2.7.2022 Tuska Festival – Day 2 @ Suvilahti, Helsinki

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If Finland has one beloved city-bound festival, it’s Tuska Festival (or Tuska Open Air, as it was once known). As the biggest city-center metal festival in the country, Tuska always proves to be a good time, regardless of who is playing, simply because of the wonderful atmosphere and fantastic organization. However, this year they happened to have some interesting selections for the last bands on the main stage: KORN, MERCYFUL FATE, and DEFTONES, with MERCYFUL FATE headlining the second day.

It was a long first day, so we needed plenty of rest to prepare ourselves for Saturday. While it would have been fantastic to see BLOODRED HOURGLASS, they were playing at the unholy hour of 13:30 on the Tuskakvlt stage – a rather early and small spot for such a great band. Despite the hour and to nobody’s surprise, the melodic death metal act had a great turnout. After all, they’re a Finnish favorite for many both local and foreign. Even though they had a relatively short set, we were treated to nine energetic songs, with a focus on their latest album, Your Highness.” In comparison to their earlier headlining shows, the band had shuffled around with the song order in their setlist, resulting in them opting for the dynamic “We Form the Broken” as an opener – an excellent choice! We could lie and say that “Drag Me the Rain” made for an early highlight, but their set was mostly filled with fan-favorites, so it almost felt as every song was a highlight by itself. The calm “Tell Me About Yesterday Tomorrow” gave fans a break in between the intense melodeath tracks. The set rounded out nicely with “Where the Sinners Crawl.” Often, festival stages can be a little bit too big for some bands, however, BLOODRED HOURGLASS really pulled off a great performance, including the traditional synchronized windmilling, courtesy of Jose Moilanen, the Silvonen brothers, and the ever so energetic singer, Jarkko Kaukonen. Admittedly, the only downside of the show was that the band nowadays opts to not play “Six Feet Savior,” but that doesn’t take away from the fantastic show. I can only hope that someday BLOODRED HOURGLASS get the stage they deserve: the main stage. (LT)

One of our party got to the festival early enough to catch the doom metallers from SHAPE OF DESPAIR. They had originally been slated to open for Tom Warrior‘s TRIUMPH OF DEATH before 2020 happened. Since they had to cancel that, we’ve felt that they’ve owed us a gig, so lucky for us, they were playing this weekend. They were aided by some backing tracks to achieve the epic sound for which they are renowned. It was a solid kick-off for day 2, but the juxtaposition of dark and gloomy music mixed with the scorching heat of a summer’s day loomed heavy over it. On a slow Tuesday, this would be good stuff to zone out to, but in the relentless heat, it became difficult to get into it. The songs seemed to go on forever. At the end, we finally found ourselves grooving to the songs, but by then it was nearly over. The band left the stage without so much as a “thank you.” It was in character for them, but it left the set feeling as if it had been as much of an ordeal for them. (VP)

Another big local band in a surprisingly early slot was INSOMNIUM, who were also playing at the ungodly hour of 14:15… really, who did RECKLESS LOVE pay off to get their slot so late in the day? We’re baffled. We had a little bit of a conflict of schedule, as during INSOMNIUM‘s set we had arranged an interview with VOLA. However, we were able to see a little bit of their show. Even though the band just released a new EP, “Argent Moon,” interestingly, they decided to dedicate most of the setlist to their latest album, Heart Like a Grave.” Starting off with “Karelia” and “Valediction,” the band marked an energetic start. Admittedly, INSOMNIUM works better as a band at the tent stage, because it just adds up to the melancholic atmosphere of the band. However, there was something interesting about seeing the melodic death metal act play their gloomy songs in bright daylight. (LT)

