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Tuska Open Air Metal Festival 2012: Day One in Helsinki, Finland

Photo of Megadeth

Band Photo: Megadeth (?)

We were greeted with the first hints of summer upon arriving at Suvilahti for day one of Tuska Open air metal festival. Ahead was three full days of metal, with a lineup that would please even the trickiest of metal fans. With program guide in hand, with the most interesting acts already chosen; Day one began.

Starting the festival was Finnish thrash metallers Profane Omen. They were a perfect choice to start the weekend, and although the start time was quite early for many, Profane Omen infused the crown that arrived with enough energy to shake off even the most persistent drowsiness. Jules didn’t allow for lethargic audience members with his typical stage antics of headbanging and giving each and every song his all. They played a healthy mix of old songs and new and thus began Tuska 2012.

One thing that was quite difficult was managing take in all the festival had to offer. Having a nasty case of strep all weekend, I was lucky to be able to keep up the pit hopping and running from stage to stage to see as many acts as possible. Starting a mere 15 minutes after Profane Omen was Alcest.

At first the notes just floated over the festival grounds but slowly they led us in until we were listening with open ears at the strangely beautiful music coming from the dimly lit stage. An air of mystery was present with this act and the music quickly leapt from the background to the foreground. After taking the time to enjoy what Alcest had to offer, it was back to the photo pit to photograph some more thrash: Exodus took the main stage, and with a vengeance that had the first moshpits of the weekend appearing! It was evident that these guys were old pros, and with loud and heavy music that contrasted heavily from the act we had just seen. The crowd went nuts during the first few songs, as eager fans thrashed about I felt their hair smacking me as I tried to take in the atmosphere.

Immediately following this set was the first lineup change. Animals as Leaders was forced to cancel their show in Finland, and while this was unfortunate, I was more than happy to catch Barren Earth. It was immeasurably exciting to see a band that clearly has so much passion and potential take the stage, and it was rewarding to be able to photograph them at Finland’s largest metal festival. Mikko Kotamäki gave a flawless performance despite the fact that these guys had also played a gig the night before. His voice stands out and makes one remember that he has a really lovely clean voice as well as the harsher growls showcased in Swallow the Sun. Sami Yli-Sirniö shredded like a pro as always and with the same smile that makes you think his fingers have a mind of their own and the skill is purely second nature.

Next up on the Radio Rock main stage was German power metal band Edguy! After seeing these guys at Finnish Metal Expo, I knew that they would give an amazingly energetic and fun performance once again. The crowd received them well, and especially enjoyed the antics of the somewhat silly but always enthusiastic musicians. Everything about this band seems to be about good times, and Edguy suits the summer mood of the day.

We broke for dinner at this point and I was pleasantly surprised with the backstage for the press. It’s nice to have a bit of privacy while emptying memory cards, taking notes and preparing for more sets while still feeling the festival vibe of good times with good friends and meeting all the international media members.

First on the list after our festival fare of makkara perunat (a Finnish classic I encourage you all to try.) was Trivium! It’s always interesting to see how the international acts do on Finnish ground and Trivium was no exception! Singer Matt Heafy is totally at home on stage, chatting with the crowd and even teasing the guitarist about his sparkly pink cowboy hat later in the set, calling him a stripper. The set was heavy, energetic and flawlessly tight. One of the best scenarios of acoustics are these outdoor festivals where the sound can carry far and clear, and Trivium’s melodic sound was showcased because of this aspect. But after a few songs, I was running to the smaller stage to catch Arcturus!

Even with a slightly uncomfortable situation of an overcrowded area, it was still amazing to get to see Arcturus live again. This is a band I dreamed of seeing while living in Detroit, and I feel pretty damn lucky to have gotten to see them twice in three months. Simen Hestnaes is an amazing singer, and a fantastic frontman who really embodies the otherworldy quality of the music. He clearly appreciated the crowds enthusiasm and is one of the few frontmen I’ve seen who really interacts with his fans while onstage. They played a good mix of songs from across their wide discography and the packed indoor stage was not left disappointed for not being able to see; as always Arcturus put on an unforgettable performance.

I stayed the whole gig for Arcturus and unfortunately only caught the last fifteen minutes of Hatebreed’s set, but it was easy to see that they provided one of the most energetic performances of the day!

Last for day one was metal legends Megadeth! It’s moments like these when I wish I had been gifted with just a few inches more of height, because while shooting at the foot of the tall stage, I could not really see much of what was going on. Luckily my ears made up for this lapse. Megadeth played a fantastic set, and showed Helsinki exactly why they have earned their place in Metal history. The technically challenging guitar leads went off without a hitch, and Dave Mustaine gives the performance his all. Thus ended Tuska day one! While there were numerous afterparties provided, including a Moonsorrow gig; I did not partake, as I wanted to be in good shape for what day two had to offer!

WandererOfKalevala's avatar

Rachel Roth has studied classical music and folk music at the University level, and enjoys studying Folklore in her spare time. She is an avid metal and folk music fan lucky enough to be living in Helsinki, Finland. Currently, she has expanded her love of music to include photography and freelance writing. You can see more of her photography here or at liliumphotography.com.

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