25 May 2024

01-07-2023 Tuska festival

On day two o f Tuska some rain was going to fall, but it did not seem to stop people from enjoying themselves. We also spoke with festival director Eeka Mäkynen to get an insight on Tuska’s future.

As you may have noticed Tuska had a couple of timetable clashes and we asked our readers to vote for which of the options we should attent. The first choice you made on this day was for us to see A.A. Williams, a multi-instrumental musician having a dark, gothic/doom-ish sound. The stage is filled with smoke and while the audience could not really see much the band appears to be on stage somewhere and start their set. A sound with a minimalist approach at first, which is creating a lot of space for Williams to have the vocals make its impact. A somewhat dramatic touch is there and when the rest of the band fills it in more you come to a good picture. For fans of Katatonia/Paradise Lost this act is surely of interest. To keep an eye on.

The next piece we have to write is a pain to our hearts, for it does not bring joy to type out these words. It contains Smash The Smile. A band that was playing at the clubstage. At this stage you usually get to see some locals, which could be a bit of a gamble, some are still much in development. But then these guys. They were not ready for Tuska. Terrible vocals, a rushed and unorganized way of performing. The keyboard… did not appear to be switched on. They seemed terrified to be on stage. I would hope they gather some confidence and experience before playing here. It’s a Tuska Kvlt band it appears, meaning they volunteered their way to Tuska. Aha. Well.

We could not stand it longer than the first three and then we left. In 16 editions of Tuska they are probably lowest ranked of all we have seen. If you work so hard, then get your shit together!

A band we have seen around longer is Turmion Katilöt who were playing at the main stage. The band has some Industrial Metal tunes for us and are ready for a show. They have a good fanbase out there but it comes to notice the response is not as wild as we have seen before from them. Was it the rain that was holding people back or perhaps the fact that the guys are not really bringing us something new anymore. The surprise factor is gone. A pity, for the guys are musically giving us a good set.

A good thing for the is that have been going round Europe to discover new markets, with people that have not seen it already many times before. Not a bad show, but we simply would have hoped the guys would somehow bring us something new.

After that we went to talk with festival director Eeka Mäkynen about Tuska this year and next. Tuska is sold out, more people than ever are present. 21K per day. However, Suvilahti is facing a lot of development. An entertainmentcenter. Apartment buildings. Will Tuska still have enough space around? Eeka tells us they only recently learned the plans are postponed for another year at least but even so there is enough space for the festival. They may have to shift the festival area in another direction and eventually when the center would be ready, take advantage of the new opportunities it brings. We wondered whether a plan B would have been thought and Eeka makes it very clear that he sees Tuska as an urban festival, so it needs to be in the city. Surely, we cannot believe that there are no other options explored and eventually it comes out that there has been some, which we won’t even mention here as they seemed not even close to a real option for Eeka. Seems like the festival is flexible and the city of Helsinki is flexible with them, an unique thing.

So due to that we missed a couple of bands but we are back at it when Nervebreak is ready for the stage. Now, after the debacle of the first band at this club stage we were a bit hesitant, but luckily this seems a bit better. Their enthusiasm also helped getting a feel for their sound. Some ressemblance to John Coffey was there, yet their sound is more towards Thrash. The guys have not released an album yet, an EP came out last year but it seems like they are on their way. The schedule did not allow us to stick around very long, but it was nice to see them for a bit.

Another rendez-vous with Clutch was on our schedule. And it is always pleasant to see these charismatic gentemen on stage so eager we were to see them. It seems that Tuska is not too sure about them, the field is not as full as it could but during the set it did fill up a bit. The contaguous sounds of the American Rockers does draw in an audience in the end. The set was not the same as we saw before, the band plays something different every show. I can imagine that for the long time fans this is truly a gift, to be able to hear a wide variety of songs if you attend multiple shows in a tour. Highlights were “Nosferatu Madre” and “X-Ray Visions” which seem to energize the audience a lot. Nice to have these guys around again.

