Review by the Finnish team of Metal-Rules.com
"No Pain No Gain" as Scorpions used to sing, but the last weekend of June in the central park of Helsinki was nothing but pure pain from the beginning to the end in a good way. The Tuska Open Air metal festival has been taken place ten years in a row. The first festival took place at the Tavastia club back in 1998. As the years passed by, the festival has grown bigger and carved out its prestigious and now legendary reputation all around the world.
Traditional metal had a minor role on the roster of Tuska 2008. Extreme metal, in different forms, attracted and had drawn many extreme metal hearts. As well, metalcore bands KillSwitch Engage landed at Tuska for the first time with a massive impact. The younger audience appeared to be delighted about that. Power metal had the strongest presence as it had a dominating role last year. But booking Slayer, Carcass, and Morbid Angel were extreme brilliant achievements.
Even though the festival was sold out several months ago, the most surprising thing from the Tuska organization was to let people of the age of 70+ go in for free! All in all a few hundred metal grandpa and grandma’s were witnessed headbanging for several bands!!!
As usual, the whole three piece Finnish Metal-Rules.Com squad attended Tuska again to sense a reek of putrefaction, feel raining blood and obtain the pleasure to kill. Enjoy!!
The Swedish Viking death metallers have become regular visitors to Finnish soil. But as for visiting Tuska, the five piece did an outstanding gig at the small tent stage back in 2001. Amon Amarth have since risen in the ranking of the Tuska fest and are now a main stage act. Their return to Tuska had been anticipated for a while amongst Viking death metal freaks.
Johan Hegg has always been a charimatic vocalist fronting the Viking death metal squad. His beer belly and Viking horn as a drinking mug hanging at his waist have all become one kind of symbolic trademark for Amon Amarth. As far as the set list is concerned, it had been built to include some known AA songs and others such as “Runes To My Memory”, “Death in Fire”, “Across The Rainbow Bridge”, “Cry Of The Black Birds”, and more. Amon Amarth’s heavy riffs bulldozed over the sunny Tuska festival grounds as Oden would have ridden.
The Austrian band The Sorrow turned out to be quite a unknown and mysterious combo. The band was confused with other bands named Sorrow. However, The Sorrow featured a couple of young looking lads who raged on the stage with intense passion. Their stuff could easily be described as modern day metalcore. Of course, the band’s haircuts had been modified to meet the today’s weird emo style!? The band’s metalcore was deathly boring, not giving anything new to be honest. Surprisingly they seem poised to break into a the big leagues in the future.
The Swedish death metal veterans, Entombed, have soldiered on through the years despite a few radical line-up changes. This has tested the band’s existence as a few important members have pulled out to focus on other bands of their own. Although singer L-G Petrov and Alex Hellid are the only surviving members left since the glory days, the current four piece is vital and above all appears to be hungry on the stage. L-G Petrov raged like a maniac on the stage moving from side to side of the stage. Alex Hellid was vicious and had an old used inverted cross glued on his guitar. As for the set list, it basically covered the old and new material picked up from several albums for example "Crawl", "Chief Rebel Angel", "When in Sodom", "I for an Eye", "Serpent Saints" and "Strange Aeons". Entombed truly came as an unexpected surprise with a tight and intensive asskicking gig at the tent stage.
The re-united Carcass was surely the most anticipated act for many in this year’s Tuska Festival. It’s been some fifteen years since this band last appeared on stage in Finland. Although there is one minor change in current line up; the original drummer Ken Owen had to step aside because he suffered a tremendous hemorrhage several years ago and he’s not able to perform anymore. He’s now replaced by the guitarist Michael Amott’s band colleague Mikael Erlandsson from ARCH ENEMY. The rest of the line up consists of Carcass founder member vocalist/bassist Jeff Walker and guitarist Bill Steer (Firebird). It’s now been a couple of weeks since I saw Carcass in action at the Swedenrock festival. It was their second show after the reunion and to be honest; their performance in there was frankly speaking quite modest and even apathetic. Just like in Swedenrock, the set was kicked off with the intro off from the NECROTICISM album followed by “Inpropagation”. The set included mostly material from HEARTWORK and NECROTISM but there were also some gems played from their early albums like "Exhume to Consume" from SYMPHONIES OF SICKNESS and also one track "Keep on Rotting" from their last studio album SWANSONG which was released in 1996. All in all, they played a great, "best of" set including almost everything that Carcass fans expected to hear. That part was in good shape but if we speak about bands stage precence, which wasn’t too great in Sweden, both Amott and Erlandson did a great job whereseas Walker and especially Steer still seemed to be a little lost and confused on stage. Of course, perfroming in front of such demanding metal maniacs is easier for ARCH ENEMY guys. Their band is one of the most successful bands in their genre and they have been constantly on tour whereseas Bill Steer has been playing very different music in smaller venues with his own band Firebird and Jeff Walker has been mostly out of the business since Carcass disbanded. Carcass still have a lot to do with that part but it can be discovered that things are definitely better compared to Swedenrock. carcass is now playing much tighter, they now have more assurance and for sure things will only get better when this tour continues and the guys get more shows under their belt.
Carcass definitely drew the biggest attention and attendance on the first day, therefore the headliners were without any doubts in a hard place. Dimmu Borgir have gigged and done plenty of festival dates making Tuska just another routine job for the Norwegian symphonic black metallers. The sky didn’t turn dark, instead the sun shined brighter when these six demons arose on the stage. The band delivered a pretty solid set by including a bunch of mandatory songs off from the latest album and concluded the 75 minute set with the obvious choice “Mourning Palace”. The sound mix wasn’t in the best balance compared to the sounds of other bands. Maybe it would be about time to witness Dimmu at an indoor gig as these festivals don’t create that passionate feeling toward their gigs.