To kick off Tuska 2018, the first band we are met with is Danish death metallers Baest on the Helsinki stage. You might have heard of them creeping on to your radar lately, having just signed with Century Media records in a promising deal. Formed only in 2015, they have already been carving a name for themselves and last year were gilded with the Upcoming Band of the Year award by Heavymetal.dk.
Comparable to the likes of Bloodbath or Entombed, the five-piece exploded on to the stage with confidence and vigour, and even off the stage into the photo pit several times. Their set was a great way to set the tone for the festival, not just blending into the typical death metal genre, but putting their own stamp on it too. The track Crosswhore was the high point for me; I found it so commanding and intense. Brilliant start to the day!
Gloomy Grim is one of those bands you run into at some point through the years. A ritual at Tuska was now scheduled and so we gathered in the mighty clubstage for the show to witness. Horror Metal, a black touch with a passionated feel behind it.
At first the set is opened with an introduction to the band’s sound. The bunch that gathered for it seemed familiar and the ritual continues. On a table with candles we find a skull and we must feast upon it. Cheers. The story begins. A rather short one, for the set is only to last 30 minutes, which seems like you re getting only half of it. A band that simply could benefit from some more time. But, the experience is not necessarily incomplete. The band knows how to perform and captivate the audience in such a way that we simply could have had more but we do enjoy what has been put out there. There are worse ways to start your Tuska we would say. A small price in your Tuska bingo. (which by the way was existing, although we in this matter refer to a metaphorical one).
As soon as the schedule came online a lot of open mouthed smileys appeared on the timeline. Crowbar that early?!?! Yes, that means you must roll out of bed and shake off the the preparty hangover to be in time for the party.
Crowbar is ambitious and starts with “Conquering”. To get the early birds worth their money some old material got brought live to the audience which seem to appreciate this quite. Only rather late in their set some more recent material passed by coming from the 2016 releases “The Serpent Only Lies”. The band seem to have joy in being there, being all energetic and giving the audience a decent show. The sludge formation has their years on the counter but shows no sign of losing joy in performing. A joy to watch.
Something from the more fun side of the day’s line-up, Hard Action bring us some good old-fashioned hard rock and roll, complete with Americana-esque garb and attitude. I have to compliment their guitar sound, and I think I’m going to have their song Free Fall stuck in my head for days… Although, admittedly, the one in my Tuska 2018 play list is Nothing Ever Changed. Prepare for an ear worm if you are looking that one up – in a good way! As much as they’re full of that old school, comforting and reliable vibe, their music is still fresh, heavy and individual with a punky twist. Honestly I loved their performance; it induced a good mood and they are serious musicians – some of those guitar melodies were sick! This is one band that it would be easy to become addicted to. Another absolute winner brought around by the beloved Inferno stage!
Tribulation’s star has been rising the past years and with their recent release “Down Below” scoring big time by the media, including Tempelores, we were exciting to see these Swedes on the bill. Of course for people who are new to the band their mystic performance may be a bit puzzling. Is it ballet, is it gothic, what is it? Well that’s the great thing about Tribulation. They do what they want to do on their own way and regardless of it being a slight bit apart from what you are used to they will do it anyway. And it suits them.
It works out for them well as it seems. A full tent was watching the band playing their songs, the “Down Below” album most prominent there. In the beginning the response was quite mellow, but the hearts of the audience were won fast. When the band was at the end of their set, the mysterious neighbours have them eating out of their hands. A well deserved applause come across when the guys leave the stage and for us it was certainly one of the highlights of the day.
Moonsorrow is one of those bands that I have seen countless times through the years, but never really got to understand why so many people are wild about them. Sure, the shows are fine, but never really hit the spark for me. Well, then today I was not expecting it to be either, but in a way the band seem to enlighten me a bit more than usual. The enthusiasm to play for this audience seem to be speaking for them, having the whole feel more warmhearted than ever before. Good, the band’s latest release dates back two years by now so the audience are well familiar with the release, so the cheering along is helping setting the atmosphere right. Sure, I don’t think I will ever have that passion for these guys as some have, but I admit that the show of today was something I appreciated.
Established Tuska guests at this point, Turmion Kätilöt arrive at the festival’s main stage to put on a show complete with their signature shock factor. You can imagine this to include more exposed skin than you need to see on the male body, flames to rival a forest fire and sniffing around some questionable parts of the member’s anatomy. With Shag-U (aka Saku Solin) now on the list as a full-time band member, the industrial metal group dominated the festival environment and Saku’s zealous enjoyment of operating the flame thrower certainly helped. My highlight song: Jalopiina, but no surprises there as the crowd definitely agreed on the day. You might hate them, but you have to love them. The only thing left unsaid now is whether Shag-U had anything on under his ‘apron’… I’ll leave it up to your imagination.
Being my second time seeing this German duo at Tuska, I knew to expect some skinny fury and broken drumsticks. I gushed about their performance here in 2016, yet something about them this year was even more likeable. They had improved stage presence and gathered more of a crowd, which admittedly helped the ambience of the hall. Vocalist Hanno’s self-deprecating jokes (“please take loads of photos because my Mom thinks I have no friends”) and the generous sharing of a bottle of whiskey with the pit (be still, my beating Irish heart) were endearing – not an adjective you were expecting here, was it? The best part was how this contrasted with the vehemence and seriousness of their sludgy set, which was so heavy and doom-ridden that closed eyes wouldn’t let you believe how few people were standing on that stage. In the rare moments of quiet in between, there were audible demands for the spectacular track Era Borealis, which they obliged us with as their closing song.
