Heart of Steel: Concert Reviews

Tuska Open Air Festival 2003

July 11-13, 2003 / Helsinki, Finland

Text and pictures by the
Finnish Metal-Rules.com team


Day Two - Saturday, July 12th

Mokoma

What could have been more pleasant thing for a Saturday noon than to start the 2nd day of Tuska 2003 by this new Finnish sensation, Mokoma´s set. The band recorded their new 11 song album titled "Kurimus" ( = "Misery" in English) early in the spring this year that surprised many totally by its partly very furious and devastating Thrash metal approach that seemed to be a sweet and fresh honey especially for the Slayer-fans all around the world. Press both in Finland and abroad (check out our review of the album here) were giving lots of positive feedback to Mokoma for making such an extraordinary and unique Thrash Metal album and even crediting them for using their native language Finnish on it as an ´extra spice´.

The band's set was played through at "667 Seconds Stage" which mostly (and fortunately) contained almost their whole "Kurimus" album in its entire length. Such songs as the always so ferocious Thrash numbers "Punainen Kukko", "Takatalvi", ""Väsynyt Atlas" and "Vainottu" were all heard, but also Mokoma covered a Death-classic tune called "Open Casket" that the band had wisely renamed by their native Finnish language as "Avoin Hauta". Damn, it sounded just like Death could have been onstage and played the song except for the vocals. All in all, a great set from a great Finnish ´Thrash kings (!)´ that are able to capture a raging live feeling for their studio songs as well. Needless to say, but I was somewhat happy and satisfied myself after Mokoma´s such an intense and killer live performance at Tuska 2003. I hope they will get booked to the bill of Tuska 2004 again.

Horna

From the deepest and blackest flames of the abyss arises Horna, spreading their malicious rotten death, destruction and blasphemous rhymes everywhere around them and kids seem to fully enjoy all of it. Uh…oh no, I felt like I was lost in a totally wrong place. I even was neither wearing a suitable nor right dress code amongst all these fuckin´ grim-looking Black Metal trolls. Hence I needed to get out from there soon; the sooner - the better. Also, I couldn´t help noticing a monstrously evil corpse paint of the Horna´s front man and his broken arm that strangely didn´t seem to bother him a bit while he was spitting out venom and blood on the stage. He battled rambling thru the band´s +30-minutes Black Metal inferno with an enormous strength and power like a true evil Black Metal warrior should without making any compromises and showing no mercy a slightest for Horna´s devoted audience at all. Yes, he seemed to be a pretty bad-ass evil person, that´s for sure, but unfortunately they didn´t do much for me at all, I'm afraid. For Black metal purists, they were surely capable of offering more both visually and musically than for an ordinary Heavy metal digger just like I confess to be. I guess there´s really not much more I could say about them without sounding any cornier, so let´s move on to a pretty interesting French metal band next…



Burgul Torkhain

An entirely unknown French Metal band (for me), Burgul Torkhain, had won a contest in a French music competition and got an opportunity to play at the Tuska festival as a first place! Although the band was previously completely unknown for the festival crowd, the Frenchmen pulled a nice crowd into the tent to follow their technical and skilled performance. Burgul's stuff can simply be described as a technical Death Metal with a relatively technical approach that could be said to be influenced rightfully by such bands as Cynic, Atheist and even Coroner. The vocalist and bassist of Burgul Torkhain, Kristofer Lorent´s, skilful and fast moving fingers impressed several metalheads amongst the crowd even though his vocal skills were a little bit below average. In spite of that, the guys played an overall impressive set...although I can hardly recall any of their songs by name. They were definitely the biggest surprise of the day due to their skills to play their technical Death Metal with some influences from Thrash and I wish more people will eventually realize the potential of this new hopeful band in the French Metal scene. If you get a chance to see them live sometimes, go and see them and you may be surprised how good they really are.

Set list:

· Burgul Torkhain
· The Monastery
· Ke-Ptalas Ben Amothep
· Back Home
· The Mechanical Perverts
· The Prophecy
· Under the Green Moon
· Amothep
· The Choice

The members of this talented French techno-Death act left the following message on their website after their experience at Tuska festival 2003: "We are going back to France. Oooowww…!!! This Tuska Festival was amazing; the audience, too!! Thank you Helsinki and the Finnish people for this real great moment!! We hope to come back as soon as we can for a tour!!".

