Summer, sun, Tuska. No other festival is as fixed in my calendar as this one, and 2013 was no exception (as it was for 25.000 other Metalheads). If anything was different from normal, that would be the observation of the first downscaling in the history of the event - blame it on the simultaneously staged Rock The Beach festival or on the general economic downturn, but after two years of four stages, now it was back to three: two big outdoor stages and one indoor club stage. From the visitor´s point of view, however, it was more of a relief than of a nuisance, because this time it was actually possible to view most of the bands. The renewed layout of the area even made it possible to see both big stages from the beer area, a clear plus given the splendid weather.
Friday June 28 Unplanned circumstances delayed my arrival on Friday with the result of missing last-minute addition Tesseract who replaced The Dillinger Escape Plan, as well as Leprous; the latter at least I got to see later the same day as backing and for Ihsahn. Also working double shifts was Tomi Koivusaari, whose other band Amorphis would later that day play on the same stage he opened with Abhorrence in the afternoon.
Photo: Tina Solda. More photos here It was the smaller of the two big stages and obviously the biggest stage the band had ever played on, given that during their original one-year period of activity, they had played mostly youth clubs and the like. That was back in 1989, when Abhorrence was one of Finland´s death metal pioneers. Their demos and sole 7" single scored cult status early on, but when Svart Records released the band´s entire output as a longplayer last year, the guys were quick to state that they planned no live appearances. Well, it was a good thing they changed their plans, because the Tuska gig proved that "Devourer of Souls", "Caught in a Vortex" and "Disintegration of the Flesh" are still serious moshpit stuff - and not just for nostalgic old farts, as the large amount of youngsters in the audience proved. (TS)
Photo: Tina Solda. More photos here Wintersun should turn out the first highlight of the day that attracted the masses, and later also the queue at the autograph stand was worth to be mentioned in the Guinnes book of records. Many praised the excellent show later, yet I could just watch the first songs of those Finnish Epic-Power-Metallers, because I was attracted to the small Club stage.
More band photos here! Tombstoned Bad surprise, no photo pit here, which means taking pictures “from the audience”, another challenge when the lighting situation had not improved either. A reason why I just gave up later – but for now there was still enough room in the front. This young Doom act from Helsinki seems to be inspired by Cathedral/Kingston Wall and delivered quite a good gig, yet they should practise how to deal with “broken guitar string” situations, e.g. drum/bass improvisation...
More band photos here! Dreamtale had impressed me as warm-up for Aria already, and also this time I found their Speed/Powermetal with a touch of pop quite appealing. The show was again focused on the energetic singer Erkki Seppänen, who used every chance to get closer to the audience – this time he reminded me of Bruce Dickinson. But wearing a leather jacket in those Sauna temperatures? The fans enjoyed to sing along with hits like Firestorm.
The massive crowd at the gig of Torture Killer pretty much blocked any attempts to take pictures. I watched the DM/Grind induced circle pits from the balcony for a while and then decided to check out Ihsahn instead. (KW)
Photo: Tina Solda. More photos here Ihsahn Three years ago when Tuska was in Kaisaniemi for the last time, Ihsahn on the tent stage had been one of the highlights of the entire festival. In the afternoon sun, some of the intensity was undeniably lost, and the maestro himself, observing the rather static audience, wondered whether it was "too bright for our music". Maybe it was, or maybe people simply appreciated the opportunity to chill out a bit between Wintersun and Bolt Thrower. The material as such was strong as ever, the stress being on the two most recent albums with songs like "Arrival", "The Paranoid", "The Barren Lands and the hauntingly beautiful "Frozen Lakes on Mars". It´s just that an indoor venue would have done them more justice. (TS)
More band photos here! Bolt Thrower The massive crowd in the photo pit indicated already the popularity of this band, although they had been rare on Finnish stages; and this show at Tuska was their only European festival gig this summer. Bolt Thrower didn´t waste time and delivered a chain of hits: Mercenary, Warmaster, Killchain, Realm of Chaos. Karl Willetts ruled the stage like a boss and didn´t need to ask for mosh pits; the string section Gavin Ward, Barry Thomson plus bassist Jo Bench provided a solid riff wall while Martin Kearns beat the hell out of his drum kit. When Glory Beckons was dedicated to Jeff Hanneman. Still in between this gig I quickly went to check Kuolemanlaakso - still angry that they played at exactly the same time... But when I noticed that Finnish misanthropy had gathered a lot of audience, I happily returned to continue watching the Brits who – as expexted – could not get away without an encore (In Battle There Is No Law). (KW)
