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Tuska 2014

Suvilahti, Helsinki, June 27-29, 2014 

Friday, June 27, 2014
Day 1 on the mainstage began with Finnish Pagan Metal heroes Ensiferum, who had already put a quite big crowd into party mood, when I arrived at the area. Another factor must have been the fantastic weather…

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

More enthusiastic cheering for the next legenday Finnish band, Poisonblack, and their flawless, tight Best-Of gig. Despite those melancholic sounds, it seemed there was more sunshine radiating from this likeable act…
POISONBLACK photo gallery

More legends, this time from the USA, gathered the masses at the mainstage: Philip H. Anselmo & The Illegals . No idea if the organizers had expected – just like me and probably several fans too – some bows towards Pantera or Down. Instead we received the public rehearsal of an undefineable -core-act, where a very talkative Phil also grabbed a guitar to jam some Slayer riffs. In my opinion an overrated act, hardly suitable for a main stage. The numerous Dimebag mourners, however, still showed their devotion by moshing. KW

After what had been the chilliest June in decades, the sun was about the most welcome last-minute addition I’ve ever witnessed at a festival, and I would have preferred to enjoy every last minute of it. However, some of the weekend’s must-see bands played on the indoor club stage, the first of them being Shear. I had been ingnorant of them until this spring, when they opened for Insomnium and within some 45 minutes made me go from “who?” to “wow”. Their secret weapon is singer Alexa Leroux, whose forceful voice is matched by a commanding and entertaining stage persona. Besides, I have great appreciation for her cliché-defying outfits. We still have far too few strong women in the Finnish metal scene, but Alexa is definitely one of them.
SHEAR photo gallery

Due to a scheduled interview with Amoral which you will soon find on these pages, I didn’t get to see much of Nails, but I’m not a huge fan of hardcore anyway.

NAILS photo gallery

The next band in turn was right up my alley: Hamferð from the Faroe Islands, whose debut Evst had been one of last year’s finest albums.

Singer Jón Aldará has gained a bit of prominence upon joining Barren Earth a few months ago; they had played their first gig together the night before and the three new songs they presented sounded extremely promising. Hamferð’s own brand of metal is more doom than death, but melodic vocals dominate, and rightfully so, as Jón’s clean voice is nothing short of amazing. He also does a fierce growl, though. All clad in black suits, the band looked good and sounded even better – if my perception doesn’t deceive me, the sound on the club stage has been improving with every passing year. Another nice feature is the inclusion of the balcony in the drinking area; I ended up watching most of the show from upstairs with a beer in my hand and a perfect view of the stage. TS
HAMFERĐ photo gallery

Children Of Bodom
Those “kids” have been absent from Tuska for quite a while – and what, a 20year-anniversary? Surely a reason to celebrate on stage, literally. The Beach Barbecue in Miami Vice style was not only attended by the Queen (of this Tuska day), the winner of a Radio Rock competition, in her exclusive VIP seat on stage (the winners even had their own exclusive Dixi loo!), no, there were more people in the wings, some grilled sausages, DURING the show… Which means, keyborder Janne´s blindingly colorful Hawaii shirt did not stick out as much as intended. And maybe I should also mention they threw an inflatable boat into the audience later, which at some point was used by even 3 crowdsurfers … The brilliant set contained hits from the entire back catalogue, kicked off with Needled 24/7, naturally also my faves Hate Me Fave and Bodom After Midnight were not to be missed – for me one of the Tuska highlits! KW
CHILDREN OF BODOM photo gallery

Santa Cruz played at the club stage parallel to the Carcass show.
SANTA CRUZ photo gallery