Edguy

Back in Finland again… That is not to say that the show of 2002 wasn't enjoyable, but Edguy have had a soft spot for the Power Metal based stuff as opposed to the many other bands from the same genre. Edguy, having just released a live-CD from their last tour, offered a great chance to see the band live again in such a short time. The demeanor of the band showed that after the first few numbers in their set, things seemed to start clicking for them onstage and they were really enjoying themselves which fed the crowd and so on. There were a good proportion of the audience who were a little unfamiliar with the older stuff, I mean the pre-99 Edguy stuff, but a sheer technical ability and enjoyment to perform at Tuska 2003, carried their set out a very nice way and for adding some ´unusual stuff´ (Avantasia) into the band's set list was a great addition indeed. However, that also really proved really well the power and range of Mr. Sammat's voice. He is a guy who is able to both sing and move onstage really great without his singing suffering a bit. So I think it´s even fair to say that maybe he could be hailed as the best vocalist in Tuska this year? The band was, generally speaking, tight and their playing was high quality as always. The only downside to a fine gig was the problems with the sound system which f.ex. ruined Sentenced´s gig pretty badly last year.

Some of the songs I remember Edguy performing during their set, were such songs as "Fallen Angels", "Babylon", "Save Us Now", "Tears of a Mandrake", "Vain Glory Opera", "The Headless Game", "Land of the Miracle", "Out of Control", "Avantasia" and… was there more? Well, a well-chosen set of songs anyway, so there really wasn´t much to complain about. All the guys in Edguy seemed to be very talented performers and for Power Metal fanatics the band´s show at Tuska 2003 was surely much anticipated after all.





Lullacry

The second night at the Tuska saw a performance of Finnish female lead band Lullacry. In the beginning of their set the sound was again a tad dodgy, but that was soon sorted out. "New" vocalist Tanja both looked and sounded great and she seemed to be a new favorite with Tuska´s male audience. It seems that rest of the band have clearly found a new breath of life for the band´ somewhat entertaining performance because of her. Most of the songs came from the brilliant new "Crucify My Heart" album, which was a good thing. A couple of tracks from their previous album "Be My God" were played as well and they also did a cover version of the W.A.S.P classic "L.O.V.E. Machine"! Maybe that song wasn't the best possible choice for Tanja to sing because of the "cheesy" lyrics, but however she managed to do that one quite well. Best songs of the evening were at least in my opinion - "All Right Tonight" and "Don't Touch the Flame" that the band played effortlessly and managed to cause a lot of ´wild´ reactions amongst the massive audience. What a brilliant performance from them and made me pretty hungry to witness them live in the future, too.





Divine Decay

One of the day´s most positive surprises was the relentless Finnish Speed metal merchants Divine Decay whom ´80s-sounding Bay Area-tinged Speed Metal sounds really appealing to me. I also have to say that Divine Decay sounded amazingly much like the semi-legendary, now defunct, Finnish Speed metal heroes Stone. That was mostly due to Alec´s similar vocals that have lots of familiar echoes from Janne´s (the lead singer for Stone) unique and very distinctive vocals.

When I arrived at the venue, I was already a bit late. The band was already finishing the first song ("Weave a Web of Vanity") off the set, so I wanted to make sure I wouldn´t miss more songs from them. I ran right into the photo pit, and besides me, there was maybe 2 or 3 other journalists there taking pics from them, so I had a good opportunity to take my pics from them in peace and follow their set in my own peace.

Most of their songs turned out to be unfamiliar simply because they were taken to their set from the band´s 2nd album titled MAXIMIZE THE MISERY that I haven´t heard and it even wasn´t released at the time of Tuska 2003. But nevertheless, Divine Decay´s Speed Metal threw me back to the ´80s with my memories about bands like Stone, Forbidden, Anthrax, etc., being overall a nostalgic tribute to the whole ´80s Speed Metal genre all in all. The band seemed to have lots of fun onstage while serving their kick-ass performance to the wild crowd and people´s response back to the band was somewhat overwhelmingly supportive which surely gave a good enough reason for the guys to believe they surely had a bunch of fans at Tuska festival who actually have bought their albums. I was also happy for the guys of Divine Decay that so many both younger and older metalheads came to see their set ´coz this band definitely deserves to be recognized by all generations of Metal fans. More stuff like this for the next Tuska festival if I can wish…

