Tuska Open Air Metal Festival 2017 – 20th Anniversary – Suvilahti – Helsinki – Finland

August 23rd, 2017
by Arto Lehtinen

The Tuska Open Air Festival is definitely a real metal institution among metal festivals in Europe. The mighty Tuska festival has reached one hell of a milestone in the long, yet metallic mayhem history. Tuska celebrated its 20th anniversary this year which is pretty damn good for a festival like this. The line-up was huge, covering a wide range of different types of metal. It was obvious the Finnish Love metal messengers HIM was one of those names pulling a lot of people from other countries. Besides, HIM announced that they will call its quits after this year. Anyhow, Sabaton, Suicidal Tendencies, Amorphis, Tryptikon etc. and a plenty of other bands made Tuska definitely great.  All in all 37,000 people made a visit to Tuska during these three days.

By : Marko Syrjala; Arto Lehtinen; Petri Da Costa


Tuska 2017 – FRIDAY 

ROTTEN SOUND

Rotten Sound had been given the unpleasant timing to kick Tuska off. Being an opening band for a fest like Tuska could be a suicidal decision and place, but instead Rotten Sound’s extreme grinding approach had drew a bunch of people. Rotten Sound never disappoint, instead the four piece always offers a head blowing grind core maelstrom.

BROTHER FIRETRIBE

Brother Firetribe, being a side band run by the Nightwish guitarist Emppu Vuorinen, is kind of flashback to the 80’s AOR sounds that Foreinger or Journey used to perform in those days. Brother Firetribe have succeeded in modernizing  the AOR sound into a modern approach. Brother Firetribe (adopted the name from a Finnish tennis player by the way) was quite an exceptional band on the Tuska roster. They received a warm welcome cheer from the audience. The band’s joyful passion-filled performance fit well to their AOR based approach. The singer’s huge voice sounded great, that seemed to appeal to the crowd more than well.

KOHTI TUHOA

Kohti Tuhoa was a pleasant surprise when they released their debut album RUTIININ ORJA. The whole album presents primitive raw and extremely nihilistic hard core stuff with an intensive chaotic approach. The four piece was really hyperactive on the stage. Especially the female vocalist’s raw and a bit hysterical. The audience could have been much wilder, arranging more brutal pits.

 

ANNEKE VAN GIERSBERGEN’S VUUR

Anneke Van Giersbergen has made several visits to Finland during the past few years; playing on her own, then co-artist for Devin Townsend and then had the project with other ladies from Leaves Eyes and The Third And The Mortal. The former Gathering front-person has a loyal fanbase in Finland, so seeing her with the new band Vuur wasn’t that unexpected surprise. Vuur’s gig at Tuska was apparently their second show in a row and some tension could be felt in the air. Anneke knew how to capture the Finnish audience around her fingers and made them rock out. Anneke was visibly relieved about the reaction from the audience. The rest of the gig was more than flexible and more relaxed by the whole band. Unfortunately Vuur’s stuff remained quite unfamiliar and however a couple of songs from The Gathering were the part of the set. As a matter of fact, Tuska was an eccentric and weird to have Anne Van Giersbergen to perform as the lady is hardly seen at other metal festivals. Lets see if Anneke and Devin will play at Tuska next year as well.

BRUJERIA

Brujeria was a band that didn’t tour or played many gigs. It’s now easier to know who is in the band, who actually played on their full lengths and EPs, and to see the band live. The question is then: has this changed the perception of the band at all? It all depends on who you ask. Maybe some fans, especially those that followed the band since those early days, would have liked for the band to maintain a mystery. Nevertheless, Brujeria’s fast paced, heavy and tight set was one of the highlights of the first day of Tuska. Starting off strong with “Brujerizmo” to classics tunes like “Colas de Rata”, “La Migra (Cruza la Frontera II)”, “Seis Seis Seis”, and more recent tunes like “Viva President Trump!” and “Anti-Castro”. As one would expect, the band doesn’t shy away from their political and social views on the stage, especially their hatred towards Donald Trump and their appreciation for marijuana. Having imagined for a long time how Brujeria would sound and look live on stage, it’s fair to say that the band didn’t disappoint. The band, especially Juan Brujo, just has that imposing attitude on stage, with a certain amount of humour thrown in the mix.