When Dead Cross entered the stage people seem mainly curious about what would be happening. A slow start for these guys but with Mike Patton and Dave Lombardo you kind of know it will be something of interest. Sure, the guys do not have a long discography, a debut from 2015 is there but that is about it.
Yet they know their deal. Crossover Thrash… it’s not something you have never seen before, but it does have a twist to its own. We get a couple of covers included in their set. Iggy and The Stooges and some Bauhaus later on. So that will fill up their set. Unfortunately we did not get a whole lot of new material, which fans would have hoped for. So maybe not the most satisfying show of the day, but simply fine. And that will have to do.
Leprous, Tuska and me (Sabine) are in that weird love triangle. So a bit of a personal note is here to share. My very first Leprous live experience was at Tuska. Many years ago, when Tuska was still at a location in the middle of the citycentre. I saw that energy and thought: WOW. We got hooked, the albums were there and the love grew.
Five years ago the band was playing at Tuska as well. Right that morning, 28th of June I had received a call that would give my mother her second life. But a many hour long and risky surgery was ahead. As discussed before my leaving to the festival in case we would get this call I would stay. The three days after we didnt get access to her anyway. But when the call came my head was with nothing by worries. And then the day had to start. First on my list was Leprous. And I am happy, so happy that it was then as their music always sucks me in. And they managed! Managed to get my mind of all it and have some thoughts and enjoyment in the most stressful day of my life.
Some more albums came and then… that latest. A heartbreak. It was not love at first sight. What was happening? I did not hate it, that I must say but I got my doubts. I skipped their clubshow. And now they were on for Tuska. No, no running away. It’s Leprous. And so I grasped that love from before and seek their show. Sure, the guys have changed so much through the years and seeing this live was bringing me back with why I liked this band in the first place. The energy is there, the music and all is exciting, the power behind it was there. So yes, it seems this new Tuska show was needed to avoid falling out of their triangle. Well, good job Leprous. I am back on board! Thank you!
Coming to us all the way from Amsterdam, nu/groove-metallers The Charm The Fury performed on the Inferno stage to a full house, which I found impressive considering the anticipation of Leprous in the neighbouring tent. Following on from last year’s studio album release The Sick, Dumb & Happy, the five-piece female-fronted Dutch group had plenty of material to play for Tuska heads; the peak song for me being Weaponized, which is ridiculously catchy and a pretty decent summary of their signature sound. They also dedicated a track to the late great Vinnie Paul which garnered some respect throughout the crowd. An energetic performance from singer Caroline Westendorp had a circle pit started without needing much encouragement, not to mention a following wall of death for those feeling a bit less charm, and a bit more fury. Hitting a few more countries and festivals over the Summer, these are worth popping your head in for if you have the chance.
Penultimates to Body Count in closing the main stage for the day, Arch Enemy needed no introduction to the festival attendees who were already waiting eagerly in the blazing sun. With their latest album Will to Power on the agenda, their fourth song The Race was one of my personal faves, but they did of course play all of the expected classics such as My Apocalypse, We Will Rise and finished on the infamous Nemesis.
With a massive European and North American tour looming before them, we are one of many lucky festivals that get to experience their pyrotechnics and unmistakeable anthems. I definitely thought that their performance improved as the set progressed, and it would be hard to fault these legends of metal, even with the departure of the beloved Angela Gossow. Alissa White-Gluz has taken over with a bang and didn’t skip a beat once.
Arion is no stranger to the Tuska stage regardless the fact that they are still quite a young band. The guys make Symphonic Power Metal and released one full length in 2014. The band did bring some fans to the club stage but perhaps the competition with Arch Enemy was a bit too much for them to fight up with as they place was not too crowded anymore. Yet, the people seem to miss out on something. The eagerness of these guys to play here is contagious. The songs they make are well thought and show potential. An interesting show for an audience that likes this kind of music though, this band may be off to something.
Meshuggah are one of, if not my most, respected bands on the entire 2018 lineup. The Swedish prog metal legends have been on the scene for over thirty years now and I was super excited to see their name announced, adding some serious esteem to the day’s end. Their stage lighting was some of the best of the entire weekend, setting the scene for their atmospheric and unrivalled depth of sound. The Helsinki tent was packed to the edge of its cover’s reach and all you could do was soak in their awesomeness. Sometimes, you just feel like you’re in the presence of legends. As Jens Kidman addressed the fans, his voice gradually got hoarser and hoarser, however this was only when he spoke and his vocals were strong and firmly iconic throughout the set. My personal highlights were The Hurt That Finds You First and Bleed.
Body Count we remember well from the “Cop Killer” drama that has been around and sure we do know that Ice-T has done various things besides this band also. From acting to rapping and now here at Tuska. Sure, we get something that is quite different from what we usually see. Mr Ice-T explains that people call him Ice-Motherfucking-T-Bitch!. A rather long name, but it set the tone of the night.
But wait, did we see a familiar face right there in the beginning? Yes, mr Lombardo drummed that Slayer cover. God, that’s Tuska… where people unite. Even onstage. So the guys have a good time, play some songs and introducing the bandmembers. But of course that “Cop Killer” is what many await. Oh yes, it passed by. The band played it towards the end of their set. Yet we got an encore as well. And then they went out with a bang. A rather unusual act to close that first night with but it was surprisingly great actually.
Photographed and reviewed by Sabine van Gameren are: Gloomy Grim, Crowbar, Tribulation, Moonsorrow, Dead Cross, Leprous, Arion, Body Count
Photographed and reviewed by Aoife Towell are: Baest, Hard Action, Turmion Kätilöt, Mantar, The Charm And The Fury, Arch Enemy, Meshuggah