One of the very first shows following the resurrection of Carcass in 2008 had been Tuska, but at that time it seemed unlikely that the band would ever release any new material. Fortunately, the part of a nostalgia act didn’t suit Jeff Walker & Co. in the long run, and last year they released the excellent Surgical Steel. The new songs made up a third of the set (which was basically the same as on the club tour in winter, with the addition of “The Granulating Dark Satanic Mills” and a full-blast “Reek Of Putrefaction”), and the band appeared rejuvenated and energetic. Besides, Bill Steer is still as cute as ever. He also provided some vocal contributions, namely on “Genital Grinder”, which Jeff dedicated to “Niku [Etelävuori] and Mika [Karppinen] and the ladies”. Before “Captive Bolt Pistol”, Jeff took note of the crowd already assembling in front of the main stage, pointing out that “Dimmu are good, but they’re missing a great show, right? Call me arrogant, but…“
CARCASS photo gallery

Arrogance or not, the man was stating a fact. What’s more, after the raw excitement of Carcass, Dimmu Borgir’s perfectly staged act felt strangely static. Contrary to prior announcements, Death Cult Armageddon was not played in full. Three songs were skipped, all of which would have made more sense than “Eradication Instincts Defined”, which was included. During this long instrumental, Shagrath & Co. left the stage to change their outfits, which didn’t provide any added value to the show. They returned with “The Serpentine Offering” and played five more songs after that, but the rather feeble applause before the encore suggested that I wasn’t the only one who felt that something was missing. “Mourning Palace” was a good closer, but all in all it was the weakest Dimmu set I have seen so far. That’s not to say it was bad, but I like this band a lot and expect more from them than they delivered this time. TS
DIMMU BORGIR photo gallery

Festival photo gallery

As I skipped part of the Dimmu show, I managed to arrive at Tavastia so punctually that I even got to see half of the Red Moon Architect melancholic Doom Metal show. RED MOON ARCHITECT photo gallery

Another brilliant Wolfheart performance, starting with The Hunt and ending with Routa2, and again it seemed way too short. Mastermind Tuomas Saukkonen appears to mutate into a chatterbox – he addressed the audience 3 times, with a complete sentence – wow! When I left the totally full club for the next party, there were still more people queuing at the doors … (KW)
WOLFHEART photo gallery

The last band of the night was Amorphis, who are a familiar guest on the Tuska main stage but so far have never played at any of the after-hours clubs. The benefit of this alternative was more playing time, and it was nice to hear “Skyforger” and “Mermaid” again. Otherwise it was a routine set, but for some reason I never get tired of seeing these guys, and it sure was a more fun way to finish off the first day of Tuska than Dimmu Borgir would have been. TS
AMORPHIS photo gallery

Party-stress – because bands I really wanted to see played at On The Rocks on the same evening … I missed Carnal Demise but arrived in time for Bloodred Hourglass, who pulled off another kick-ass Thrash gig, the moshpit did not stop during their entire gig. They promised to release their second album soon – good. BRHG photo gallery

Black Light Discipline were the reason to finally let my hair down (after fulfilling my photographing duties). Powerful Industrial Metal and a string of hits – who could possibly just stand still and watch? One of the best gigs of those Kuopio dudes so far, although it seemed that the booze donation from the audience in the middle of the show made at least one band member a bit more whimsical than usual … KW
BLD photo gallery

Festival photo gallery

Saturday, June 28, 2014

After such a long and exhausting first festival day, it was only those young Oldschool-Thrashers Lost Society, who managed to coax me out of bed and onto the area.

And just like last time I saw them at Jalometalli in Oulu, those guys from Jyväskylä took it to 11 – a hyperactive firy (literally) gig – it is amazing how much fun they always have on stage, and this is surely contagious.
LOST SOCIETY photo gallery

Stone are living legends in the local Metal scene. No wonder that those “Finnish Metallica” attracted the masses to the main stage, who worshipped their heroes enthusiastically.
STONE photo gallery

At the same time the young Melodic-Metal act Arion drew quite a crowd to the club stage. KW
ARION photo gallery

The first couple of times I saw Turmion Kätilöt back in ca. 2006, I found them simply annoying, but either they have gotten more amusing over the years or my sense of humor has broadened. Maybe a bit of both; at any rate I nowadays rather enjoy their festival gigs although I still wouldn’t go to see them headlining a club show. The stage action gently reminded the viewer that Tuska coincided with the Helsinki Pride weekend, and there was no shortage of pytotechnics.TURMION KÄTILÖT photo gallery
I didn’t watch all of it, though, because I also wanted to check out Altair, who played on the indoor stage at the same time.

