Tuska 2013

The below review will be official on Eternal-terror.com website. This is just a preview

Tuska 2013

My third year in a row at the outdoor metal festival in the Finnish capital only managed to add to the list of awesome memories that make me love this event so much and wish to return there every year from now on. Even before reaching the area I was way too happy seeing how the festival went down from 4 to 3 stages, thus making the schedule way more relaxed and convenient for everyone. Of course, it might also be caused by the fact that another big festival realised it might be a fair idea to set their dates at the same time as Tuska and so they stole some of the crowd that weekend, but all in all, it led to a fantastic musical experience. With only 1 minute to walk between the two main stages and two more in order to reach the indoor stage, Tuska logistics functioned rather well so that mainly everyone could enjoy any of the shows on the main stages. As it is an all age festival, the area where the alcohol selling bars are located has age restricted access, thus making it easier to avoid beer and other sticky liquids being thrown at the crowd in front of the stage. Also the price you pay for each drink includes a two Euro ‘tax’ that you get back once you return the can or the glass. So there’s rarely any throwing. Being an all age festival leads to really cool sights in front of the stage, as it’s not often you get to see 14-18 year old kids running in a mosh pit or starting a wall of death. It’s encouraging to think the metal future is in good hands.

Another thing I love about this festival is that they don’t seem to try to empty your wallet by all means. Of course, unless you plan to drink all day, but that’s another story. Strictly talking from the point of view of food and non alcoholic beverages, you have the choice of going for expensive warm food (provided you manage to figure out what’s what and are brave enough to taste it). But you can also have a sandwich for 2-3 Euros and a bottle of water for 69 cents inside the local ‘super market’ (aka a big trailer with shelves full of bottles, snacks and sandwiches. And some ice cream). Besides this, you are allowed to enter with your own plastic bottle, provided it is sealed. Inside the festival grounds you can refill it with fresh cold water, therefore you don’t really feel obliged to continuously pay insane amounts of money for everything you want to consume. At least this is the feeling I get at bigger festivals.

Being located pretty close to the city center, it makes it easy for everyone to reach the area by bus or tram or subway. Most concerts end by 10 or 11 PM and then it’s again easy to catch some mean of transportation back home after the shows, unless you wanna keep on partying at one of the many Tuska after parties in town. Me and my friends only made it to one of these shows on Saturday, but due to the state of tiredness I was in, I didn’t manage to comprehend what was happening on stage so I am not going to write anything about that concert.

Tuska’s 2013 lineup gathered a bunch of more or less famous Finnish bands (Nightwish, Stratovarius, Wintersun, Stam1na, Lama, Lost Society, Amorphis, etc) plus a bunch of cool names from abroad, a lot of them being Nuclear Blast signed acts: Bolt Thrower, King Diamond, Kreator, Ihsahn, Testament, Soilwork, Leprous. The festival also offered an EMP stand for signing sessions and it was incredible to see the size of the queue for the Nightwish one. By now, I am starting to get familiar with the guards that stay with us in the photo pit at each stage and have a good time chatting and joking with them prior to the concerts. One of them even wrote us a sign saying that due the big amount of photographers, only the first 8 are allowed in the pit if they pay 100 EUR/each and don’t come in with a lens bigger than 50mm. We were too many and overwhelmed him.

The first band of the festival is always a pleasure for me to witness live and this was no exception – Leprous, a very quickly rising Norwegian progressive band, who recently released a new album which represented most of their 25 minutes set. Initially it seemed that everything was in slow motion as the intro was a soft keyboards/drums/voice solo, but once the two guitarists and the bass player showed up, the speed lever was pushed to the max and the leprousians barely stood still. I still haven’t figured out how they do it, but I am more and more impressed each time I see them live (the amount has reached about 15 by now). With the regret that the show lasted to little, we went back to the heat and daylight and watched a bit of TesseracT, who replaced The Dillinger Escape Plan on short notice. Only saw a bit of this concert, but I recall loving the instrumental parts and wishing there’d be almost no vocals to interrupt. But I’ll surely check more of this band from now on.

