29.6.2019 – Day 2 – Tuska Open Air @ Suvilahti, Helsinki


When I woke up on the morning of 29 June 2019, and opened my Facebook feed, I instantly noticed a message from the organization of Tuska. They had noticed the chaotic mess that was day 1, and worked all night to change things up. This included informing people about the whereabouts of the toilets, more space for the cloakroom, and the ability to pay by card, more personnel at the entrance, and yes… Indeed… The gigantic queue of the day before was gone, and I was able to enter the festival grounds on time. I wanted to specifically mention this because not all festivals are so dedicated ensuring that their visitors have the best experience possible, and the organization reacted pretty fast. This is why I love festivals like Tuska.

The second day of Tuska officially kicked up at the Helsinki stage with FEAR OF DOMINATION, last year the band released their critically acclaimed “Metanoia”, and it has been a wild ride for them since them. They even supported AMARANTHE and had a lot of fantastic gigs added to the calendar, including the show at Tuska. FEAR OF DOMINATION always delivers energetic sets. The band already spends a lot of time on how they present themselves on stage, but for the occasion, it felt like everyone had gone pretty extreme with their hairdo. The first half of their set was made up of older tracks like “Ill”, “Paperdoll”, and the outstanding cover of The Bloodhound Gang’s “The Bad Touch”, which also was a personal highlight for me at least. That song brings me instantly to party hard, and that is precisely what an opening band needs to do! They then played a few of their latest tracks from “Metanoia”, such as “Obsession”, “Sick and Beautiful” and “Face of Pain”.

Meanwhile at the Inferno stage, SATA KASKELOTTIA was playing. With their heavy alternative rock, SATA KASKELOTTIA definitely pleased all the sludge and stoner lover present at Tuska. The bands published their sophomore album “Sydän on vuori”, which was positively received all around Finland. With a slot of half an hour, it was very difficult to get to know the band a little bit better, but I definitely would like to check these guys out better in the future.

On the main stage, LOST SOCIETY was preparing for their show. The young thrash metal act recently released a new track called “No Absolution”. For those thinking that the band is heading towards a less thrashy-direction, no worries. There was still plenty of speed, and thrash riffage thrown around on stage. The immense energy LOST SOCIETY has, is always a lot of fun to look at. I was kind of worried for the band that there would be a bit less of a turnout that would normally go see their show, however, Tuska knows what good music is like, and there was still plenty of an audience to mosh and headbang to their aggressive tracks. The band played a total of 11 tracks with classics such as “KILL T(hose Who Oppose Me)”, “I Am The Antidote”, and also included their latest single “No Absolution”. All-in-all again an outstanding performance, and definitely a good way to start off the day.

I wanted to check out WAKE UP FRANKIE‘s performance, the other band that won the Tuska Torstai competition. I was present at the competition that day, and thought their victory was a well-deserved one. Therefore, I definitely wanted to check out how the guys did on the festival. Make no mistake, this show was perhaps even better than the one at Bar Loose. A mummy with a bottle came on stage during the intro, sitting down on the drum riser and drinking- I’m assuming this was the infamous Frankie? After this, the band kicked off their show. Plenty of people came out to witness the band’s legendary first performance at Tuska, and it definitely was a great success. The band delivered a solid performance, with a lot of energy, and definitely showed up why they won the Tuska Torstai competition. I’m sure we’ll hear a lot more from these guys!

While MAJ KARMA was preparing to start a show, I was planning to sit down, relax and have a meal now that there were no queues or anything. I decided to go for a cheeseburger with fries, at one of the stalls that the festival – I assume – offered. Unfortunately the burger didn’t have any sauce, which made it kind of dry, but the fries definitely were crispy enough to make me happy and full. With renewed energy I continued my way to MUSTAN KUUN LAPSET. I had heard a lot about this band, I’ve seen their name pop up so many times, but never had the opportunity to go see a show of them. The dark metal band played some very atmospheric, melancholic songs, that were definitely an amazing surprise.

Meanwhile, STAM1NA was about to start to play on the main stage. By now it’s unthinkable that a band like STAM1NA aren’t participating with the summer festival season. They may play at almost every metal festival in Finland, it’s still a lot of fun to see the band play their explosive sets. The band recently released a new album “Taival”, and a lot of the tracks indeed also came from this one. As I turned around a fan on the front row, hailing from Latin America, was waiving a flag of his country proudly as he sung all the STAM1NA songs perfectly in Finnish. Music knows of no borders.

After such a great performance, I dragged myself to the Inferno stage, where WARKINGS were supposed to play us a set. Behind mysterious masks, wearing helmets, this power metal act consists out of a Roman tribune, a savage Nordic warrior, a determined crusader and a lethal Spartan whose religion is Heavy Metal. This is the first time that they are performing at Tuska Festival, and they’re in for a wild ride. I only had the chance to see three of their songs, before I continued my journey, but I was utterly entertained by their power metal and stage presence.

In the Helsinki stage, KVELERTAK was scheduled. The band is renown for their outstanding and energetic live performances, today Ivar Nikolaisen has settled into his role as the frontman of the band, and once again showed us his savage stage performance, which blends in perfectly with the rest of the band. True, it’s not the easiest music to process, so much is going on, but the band makes it really easy to enjoy their performance. With all the members jumping around intensely to the beat, and Ivar Nikolaisen trying to entertain the crowd to the maximum, this probably was one of the best performances of the festival day. The band opens up their set with “Braune Brenn”, and add “1985” to the mix, only to close off with “Kvelertak”. I don’t think I have seen the tent this full at this point, and many people were just grooving to the music, or in trance by what was happening on the stage.