Photo: Tina Solda. More photos here Amorphis If the hot sunshine had been somewhat inappropriate for Ihsahn, it was certainly welcomed by Amorphis fans who got to cherish the view of a topless Tomi Joutsen. The singer´s tattoos are almost equally impressive as his legendary dreadlocks. An even rarer sight was Tomi Koivusaari visiting the other end of the stage a couple of times during the show. No surprises, on the other hand, were offered by the setlist; repeated audience requests for "Perkele" elicited no reaction, although that song would indeed be great to hear live again. The new album, Circle, was represented by four songs, of which "Nightbird´s Song" with its black metal sty le vocals was a clear highlight of the set. The subsequent "The Wanderer", in contrast, may sound nice on the radio, but live it falls short of Amorphis´ more versatile songs, and Joutsen even seemed to have some difficulties carrying the tune. Or maybe he simply was distracted - after the next song, he admitted to watching the preparations for King Diamond on the opposite stage. On his question who was going to watch the King afterwards, not only the majority of the audience raised their hands but also most of his bandmates… (TS)
More band photos here! Seremonia had made me curious despite the Amorphis show, but when I visited the first notes/vocals sounded a bit off. Yet then those Psychedelic Doom-Rockers with their Elf-like singer captured me somehow, so I had to follow their Rock’n’rollin maailma or Nämä kesäiset päivät a little bit longer than expected.
Photo: Tina Solda. More photos here King Diamond This was the band I had been looking forward to all year, because I had never seen it live on stage although I have been following this Danish Horror-Metaller´s career since the beginnings with Mercyful Fate ... And what should I say, what we received was indeed a big spectacle, Rock´n´Roll theater as Tuska has not seen it before. Dramatic stage decoration, entertaining and weird show elements – there was always something going on. The stars in this solid sounding Best-Of program - Andy La Rocque, Mike Wead, Hal Patino DK and Matt Thompson – also had plenty of solo moments. My only complaint – I had hoped for more Fatal Portrait hits, e.g. The Portrait or Dressed in White... Well, those intense falsetto vocals sometimes seemed a bit off, occasionally a female back ground singer helped out. Unfortunately I could not clearly hear her and the dancer´s name, who took on the part of many characters in the King Diamond universe.
For the resume of this show, plus 2 encore blocks (!!), I simply quote the Master himself – this is what he told the enthusiastic audience time and again: “Amazing, man, that was so fucking cool!” Surely many Zombies were waddling home that night, with a happy smile on their faces... (KW)
The Candle, Welcome Home, At the Graves, Up from the Grave, Voodoo, Let It Be Done, Dreams, Sleepless Nights, Shapes of Black, Come to the Sabbath, Eye of the Witch; Encore: The Family Ghost, Evil; Encore 2: Black Horsemen, Insanity
This Tuska weekend provided the traditional Jatkoklubi-shows in many clubs, e.g. with Turmion Kätilöt, Blake, Noxa, Omnium Gatherum, Shade Empire for those Zombies who didn´t wanna waddle home yet.
Photo: Tina Solda. More photos here Soilwork seemed to have some sound problems in the beginning of their set but managed to overcome them soon. I am not a fan, but I enjoyed their energetic, driving set and infectious melodies. An unexpected highlight was the almost tranquil " Let This River Flow". Perfect for a Saturday afternoon… (TS)
When forced to choose between eating in peace and watching the first act on Inferno-stage, the first option won – and later I heard that Black City was not really a must-see. Unfortunately I could not make it in time to the final songs of Bloodred Hourglass, simply because the “back entrance” was not accessible like in the years before. But I heard the Thrashers from Mikkeli had had a big crowd – good.
More photos here it was so full at the show of De Liriums Order that I quickly gave up my attempts to take pictures. As they were shooting a video of the show, you can check out soon for yourself how the crowd went nuts during songs like 44.
More band photos here! Stam1na was one of the bands that were simply fun to watch, also because of their usual nonsense. The stage set was enough to make me smile, and then of course there was this of bunch cheerful and energetic dudes in their – errr - sexy outfits, who obviously just had a lot of fun playing their hits like Pakkolasku, Rautasorkka, Paha arkkitehti and Kadonneet kolme sanaa. Maybe their fashion statements inspired some people in the crowd... such a Hula-gear seems quite appropriate in the summer heat and a sweat-inducing mosh pit / wall of death... still, I had to leave early to check out the Clubstage.
