BY ARTO LEHTINEN AND MARKO SYRJALA
The Tuska Open Air Festival is definitely a real metal institution amongst all other metal festivals in Europe. This Suvilahti area located in the heart of Helsinki, is only a few kilometres away from the downtown of Helsinki, is a perfect place for the metallic onslaught during the weekend. As far as the line-up of 2015 is concerned, it offered a wide range of different sort of metal. Even a few hiphop vomits had been added to the line-up to draw other type of audience, which is truly odd. However Alice Cooper, Sabaton, In Flames as headliners and of course Amorphis did the whole TALES FROM THE THOUSAND LAKES album as well as Stratovarius doing all of VISIONS. All in all 25.000 people made a visit to Tuska during these three days. As usual Metal-Rules.com was present to check out a lot of bands and enjoy the burning sun.
Foreseen has carved the reputation as an aggressive live band. The four piece crossover outfit raged extremely hard when supporting Madball some time ago. However the slot at Tuska wasn’t that ideal and obviously the thrashers haven’t found this savage live band yet, because the venue wasn’t full at all. However during the 20 minute slot the band with the bald singer delivered the uncompromising crossover metal with real old school style.
Exodus has been on a long European tour, crisscrossing several countries. The gig at Tuska was the last one on the long run. As Gary Holt has been rather busy with his obligatory commitments with Slayer, the Heathen axeman had stepped in to take care of the guitars. Exodus sounded thrashingly brutal at Swedenrock and offered a real lesson in the thrash metal violence with the metal commader Steve Souza. Obviously the long run through several European fests may have squeezed the water out of the guys even though the band sounded tight and handled the gig in the professional way, but it was a bit sterile and plastic at Tuska. The set list had been shortened for a mere one hour sting unfortunately. They should have chosen a better slot for sure.
Blood In, Blood Out
Children of a Worthless God
Bonded by Blood
The Toxic Waltz
Strike of the Beast
LAMB OF GOD
Lamb Of God was supposed to enter the Tuska fest a few years back, but was cancelled due to all the hassles with Blythe’s arrest in the Czech Republic. The band was definitely highly anticipated amongst the audience. Yes, the band pulled the massive crowd and all hell broke on loose, when the opening riff cut the air. The massive pits were rioting in the audience when LOG whipped up the crowd to go insane and loose their minds. The frontman Randy Blythe proved to be one hell of a raging frontman as raging and running like a maniac all around the stage. The set included a plenty of well known LOG tunes as well as the brand new songs from the new output STURM UND DRANG. LOG is a tremendously tight live band. Especially the current fill-in drummer Chris Adler is definitely the man behind the drumkit. Hopefully LOG will be seen in Finland soon again.
Walk with Me in Hell
Set to Fail
Now You’ve Got Something to Die For
Laid to Rest
Sabaton enjoys massive success at the moment. The band draws a lot of people to the show and especially now when the stage got its prestigious setup when a tank-look-alike had been dragged to the stage. Didn’t Kiss already have a tank on the stage back in the day? Basically it is fun to see how newer bands recycling the old ideas. The whole massive spectacle was started out by the intro being the legendary wellknown Europe’s Final Countdown. It was rather odd as well as surprising to see how the kids born in the late 90’s kept singing the old 80’s hitsong. As for the gig, it was one big of comedy show thru the 90 minutes. The frontman Joakim seemed to have one kind of stand-up comedian talents to joke and act on the stage. It got a bit out of hand as Sabaton should let the music roll and reduce the amount of joking. Besides the joking, the pyros and bombs gave the bombastic fiery feeling to the warlike show. All in all Sabaton sounded tremendous great and delivered a brilliant show despite the joking. The Swedish warpowermetallers will return to Finland with Gamma Ray as a supporter…
The Final Countdown (Europe song)
The March to War
To Hell and Back
Resist and Bite
The Art of War
Soldier of 3 Armies
Gott mit uns (Swedish version)
Dead Soldier’s Waltz
Masters of the World
When the Swedish retrodeathmetallers tapped Nick Holmes to growl on the newest output, the interest toward the band increased tremendously. Therefore the band has been crisscrossing the European festivals with the tight schedule. Bloodbath hit the main stage right in the afternoon. Obviously the timing wasn’t that perfect after all as Nick Holmes announced Bloodbath will never play again… in the daylight. Well, at least the sun scorched the ground so did Bloodbath. The old school death metal sounded pritive and raw. If Bloodbath had been around about 25 years ago, would they have achieved the success or remained on the cult status. However the nostalgia in the old school death metal is high at the moment and especially having the known frontman as a singer definitely drew more attention. Bloodbath would definitely work in the underground death metal gig better than some open air festival under the burning sun.