BARATHRUM

Barathrum got a life time ban to perform at Tuska because a thing or two happened years and years ago. Therefore welcoming Barathrum to play at the 20th anniversary event of Tuska was definitely justified. The whole venue was totally packed and even people that didn’t managed to enter inside, stayed outside the venue. That proved the band had been waited for a while. Barathrum is known for quite memorable gigs because of their heavy intoxication. As for their Tuska slot, the band was in the extreme sharp and tight form, not slipping to any kind of hassle. The frontman’s hoarse voice fit more than well to the sound of Barathrum. Frankly the band truly nailed each song. Of course some people were expecting some sort of conflict at the stage or other incidents, but no. Barathrum truly conquered.

 

SUICIDIAL TENDENCIES

I think that many Tuska festival visitors still remember when Mike Muir and Suicidal Tendencies last took the Tuska-stage by storm (in 2009) and literally crushed all the other bands on the bill. Everything looked promising this time as well. The field was fully crowded before the show, and there was visibly a significant number of Suicidal t-shirts and bandanas everywhere when the band hit the stage and opened up with “You Can’t Bring Me Down.”

Mike Muir ran across the stage like a psychopath, and the renewed band sounded fantastic and super tight. There was a crazy amount of energy on stage by all members of the group. Of course, the most followed guy on stage was sitting behind the kit. Dave Lombardo is a living drum legend, and he knows that. But to my surprise, he didn’t “overplay” any songs, but of course, we heard some famous “Slayer fills” every then and now. “You Can’t Bring Me Down” is always a fantastic opener, it literally beats up everything and everybody in the face, but it was also fun to hear some old school Suicidal when the band next headed into the debut album track “I Shot the Devil.” The new WORLD GONE MAD album was present with “Clap Like Ozzy” and “Get Your Fight On!” The album might not be a classic, but it can be said that those two tracks fit with the rest very well. A lot of material was played from the band’s first two albums which was great because some of that stuff has been abandoned for years. The early stuff was a great surprise to hear but other than that; the set list was pretty much the same as always. The live standards “I Saw Your Mommy,” “War Inside My Head” and “Send Me Your Money” and excellent “Trip at the Brain” were all included. As expected, the 90’s era wasn’t present too much. The only track from that period was “Freedump, ” and it was a good fit. I have seen Suicidal maybe six times before, but this was the first and only time when they skipped over “How Will I Laugh Tomorrow.” The song was originally included in the set, but maybe the band just ran out of time. However, “Pledge Your Allegiance” was the last track on set and at the end of the song we witnessed once again how hundreds of fans climbed on the stage and jammed/moshed with the band. Suicidal was still as entertaining and energetic act as ever. Massive “mosh-pits” were seen during the show, and most of the time the crowd went totally crazy. The band is in terribly good shape, and they just kill it live. Mike Muir is, of course, the commander of everything. He did a full 100% work out throughout the show, and there was no sight of tiredness at any point. It’s hard to believe that the guy is already in his early 50’s. The band’s line-up has never been weak, but the current setup of Muir, Lombardo, guitarists Dean Pleasants and Jeff Pogan and bassist Ra Diaz is their strongest in ages. The Suicidal Tendencies show was a definite highlight of the whole festival and like on last time; they crushed the other bands. There’s not much to add but THANK YOU and welcome back any day.

