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Tuska 2008

Also this year Tuska was sold out months before. Because the space in the heart of Helsinki allows only a limited number of people (about 35,000) you don´t have to fear a wannabe-Wacken a la Summer Breeze. Still very cosily spread on three stages and with probably the most child-friendly closing times – at 10 pm or 9 pm on Sunday the last chords of the last band faded away – this medium-sized festival has its very own appeal. When the last party animals were send off from the festival area, the party, of course, wasn´t quite over yet because whether you snatched a ticket for the festival or not, the club-Tuska-after-parties just got started. At Tavastia, Nosturi and Virgin Oil you could bring your Day of Pain (Tuska means pain) with bands like Turmion Kätilöt, Swallow The Sun, Norther, Before The Dawn or Codeon to an appropriate end. Weather-wise the organizers probably bribed the Gods once again because a cloudburst with lightning and thunder still gave reason for concern on Thursday, but during the festival itself there was a lot of sun with only scattered and very welcome showers.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Kypck (Inferno Stage)

The pretty big crowd, gathered and warmed up by the local heroes Mokoma, cheered those “Russian” Newcomers as if they were old heroes. Naturally, as this Finnish band features some biz veterans, like ex-Sentenced Sami Lopakka on guitar and HIM-Producer/Skreppers front man Hiili Hiilesmaa on drums. A set of gloomy thunderstorm clouds added some sinister atmosphere to their evil Doom-Metal sound, Black Sabbath-cover versions (with Russian lyrics) were appreciated as enthusiastically as their own material, e.g. “Stalingrad”. (KW)

Check the Kypck gallery here!

Amon Amarth (Radio Rock Stage)

With the banner of “With Oden On Our Side” as a backdrop Amon Amarth kicked right off with “Valhall Awaits Me”. When singer Johan Hegg, who probably took some lessons from guitarist Olavi Mikkonen, greeted the audience with good Finnish, drank a toast to them and thanked the crowd the Swedish/Finnish Vikings won favours also beyond the impressive mosh pit. With a great song selection ranging from “The Fate of Norns” to “Death in Fire” they focussed mainly on their last three efforts. Vocally, Johan – THE picture book north man – was on top form and also the rest of the Swedes could convince. A good and entertaining show! (sa)

Check the Amon Amarth gallery here!

The Sorrow (Inferno Stage)

…from Austria were one of the positive Tuska surprises. A cool mix of classic Metal, Metal Core and some Thrash, great show, and also a technical problem could not irritate them. The Inferno tent wasn´t that full, though, as Stam1na playing in the Sue tent at the same time were a tough competition. Still, the song material that reminded sometimes of Children Of Bodom appealed to the Finns that even followed the invitation to form a circle pit. (KW)

Check the The Sorrow gallery here!

Carcass (Radio Rock Stage)

A comeback, unexpected by many? Sure but also a nice one. Even though the Brits from Carcass were received at Tuska with mixed feelings and very diverse expectations, I don´t think that anyone got seriously disappointed. Jeff did a great job on the mic even though it would´ve been nice to hear some more old stuff. All in all it´s great that Carcass are amongst the living again and that Jeff, who we´ve seen last time as a guest with Anathema at the STALKER anniversary in 2005, sings again. Hopefully this wasn´t a “one season reunion” only. (sa)

Check the Carcass gallery here!

Entombed (Sue Stage)

Guitarist Alex Hellid visibly had to refrain from laughing when he heard the Tuska welcoming choir “En-tom-bed”, yelled exactly as it is written here. Also singer L.G. Petrov´s call “We are Entombed” didn´t help much. But it didn´t matter because the Swedes couldn´t wish for a better crowd. Entombed are and always will be something special in the death metal genre. Uncomfortable, eccentric but genre-defining! With every new release and every new shirt (God is great – Satan is super!) the Swedes work hard to keep it that way. The Sue Stage burst at the seams and because of slight claustrophobia I had to flee after the first half of the set but until then Entombed were at their best. (sa)

Check the Entombed gallery here!