It was interesting to catch the show of the Finnish disbanded death metallers Abhorrence. I didn’t know about them prior to the festival so it was rather interesting to hear the mix of Swedish classic death metal sounds with Finnish origins. On the down side, you can see the band is missing stage practice since they had their shy moments. But the performance was quickly forgotten once Wintersun took over the main stage of the festival. They are highly adored by the crowd and each cheer and raised hand combines perfectly with the insane amount of energy on stage and mixes in a rather impressive concert. Personally I never got fully caught by the band’s music, but if I get the chance to see them live, I can’t refuse it. They’re simply great and the epic metal that they compose seems to work much better when you have the audience in the picture, and not just as a sound coming from the speakers. I ran to catch a bit of Dreamtale’s show at the small stage and I was welcomed by a great mood on stage and a very good attempt at epic and melodic power metal. Riffs o plenty and high pitched vocals were a good recipe to get the place rather full and to entertain the audience.

The five Leprous members return on the secondary stage (called Inferno), this time as backing musicians for the Norwegian black metal legend, Ihsahn (former Emperor singer). Ihsahn’s musical experience is probably the main reason that he managed to compose such insane combinations of black metal parts with all sort of elements from different genres, adding some interesting standards to the world of progressive music. There’s still his classical Emperor voice in most of the songs, only with more melodic backup and a more stylish look on stage. He’s a guitar master and at times it feels that he forgets about anything else and it’s only his guitar that exists in the universe. I must add that compared to other Ihsahn shows I have seen before, this time it felt more compact all together, a sign that all the musicians have somewhat leveled up when it comes to playing live in this formation.

Back on the main stage to finally watch again the British death metal legends going by the name of Bolt Thrower. Despite the fact that they don’t seem to have any recent releases, only re-masterings of the old albums, the band enjoys a fantastic response from the crowd and by the smile on their faces it is obvious they are in for some good fun. Even the Finnish afternoon sun show its face to enjoy the gig and make the band members’ faces look very pink by the end of the concert. A concert rich in moshpits and good music and certainly a band to keep on watching live when possible.

Amorphis took over the second main stage and to my disappointment, I think I only knew the tunes from one of the songs they chose to perform that day. But then again, I have seen Amorphis many times, so maybe it’s ok that they fully change the playlist, especially when they’re on home ground. No matter how often I see this band and how good or bad the show is, it’s always a great fascination to watch the singer Tomi spinning his never-ending dreads and how much power is projected from that little man. But the fascination ended quickly as my stomach was desperately asking for food. So I left after few songs, ate a bit, and then went back to the main stage to finally witness King Diamond live. I don’t want to insult any of the King’s fans, but I believe that if you haven’t grown up with his music, it’s hard to start enjoying it now, in the era of a youtube full of cat videos and noises. But I give him the credit of a very cool show. For the first part of the concert, the front of the stage was decorated with a fence, while in the back there were stairs on each side of the drums, stairs used by the musicians to perform various solo parts and actions. The show was spiced up by a lot of characters, mainly of the female kind, all of them busy being slaughtered, giving birth, being scared, looking macabre and so on. Unfortunately, the sun was also pretty keen on the show, and it stayed with us all the way to the end. I believe that such bright light takes away at least half of the impact and the grotesque of the planned scenery that supports King Diamond’s music. But at least it helps with cool photos.

DAY 2

The fact that Tuska is such an awesome festival is highly enhanced by the great company I always have in Finland. I stay with some dear friends of mine, who always happen to host a lot of folks for the weekend and we end up having some crazy times from the moment we wake up until we leave to the concerts area. And even on the way, we ran two days in a row into another cool bunch of people that I know from other festivals in Norway. And then we encountered plenty of other crazy Finns, so each day we ended up with our own silly and funny mini parties in the festival area, making the whole experience quite unforgettable.

Musicwise, the second day of Tuska begins with Lost Society on the main stage. A lot of people in my group said we have to go and watch them and few seconds within their set I understood why. A bunch of teenagers wearing some normal tshirts and vests and caps have seriously rocked the place for 50 minutes. The style of thrash metal performed can easily stand up to big albums of its genre and it was such a pleasant surprise to hear and watch them perform. It was love at first sight and once we were done photographing, I went in the middle of the crowd to watch them and to also enjoy the crazy circle pits that formed during the show. I can only copy the intro of the band description on their facebook page and recommend anyone to check our this wonder: “17, 18, 19, 19. No, that’s not today’s lottery numbers, but the age of the band members of Finland’s most promising contemporary newcomer combo.”.

