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Tuska Open Air 2018 - 6/29/2018 - Suvilahti - Helsinki (FI)

Friday, June 29th

Over the years, Tuska has become more of a gathering than a mere festival, where one has the opportunity to meet old and new friends, all united by their passion for metal music. This is my tenth consecutive participation to the event, and so as it has become tradition, I am ready to follow once again the same ritual of preparations, warm-up and after parties, and - needless to say - a whole lot of music.

Soon after the doors open there is still time to check out the festival area, which is mostly quite similar to the previous edition, but at the same time always evolving in the small details and well-thought additions for the many fans coming here from all over the world. The menacing clouds suit perfectly with the first band in this report: Gloomy Grim. Known band in the local black metal scene, they have gone through some recent lineup changes regarding the drummer, now under the name of AstroNuclear Agitator, and the new guitar player Kim Lappalainen. The band perfectly warms up the audience with their ritualistic show, during which a young lady gets to be a sacrificial victim (kids do not try this at home!).
Soon after it’s already time for Kirk Windstein’s Crowbar, taking over the main stage and offering a solid performance despite the ungrateful schedule. Many old songs makes the most loyals fans happy in this windy and cloudy weather, which again seems quite fitting for the music.

Gloomy GrimCrowbar

Pulling us back into darkness is the Swedish Tribulation. It has now been nearly a decade since I first had the chance to see these guys live, following their debut “The Horror”. Already back then they started to display a raw talent in the roughness of their death/black metal offer. Nowadays the band has evolved and transformed so much, but it a very good way, and it’s incredible to see how much the guys have improved over the years. One of the main driving forces of the band is definitely Jonathan Hultén - somehow labelled from a friend during the show as a “virgin elf dancing on stage”. Both the band and the audience seems to really enjoy this performance, while the fans are enchanted by songs such as “Lady Death”, “Rånda” and “Melancholia”, to name a few. What should I say: congratulations and long live Tribulation!


Sadly the schedule doesn’t allow much time to see Keoma, the winners of this year’s emerging bands competition, as Turmion Kätilöt is about to set the place on fire (kind of, and well, quite literally). It has been now two years since Spellgoth (Horna, Trollheim’s Grott, Peste Noire) left the band to be replaced by Saku “Shag-U” Solin (Fear of Domination). The latter doesn’t clearly yet have the same alchemy with MC Raaka Pee, but after all these live shows he certainly is getting there and gaining his place in the band. After all Saku was pretty much the obvious choice within this scene, and so the fans of this Finnish favourite, especially the youngest ones, seem to appreciate this gig very much.
No time for a breather, and so people are left to choose this time between Mantar and Moonsorrow, both very interesting acts in their own right. After the impressive performance a few weeks earlier in Steelfest, my money goes on Ville Sorvali’s band, although I must admit that - perhaps precisely because of how good that show has been - the expectations were higher than the reality. The energy from the band is just not quite the same, and also missing is Henri Sorvali, who was instead performing in the aforementioned show. Nothing to criticise really about the music to be honest, but the Steelfest gig for me was definitely up a notch in comparison.
Finally after this rush it is time for a well-deserved break. Time to explore the food area and grab a beer or two, waiting for the bigger acts of the day.

Turmion KätilötMoonsorrow

Luckily the weather has taken a sudden turn for the better, and it is Arch Enemy’s turn to conquer the main stage. Alissa White-Gluz has a great stage presence as always, and immediately grabs the hearts of the audience in the front row. Over the years I must admit that I have been gradually losing interest in the band myself, but I still have to say these guys know how to perform for their audience. On a side note, Jeff Loomis’ talent seems quite wasted in there.
Moving forward we encounter yet another Swedish band: from Umeå, ladies and gentlemen, Meshuggah! The guys are as killer as usual on stage, and of course the iconic face of Jens Kidman captures the attention of many. The Finns welcome nicely the return of this band here in Finland, apparently they were very much missed. But the most “out of place” - and yet possibly most interesting booking-wise - act of the day, and maybe even the festival, is now about to make its appearance on the Radio Rock stage. So Ice-T and his Body Count enter the scene among the cheers of the many people gathered here tonight. The gig begins with the covers of “Raining Blood” and “Postmortem” (do I need to say from which band?), during which at the drums we see an happy Dave Lombardo, who just played with Dead Cross a few hours earlier. During the gig also Little Ice, son of the more famous rapper, shows up to sing together with his father while “Manslaughter”, “Body Count” and “Cop Killer” come straight at the audience. Ice-T sure does not have any problem in saying what he thinks during his speeches, insulting a large part of the male audience before telling the photographers in front of the stage to get the hell away. Among the others on stage, Ernie C seems the most active, but all in all Ice-T outperforms everyone and everything that came before him today. After all it turns out to be a fun experience, and a pleasant surprise from the organisers who were able to bring the band here this year. Now let’s hope in an MC Hammer show for 2019!