The unfortunate thing about festivals is that sometimes you have dilemmas to answer to. SICK OF IT ALL and VISIONS OF ATLANTIS were both planned at the same time. The founding fathers of the New York hardcore movement, unfortunately, had to wait to impress me with their energetic performance, because as I had scheduled in an interview with VISIONS OF ATLANTIS, it was only natural for me to choose that band over the hardcore act.

VISIONS OF ATLANTIS doesn’t really play so much in Finland. They were kind of popular in Belgium in the early 2000s, I even saw them a couple of times with a different lineup. Now, most of the band members have changed, making the drummer the only original member of the band. The band recently released a new album “The Deep And The Dark”, and are set to release another one in August. This way, they could focus on the new material, rather than playing older songs, but they did include “New Dawn”, “Memento” and “Passing Dead”. All-in-all a fun performance to witness.

After an exciting time, it was time for DELAIN to play their show at the Helsinki stage. The band now have one member less, since guitarist Metal played her final show at Graspop last week. It was not a big surprise for me that DELAIN would deliver a solid set, with Charlotte Wessels being her true self by engaging the crowd. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a show where Charlotte was not smiling, and having fun at all times, her immense enthusiasm is really infectious and fun to see. Great tracks passed our way like “Suckerpunch”, “Masters Of Destiny”, and “We Are The Others”. I had secretly hoped on a duet with MARKO HIETALA with “The Gathering”, but that, unfortunately, didn’t happen, nonetheless it was a stellar performance with a great pick of songs.

DE LIRIUM’S ORDER was scheduled at the same time on the Inferno stage. The technical death metal band really surprised us with their latest album “Singularity”, which mixed the rigid technical death metal genre with progressive elements such as clean vocals, and tango. Given that this is the only show the band had scheduled after their release, it was a must to check out their performance. While the intro track started playing, the band marched on stage starting off their performance with “Ayatollah”, followed by an old classic named “The Art of Butchering”. As I looked behind me I noticed the venue packed up pretty nicely, even though OPETH was set to play at the same time as the band. We had to wait until the middle of the set to finally hear some of the songs of their latest album, starting off with “Piazzolla”. The band had taken the guest members along with them to enforce them during these songs, so they welcomed singers Marko Salonen and Mikael Salo on stage, who showed us their worth in “Piazzolla”. The band continued with “Singularity”, “Surfaced”, along with Mikael Salo, before they dove into a welcomed classic “Autistic Savant”, which was warmly received by the audience. Concluding the show with “The End Of Time”, was a great end to an outstanding set. Technical difficulties aside, the band delivered a solid set.

The Swedish progressive metal act OPETH has been a constant favorite among heavy metal audience. The award-winning band has combined progressive metal, 70s sounds, jazz and downright beautiful melodies with heavy riffs. As I’m a huge progressive metal fan, I was happy to be able to see the band live again, since it has been a while for me. The band starts off with the strong “Sorceress”, frontman Mikael Åkerfeldt marches on stage with a smile and continues lifting the song to the next level. With a set of only 1 hour and 10 minutes, the songs fly by, especially because the guitar solos fill Tuska, and make up for a good hour of wonderful progressive music. Except for the opener, my personal highlight was “The Drapery Falls”, which is one of my all-time favorite tracks.

LOUDNESS is a rare band to catch live here. The heavy metal band from Japan are definitely one of those classic bands that one has to have seen at least once in their lifetime. I was thus very happy to be able to see the band and marched my way to the Inferno stage. If I thought that during the previous day, ALIEN WEAPONRY‘s set didn’t quite belong at the smaller stage, I can also agree that this was the case with LOUDNESS. If it weren’t for the separate entrance for the press, I don’t think I would have made it to the show. People were queuing to get inside, and a lot of people were hoping to catch the show at least a little bit from the entrance of the building. I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of people from the audience who actually wanted to see LOUDNESS totally missed out on the act. The band opened up their set with the classic song “Crazy Nights”, and it was clear that they were still in tremendously good shape. Everything sounded on point during their set, from vocals to guitars. The band played about 11 songs, and time flew by really fast as they were showing off their skill set.

Another one of the bands that I really wanted to see during the festival was HEILUNG. HEILUNG is perhaps not really a metal band, but at the same time, it’s one of the most metal acts that exist. It was, therefore, a surprise that they were scheduled to play at Tuska, but one that I was delighted with. Inspired by old Germanic folklore, the band dressed as shamans, priestesses and so on, played their experimental folk music for us. The sound that comes from it is an ethereal one, that is cloaked in a lot of mystery, and at times is just plainly beautiful. What is happening on stage is intriguing, and even putting me in a trance. As I gladly somewhat dance to the music, I notice that a lot of the people don’t necessarily know how to act on this music, the audience stays a bit reserved throughout the whole show, but it’s clear that they are mesmerized by what’s happening at the stage.

SLAYER was set to play their final show in Finland as a headliner on Saturday. The result you may ask? A sold-out Saturday because the Finnish audience wants to bid farewell to the thrash metal heroes. The band starts off with an energetic “Repentless”, and it’s immediately followed up with “Evil Has No Boundaries”. The band dug deep into their back catalogue, filled with thrash metal classics and played an outstanding selection of their songs for us, with the crown jewels being “Raining Blood”, and “Angel Of Death”. I enjoyed most of the show next to the Suvilahti TBA bar, since the rest of the festival site was packed with people, it was hard to move around, considering how many people came to see SLAYER play their final show. And thus, Saturday concluded in major, as we were able to enjoy an outstanding show of SLAYER.