23 July 2024

26,27,28-06-2009 Tuska Festival

Location: Kaisaniemi Park, Helsinki (Finland)
By: Sabine van Gameren & Elvira Visser

Tuska festival in Helsinki was this year blessed with nice weather and even before you entered the festival area, visitors were picnicking on several locations in the Kaisaniemi park were Tuska finds place. Tuska has three stages, the mainstage is called: Radio Rock Stage and there are two smaller stages in tents called: Sue Stage and Inferno Stage.

Day 1 – 26-06:

The first band to open the festival on the main stage was Gojira. A French band that started back in 1996. I always thought it would kick ass to open a festival but people were still coming and most people came in a bit later during the day. Still a good amount of people had gathered in front of the stage and the guys were ready to rock. Always hard to get a crowd going especially with the heat. People were clapping their hands instantly and they gave away a good show. Their set contained varied songs, and they kept it really interesting, as I had never seen the band and did not knew any of their work. Christian Andreu and Jean Michel Labadrie are both knowing what to give the audience. The band seem to enjoy themselves as well and talked a bit to the audience, not everything got a response but the band put effort in entertaining the crowd as well and not only playing their songs.

Second up were Callisto and Tukkanuotta. Both Finnish bands. The choice for Callisto was made because we have known Callisto for a while now but had never got the opportunity to see them live on stage. With the album “Noir” in mind we were waiting for the show. The stage was filled with many guys and sometimes you needed another pair of eyes to see everything that was happening on stage while these guys from Turku were playing their music. They know how to create this special sound, their sound. Metal in an elegant way, progressive with feeling. Their music is not about who can growl the best, but about how to translate feelings into beautiful music, while knowing how to play around with melancholy. What is different is that the band has a new vocalist, Jani Ala-Hukkala. The original vocalist did not leave the band but is focusing more on playing guitar. The new singer adds this type of jazziness to the music, which is progressive rock but with a lot more. The highlight must have been “Wormwood” which got a great applause when the first tones hit the tent. Many people were singing along. They played a pretty darn good show.

The melodic metal core band All That Remains is the second band that enters the mainstage. The band have been in Europe before when they were on tour with The Haunted, but they did not have many festivals scheduled in Europe. In America there is a long tour ahead for them so these gigs could be seen as a warming up for what is coming for them. The band entered the stage with a full dose of enthusiasm. It is to be seen that the band enjoys the cheering of the audience. They put on an active show and talked with the audience a bit. Songs from their latest album “Overcome” were played but also the older ones were not forgotten. The band have been touring a lot and even though this is one of the many shows they did it was so clearly visible that they still enjoyed playing here and that speaks for them, the audience rewarded them with loads of horns up and applause that they certainly deserved.

Thrash metallers Legion of the Damned coming from The Netherlands. Formed in 2005, actually they existed already way earlier under the name of Occult, but in a short period they brought their name and reputation up to international level. They were programmed against Rotten Sounds in the other tent stage but it seems like a significant part of the crowd decided to come and see these Dutch guys. Musically, they are not the most original band but in the way they play there is a certain perfectionism and aggression. They got respect for they devilish vocals of Maurice Swinkels who performed with tense and passion. Some pounding drums of Erik Fleuren are filling in the whole ideology of the band. The band played for about one hour and did not seem to bore the audience at all. They left a nice impression here in Finland.

Neurosis is an experimental metal band coming from the USA. The band have been around for quite some years already as they formed in 1985 and released various full length albums since. There are several influences hearable in the music. Folk, doom, ambient, industrial is all in there. The band started off quite calm with a typical doom influenced song. The audience hold back from it for a while, merely to see what was coming. Expect the unexpected because the band can get people in certain trance while playing, people enjoy it clearly, without paying any attention of what is happening around them. Sure, the band is not the most talkative one, their stage appearance is not the most impressive either, but emotions can be read on their faces . The music has got to be felt in the body and they made the right decision by not triggering the audience too much into something that does not fit the music. Neurosis was one of the most impressive performances on this first day of the Tuska festival.