In comparison, the Danes from Black City had a very very pale show on the secondary stage and we didn’t spend much time watching them. We mainly sat and gossiped about Lost Society and then went to see Soilwork on the main stage. There’s plenty of good energy once the guys enter the stage, but I’m always fascinated by the moves of their bass player. He’s so entertaining (besides having some cool tunes coming out from the actual bass). I didn’t watch more than few songs though, as I had to run for an interview with a fantastic Finnish band called Oranssi Pazuzu. The interview finished just in time for me to catch We Bread The Butter with Butter, whom I expected to be way sillier, considering the band’s name. I was not sold to their deathcore style and to the amount of electronic elements in the music, so after I took a cool pic of the singer in the air, I went to purchase some warm food.

My plan was to eat the food during Stam1na’s show and not photograph it, but when I saw the inflatable giraffes and palm tree on stage, I decided to put the food down and go into the photo pit. Man, what a cool silly show. They sing in Finnish so the music doesn’t really stick to you (unless you speak the language), but the Hawaiian stage setting was one of the most genuine I’ve ever seen for a metal show. The singer was wearing a surf costume, the guitarists were half naked and had straw skirts, everyone made sure the hair was wet at all times and made very cool effects when headbanging, and most of all, everyone had way too much fun on stage. Such a pleasure to watch them.

Time to somewhat relax with the serious and dark black metal show from the Americans in Von. One again, the sunlight sort of took away the deep feeling of their music, but, nevertheless, it was such a pleasure to watch this band which is thought to be the first American black metal one and their history goes all the way back to 87. The deep and dark riffs worked best whenever I decided to close my eyes and just enjoy the sounds from the old days. Time for more legends on the main stage, this time from Germany and from the realms of thrash metal – Kreator. It’s not easy to decide which instrument to pay more attention to, since all musicians play them in full force and with insane speed and accuracy. The band got very good responses both on old and new materials and did a fantastic job at setting very high standards for the main act of the day, Bay Area thrashers Testament. Both bands had really awesome backdrops, inspired by their latest releases and adding up to the epicness of their performance.

It is hard to review a Testament show. The guys know their roles on stage and they know them too well, so you can probably only talk about them using superlatives. Especially if you, like me, decide to mainly look at Gene Hoglan’s performance behind the drums and wonder if he has any backup arms or legs to make it through the whole duration of the concert. A concert that feels so flawless, hence it doesn’t leave room for too many words about what happened on stage. What happened in the crowd, well now, there’s another story. Chuck Billy seriously enjoys the sight of mosh pits and walls of death, hence spending a lot of time in between songs to arrange the crowd and direct their madness in a good old thrashy style. The monitors on each side of the stage offered insane images and I’m pretty sure a lot of the kids at that concert left home with very happy memories. And maybe with some twisted ankles or so.

Prior to Testament, I also watched a bit of a Finnish punk like legendary band called Lama, but I admit it wasn’t too entertaining to watch such old men performing punk in an unknown language. So I will not comment much on that performance. I was dead tired by the end of the night and even if we went to an after party that evening, all I recall right now is the awesome feeling of laying my head down on the pillow. And the pain of waking up next day, but that’s another story. Also today has brought some cool intense shows on the indoor stage: Urfaust and Dark Buddha Rising. Both of them are really good at building up a dark atmosphere, and while Urfaust managed to do that with only a guitar and a set of drums (and that is an impressive sight considering how overwhelming the music gets), Dark Buddha Rising had a lot of members on stage (even if the main show is put up by their vocalist). There was a lot of occultism in the music of both bands and I keep wondering if this has anything to do with the smell of that thing that gets burned in the churches when the priests are going around to bless the masses.