After their first song, the singer introduced the band, “we’re from Sweden and we’re the band without a bass player”, but during the next song the missing dude emerged from out of nowhere and added some bottom end to the mix. What they offered was basic old school thrash, but I found it a bit too generic for my taste and ultimately went back to watch the rest of the TK set. TS
ALTAIR photo gallery

Metal Church
A gig I followed with mixed feelings, because last time I had seen they had David Wayne (R.I.P.) at the mike. Well, that´s some time ago and singer Ronny Munroe surely channels those epic vocal lines brilliantly. Kurdt Vanderhoof & Co showed so much energy and enthusiasm that one could hardly believe this 30year anniversary thing. With a lot of enthusiasm the band was also cheered to, as Metal Church had not played Finnish stages in quite a while. Surely the audience received treats like hits from the first album to the last ( Generation Nothing), Ton of Bricks and Start the Fire opened the set. Which was naturally way too short, and a pity they didn´t also play Watch the Children Pray – please come back to Finland soon! KW
METAL CHURCH photo gallery

After noticing a lot of praise for Beastmilk in recent months, I had to make sure to find out what the hype was all about, and indeed I was impressed. If their unique, genre-defying material is not enough to grab your attention, the dark and powerful vocals surely will. Only afterwards I realized where I had heard that voice before – singer Kvohst is identical with Mat McNerney, the British frontman of psychedelic folksters Hexvessel. Easily the best new discovery of the weekend. TS
BEASTMILK photo gallery

Another band I had been looking forward to, and this time I enjoyed the full set in style, with a foamy refreshment beverage in my hand… The German Thrash legends started immediately after the last note from the main stage with Zombie Attack and The Morning After. Classics like Chemical Invasion, but also the title track of their new album Rest in Beer kept the mosh pit in motion. Frontmosher Gerre could not resist to make fun (again) of Finnish alcohol regulations (Rules for Fools), and he had remembered one word from the last visit to Finland: Kippis, cheers! Thanks, kiitos, Tankard, for the great gig and hopefully CU soon! KW
TANKARD photo gallery

Amoral have come a long way since their beginnings, and it seems that with their current line-up they finally have come fully into their own. The new album, Fallen Leaves And Dead Sparrows, is a versatile piece of progressive beauty, and I’m looking forward to the planned live performances of the entire album. The Tuska set, however, did not only serve to promote the new material but also to celebrate the tenth anniversary of Amoral’s first album. In honor of this occasion, original vocalist Niko Kalliojärvi joined Ari Koivunen for a medley of songs from Wound Creation. He also stayed for the last song, “Leave Your Dead Behind”, which was rewarded by a large moshpit. Amoral’s death metal roots are not forgotten, but their current sound is a good deal more interesting. TS
AMORAL photo gallery

The Metal core act Bring Me The Horizon attracted a lot of young fans, most of them female, according to the high-pitched cheering BRING ME THE HORIZON photo gallery

The replacement of Devil You Know with Shining (the Swedish one) was a welcome change in my book, but somehow they didn’t seem to have their best day, at least as far as Niklas Kvarforth was concerned. His eccentric mix of (self-)destructive maniac and introspective poet is the soul of the band, but while I wouldn’t want to be in the first row when the former aspect gets the upper hand, the subdued atmosphere of this show was somewhat disappointing as well. Part of the problem was the choice of songs, which were mostly on the slow side – all fine on record, but not the best option for a sunny festival. On the plus side, Euge Valovirta took off his shirt halfway through the set. Thanks! TS
SHINING photo gallery

When people asked afterwards, which band I liked most at this year´s Tuska, I burst out:

I had never seen this legendary act live (another 30-year anniversary), and all those even more legendary video clips had induced certain expectations. Which could turn out really really badly. But my expectations should even be exceeded! The legendary line-up from “back then” – founder/guitarist Scott Ian, shouter Joey Belladonna, bass player Frank Bello, drummer Charlie Benante plus the “newbie” Jonathan Donais on guitar – displayed at least as much enthusiasm and energy on stage as their young Finnish “followers” some hours before: Fun, passion, energy and crazy behaviour (e.g. Joey grabbed the on-stage-camera person´s gear and filmed band and audience for a while, Frank was so over-the-top all the time as if this was his first gig EVER etc) and this “beard banging” Scott Ian should probably secure the copyrights for…

The setlist left nothing to wish for, with e.g. Among The Living, Caught in a Mosh, Indians, Deathrider from the first 1984 album or Medusa from Spreading the Disease, I am the law or In the end from the latest 2011 album Worship Music – this song was dedicated to
Dimebag and Ronnie James Dio. And there were exactly NO special effects – still an unforgettable mega show which put me – also thanks to Be all End all – in a State of Euphoria. As expected, it was Antisocial which ended this – WAAAAAY too short! – 90min gig. Anthrax promised a new album and to come back next year…
ANTHRAX photo gallery

With a long and hot day behind and after enjoying a good meal at home, the thought of heading downtown for a gig at Virgin Oil Co – notorious for its late showtimes and high beer prices – was less than tempting, but my discipline was rewarded with the best gig of the day: Omnium Gatherum, who simply keep getting better and better. Their amazing energy blew my tiredness away in an instant, and the only dreamy element were the fantastic guitar melodies. The set structure betrayed a keen sense of dynamics; a particularly effective sequence was the lighters-in-the air ballad “The Unknowing” followed by the brutal intro of “Chameleon Sin”. Only the merch stand left something to be desired: why did the one available girlie shirt have a boring design, and all the beautiful ones were only available in men’s sizes? TS
OMNIUM GATHERUM photo gallery

Festival photo gallery

Sunday, June 29, 2014
Unfortunately the weather forecast turned out to be correct – and I had to resurrect my leather coat I rather wear in winter… The rain and the chill, however, could not keep the fans from celebrating this festival day´s headliners, the bands most of the Tuska visitors had been looking forward to on the whole weekend.

Powerwolf was for me the first act of this day, and the last where my camera still produced acceptable results despite the rain. The Germans did not seem to be impressed by the bad weather and delivered an energetic show, containing hits like Sacred & Wild, Raise Your Fist Evangelist, which were enthusiastically cheered to. I would have watched until the very end, but there were pretty exotic bands luring me to the club stage…
POWERWOLF photo gallery

Ego Fall
from China offered a mixture of throat singing and their national Folk melodies plus Melodic (Death) Metal. The frontman seemed to channel Tomi Joutsen – the hair styling, the microphone – and yes, he also has a remarkable voice. It was one member from the string section to provide the throat singing, though. I was indeed impressed, a band you should keep an eye (and ear) on. EGO FALL photo gallery

were rather influenced by -core and probably have pretty philosophic lyrics, if I interpret the – singer´s announcements correctly. The singer appeared to be very nervous in the beginning, but those guys from Taiwan had no reason to be nervous as they delivered an intense tight show, and naturally they received the mosh pit they had asked for. KW
DIESEAR photo gallery

After two festival days and three late night clubs in a row, arriving on location as early as 3 pm on Sunday felt like quite an accomplishment. I watched a bit of Powerwolf, but they seemed like a black-and-white version of Edguy to me – okay for a backdrop but not really my cup of tea, especially while waiting for one of my favorite bands.

