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Tuska Open Air Metal Festival 2013: Days Two and Three

Photo of Nightwish

Band Photo: Nightwish (?)

The weekend festivities of the second and third day of Tuska started a bit later for me, but still managed to start with a bang that resounded for the whole weekend! With a lineup a bit less intense then the first day, there was a lot of room to really observe performances and finally get that summer festival feeling. Both days featured very different genres, but as always with Tuska, there is truly something for everyone, even if that something is as simple as ice cold cider and a cool breeze on a hot day.

The first act highlighted on my agenda for this sunny Saturday was Swedish band Soilwork! Typically with these earlier time slots, especially with such late after parties going on, one does not expect to draw such a massive crowd in this part of the day. Soilwork broke all my expectations, with an enthusiastic show up, and a performance that chased away the sleepy/slightly hungover expressions of all but a few Tuska goers! The vocals are far more impressive live then on the album, and the band certainly exceeds all expectations for sound and stage presence!

The same can be said for the next act: Bloodred Hourglass put on a hell of a performance. It is extremely unfortunate that this band was only given 25 minutes to perform, especially when one considers the fact that their performance had the entire club stage moshing and shoulder to shoulder crowds fighting for a closer vantage point to the stage! They left quite an impression, and I absolutely can’t wait to shoot their performance at Q Stock festival at the end of this month!

Deliriums Order was next on the agenda for this tiny club stage. It was very rewarding to see two such high quality performances back to back, and what really sets Deliriums Order apart from other bands, is the very obvious love for performing that every member of this band seems to have. It is visibly clear, and more importantly audibly so, as some of the best guitar playing I’ve seen came from these guys this early afternoon! It’s not often I’m excited about tech death, but the execution of the playing and the emotion in it is what makes the genre more palatable for my typical folk and black metal loving ears.

With just a few minutes to spare, I ran over to the Radio Rock stage to catch the start of Stam1nas set! Stam1na is one of those classic Finnish must see performances, and when these guys took the stage in full tropical attire (including hula skirts, floaties, and leis) all eyes were on the main stage! This band never disappoints, and always puts on an energetic show, so even though progressive metal is not my thing, I gave in to the music and the hula skirts and let myself enjoy the summery feeling that Stam1na gave out.

Next up was German thrash metal heroes Kreator! Having never seen this band before, I had heard nothing but good things about the energy in their live show. Getting to see Kreator live without a doubt was of the most energetic performances of the whole festival. Not a still head in the area, and not an eye in the audience fixed anywhere but the stage, as their intensity thickened the atmosphere and left audience members grateful for a chance to cool down when the rain started.

The last band on my agenda for the day was Testament! Testament is one of those bands that despite having been on the scene for literally decades, can still wipe the floor with many other bands so far as enthusiasm is concerned. Vocalist Chuck Billy obviously loved the Finnish people as it seemed as though he just could not stop smiling the entire set! In a country filled with people who drink plenty, and seldom smile this was much appreciated by a very international audience, and adds a whole new aspect of good times and summer fun to the typical brutality of thrash metal.

With “No rest for the wicked” being my mantra this day, I dragged my aching feet and slightly numb shoulders (thank you gigantic camera and lenses) to the Circus for one of the many highly regarded after parties for the Tuska Season! Shade Empire took the stage first, and I found myself asking “why the hell wasn’t this band at the festival area itself?!”. Shade Empire definitely falls into the symphonic black metal category, and lived up to every expectation about a band I had in this category. With beautiful melodic interludes, and a vocalist that seemed more like he was trying to paint a verbal picture I lost myself in their music, the trials and stresses of the full day forgotten. What really comes to mind with this performance is that they seem to have held and maintained all of the good things about Dimmu Borgir and the like in their sound; presence; and atmosphere, without growing the ego and theatrical-ism that typically accompanies the symphonic black metal genre.

Ending the Jatkot (Finnish slang word meaning afterparty) was Tumiön Kätilöt! Everything about this band is meant to shock and stimulate the senses! There is one word that resounds in my head when I see one Large man all in black leather, and another all in white and that word i: wacky. These guys are definite entertainers, and with a strong lean towards industrial metal they had almost every audience member dancing in the crowd. The typical shock value that people have come to expect from this band, whether its freak shows on stage or lewd acts being performed, were not present this time; which leads one to wonder if the band is trying to head in a different direction with stage presence.

After approximately five minute of sleep it was back to Suvilahti for the final day of Tuska! With a very heavily female dominated lineup today, with few exceptions, it was not surprising that the order of the day seemed a bit softer then the days prior, those this could have also been related to the fact that most Finns (and those of us who have adopted their culture) tend to inhale alcohol during these festivals.

After having developed a pounding headache, it seemed only fair to catch a death metal set! Death chain was the starting band of the lineup today, and with a frontman that can only be described as ferocious this was definitely an act that had an eye-opening effect. I heard a lot of criticism about the members not being very mobile around the stage, and all I can say to that, is that it can’t be easy to play as technically as these guys do and still have the energy to do a little dance around the stage. Often in these genres, people who expect a visual show will be disappointed, but whereas people who actually appreciate music skill and talent will not ever walk away from a Deathchain set bored.

Taking the Radio Rock stage following Deathchain was Amaranthe! While not personally a huge fan of the music, the visual aspect to their show is always very strong and this continued for this performance as well! Elisze Ryd is comparable only to a pixie that seems to have insurmountable amounts of energy as she prances around the stage, never missing a breath and always being able to belt out difficult leads without missing a beat. The interaction among the band members is strong, and one can tell that despite the early hour these guys are having a blast on stage! One critique I have is that many of these songs sound strikingly similar, but for die-hard fans, this only makes the show more fun. It is really a wondrous thing when you can look behind you in the photo pit and see hundreds of lips moving and matching the singers on stage!

Next on my agenda is Finnish Rockers Barbe-Q-Barbies! I had no concept of what to expect from these ladies, until they took the Inferno stage and started belting out pure rock music. While it was obvious that quite a few people had come to check out this set, they didn’t seem overly impressed. My opinion as a whole is that this band has a lot to offer still and put on a great show, though they might have been better placed at a less metal dominated festival.

Following on the Radio Rock Stage was originally supposed to be Asking Alexandria, however due to some visa issues Finnish metal band Battle Beast took the main stage instead. Battle Beast gave a very enthusiastic and powerful performance, but the sole fact is, is that they weren’t the right choice to be playing the main stage at Tuska. Having just replaced their singer not too long ago, it seemed a big risk for the band to agree to a huge performance like this. Overall the set was well executed, and I look very much forward to seeing a performance with more time put into it!

Ending the day, and thus Tuska 2013 was arguably the most anticipated band of the three days for many people: Nightwish! I was very curious to see Floor Jansen perform, as word of mouth about her has been nothing but positive! Nightwish is like a different band with her on stage, and one is reminded just how easily one person can make or break a band. Having seen them once before and frankly being quite bored I was uncertain of what to expect this time. That being said, despite not being a huge fan of this genre, I have to say that Nightwish was singlehandedly the best performance of the whole festival. floor Jansen is amazing frontwoman and exudes warmth and happiness. Nightwish seems stronger than ever, and drew in a crowd larger than any I’d seen in three years at Tuska. With a varied setlist covering a variety of material from over the years, there is no doubt that everyone who came to the event solely to see Nightwish left happy. For those of us who came for all three days, it was a reminder that this is it til next summer. So thank you Finnish Metal Events for another great Tuska, and see you next year!

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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