Day 3

I decided to be very lazy on Sunday and go rather late at the festival, especially since I have no joy in watching/hearing Amaranthe’s Barbie style music. I still caught a bit of their show though, just enough to support my current opinion on the band. It was much more enjoyable to watch the Barbe-Q-Barbies, a girl-only band with pleasant appearances, listenable rock music and good mood throughout the concert. Back on the main stage, I was very impressed with Battle Beast’s performance. I knew the band with their previous singer and they have some impressive heavy metal grooves. The new singer actually lives up to the expectations and, despite her small and fragile look, she pulls off an amazing powerful voice and has a great presence to fit the music. They are very pleasant to watch and listen, I just had to do it from far away as my feet demanded that I sat down.

I stood up again to go and photograph Stratovarius. Maybe not the most exciting live show ever, but Timo Kotipelto’s vocals don’t really fail (in the power metal style) and there’s a contagious good mood on stage. Especially when you realise that the corners of the keyboards have rubber ducks on them. It is quite nostalgic to hear the keyboards intro for Black Diamond and the party in the crowd for ‘Hunting high and low’ was a joy to watch.

The main stage had only three acts today. Now that’s so relaxed and it actually allows you to enjoy everything until the end, rather than being dead tired (drunk in some cases) by the last band, which is also the 6th on the main stage and the 28th for that day and the 130th for the festival. Anyways, the main act of the day was Nightwish. A band with a recent history full of changes and controversies and who, at the moment, is performing with Floor Jansen on vocals. After watching a youtube clip of her performing with the band in the US, I instantly fell in love with the way she sang and decided I have to see them live with this lineup. And I finally got the chance.

I am not familiar with the band’s latest releases, but the old ones are pretty much the ones that introduced me to metal so there’s a lot of nostalgia in hearing those songs live. Floor’s stage presence is beyond ‘wow’. She’s got the balls it takes to lead a band with such a name and to do it perfectly on their home grounds. She is gorgeous, she’s doing crazy headbanging, she uses the few Finnish words she has learned. I am convinced most of the crowd was sold to her and the band has gained back their fans and their fame. Once you decide to release yourself from Floor’s spell, you start noticing that many other things happen on stage. Crazy cool drumming from Jukka Nevalainen, silly star shaped sun glasses worn by Marco Hietala, sick surroundings for Tuomas Holopainen’s keyboard set (a lot of huge metal pipes stuck together). There were a lot of pyro effects, plenty of projections on the backdrop, meant to fit the mood in every song. A lot of the time the band was joined on stage by Troy Donockley with his bagpipes and flutes and other unidentified instruments. I constantly ran from the front of the stage back to my friends who had their own headbanging party. I actually filmed one of these walks and you can watch it here and see how much fun the people had during the concert: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sscGP9ZrWPI

Lately, I rarely listen to female fronted bands. But the Nightwish experience at Tuska reminded me why I loved their music so much at the beginning and I couldn’t think of a better band to end the fantastic 2013 edition of Tuska. I’m already so looking forward for next year in Helsinki, but until then I have about 5000 photos to go through. Stay tuned for the photo galleries.Amorhips at Tuska 2013

Bolt Thrower live@Tuska 2013

Bolt Thrower live@Tuska 2013

Bolt Thrower live@Tuska 2013

Crowd at Tuska 2013

Crowd at Tuska 2013

Crowd at Tuska 2013

Crowd at Tuska 2013

Crowd at Tuska 2013

Crowd at Tuska 2013

Ihsahn at Tuska 2013

Ihsahn at Tuska 2013

Ihsahn at Tuska 2013

Ihsahn at Tuska 2013

Headbanging at Tuska 2013

Dreamtale at Tuska 2013

Dark Budda Rising at Tuska 2013

crowd05

King Diamond at Tuska 2013

Kreator at Tuska 2013

Leprous at Tuska 2013

Leprous at Tuska 2013

Lost Society at Tuska 2013

Crowd at Tuska 2013

Moshpit at Tuska 2013

Nightwish at Tuska 2013

Guards at Tuska 2013

Amorhips at Tuska 2013

Wintersun at Tuska 2013

Von at Tuska 2013

Testament at Tuska 2013

Testament at Tuska 2013

Stratovarius at Tuska 2013

Stam1na at Tuska 2013

Stam1na at Tuska 2013

Stam1na at Tuska 2013

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