More band photos here! Dr. Living Dead! from Sweden played their first gig in Finland, and thanks to Stam1na I had some room to take pictures – yet I almost ended up in the middle of a circle pit ... After a lucky escape on to the balcony, I could indeed enjoy this HC/R´n´R/Metal Crossover sound. Great and really weird, the fun factor reminded me a bit of Anthrax, musically they plunder pretty much all the styles that include an electric guitar riff. Please come back to Finland soon! (KW)
Photo: Tina Solda. More photos here Von started promisingly but turned out to be quite a disappointment. They may be a legend of US black metal, but I prefer the Norwegian variant any day. The band was static and not much happened in the music either - by comparison, Ihsahn was almost an action hero… (TS)
Photo: Tina Solda. More photos here Kreator Hell, what a show – I had seen Kreator quite often, also in Finland, but in my opinion this was the best one so far. Tight as hell, heavy as hell, the full package – unbelievable! Hits like Enemy of God or Pleasure To Kill infuriated the Circle Pits / Wall-Of-Deaths – and had they played Winter Martyrium too, I might have joined the crazy Moshers. Even without this song it seemed like the perfect Thrash gig – could Testament even top that?
Setlist: Mars Mantra, Phantom Antichrist, From Flood into Fire, Coma of Souls / Endless Pain, Pleasure to Kill, Hordes of Chaos (A Necrologue for the Elite), Death to the World, Phobia, Enemy of God, The Patriarch, Violent Revolution, Tormentor / Under the Guillotine
More band photos here! Lama turned out to be Finnish Old School Punk veterans, which means not quite my cup of tea. When the singer emptied a Coke can onto the photo pit, the shooting session was over for me. Well, I can understand antisocial behaviour as part of the gig, but please remember how much such equipment costs, or having it repaired after water damages...
More band photos here! Urfaust seemed to be the better option, as you were already welcomed by incense fumes to prepare you for the sinister and mysterious atmosphere. What I found was a weird Goth-Alternative-Noise-Duo, evoking misanthropy and melancholy. Quite a cool show with visuals – absolutely fitting the club stage. Yet I could not watch it all, not to miss entry to the photo pit of today´s headliner.
Unfortunately there were again too many photographers and not enough room. To all those reckless 1,80+ males with their mega-cannons – please remember that the small people never get a chance to shoot a nice picture... how about next year there are stools/ladders provided for those photographers challenged in height?
More band photos here! Testament have been visiting Finland quite often, but that even seems to increase their popularity. Chuck Billy is such a likeable front man, his charisma takes over the crowd in a split second – yes, just because of that they at least tied with Kreator. Chuck took care of the fans, supplying them with guitar picks (which he stole from the guitarists´ mike stands) and even made sure that the target person received it – even in the middle of a song(!!). The mosh pit never stopped, there were several Wall of Death actions, and Chuck even insisted that “Tuska has the best dircle pit in Europe!” The Setlist offered a good mix of old and new hits, unfortunately my all time fave Burnt Offerings was missing. The Alone In The Dark chorus was sung with Soilwork Shouter Björn Strid – and loudly by the audience, which could be heard “even in San Fransisco”. What I learned from this gig was a) headbanging with pigtails sucks b) headbanging canremove your earplugs easily c) Testament are a fucking great band.
Setlist: Rise Up, More Than Meets the Eye, The Preacher, Native Blood, True American Hate, Dark Roots of Earth, Into the Pit, Practice What You Preach, The New Order, The Haunting, Alone in the Dark, Disciples of the Watch, Over the Wall, D.N.R. (Do Not Resuscitate), 3 Days in Darkness, The Formation of Damnation
Sunday June 30 The Sunday presented many powerful women – singers, an All-Girl-Band, and well, guys who look like girls and male singers who can sing REALLY high...
More band photos here! Amaranthe were the first of the female fronted bands this day on the main stage and a positive surprise, because the vocals of those three singers worked out perfectly. Yet I could not listen to Invincible, Serendipity, Afterlife, Nexus or Burn With Me for long, because the new stars of Finnish Glam rocked the Clubstage .
