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Tuska 2012

Suvilahti, Helsinki, 29.6.-1.7.2012

Same procedure as every year… once again Helsinki turned into a meeting point for Metalheads, when Tuska Festival opened the gates on a summer weekend.

(In case links and text illustrations no longer work, check the interactive galleries at the end of the text)

Friday 29, 2012
Starting a festival at 12:30 pm on a workday may not sound like the best of ideas, but thankfully, Tuska has returned to its traditional date two weeks after midsummer, right in the middle of Finland’s main holiday season. Thanks to that, to the sunshine and to their own solid reputation, opener Profane Omen faced a surprisingly large crowd on Friday afternoon.

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As stated on guitarist Williami Kurki’s t-shirt, this was PO’s third Tuska appearance, but the two previous gigs had been on the tent stages. Finally in command of a big outdoor stage, singer Jules Näveri was able to display the full extent of his showmanship and obviously enjoyed every minute of it. So did I for as little as I was able to and would have loved to continue throughout the set – unfortunately the set overlapped with that of Alcest, a rare visitor to our shores whom I didn’t want to miss either. Their beautiful, slow-paced melodies formed a stark contrast to Profane Omen’s raw energy, although the vocals could have done with a bit more prominence.

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After several songs we decided to watch the rest of the Alcest gig from the adjoining beer area, which provided a decent view of the Inferno stage. Its actual bar, however, was far in the back next to the old gasometer, which led us to the discovery of Tuska’s loveliest new feature, a half sunny, half shady beer garden on the lawn under the trees that last year had been excluded from the premises. A chill-out area as green as the fabled Kaisaniemi hill of Tuska 2002-10 but without the annoying dust – me appreciates, big time. Another more than welcome improvement to the layout was the relocation of the main entrance from the northeast to the south, which not only shortened the way for everyone coming from downtown or the neighboring Kallio district, but also brought with it a correction to last year’s unfortunate fencing solution on the main stage side, which had resulted in a major bottleneck on the one side of the mixing desk and plenty of unused space on the other. Now people were free to walk around the mixing desk tent either way they wanted, without any compromise to the visibility of the stage from the main beer area. Nice. (TS)

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Not many needed A lesson in violence, they had immediately followed this Old School Thrash Metal Command .And there were none? Nope, there were quite a number of fans, feeling Bonded By Blood with the band, dancing the Toxic Waltz in a huge Circle Pit. (KW)

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After missing more than half of the previous night’s Barren Earth gig at On the Rocks due to conflicting schedules, I was quite happily surprised to find they had stepped in as a last-minute replacement for Animals As Leaders, who had missed their flight. Seeing them on an outdoor stage for the first time was an added bonus which made this set a must, even if it meant skipping most of Suidakra’s show, clearly the most annoying overlap of the day. The set was mostly from this year’s album, and I’m glad to report that “The Rains Begin” did not prove prophetic with regards to the actual weather. (TS)

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How would the Germans fare in the Folk Metal nation? Quite well, as the big crowd in the Inferno tent was indicating, and they attracted even more fans later. Spirits were high from the start, their cheerful mood was infective and inspired the crowd to jump to songs like The IXth Legion, Isle of Skye, Stone of the Seven Suns or Balor from the recent album Book of Dowth.

Demonic Death Judge
I checked out of curiosity, namely to find out if Musamaailma Stage sound was better this year. And it seemed yes, as this nasty Finnish Doom Metal sounded pretty cool.

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were cheered to by a huge Tuska crowd, but this German act has never been my cup of tea. I tried my best, as songs like Ministry of Saints sound pretty nice, but when Tobi Sammet climbs to the highest pitches I can just wave a white flag. My choice was the Puisto-Bar until their final song King Of Fools.

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Saint Vitus
offered “let us introduce you to Doom” – and those Rock´n Doom veterans from the US had the whole area vibrate with their mean bass. There was a surprising amount of faster songs, garnished with anti-government speeches: Let them Fall, The Bleeding Ground, Look behind you. The Waste of Time chorus “raise your fist in the air” was also followed by many.

