Heart of Steel: Concert Reviews

Tuska Open Air Metal Festival 2001

July 13th - 15th
Article and photos by Arto L and Marko S

The annual Tuska Metal festival was arranged for the fourth time in the lovely beautiful Kaisaniemi Park in the downtown of Helsinki, Finland. Approximately 9000 people visited during three days and even the gods of the weather had blessed the three day metal inferno with quite mixed weather conditions as it either rained or then the sun warmed the crowd of the festival. But it seemed not to bother the audience at all.



The first day was opened by Finntroll on the main stage, which I unfortunately was obliged to miss because of unexpected passport hassles surprisingly came up at the entrance. After the passport mess was solved I managed to get in kinda too late when the trolls were quitting the set. But as a matter of fact I couldn’t figure out why the heck they had been scheduled to open at 3.00 pm, when everybody was still crawling to the festival area, even though they have become quite big here. The same thing was last year. Dammit!!



After wondering the beautiful festival area for a while I ended up checking out the first foreign band namely Amon Amarth from Sweden on the small stage in the huge tent. The Swedish death metallers took the audience with the bone crushing death metal approach rolling like a herd of just unleashed crazy Vikings from cages fighting killing and crushing. The vocalist’s amazing plump stomach and a huge bear caused extra ordinary amusing in the crowd. The band delivered a great set of Viking battle tunes especially from the latest superb “Crusher” album. The band got the warm reception and the audience seemed to enjoy the set of the only one death metal band of the whole festival.




Impaled Nazarene is getting to be a constant band on the bill of the festival, but their reputation and success are based on a real cult following which is extremely strong here in Finland, so their place to play at the Tuska festival is more than justified. Impaled literally let hell break on loose despite some technical problems, they maimed, slaughtered and impaled the audience totally doing a real nuclear (black?) metallic set by picking up tracks from every album and even the unexpected cover track being “Ghostrider” after a several year break. To be honest it doesn’t matter what they play and what the vocalist Luttinen screams to the mic, but one thing is sure and can be issued “their set is nothing but a real total spanking throughout the whole set” even though the line up has undergone a few changes during one year. Impaled Nazarene are insane and brutal as hell.

Satanic Mr. Clean!


SSS: Silly Sadomasochist Sessions?!?
Before 69 Eyes hit the stage a heavily tattooed mega blond arrived to give a quick lesson of sadomasochist sessions, dragging a guy in chains and in harness behind like a humiliated animal. The chick showed to be some sort of dominator, forcing the guy to lick her boots, wringing the guy into the sadistic stances and of course whipping a couple of time really hard that the pal screamed in pains. Hmm.. Interesting lesson even though the performance was kinda soft and short. The same chick gave a few other performances during the festivals.

Crazy bitch squishes freak Crazy bitch whips freak poor freak


The soft whipping performance was quite a suitable warm up for the Finnish gothic metallers 69 Eyes as the band is fond of posing with the latex/leather stuff and of course gothic girls… Anyway after punching away for about 10 years 69 Eyes have started getting the well deserved attention at least here in Finland and of course a few European countries. But as for their gig at Tuska it was kinda worthless; The band just arrived at the stage and did every god damn hit track what they have so far for example “Wasting the dawn”, “Gothic Girl”, “Brandon Lee”. Well vocalist Jyrki 69 is definitely not any live singer, instead his “Glen Danzig-Pete Steele” voice works better on albums.



Elakelaiset...Well… All the German readers gotta be more aware of this drunken combo. But for other readers a few words gotta be told of them anyway. Elakelaiset is a rumouristic band playing humppa (don’t ask what the hell it is in English) and they tie classic metal tunes to their own humppa sound for example Van Halen’s “Jump” got a very wild and funny handling. The band drank their own drinks between every track and the audience was really crazy.



The last band of the first day was the most expected one from the point of view of several traditional/power fans namely Stratovarius. The band had announced in several media earlier that the Tuska Metal Fest will be the last gig of theirs before getting to the 2 year hiatus. Frankly they really deserve to have some break as having been kinda active and more or less worked incessantly years after years since Episode came out.

For the gig they had set some extra pyrotechnical bombs on the stage. Well when the first bomb went off at least one poor Metal-Rules.Com reporter got a privilege to testify that explosion and definitely scared a helluva lot and almost dropped the camera…Hell… The set mainly consisted of the typical hit and classical and the most well known tunes from the last four studio albums made by the current line up. Of course Father Time, SOS, Hunting High And Low, Will The Sun Rise belonged to the normal routine set of Stratovarius, but I for one expected to hear a little bit different set from Stratovarius because of this was their last gig however. Well they did an unexpected track called “Dreamspace” from the same titled album, but that was only one tracks from other albums…In fact they could have done some other welcomed unexpected songs for example Distant Skies from “The Fourth Dimension” and some other ones as well.

After the gig the Stratovarius guys appeared to be more than relief, especially their crazy Swedish keyboard player appeared to be more than relaxed and relief cos he was like an everlasting tornado and hyperactive person on the backstage doing all kinds of weird things for example he tried to stick a phone to his ass….Errgh..




After waking up at…let’s see..2 p.m and missing out the Formula One qualification, which really annoyed me, I picked up my clothes from the floor and got dressed and then aimed at the festival area.