Set list:

· Weave a Web of Vanity
· Divine Decay
· Without a Soul
· Scars
· Maximize the Misery
· Dead in Me
· Silence of Decades
· The Discomfort of Artificial Euphoria
· Song of the Damned
· Hollow



Lordi

The Finnish monster band Lordi was one of the most anticipated performers this year. The band has received lots of attention and fame in Finland because of their "shocking" image and live shows. Well...to play in the middle of mid-day when the sun was shining in all its brightness around them, wasn't actually the most ideal timing for Lordi. Secondly, there were a lot of technical problems. F.ex. the keyboards didn't work at all because of broken cables. After a fifteen minute wait they got their show finally started. Ironically, after a couple of songs, technical problems started for the band´s guitarist Amen whose guitar decided to quit working. And tiny little problems followed one after the other… Lordi´s set list included almost the entire "Get Heavy" album, just in different order than on the album and a cover version of the evergreen Accept classic "Midnight Mover". Usually their set list has also included "He's Back" by Alice Cooper, but this time the continuous technical problems shortened their time schedule to pull all their songs through at Tuska, they simply had to drop that one. Still after all technical problems, the show went on. It included lots of pyro effects, bombs and a huge theatrical staging including different monsters and skulls.

The vocalist, Lordi himself, was the visual star of the show. He was a true "demon" who acted "almost human" on stage. The rest of the band stayed a little behind him, but their performance was overall good. Without all these problems they might have been one of the best bands at Tuska 2003 without doubts. Now they looked like that, but unfortunately didn't have a sound they would have deserved to compensate their highly entertaining show.











Behemoth

The Polish heavy weight torch-bearers in flesh and blood for an unholy and occult Death Metal Behemoth was, to say honestly with my ´12-inch love stick´ placed between the sheets of the (Black) Bible, the most positive and surprising band at Tuska 2003 (Luxi comments!)!! The band's performance was very outstanding and captivating from the very beginning to the end. I really don't know how to describe their set with better words than ´mercilessly murderous´ and ´murderously merciless´ (HA!), but Behemoth´s stage image was purely ´sweets & candies´ for the extreme Death Metal audience without a fuckin´ doubt!! I also have to say that I have rarely witnessed such a live energy and sheer power that was sensed during their furious performance during the band´s eye-nailing set. Behemoth proved to us that they were clearly worth of our every cent, creating such a malevolent chaotic experience onstage that only a few bands nowadays are able to reach that level as far all the intensity and brutality of certain type of a live appearance are concerned. I bet everyone that came to see them, surely subscribed the same thing with me without hesitations after watching Behemoth´s absolutely fantastic and breath-taking show. Nergal & co. seemed to be in the right environment, doing their very best to serve their fans as well as possible by a ´near-by-perfect´ Death Metal gig. Nothing was half-done, and basically 100% was given to the raging crowd that went nuts several times in the front of this fine Polish Death Metal war machine. The stage was definitely their 2nd home this day, there´s just no question about that.

For me personally, Behemoth´s set alone, made Saturday fully worthwhile at the Tuska festival. I really hope to see them live somewhere again in the future as Behemoth honestly slayed!!

Set list:

· Antichristian Phenomenon
· From The Pagan Vastland
· Heru Ra Ha: Let There Be Might
· Hekau 718 / Blackest ov The Black
· Art of Rebellion
· No Sympathy For Fools
· Christians To The Lions
· Decade of Therion
· Horns ov Baphomet3
· As Above So Below
· Chant for Eschanton 2000
· Pure Evil & Hate









Trio Niskalaukaus

Without a doubt, it is truly amazing how popular, strong, and well these bald (well, except for one of the band´s guitarists!) Finnish ´men-in-black´ have been doing for the last 2-3 years. Trio Niskalaukaus (a raw and clumsy translation from Finnish to English might be: ´Trio Neckshot´ or something like that, eh!?), has been having either completely sold-out or nearly sold-out venues wherever they have played so far during these past years. I found it kind of amazing indeed, ´coz musically their melancholic, heavy and melodic ´Metal´ isn´t something that extraordinary or unique that you might have not heard before. Bands like Anathema, Paradise Lost, My Dying Pride and the likes aren´t that far away removed from Trio Niskalaukaus musically even if it´s the Finnish language that separates from this particular Finnish trademarked slice of melancholy and sorrow from the whole cake for sure.

