A summer festival classic in the heart of Helsinki, Kaisaniemi park, and again a success although there was a slight visitor decline in comparison with previous years, "only" 28,000 metal fans roamed the area on the last June weekend. Yet that had happened before this year, also other festivals had to realize that even huge headliners (e.g. Manowar) could not attract as many visitors as they had expected. Another effect of the economy crisis? It definitely wasn´t the changeable yet fair weather because Finns don´t stop partying even in rain and storm, as we all know. But let´s get to it in detail...
Friday June 26th, 2009
Gojira More photos here welcomed the black crowd in front of the Radio Rock stage with tough beats and rhythms. They played already the second time in Finland. This gig was really a good warm-up for all of those who already managed to escape the long cue in front of the entrance. (GK)
Callisto More photos here played a very slow, load-bearing sound with psychedelic melodies that passed into dark growling by the end of the songs. The tent at Sue Stage kept away a little bit of the sunlight. Therefore I could image, what kind of atmosphere could be created at a rainy November day. Especially the rainmaker fired this imagination. Nevertheless, the bright sunshine and the green hill in front of the tent invited rather to a picnic. (GK)
Legion Of The Damned More photos here captured the audience from the beginning on. The Dutch guys felt already hot when they arrived. Thus, it was very easy to heat-up the crowd with shouts of encouragement like “Be aggressive”. They also told that they like the Finnish fans. I can assure that the feeling was entirely mutual. (SK)
Neurosis More photos here surprised with their plain street clothes and black stage design. Those Californians are surely familiar with such conditions and therefore seemed cool and experienced when weaving their sound tapestry. But still this sunny and hot weather did not quite fit to this heavy doomy music, I could not get melancholic in any way, it rather made me sleepy. (KW)
Ensiferum Photos here met their audience in high spirits which cheered them to the stage. The tent at Sue Stage was full to bursting. Everybody was humming along, cheering, having the hands in the air and chanting the lyrics confidently. (GK)
Black Daliah Murder Photos here Those American guys delivered a highly energetic show on the Inferno Stage, however, the light show was on a very low energy level. This Death/Thrash/Core mix presented by Mr. Fidgety Philip captured the audience easily. Still, despite those funny remarks in between, after a while I found this constant full-speed-bombardment a little bit monotonous. (KW)
Immortal More photos here This "Mötley Crüe of Black Metal" act had already played at 2006 Tuska and came in 2009 just as a trio. Abbath (git, voc), Horgh (dr) and Appolyon (bass, voc) were generously giving classic Metal poses, and not only the international press was grateful for that. The Finns celebrated their BM heroes as if they got paid for it. And I have to admit, even as an innocent bystander I was attracted by this "shit from Norway" (as Immortal called it), those head-banger grooves and sounds from those "Unholy Forces of Evil". Later when it got darker, all those light and pyro effects were much more impressive, also Abbath´s fire breathing. A worthy Tuska headliner! (KW)
Jatkoklubi Virgin Oil Because of the long queue I missed Fear Of Domination and just managed to get in when Black Light Discipline began their set, just like their CD "Empire" with the song "For All You Heavy Hearted". One of my favorites of this band, one you cannot help dancing to.
And as this was another gig where the light person wanted to save energy, plus a crowd that made photographing near the stage a suicide mission, I just did exactly what the others did - freaking out. BLD offered besides their charismatic fronter 2 "Gogo girls" as eye candy. Cool band, keep an eye on them!
