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 DEFTONES headlining the final day.
We were pretty damned tired when we hit July 3rd and the final day of Tuska Festival 2022, but that didn’t stop us from showing up for SONATA ARCTICA and/or GLORYHAMMER. As the choice between artists was tough, we decided to start with SONATA ARCTICA and stay there for as long as they played good material. Well, joke’s on us because we fully missed GLORYHAMMER‘s set! After seeing disappointing show after disappointing show by SONATA ARCTICA in recent years, it seems that silver hair has somehow rejuvenated the band. Just… damn! We knew from previous sets that they’d be playing “Last Amazing Greys,” but apart from the horrendous faux pas of playing their sluggish and empowering-yet-musically-depressing “I Have a Right” just after (totally killing the good energy), the setlist was hit after hit and they sounded fantastic! Of every band on stage, SONATA ARCTICA was perhaps the only one to play zero new songs, ignoring the poorly-rated “Talviyö” (2019) and rather sticking to a festival best-of, which included classics like “Kingdom for a Heart,” “Fullmoon,” and “The Cage.” You know it’s a good time if I’m personally not making fun of everyone in the crowd during “Tallulah”; in fact, I was right there with them, fist up and singing along (but not crying, I can’t go that far). They finished with one of their best songs, “Don’t Say a Word,” so we had no qualms with missing out on last year’s biggest controversy, though word around the festival was that their set was good.
DEVIN TOWNSEND is a pretty regular performer at Tuska Festival thankfully, so we were obviously more than thrilled to see what he’s performing post-pandemic. Watching good old Devy is always a bacchanalia of nonsense, as he took the stage saying that he’s glad the stage is out of the direct sun; “To those of you in the back, hah! To those of you in the front, yay!” he stated, before saying that this was the last gig of the tour and he was planning to jerk off rivers of jizz all over Tuska. He started the show with “Failure” and “Kingdom,” surprisingly playing no solo material except for “By Your Command,” as everyone from Tuska loves them some Ziltoid. A STRAPPING YOUNG LAD song was the reason Devin asked everyone to go lose 40-60 IQ points bumping into each other, which was surely the bare minimum if we’re getting some SYL. “Regulator” was the OCEAN MACHINE representative this time, though he announced it as “Daddy Touched My Bunghole,” with Devin later mentioning that he just wants to drink tea and watch Korean cooking shows, but instead he became a heavy metal artist and has to tour. “Deadhead” and “Deep Peace” were also surprising but welcome choices – there was almost no DEVIN TOWNSEND PROJECT material in the set at all, and there was nothing from his quarantine albums either in the set, which was unusual but not a bad thing, as he played a lot of good stuff. We were asked to pick between a song about his existential crisis or one about his balls… there was no real choice, because “Balls it is!” in the man’s own words. “March of the Poozers” was sounding fantastic – perhaps the best we’ve ever heard it sound in Finland – and the set closed out with another big surprise and a song he figured he’s never played in Finland before: STRAPPING YOUNG LAD‘s “Love.” Despite not hearing anything new, this was one hell of an entertaining set, and that shocks us not in the least.
There was another interesting choice to make next, between the largely unknown-to-us HIGH ON FIRE and the traditional Finnish STRATOVARIUS – another regular Tuska band. We opted for STRATOVARIUS, as HIGH ON FIRE was less stonery than we had hoped, sounding more like a classic heavy metal band. STRATOVARIUS, however, seemed like they didn’t want SONATA ARCTICA to show them up, as they worked hard to put on a pretty strong set for us. The set was mostly made up of their hits, like “Eagleheart,” “Paradise,” “Black Diamond,” “Unbreakable,” and “Hunting High and Low” (the last being their de facto closer), but we were fortunate enough to hear their brand new single, “Survive,” was also in the set and sounding right at home with the rest of their best tracks.
