TUSKA OPEN AIR 2014
Suvilahti, Helsinki, Finland
June 27-29, 2014
Review by Arto Lehtinen, Marko Syrjala
Pics by Arto Lehtinen, Marko Syrjala
The Tuska Open Air Festival is definitely a real metal festival institution amongst all other metal festivals in Europe. This Sivulahti area almost located in the heart of Helsinki, only a few kilometers away from the downtown of Helsinki, is a perfect place for the metallic onslaught during the weekend. The line-up of 2014 looked once again amazing. Anthrax and of course the legion of the Norwegian (former) black metal artists such as Satyricon, both Emperor and Dimmu Borgir as headliners. Of course a few cult metal bands like Metal Church, Stone could be witnessed. The festival was an utter success although the event wasn’t sold out. All in all 24000 people visited Tuska during three days.
Metal-Rules.com was present to check out a lot of bands and enjoy the sun and rain.
The annual Tuska Open Air festival was kicked off by the domestic battle-folk-larping metal squad Ensiferum on the main stage. The audience had arrived to witness the men in leather skirts on time and there was a nice package of people in the area. Ensiferum didn’t let fans down as they offered guaranteed Finnish-pagan metal for a passionate crowd. The set covered several tunes picked up from their last five albums, such “Iron, From Afar, Pohjola” etc.
PHIL H. ANSELMO AND THE ILLEGALS
Phil Anselmo is, of course, best known from his longtime stint as the Pantera front man. But he’s been a hard-working man in many other bands and projects as well. Down is probably the most successful of those but there are also such bands as Superjoint Ritual, Viking Crown and Arson Anthem among many others. Last year he released his first ever solo album under the name Philip H. Anselmo & the Illegals and now the band made its debut show in Finland at the Tuska festival. On paper, Phil Anselmo was one of the most exciting performers for this year’s festival. But unfortunately, his performance was far from great or even good. It was hardly even acceptable to be honest. Those who have witnessed him with Pantera back in the day were not pleased to see the current condition of once great Phil Anselmo.
But let’s take things one by one before going there. First of all, the material of his solo album isn’t that great to be honest. It’s really unmemorable, boring and irrelevant stuff. Fortunately, the band played a lot of stuff from Phil’s other bands as well and that saved the show a lot. Secondly, the band wasn’t too great either. They were okay but they sounded and looked just like any other band playing in the cellar without any identity. And last but not least, Phil himself… God only knows what has happened to him but the fact is that he just looks horrible nowadays. And it was not just the looks, his voice is completely different compared to the old days. Although it was great to hear many Pantera classics finally played live again, the fact is that his current voice didn’t do justice to those tracks. Especially “New Level” sounded … just horrible. This show left everyone with a lot of questions…the main one was – is this really the current condition of Anselmo, or was this just a bad evening and things would be different on next show?
PoisonBlack feat. the former Sentenced frontman started the nice melodic hard rocking set under the burning sun. PoisonBlack have ridden a long journey to reach the current success. Poisonblack sounded as hard as a rock.
Battle Beast was on the club stage, cmon now!!! What a weird choice for a band like Battle Beast. BB kicked the asses of the audience on the main stage last year and now they had been placed at the indoor venue on the third stage. No no no – their success hasn’t dropped, slowed down, or decreased, instead it has increased a tremendous lot! The venue was totally packed, moving around was totally impossible. Battle Beast is a high energy live band with an ultimate dominating front lady commanding the audience to go beserk and eat from her hand. The set was a pure BB from beginning to end. They did the mandatory and obvious choices ala Black Ninja, Enter The Metal World. Nice gig in a packed venue.
CHILDREN OF BODOM
Although Children Of Bodom have been on a long and wild ride since 1997, the five piece seems to have the never ending support amongst Finnish metalers. The stage had a special treatment with wrecks of massive old school looking cars placed on both sides of the stage. Then the separate bar desk with a fuckload of different and delicious looking alcohol drinks. Finally the young thrash kids of Lost Society barbequed all kinds of meats and sausages during the Bodom set. As for Bodom’s set, well it is like a well oiled metal machine. But on the other hand, the band relies on the traditional approach like Wildchild’s hilarious speeches and obvious setlist. The setlist consists of such songs as “Halo Of Blood, Scream For Silence, Bodom Beach Terror, Are You Dead Yet?”. The audience could have been a way more intensive and brutal.
The British death metal heroes Carcass returned to Finland again just 7 months after their previous visit when they played in the Cable Factory in Helsinki with Hell and Amon Amarth. That show was sold out, but many fans were a bit disappointed when Carcass only had 45 minute set there. Well, things were not better when the band had exactly the same playing time outdoors, but what can you do… The band opened with HEARTWORK classic “Buried Dreams” followed by another oldie “Incarnated Solvent Abuse”. The set list included songs from all their albums, with the exception of SWANSONG, and it was very well built set including all the classics but also enough newer material. And yes, the band and their classics do sound really good after all these years. They sounds sharp as a razor and although half of the band line-up has changed since the “heydays” you can’t really hear the difference. What’s also great is that the material from the new SURGICAL STEEL doesn’t lose and inch for the older stuff. It’s just as strong as the older stuff and it’s fun to realize that you can’t hear a big difference between the songs written 25 years ago compared to the new stuff. That was a positive comment by the way! The men might look older, especially bassist Jeff Walker now looks that he’s been living a hard life, but it doesn’t matter as this is Carcass we are talking about. Long live!
When Dimmu Borgir was confirmed to headline the opening day of Tuska, it was kind of a two-sided- feeling. Dimmu Borgir have visited Tuska before with their bombastic horror metal approach, which turned out to to be rather boring. Anyway, the band recently turned to 20 years old and kind of reach towards the dinosaur status when seen from the young generation, but for the Tuska gig the band played the DeathCult Armageddon album as a whole. Of course, the expectations weren’t that high, but the Dimmu’s handled the job in a totally professional way. Time to time it was quite exhausting and numbing to listen to the same kind of the symphonic horror stuff. Besides the DeathCult Armageddon stuff, the setlist included other songs from other bands fortunately. The whole symphonic show was concluded by the obvious choice “Mourning Palace”. Dimmu Borgir sounded as they were supposed to sound.