hand. Meanwhile, one of our gang went to test another novelty, namely the make-up service. For five euros, she got a corpse paint job from a professional, and the result was impressive.


The one of us black and white, the other red from the sauna, we felt ready for the main act. I admit that when Alice Cooper was announced to be this year’s headliner, I had read the news with a pang of skepticism. After all, the man is almost seventy, and over the years I have witnessed several considerably younger “legendary acts” play boring sets at festivals. But my fears could not have been more unfounded – Mr Cooper showed the kids who’s daddy and celebrated the most spectacular Tuska finale in years. His band was furthermore the first Tuska headliner to feature a female lead guitarist, the amazing Nita Strauss. Wish we had a bunch of role models like her in Finland, and her performance last Sunday may have changed a few attitudes in the audience for starters.

The set included a long list of Alice Cooper classics and in the end, a poignant tribute to several rock legends that had their heyday around the same time that Alice Cooper rose to stardom but have long since gone. Among these cover versions were The Beatles’ “Revolution”, The Who’s “We’re Not Gonna Take It” and Jimi Hendrix’s “Foxy Lady”, the latter a self-evident showcase for Nita Strauss. And just when you thought the show couldn’t get better, Alice Cooper’s old friend Michael Monroe joined him on stage for a rendition of “School’s Out” complete with confetti and balloons. The ultimate encore, and a perfect conclusion to another great Tuska weekend. (TS)

More bandphotos here: http://www.eurynomes-photos.com/alicecooper_tuska2015.html

Photos: Tina Solda (TS), Klaudia Weber (KW), Sabine Van Gameren (SvG), Nikky Holmes (NH)

Tina’s Tuska 2015 photos   including the festival headliner ALICE COOPER (start photo)

 

Contributors

Klaudia Weber

Klaudia Weber

reckless and merciless dictator, so KNEEL!
In other words, editor-in-chief, translator, website and ad admin, “Jane of all trades” – – –
addicted to books (everything between Lord Of The Rings & quantum physics) and music, mainly Metal made in Finland. Furthermore, there’s painting, drawing, movies, theater… so you can expect some variety on this website too.

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