Ne Obvliscaris hail from Australia. The Aussies self-financed their trip to European soil and it was a worth of every penny for these Australians Prog-whatever metal they want to claim to be. However the true prog heads were totally obsessed and possessed by Ne Obvliscaris’ skills and extraordinary playing, at least judging by all the reactions in advance and especially after the gig. The band seems to have two different kind of singers, the first one was like some nice fellow looking like a dude dragged from some office, whereas another one presented more the evil screamo-emo approach. Obviously this sort of technical and skilled playing with the complex song structure appeals to Prog Metal fans, whereas for other metal fans it sounded pretty confusing.
Japanese hard rock legends Loudness played in Finland for the second year in a row. Last year, the band received a lot of positive feedback from their Jalometalli metal, gig and now was Tuska’s turn witness the Thunder from the East. Loudness opened up with the bands biggest hit and best known song “Crazy Nights”. Although most of the audience are friends of heavier stuff it seemed that the song was well known and widely accepted among people. Maybe “Crazy Nights” can be describes a timeless classic, at least in the Loudness repertoire. The set list included only nine tracks and the classic THUNDER IN THE EAST was present with 4 tracks. The rest set was also from the early 80’s with the exception of “The Sun Will Rise Again” which is the title track of the band’s latest studio-album (2014). Akira Takasaki proved his amazing guitarist skills but honestly it must be said say that Loudness is a bit obsolete band nowadays. Vocalist Minoru Niihara has never been the greatest vocalist on Earth and his singing sounds still barely English at times. The rhythm section of bassist Masayoshi Yamashita and drummer Masayuki Suzuki played tightly but so do countless other bands so that’s not a big news here. This show was purely a nostalgia but there were also unintentional humor that was certainly not intentional. Maybe this band would work much better in different situation, such as intimate club gig where band could play a full 90-minute set, which would include material from the bands entire career.
We Could Be Together
In the Mirror
The Sun Will Rise Again
Amorphis had announced to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the legendary TALES FROM THE THOUSAND LAKES they would be playing the entire album and some other songs. The gig was kicked off by doing the opening song INTO THE HIDING. Each song from the album got played in the chronological order. The songs sounded bombastic and truly awesome. Most of songs have been played after the album came out or rarely since. The vocalist Tomi Joutsen hit each song perfectly with the true old school death metal style. Especially his death metal vocals fitted to the old Abhorrence tune “Vulgar Necrolatry”. The next songs were the obvious choices such as My Kantele, Better Unborn. The Tales album is one of the most important metal albums in the Finnish metal genre.
When Immortal kind of got drifted into the personal crisis, the frontman of Immortal launched the solo band of his own with his very own name Abbath for obvious reasons. The debut gig of Abbath was carried out at the Tuska Open Air. That was kind of weird as that sort of debut gig could have been expect to happen in his domestic country Norway. Well whetever, the debut show of Abbath at Tuska was a cool event. Abbath kicked the set off by doing the songs of the I project such as Warrior, Battalions. Of course Fenrir Hunts as a new Abbath song was the part of the set. Of course a bunch of Immortal tunes were the essential such as One By One, Nebula Ravens Winter etc. Nice set, but the band could have done more rare jewels from the past, but on the other hand this was an open air festival with the limited playing time, therefore seeing Abbath in a club would be awesome.