The Scourger (Inferno Stage)
did not have to invite their home audience, people began moshing during the first songs, as you cannot stand still and just listen to their tough Old School Thrash Metal. Front man Jari has something Hulk-ish because of his size and muscles, but the most dangerous thing about him – he threw water bottles into the thirsty crowd. And he showed a lot of humor, e.g. demonstrating the importance of personal hygiene, e.g. facial moisturizer. Still, Entombed probably stole some potential listeners… (KW)

Dimmu Borgir (Radio Rock Stage)

Beautiful sunshine, beaming faces in the crowd, more or less charming seagull songs and…Dimmu Borgir! It´s no surprise then that the Norwegian gloomsters had a hard time creating that kind of atmosphere their songs need to have an effect on people. The right atmosphere just didn´t develop but what made the show nevertheless decent was first of all the song selection, which mostly consisted of hit songs, and in addition to it the songs were played perfectly. Pyro is not a really good idea in bright sunshine! Well, one can still look forward to the next festival appearance of the Norwegians and maybe then you´re not in the mood for ice cream. (sa)

Check the Dimmu Borgir gallery here!

Jatko-Klubi, Tavastia: Swallow The Sun
Afterwards I heard that they had too many rehearsals for the new album and were neglecting the old songs a bit, therefore I could experience a show that deserves the label “buggered up”. Their first three songs rather dragged on, the Finns appeared tired and unmotivated, but with “Don´t Fall Asleep” they managed to mobilize their last powers and finally succeeded to rescue this 60 min show – luckily! (KW)

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Kalmah (Radio Rock Stage)

The Finnish death metalers from Kalmah were introduced by someone who, as I found out later, was Jonne Nikula – the Finnish equivalent of Simon Cowell – but from the metal genre. But before I learnt that I thought the “homo!” yells from the crowd were rather strange. But what the heck, back to Kalmah, the openers of today. Pekka Kokko´s voice sounds great but he´s still better on guitar. Kalmah are one of those bands that are too good to have a pee break but not good enough to remember details of the show the next day. For their status as a live band they still have to work on the action factor. Musically, the Finns don´t have to hide. (sa)

Check the Kalmah gallery here!

Kiuas (Sue Stage)

Martial hymns like “Dark Age” or “Ukko” woke up even the sleepiest fan, and singer Ilja made fun of those who came that they had just got out of bed. Those melodic Power Metal Hymns plus Thrash/Prog influences are indeed inspiring for an “early morning work out”. Moreover, Ilja is a charismatic and active front man who did not get irritated by a huge plush penis being waved in the crowd. And he is a great singer who masters clean vocals as well as evil growls. Their hit “Warrior Soul” as the final song deserves the label “extremely sticky ear candy” anyway. (KW)

Check the Kiuas gallery here!

Behemoth (Radio Rock Stage)

The death metalers from Behemoth, who started as a black metal band and kept only a few elements and the corpse paint from those days, are one of the big names in the scene for a long time now. Singer Nergal is a great frontman and he loves to interact with the crowd which he did successfully here in bright sunshine and at an early hour. Sure, this band seems to be as out of place as Dimmu Borgir under these weather conditions, but the Polish proved once again that they are still a bit rawer and heavier live than on their albums and you could tell that they had fun playing in front of the Finnish crowd by their little intermezzos which are otherwise not on their programme. Thus Nergal stole a Bible from Hotel Presidentti and realized that it is in Finnish, which had to be discussed fully regarding the content. Humour that didn´t go down well with everyone. Also his homage to Dickinson with a hearty “Scream for me Tuska” didn´t appeal to all but the heavier than hell set which followed united the crowd again. Nice performance! (sa)

Check the Behemoth gallery here!

Ghost Brigade (Sue Stage)
This time the Finns had a bit more room on stage than in the Semifinal club some weeks ago, and they knew how to use it with some action. As a warm-up for Fields Of The Nephilim they offered the perfect sound, melancholic Doom Melo-Metal with clean vocals and catchy grooves, just right for headbanging. And when it turned more Metal, they inspired a small mosh pit. Swallow The Sun-colleague Aleksi Munter provided once again the sinister keyboard background. (KW)

Fields Of The Nephilim (Radio Rock Stage)

With the reunion of Carcass and Slayer the organizers of Tuska already had two real highlights on their programme but Fields Of The Nephilim are something very rare. Seeing these old industrial metal/gothic rock legends under their old name again and this at one of their rarely played live show is very exciting. Ok, when you zoom in with your camera you can see that time has indeed left its marks also on the Fields but otherwise you couldn´t see a difference. Carl McCoy and co were so cool onstage that it almost came across as bored but only almost. Nice show! (sa)

4 ears, 2 opinions:

For me Tuska provided an absolute highlight, even before the official headliners – as those Dark Metal gods and ancestors of Goth Metal have not been too busy playing live in recent decades. And now seeing them again in Helsinki, so soon after the Helldone-Festival at New Years Eve – absolutely sensational! Once again they tried very hard to keep themselves shrouded in mist, but this Open Air situation offered occasions to catch a glimpse of Carl McCoy & Co. Sinister clouds in the sky added to the atmosphere, and you could just give yourself over to the hypnotic trance caused by “Xiberia” or “One More Nightmare (Trees Come Down)”. Besides the classics “Dawnrazor” and “Moonchild” I would have enjoyed “Last Exit For The Lost” or “Psychonaut”, and they could have played one more hour – but then suddenly, and it seems quite surprising for everybody in the crowd – it was over. Taciturn front men? Carl did not speak at all, a look or a gesture was enough to provoke audience reactions, and before they left he just uttered a “Thank You”. Well, mysterious and distant – but this is why we like him. (KW)

Check the Fields Of The Nephilim gallery here!