One of the many Finnish folk metal bands is Ensiferum. Petri Lindroos the singer of the band had recently left his other band Norther to focus more on Ensiferum. The band is getting quite some knowledge around the world when touring with Paganfest and other big names. Ensiferum shows that the Finns like this folk metal as the sue stage tent was packed. The crowd was cheering even outside the tent, standing there drinking a beer while trying to catch a glibs of the band and shout along on the very nice folkloric melodies, while still rocking hard. Using folky melodic guitar lines and riffs creating memorable choruses in Viking style. That is what Ensiferum does and they do it well. The guys are always wearing skirts with the Finnish flag and the female keyboardist as well, which is their own thing to add to their show. I think the band mainly got its fans because of the catchy folky sing along melodies. Petri stands quite still on stage focusing a lot on his playing and singing. The other guitarist move around and pull some ugly faces every once in a while or stick out a tongue. It is not the best show, but it is a party to stand there in the crowd watching the band and shouting along.

The head liner of today were the Norwegian band Immortal. These corpse painted metallers from Norway are dressed up like you would expect a Norwegian metaller to show up. Inspired by the great nature and surroundings of Os, a dark forest 30 km south of Bergen, the black metal band Immortal was founded back in 1989 when the two bands “Amputation” and “Old Funeral” joined forces. Getting inspiration out of the winters up North, the North itself and darkness. The guys grew a little older but know how to give away an entertaining show. The riffs were played tight and together with a great light and firework show it truly was a nice performance. Three guys on stage can make a lot of noice, and the crowd seemed to like it a lot. Their pounding drums made the crowd nod their heads and headbang along. A very good and pleasant way in to end the first day of the festival while the sun was still burning on the shoulders of the people watching the band.

Day 2 – 27-06:

The second day of Tuska was about to start, the weather seems to be a bit less than the day before, but still not much to complain about. This day contains the most bands and starts earliest from all days in Tuska.

Gama Bomb was the band to open this second day. The Irish thrash metallers are an entertainment to see. The band seems to be all about having a great time while playing music as they are enthusiastic and fully in the mood to bring the metalheads that came early today a nice wake up show. The band started in 2002 and the Irish men have released two full lengths since. Musically there is of course the thrash, but a little blend with heavy metal is there to notice as well. A sense of humor is a must have to see the band, although they have their own causes, they also play songs that can be seen as a joke, a thrill. They brought a couple of fans to the front rows and behind those there were the random curious people. Gama Bomb is a great one to start your festival day with, their happiness and enthusiasm are a good motivation for the day. Though, it may not be a band that would end up headlining a festival at Tuska, not yet at least.

Dauntless was opening in the Inferno tent. We have seen Dauntless before, but it have been a while (click ). Already back then we draw the conclusion that the stage time for that band was too short and nothing have changed this time. This band has an amazing live act where the words of the lyrics will be adopted as soon as spoken. The band has been formed in 1991 but operates under the name Dauntless since 1998. Recently they released an album called: “Death Row Poet” and so they performed some songs from this album as well. Dauntless is not a stranger to the Finnish metal listener as it seems, they attracted quite some people to this Inferno stage. Seems like the majority of the people chose to see them as the other tent were Deathchain was playing was not as full as here. The band played impressive and totally fulfilled my expectations of their show. Compliments to the band, their live show is so full of energy and the music comes from inside with a passion.

Next was Sabaton. Actually The Faceless was suppose to play now, but appearantly they could not make it in time to the festival, so they switched place with Sabaton. The Swedes got the award for being the most enthusiastic band of whole Tuska as such an award existed. They talked about how great they found it to play in Finland again and how much they liked the Finnish audience. The audience have been cheering for them since the gates opened by shouting their name, so this feeling is certainly a two way feeling. Their music can be described as heavy metal with a general adoration of the war theme. The keyboard element is one that makes this music very cheerful and the audience lived up to that by showing their adoration in various ways. Sabaton played full energy and you could so see they have a great time. Surely one of the best performances of the day.

Profane Omen was next up. Another Finnish band on the festival. The band was founded in 1999 when three friends started a band. Only a bit later they found their singer Jules Näveri. After a while their guitarist left the band and was replaced by Williami Kurki. The band at this time played more melodic heavy metal, while recording their third demo in 2001, which resulted in developing their style in a bit more aggressive approach with fast riff ruling metal. After some line up changes in the year 2001 they get the name to be a great live band, more reason for us to check this band out. The band has released their “Inherit the Void” CD this year and played some tracks from this album. They are definitely a live band, using the whole stage. The stage seems a little small for them but giving them a bigger stage they will run around even more. The drums are the backbone of this band, followed by the guitar riffs. They gave away a nice tight performance at Tuska.

