TUSKA OPEN AIR FESTIVAL
REVIEW AND PICS BY MARKO SYRJÄLÄ AND ARTO LEHTINEN
As everyone who was there still recalls, last year’s Tuska wasn’t a highlight experience for bands. This was surprising as some killer names on the bill, such as Suicidal Tendencies, Pestilence, My Dying Bride. Obviously, last year was some kind of intermission for booking bands to pull more people. Thankfully, this year’s Tuska event was completely different. The line-up definitely looked more than awesome. The legendary Megadeth headlined Sunday, Nevermore on Saturday, and above all, the Canadian guitarist, wizard, and music genius, Devin Townsend. Japanese j-rock groups were not seen at Tuska. Instead, the death metal bands ruled, such as Obituary, Nile, and domestic bands such as Sotajumala and Torture Killer. The festival was an utter success. The whole weekend was totally packed….and above all, Megadeth crowned the whole three-day metal inferno.
Sad but true, Tuska will not be held in the heart of Helsinki in the upcoming years. The park of Kaisaniemi will be a construction zone as the whole area will be improved to be better and more enjoyable. However, it will be interesting to see how the new area will work for metal bands. The upcoming area has proven itself to be a good festival area as there have been a couple of festivals and gigs arranged there so far. This is a farewell to the Kaisaniemi park and the current Tuska formation.
Enjoy the review, and above all, enjoy our pics.
It was quite surprising that the Bay Area thrashers. Testament kicked the first off as the first act. It didn’t matter as plenty of thrash maniacs had arrived on time to witness Chuck and company. The band itself was definitely proved that “the first strike is deadly” as they did a set consisting of material off their classic albums and, of course, from the latest THE FORMATION OF DAMNATION. The band struggled with some technical problems once in a while. The sounds were not balanced. But the audience didn’t care as they were taken up in wild pits and a massive wall of death commanded by Mr. Billy. Testament ruled on stage for sure.
Over The Wall
More Than Meets The Eye
The New Order
Practice What You Preach
The Persecuted Won’t Forget.
Into The Pit
Riding The Snake
3 Days In Darkness
The Formation Of Damnation
Finnish long-line rockers Tarot has finally attained some of the appreciation they deserve. The band has been around starting from the mid-’80s, and they have released eight full-length studio albums. Tarot’s latest opus, GRAVITY OF LIGHT, has even seen some radio airplay, and it’s slowly becoming their best-selling album to date. Tarot opened up with three new album tracks; ”Sleep in the Dark,” I Walk Forever,” and ”Satan Is Dead.” Although the setting was very good, there was still something here that prevented this show from being too inspiring. Tarot has always sounded brilliant on the album, but they have had slight problems with repeating that live. Technically there are no problems. Marco Hietala’s voice is huge, and it sounds like a perfect mix of classic Ronnie James Dio, Rob Halford, and Bruce Dickinson. Marco’s brother, Zachary, is definitely one of Finland’s most classy guitar players, and there’s nothing wrong with Pecu, Janne, or the band’s latest addition, Tommi. Still, overall this show was a little toneless. It certainly didn’t help that band decided to play material from their latest two albums only (maybe there was one ”oldie” there). It’s always a brave (or foolhardy?) thing to choose a setlist like this. It shows how much the band really believes in its newer material, but this kind of solution hardly ever works in festival circumstances.
Peter Tägtgren had a busy weekend at Tuska by doing a double gig with Pain and then Hypocrisy. The main stage was an obvious choice for the Swedish techno-metallers. It would be interesting to know why Pain had been placed in the tent stage, although the tent’s area and tent were totally packed. Peter Tägtgren’s Pain offered the Tuska crowd plenty of known Pain songs that have been on rotation on several music channels. Even though songs are composed based on a techno approach, however, “End Of The Line,” etc., sound quite metallic!
Satyricon only did two shows this year, the first one at the FME event and the second at Tuska. Even Satyr himself wondered how on earth that this is possible. Whatever the reason, Satyricon has become such a big name on the metal map and always does killer shows, for example, at Jalometalli a few years back. The set started with the well-known riffs as “War Pigs” by Black Sabbath opened the gig as an intro. In general, the whole set mostly consisted of newer material. As for the older material, only “Mother North” concluding the gig. Satyr’s stage performance looked kind of hilarious due to his eccentric steps and moves. But does that matter after all…as the band did a tight and vicious set!