 

MAYHEM

Playing the iconic DE MYSTERIIS DOM SATHANAS album in its entirety is a brilliant idea, but after playing the same set for another year is going to be quite the used idea after all. Of course the crowd were enthusiastic about the performance of this classic black metal opus. Frankly Mayhem can succeed or then fail big time.  The Norwegian black metal legends pulled off an intensive darkened ritualistic performance at the tent stage. Despite technical problems with the mic, the band nailed each song of the album in order.  The audience, definitely born after the album was released was truly spellbound by the black metal lessons of these Norwegian legends. The band had paid attention to the way they looked on the stage. They had corpse paint and long capes. In the long run they have to re-invent something else, the idea of playing that classic album is getting worn out.

TRAP THEM

The line up for Friday was mainly revolving around fast and heavy bands, so it was quite fitting that Trap Them was also on that day, and the last band to play in the Inferno Stage. The band has been almost 15 years grinding fans’ ears, always delivering a very energetic and heavy live set, and today was no different. And even though Mayhem was about to play almost around the same time as Trap Them, they still managed to get people to witness their relentless gig. Their gig in Tuska was part of their latest album, “Crown Feral”, tour, so it was no surprise to hear the band opening their set with “Kindred Dirt”, which is the first track off their latest album. Their 45min. set was mainly comprised of songs from this latest record, which is perfectly fine since “Crown Feral” is a strong record, but maybe that left some old school fans wanting to hear a more diverse set. Either way, the band’s energy and heaviness carried through well, and without a doubt vocalist Ryan McKenney just commanded the band’s raw aggression and chaos perfectly.

SABATON

Sabaton is either loved or hated. The fact is the band is bloody huge – deal with that. Sabaton’s show was full of explosives and bombs. The band has reached a success that allows them to realize just about anything they want at the stage. The band has visited Finland many times, so it is just a matter of time when people may get tired of seeing them all the time. As for their Tuska performance, the Sabaton war machine was well oiled and rehearsed and there was no unpleasant surprised. Apart from Brodenin’s ripped pants, the show was a pure and truly enjoyable blast of well known songs of Sabaton such as “Carolus Rex” and “Lost Battalion”. The crowd was entirely spellbound by the well oiled metal artillery of Sabaton.

TUSKA 2017 SATURDAY 

AVATARIUM

Avatarium was Leif Edling’s brainchild in the first place. Because of Edling’s personal health issue, he didn’t continue as a member and stayed more in the background. Avatarium’s doomy and heavy hymns echoed in the tent, and the female singer’s angelic voice sounded awesome, The front lady Jennie Ann was able to interpret those beautiful, a bit of retro rock sounding songs, more than perfectly. As stated earlier, her voice was huge and truly spellbinding, and of course the whole four piece sounded truly great.

IMPALED NAZARENE

It was about time to hail Impaled Nazarene’s return to Tuska after an 8 year break. Obviously some things got truly fucked up as the frontman Mika Luttinen already announced that the early playing time and because of other issues he knew everything gets fucked up. Well the gig wasn’t that sharpest and rawest performance seen from them.  The band rushed and fucked the set through the 60 minute. The frontman tried and the audience tried to be a bit provocative without that needed respond. Maybe amused yelling from the audience. Impaled Nazarene would have ruled and kicked harder on in the door stage with the later playing time. The whole slot with the early playing was definitely a mistake.

 

ELECTRIC WIZARD

One of the most known stoner / doom bands, UK’s Electric Wizard, once again came back to Tuska, after a 6 year break. Back then, the band was out promoting the “Black Masses” record, however this time around, there was no new material to promote. This obviously didn’t have much of an effect on their gig, fans were just glad to see Electric Wizard live once again in Finland.Through a thick and red smoke the band emerged on stage, opening their set with “Witchcult Today”, and without much break, they went into “Black Mass”, then “Incense for the Damned” and other classic materials. Throughout their whole set, the two big screens on the sides of the stage, showed psychedelic imagery. They were scenes from some movies from the early 70’s, that depicted nudism and occult rituals, which just fit like a glove to the whole gig. The band had just about one hour to play, so they pretty much kept playing without any sort of interaction with the crowd or long breaks. Electric Wizard is the type of band that usually works better in a club atmosphere, and I remember that their previous time at Tuska seemed a bit off, but this time around, playing at the Väkevä Tent Stage, a more “indoor” stage, with the added visuals, was just perfect.

