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Summers in Helsinki are always much too short, but warm and sunny as a compensation. Everyone is walking around with a big grin on their face, feeling happy. As far as the more than 30.000 metalheads armed with band shirts are concerned, there’s nothing like TUSKA (=agony). This is the eight time TUSKA is taking place in Kaisaniemi Park, right next to the main train station.
There is no possibility to camp anywhere near the festival grounds and because of the proximity to the city, the last band finished at 23.00 every evening and after that the party was over until the next day. Considering the many bars within a 10-minute walking-distance from the festival area, that wasn’t really an issue and so after TUSKA closed its doors, the Helsinki bars and clubs were invaded by metals until closing time, which varied between 2.00am and 3.30am depending on the bar or club.
TUSKA provided the opportunity for journalists to be lifted up in a crane for an overview of the festival grounds and a chance to record the view for you guys.
Since a real STALKER isn't afraid of heights, here are a few nice impressions for you:
The rain you can see on this picture never reached TUSKA. Who knows what the organisers bribed the weather Gods with...
This statue stands in the park, right in front of the TUSKA entrance. What do you see in it?
The German Thrash-veterans surprised with crystal-clear sound and high spirits on the small Sue stage. However, you could hardly see the band due to the many fans and all the sand and dust in the air, made worse by the moshpit in front of the stage. Hence Schmier & Co. gave the impression of „Gorillas in the Mist“, acoustically the band left nothing to be desired, playing classics (e. g. „Mad Butcher“) and new stuff (e. g. „Soul Collector“). In my opinion they should have played on the main stage! (KW)
These guys are hysterical. We missed some of the gig because of the long queue at the press entrance, but the part we did see, rocked. It seemed to me most metals wouldn’t appreciate this parody to power metal (at least I hope it's a parody), but when we get to the main stage, the Radio City stage, there is an impressive crowd awake and enthusiastic for this festival opener. I had heard this band’s album before Tuska and I learned to appreciate the catchy awfulness of it. The singer is impressive in an annoying way and I was glad that he managed to use his voice well live, too.
The rest of the band also played a good gig and the guys appeared quite pleased to be playing at Tuska’s main stage – as one should be, of course. The music itself isn’t original, innovative or complex, but it rocks and the party atmosphere they managed to create right at the beginning of the festival, as well as the solid gig they played really speaks for this band. Very entertaining. (SP)
Finntroll simply always have fun and since the sun was out and the sound was good, be it a bit too soft at times, everybody got what they came for. The Finns have been juggling keyboard players. After Henri and the borrowed Ensiferum eye candy Meiju, they now have a mop of hair by the name of Aleksi playing keyboard. The band have given him the nick name „Junior“ (he really is quite young, but we hope for his sake this nick doens’t catch on) and he fits in very well visually and technically.
The audience partied to the hits with lots of beer and obviously enjoyed the gig a lot – as did the band. (SA)
Not only the summer heat caused the crowd to boil over even before the concert started. Those Finns form a class by themselves. Despite the temperatures and the fact they could „only“ deliver instrumental versions of „Bittersweet“ and „Wie Weit“, tracks like „Path“, „Master of Puppets“ and „Betrayal“ gave me the creeps. Since they’ve been playing their own stuff instead of cover versions and are supported by a drummer, this cello-trio has become simply ingenious!!
Incredible, the sounds one can produce with a cello... and how fast broken strings can be replaced...
Between Paavo and live-“extra“ Antero, Perttu behaved like true metal maniac, head banging like Hell with Eicca – „Seek and Destroy“ even culminated in a (fake) instrument-massacre! They certainly had to come back for an encore, despite the tight Tuska-schedule. The audience singing to „Enter Sandman“ – again the creeps – great! Apocalyptica rules! (KW)
Like Apocalyptica, this was Monster Magnet’s first time at the Tuska Festival and they seemed much better than back then at Dynamo... it is indeed difficult not to feel inspired by their hypnotic stoner sound, the evil sleazy bass, their energetic „best of“-program and their intense stage and light show. Moreover, they played all my faves off their legendary „Powertrip“-album... Dave Wyndorf sang, shouted, growled and posed his heart out, always seeking connection with the audience, even little gestures made a big impact. „Space Lord“ was the big finale, but no encore... therefore the impression remained that Monster Magnet came out second-best to the cello-rockers this time. (KW)
The Monster "fucking" Magnet crowd sang along to every song:
Offically the party was over now...
...but as we mentioned in the introduction the party went on in the many bars and clubs of Helsinki. Some of the clubs like Tavastia had official TUSKA-parties where more bands, e.g. Agonizer, Dauntless and Horricane, were playing for the people who still hadn’t had enough. We only just managed to drag ourselves to the nearest bar and collapse with some more beer.
In the morning small versions of the Greats could be found hanging about Helsinki, like this miniature Udo Dirkschneider.