Arch EnemyMeshuggahBody Count

Finally it’s the end of a quite intense and packed first day, and tomorrow is at least equally promising, still with the thought in mind that at least there will be plenty of time to relax on Sunday!

Link to all Friday galleries

Saturday, June 30th

Nothing like a good sleep before another busy day! Our Saturday here at Tuska begins in the name of Star Wars with Galactic Empire, offering us their repertoire made of their interpretation of the soundtracks and popular themes that accompanied the famous saga. It’s not something you see every day: Darth Vader at the guitar and vocals, together with Boba Fett at the drums, a member of the Imperial guard as the other guitarist and finally a stormtrooper playing the bass. Lots of smiles in the audience for this very entertaining piece that brights up the early afternoon.

Galactic EmpireBeast In Black

Back to something more traditional with Beast In Black, born from the former Battle Beast mastermind Anton Kabanen, and including ex-UDO Kasperi Heikkinen, at the guitar as well. The band is now on the rise, and comes back to Tuska after only one year from the smaller to the main stage. Similarities aside with the former band, what catches the ears of the many metalheads here is the vocals of Yannis Papadopoulos, very versatile and at times quite feminine at times, which might have played its part to him being hired for the frontman position. A good show from a band that seems to have clear in mind the direction they are headed to, with good riffs and melodies bringing back an 80’s feel to the more nostalgic. We definitely recommend to check out their debut record, “Berserker”.


Meanwhile, on the opposite side of the festival area, it is time for another local band: Crimfall. The band finds again its old identity with the return of talented Helena Haaparanta - who was for a while replaced by Sara Strömmer, now in Fear of Domination. Helena’s vocals definitely add something extra to their music and brings them back at their highest level. I personally find this as possibly the best performance I have seen from the band, and the feeling between the two vocalists Mikko and Helena is really great, almost as if the two were never apart.
After a very quick lunch, once again we go back inside to the Inferno stage, where Foreseen gives a good display of crossover thrash. Their energy is quite contagious, as it’s easy to see from the audience’s reaction. Too bad their show lasts only about half hour.
From France arrives an artist that you would not normally expect playing at a metal festival (then again yesterday we had freaking Ice-T!), and yet it’s not even surprising anymore how many people in the metal scene are into synthwave and electronic music in general. Truth be told, this turns out to be one of the most enjoyable gigs of the entire weekend, enhanced by the presence of Mat McNerney (Grave Pleasures, Hexvessel) as a vocal guest during “Beware The Beast” (which he sang also on the band’s latest record “Leather Teeth”).

Carpenter BrutEmperor

We are now halfway through the afternoon, and it certainly is an unusual spot for a band the likes of Emperor. The sun shining bright on the stage, Ihsahn wearing sunglasses… it’s difficult to get in the right mood for black metal. However that’s certainly not enough to shy away from listening live to these Norwegian veterans, especially when “I Am The Black Wizards” and “Inno A Satana” close the curtain on the show. The weirdest thing? the urge of buying an ice cream during the show, but maybe I am not trve enough.
Once again the never-ending dilemma of overlapping bands: this time Hexhammer and Hallatar. Also once again we pick the latter, latest creation by Swallow The Sun’s Juha Raivio, including his bandmate Juho Räihä and singer Tomi Joutsen (better known from Amorphis of course). This kind of more “depressing” music is not exactly the most suitable to cheer up the mood, then again the fame from the other bands of the above mentioned members is enough to bring under the tent of the second stage quite a crowd. If you are into Swallow The Sun and the likes, you will most likely appreciate this too.