LOST SOCIETY

Lost Society seems to have gained a solid following in Finland. The young thrashers did a real intensive thrashing gig at the tent stage. The gig was  full of adrenaline and hyperactivity with running and jumping. The singer’s endless energy to encourage the audience to go nuts was insane to follow. Lost Society has always proved to be an energetic live band, and their Tuska slot didn’t make any difference what comes to their out of control performance. Frankly the singer could get rid of the Alexi Laiho mannerisms as these things definitely bring the shared sense of shame from time to time. The vocalist has so much unleashed energy in his guts, just let it go.

TRYPTIKON

Tryptikon led by Tom G. Warrior is known for being quite raw and barbaric and even a hypnotic live band. The band’s music sounded splendid at the tent stage as the music was truly raw, cold, heavy and above all depressive in every aspect. The set was based on the material from Tryptikon and of course a couple of mandatory Celtic Frost songs such as “Circle Of The Tyrants.”  The band doesn’t gig that much, but when they do they crush. Oh yeah Tom even smiled at the stage …

HIM

HIM caused a shockwave for thousands of loyal and fanatical fans by announcing about calling it quits. Obviously some love metal fans lost the meaning of life after this announcement. Because of its Tuska 20th anniversary and HIM’s farewell tour HIM had been booked to headline the second day. As a result the tickets for that particular date were sold out quite rapidly. It could be noticed there were a lot  of die-hard HIM fans having traveled from other countries to testify the last open air show on the Finnish soil. HIM has always gigged up here in Finland quite rarely to be honest. The set was kicked off by “Buried Alive By Love” and was followed “Heartache Every Moment”. The whole set was a real firework of the classic HIM songs picked up from their long long career, such as “Join Me” . The first five songs were hammered down in a row without any speeches or other gimmicks. The frontman thanked the audience for coming and that was about if for the speeches.  After all, HIM’s way of concluding the gig was quite elegant. In the nightfall the band sounded great, all the lights were great, giving and creating a beautiful atmosphere.

Tuska 2017 SUNDAY

BATTLE BEAST

BattleBeast managed to maintain the credibility despite all the turbulence faced by the band . The beasts hit the tent stage that was totally packed. The group delivered a nice set of the dance inspired and influenced metal. All in all, nine songs were pounded out in the 60 minutes such as “Black Ninja”, “Bastard Son Of Odin”, and “Familiar Hell”. The front lady’s dominating character definitely  made the “boys” to gather the dust.

ORANSSI PAZUZU

Oranssi Pazuzu is not a spell bounding live band at all. Instead the lights have always been in the dominating part, creating silhouette profiles of each member. The aspects of the lights were not dominating as the daylight kind of ruined the feeling. They are post black metal, or whatever it can be named, but Oranssi Pazuzu’s stuff is grim and definitely ear ripping for sure. On the other hand, the band definitely relies on a brutal approach of the music and the crowd gotta be in a certain feeling to achieve the cosmic connection with Oranssi Pazuzu.

DIRKSCHNEIDER

Udo Dirkschneider doesn’t need much introduction here. The legendary Accept frontman has been around over 40 years, and besides Accept, he’s had a long and successful career fronting his band U.D.O. In 2015, Udo announced that he’s going to do a world tour under the name Dirkschneider and on that tour, he would perform all the classic Accept hits for one more last time and put them to rest. The tour has proved to be much more successful than the regular U.D.O. tours, so it still continues, two years after it was first announced.

