Location: Suvilahti, Helsinki (Helsinki)
Second day at Tuska this year started with high temperatures. We were warned to drink a lot of water and luckily they festival had arranged a lot of waterpoints for the visitors.
The first band of today was without a doubt Shape of Despair for us. The Doom formation has been around for many years and they released their fifth full length album called “Return to the Void” earlier this year. With two vocalists they have an interesting variation going on and if you did not know that Natalie Koskinen is one of those then it must be said that we consider her one of the leading female voices in Finland regardless of her often modest performance style.
Musically they take their time to get you into the atmosphere. The sound slowly progresses towards a different feel and the balance is well maintained throughout. For the first band of the day they start the day with ease and let the viewer slowly awaken with their doomy sounds. Such a pleasure.
Indoors it was the Finnish formation Amoth that opened up the day. They make Progressive metal combined with some Heavy metal. The band released their third full length album this year. When they played their first song they seem quite enthusiastic and energetic but when typing my thoughts about it appears that they did not make much of a lasting impression. According my notes I found their bassist the most charismatic of them all and perhaps a bit more spotlight on all of them could help it be more memorable. Of course we saw only the first part as the schedule did not leave much time for us to see the bands in this stage so perhaps it just takes a bit longer to grasp the whole of it.
At the mainstage we are preparing to see Insomnium, an often seen guest at this festival. The Melodic Death formation has not released any albums recently but an EP in 2021 was their latest product. The band chose more older tracks on their setlist today, which seems a blessing for the fans out there who enjoy these. Whether it is “Mortal Share” or “Pale Morning Star”, Insomnium seems eager to entertain the audience today and perhaps it is one of our favorite Tuska performances of this band that we have seen through the years. The sun is out there, the summer is on and with a good show of these guys on people seem to enjoy their beers just a bit more even.
Back indoors we went to see Astralion for a bit. These guys are making Power Metal since 2011 and have two albums out. The last one dates back to 2016 so perhaps there is something new in the making, but we did not caught any of that. What we liked about Astralion of that they seem to find a way to step slightly away from the cliché thing you would expect from a band like this, they have a bit of rock and roll in them that surfaces slightly. If the band can embrace that and built upon that a bit more they certainly can bring something interesting. That is their potential and perhaps a bit seen too little for today, but we can see it is in there.
The Psychedelic Black Metal was a no-brainer for us, the Tent stage it is. The Finns currently have five albums released of which the last one saw light in 2020. The performance of the guys here was intense, as much as you can expect from them and beyond. No matter their setup, keyboards and such, it never looks static at all. And from the first song on they have all that energy going in which radiates onto the audience. Long tracks like “Uusi teknokratia” are played and this band can keep the audience with them easily. The way the way they built their set manages the climaxes thoughtfully and make watching their show captivating. A great show on the early afternoon.
We had a few minutes to spare with Denominate in the indoorstage. The band has been part of the Tuska Kvlt and with their Progressive Death Metal they put us up with a heavier sound that what we heard before on this stage today.
They did not have the fullest house but with a bunch of interested people they got their show started well. In the first few tracks they did not bring much of a surprising element to us and therefore they did not really jump out of the many others playing this genre. Of course the schedule did not allow us to see the whole set, but you hope to have in the first minutes to find some reason to stick around and that was a bit lacking today. If the guys can bring out their own identity a bit more than we hope to be more impressed next time.
Reckless Love was not a band I expected to play at Tuska and it seems like the audience was a bit hesitate for them at first, keeping their distance a bit from the stage. The glam rockers are eager enough to lure them in though, starting with some pyros to accommodate their first song. Soon people came a bit closer to give the guys a chance. With some charismatic frontman doing their thing it certainly helps the guys in putting up the show here today.
Album “Turborider” came out in 2020 has not been played and promoted too much due to the pandemic so the guys had plenty to present here today and we must say that although they were perhaps a bit of an odd one here today they did play a good show.
Industrial formation King Satan was ready to bring some spectacle indoors. The place was pretty packed and a huge queue was forming outdoors. Seems like the guys have set themselves a name already. The band shows that they thought about their concept quite well. The music, the lyrics, the looks and everything we see happening today is thoughtfully put together. Shortly it comes to mind if there is still room for spontaneity but the band gives you enough to stop thinking of it as their sound rolls over you.
Catchy refrains backed up with a lot of heaviness are played and a frontman that has a good throat to put over that seems to paint a good picture here today. Interesting to see and one of the bests on this stage so far but with the remark that people seeing this band more often may become a bit too accommodated with it at some point, meaning that the band must remain to work on their concept to keep people with them for long.
For many it may be headliner Mercyful Fate who made their day but for us it was Vltimas that formed the highlight of the day. The Blackened Death band has a sense of mystery over them.
