Twenty years of Tuska. Quite some years of Metal and while Tempelores crew has been roaming the fields for at least half of these editions we can safely say that Tuska has become that wonderful tradition that highlights every metal summer. Honoured to be there once again we were looking forward to tell you and show you all of this special edition!
The Finnish band Rotten Sound had an early start at Suvilahti. But being the opener of the Tent stage is good enough for them and with plenty of early birds around it is not hard to find many enthusiastics for their Grind core. Last year the band has released an album called “Abuse To Suffer” which seem to have found his way to the crowd.
The beginning of the set was quite steady, the band plays their music and the fans get along with it. Some words are spoken in between and although the guys have their latest album in mind, some goodies from their long lasting discography are picked up as well. The band has been releasing since 1994 so they had plenty to dig from. The eagerness with which they perform is giving a lot of energy, their show is energetic and as enthusiastic as their crowd, perfect to start your festival with and get into the mood.
Starting off a new Tuska was a new band for me; Huora. This punk-fuelled female-fronted four-piece exploded onto the Inferno stage with such might that I almost didn’t notice the crowd in front of them… Which was huge! I’ve honestly never seen a turn out that big for any of the first few slots on this stage at any other year.
Luckily I had already decided that they were fantastic before seeing this and so the bias didn’t affect me..! Anni Lötjönen made most of the movement on stage, while the other band members appeared to roll off her energy. Their music is really catchy and entertaining, especially for the messiness associated with the punk genre, and there was some really classy guitar work in there that was just downright impressive. Of course there were some screams of encouragement when the leading lady removed her top to show off a bikini body, but it looked like she could have given this many fucks – zero! A great show and very apt assignment to this special stage.
Brother Firetribe is ready at the mainstage, they celebrate their 15 year existence with a brand new album called “Sunbound” and some live performances are ahead. Brother Firetribe is the kind of band that makes you smile. Some cheesy Heavy Metal that you are easily getting attached to. It is catchy and you sing along in no time. Good, that sun was still a little bit hiding, but with the warmth from their performance they manage to give us a boost anyway.
Are these temperatures rising, purely for the catchiness? No, the vocals are equally fulfilling but where you find yourself most entertained is the guitars. Riffs are maybe a tad bit too familiar, but brought to you with flair and enthusiasm which makes it interesting all the same. “Sunbound” is an album that came out by these guys, but nothing beats the live experience when it comes with a band like them. And this, they have done well.
Anneke van Giersbergen is a regular at Tuska. And to be honest, when we witnessed Anneke 10 years ago at the farewell show of The Gathering at another Finnish festival we instantly knew this woman would not leave us alone at all. And there she was again and again. So many project, under her own name or with other great artists like for example Devin Townsend (which would be on later the day) and now with this brand new project called Vuur. (Dutch for ‘Fire’)
The start is a bit of trouble. Here and there a skip of voice, which seems caused by something technical, but it is not strange that something gets wrong when technics leave you at it. That because you simply have to look at the music itself. The level of comprehension is high, Anneke does not give herself an easy task for vocals like this. But then again, in no time she picks up and rocks on. And the crowd may not even have noticed. The audience responds well to this very first festival appearance of Vuur anyway. Some of them even seem to be knowing the lyrics and are jumping up and down.
Altogether you can see that Anneke maintains an exquisite level of professionalism and this seem to be why she is loved so deeply and given so much trust by her fans. A well-deserved applause for Anneke is granted!
Wintersun is a band that has done great things through the years. Most recently they managed to gather a whole lot of money through a crowdfunding which give the band the chance to record new albums. This however has been viewed with some sceptic look by some others, but nothing to see about any deviation here today at Tuska.
A lot of curious minds gathered to see and of course their Tuska reputation is high enough for anyone to take the gamble. And you might found yourself a winner once again, for Wintersun came out and although they started with a new song, which maybe unfamiliar to some, the also brought some older Wintersun songs like “Beyond the Dark Sun” and “Sons of Winter and Stars”. A pleasure to see, and knowing that a new release is ahead, this was probably a good warmup for that.