In our Tuska Clash Poll it was Finntroll who got the most votes. Not only for their clash, but also from all clashes we put up. It is clear, you guys wanted to see some Swedish Folk. That was also very visible at the field. Full from the front to the back. The band has been around for long but their latest album dates back to 2020 so it makes sense people were eager to come and see it. Interesting to see is that the band easily jumps back and forth between their oldest and their most recent material, bringing to notice how it all connects and stays in line. Not all bands have that.

It seems like they were suffering some technical difficulties but with a bit of patience and some joking around the audience is very forgiven. Having “Trollhammaren” somewhat over half way as a highlight for many of the fans it becomes clear that even though that tent for Swallow The Sun, with whom they were clashing, was also overfull these guys could have done with a bigger stage. Hopefully next time, for they deserve that.

We continue our journey in Swedish as the next band we would see is also performing in this language. Bob Malmström it is and the guys have a saying about that. Finntroll plays Swedish Folk Metal but Bob Malmström is playing better Swedish Folk Metal. However, we would not categorize it as folk necessarily. Now we also have an anekdote to share, for if you have not heard about Bob yet, we do. With ever release we get to hear that on all of our channels, emails etc. No way to miss. And although we can not always include all of it, for the offers we get are quite numerous, we do appreciate some hard working guys getting their name out. So of course we squeezed in here. And luckily we did. ‘Bob is top’, as a Dutch saying goes.

The band recently released their new video/single “Så som på Strömsö” which the band played during their set as well. And active and energetic set with a good crowd response, local heroes like we want to see at this club stage!

Marko Hietala calms down things a bit. His solo material has been seen at Tuska before and while others have a powerful, rage behind it, Hietala has a small, and calm approach. Songs that are more sensitive, for example “Isäni ääni”, are filling the tent. A tent which has quite many people into them to see. The ease that Marko has to perform his song is deriving from all these hundreds of shows he has done with his various projects so it is a safe bet we would say.
Also the time clash Memoriam is a quite calm act so it was an interesting choice to make for us, but then as readers wanted to see some of Hietala this was our choice.

It has been a while since we saw In Flames. The Gothenburg based formation was rather quiet during the Corona years, as many, but good to see them around again. Here at the main stage they have set up for a show and it seems like everyone at Tuska is here to see them. It appears they had more crowd than headliner Ville Valo even. Good for them and they are living up to the expectation. The band impresses people with their classics, having that as a show. Some risers to see better even and feel close to the crowd, but not a whole lot extra. They don’t need much extra show to bring the audience come alive. Some mosh pit is going round where inflatables and metal heads clash vigorously. Much nostalgia, good to see them again here.

Time for some Progressive. Haken is at Tuska and they have brought us a colourful experience. Their last album is called “Fauna” which you can see coming back in their outfits as well. A good amount of people were there, but it was not as full as we expected it to be. Interesting for the guys are giving an enthusiastic performance that is not bad at all. If looking at the music we can soon conclude that this is something we heard many times around though. As an act they are not really bringing us something new. Now that is not always an issue. With quality that could certainly lead to something still. But for some reason they have not got the click with the audience in a way we would have expected also for the timeslot they were granted. A pity. Some of the tracks are interesting enough even if it is a bit like Leprous for example.

Speaking of nostalgia, Ville Valo is headlining. Some years ago it was at Tuska where HIM would perform one of the last shows and now the front man is back on the main stage with his solo material and of course many HIM songs as well. People have gathered from faraway countries, judging by the flags we spot as we walk in the photo pit. Some dedicated fans of which some have not left the front row at all this day. So we watch the giant heartagram at the stage get illuminated and a loud cheering coming from the audience. With a smile on his face the man himself enters. And specifically the HIM songs, which are 50% of the set, are chanted along loudly. Perhaps that is for the best, as Valo himself misses a note here and there, but with an extra band member in the form of loyal audience to back it up it does not really matter. “Buried Alive By Love” you could say.

Ville can’t really do much wrong here today, a good show that pleases many, many die hard fans here tonight.