For the third year in a row, we were able to cover TUSKA OPEN AIR, Helsinki's biggest metal festival. This year's edition had bands like DIMMU BORGIR, BEHEMOTH, AMORPHIS, and SLAYER on the roster. A couple of changes had been in order, already announced prior to the festival. The organization had decided to make the event a 18+ event, allowing in total 2000 more people on the festival grounds. The festival map thus had changed drastically. The recently opened Redi shopping centre at Kalasatama had also taken its part on the reorganization of festival, as the shopping centre collaborated with Tuska in terms of entrance.
Ready for this new edition, I pushed myself into the metro towards Kalasatama. An instant problem already surfaced, as the escalators weren't working, a queue formed. I was determined to be on time, however, so I hurried my way to the festival grounds, and after a massive queue, most likely formed due to the cloakroom being so close to the exit, I marched my way to the Helsinki stage were MEDEIA started off the festival. With their intense stage dynamics, the band makes a dedicated opener for the festival, and definitely warmed up the audience. I was impressed by the amount of people who showed up so early to the festival, which definitely tells me that MEDEIA is a popular band. It's the second time that I've seen the band play a show, and I still can't wrap my head around how much fun it is to watch these guys and girl play their songs. Their energy is definitely infectious, and something to look forward to!
I hurried my way to check out BALANCE BREACH at the Inferno stage. The band was one of the winners of the Tuska Torstai competition, and it was easy to see why. The band from Mikkeli, showed us how much of a promising act they are, from high jumps, to crushing riffs, I'm sure within the next year we'll see a lot more of these guys.
On the main stage ARION was ready to play there set, unlike last year, the guys weren't struggling with technical issues, and their set started beautifully on time. That the guys now have been 'promoted' to the main stage, is not a big surprise, after all their latest album "Life Is Not Beautiful" was a great success. Great tracks like "No one Stands In My Way", "Punish You", "Last Of Us", and "Unforgivable" filled up Suvilahti, as I looked behind me in the audience, I noticed that the previous editions hadn't been so full at this specific time of the day. Mission accomplished, ARION.
At the Inferno stage, GOATBURNER was preparing to play a set. I'm always fascinated by metal bands consisting out of two members, usually it shows me that you don't need 5 to 6 musicians on stage to make a lot of noise. The same goes for GOATBURNER, even though there's only two guys on stage, their combination of death metal, and sludge definitely makes an energetic show, that definitely impressed us.
One of the shows I had been looking out for was the performance of MARKO HIETALA. He called his music hard prog himself, and it's clear why. Everything that Marko has been doing all over the years, has been blended into one proggy coherent album, which sometimes even reminds me of PINK FLOYD. The songs make a very unique and almost magical listening experience, and this was definitely the case as well during the show, the psychedellic moments, interchanged with folky elements, hard rock and heavy riffs, in combination with Marko's unique stage presence, definitely was one of the highlights of the day.
After MARKO HIETALA, it was time to quickly check out PAHAN IKONI at the Inferno stage. Coming in second at Tuska Torstai 2018, the band had earned a spot at Tuska Heatseeker last year. Now, they got the chance to play their thrash and death metal on the festival grounds, an instant success for metalheads who like speedy songs with a lot of attitude.
Meanwhile the audience at the main stage were served with classic heavy metal in the form of BATTLE BEAST. It has become a bit boring to write reviews about BATTLE BEAST since the only thing you can do is praise them on their amazing performances, their energy and delivering their songs spot-on time after time again. The band crushed their audience with songs like "Black Ninja", but also had room in their show for new hits like "No More Hollywood Endings". Once again, a stellar performance.
At the Inferno stage, WHEEL was set to play their progressive music to a fully packed venue. In fact, it was hard to squeeze myself in there to check out the show. I have been getting to know the guys of WHEEL and their wonderful music a little bit better during the interviews I have done with them within the past year (click here to watch the latest one), and I do have to say that every time I see them play, I'm falling more in love with their music. I was happy to see that my fellow festival-goers seemed to feel the same way about their music. Everyone from front to back was grooving on the proggy rhythms, and it left me at least with a warm and happy feeling. What a great show these guys delivered again.
POWER TRIP, meanwhile played their crossover music. By combining the intensity of thrash metal, with the relentlessness of hardcore, the guys managed to pull of an extremely energetic show. So energetic, that I wish I could have stayed for the whole set to play, but unfortunately I had other plans.
The audience was getting more and more packed, and it was almost impossible to manage my way through the crowd. There were queues everywhere, mixed up with people watching shows. To me it felt like the 2000 extra people allowed to attend the festival, were a little bit too much after all. The festival grounds definitely don't have the capacity to hold 15000 people in this specific setup. But I pushed through, and found myself in the photo pit of ANTHRAX. The thrash metal bands is part of The Big Four, and always deliver a high-quality show. Highlight of the show was definitely "I Am The Law", because I just love that song.