It is no secret that I almost wet myself the last time Ratface donned the stages of Tuska. It was a love-at-first-listen moment for me back in 2013 and I was a giddy little schoolgirl when I got the news that they were coming back for the 20th anniversary of the festival. I am only thrilled to say that they didn’t disappoint. Thunderous and brutal, they brought back only good memories and even gave me some extra ones…
Various guests were brought on stage to beef up the antics and of course the circle pits were growing viciously. What more could you want?! All of the band seemed to engage with the audience amidst half impaling themselves on guitar necks and cables; the electricity really never stopped. I may not have a freakin’ clue what they’re saying, but I am totally in love. Ratface rocked once again.
Time for some Black Metal and it is Baptism that is going to give us that. The project have been active since 1998 and have released a whole bunch of releases by now. Last year they released their fifth full length album called “V: The Devil’s Fire” and now they are at Tuska to play a show with this release.
In recordings it is always unpredictable who will be up for what but for live we know that not all can be done by Lord Sargofagian, the name behind Baptism, himself.
So getting a full band is maybe not the first thing we expected, but certainly nice as it grants the viewer with a full sound and a grander experience. And the whole is brought quite well, here and there we may have hoped for a bit more enthusiasm, a spark that makes it more alive, but overall we thought the performance fine.
One of the more intriguing bands I had in mind for this year’s festivities, Brujeria were a big bag of crazy aggressive politics somehow mixed with a lot of fun. The audience gladly joined them in a rant consisting of repeating ‘Fuck Donald Trump’, and any mentions of the new president of the United States were met with incessant boos. Clearly their reputation had greatly preceded them. Playing on their Mexican drug cartel connotations, their faces are covered in bandanas with sinister slits cut through for their mouths. They sing in Spanish with an extreme and outwardly anti-American angle, and also claim an origination in Tijuana. I dare say on one hand these guys aren’t to be messed with, but on the other I can’t help but laugh sometimes at their drama… Especially when they end on their take of the drug-inspired version of the Macarena! If you haven’t heard it, you’ve officially found your homework!
Hearing that Dave Lombardo had taken on the drumming role for the new Suicidal line-up got me even more excited to see this legendary band. Yup, I’m a Suicide virgin and it was about time I jumped on board with the Suicide team. A personal favourite of mine, a Mr. Devin Townsend, was one of several big names seen watching these old school hardcore punk fiends from side of stage; indicating much anticipation and respect from their peers on the road.
Of course it all kicked off with the altogether epic ‘You Can’t Bring Me Down’ which was played with such ferocity and intensity that you’d never want it to end (it almost didn’t)! The band performed an explosive set absolutely bursting with energy and attitude and they really are one of the unique staples in rock history. And just when you thought it was coming to a close, anyone who would fit was invited on stage for the finale; mounting huge steps to overflow even the largest stage of the festival. A thrilling point of the weekend!
Pekko Käppi & KHHL is Finnish project that seems a little odd. On a little stage the band sat closely together, using some odd looking instruments, all themed with some darkness.
Vocally the band lays down some surprises. The way the vocals are used are remarkable, giving you the thought you are watching a theatre performance where a narrator is telling a story. A creepy theatre. Soon the guys will release an album called “Matilda”. The guys gave us a little view on that today and it seems like the album is something that could entertain you well.
Maybe this band did not draw the largest crowd, but they certainly gave us something different from what we see often, which we welcomed.
Insomnium, I don’t know what it is, but every time I see these guys, it’s like I forget how great they are! Always a welcome Tuska addition, they created a very dark and smoky stage for some ambience and set about rocking our socks off instantly. Builds that go on for days force you into a trance and suddenly you’re under a tent that is packed full of people all feeling the same thing at the same time as you; you can’t beat that unision and you always get it with Insomnium. Now, having said that, if felt like their energy faded a bit and I wanted something else to grab me, maybe to surprise me. They were somewhat still on stage and maybe shouldn’t rely entirely on an atmosphere every time. I’m possibly just being mean because I definitely enjoyed them and rarely have a bad word to say, but it will be something I bare in mind when seeing them again! I still leave them feeling lots of appreciation for a great band.