I have liked Insomnium since their first two albums and even more so since Above The Weeping World, but the most recent album has a special meaning to me, as it came out just in time to help me through a difficult personal situation this spring. Insomnium have a knack for writing music that is sad and uplifting at the same time, which makes it a soothing comfort in times of trouble. Nevertheless it’s also perfect headbanging fare for a big festival stage, so I soon stashed my camera away (alas, also for rain-proofing reasons) to go wild with the crowd. The band itself has been more active on stage since their line-up change a couple of years ago, and sure enough Markus Vanhala showed no sign of fatigue despite his powerhouse performance with Omnium Gatherum just 13 hours earlier. During “Unsung”, frontman Niilo Sevänen challenged him into a wilder solo than usual, much to the pleasure of the audience. While the new songs had already worked well at the recent club gig at Circus, this time Ville Friman’s clean vocals sounded more confident in comparison – even the high notes of “The Promethean Song” posed no difficulties anymore. It may be forever impossible to name Finland’s best metal band, but right now it might well be Insomnium.
There’s hardly a question, however, as to who is the best metal band from Israel…. TS
INSOMNIUM photo gallery

Orphaned Land
I had heard many good things about this band, but never really the band itself, or ever seen them live. Therefore the weather situation really sucked, the guys from Israel made fun about it: “Many say that I look like Jesus, but if I was Jesus I would stop the rain”, said singer Kobi Farhi. Their mix of Middle Eastern Folk and Metal/Rock created the idea of sunshine in this dark cloud-pouring rain-chilling winds scenario. Entry in my to-do list: buy Orphanded Land CDs! KW
ORPHANED LAND photo gallery

Earlier, I mentioned my regret about some of my favorite acts on Friday and Saturday playing indoors – on wet and windy Sunday, I would have wished for it to be that way, but the billing on the outdoor stages was such that I didn’t even find the time for checking out any of the club stage bands. Satyricon were somewhat luckier than Orphaned Land, as the main stage was situated with its back towards the wind and gave the the musicians some shelter from the rain. The fans, on the other hand, got soaked well and truly but stood their ground. Satyr noted that this spirit of endurance went a long way back, “after all, what would your forefathers who fought in the winter war have said if you missed Satyricon and Emperor for a bit of rain…” In clear distinction from weekend’s other Norwegians, Satyricon concentrated very much on the present, with two thirds of the set representing the last couple of albums. The more physical – in a way less black, more rock – approach suited them well, and Satyr seems to get sexier with age. (Frost possibly, too, but it was hard to say as as he was extremly well hidden behind his drumkit.)
SATYRICON photo gallery

Unfortunately there was nothing sexy about Neurosis, and their decision to play at the far back of the stage like a bunch of awkward hipsters didn’t add any excitement to their act. I give it to them that this gig was better than their previous Tuska appearance in 2009, but much as I’d like to, I just can’t seem to get into them as much as they probably deserve. A good opportunity to retreat for a drink before the climax of the evening, and easily the entire weekend.
NEUROSIS photo gallery

As befits their name, Emperor came, saw and conquered. Back in 2007, when they had graced Tuska during their short-lived reunion, they had shared the bill with Immortal and somewhat fallen short of the latter in my book, but this time the competitors lost out. Where Dimmu’s attempt at celebrating Death Cult Armageddon fell strangely flat, Emperor managed to demonstrate emphatically why In The Nightside Eclipse remains an all-time black metal classic. The songs, for one, have stood the test of time, but what’s more, Ihsahn’s voice is a good deal stronger and more articulate than it was twenty years ago. Additional color was provided by keyboardist Einar Solberg (of Leprous, which is also Ihsahn’s backing band on his solo tours), who sang the clean parts in “Inno A Satana”. Original drummer Faust was back in the fold, and it was good to hear that the long years in jail have not undermined his skills. The rain had stopped by the time, and the overcast sky was advantageous to the great lights and occasional pyros which accompanied the band’s majestic performance. For the encore, they dug out “Ancient Queen” and “Wrath Of The Tyrant” from their demo days before “going back to where it all began” (Ihsahn) and wrapping up this year’s Tuska with a spellbinding version of Bathory’s “A Fine Day To Die”. It goes without saying that this was a fine day to be alive… TS

EMPEROR photo gallery

Festival photo gallery

All text illustrations as interactive gallery:

Festival photos:

anthrax (30) Kopie


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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