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Lock up
Straight-in-your-face DM/Grind, and Old School, quite as expected from an all-star-crew Shane Embury (Napalm Death), Nick Barker (Cradle of Filth), Tomas Lindberg (At The Gates) plus Anton Reisenegger. (KW)

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The Musamaailma Stage inside the Kattilahalli building was mostly populated by rather unknown bands and I didn’t end up visiting it very often, but on Friday I watched a bit of Oddland to find out whether the recent hype around them has been justified. The only time I had seen them before, at the FME 2011 band contest, I had found it difficult to get into them, despite a general appreciation for progressive stuff. This time I knew what to expect and liked them somewhat better, but ultimately they are just a bit too technical and artsy for my taste. Kudos for not really sounding like anyone else, however, and the last song with its female guest vocalist was actually very cool. (TS)

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This is another band that I cannot quite warm up to – no doubt those US boys play technically flawless, and they have a bunch of good songs, but… well, simply not my cup of tea. The Tuska audience celebrated the band and songs like Capsizing The Sea, In Waves, Down From the Sky, Black, Watch the World Burn, The Deceived and Throes of Perdition as if they were the headliners. (KW)

Where Oddland had been young and progressive, the next band on the small club stage was old and traditional: Loimaa-based death metal pioneers Demigod, who can trace their history back to 1992. Having split up and reunited more than once over the past two decades, they are now back with original singer Esa Lindén and have recently played a few shows in Finland and the USA commemorating their classic albums “Slumber Of Sullen Eyes” and “Unholy Domain”, which also accounted for the Tuska set. They turned out to be one of the day’s best surprises, and instead of going back to Trivium after a few songs, I ended up watching the whole set, comfortably with a beer in my hand as there’s now also a bar in the club stage building. (TS)

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can definitely take the award as the weirdest band at Tuska – no idea which Genre, but quite hypnotic Avantgarde Metal with captivating clean vocals. And the singer´s antics make you wonder if those Norwegians had just escaped their rubber cells… a Tuska-Highlight.

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My personal festival highlight followed right away – and according to those repeated Megadeth chants I assume I was not the only one. Dave Mustaine seemed in brilliant mood on this last gig of the “13” tour, he thanked people so often I stopped counting and even threw kisses right after the 3rd song. Well, he told the story of his presumably Finnish descent (Mustonen)… still, you should not interrupt him with screeches when he tells us about his songs (Guns, Drugs & Money), even in a good mood his tongue can be sharp. As the recent album shows the band once again at their best, there was nothing to be wished for – although the set list could have contained In My Darkest Hour too.. or Wake Up Dead, or …
Setlist: Never Dead, Head Crusher, Hangar 18, Trust, She-Wolf, Poison Was the Cure, Sweating Bullets, A Tout Le Monde, Guns, Drugs & Money, Whose Life (Is It Anyways?), Public Enemy No. 1, Symphony of Destruction, Peace Sells Encore: Holy Wars… The Punishment Due (KW)

Saturday June 30, 2012
The weather had changed a bit – not such perfect sunny-but-not-too-hot situation, it was windy and people who brought rain coats were the lucky ones…
My plan to watch Metsätöll was changed when being faced with 2 flat bike tires. And as I heard, there were not so many people arriving punctually.

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Which was still the case when Amoral played, and the crowd seemed still pretty tired too. Maybe the Amoral guys should have used coffee fountains instead of their Pyros…

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AsI have seen the Finns Mokoma many times, I rather checked their colleagues from Kuopio :
shouted their hatred out on the small Musamaailma stage. This hall wasn´t quite the ideal place for their grooving Black Metal sound so I left earlier than intended. (KW)

Ramin Kuntopolku
is a Guerilla-2 piece Grind band which I luckily ran into when they played one of their spontaneous surprise gigs in the bar area. (KW) Check their video.

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It has been some few years from Horna’s last Tuska show, and a lot has changed since then. A new front man Spellgoth has been filling the boots of Corvus for a good few years already, and with an immense success. I was intrigued to see how Spellgoth’s almost sedate performance will work in a big festival stage instead of a dark small club. There was no doubt about people still being interested in them, since the third stage gathered pretty nice crowd for them. Obviously the age distribution was closer to 15 rather than the usual 20+, and the youngster kept the energy levels up throughout their show. The output of the band wasn’t too intense, even though Spellgoth filled in his slot well. Nothing special, but not too bad either, I would say. (MH)

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from Holland play a mix of Prog Rock, Metal and Hardcore, appealing to a lot of people who gathered for them and later formed a huge Circle Pit. A cool act indeed, convincing with an energetic passionate show and flawless clean+growl vocals. Yet after a while it was too much Core for my taste…