The Kvlt stage hosted ASTRALION next, with the screen showing a video interview before the show. The band described themselves as melodic power metal and boasted that the gig will include, “to-the-millimeter -tight playing,” as well as “powerful choruses and a good time.” As they came on stage, we immediately thought of the power metal classics of HELLOWEEN, STRATOVARIUS, GAMMA RAY, and the like. They definitely fit the bill. The first song seemed to have the spirit, but their newest release, “Madness Unchained,” really kicked it into gear. All their songs had immediately recognizable choruses, the kind that are a must-have in this genre. They finished off strong with “We All Made Metal,” an ACCEPT-like anthem with an easy part for the crowd to sing along to. This was my second time seeing them and though it was not quite “millimeter-tight,” it was a heck of a show of force. This group absolutely deserves more love. (VP)

We’re a little disappointed to admit that Tuska made the same fatal flaw that Rockfest did earlier this year, by having two stages playing at the exact same time, with no stagger in between. You may have noticed that yesterday we had to pick between a few good bands on a few occasions, and this day was no different, as we had to decide between ORANSSI PAZUZU and Joe Lynn Turner, who were both playing at 15:15. We started out at ORANSSI PAZUZU, for a bit, fully enjoying their gloomy black metal acid trip for some time, until we moved over to the other stage. When we arrived to Joe Lynn Turner‘s set, we were surprised because we didn’t know that melodic metal act DYNAZTY had a new lead singer. Just kidding, but it was fun to see the American singer accompanied by some of Sweden’s finest musicians, as truly almost all of DYNAZTY was supporting him instrumentally: Rob Love Magnusson (guitars), Georg Härnsten Egg (drums), Jonathan Olsson (bass). The lineup was rounded out with a keyboard player that didn’t look familiar to either of us. While Joe Lynn Turner mostly focused on RAINBOW covers, with the classic songs of the set being “I Surrender” and “Spotlight Kid,” he also included a track from his time with DEEP PURPLE, “King of Dreams,” and “Rising Force,” an Yngwie Malmsteen cover, was used to end the setlist. Unlike David Coverdale (who usually lets the rest of the band sing way too much), Joe Lynn Turner‘s voice is still incredible and altogether it was great to hear some of the songs from his era. When different musicians than the original are involved, you’re always a bit scared that it’s going to be cover band -hour, but the DYNAZTY guys (and keyboard player) did a fantastic job in interpreting the songs and managed to capture some of the nostalgia involved. (LT)

Next was RECKLESS LOVE. I already mentioned that these guys have been in hiding a little too long without enough albums under their belt to properly justify this slot (at least over more established bands like INSOMNIUM and BLOODRED HOURGLASS), but perhaps it has something to do with their – admittedly not very good – new album, Turbo Rider.” Hoping to miss all of the new songs and just hear the fun old material, it was good to watch these guys from a bit further away. Like the bar. Or KING SATAN‘s set, which overlapped on the Tuskakvlt stage. Okay, no more teasing, but the band did focus mainly on new music, which made the first half of their set a real drag, which could be seen from the limp audience reactions to songs like “Turbo Rider,” “Eyes of a Maniac,” and “Outrun,” which got the set to a slogging start. They did shake things up with their cover of Ozzy Osbourne‘s “Bark at the Moon,” which went surprisingly well, but the show didn’t really pick up until the end when they played a collection of their best-of older material: “Badass” was a surprise great choice from their first album, “Animal Attraction” and “Hot” are festival musts, and “Night on Fire” was very appropriate in the heat. The band compensated for the weak music selection with a lot of fog and pyros, though their talk of spending youth in arcades feels pretty insincere… we can’t really imagine a young Olli Herman in an arcade. Wasn’t he too busy working out? (BW)

VLTIMAS is perhaps best known as ex-MORBID ANGEL singer David Vincent‘s new band. His return to MORBID ANGEL in the ’00s was marred by the fans vitriolic reaction to their 2011 album, “Illud Divinum Insanus,” as their core audience couldn’t stomach its industrial elements. Personally, I quite liked it, though I skip around the bad songs. VLTIMAS, however immediately proved themselves to be a band full of vigor, bringing a fresh, modern sound with roots firmly planted in death and black metal – almost a perfect mix of MAYHEM and MORBID ANGEL! Mr. Vincent came on stage dressed as what looked an awful lot like the pro-wrestler, The Undertaker. His mannerisms were goofy and over the top, but he carried it with unrivalled charisma. Surely a lot of people were expecting to hear at least some MORBID ANGEL; however, they correctly chose to play exclusively their own material. The only real downside was the obligatory drum solo, as it was more a demonstration of speed than skill. Otherwise it was a magnificent performance and we left feeling newly energized. (VP)