The Hellsinki stage tent isn’t completely full for Naglfar, but what can you expect at such an early time? I mean, 14.30 is basically still morning. The audience doesn’t care and is quite receptive nonetheless, screams along to the lyrics and responds to the singer’s requests for fists in the air. The sound is good and these Swedes can surely play. This is not really my kind of music, though. After a couple of songs, I’ve really heard enough. The songs start to sound awfully alike and the growled song announcements and the song titles themselves seem quite cliché. Decent gig. (SP)
The whole field in front of the Sue Stage it is packed, as are the bleechers at the back of the field. Even behind the bleechers the grass is teeming with people. The sun is out, the festival grounds are hot and the Sue stage is particularly dusty, so unless you are in front row, you can’t really see the stage at all. This setting is not exactly ideal for an Ajattara gig. Any kind of light effect is completely wasted. When they begin to play, they have some serious problems with the sound. The keyboards are way too loud and the backing vocals are louder than the lead vocals, which sound very bizar to say the least. Some melody lines appear to be missing entirely. This is a shame, since it’s already quite hard to get into the Ajattara mood due to the hot summer weather. Some of the guitar effects that are very essential to the atmosphere on the albums don’t come across at all, perhaps also due to sound trouble. After a few songs the sound improves, but it’s clear that next time it might be an idea to have the most evil metal bands play a bit later. Not that it actually gets anything close to dark before midnight in Helsinki at this time of year, but the middle of a hot summer’s day is more than even Ajattara’s evil sound can deal with. Not a very memorable Ajttara gig, unfortunately. (SP)
I am always a bit nervous when it’s time to see a band whose album is fast, technical and tight. You never know if they will be able to pull it off live. I needn’t have worried. They sound fast, aggressive and heavy. In the beginning the bass is a tad loud, which makes the guitar and vocals sound a bit muddled. In the case of the singing, that’s not really a negative point. It’s very hard to tell whether there are actual lyrics or just irratic screaming. The sound soon improves and I am very impressed indeed. These guys are fucking animals, especially the drummer. I have an excellent view of him as he sits there in his shorts and socks, looking casual. The contrast with the thrashing he’s giving his extensive drum kit is enormous. After a few – very short – songs, all the band members apart from the drummer leave the stage. The drummer gives the audience a rather long, but awesome solo while the rest of the band covers themselves in fake blood.
They get back onstage and kick some more Finnish ass. The crowd loves it, although it proves quite difficult to headbang to this assault of noise. Most of the people in the front row scream along – I guess there really are lyrics – and shake their fists to the music. This music isn’t for everyone, but it’s brilliant to see how these guys pull this music off live! (SP)
The Hellsinki stage is practically full. These young guys from Helsinki know how to play and they really get the crowd moving. The sound is good and the playing solid. No dark and evil atmosphere necessary here, the audience responds to the gripping riffs, the time and rhythm changes and the energy of the band onstage. This is the kind of metal that gets absolutely everyone either banging or nodding their head. Nothing more I can say about it. Love these guys. (SP)
The terrible heat didn’t only cause the fans to suffer, the bands on stage suffered even more. Kai Hansen and his guys gave their best, but still their show seemed a bit slowed down... or perhaps I myself was too close to collapse ... About their sound problems Hansen simply said „that's how festivals are.“ „Blood Religion“ was played as a teaser for the upcoming album „Majestic“, and thanks to showers from the roadcrew the audience managed to rock to the Helloween-classic „I want out“. (KW)
I preferred to save my energies for the Thrash-legend Testament – and indeed, their Goldie-Oldies „Trial by fire“, „Over the Wall“, „Alone in the Dark“, „Into the Pit“, „Raging Waters“, „Disciples of the Watch“ or „The Preacher“ tore down any noble restraint ... and also the audience was busy banging and singing. Chuck Billy offered a great show, yet appeared a bit out of depth during more melodious parts (e. g. the ballad „The Legacy“). Real soundproblems were caused by the recently rejoined band member Alex Skolnick – he managed to blow up his guitar amp twice (complete with smoke) – this must be a Tuska record! (KW)
Just in time for the sombre Norwegians’ gig, dark clouds obscured the sky, yet they only released a few drops. And it turned out to be one of their better shows, because live shows (especially during daylight) don't suit black metal acts in general. Dimmu Borgir, however, managed to capture their fans' attention throughout their set, impressing with perfect sound, a „best of“-program (e.g. „Unorthodox Manifesto“, „Kings of the Carnival Creation“) – immaculate clean vocals by Simen(!) and an extensive lightshow. When they ended the set with „Mourning Palace“, I felt compelled to more frantic head banging – a worthy headliner! (KW)
This evening we found out that it’s not a good idea to forget your passport if you want to get into a bar in Helsinki, since there is no way you will get in without one. A big thank you to the Helsinki taxi service, not just because half of those guys also spent at least one day at Tuska and are also musicians, but also because in Germany it’s almost unthinkable that you can get a taxi home for a friend who is drunk out of his mind, actually get a hand dragging him up to his apartment and even get the taxi driver to set the alarm clock for the next morning. Excellent!
Directly beside the TUSKA area is this cosy bar with a nice beer garden backyard, but that isn´t the reason why we mention it here. The reason is the eco friendliness which is worth to be mimetic. Here stand a tree and it stands still there, because the house was builded around the tree. Great!