The death metal veterans from Florida have constantly visited Finland. Therefore, it was about time that the legends were seen at Tuska. The band had undergone a minor change in the line-up as longtime bassist Frank Watkins had been dismissed from the group and replaced by bass legend Steve Digiorgio. Tardy sounded as brutal and rotten as in the early days. The stage was indeed one sea of hair when the four guys banged their heads like a windmill. The audience was insane and acted like a bunch of animals in the pit.
DEVIN TOWNSEND – Ziltoid The Omniscient
Devin Townsend is known as the frontman for Strapping Young Lad. SYL seems in a never-ending holding pattern as Townsend focuses on other projects. One of them is Ziltoid. The brilliant idea to carry out the whole Zilnoid saga at Tuska was suggested by the Tuska organization. Of course, that increased interest towards Townsend’s Ziltoid from abroad as well. The gig started with a Ziltoid animation on the screen with an eccentric-looking figure jumping around and doing all kinds of things and welcomed the Tuska audience to the Ziltoid world. Of course, this kind of spectacle divides the audience into two camps: some truly appreciated the concept, and some just didn’t get it. The whole show was enjoyable. Devin himself enjoyed playing out the Ziltoid spectacle in front of a fanatical audience. He was pleased with how everything turned after rehearsing several months for the Tuska gig. When “Planet Smasher” roared out of the monitors, Testament frontman Chuck Billy came to lend his deep voice to the song and the character. He was also wearing some kind of cape and scepter (too bad we didn’t manage to get a picture of Chuck in this role!). An eccentric gig, but memorable for sure.
Peter Tägtgren’s other band, Hypocrisy, visited the FME (Finnish Metal Expo) event in February, as did Satyricon, so it was quite a simple way of guessing which bands will be seen at Tuska. Judging by that, Hypocrisy was definitely one of the more anticipated acts at Tuska. However, the band pulled an intense set doing a large scale of songs from the past to the present day. Hypocrisy’s stage manners and performance followed the guaranteed Hypocrisy philosophy. Peter Tägtgren handled both the lower and brutal signing, whereas others kept banging their heads.
Kirk Windstein has been more than busy with Down during the past years, and Crowbar has been more or less on hold. Therefore, it was about to bring Crowbar on the road when even EyeHateGod got activated again. It took about 16 years to get Crowbar back to Finland. Being on the tent stage was the right choice to create the ultimate heavy sounding atmosphere. The sounds were utterly great. Crowbar’s twisted groove and southern sludge elements appeal to several sludge fans following the band’s performance. Even though the line-up has undergone radical changes, Kirk Windstein is a real crowbar as a frontman.
DEVIN TOWNSEND PROJECT
After the Ziltoid saga had been performed on Friday, it was about time to check out the solo material of Townsend in a separate gig. How did the show differ from the Friday gig? – well, different clothes and no Ziltoid and a focus on his solo material. He truly knows how to entertain the audience with the funny ways of twisting his face and communicating with the audience with an obvious sense of humor. As this was the last gig of the whole tour, all kinds of unexpected or arranged things happened. His crew came on the stage to wait for the end of the gig. Devin got his pants off and played “Life” pant-less, but the boxers on. As for the set in general, the songs had been picked up from OCEAN MACHINE, etc. Devin Townsend should consider coming back for some club gigs as his success is overwhelming!
Survivors Zero could be called an all-star band as it contains the guts of Finntroll, Scourger, DeathChain, etc. The band crushed and smashed on the stage. The five-piece truly sounded well trained and vicious. Of course, that can be expected from Survivors Zero, whose members have been involved in these other bands. Both the vocalist and bassist handled the communication and growling. The band hammered the audience by doing plenty of songs off the CMXCIX album and the mandatory Kreator cover song “People of the Lie.” Frankly, it is kind of weird that these so-called scene veterans can put so much intensity into the music and performance as well, whereas many younger kids cannot reach the same brutality on the stage…why?