The Faceless, who was suppose to play earlier, came up next on the Radio Rock stage. The USA based band makes death metal. Unfortunately, they did not really feel like they have to make up something with the audience for coming in later, as their performance is one of the most inspirationless shows here. They acted like they were machines, programmed to play and not do too much extra’s. Some talking in between the songs was there, but it was on such a monotone, bored tone that it did not really make sense. Several people were walking away from their set after a couple of songs and there was nothing to blame them. A band of such a name should have shown a little more professional attitude. Quite a difference with Sabaton where they switched places with.

Korpiklaani was scheduled to play in the Inferno tent. It seems like the organization underestimated the popularity of this band which have grown huge lately. In Finland their fame seem to come a bit later but considering the fact that the folk metallers have now attracted so many people in their home country as well that there are people trying to watch them from far outside the tent as well. The band started with the song “Vodka” which is their new single. The classic favorite songs got played as well but the stress of the set list was on their newer material. A lot of moshing and dancing got on in the tent and not everyone got out without harm. The band themselves seem to enjoy it a bit less than normally, like the performing got too much of a routine by now. The band has shows booked until October so hopefully they find their moods back sooner than later, but maybe this was just an off-day.

Amorphis probably does not need any introduction and no wonder they were playing on the main stage. The band has just released their new CD “Skyforger” and took the opportunity to play some new and the most liked older material. Amorphis is a band that is very melodic, maybe that is reason why there are many many girls in front of the stage. The band is not that rough, but focus more on the nice melodies and lyrics about the Finnish national epic the Kalevala. Their front man Tomi Joutsen is a very charismatic man that has an extraordinary voice both clean and growling. Another thing to enjoy are the guitar solos from both guitarist Esa Holopainen and Tomi Koivusaari and bass player Niclas Etelävuori. More hidden but on a big stage during day light very visible are drummer Jan Rechberger and keyboard player Santeri Kallio. The crowd could see the band members enoy and somehow the hour playing time was over quite fast. Many people will singing along and watching the band on stage. This stays a great band.

Missing out on the last minutes of Amorphis, while still hearing them people gathered in the Sue stage tent to see the partly Dutch band Pestilence. A band that has been around for quite a while, being able to play some brutal metal on stage. The band was surprisingly good, after seeing the band some weeks ago they did not left that brutal memory but here on Tuska where many people had gathered in and around the tent they did, and how. The drums rough, pounding and fast and the band was very convincing. It is funny to see Tony Choy play the bass. He seems to play more reggea then metal, how he plays the bass and moves. Fans were screaming for more and more on the first row and the band gave them what they wanted. Thigh and brutal metal, creating many moshpits and a wall of death. People in the tent clearly liked the gig and the band surprised me.

The closer of this day is Suicidal Tendencies. The American hardcore band is one of the type that runs and jumps around a lot during the show. You can literally get tired by just watching it, but why would you if the guys bring it up the maximum with their performance. The band is formed in 1981 and has quite a reputation. The band has been a punk band in the past but when other influences flowed in they became to the hardcore act they are now. The Americans seemed appreciated by the Finnish metalfans, but personally they did not light a flame in me. There is this fact to admit that their drummer contributes an interesting add to the music that is creative and makes it interesting to observe.

Day 3 – 28-06:

The last day of Tuska started with two Finnish bands and my choice was to see Amoral, more melodic and less brutal than Medeia. After some real metal albums the band headed towards a more melodic sound, it was then time for Niko Kalliojärvi to leave the band. Amoral found a good replacement in Ari Koivunen, who you might know from winning the Finnish Idols version while singing rock and metal songs. The band maybe disappointed some fans, as they clearly wanted the old vocalist back, but got others curious about how the band sounds now. Their show rocked, while some visitors still had to deal with their hangovers. Amoral was energy on stage, nice fan’s on stage blowing the hairs of the guys and the enthusiasm the guys showed on stage. They clearly enjoyed their performance themselves which influenced my interpretation. Ari does sounds so different, but it fits with the more melodic way the band is heading with their latest album. Good show, definetely want to see them again.

Another Finnish band on the bill is Stam1na that became pretty famous in their homecountry which resulted in playing main stage. Although they sing in Finnish this band is not only recognised by the Finnish audience but picked up by others as well. This due to their special sound and even though you do not understand a word they sing, the lyrics are catchy. In combination with the outstanding skills of the guitarist and the drummer it creates something that you just have to like. Playing on a festival is not their strongest point, the singer looses a little in his vocal capabilities on stage, but because the band together gives that much energy and they play really tight it is great to see them. Because of that many visitors gathered around to see the band play. The band made a statement that if any would throw something on stage they would quit playing. Of course someone did throw something, and the guys left the stage. Fucking 10 minutes too early. Some person ruined it for the fans, they could have been brilliant in those 10 more minutes.

