23 July 2024

29-06-2019 Tuska festival

Location: Suvilahti, Helsinki (Finland)
By: Aoife Towell and Sabine van Gameren

Kicking off day two in the Helsinki stage, Fear Of Domination burst forth with the buzz of a thousand espressos from the Lehmus Roastery opposite! Their big impactful start included tracks Needle, Paperdoll and Deus Ex Machina, followed by Bloodhound Gang cover The Bad Touch. This in particular was, in my opinion, a great choice of song to interpret their way, as it really lends itself to their eclectic and aggressive modus operandi.

On stage, there was never a moment of pause; your eyes are constantly darting from one musician to another as they physically act out their shock-driven and over-the-top brand of music. Under the shelter of the tent and the spell of bouncing lights, I was transported into a metal rave; this band are definitely making themselves heard and I wouldn’t stretch myself to say that they were an unmissable feature of the Saturday schedule.

Sata Kaskelottia was playing the clubstage on the early Saturday. The band is formed in 2011 and brings a quite melodic sound to the stage. They sing their lyrics in Finnish, which will not be interesting too much for an international audience but the guys have a certain contagious enthusiasm with them that makes it a bit more fun to watch. The guys seemed well happy to be there at Tuska. Maybe we could not see enough of them to form a deeper opinion, but they seem to entertain the early birds here well.

Samy Elbanna’s signature scream the instant Lost Society hit the main stage was an immediate indicator that they had arrived and were ready to rock Tuska. Opening with My Prophecy, they followed with KILL (Those Who Oppose Me) and the most fun looking circle pit that I’ve ever seen ensued. Samy then gestured Moses-style for a wall of death and got so excited that the crash of his mic stand burst through the speakers.

Terror Hungry was next with an intro honoring the “California easy listening” version; clearly a fan fave. Rage Against The Machine’s Guerilla Radio even heightened the energy if possible, with fans following orders to get down on the ground, only to leap up in mental unison. Intensity unwavering, next came the set’s milestone I Am The Antidote; a sea of bodies violently rocking to the song’s addictive riff. Deliver Me next indeed delivered a huge pit, followed by a drum solo from Ossi which lead to their new single No Absolution; the long awaited release proving the group’s strength in progression.

Samy’s multitasking abilities were then put to the test while climbing the stage’s scaffolding for their finale Riot, yelling into his mic while ascending, gaining momentum as well as height. A great band, a great show, and I’m sure you all look great in the stage selfie they took at the end too. 

Wake up Frankie seems a little odd here at Tuska. Their fb page shows about 570 likes on day of writing so we were not so sure what to expect from that. Yet, they soon show us that they have putten some thought into their appearance here. Starting their show there appears some sort of a zombie, we assume Frankie, on stage.

The band won the Tuska Torstai contest and so come some people have gathered to see them. Their music is more vehement than expect. Thrashy sounds but never straying far from the melodics and the tempo not going to fast leaves the fans with an easy listening show. The band released a single to celebrate their performance here and says to be working on new material. We are looking forward to hear that, the band gives us the impression their music is well thought tthrough.

Doomsters Maj Karma have been on our wishlist to see. While their drummer has been honouring our photographers portfolio since 2007 the guys are always up for an impressive performance. Maj Karma is not giving the intensity of their sound in vehemence, it is the atmosphere that is leading. The lyrics, in Finnish, but also the way it is brought.

Putting the stress on the right words, the right moments. This art they know well. Then the performance is full of energy and mimics. Wrapping that soundcable around the neck is not something we never saw before, but the look in the eyes while doing it makes it much credible. Maj Karma lives their music when performing it, that’s why they are pulling off sucha great show here again. Never disappoints.

Mustaan Kuun Lapset is a band we have heard much about but never really saw live just yet. The band makes Dark Metal since 2015 and obviously got people talking about them Schedulewise we were not able to see there whole show, but the first beginnings were not living up to our expectations much.