Kreator (Radio Rock Stage)

With “The Patriarch” as the intro music Mille Petrozza and his men entered the stage. With awesome sound, great light, a bit too much smoke and a setlist with no real surprises Kreator played it safe. However, Mille slightly changed his announcements, which briefly confused many Mille-announcement-imitators. Guitarist Sami Yli-Sirniö had home advantage here in Helsinki and appeared pretty hyped-up and nervous but played flawlessly. The crowd celebrated the German-Finnish thrash metalers as frenetically as two years ago and also the mosh pit was more than impressing with songs like “Extreme Aggression”. After the show the band then celebrated their successful performance and also drummer Jürgen “Ventor” Reil´s birthday. (sa)

Check the Kreator gallery here!

Primordial (Inferno Stage)

Those guys from Ireland had already convinced me with their new record “To The Nameless Dead”, so I was curious if they could also pull it off live. Well, they can. Passion, devotion, raw power, catchy Irish-Folk tunes mixed with rough Metal – you caught the heebie-jeebies throughout the show. Fronter A.A. also introduced songs with a little story, e.g. explaining that “The Coffin Ships” tell the story of Irish emigration after the famine, in ships to the USA. The audience cheered throughout the show, even in the very back of the Inferno tent. Great band, great show, please come back to Finland soon! (KW)

Check the Primordial gallery here!

Morbid Angel (Radio Rock Stage)

Morbid Angel death metal band – in a way too tight shirt that was still sitting well on David Vincent at Wacken 2006 he appeared this year more like a “stuffed sausage” and also otherwise the band seemed to have lost some of their power despite new arrival guitarist Thor Anders Myhren. The crowd didn´t seem to be impressed by that and celebrated their death metal Gods. The whole Tuska audience will probably vigorously disagree but for me Morbid Angel are long past the prime of their long career. Apart of the lacking power I couldn´t, however, find many faults because technically and musically they did everything right. (sa)

Check the Morbid Angel gallery here!

Jatko-Klubi, Virgin Oil: Before The Dawn
The Final Harvest, a new act from Lahti, gave their Helsinki stage debut here, and easily pulled it off, as the line up features some Metal veterans, from Casket, Bonegrinder and Before The Dawn (Tuomas Saukkonen on drums here). Their brutal sound with Thrash/HC/Death elements still sounded catchy and appealing.

Which was not quite the case with Rytmihäiriö. It might be that you need to be Finnish to warm up for their Hardcore with Finnish lyrics. Their fellow countrymen cheered enthusiastically throughout the show, sang along and demanded encores, and some more encores…

Therefore Before The Dawn came on to the Virgin Oil stage with some delay. The fact that at least 2 band members were slightly incapacitated (for different reasons) could be passed over unnoticed, the performance was great. Well, Lars´ comments were perhaps a bit weirder than usual… The Finns played two songs from the upcoming album, the crowd sang “Deadsong” almost louder than the band, and they got the band back on stage for “Unbreakable” and “Repentance”. PS: The plush penis could be spotted once again. (KW)

Check the Jatkoklubit gallery here!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Before The Dawn, the second – unfortunately the instruments of Korpiklaani had not arrived with the band at the same time in the same town, therefore the guys from Lahti had the pleasure to open Tuska Sunday as an extreme-short-notice replacement act – I heard that they got the call only 1 hour before playing the show. (KW)

Job For A Cowboy
Another unplanned incident – a sore throat kept singer Jonny Davy from performing, so the US guys played an instrumental gig that some fans found even more interesting than a “normal” one. (KW)

Killswitch Engage (Radio Rock Stage)