The nursemaids of misery – or something like that. Their outfits are extreme and they have music to match. The band is playing the Sue stage and when they begin, one of the singers, wearing an S&M costume with his ass hanging out and about a dozen safety pins stuck through his arms on each side is, dragged onstage on all fours by his hair by the second singer in a doctor’s coat.
They look fucking scary. One of the guitarists is wearing a shiny leather cat suit with his hair sticking straight up in red spikes more than half a metre high and a white face with black paint across his eyes.
Cheerful bunch, that much is clear. Like I mentioned, they have two guys who are only concerned with the lead vocals. The only reason for the two guys is that they both have their hand free to fuck around with each other and himself, in the case of the safety pin-freak. The safety pins come out one by one after a song or two and the guy actually throws them into the audience. I am very glad I am not standing there, although the crowd seem to really enjoy this band’s set.
Both “singers” are screaming their heads off, but you can’t actually discern the vocals very well because of the effects on the vocals. The bass is too loud and the keyboards are barely audible. The sound, especially the drum beat, is reminiscent of Rammstein. It’s exactly that drum beat that doesn’t seem to change much for the different songs and it makes it very hard to tell one song from the other. This is just a lot of noise with some “shocking” antics onstage. It would have helped if the sound had been better. Not my cup of tea. (SP)
I really enjoyed this „Finnish answer to Rammstein“’s gig. Although Finnish answer to Rammstein is going a bit far in my opinion. Hopefully they will come to Germany soon. (SA)
CHILDREN OF BODOM
The kids opened the main stage on Sunday and everybody, everybody came – at least you got this impression if you just tried to reach the sausage stand. No chance! Never before the area had been so stuffed with people!
No wonder that Alexi „Mitä vittu?“ Laiho & Co appeared in best form and high spirits. They made fun of „Teräsbetoni“ (= the Finnish Manowar), grilled the „Reaper“ and changed some lyrics spontaneously: „Tuska after midnight“... during „Hate Me“, „Needled 24/7“, „Hate Crew Deathroll“, „Trashed, Lost & Strung Out“ and „Everytime I Die“ the crowd could hardly be held back – a perfect show!! Honestly, I had my doubts that any following act could top that... (KW)
The guys from Oulu don’t make it an easy farewell; during the extensive farewell-tour the hardcore fans get plenty of opportunities to blink some tears away and get lumps in their throat. Complete with casket the Finns hack away with „Where Waters Fall Frozen“.
The song with the subtly ironic lyrics „Excuse Me While I Kill Myself“ folllowed. Unfortunately I’ve heard this one a bit too often, but they played a Finnish version of „XY sucht den Superstar“ which is called „IDOL“ in this case; it seems very popular among the audience and is a favourite for the karaoke-fanatics, who sing it over.... and over... and over... But enough of that, back to Sentenced.
I can only guess about the announcements and I will spare you that, since – we are in Finland after all – the song announcements were in Finnish. The set wasn’t as well-rounded as one might have liked and you could notice some discord within the band which also showed itself in the order of the setlist and the slight confusion onstage, reflected in the audience. Not the best gig of the farewell-tour, but I wouldn’t want to have missed it. Stay!!! (SA)
The singer of Mnemic´s (meanwhile ex-singer, he left the band) expresses the pain of his departure from the band in his very own way...
Since I wasn't quick enough to capture the moment on camera, he provided us with an "encore".
After this it was time for our Children Of Bodom-raffle winners.
Together with part of the crew they had a very relaxed interview with Alexi Laiho.
They did a good job, as you will be able to read in the next issue of STALKER; in fact the interview will be the main article.
You can read a short summary of some newsworthy facts in the Stories-Interviews section.
Judging from the show, sound, crowd reaction and also the scramble, COB might be the „absolute Tuska headliners“.
But I was positively surprised by the German Metal veterans. What a band!! I would not even dare to estimate the age of Udo or the rather mature gentlemen in the line-up (Udo himself called the classic „I'm a rebel“ a song that was written before most in the audience were born...) But in terms of rocking, playing, having fun on stage and grabbing their fans right at the balls (or other organs), they can definitely teach the youngsters a lot.
The audience was boiling over, even in the press area everybody was on their feet (and benches), minimal hints were enough to provoke long audience choruses ... even Udo was stunned. When they played also „Fast as a Shark“ and „Princess of the Dawn“ besides their unavoidable hits „London Leather Boys“, „Restless and Wild“, „Metal Heart“ and „Balls to the Wall“, many fans may have been close to tears... I suspect the Accept merchandiser was pretty busy this evening... (KW)
Even thought TUSKA didn’t have any mega-headliners, it was sold out and the sun, the relaxed security people and the varied and exciting choice of bands all contributed to a great general atmosphere. There were only Dixie toilets, which caused many metals to visit nearby restaurants, cafes and such, where they could use some proper, flushing toilets.
Since the Tuska visitors are very well-behaved and mostly actually bought something as well, the owners of these places didn’t complain. The prices of the food and beverages were Scandinavian and thus lethal to your wallet, so the visits to nearby restaurants served two purposes at the same time. The weather probably helped, but all the festival goers we spoke to had a great time and were definitely planning on coming back next year. We agree with that, so see you all next year.