BRYMIR unfortunately was planned at the same time as ANTHRAX, so I decided to spend an equal amount of time at both shows. This is a shame, since BRYMIR definitely is one of the best acts that the melodic death metal scene in Finland offers. I watched the last half of their show, and was surprised again by the amount of people who made it. They played a lot of songs from their most reent album, and it still amazes me how great these songs sound in a live setting.
With their slow, atmospheric and heavy songs, CULT OF LUNA brought their show to the Helsinki stage. I am personally not the biggest fan of post metal, but by the amount of people I could tell that the band is really appreciated among the crowd. Unfortunately, I only was able to watch about 15 minutes of their show, as the massive amount of people almost made it impossible to go from one stage to another in a timely manner.
ANNEKE VAN GIERSBERGEN always has captivated me, even from the time of THE GATHERING. Lately, Anneke is a one woman project, and it still never ceases to amaze me, along with an awful lot of others. Proof of that was the fully packed venue, where also a queue had formed to get into the building, and one fan who kept on shouting how lovely Anneke is. Well, we can all agree can't we? ANNEKE VAN GIERSBERGEN delivered an intimate, and enchanting set, that was definitely worth it.
From Norway to Finland, the symphonic black metal act DIMMU BORGIR ended their hibernation by releasing their long anticipated new full-length album "Eonian". I had never seen the band play live, and I couldn't help to be intrigued about their show. Moreover, I really enjoyed "Eonian", and was looking forward to hear some of those songs live. It seems like my prayers had been heard, because the band opened their set with "The Unveiling" and "Interdimensional Summit". The band mostly played songs from the new album, but also incorporated some older tracks in there, making sure that everyone could enjoy the show.
And then, it was time for something I had been waiting for a couple of months: ALIEN WEAPONRY's performance. I entered the ALIEN WEAPONRY hype kind of late, maybe even a bit too late. But nevertheless, their thrash metal tracks have been captivating me for a couple of months now. Now, let me start off by saying that I felt that the band was a bit misplaced at the Inferno stage. The band has been opening up a lot of massive festivals on, you guessed it, the main stage. Heck, they even played on the main stage of Hellfest... That being said, I was lucky to get in on time, and could enjoy the show without having to worry about not seeing anything happening on stage. Celebrating and promoting Maori culture through their music, the band started off with a haka, and then straight dived into their music, causing one of the biggest moshpits I have yet to have seen in that specific site of the festival. Even though the guys are still young, they are seasoned musicians, who managed to captivate the audience from the start. Every band member has their own energetic way of performing, and incorporating the Maori culture into their music. Each of the songs worked perfectly in a live setting, and of course headbanging to "Kai Tangata" had been on my to-do list forever. These guys may just be t the beginning of their career, but I'm completely sure that they will have a successful path to walk on in the future. I dare say that for me this was definitely the highlight of the entire festival.
While I was walking to the main stage again, getting ready for the AMORPHIS show, I heard "When A Shadow Is Forced Into The Light" playing, and realized that I had missed SWALLOW THE SUN. I decided to stay in for the song, just to grasp the atmosphere from the show. The tent was fully packed, and the melancholic music of the band had taken over quite many souls, it seems like the audience was in a trance, and it made me realize once again the power of music. Music can take you to so many places in your mind, and it's a great feeling.
The schedule eventually lead us to AMORPHIS. After the successful "Queen Of Time", the band was announced to play a couple of shows dedicated to the album. "Queen Of Time" was one of my favorite releases of 2018 and I was thus very happy to finally be able to hear all the songs live. The band played through the whole album, with a very special guest: ANNEKE VAN GIERSBERGEN. The band had never played the song live before these shows, making "Among Stars" more magical than it already was. The amount of people, however, made t almost impossible for me to find a good spot to watch the show. It took me almost half of the show to find a decent spot, but still I couldn't help feeling overwhelmed by the massive audience, this was highlighted by the fact that it was nearly impossible to get off the festival grounds. Having the exit right next to the main stage, is not the best idea, especially in combination with the gigantic merch queues, and the cloakroom queues. My group decided to wait until 1 am, we believed it would be a little bit more calmer, but in fact, it took us still a long time until we were able to reach the metro. I left the festival with a sour taste in my mouth, how did a majestically organized festival like Tuska, not anticipate these things to happen? I had intended to go to the afterparties in Helsinki, however, due to the long waiting times, it was next to impossible to make it on time. A new day, however, was on the horizon, and I was determined to make the best out of it.
Written by Laureline TilkinPhotos by Laureline Tilkin, Janne Pappila & Alexändra Sleäze