More band photos here! Santa Cruz The first notes of the set were enough for the many female fans at the front to have the Party started, others required some more time to wake up. Although I have to admit that this is a good band, it wasn´t quite an overwhelming experience for me. Handling those choruses for multiple voices live perfectly is something you got to admire, though. And they did their best to have some stage action, but the stage was simply too small.
More band photos here! Khroma Some kind of action happened afterwards with those Extreme rockers from Helsinki who provided a whole set of visuals. A great multimedia experience which fits the band´s Industrial-Alternative-Metal-Prog-Psycho attack. Yet quite a challenge for photographers... An intense performance, and it seems the quality of this underground band has gone around, as the club stage was full. YES! More about this band in our upcoming interview – and those guys will play in Germany in August, so check their website www.khromaband.com.
Photo: Tina Solda. More photos here Barbe-Q-Barbies So far, the only female instrumentalist I had seen at this year´s Tuska had been Bolt Thrower´s Jo Bench, but the all-female Barbe-Q-Barbies provided some compensation. Their questionable name notwithstanding, they have grown into a solid hard rock band, and their show was a joy to behold. Tight riffs, concise solos, the snarl of a Rickenbacker bass and classic rock vocals with no added sugar - no rocket science but serious fun. I´m still hoping to see the day when actual female metal bands will be more than one in a million, but the Barbies are at least getting heavier with each album.
Photo: Tina Solda. More photos here Battle Beast Honestly, when Battle Beast announced that their singer had quit, I figured the band was over and done with. Who, after all, could replace the incredible voice of Nitte Valo?! Enter Noora Louhimo. I had seen one youtube clip with her and not been particularly impressed, but live on stage I confess that she´s amazing. Both on the all-out, Accept-style metal numbers and on the occasional softer passages, not to mention how perfectly her voice fits with that of Anton Kabanen on their duets. If there´s anything she still needs to practice a little bit, it´s headbanging… The band had come in as a last-minute replacement (for Asking Alexandria) and probably wouldn´t have been granted the huge main stage under normal circumstances, but they took possession of it as if it had been their home by birthright. Impressive. (TS)
More band photos here! Stratovarius Well, what to write about those super professional Powermetal veterans, except it was a great and flawless show? The guys around this agile and likeable front man Timo Kotipelto - Matias Kupiainen, git, Rolf Pilve, dr, Jens Johansson, keys, Lauri Porra, b, who was difficult to recognise with a beard – had their time to shine in various solo parts. What caught the eye were those rubber ducks on the keyboard – snatched from Stam1na? The audience was often included into the show, which the guys on stage seemed to enjoy at least as much as all the people in front of it. And everybody sang along with the final song Hunting High And Low – indeed everybody, even in the back of the beer area. (KW)
Setlist: Abandon, Speed of Light, Halcyon Days, The Kiss of Judas, Phoenix, Dragons, Against the Wind, Black Diamond, Unbreakable, Hunting High and Low
Photo: Tina Solda. More photos here Nightwish After having just witnessed how lucky Battle Beast are with their new singer, emotions were running high in expectation of Nightwish. Since no confirmation has been given as to whether Floor Jansen will continue with the band after this summer, this might be the last time I´m witnessing this match made in heaven. Floor doesn´t need much of an introduction, but for those who haven´t had the pleasure yet, let it be mentioned that she is not only an incredibly powerful and versatile singer but also a highly charismatic stage persona. Oh, and she has already learned some Finnish - a possible sign of long-term commitment to Nightwish? Only the future will show… but for the present time being, a splendid time was had by all, the only complaint being a too short set. According to schedule, the band was supposed to play for two hours, and hardly more than one and a half it was, with no encore. But what Nightwish lacked in quantity, they made up for in terms of quality. Even "Storytime" and "Amaranth" no longer sound annoying, "Ever Dream" and "Ghost Love Score" are pure bliss and during "Bless The Child" I can´t stop the tears. On the whole, the 2013 line-up may not have been as strong as in the best years at Kaisaniemi, but the choice of headliners was excellent - this Nightwish set and Friday´s King Diamond were the stuff of future legends. (TS)
Setlist: Dark Chest of Wonders, Wish I Had an Angel, She Is My Sin, Ever Dream, Storytime, I Want My Tears Back, Nemo, Last of the Wilds, Bless the Child, Romanticide, Amaranth, Ghost River, Over the Hills and Far Away, Ghost Love Score, Song of Myself, Last Ride of the Day, Imaginaerum