HUMAVOID played on the Tuskakvlt stage, overlapping about half of their set with KREATOR on the main stage, which in turn overlapped with ATLAS after HUMAVOID had cleared out. However, since HUMAVOID is one of Finland’s tightest progressive metal bands, we quickly went to check out part of their show. Thankfully, we arrived rather early at Tiivistamö, which meant that we found ourselves a place right in front of the stage. Others weren’t so lucky, as the Kvlt stage was soon packed again and a large queue had formed in front of the venue. HUMAVOID played a lot of songs from their stellar debut effort, “Lidless.” Unfortunately, due to being at the front of the stage, Suvimarja Halmetoja‘s keytar melodies weren’t audible to me, but nevertheless apart from that, the band played a very energetic and tight set. We couldn’t stay for the entire show due to the many overlaps in the schedule, but we were at least glad to have caught a glimpse of them. (LT)
German-Finnish thrash metal giants KREATOR were up next on the main stage and it seemed like the band had made up for the earlier mistake of not bringing shirts to Metal Capital Festival, as many people were decked out in KREATOR merch this time around. “The Patriarch” intro opened the stage for “Violent Revolution” and “Hate Über Alles,” which surely warmed up the audience. This new material from the new 2022 album that shares the latter song’s name – surprise – was not heavily included in their set, with “Strongest of the Strong” being the only other representative in their show. Popular songs like “666 – World Divided” were still included amongst the pyro blasts, and the show finished up with “Phantom Antichrist,” the aforementioned “Strongest of the Strong,” “Flag of Hate,” and “Pleasure to Kill” working as the encore.
Another one of the weekend’s most legendarily bad timings was the placement of two of the most hyped up bands of the weekend played at 19:15 on Sunday: LÄHIÖBOTOX and JINJER. Having impressed us so deeply at Nummirock the weekend before, we had to go see at least part of their show, but it proved very hard to want to leave once we got there. “Kasvoton kansa,” “Mä tuun ja mä lahen,” and “Myrkky” all sounded really great out there and the energy was on fire. The charisma was as instantaneous as the moshpits to their songs. The Inferno stage was perfect for these guys, allowing for enough intimacy yet a shitload of people were still able to come to their set. However, we couldn’t stay the whole time, because…
One band that’s becoming a live favorite for everyone is JINJER, who were able to come from the war-ridden Ukraine to share their djent-infused heavy metal with us. The band had gone on hiatus in March in order to help with relief efforts, but received permission from the country in June to tour as national ambassadors, so everyone made sure to buy up as many of their shirts as possible. And did they deliver? Hell yes! Everyone had big smiles and even bigger power on stage and it was heartwarming to see how many people were there. The lights were often colored in yellow and blue (the colors of the Ukrainian flag), with some of the early songs that we missed including “Call Me a Symbol,” “On the Top,” “Pit of Consciousness,” and “I Speak Astronomy.” 2021’s “Wallflowers“ was well represented with other songs like “Disclosure” and “Vortex” also included in the set and “Colossus” finishing out their set. It’s hard to have anything to say against these guys on a bad day and this was surely not a bad day, as the whole show felt incredible and every single hand was in the air for pretty much the entire set. A worth band in a worthy slot, and the personal headliner for me for the final day!
The final show of the weekend was – unfortunately for us – not a band that we have any sort of familiarity with: DEFTONES. This made for a fantastic opportunity to try something new, as I, for one, had been under the impression that they were akin to DROPKICK MURPHYS, though their sound seems to be considered closer to nu-metal, shoegaze, and alternative despite their Irish heritage. Their show included mostly hits, like “Genesis,” “Be Quiet and Drive (Far Away),” “My Own Summer (Shove It),” and “Sextape,” with a strong emphasis on their earlier nu-metal material, which worked well for the Tuska crowd. Notably, the band was missing guitarist and founding member Stephen Carpenter, replaced by touring guitarist Lance Jackman, as Carpenter opted to stay home due to everything going on around the world. Also of note, longtime live bassist Sergio Vega left the band in 2021, replaced by Fred Sablan for this tour. Both touring musicians did able jobs of the material, and while vocalist Chino Moreno is notoriously uneven as a live singer, he performed quite well this night, only missing a few high notes here and there. They finished up the show with “Ohms,” “Lotion,” and “7 Words,” proving that they still have the energy to hang with the Tuska Festival crowd. (BW/HF)
Thus, Tuska 2022 came to a close! It was a hefty 3 days with one of the biggest crowds we’ve ever seen, but the organizers were up to the challenge and pulled it off spectacularly! Hopefully we’ll be seeing you again next year! Stay tuned for our Festival Afterthoughts tomorrow!
Written by Bear W., Harri F., & Laureline T.
Photos by Laureline Tilkin