Tuska Open Air 2011
Suvilahti, Helsinki, Finland
July 22-24, 2011
Review by Arto Lehtinen, Petri Seppänen Da Costa
Pics by Arto Lehtinen, Sini Huotari
The Tuska Open Air Festival has become one kind of institution amongst all metal festivals in Europe. Tuska was previously arranged in the heart of Helsinki in the central park Kaisaniemi during the past 10 years. The park underwent construction to have a better environment and other mandatory improvements. The organization of Tuska didn’t have a choice but to find and switch the whole festival to a new area. This new area is still located in Helsinki, but only a few kilometers away, to a place called Suvilahti. Having this area was definitely a big part of the whole idea and concept of Tuska. The Kaisaniemi park brought an intimate picnic and park feeling with the grass and trees. Whereas Suvilahti was more like an industrial environment with the burning and redhot asphalt under the feet.
Another thing forcing Tuska to make a change was the date. Originally the festival was supposed to be in the beginning of July, but another big more international based festival took over the date and Tuska was postponed until three weeks later. Well at least some people got pissed off at the changed date. Obviously a few band negotiations needed to start all over. Hopefully Tuska will return back to the original date. However, the line-up looked amazing after all. Morbid Angel and Amon Amarth were headliners, so was Devin Townsend once again. Cult metal bands like Hell, Bulldozer and then something type of stuff such as Jex Thoth, Church Of Misery. The festival was an utter success although the event wasn’t sold out. All in all 28000 people visited Tuska during three days.
Metal-Rules.com was present to check out a lot of bands and check out the new Tuska area.
THE FIRST DAY – FRIDAY
The reunited Bay Area thrashers got a pleasant or is it unpleasant job to be the opening band at the main stage. In this point the audience had hardly arrived to the area and unfortunately only a handful of people had realized to drag themselves on time to witness Forbidden in action. The set was pure thrash with killer and catchy riffs. The band was without any doubt on fire. Both guitarist Lucicero and Smith showed no mercy to their necks, as brutality banging. The set was truly a lesson in old school thrash metal from the Bay Area as all the classic such “Step By Step” “Forbidden Evil” were played along with the brand new stuff from the excellent comeback album OMEGA WAVE such as “Forsaken at the Gates” and “Overthrow”. The band dedicated Children Of The Sea to the memory of the late Ronnie James Dio.
The reformed Hell featuring Andy Sneap unleashed one hell of an album of this year. Even though the band remained unknown to the major public, their booking to Tuska was kind of surprise. Hell’s traditional metal got down to the die hard metal worshippers. The set truly consisted of all the tracks from the debut album HUMAN REMAINS. Especially the frontman deserves to have kudos for the personal theatrical aspects and shows, living up to the songs and music with the passionate attitude. Unfortunately some theatrical tricks had been limited cos some of stuff got stuck between England and Finland. The tight metallic guitar playing by both Sneap and Bower were stunning and tight. The young kids in the frontrow were totally insane about the songs.
The return of the Italian Bulldozer definitely came out of blue. The latest album titled UNEXPECTED FATE was a good attempt to make the return to the form of the old school thrash with the old school sounds. But seeing Bulldozer was entirely unexpected. The line-up had been expanded from the three piece to the five piece or six piece including the hooded keyboard player. The singer mostly stayed behind by being some kind of tyrant giving comments and orders. Having the most of the songs from the latest effort was natural, but of course a plenty of old Bulldozer songs such as Cut Throat. Unfortunately Instructions Of The Living Damned wasn’t on the set.
Arch Enemy definitely has a strong fanbase up here. Other guys were almost in the static roles compared to Angela Gossow. The lady’s dominating role on the stage is incredible for sure. Though her role is dominating, her speeches were quite hilarious for example getting saved by Morbid Angel in her teen years. Well the band raged and unleashed the metallic riff maelstrom.
The Swedish old school death metalers Grave blasted into action when INTO THE GRAVE came out. The whole set was deadly metal to the bone. Even though Ola Lindgren is the only surviving member left from the glorious days of Grave from the early 90’s, the old material still is the pure classic death metal beating the current material, although it is great. The current Grave line-up works on the stage, but this is just wishful thinking that the classic Grave line up would reunite. Out of the four legendary Swedish death metal bands only Unleashed is now missing from Tuska.
The British stoner/doom band Electric Wizard gathered a lot of fans before they hit the stage and you could tell that there was a certain expectation from the crowd, especially from those who were seeing them live for the first time. Unfortunately the gig felt short of expectations. The band played song after song, no speach, no interruption, and at one point it felt like the whole gig was a really long song. There was a general feeling that the band would have suited better playing in a club, perhaps that would have been better, but it still wouldn’t have improved that much.
More Swedish metal arrived when the legendary At The Gates took to the stage. Even though the band does gig occasionally, they usually pick certain festivals like Tuska. However as a live band ATG is quite boring and dull to be honest. The frontman Tomas Lindgren appeared to be an extremely relentless and wild character on the stage. Whereas other guys mostly remained in one spot by focusing on playing. Yes all the essential ATG classics were played with the tight and intensive playing.
Making the first day of Tuska more versatile, Killing Joke hit the EMP Stage almost at the end of the day. Although their gig wasn’t a typical one, especially among so many heavy bands, the band did a terrific job bringing something different to crowd. It was a rare gig in Tuska where the crowd was just ”relaxed” or dancing. On top of that, it was somehow hypnotic with the performance of frontman Jaz Coleman, who had some similar looks to slasher film icon Michael Myers. A unique and great performance from one of the most influential bands from England.
Morbid Angel made a visit to Tuska back in 2008. The band literally offered one hell of the best death metal gigs ever making the audience gasp for the air. As the new album has finally seen the light of day, therefore the death metal veterans returned to Tuska. All right the newest album caused more than a little bit grey hair for die hard Morbid Angel fans. However the band has not given up any inch in the live situation still sounding as morbid and brutal as before. As expected the set included nothing but the classics such as “Chapel Of Ghouls” “Fall From Grace” Dawn Of Anger”. Unfortunately Bil-Ur Sag had been dropped from the setlist as it was still a part of the set at Swedenrock. To please the die hard core bands Lords Of All Plague got played. One of their roadies brought a big rat to the stage and obviously Trey A suggested to glue the rat to one of his monitors.
The 2008 gig was authentic and intensive and uncompromising set, but the 2011 gig didn’t reach the same magic feeling. However the gig was pure pure brutality by Morbid Angel. But the audience, even though the pit was running wild, were missing the same sort of intensive and climax passion and didn’t reach the same restless and wild chaotic pit maelstrom. The kids appreciated Morbid Angel’s death metal.