In Flames is either liked or disliked nowadays. The older fans don’t appreciate the current modern approach whereas the younger fans seem to be fanatical for the newer style of In Flames. Even though the band divides the opinions they however deliver a good and professional performance. Even though they looked to have more aged in a few years than Gene Simmons in the last two decades, the Swedes managed to pull thru the show. Obviously Anders Friden is used to seeing the crowd surfing, as demanding the crowd to do the surfing cos Friden wanted to smell the crowd. There were some crowd-surfers which the security tried to kick them out. In Flames did a solid professional performance by delivering the 21st century stuff as well as two songs off from Clayman. It is obvious the younger metal generation are obsessed by the newer material. Even though In Flames seems to focus on the modern approach, the five-piece is still a pure live band and in a great way for sure.
Warmen is a fun side project of the keyboard player of Children Of Bodom. However they featured Alex Laiho on the mic for the last two songs and the session COB guitarist in the rank as well. Obviously Warmen should be considered some sort of tongue-in-cheek thing because of Laiho’s manners and all those guest showing up on the stage. The band was having fun and seemed to enjoy the time and joking to each other. Obviously it was time to take a bit relaxed mood for the COB camp to enjoy the flexible and not tight performance.
The Sirens is a project band thing featuring Liv Kristine, Anneke van Giersbergen and Kari Rueslåtten. All these ladies have gained the reputation of their own in various different bands in the past and present.The three female singers shared their duties and songs between them. However, each of these female singers definitely has the loyal fan base of their own with certain fave tunes. This more poppish sounding stuff was quite Listening to their singing was both utter pleasure and grim torture for ears.
Treat Me Like a Lady
Sisters of the Earth
It wasn’t that long time ago when the offspring of Suicidal Tendencies, Dr. Living Dead debuted at Tuska. The band hasn’t changed any since them, and why would they as the current concept seems to be working more than well. Of course, the mask thing is weird, but the crossover thrash ruled by causing a nice reaction amongst the audience. The circle pit was burning the floor up.
Opeth is tremendously celebrated and popular and enjoys the fanatical following in both amongst the metal fans as well as the progressive rock fans. Even though Opeth is also a tremendously boring live act, but in a way or another they manage to create a touching feeling with the atmospheric hymns and sounds. The frontman Mikael Åkerbelt’s singing has developed a lot and reaches the ethereal feeling with the catchy riffs blasting out of the speakers. Opeth is Opeth, there is no way the band would start venturing into some non-prog rock/metal direction.
Finnish power metal pioneers Stratovarius have encountered many difficulties but nevertheless managed to continue their career successfully. A good indication of this is the band’s previous NEMESIS (2013), album, which is one of the best releases in band’s career. This time the band had no new album to promote but instead they played the bands most important album VISIONS (1997) in it’s entirely. In recent years, many bands have done the same. At least Dio, Iron Maiden, Kiss, Slayer and Accept have already done this in the past. But now it was Stratovarius’s turn. “Forever Free” opened the gig somewhat surprisingly, when it is not the first song on VISIONS. The album’s hit single “Kiss of Judas” was second and it was followed by “Legions”. 10-song-long show ended with the band’s biggest favorite, “Black Diamond,” and then it was over. No encores and other songs. In fact, I’m not such a big fan of shows like this because on every album there are inevitably some filler songs and on the other hand so many great song remain missing. But don’t get me wrong. There was actually nothing wrong with the show and I’m sure that most of the old school Stratovarius fans were pleased. The band sounded great, Timo Kotipelto performed impressively, and Jens Johansson was as crazy as always. But in spite of everything, this gig was nothing more but “quite nice”.