It was really hot weather when the band opened up with “Starlight” followed by “Living For Tonite” and “London Leatherboys.” Udo and the band sounded tight, as always, and the crowd seemed to love to hear the classics one more time. Udo made the crowd sing and the band performed with great energy and made their (or Accept’s) classic synchronized stage moves. It was interesting to follow the band’s latest addition, guitarist Bill Hudson’s, performance. Hudson is best known from such bands as Trans-Siberian Orchestra, and I Am Morbid so Accept material is something entirely different for him to play. Although Hudson hardly played any guitar solos, he did a decent job and brought some fresh energy on stage. It’s going to be interesting to see how his role will grow or change in the future.

Like everyone knew in advance, the band played all the biggest hits of Accept, with no surprises. You can’t go wrong with such classics as “Metal Heart,” “Princess of the Dawn” and of course “Balls to the Wall”…..but to be honest, the performance was just a routine gig and it turned out to be a bit boring to be honest. Personally, I have seen the band already three times within two years, and there have been only minimal changes/differences between the shows. Udo’s voice and persona are unique, but when the other important Accept sound element, Wolf Hoffman’s guitar, is missing, this show felt more like a cover band performance or Accept karaoke than a decent metal show. On the other hand, there weren’t too many traditional metal bands on the Tuska’s line-up so Dirkschneider definitely had its time and demand for by the old school metal heads so it makes no sense to judge them too hardly.

There are rumors that the Dirkschneider tour will last a long time into the future. Probably it will continue as long as there’s demand, but personally, I hope that Udo soon starts to play U.D.O material again and let the sleeping dogs lie in rest. The current Accept does make much more justice for this material.

 

BARONESS

Hailing all the way from Savannah, Baroness is without a doubt one of those bands that has been on a rise for some time. This was their second time in Tuska, and although the wait was long, it was worth it. Early June the band announced that guitarist Pete Adams was leaving the band and Gina Gleason was stepping in his place, so there was some expectation to see how the new guitarist would sound with them. Pete Adams had been for a long time with the band, so with a new member there’s always that unknown factor if the vibe and sound will remain good. The band opened with “Kerosene” from their more recent album, “Purple”, and from the start you could tell how good the addition of Gina Gleason on guitars was. Throughout their set, she handled the backing vocals perfectly as well, and the whole band was just on top form. The rhythm section of bassist/ keyboard player Nick Jost and drummer Sebastian Thomson was strong, and vocalist/ guitarist John Baizley voice sounded great. Since the “Purple” album is still kinda recent, it was expected that band played more songs from that album, so they played “Morningstar”, “If I Have to Wake Up (Would You Stop the Rain?)”, “Desperation Burns”, “Chlorine & Wine”, and the ‘hit song’ “Shock Me”. It will be interesting to see what kind of album this line up will produce. Based just from this live performance, it’s easy to get excited and anxious to hear their next one.

MASTODON

Mastodon was supposed to headline the last day at Tuska several years ago. Because of some schedule conflict they were cancelled and was replaced by Nevermore. Now it was about time to have Mastodon to headline the last day. Mastodon brought different kinds of opinions and standpoints of their slot as a headliner. Some didn’t like Mastodon’s headliner role, whereas others were totally into Mastodon’s headliner-role as the last band of Sunday. Frankly Mastodon’s heavy and groove sounding stuff sounded truly splendid. Mastodon’s tight playing and catchy riffs made the band sound even better than on recorded outputs. The band’s performance was truly charming and  sophisticated. As for the setlist, all in all the 17 song set consisted of songs from seven outputs were burst out at Tuska. The set was kicked by “Sultan’s Curse” and was followed by “Divinations”, “The Wolf Is Loose”  and so on. Was Mastodon’s slot a headliner for the final day justified ?! Yes, it was. The four-piece pulled an awesome  and catching set.

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Posted in 2017, Concert Reviews, Death Metal, Festival/Tour News, Heavy Metal, Melodic Death Metal, Thrash Metal | Comments (0)




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