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Napalm Death
The award for the craziest psycho show goes to singer Barney Greenway… and some of his introductions had required a translation too. Well, announcing Nom de Guerre with ”love and peace is the only way forward” has a touch of black humour. The band celebrates their 30th anniversary this year, and no sign of retirement – they even still carry their gear themselves – simply a great band. The set contained classics like Suffer The Children, Practice What You Preach, Quarantined, Scum, Human Garbage, Next of Kin to Chaos, Dead, the Dead Kennedys Cover Nazi Punks Fuck Off, and also more recent material like When All Is Said and Done. Easy to guess that the final song Instinct of Survival inspired a huge Circle Pit. (KW)

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I am not sure if the 2nd stage was the right place for Insomnium. Undoubtedly there was enough audience for them, but their music and the pretty ascetic stage presence would require a little different ambience. Nevertheless their hit songs like ‘Mortal share’ rang out impressively. Maybe the North Karelian shy charm bites hard enough after all. (MH)

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Battle Beast
The powerful voice of Nitte Valo is always quite impressive. No wonder that the Inferno tent was filled with a big crowd celebrating this Viking / Power Metal. The Finns played their debut album ”Steel” almost 1:1; Stay Black reminded me a lot of Accept (with Udo)… (KW)

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There were no schedule changes on Saturday, yet some improvisation was required nonetheless: flying in directly from a show abroad, Sonata Arctica arrived at the airport with their gear and stage requisites missing. Undeterred, they played their set with borrowed instruments and in fresh clothes bought downtown just prior to the show. All the better for it – I always thought Tony Kakko’s perennial checkered pants were an eyesore and found his blue makeshift outfit much more appealing. In fact also the music sounded better than ever before, but that was presumably the merit of the band itself rather than the third-party gear. In short, for the first time ever I thoroughly enjoyed myself at a Sonata gig – until, during “Paid In Full” it started to rain and we collectively retreated to the shelter of the club stage. The current band there, Victims, left no lasting impression at all and it was far too crowded to get anywhere near the stage, but it felt good to be out of the drizzle and near an actual WC. (TS)

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Swallow the Sun
The Jyväskylä doomsters have been playing shows with quite a pace after the newest album was released. Spring went on tour, summer is time for festival shows and in autumn this Finnish sextet will hit the road again. I am pretty sure they would have also fitted to the 2nd stage, but the third stage tent offered obviously more atmospheric conditions for this kind of music. The singer Mikko’s melancholic stage presence was nicely balanced by the energy of rest of the band. Only down side here was the fact that I couldn’t enjoy the whole set having to rush to the 2nd stage for Behemoth instead. (MH)

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Third time tells the truth? I have witnessed Nergal’s army’s performance twice in the past two months, first in Atlanta USA and a month later in Pratteln Switzerland. I wasn’t too excited about either of the two shows, but I still decided to give them another chance. And I am glad I did. Nergal led his group in front of the Tuska crowd with a totally different intensity. The set was built up with more variation and the band went all the way back to mid 90’s. There were not too much props nor pyrotechnics, just straightforward crushing. ‘It feels good to be alive’sounded pretty convincing from a man’s mouth, who has just barely recovered from a very serious illness. Behemoth was definitely one of the highlights for me at Tuska 2012. (MH)

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If Sonata Arctica had much less pyrotechnics than at festival shows in the past, Sabaton more than made up for it. Firebombs and martial themes notwithstanding, the Swedes came in peace, love and understanding, wooing us already in the early stages of the set with “White Death”, one of Sabaton’s two songs about the Winter War between Finland and Russia. The other, “Talvisota”, followed later during the encore. As a Helsinki audience is likely to include a portion of native Swedish speakers, Joakim Brodén chose to sing “Carolus Rex” in Swedish, always a funny-sounding language for those not familiar with it (including myself here). All in all, an excellent gig – on their last Tuska visit, Sabaton had played in mid-afternoon, but their Saturday headlining slot this year was by all means deserved. (TS)

Reformed after an 8 year hiatus, Shape Of Despair played their first gig ever, as far as I know. A bit strange for a band that was formed in 1995. And they gave A lesson in Doom – minimalistic stage light, no speeches and a sound that gives – in comparison – even Swallow The Sun the appearance of cheerful dance music.

Before The Dawn replaced Black Sun Aeon at short notice, as singer Mikko suffered from food poisoning. The Mastermind of both bands Tuomas Saukkonen still displayed some additional frowns on his forehead, as the band´s backline had been missing etc. No reason to worry, it was a great gig focusing on the Rise of the Phoenix material, yet the classic Unbreakable was not to be left out.
KYPCK entered the stage very late for an intense gig, a doomy-moody sound that occasionally reminds me of Laibach. As the speeches were in Russian language too, I cannot say much about the set list. The audience, however, managed to sing along even in Russian and cheered to the band until the last song. (KW)

Sunday, July 1, 2012
Sun and heat was back that day, which did not sit well with all those who had attended one of the many Jatkoklubi the night before….And another change in the program – Overkill will be playing instead of Lamb Of God on the big stage, and Finntroll made it to Tuska line up at the last minute, replacing Overkill on the smaller stage.