We next hopped over to the Inferno Stage to see WHEEL. These progsters have been consistently releasing good material while performing surprisingly vivid shows per their songs. Of interest, Aki “Conan” Virta came on stage recording the crowd from his phone. Their latest album, Resident Human,” was another pandemic release last year, yet their set was surprisingly well-balanced between their two releases, featuring tracks like “Lacking” and “Vultures,” but also “Movement” and “Dissipating.” Watching WHEEL, it’s always impressive to see how they manage to make their mid-tempo progressive metal feel lively on stage despite not moving around a whole lot. It was also interesting to see that they weren’t using their black hoods this time around – maybe it was because the Inferno stage was taking a full blast from the sun at that point in time, but whatever the reason, it was nice to see their smiling faces. Oh, and did we mention there was a moshpit? Life is full of surprises! (BW)

STAM1NA and ONE MORNING LEFT crossed over a bit, but since both are pretty consistent and regular festival players, we took this as a chance to rest and refuel. Naturally, STAM1NA sounded insane from afar, with a lot of their set coming off their newest release, 2021’s “Novus Ordo Mundi.” Part of our party headed over to ONE MORNING LEFT, queuing up to make sure they’d make it inside. OML was a party first and a gig second, and we mean that in the best way possible. They played mostly new material and the crowd was totally into it, which is probably a good sign for the band’s future. Miksu Lahti‘s mic was a bit low and that hurt some of the songs, but it was more than made up for by Leevi Luoto‘s beautiful delivery. Good show! (HF)

We had an interesting choice then between local BLIND CHANNEL and Danish VOLA, both of whom I personally missed earlier this year and have been interested to check out. Since our photographer headed over to VOLA, I decided to finally stop and see how BLIND CHANNEL are doing for the first time in forever. Admittedly, the time has perhaps come for me to declare that I am officially too old for these guys, as I’m not really connecting with anything they’re doing anymore. The shiny new stage outfits that look like they were made out of trash bags mixed with the hats is far too new-age for me, but granted, their visual style was never remotely why I liked them to begin with. Like most other bands, the set did have a focus on their newer material (their next album will be out this Friday), like “Don’t Fix Me,” “We Are No Saints,” and of course, their big Eurovision hit, “Dark Side,” which got the crowd really amped up. They played the tent stage this year, which was a big step up for them, and the place was full so it seems the festival was happy to show them some love, even if the show didn’t do much for me this time around. Fortunately, the band have always been great live performers, so one way or the other, it was good that we stopped by. (BW)

Unfortunately for VOLA, it must have been a stressful time prior to their festival performance, as most of the band’s luggage (and thus gear) got lost somewhere in the Copenhagen airport. The band posted on their social media and received help from fans and they were able to rent out some gear last-minute. It’s clear that the progressive metal act has become a Finnish favorite as, while they started playing the first song, “24 Light-Years,” the audience was singing along incredibly loudly… so loud that singer/guitarist Asger Mygind stopped singing the chorus at some point and let the crowd take care of it. The band had gotten an appropriate spot in the schedule, allowing them to play a lot of songs, mostly focusing on their fantastic new release, Witness.” With a varied set of progressive metal, including songs like “Smartfriend” and “These Black Claws,” VOLA managed to deliver a dynamic set and even though BLIND CHANNEL was playing at the same time, progheads galore still gathered to watch their show instead. The set ended much to soon with the opener of their latest album, “Straight Lines,” a heavy track to round out the set nicely. If you missed VOLA‘s show at Tuska, because you for some obscure reason opted for BLIND CHANNEL instead, the band is returning to a few other festivals here and we hope that they soon get some headlining shows again after their success back in March. (LT)