It became even more claustrophobic when Turmion Kätilöt entered the stage. Probably they had spatial problems, too, as they did not perform their whole Sado-Maso set with welders and sparks and stuff, later the audience only received a little bit of spanking - literally... Musically they focused on their brand new “USCH!” CD but also played classics like "Verta ja Liha" that were sung along enthusiastically. Cool - but TOO full, TOO loud! (KW)
Saturday, June 27th, 2009 began a little less pleasant, it was chilly, windy and rainy…
Deathchain Photos here played a loud and very tough sound. They could rock the house even this early in the afternoon. The audience was partying and repeating K. J. Khaos’ shouts of encouragement. (GK)
Dauntless Photos here The mood was also near the boiling point at the Inferno Stage, where Dauntless were playing. Right in the moment I showed up frontman Ari Nieminen was dressed in an incredibly ugly lady’s dress. Later, he undressed and posed in his black underpants and with his water bottle. I was really fascinated and enjoyed the gig until the very last tone. (GK)
Sabaton Photos here The Swedish band Sabaton was already for the fourth time in Finland. They thanked repeatedly for the warm welcome and ask the audience to teach them Finnish dirty words. In return the heated-up the crowd in double meaning – with the use of flamethrowers from the second song on and, of course, with their music. I could observe to guys falling into each others arms and dancing in wild circles around. (GK)
Profane Omen Photos here Profane Omen chose “Rebel against the establishment even if you don’t know what it is” as Intro. Furthermore, they played lots of songs from the new album “Inherit the Void”. Jules Näveri leapt over the stage. It unbelievable, I don’t know where he is taking the energy from. Also drummer Samuli Mikkonen had a stunning good drum solo. (SK)
Evile were treating the audience with hammering beats. The fans were head banging, though I felt bored after a while. There was no action on the stage. Also the tent at Sue Stage was quite empty. (SK)
Korpiklaani Photos here Probably the people were all at Korpiklaani’s gig. The tent at the Inferno stage was full to bursting. The Fins were rocking the crowd, spirits were running high. And, of course, we were all singing along with songs like “Beer, Beer” as loud as we could. (GK)
Jon Oliva´s Pain More photos here had some initial problems, first of all, only half of the SUE tent was filled, secondly, the first third of the show was affected by technical bloopers - keyboard too loud or not be heard at all, it seems a cable had left the tour prematurely. In my opinion the band focused too much on calmer song material, but finally the last gig on their tour took off. The tent filled up, Jon was grimacing, cracking jokes with fans, he´s indeed a charismatic, sympathetic and funny front man! Surely the band impressed with old Savatage stuff, like “Sirens” or “Gutter Ballet”, and "Hall of the Mountain King" rounded up a good performance. Don´t miss them on their next tour! (KW)
Amorphis Photos here had conjured up a bit rain but the fans didn´t care. Well, you can bank on a good live performance with those Finns (even banks are not that reliable nowadays). The program naturally focused on their new album "Skyforger" but contained also older and very old hits, including one of my personal faves "Silent Waters". What else? Tomi Joutsen threw his hair, Sande on keyboard could be spotted grinning sometimes, the sound was perfect, the show awesome - therefore "business as usual". (KW)
Pestilence Photos here It was sort of exciting to see a Dutch DM legend "reunited" after so many years and at their first show in Finland. But then a shock - everybody had this "no hair" hairstyling. Patrick Mameli – lead guitars, vocals - pulled off a scalping-and-gutting atmosphere even without headbanging, I´ve hardly ever seen such a sinister and scary scale of facial expressions! A technically demanding and blast-beaty show, occasionally there was some "calmer" and more grooving track. Still, rather something for DM Connoisseurs, not quite for me. (KW)
Firewind Photos here had to play without us because also STALKER journalists need a break from time to time.
Suicidal Tendencies More photos here Also in this case it´s - err - some years ago that I´ve seen them live, but Mike Muir fronting his re-newed band didn´t give any hint about his age. He didn´t stand still for a second; and nowadays this band´s Metal-Funk-Core-Rap-Crossover sound has much more mass appeal than "back then". That showed in the front rows of their fan audience - most of them were definitely just toddlers when the first ST album came out. Another clear factor was the enthusiasm - security had to pull out crowd surfers with the very first notes that were played. When it got a bit too funky or had too much of rap they lost me... still, Infectious Grooves indeed! (KW)
Sunday June 28, 2009
Amoral Photos here played for a quite young audience. Ari Koivunen is now completing the band with his vocals, although his voice was partly a little faint. I also had the feeling that the routine in the performance was missing. They did not harmonize perfectly – not yet. Nevertheless, I have to admit that I was really surprised of his growling. (SK)
Medeia Photos here played the parallel-session at the Inferno Stage much more experienced. Keijo Niinima, who is also the vocalist of Rotten Sound, inflamed the mood to the boiling point with his chunky and growly sound. T-Shirts were flung into the audience. (SK)
Stam1na More photos here Stam1na-cheers could be heard long before they finally entered the stage. I am sure that they had the longest time for autograph signing. Things really took off, in the audience as well as in the stage pit. There nothing more to say that it was really great. And I was laughing about the parasol at the microphone racks. (SK)
Girugämesh Photos here I was really curious about the Japanese band Girugämesh. Very young and female fans were already screaming during the sound check. Girugämesh rocked with full power. But unfortunately they needed already a break after the fourth song. They tried to overcome the gap with phrases like “Hei Tuska” or “Miten menee”. The fans were really enthusiastic. I was really enthusiastic when they started playing again. I really liked the sound but I left the audience during a further break and the dialog “Are you ready” – Scream – “Enjoy yourself” – Scream.