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The Man-eating Tree
Again a band I have seen already few times, and not really liked them too much, but something made me to give them another chance as well. This time it wasn’t such a good choice. I somewhat like listening them from a cd even though they are not the most original sounding band, but their live performance doesn’t add up. Technically everything sounds as it does on a record, but I rather not watch them play. And I wasn’t alone with my opinion since the tent was only half full. (MH)

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Tuska Sunday started nicely in a sunny weather, but it wouldn’t have mattered if it was raining out there once Apocalyptica stepped on stage. It is a pleasure to watch such a joy of playing. Spontaneous, joyful, energetic appearance combined with world class skills of handling your instrument. Just after few instrumental pieces Tipe Johnson joined the quartet to add some vocals to the frolicking performance, and to add up a little bit of entertainment Eicca and Perttu gave up their shirts somewhere in the middle of show. Ending to a nice medley of little bit of everything, the set had really satisfied all fans and random wanderers. A big group-hug and bows to the audience convoyed Apocalyptica one step closer towards a well-deserved gig break. (MH

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played a Black Metal Rock – Thrash Viking Metal Mix – let´s call it a pretty melodic epic wall of sound with the right amount of groove to get you headbanging. (KW)

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One Morning Left
I was not the only one who was intrigued to see what this group was about. The whole Kattilahalli was almost full and the atmosphere was waiting. Metalcore, synth pop and humor were the main ingredients mixed in the colorful bunch of randomly jumping young men here. I guess at least 1/3 of the crowd were sharing a mutual feeling of surprise and confusion with me, 2/3 seemed to like what they saw and heard. Very energetic group indeed, but not exactly my piece of cake. (MH)

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from Savannah, Georgia, US, offered an excellent Prog Rock / Hard rock with some touch of Death – a real discovery for me at this Tuska festival. Just the right sound for chilling on such a nice hot and sunny day. Wonderful tunes for drifting off, but also with a certain punch – a great band.

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replaced Lamb Of God on the big stage, and with flying colours. Time was merciful with those Old School Thrash heroes who played a very energetic best-of program (e.g. Bring Me the Night, In Union We Stand, Wrecking Crew) Well I have always had problems with bearing Blitz´ voice, cannot bear those high notes. But the Tuska crowd was happy and celebrated the band as headliners, getting them back on stage for the encores Deny the Cross, Rotten to the Core and Fuck You.

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A bitter decision to make – skipping Finntroll who had just started with an energetic show and watching this band instead:

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Jess and the Ancient Ones
and no regrets, that was a truly hypnotic experience – the music and the front-lady´s voice who reminded me a bit of Grace Slick – and another Tuska discovery. Prog Rock meets Psychedelic meets Metal meets Blues – just close your eyes and enjoy.

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Mastermind Al Jourgensen seemed to be into Helsinki a lot, a city that hosts more Metalheads than any other place in the world:”I love this place, man!” Well, there could have been more Metalheads in front of the stage, considering Ministry as the top-Headliner of the whole festival. Those who left earlier missed a band that seemed a lot fresher and healthier than some years ago at Metalcamp. Pehaps a real dark night and huge light show might have added to their live appeal, but their fans enjoyed the show.
Setlist: Ghouldiggers, No W, Rio Grande Blood, Señor Peligro, LiesLiesLies, 99 Percenters, Watch Yourself, Life Is Good ,Waiting, Worthless. Relapse, The Last Sucker, Khyber Pass, Encore: N.W.O., Just One Fix, Thieves

Summary: another successful Tuska-year with 26.000 people altogether (still, the new area does not seem to attract as many people as „back then“ in Kaisaniemi puisto, where the 30.000 mark was reached every year). See yo 2013!

text: Mari E. Haapala (MH), Tina Solda (TS), Klaudia Weber (KW)
photos: Mari E. Haapala, Tina Solda,
All text illustrations as interactive gallery:
festival photos:



Tina Solda - concert and festival reports, photos, interviews - - - Favorite genres: I don't care much about genres, but on a grossly generalized level I like melancholic death, unconventional black, melodic doom, dramatic folk and smart pagan metal (main regions: Iceland, Finland & Norway) - - - Other interests: guitar, books, beer, movies, cats.

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