Another regular Tuska Festival band is AMORPHIS, who tend to make an appearance every other year at least. Since they released Halo earlier this year, it was no shock to anyone that they’d be playing over this weekend. Surely, it must be getting harder and harder for these guys to pick a festival setlist, as they’ve got so much good material to choose from nowadays. Starting with “Northwards” and “On Dark Waters,” they proceeded through a mix of new material, as well as older greats like “Silver Bride,” “Amongst Stars” (with Anneke van Giersbergen sadly only in the backing track), and “Black Winter’s Day” mixed in with “The Moon” and “Seven Roads Come Together,” which always feels like a Patrick Rothfuss reference to me, even if it’s far from it. They closed out their set with some good choices in “The Bee” and “House of Sleep,” making for an overall satisfying and powerful show from these regulars – no surprise there! (BW)

BARONESS and SOILWORK are both solid festival choices, so we decided to go based on weather and atmosphere, leading us to SOILWORK, whom I’ve been sorely neglecting at other festivals this summer. This set was interesting, as it was a fantastic performance of, perhaps, some of the band’s worst material, in our less-than-humble opinions. While it’s always nice to get a hint of what’s new – like BLIND CHANNEL, they too have a new album coming out a bit later this year – the rest of the material in the set wasn’t quite what we were hoping for, as “Stabbing the Drama” was the only real classic banger in the set. No “Follow the Hollow”? What sacrilege! However, the mediocre song choice did not stop the fans from going absolutely apeshit insane in the pit, as it was one of the most hardcore pits we encountered during the entire festival. They finished their set with “Stålfågel,” which was unfamiliar to everyone, so we petered out a bit early to find a good place for the headliner. (BW)

If you missed out on King Diamond‘s set at Tuska 2013, he’s finally come back around to Finland again, this time with his band, MERCYFUL FATE. This second-night headliner had the most spectacular build up: there was a slowly descending curtain, which revealed an altar on a (seemingly) marble platform. Their first song, “The Oath,” had a built-in creepy The Exorcist -type intro. As King Diamond himself appeared in an imposing goat mask to belt out the first line, “I deny Jesus Christ, the deceiver,” we were already entranced. King Diamond was clad in an awesome red velvet robe, befitting the lord of evil himself. The headgear he would later change to a an opulent crown, a skull, and finally the now-classic top hat. All my expectations, high as they were, were exceeded on this front.

As the audience had been lulled into a false sense of security, they announced their second track, the as of yet unreleased “The Jackal of Salzburg.” It was beyond bold, sounding as haunting, bombastic, and technical as you’d want. Following that was a volley of hits: “A Corpse Without a Soul,” “Black Funeral,” and “A Dangerous Meeting,” which all got the crowd roaring (or rather squealing, as they attempted their very best falsettos).

Another highlight was the slow song “Melissa” from the album of the same name. Usually, I would have said it dragged a bit, but live the time just flew by. Finishing off the set were “Curse of the Pharaohs,” “Evil,” and “Come to the Sabbath,” all sure-fire hits. For the encore, they’d saved the epic, “Satan’s Fall.” It was long as hell (pardon the pun) and as written, had slim-to-nil flow – just an endless barrage of riffs in different time signatures; live, they’d reworked it into a semi-cohesive whole. In hindsight, it was a welcome change of pace, as most big acts do their most over-played stuff as encores. This was more of a treat. It was very rewarding to fans, but I’d imagine nearly excruciating to the normies. While it was hard to notice at the time, on hindsight review of footage, it seemed that King Diamond had fumbled lines and gone off-key quite a bit, but fortunately, the live setting was far more forgiving than the footage. Still, I’ll forever cherish this performance as one of the greatest Tuska headliners I’ve seen. (VP)

Thus, we survived the second day of Tuska 2022, but there was still one more day to go…

Written by Bear W., Vincent P., Harri F., & Laureline T.
Photos by Laureline Tilkin