The Americans were maybe trying a little too hard to attract the audience´s attention. Maybe in the US it´s not embarrassing when the singer just cant stop teasing with “I want everyone to…” and to repeat that over and over again when the crowd isn´t jumping, moshing or throwing horns enough. The crowd was quite active but somehow the atmosphere was great during the first two songs but then it markedly calmed down. Whether it was because of the hosting qualities of singer Howard Jones, the clownery of guitarist Adam Dutkiewicz or maybe because the anticipation for Slayer was just too big…who knows. It definitely wasn´t down to the sound, song selection or their playing because those were just fine. (sa)

4 ears, 2 opinions:

…have had some fuzz about their cover version of Dio´s “Holy Diver” recently, but their Tuska performance focused on their own material. The crowd in front of the main stage was bigger than the days before, and even more people were still queuing outside the area, when the US guys started their energetic show. Vocalist Howard Jones hardly ever stood still and entertained the fans with funny/silly remarks, perhaps he tried to impress “all those beautiful girls in the crowd”. Great show, and the band might have been sweating even more than their audience in this mercilessly bright Scandinavian midday sun. (KW)

Check the Killswitch Engage gallery here!

Dying Fetus
could have been the next mishap, but the guys made it to their gig in the very last minute. (KW)

Shade Empire (Inferno Stage)

Shade Empire
The dark Inferno tent was a nice frame for their Black-Metal/Crossover music, yet more complex songs sounded a bit unclear. Singer Harju performed as evil shouter, but mutated in-between to the nice Metal-buddy that just accidentally ended up on a stage, even cracking jokes. A nice contrast to the usual “Black Metal Posing”! “9 in 1” and “Bloodstar” got the heads bang on and off stage. (KW)

Check the Shade Empire gallery here!

Sonata Arctica
When you are listing the bands that play at the Tuska festival on a regular basis you can definitely count Sonata Arctica in. A lot of people were curious to see how the new guitar player would showcase himself on the big stage and he was very convincing. All in all the guys appeared to have a lot of fun playing and presented a varied selection from all their releases. Besides the opulent fire works during the show the well-known “Vodka” for the crowning finale was once again part of their show and thus at the end of the set a visibly happy band left the stage. (SK)

Tyr (Inferno Stage)

…appealed to the audience because of their Finnish language skills, and they managed to utter a whole sentence, besides the usual “Vittu”, “Kippis” or “Kiitos”. The Faeroese guys might be right hoping that “this is our first time at Tuska, but not our last time”. Their Pagan/Folk-Metal sounds a bit more sinister than the music of genre colleagues, yet they do not forget about humour, e. g. including a cover of “The Wild Rover” in Faeroese in their program. (KW)

Check the Tyr gallery here!

Slayer (Radio Rock Stage)

Photo: Pia Sundström
Slayer hadn´t even entered the stage when the crowd already went bananas. Twice I have seen Slayer live before and twice I couldn´t quite understand the hype around this band at least when it comes to live performances because the band seemed annoyed, didn´t spread much energy and the sounds was godawful both times. Now I´ve seen the very opposite. Slayer were just staggering and deserved to be headliners of the festival. Tom and his men were in good mood, the sound, the performance, the light, the song selection and the whole arrangement couldn´t have been better. The atmosphere in the crowd was euphoric and rubbed even off on Non-Slayer-fans and everyone got carried away – in front and on stage. Araya interacted with every song more and more with the crowd and smiled most of the time like a Cheshire cat. When at the end they played “Raining Blood” and “Angel of Death” you could only see happy metalers leaving the festival area for one of the many after parties. What a finale! (sa)

Check the Slayer gallery here!

Still slightly euphoric from the fantastic last concert and irritated by the many pink Tuska-T-shirts, which were already sold out on the second day – yes! pink is the new black…- it´s time for a conclusion. Once again the Tuska organizers managed to pull off an almost perfect festival. You don´t really camp here but this has always been so. Unfortunately the situation with the toilets didn´t change. Still the dear visitor is forced to use the portaloos and there´s no drinking water on the site to wash your hands. Leaving the festival site to go to nearby restaurants to get some better food for the 6-8 euros you have to pay for the food at Tuska isn´t allowed. The festival has also one big advantage; you can take your drinks to the festival area in PVC bottles, which is also easy on the wallet. In front of the two smaller stages, that were roofed, there was a horrible pushing and shoving because the bands that played there at the same time partly had mainstage potential and the decision to which to go was sometimes very hard. All in all Tuska proved again to be one of the best metal festivals in Europe. See you next year in Helsinki´s Kaisaniemi!

Text: Samira Alinto, Klaudia Weber, Sonja Kappes
Photos: Samira Alinto, Klaudia Weber, Pia Sundström, Julia Sheremetyeva
All text illustrations as interactive gallery:

Festival photos:






Samira Alinto

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