Vocalist David Vincent we have seen with Morbid Angel over the years but it seems that Vltimas was his destiny. His voice, his mimics and his way of performing are key to this show and are exactly why people are trying to see this show from far outside the tent. But it is not just him, the other members are a bit more in the background, but catch their spotlight with their music nevertheless. Guitars are adding stress to every word brought and that is well combined with the backbone delivered by drummer Flo Mounier. A perfect formula that exceeded expectations far from what could be expected. An excellent show.
Stam1na was playing the mainstage and we think they basically are part of the furniture as we lost count of how many times we came across them at Tuska during the years. Tuska house band. The guys have a combination of Thrash, Heavy and Progressive in their sound and their songs are in Finnish. Maybe not easy to follow for a foreigner, but the band is bringing their words with quite expression so the diction is not gone wasted. Stam1na is a stable factor which means they don’t really disappoint people with their show but also that they are not bringing much of a surprise. Not today at least. And that is ok, sometimes all you need is that.
Danish formation Vola is a cheerful one under the sun, Their Prog has been spread since 2006 and when the guys enter the stage they have three full length albums released to entertain the Tuska audience with.
It seems that the first part of the show is mainly dedicated to their 2021 release “Witness” and the catchiness that comes with it makes us look around and see a lot of people singing along. The guys have made name well and while here and there some older tracks pass by it is clear that the focus is on the most recent release. As colorful as they are, they are bringing a happy note onto the field here today.
Amorphis on the mainstage, one we were looking forward to as we never really see bad shows of these guys. We once called them one of the hardest working bands out there considering the countless touring they do and the many albums they have released. This year another full length was added to their discography, it is called “Halo” and of course we get to hear some songs of that today.
After the first two the band goes back to “Skyforger” era with “Silver Bride” and then back to “Tales from the Thousand Lakes” which got released in 1994. Good to see the band includes some classics here as well. Also remarkable to see how easy it is for the guys to mix songs that were made almost three decades apart without having an enormous change of style, the guys always stayed with their idea for the band regardless some evolving in sound. When “My Kantele” is played there is an enormous applause going on, obviously this band is much loved and we must only take care not to take them for granted ever.
Enphin was the last one for the indoorstage. We lost count of how many times they changed their name, it was Peter Hayden or PH or … before, but we know we saw these people playing here before some years ago. With some psychedelic sound they are bringing a bit different sound. Dark, atmospheric and full of electronic sounds the guys are adding a bit of change to the day. We could not spend long with them as the next band was starting soon after these guys started their set but although the audience was not too enormous the guys are surely awakening our curiosity again. Let’s see if we can spend some more time at one of their future shows.
Time for some Progressive Sludge. Baroness is an American formation that has been around for almost two decades. In 2019 they released their latest album “Gold & Grey”. It are the more older songs “Ogeechee Hymnal” and “Take Away My Bones” that they start with. Good to ease into the set with. They progressively built the tensions in their show and only halfway they come towards the more recent material. What comes to notice is that they have a good balance in their band, each member comes out on its on spotlight but they never take on overhand. Skillfully they let the others shine but not without disappearing themselves. Good to see, it makes it easy to watch regardless their heavy approach. Where they were programmed straight against Soilwork we are happy to have made the choice to see them.
Mercyful Fate was a band that many still had on their wishlist to see and so the mainstage area was filling up quickly after the last two bands. The Heavy Metal giants hardly need any introduction, the band you must have come across if you are into Heavy metal. Sure, they are not actively releasing new material but with a good legacy there is not much more needed.
The stage looked immense with the setup these guys put onto it. Climbing on top looking far over the field King Diamond came out to start the show after the intro was played by the band. Every once in a while he disappeared for a bit to re-emerge in a slightly different look. Songs like “A Corpse Without A Soul” and “Doomed By The Living Dead” are played and enjoyed significantly by the eager audience here in Helsinki but some extra cheering came on when “Evil” started to play.
Eventually the band left but with an encore they finish the night here at Suvilahti. An entertainment of full class we would say!
Tuesday before Tuska Tempelores supporter of day one Marian van Gameren, mother of editor Sabine (me writing about and photographing this festival), passed away. Before she died she expressed clearly and repeatingly I was to go to Tuska and take the photos and write this review. As it was her last wish for me, I got on that plane with the blessing of my family but not without pain, emotions and inner conflicts. If you have seen me, greeted me and I have not responded or did not look too cheerful please bear in mind that this was why. My work at Tuska kept me from thinking and indulge in sadness at that point and was shielded me for the dark clouds for a while. Thank you all for understanding and hopefully you enjoyed reading the above.
Rest in peace mom.