Gandalf hit the tent stage after a small roadie operation. Having seen them as an opening slot for The Haunted a month and half earlier I didn’t expect that much from them. Luckily I didn’t as Gandalf was an entire new born band on the tent stage of the Tuska festival. The band appeared to be in damn good strength and the vocalist raged like a maniac throughout the set. They did an equal set from both the studio albums.



Timo Rautiainen and Trio Niskalaukaus

Timo Rautiainen and Trio NiskalaukausTimo Rautiainen and Trio Niskalaukaus…First question. Have you heard of this band ever before?!? Well expect Finns and a couple of Germans…Guess not….Their stuff is really heavy shit indeed, but sung in Finnish unfortunately. The lyrics deal with the negative side of human life and a man’s cynical world. They have become huge here in Finland within a few years. That could be seen a huge crowd in front of the stage singing their songs by heart.




Headplate was kinda faceless attitude jump metal band from Gothenburg, Sweden. The stuff could be compared to the current typical jump stuff flourishing in the US at the moment. So there was evident it didn’t make any sense and interest to spend any single minute to witness this combo.




Amorphis is known for having the reputation of being more the kinda relaxed band on the stage cos the guys rather stand in your own place and go through the set without any dramatic surprises and rely more on the musical power approach and the charisma of the front man vocalist Pasi Koskinen. They didn’t make any unexpected surprises as for the stage performance, just came in onstage and did a set through without bigger hassles. Oh yeah, gotta point out that guitarist Tomi Koivusaari had obtained a new hair look. Actually he looked some some FBI agent with the short hair and huge sun glasses…





Rhapsody with Sonata Arctica and a lot of crazy Finns!If Stratovarius was the most expected band for several power freaks on Friday so was the Italian Rhapsody on Saturday. I had been told and have heard of a lot of negative criticisms about their gigs it was basically interesting to catch the Italian power metallers in action for the first time. The gig set off with the utter great intro off from their last studio album and the whole set was a real triumph of majestic power metal stuff. For some bizarre reason they skipped the debut album entirely and the set was naturally based on the material from “Symphony of the Enchanted Lands” and “Dawn of Victory”. The set list consisted of for example tunes: Eternal Glory, Lux Triumphans, Holy Thunderforce, The Last Winged Unicorn, Emerald Sword. Even though having heard bad comments on the earlier gigs of Rhapsody, I found their set very dynamic and definitely powerful!



Once again the morning went damn long. After managing to get up from the bed I literally rushed to the festival area.



When getting there right on time I managed to witness the one only Finnish crust grind core combo Rotten Sound. The band fronted by a singer covered by red paint delivered a brutal set of nihilistic brutal grind core stuff with pretty good sound quality despite technical problems with the guitar occurred. Even they did a few cover tunes by Reek of Putrefaction of Carcass and Dead Shall Rise by Terrorizer. Rotten Sound would deserve more attention and gigs here and they definitely ruled!!!



45 Degree Woman was once again a project combo consisting of guys from other bands from the local rock scene of Helsinki. The music is mainly based on industrial oriented approach. To say it honestly, it was a poor man’s version of Nine Inch Nails.



The main stage for Katatonia wasn’t a right place to play in the shiny water as their stuff suites much better to a dismal club atmosphere. The vocalist was a little bit lost in the early stage of the set, but improved toward the end. The band mainly focused on doing tracks off from their latest “Last deal gone wrong” album, but the set was concluded with a track from their growling death/doom days called “Murder”.


Daniel LionsEye and The Rollers

Daniel LionsEye and The Rollers is supposed to be some sort of project therapy group consisting of the members of HIM. Presumably this project could be and obviously should be considered some stupid amusing joke, but when seeing three guys of Him dressed up to some weird clothes and a few other dudes (one of them had some strange latex clothes on) on the stage I didn’t find any jokes to tell about anymore. Actually I didn’t know whatever to laugh or cry. The material of this whatever joke group has definitely nothing to do with the Him stuff instead this has more groove stoner elements tied up kinda fusion approach. It was and sounded damn awful anyway.. After watching a few songs I figured enough is enough and had to get out of the tent as soon as possible…



In Flames concluded the whole festival with a real bombastic energetic gig indeed. To be honest I didn’t know what to expect from In Flames and the surprise was huge as they literally crushed all the opposition bands on the stage. The guys were so vital and dynamic and even the vocalist was like a hyperactive indeed jumping all around the stage like a Duracell bunny, trying to encourage the crowd to go on at full wild blast. The set featured a shitload of tracks off from Colony and of course Clayman. Of course I forgot to keep my notes of all the tracks as watching their aggressive outburst set with a real intensive rage. The best band of the whole fest for sure.


All in all the measures of the festival succeeded damn well. The new place being the Kaisaniemi Park was an excellent and above all the idealistic place to arrange a metal festival without bothering and picking on other people with the music and drunk metalheads. But one thing bugged me as the general atmosphere which was kinda lame. People rather stayed keeping their hands in pockets while watching bands. Instead I would have expected people to start slamming at least during the In Flames set, but no. I really hope the festival will remain in the same way as it has been by now since '98 and will invest more on foreign bands in the future.

"Swedish metal Vikings" ...guess who? :-)

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