Time for some German thrash metal with Kreator, among pyros and smoke, finally with the change to display their full production on the main stage. Mille and co. start from “Phantom Antichrist”, and I am glad to see that the band still has what it takes to give an engaging live performance. Difficult to not headbang when “People Of The Lie”, or “Flag Of Hate”, and again “Phobia” are played, and finally there is also a circle pit forming. The disappointing part is the amount of newer pieces, although understandable. The band is still tight enough to let the fans go wild, concluding the show with “Pleasure To Kill”. Kreator IIAt The Gates

Also for At The Gates it had now been a few years since they last showed up here at Tuska, and their fans appear quite impatient to see them under the tent covering the Helsinki stage. It’s good to finally see some proper Swedish death metal at this festival, with classics from “Slaughter Of The Soul”, but also newer tracks from “At War With Myself” and “To Drink From The Night Itself”. Midway through the gig though I have to leave the area, as unfortunately the unofficial afterparties overlap with the festival schedule, and I simply cannot miss the last official Caught In The Between show. The upside of it is avoiding the huge flow of crowd heading out of the festival later on. See you tomorrow, Tuska.

Link to all Saturday galleries

Sunday, July 1st

Following the first two intense days, Sunday’s lineup is definitely more chilled, so that people have more time to recover from their hangovers before finding their way back to Suvilahti. It’s already mid-afternoon when Ihsahn comes back on stage, this time with his solo band and a show focused mostly on the “Àmr” and “Arktis” records. Even under the tent the frontman does not give up on his look with sunglasses, while moving his fans with his music. Personally I prefer the more extreme part of the Norwegian’s career, so I can simply listen in the background from the comfort of the drinking area.

IhsahnGrave Pleasures

Personal favourite of this last day is instead Grave Pleasures, which overlaps with Europe on the main stage. Despite that, the crowd feels Kattilahalli completely when the band formerly known as Beastmilk has its turn on stage. The guys don’t disappoint one bit, mesmerising the audience with they dark melodies, to the point that some start “dancing” (or, well, the closest thing). The latest record has definitely brought back the atmosphere and the groove that characterised the band since the very beginning, and that seemed lost for a brief moment after the name (and line-up) change. They truly show they deserve all the present success and the attention they have had e.g. with their latest Roadburn appearance as well as recent European tour.
As the end for this edition draws near, it’s time for Clutch. The American band plays heavily from their latest catalogue, but little it matters when their enthusiasm is so contagious, driven especially by Neil Fallon’s charisma. One can really see both the band and the audience really enjoying this gig, and it’s not always a given. Chapeau.


What really disappoints the more traditional fans, or at least most people above their 20’s, is instead the headliner and final act of Tuska, Parkway Drive. When a band needs flashy tricks, flames all over the place, and circus-like jumps all over the place - needless to mention the rotating drums that seems to try emulating Tommy Lee’s rollercoaster with Mötley Crüe - it is sometimes to distract the fans from the actual substance, which should obviously be the music. Perhaps I am going against the tide in my judgement, but the whole show sounds just noisy and mushy, lacking real substance, and ok, the visuals can be interesting, but that aside, a large part of the crowd seems plainly bored or uninterested to me. Might be that I am getting old, but even trying to be open-minded and attempting to watch part of the gig, the only thing that comes to mind is that this is not the kind of metal I recognise myself listening to.

Parkway DriveCrowd

Halfway through the show the decision to leave the festival area and continue enjoying the warm and sunny weather till late in the night, and perhaps have a few drinks in good company after a long festival weekend. After all for most of us tomorrow is again a work day. To sum up, once again Tuska prove to be one of the (almost) mandatory steps along the summer festival season where Finnish metalheads - but also many foreigners - get a chance to catch up and have a good time, thanks also to a very good level of organisation, certainly part of what makes this festival a success every year.
Bandwise, many “save choices” such as Turmion Kätilöt, Moonsorrow, Arch Enemy, Mokoma, Emperor, Kreator, and even Europe are combined with a few gems, Body Count and Carpenter Brut above all. There was also room for some pleasant surprises (see Galactic Empire), and overall the festival has been evolving every year with new ideas, such as the new VIP balcony with privileged view towards the main stage.
If there is anything negative to say, maybe, it’s simply that after so many years - with a few exceptions - there seems to be less and less “must see” bands every year, and it is quite rare to see very interesting new bands. Hoping that this tendency will be subverted for the 2019 edition, we have to compliment the people behind Tuska regardless for their constant effort, and for making this event become something you don’t want to miss as part of the traditional summer of most regular Finnish metal fans.

Link to all Sunday galleries
Link to crowd photos
Link to all Tuska galleries

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