Tuska doesn’t just rely on the brutal approach as Florida’s progressive power metallers Kamelot was definitely a welcomed addition. Kamelot has increased their success and gained a terrific following and fanbase. Besides, Kamelot has visited Finland countless times. The set consisted of a lot of material from THE GHOST OPERA album and even a new song from the forthcoming Kamelot album. The band handled the gig with obvious professionalism. As for Roy Khan’s performance, seriously, the man usually spends 80% of the gig singing in the crouch position…even though his vocals sounded great.
Rule the World
Center of the Universe
When the Lights Are Down
The Human Stain
March of Mephisto
Overkill made their debut visit to Finland by playing at Jalometalli up in Oulu. The five-piece thrash metal veterans showed no sign of slowing down. The gig at Tuska indeed proved the facts right. Overkill is a dangerous, thrashing, well-tuned machine. Blitz is absolutely a killer frontman and has nothing but tremendous energy and a well-trained body. The NY thrash veterans offered a real ironbound set to the Tuska crowd. The set offered an old school vibe from beginning to end. For obvious reasons, there were some new songs and, of course, older material. When the legendary song “Fuck You/Overkill” had been played, Blitz thanked everyone and dived into the audience!
The Green And Black
Rotten To The Core
Hello From The Gutter
In Union, We Stand
Fuck You/Overkill/Fuck You
Originally Mastodon had been booked to headline the second day of Tuska, but there were forced to cancel because of health issues with one of the band’s members. At the last minute, Nevermore came in to replace the headliner slot. Even though the band is highly praised, Nevermore’s job as a headliner on Saturday didn’t for some reason work out in the best way. In the beginning, the vocalist Warrel Dane looked quite absent. Dane just walked all around on the stage and just focused on singing. A song by song, he started finding the whole thing’s clue and started being more active. Nevermore has been witnessed several times, for example, in Germany and Sweden, where Dane has appeared more thrilled and more active on the stage than at Tuska. The song material was strong for sure. Several Nevermore classics were played and, of course, the new material. The new session guitarist Attila Voros shred on his role. We hope to see Nevermore in Finland again soon!
Cannibal Corpse has always had a true and loyal fanatical following for years. Their visit to Tuska had been waited for long enough. The five-piece gore death metallers kicked their set off with a mauling death metal onslaught. George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher’s massive neck muscles are needed when his hair is spun around like a propeller to the point where you’d think he might lift off! The band smashed hammer to face of all Finnish death heads and made them suffer under the red hot sun.
Scattered Remains, Splattered Brains
The Wretched Spawn
Staring Through the Eyes of the Dead
Stripped, Raped, and Strangled
Hammer Smashed Face
Priests of Sodom
I Will Kill You
Sentenced to Burn
Make Them Suffer
Devoured by Vermin
When Cannibal Corpse finished their set, another killer death metal act got on the second stage on the other side of the festival area. The whole tent and the surrounding area was totally packed. Judging by the success of Nile, the band could have played on the main stage, but that would have ruined the brutal atmosphere. The Nile proved to be one hell of a brutal and tight live band. Karl Sanders’ combo delivered a brutal gig containing the material from the old days and, of course, off THOSE WHOM THE GODS DETEST.
Blackie Lawless and his crew have been annual visitors in Finland for a long time, and this year was no exception. The band has been almost constantly on tour since the release of their brilliant BABYLON album from November 2009…and so they should be hen there is clearly lots of demand for W.A.S.P. here in Europe. Despite the hotter than hell weather going on, there was such a massive crowd following the band’s performance. It’s a funny fact that W.A.S.P. seems to reach fans from all areas of metal. While most of the front row was wearing typical W.A.S.P. or KISS t-shirts, there were also guys and girls wearing their Deicide, Dimmu Borgir or Rotting Christ, etc., stuff. Maybe that’s one of the reasons why the band still can sell-out shows every time they come over here?