Something completely different on this festival is the two Japanese bands. Girugämesh was quite a surprise, they played in the smallest tent but many people came to see this band. I must say it might be a bit more to like for the girls then the guys who want brutal metal, but it does not mean that it can’t be nice. They music is interesting and good, bit screamcore mixed with metal influences but overall it does enterain. This Japanese bands sings in English but not all the parts are easy to hear what the singer is actually singing. The band also uses electrical influences in their songs. The styls of the bandmembers is that emo japanese, but confusing to see if it is a girl of a guy. This does not really matter for the sound of course. The band had been around since 2004 and delivered some CD’s and even live DVD’s. Girugämesh is a band you should see, they do not sound like 10 others, and have a very good energetic live show.

The British Doom/Goth legends of My Dying Bride were entering the stage under their usual drama sounds. The band has become an example and point of reference for various younger bands. Vocalist Aaron Stainthorpe had his hands full of paint and performed his drama quite well. A little comment was made that the sun was too much for him, shows once again the doom metal band still drives in darkness. Bassist Lena has her arms full of scars and is perhaps the only band member that really shines for herself next to Aaron which pretty much attracts all the attention. My Dying Bride released a new album called “For Lies I Sire” where some of the songs of the set list were taken off. The audience seemed very content with their performance, but for those who have seen the band before there was not too much new under the sun. The band already has a legendary status, so what else is in it for them?

Girugämesh has worked with MUCC’s Miya in the past and both bands were playing at Tuska. The surprisingly good Girugämesh made me wanted to see MUCC. First thing that surprises me is not something musically but the fact that the singers is like a japanese giant. I thought these were all tiny. Miya, the vocalist knows how to move elegantly over the stage while the others have something about them, something mysterious, which delivers to the show. It is weird to hear the songs in Japanese but the girls who are screaming in the first 15 rows in front of the stage seem to know every word. Something I missed out, never heard about this band. They are big in Japan but I still need to get it. The music is again original, has weird transitions and keeps you interested. They use disco beats and even reminds me of Basehunter. The melodies of the vocal line are great and very catchy, but to me Miya is not able to do everything with his voice, what he tries to. Nice Japanese bands think many girls would like it, it is catchy and danceable.

The closing act of Tuska is Volbeat. The Danish band got loads of attention and have grown big in just a couple of years. The band got born in 2001, rising from the ashes of Dominus. Their third and latest full length album “Guitar Gangsters & Cadillac Blood”. The band presents a lot of grooving rock sounds playing a game with the audience in letting them ask for what they want and give it to them by challenging the audience to move along. This interaction goes to the level that makes you think the band is specifically talking to you, while there are actually thousands of others around you who have the same feeling. This kind of magic does great for Volbeat and gathers the hearts of the Tuska visitors. The band shows an active performance and those who only heard rumors about the stage reputation of Volbeat will be blown away. Their set lasted for one and a half hour and the Finnish fans can also see this band at the Ruisrock festival.

The end for Tuska 2009 had come, there are still some after parties in various clubs going on but the metal fans are already looking forward to next year’s edition.


More photo’s of All That Remains, Legion of the Damned, Neurosis, Gama Bomb, Dauntless, Sabaton, The Faceless, Korpiklaani, Suicidal Tendencies, My Dying Bride and Volbeat are available at sabinevangameren.com

More photo’s of Gojira, Callisto, Ensiferum, Immortal, Profane Omes, Amorphis, Pestilence, Amoral, Stam1na, Girugämesh and Mucc are available at photographicretentions.nl

Gojira MySpace
Callisto MySpace
All That Remains MySpace
Legion of the Damned MySpace
Ensiferum MySpace
Immortal MySpace
Gama Bomb MySpace
Dauntless MySpace
Sabaton MySpace
Profane Omen MySpace
The Faceless MySpace
Korpiklaani MySpace
Suicidal TendenciesMySpace
My Dying Bride MySpace
Volbeat MySpace
Amorphis MySpace
Pestilence MySpace
Amoral MySpace
Stam1na MySpace
Girugämesh MySpace
Mucc MySpace