After a successful first day of the festival, I tried to make my way to mainstage as soon as possible. However, I was blocked by the first real queue of the festival. While security the first day was hardly controlling backpacks, they rethought their strategy and now did so thoroughly, perhaps a result of the stabbing that happened some hours prior to the event at Sörnäinen metro station. Because of this reason I missed the scheduled show of TYRANTTI on the main stage. Unfortunate, because I had been looking forward to this exact show. I did hear the last two songs of their performance and based on what I heard, it must have been a very powerful start of the day.
I luckily was right on time for GALACTIC EMPIRE. A band that brings metal covers of the original soundtrack of Star Wars, created by John Williams. They do this in character. Have you ever seen a Stormtrooper playing guitars? Well… I have. And that’s not everything. Their entire show is a performance rather than a concert and I found it very entertaining, at times even hilarious. “Look, we blew up the Deathstar”, after which they threw a ball into the crowd that was supposed to be a blown up Deathstar, made me chuckle inside. In the middle of their show a rebel – I assume a poor crew member – is grabbed and dragged to the stage to get executed. He dies a very dramatic death on stage. The audience couldn’t be more excited by this. After that follows the advertising of their merchandising, available at the merchandising stand. All of this is even funnier because the band members use voice distortion. Comedy aside, their set was pretty tight and had some definite highlights, for me personally that was “Duel of Fates” as that is my favorite song from the OST as well.
My journey led me from one entertaining band to another: BEAST IN BLACK. The road to success is paved with catchy tunes and energetic live performances such as Beast In Black provides the audience with. In their very short career together, the band has had sold out shows, has been booked for almost every metal or rock festival in Finland and overall, they seem to move forward with a quick and steady pace. For the record, I am not the only one who seems to enjoy their music and performances. Even though their show was quite early on in the festival day, a lot of people were gathered around the Radio Rock stage. During my time in the front row, many raving fans were already chanting along with Yannis Papadopoulos, whose Finnish is getting better and better. During “Eternal Fire” a lot of people in the audience were enthusiastically jumping around to the bouncing beats and keyboard tunes. “Blind and Frozen” their first single, was again accompanied with lots of happy fans and a lot of people singing along.
Next up in my schedule was the first couple of songs of MOKOMA, before heading to another interview. Since I only witnessed the first two or three songs, I can’t really make any judgment about their performance. However, the band is really popular in Finland and this also translated into the massive amount of people gathered around the main stage. It seemed to be an impressive start at least, but at least I heard the show was great.
Synthwave at Tuska Festival? It’s possible. The organization managed to get CARPENTER BRUT to perform. Personally, I am not that familiar with anything synthwave related. Other than that it’s a form of electronic music, that’s influenced by film soundtracks and video games and incorporates sci-fi and horror in music and art, I have never spent any time listening to synthwave acts. I was skeptical about how Carpenter Brut’s performance would be. But I was pleasantly surprised. Just because it’s different, doesn’t mean it’s bad. I guess Carpenter Brut is dance music for metalheads. With heavy riffs and loud drum parts, the music feels more aggressive and violent than any other dance act. Because of the video game vibe, the music feels familiar and even nostalgic. I can only conclude that I don’t like Carpenter Brut, I fucking love him.
What’s a metal festival without some true Norwegian black metal? Am I right? EMPEROR was one of the bigger names of the festival. Emperor started to celebrate the 20th anniversary of their album “Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk” already last year. This year they made a stop at Helsinki. The band officially ended their career after having reached a highlight with their fourth album. After which everyone had set out to do their own projects. Once in a while, the trio gets together again to provide the older generation of metalheads with their tunes. Blast beasts, violent growls, and sneering guitars. Black metal at its best, without corpsepaint and a lot of smoke. A quite minimalistic, but yet successful premise offered us songs from “Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk”, after which they returned with some classics such as “Curse You All Men!”, “I Am the Black Wizards” and “Inno a Satana”.
HALLATAR is one of the new Finnish bands on the block, but yet consists out of very established musicians in the Finnish metal scene. Hallatar features among its ranks Swallow the Sun and Trees of Eternity guitarist Juha Raivio, Amorphis vocalist Tomi Joutsen, and former HIM drummer Gas Lipstick. Technically Hallatar could be some sort of an extension of Trees of Eternity. Raivio founded the band in memory of his late life partner Aleah Starbridge. He gathered writings, lyrics, and her poems, and then created something, thus Hallatar came to existence. “No Stars Upon The Bridge” was a great success, no wonder the band had been scheduled to play at Tuska Festival. The performance was as expected heavy, melancholic music that makes you shiver. The emotion conveyed, however, was too extreme for me. Up to the point that they almost made me cry from the beginning on.
KREATOR was next for me. Even though I saw their show last week, I had been looking forward to the performance, which by the way had one of the most impressive stages at Tuska. The band played a well balanced setlist with both newer songs such as “Hail To The Hordes”, “Satan Is Real” and “Gods of Violence”, but were not shy to play classics such as “Enemy Of God“, “Phobia” and “Violent Revolution” all accompanied by gigantic circle pits by the Finnish crowd. When a band performs as polished, instrumentally sound and visually appealing as Kreator did, it’s not very difficult to see why they can hype up an audience.
The day was almost over as two more bands were set to play, one of them at the Helsinki stage: melodic death metal act AT THE GATES. The legendary Swedish death metal legends started “To Drink From The Night”, immediately followed by the classic “Slaughter of the Soul”, subsequently a lot of fans went out of control. It’s no surprise that At The Gates was the headliner of the Helsinki stage that day, the quality of their show and sound proved that they can easily play flawless performances and that they are still in fact masters of the Gothenburg death metal sound.
One thought stroke me before GOJIRA entered the stage: this is the first metal act I’ve seen live at a festival. Back then they played in a rather small tent in the morning. They now grew out to one of the biggest progressive metal acts internationally. I remember immediately being struck by their music and right from the start I counted myself in as a fan. The wait for Gojira was thankfully quite brief. Most of the audience had clearly come for the French metal gods. Mario Duplantier sweeps behind his massive drum kit and the audience goes immediately wild as he hammers the explosive intro to “Only Pain”. We were not allowed to enter the photo pit, because of the explosiveness of the song. But from the next one on we were allowed to enter. “The Heaviest Matter of the Universe” continued their setlist in a fast-paced manner, followed by “Love” and then the hit “Stranded”. The mechanical progressive sounds that they incorporate in their music are easy to headbang to and an amazingly big pit formed as soon as the French gentlemen started playing. The band was clearly grateful to be present. Because of an accident with their tour bus, they were not sure if they would be able to make it to the stage, forcefully having to leave their instruments behind. The organization behind Tuska, helped the guys out perfectly and we were able to enjoy the show nonetheless. Because of this – they claimed – their show was quite minimal. Although if we’re completely honest, the ability to project things and pyros, in my opinion, isn’t exactly what I’d call a minimal show. Gojira are experts in crafting amazing setlists, no moment of their show is boring and there is still plenty of moments that allow for breathing room and make sure that you can re-energize for the next round. My only complaint about this specific setlist is that “L’Enfant Sauvage” wasn’t there, even though representing the album were “Liquid Fire” and “Explosia”. There was a little bit of everything, except from “The Link”. Nevertheless, a great show. Gojira really live up to their reputation as one of the leaders of progressive metal. Their playing is intricate but precise. It’s this precision that really takes their performances to a different level. Gojira’s performance, in my opinion, was one of the better ones during the whole festival. And even though the band stumbled upon some challenges, they managed to perform with such accuracy that this is certainly the most memorable show to me.