I have already seen them many times live at several open air festivals mainly, so I wasn´t too keen on watching their gig at this year´s Tuska festival. They were even booked to the bill of Tuska 2002, too, so I know that I´m not laying much by stating that it was basically the same set of the songs they played at Tuska 2003 as well. Having a quick glimpse over the mass of people during the band´s set, approximately 6500-7500 people were following the band´s performance and according to all reactions, everyone seemed to dig and love them which was hardly any surprising at all. The band´s heavy yet extremely melancholic Metal is quite appealing and almost ´touching´ for many, so the ones who were there and enjoying their show, obviously felt like they just had to see them again like 13th times this year. But sure, Trio Niskalaukaus is such a Metal band, I guess something for us Finns only that we can easily relate to. There is obviously a message or two in their songs that most of Finns feel comfortable and familiar with in our souls. I honestly can hardly believe any other people from some other nationalities either enjoy or understand their music that well as we Finns do. If they do, well, then welcome to the club of the mournful and self-pitiful Finns, he-heh….!!



Norther

The twin sister of Children of Bodom, Norther, was booked for the "Sue" stage just before Bodom´s set on the main stage ("667 Seconds" stage). Kinda ironic somehow indeed… To tell the truth, comparing Norther to Children of Bodom makes some sense and is justified as both of the bands definitely share many same elements within their keyboard-driven, pumped-up and aggressive modern Metal as well as the both of the bands´ whole appearance on the stage is focused and dominated by both band´s frontmen, not to forget the keyboards either that do play an important role in the sound of both bands in question.

Norther started their show with a song titled "Betrayed" off from their latest album "Mirror of Madness" and continued the set by picking up songs from both of their albums by turns and concluded the whole set with a prestigious cover of "The Final Countdown" from one-and-only Europe. Young guys full of a sheer enthusiasm and need to prove how skilful players they were as a matter of fact speaking, they really did impress and convinced a lot of metalheads amongst the audience by their energetic show. I´m sure they even managed to make a fistful of new fans for themselves by proving their maturity at Tuska festival this year as a young and talented Metal act.



Children of Bodom

Putting Children of Bodom as headliner for the second day was quite a logical choice as the band definitely enjoys a massive following everywhere right now. Even if the German melodic Power Metallers Edguy could have well been the last act of the second day, it can always be a matter to argue about of course.

However, C.o.B came and conquered the stage as the last band for Saturday with an outstanding set being fronted by the famous guitar virtuosos Alexi Laiho and Aleksi Kuoppala. Even though the band appeared to be in a damn good strike, somehow the Alex "Wildchild" Laiho´s comments between each track during their gig were mostly nonsense bullshit kind of stuff, making me wonder a bit what on earth he´s talking about and why he´s talking like that to the audience? I have to spit it out, but Laiho could probably pay a little bit more attention to his sayings during their gigs or make up some better things to say. Or what could be even better, it would be only wise if he simply kept his mouth shut if he had no better things to say between the breaks of their songs like: "Uh… next song is called… uh… erg… it´s… eww… it´s about one murder… yeeeeaaa..!!!!". Well, never mind. You get the picture anyway, don´t you? When it comes to the set itself, it was kind of interesting to follow both how tight and sharp their playing was on the stage. The whole band performed like a well-oiled murder machine (or something like that), hiding their playing failures (if there were any at all…?!) behind all the intensity of their songs that mostly came from the band´s new album Hate Crew Deathroll. At the end of their set, the ´Hate Crew´ took the opportunity and broke the news by announcing about the departure of the C.o.B guitarist Aleksi Kuoppala, which definitely came like a shock out of the blue or at least an unexpected piece of news for several Bodom fans that night. After this, surprising and shocking news was swallowed piece by piece by all the C.o.B. fans at Tuska 2003, people really started to realize that they saw Aleksi for the last time in the ranks of the band. Children of Bodom´s final gig with him in the line-up, made it surely even more special for their fans. How, (eh?) ´touching´…





 

- Day Three - Sunday, July 14th -