The Kiss of Judas
Before the Winter
The Abyss of Your Eyes
Visions (Southern Cross)
The legendary king of shock rock doesn’t need much introduction here. Alice Cooper’s outstanding career has lasted almost 50 years already and there’s no end in sight. A man’s next album HOLLYWOOD VAMPIRES, will be out in September and it is his 27th studio album. During the past year and a half, Cooper has been on tour as a special quest for Motley Crue’s final tour. But he’s been playing one off headline shows as well and Tuska show was one of those.
The band opened up with classic Judy Collins cover “Hello Hooray” followed by one of Cooper’s late 80’s hit “House of Fire”. The band looked really great and there was a lot of action on stage which also looked good with all those little details including skulls, monsters and much more. Alice himself was wearing a cool looking black/red striped costume and the rest of the band looked like a bunch of guys from the 80’s Mad Max movie with the exception of female guitarist Nita Strauss who looked just damn good on her tight leather suit. The set continued with old standards “No More Mr. Nice Guy” and “Under My Wheels” followed by “I’ll Bit Your Face Off” which was the only track from Cooper’s previous WELCOME 2 MY NIGHTMARE album. The band played songs from four different decades. “Billion Dollar Babies”, “Hey Stoopid”, “Lost in the America” and “Dirty Diamonds” proved that Cooper has managed to provide high quality material during his entire career.
There is no Alice Cooper show without some stage gimmicks. During the “Welcome To my Nightmare” Cooper bring a giant constrictor on stage. This lucky snake is owned by “Finnish monster” and a huge Cooper fan Mr.Lordi. And of course the snake is called Alice. During “Feed My Frankestein” there was a huge “Frankestein” walking on stage. Of course Alice’s head was cut off with a giant guillotine after he tried to kill a lunatic house nurse on stage. All the classic show elements were present and in fact it didn’t matter that this everything happened in daylight. Musically the band was superb. Cooper himself was just as good as ever. It’s just amazing how Cooper in his mid’ 60’s can still deliver such performance both vocally and performing wise. If you now compare him to almost any other artist at same age you will see the difference. Three guitarists on stage might sound useless idea but it works great as every one of them has a totally different role. Strauss is clearly the main shredder whereas Tommy Henrikssen plays mostly rhythm parts and Ryan Roxie does everything in between. Bassist Chuck “Helvis” Carrick is another strong character on stage and he does a lot of backing vocals. He and drummer Glen Sobel are solid rhythm section and they make a great justice for the songs from all eras of Cooper.
Like said earlier, the set list was a great mix songs from four decades of Alice Cooper’s career. Among the classics my personal highlight was “He’s Back (The Man Behind the Mask). The song is from Cooper’s mid’ 80’s comeback album CONSTRICTOR and it sounded just phenomenal. The only blemish I can complain a bit was the number of cover songs played in the end of set. Maybe just one cover or a medley could have worked better than four full songs although those all were immortal 70’s classics. Beatles’s “Revolution” sounded great but otherwise the cover set was a bit boring to be honest.
The trio of Alice Cooper’s biggest hits closed down the show. “I’m Eighteen”, “Poison” and finally “School’s Out” featuring Michael Monroe were a perfect way to end this over 100 minute spectacle. All in all this show was a great and valuable end for this exquisite weekend.
House of Fire
No More Mr. Nice Guy
Under My Wheels
I’ll Bite Your Face Off
Billion Dollar Babies
Lost in America
Welcome to My Nightmare
Go to Hell
Wicked Young Man
He’s Back (The Man Behind the Mask)
Feed My Frankenstein
Ballad of Dwight Fry
I Love the Dead
Break On Through (to the Other Side)
All in all 25000 metalheads made a visit to the Tuska Open Air festival of 2015. Even though Tuska definitely divides people’s opinions from one side to another side, but the fact is, Tuska will carry on. However, the organization has to find new ideas, but adding some weird reggae hiphop on the list was kind of weird. Metal bands can hardly be seen in hiphop festivals! Overall, it would be superb to have less jokes and worthless crap in the line-up instead more metal and above all serious ones. Tuska should seriously think of having more classic metal bands in the list beside the newer generation of the metal genre. See ya Tuska 2016 !!!