W.A.S.P. kicked their set with “On Your Knees” and “The Real Me.” It did seem that years have shed some extra pounds for Blackie, but he was still the definite commander on stage with his distinctive, ripping vocals and strong stage charisma. W.A.S.P. is and has always been Blackie’s show. Still, it can also be said that although there have been several names that have passed through the band’s ranks over the years, this current one may be the best-touring line-up of W.A.S.P. have ever had to date. Hats off to bassist Mike Duda, guitarist Doug Blair and drummer Mike Dupke for being such a tight and energetic band behind the man in black. The setlist list was mainly the usual stuff we have heard from them for the last ten years. The classics “L.O.V.E Machine,” “Wild Child” and “I Wanna Be Somebody” formed a strong root which was then assaulted with the medley of “Hellion” and “Inside The Electric Circus,” the excellent “Chainsaw Charlie,” an acoustic version of “The Idol,” and the only new album track “Babylon’s Burning.” Overall this was a good performance, but it was also more or less just a routine gig for the band: nothing new there, nor any surprises on the setlist. Suppose you have seen W.A.S.P. before. You have probably seen better performances than this one.
The mighty Megadeth returned to Finland after a two-year break. There have always been many goings-on in the Megadeth camp since their last visit here. In years, Megadeth’s best album, ENDGAME, was released in 2009 and what’s even more important is that the original bassist David Ellefson has finally returned after an eight-year hiatus. The band has just recently finished the “Big Four” (Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer, Anthrax) tour in Europe, which was extremely successful. They played in front of over 700 00 people on that tour. This was also the very first time when Mustaine and Metallica shared the same stage in a VERY long time. Hopefully, it means that they have now finally buried the old hatchet which has been there since Mustaine’s demise from the group.
As said before, Megadeth was headlining TUSKA, and they were now the very last performer here. It was surprising that although Megadeth was easily the biggest name on this year’s line up, the festival area wasn’t full. It was perhaps 3/4 full, but there was plenty of space there. Perhaps Sunday (and two festival days already) wasn’t the perfect timing for this performance, particularly when the showtime was already at 07:00 PM. After a brief intro, Megadeth was on time, and “Wake Up Dead” opened the game. At first, there were some problems with PA, but it soon got fixed, and the sound got better all the time. The SO FAR, SO GOOD… SO, WHAT classic “In My Darkest Hour” got a good response, and things got even better when the band next headed into the new album track “Headcrusher.” So far, nothing from RUST IN PEACE (it’s the 20th Anniversary of that album) but after “Skin O’ My Teeth,” they played six tracks from RUST IN PEACE altogether. It was really great and exciting to hear songs like: “Five Magic’s,” “Poison Was the Cure,” and “Dawn Patrol.” As expected, the rest of the set was a kind of mix of the best-known tracks like: “Symphony of Destruction,” “Peace Sells,” “Trust,” and “A Tout Le Monde.” They only played one track from ENDGAME and completely ignored newer albums SYSTEM HAS FAILED, and UNITED ABOMINATIONS aroused some astonishment but in a way that’s understandable. There’s simply no time to play a three-hour show, right?
Although Mustaine is one of the top guitar players out there, he’s never been the most active frontman in heavy metal history. It must be mentioned that his sometimes really performing apathetic style is not the most entertaining thing to follow on stage. There’s hardly any communication between him and the crowd, and at times, he did look exhausted there, but fortunately, his playing and singing went well throughout the set. Maybe it was a little too early for Mustaine, but the rest of the band was literally on fire. Chris Broderick is like a completely different guy when compared to just two years ago. Chris, who was then shy and focused on his playing, was now running across the stage and headbanging his hair like an old stager, but still, his playing was close to perfect all the time. It seems that Mustaine made the right decision when he hired Chris in the band. Dave Ellefson did a great performance as well. He was clearly enjoying his time on stage, and it seemed like he has never been away. Loads of energy and good playing – what more you can ask from the bass player in Megadeth? Drummer Shawn Drover was also the man in his right place. Perhaps he’s staying more in the background, but he’s definitely the driving force behind the whole band, and he puts out great performances every time. All in all, this was a good but clearly just a routine gig for Megadeth. The audience got what it came for, and the band seemed to enjoy their time on stage. Hopefully, this lineup will last, and we can soon witness the band again in some good indoor venue, like in Old Ice Hall in Helsinki?
Wake Up Dead
In My Darkest Hour
Skin O’ My Teeth
Holy Wars… The Punishment Due
Poison Was the Cure
Tornado of Souls
A Tout Le Monde
Symphony Of Destruction