The band does not really bring something new into the world, which could be fine if they bring it with a certain quality and that is something we did not experience. Maybe they were a bit overwhelmed? Perhaps they grow during the performance but as we could not grant them that time we cannot tell. Hopefully a second rendezvous will bring us more charm?

As the main stage crowd thickened and widened, Stam1na’s ferocious presence exploded on to the stage unapologetically. Starting strong as ever, the crowd mimicked their vibes of fury and circle-pitted their way to metal heaven. With brief pauses between songs to chat with the festival’s faces in their engaging nature, the contrast of their brutal riffs, kicks and growls is part of what makes this band so likable. Technical mastery, catchy melodies, ease of precision and heavy as heavy comes, there’s a reason Stam1na comes back to play Tuska time and time again.

Tavastia Palamaan! hit us like a glorious punch to the gut, which prepared onlookers for the welcoming of Anna Eriksson to the stage to perform Gaian Lapsi. Obviously appreciating the surprise guest, fans erupted in support and the excitement increased. A phenomenal set that easily secured their place at another Tuska for another year. 

Dress up spectacle Warkings is something that we thought would attract more people than they did. Being placed against crowdpleaser Stam1na and Kvelertak is maybe not helping the guys either but it does not seem to affect their energy. The deal of the band is to see what happenes if historian warriors would meet.

A Roman, a Spartan, a Nordic warrior and one we could not really place. The band is quite young, about a year old, but seem to found their way to European stages already and that is because their show is solid. Sure the costumes draw attention but there is enough to listen as well. Interesting riffs are played, energetic vocals and let’s not forget about their drummer giving a more important part to their sound than one may suspect at first. The band works well on this stage here but we can totally see them on a larger stage as well. The concept works and we expect it to grow larger in the next couple years. Better see them now, when you can!

It was around this time last year that Norwegians Kvelertak announced that vocalist Ivar Nikolaisen would be replacing Erlend Hjelvik, with Nikolaisen commenting that he was not going to attempt to imitate Hjelvik, but rather bring his own game to the group. With that, just when you thought this band couldn’t get any wilder, their new format might have done just that.

Featuring countless crowd surfs, incessant displays of self-destruction and shapes you didn’t know the body could make, Nikolaisen has seamlessly molded to Kvelertak’s signature antics and couldn’t have been more welcomed by the fans. He even stated in the packed tent that growing up as a little kid in a small Finnish town, although he never learned the language, he did learn how to smoke, swear and use a knife. With that, he dedicated Beserkr to “all you crazy Finnish fuckers”.

Their explosive set finally climaxed at the end with Nikolaisen whipping his by-now sweat-saturated top off and wringing it over himself open-mouthed. Yup… Same old Kvelertak, only wilder. 

Visions of Atlantis has been around for many years and we were looking forward to see them. That being said by a person who does not like this specific female fronted thing they are into means something. Because we believe inevery genre there is some band that you can enjoy and this band may be an example for that. They were a bit unlucky, having half their gear being left behind at an airport somewhere in Europe but thanks to many other bands they were able to borrow some gear and ready to play.

The vocalduties are by Clementine and Michele who are working as a team, but what makes this band strong is that the total outcome is there as a team, not so much as an individual, the focus is not too much on these vocals alone. The whole picture works. That being said, the band played an outstanding show here at the clubstage. We can only conclude that they deserved a larger audience than was present at the moment.

Sick Of It All should need no intro. These New York legends have been around for decades, and their names on Tuska’s bill ensured a lot of people would see them for the first time. Lou Koller’s ever-recognizable raw and gritty vocals added a good dose of variety to today’s main stage, especially as he invited the crowd to “sing like drunken hooligans!”. Concentrating on old-school, Injustice System! blasted the grounds, but they married this with the more recent That Crazy White Boy Shit; written in homage to Bad Brains who were one of their greatest musical influences. Straight to Helsinki from Germany the night before, you wouldn’t think that this four-piece were operating on no sleep, given their hardcore punk extravaganza left no stone unturned (which, as Lou playfully advised the crowd, meant that they couldn’t play their instruments!). Somehow squeezing in the first song they ever wrote unto their set (I kid), My Life at less than a minute in length was a fun punctuation in schooling the audience in the playfulness of punk. Blaring Rhinestone Cowboy through the speakers on departing the stage, the angst and humor of punk was not lost on this festival. 