Where do I start… Devin Townsend himself is a master of performance and he has some of the best musicians by his side to help him along. He is a genius, a comedian, and a down-to-earth goofball all rolled into one. The last time Tuska had the Devin Townsend Project on their bill consisted of one whole Ziltoid show on top of the regular slot, so let’s just say we already know that he has one hell of a following in these parts. And since last time he was accompanied on stage by Chuck Billy who roped a half naked chick around his staff in front of everyone (ahem… sorry Mom) we can all say that we expected nothing less than some good old fashioned tongue-in-cheek humour that Devin just seems to nail, along with the music of course!
A flawlessly hilarious rendition of the love song Ih-Ah! was accompanied by Anneke Van Giersergen who really vibed with the main man and almost seemed to make him more comfortable on stage. Ending with Higher after more penis jokes than you could count, The DTP left the entire of Tuska wanting more, we are amongst legends in our own time.
Barathrum has a wild reputation. For all we knew there was a life-long ban on them being at Tuska for something happened at their earlier appearance. But… anniversary edition, another chance was given and maybe this is a good thing.
Barathrum is drawing a huge amount of people, the inferno stage was pretty full. Then it is up for the guys to deliver their part. They seem to take it very serious and while in there we saw a good performance. The guys are focused and play a tight show. Enfant terrible Mr Sova, whose name is chanted a couple of times during their show, is giving us his best.
So yes, the band may not be the most active ones but the shows were always memorable (for diverse reasons so to say) and perhaps this Tuska show did turn the tide for them. Black Metal brought as it should be, a bit dirty with quality. How we loved them!
Trap Them was the last band at the Inferno stage of today. Their music is a blend of diverse genres. Some Punk, some hardcore, Metal… A wilde mix that gives them a bit of unity. And not only the music is quite wild, so is their performance.
A lot of energy if going round, but maybe not enough people had heard of them yet, or were gathering for other bands at this point as there were not an enormous amount of people present. A pity, but the band does not seem bothered with it and give their best to the people there.
De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas is one of those albums that is a pivotal and iconic point in metal history; not just because of its markings in the beginning of the second wave of black metal, but because of the fierce and gruesome happenings between its members during its preparation. The darkest of the dark; this album was born from plans of church burnings, death threats and eventually murder within the band.
And this, my Tuska followers, is the album that the current form of Mayhem are playing for us at this show. I am aware that Mayhem now have said that they dissociate themselves from its previous members’ hell raising, but I can’t be the only one who felt the mood change when the men entered the stage in nothing but darkness and smoke. Their demeanour, their vibe, their whole presence was noticeably heavier than your average performer, and it was completely enthralling. I enjoyed the show, as that’s what I’d call it, and it was palpable being in the aural presence of such an historical piece of music. Shit gets real with these guys.
And on to the Friday headliners, we have the ever-beloved Sabaton who come with a high standard set and an everlasting duty to live up to it. Did you think for one second that they wouldn’t? Cue blazing smiles, cheesy hair flicks, dramatic posing and spectacles galore.
The unique and brilliant power metal Swedes blasted on stage opening with Ghost Division. A massive crowd standing before them, their set consisted of fourteen songs’ worth of their signature theatrics, with the people in the front rows closely evading having their hair singed.
Ear-drum-decimating explosions and fireballs seemingly at every metre of the stage are a regular occurrence at a Sabaton show, and you really just have to sit back on enjoy that show. You have to hand it to these guys, they’ve paved their way justifiably into icon status and at Tuska 2017, they didn’t let us down.
Bands photographed and reviewed by Sabine van Gameren:
Rotten Sound, Brother Firetribe, Vuur, Baptism, Pekko Käppi, Barathrum, Trap Them.
Bands photographed and reviewed by Aoife Drum-Towell:
Huora, Ratface, Brujiria, Suicidal Tendencies, Insomnium, Devin Townsend, Mayhem, Sabaton.
Thanks for Wintersun photo’s: Klaudia Weber
Thanks for Wintersun words: Antto Kinnunen