Mucc Photos here Mucc, another band from Japan, were definitely more grown up and stage-experienced, although they had the same young and female fans. They performed expressive Rock with melodic and catchy tones. I was really impressed by the gestures and facial expressions of all band members. Their dancing style reminded me of martial arts. I finally became real fan of them, when frontman Tatsurou spontaneously grabbed a head offered by a fan, integrated it into his show and returned it afterwards. (GK)
Eluveitie Photos here I had heard a lot about this Swiss band, but not the band itself, therefore I was curious. And indeed, even without their bass player - who had missed the flight somehow - they pulled of a great and energetic Celtic-Folk plus Thrash Metal program, and many of those Finns who squeezed into SUE tent agreed - this was one of the Tuska highlights! (KW)
My Dying Bride More photos here Basically I was very curious about this band - who featured a new member, Shaun Macgowan on bass, who seemed a bit shy - but also here you had to find out that sunshine and heat do not go with melancholy and sad tunes, no matter how intensely and perfectly performed by the band. Somehow the Brits felt misplaced. The program was balanced, featuring material of their latest CD "For Lies I Sire" plus a Best-Of their back catalogue reaching more than 18 years back. Still the whole thing developed into "nice background music", only some of the heavier and faster songs took off. What a pity, I was really looking forward to see Aaron & Co, I think the intimacy and atmosphere of a club or a tent would have been so much better in this case! (KW)
Volbeat More photos here first tested, whether the audience is functioning at all. When he lifted his arms, we had to make noise, when his arms were down, everybody was calm. Furthermore, Michael Poulsen checked the right mood with his question “Are you drunk?” But then he realized that this was a stupid question, because we are in Finland and there is everything about Vodka. Of course, it was very easy to heat us up with the catchy songs, the sound, the band’s charisma … everything was really great. (GK) It was by far the most boisterous sound I have heard before. Volbeat live up to their name and to their function as headliner. (SK)
Jatkoklubi, Virgin Oil Once again the first band had to perform without my presence in the audience, because when Depressed Mode played I was still chewing Kebab. This time no queues, and rather sparse attendance, some were too exhausted after 3 festival days and/or had to go to work on Monday... plus there was the competition of Sara at Tavastia Club, a show that was for free for everybody with a Tuska-ticket. Grendel performed once again an appealing mix of Thrash/Prog/Melo-Doom elements, featuring the talents of two excellent (clean and Growl) singers. Catchy riffs and tunes, no wonder that this act became one of the STALKER Faves - so keep that name in mind!
More photos here The second Helsinki gig of Black Sun Aeon can again be compared with a Black-Melo-Death-Metal Sound-tank mercilessly rolling all over you. The power trio from hell (Sotajumala´s Mynni - git, voc, Sinamore´s Mikko Heikkilä - git, voc, Before The Dawn´s Tuomas Saukkonen - drums, voc) played the full "Darkness Walks Beside Me" CD in a highly dramatic manner, intense clean&growl vocals put you on an emotional rollercoaster, supported by a perfectly timed light show. Otherwise you better don´t rely on live-concert conventions. Another act you should put on your "gotta hear & see" list.... (KW)
Summary: Once again Tuska can be called a full success, yet the program was not as appealing as in the previous 2-3 years. Well, how to top a headliner like Slayer in 2008? Still, some program choices were difficult to comprehend, some Jatkoklubi acts would have been nice at the festival , e.g. Candlemass, Ajattara, Norther, Textures, Turmion Kätilöt, others that played at the festival might have worked better in a club. Prices were higher - as expected - but still bearable. Many decided on bringing their own food&drink. turning Tuska into a Metal-picnic, and the wide range of visitors - families with kids, Metalheads, Goths, Everymen and senior citizens - plus location and peaceful atmosphere make Tuska nevertheless every time a unique experience.