Returning to Tuska minus one band member, Delain take to the Helsinki stage opening with Hands Of Gold. It would seem to me that it took them a few songs to get their regular enthusiastic energy on form, but it got their in the end. Charlotte’s vocals were strong, hitting all the notes like the pro she is and contrasting wildly with that thunderous bass that I love so much in them.

A slight break in their set list opened up for a jam between Timo and Joey, and what followed was them at their best. While the crowd didn’t grow throughout the show, their enthusiasm did, as the interaction became more authentic and their playing intensified. Charlotte took a moment to announce that even though it was meant to be a secret, they had plans to do three Finnish shows in April, erupting the crowd in screams of appreciation. Closing strong with We Are The Others and Pristine, they likely secured a large returning fan base for 2020. 

De Lirium’s Order is a Technical Death Metal band and we are happy to see them as this genre is maybe a bit underpresented at the moment. Watching this band play is interesting. Their show may not be too special, but musically they set down an interesting playfield. Constantly expanding on what they set down before, it is like they want to grow every minute from the minute before.

Some people may be lost at some point, because you do need to keep your attention to it. The band strays from where they start quickly, seeking their boundaries and pushes them further. They are still in their earlier stages but we expect that in future years they are ready for that larger stage as well. Only thing to focus on is to keep the show a bit more up to par with the music as the music is now running away from what we are watching, but the visual aspect needs to be up with it as well.

If there’s one band that you can count on for consistent perfection, immaculate precision and metal mastery, it’s Opeth. Even the way Mikael says “kiitos motherfuckers” is too cool. Testing this, in between their established set of reliable tracks, he wryly tried the comedic patience of the onlooking Finns. Not many frontmen would be able to tease as he did, which ranged from accusing their World Cup win as a fluke, to hammering home that the band’s hometown of Sweden is the capital of Scandinavia.

Fellow Tuska performers Loudness got a few shout-outs, who were donning one of the smaller stages shortly after Opeth’s slot. Six tracks in, Mikael questions the fans if they can take one more song – one from their “many many classics” – warning that it will be long and everyone should pitch a tent and take their holidays now. With that, they launched into Deliverance and finished with a long drawn out epic bang. 

Luckily we were on time in the clubstage when Loudness was on. We know about the Japanese band and their reputation but at some point the security had to block the entrance because too many people were trying to get in and see their show. We only had time for a few of their songs, but with us leaving we made a few others happy being able to enter. That these guys are popular makes sense. Right from the start we were given some fine riffs, and that guitarist has its fans.

We even spotted someone who brought his own guitar into the audience. We guess it was to get it signed? The guys self remain quiet under all the attention. Modesty is in their culture and they simply continue to perform as they do. Tight and strong. A pity we could not see more of their show, but it is clear that it was a highlight for many and that makes all sense!

The big bad of the big four have announced the end, which we can only take their word on and honor their final farewell tour. Slayer’s last ever Finnish show is honorably at Tuska, and was the dominant attraction of day two’s sold out line up. We knew they were going to go out with a bang, but the bang we got was a fiery, explosive, expansive, never-ending display of the culmination of decades of metal notoriety.

You could say that Slayer have had their day and up until now may even have just been going through the motions, but this really does feel like the end; and they’re playing for it. Ripping out a twenty-track strong set, the overview of the band’s lifespan was celebrated with everything from bloody mosh pits to teary farewells. Closing with the pinnacle Angel of Death, the goodbyes from the stage were emotionally poignant, as they were too from the loyal fans. Slayer might still be with us, but now only in history. 

Review of day 1
Review of day 3

Links:

Tuska website