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Tuska Open Air Metal Festival 2013: Day One

Photo of King Diamond

Band Photo: King Diamond (?)

Tuska Open Air Metal Festival promised to be an event to remember this year, with huge acts such as King Diamond, Wintersun and Nightwish taking command of the main stage! With finally perfect summer weather and a lineup that challenged many other summer festivals, Friday came with much awaited anticipation!

Many of the bands this year were scheduled at the same time, perhaps the cause of this was that in the past there have always been four stages, but this year there were only three. Only two of these stages allowed media to shoot footage and photos, which led to a massive and unfortunate stress factor to an otherwise phenomenal festival experience. In addition, overcrowded photo pits with unqualified photographers led to an unfortunate decline in coverage from other medias this year. Die hard Tuska fans and Medias still showed up in hordes, and showed why Tuska is still the metal festival to be at in Helsinki!

First up on the main stage (Radio Rock stage) was UK band Tesseract and at the same time, Leprous on the third stage!

Tesseract gathered a fair crowd, but it could be that the audience needed a little more energy on this occasion. Tesseract offered a flawless performance but in the end Leprous offered much more energy and drew in a bigger crowd to the indoor stage (club stage). They definitely made an effort to put on a show, the dressy suits and well synced head banging offered fantastic aesthetic to their already dynamic and progressive performance.

Abhorrence was up next on the Inferno stage (second stage), and upped the ante on this early day! Audience members were quick to respond to the classic death metal style with a circle pit that threatened to consume and destroy, as all circle pits are wont to do!

Taking the Radio Rock stage was Finlands own and well loved metallers: Wintersun! Walking around the festival area on this opening day, one saw a sea of Wintersun merchandise, so it was no surprise that when they finally took the stage the audience was fuller than any other band this day. Their stage presence is captivating, and even if one is not in the audience this is an act that’s impossible to just walk by. Soaring vocals, flawless guitars and perfect drumming make this band a must see act, and one that you will find that the music floats in your head the rest of the day.

After catching the remainder of Wintersun’s set, I ran over to the inferno stage to catch the start of Ihsahn! As much as I loved Emperor, Ihsahn in his solo project offers so much more of the singer then Emperor ever could have. With this thought I had high hopes for the performance, and ended up being slightly disappointed by the lack of energy in the performance. Every song in the set was well put together, and undeniably played skillfully but there was a distinct feeling of lethargy in the execution. Torture Killer was playing at the same time as Ihsahn, so I decided to head over for one song to see why this was such a talked about band. Their stage presence can be summed up in a sole work: Ferocious! They truly pull the crowd in, in every sense of the phrase. Even some die hard moshers decided to partake in brutality even in the hot and dark Club Stage area!

Starting promptly just as Ihsan was ending were an act I’d been hearing about all day! Bolt Thrower apparently has a reputation for putting on a hell of show, and this was made increasingly obvious by the antics of the band members on stage. Seemingly these guys never run out of energy, their stage presence was a solid fit to their very tight and rhythmic brand of death metal!

I missed quite a lot of their set as I hurriedly hightailed it over to the club stage, to catch Kuolemanlaakso's set. Kuolemanlaakso is a rather new act in Finland, having been formed in Kuopio, Finland, only in 2010! Formed by Markus Laakso (Chaosweaver) and featuring Mikko Kotamäki on vocals (Swallow the Sun) this band is posed to go far and fast. The club stage is typically dark and inhospitable in the summer heat, but for a band aptly named after Death Valley, this only works to promote the dark and heavy atmosphere. They pulled in quite a crowd for a newer band, and every face showed utter captivation with the music being made on stage.

Last on my agenda for the day was the much awaited performance of King Diamond! It seemed as if all of Tuska came out to see this set, and with obvious reason to. The whole stage had been rebuilt to look like a wrought iron gate. King Diamonds flare for the dramatic was showcased especially as he chased/harassed a living grandma character around the stage! His falsetto was as strong as ever, though this time around he did have the support of a female background singer. After being introduced to this band back when I first saw clerks, I have to say the real deal is so much more captivating and interesting. Kind Diamond wrapped up Tuska’s first day on a very dramatic note, and this theatrical performance will be tough to follow up for the coming acts.

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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