Tuska 2012 Live Report

Tuska 2012 was held for the second time at the festival’s new home, the Suvilahti area. When Tuska moved last year from the old grounds in Kaisaniemi to Suvilahti, the festival lost the local police’s blessing for their bring-your-own-booze alcohol policy. That policy is still gone for good, but the Tuska organization had clearly listened to the feedback from last year to fix many of the other flaws at the new spot.

The Suvilahti area is mostly covered with asphalt which is not overly comfortable for three full festival days. One of the biggest issues last year was definitely the lack of places to sit down. This year a former service area with a grass field had been opened for public by extending one of the beer areas to go all the way behind the Inferno tent stage – a smart call that was greeted with delight by many who now had a place to catch their breath at in between the bands.

Additionally the festival’s main entrance had been moved to the other side of the area for better accessibility, and the terribly flimsy wristbands from had been swapped to more solid (although still not perfect) ones for 2012.

The festival also introduced new ticket categories in 2012, namely two day tickets, VIP tickets and cheaper tickets for groups of 6 (100 euros each, while 3 day tickets were normally 115 eur). Also, Tuska had its first ever, fairly handy mobile app that showed in real time which bands were on and what was coming up next.

Friday 29/6

The first band Profane Omen on Friday started already at 12:30. A fairly challenging time for those with 9 to 5 day jobs, but quite some fans had already showed up in front of the Hellsinki stage by the time they started their set. An energetic performance by the Lahti-based rockers, nothing more and nothing less than what you could expect from the band, known as one of the better live bands to come from Finland. After the show the singer Jules Näveri apologized for not having any merch with them in Tuska today, but promised that the band would try to make up for it by drawing some unique shirts for the fans at the merch stand.

Barren Earth - Tuska 2012Animals As Leaders had missed their in the US and had no choice but to cancel their show on Friday afternoon. Finnish Barren Earth was found on a very short notice to replace them and take their slot. Barren Earth, featuring members from Swallow the Sun, Kreator, Moonsorrow and more, is a traditional “super group” band in all meanings of the term- the band’s progressive death metal would probably not have made it, if the people behind the group were unknown. The band didn’t get a particularly warm response but they did what they could with their fill-in slot.

Ramin Kuntopolku is a fun, ski-mask wearing ‘urban grind’ duo, consisting of a drummer and a screamer that utilizes a megaphone. They played several surprise sets at random locations at the festival area throughout the weekend to the amusement of many. Once their set started, a large crowd would quickly gather around them to enjoy their 2 to 30 second songs, and often times there would be enough people to start a moshpit, too. The duo managed to keep those who were there to catch one of their sets well entertained during the changeovers between bands. With good humor they also gave out some valuable signed relics (like a McDonald’s cheeseburger) out to their audience.

Lock Up was the day’s other “super group” band. The grind band played in the Inferno tent, but as customary for such groups, the songs just seemed mediocre at best and even Tomas Lindberg (At The Gates) and Shane Embury (Napalm Death) couldn’t keep the tent relatively small audience in the tent psyched for the full 60 minutes of the set.

Trivium - Tuska 2012

Trivium’s Matt Heafy had prepared for the band’s show with a yoga session behind the stage, and the whole Orlando act did seem quite energetic when kicking off their set with “In Waves” at the main stage. The metalcore group gathered the day’s first big crowd, and demonstrated what type of modern metal sells these days; melodic choruses with some rougher passages played by pretty boys. The band’s bold debut album Ascendancy (2005) had its moments, and songs like “Rain” and “Gunshot to the Head of Trepidation” represented the brightest moments of the set. The picks from the later albums just felt too safe and watered down as opposed to the older stuff.

Megadeth was in an excellent shape as the last act of the day, starting their set half past 8. The stage was Dave Mustaine’s, who seemed to be on a particularly good mood and talky on this sunny evening. No Tornado of Souls in the set was a true downer but all the other Megadeth hit tracks were heard, and the show was much stronger than the band’s previous Tuska appearance in 2010.

Megadeth - Tuska 2012

Since Tuska is held at such a central location, the bands must stop playing already at 22:00 (and 21:00 on Sunday). This means that the festival site closes and the party at late hours is moved indoors, at many Helsinki venues offering both official and unofficial Tuska afterparty gigs. Moonsorrow played the nearly sold out Virgin Oil venue on Friday together with GAF and Ghoul Patrol on one of the official Tuska club gigs. The Tuska afterparty shows are often very successful, perhaps due to the fact that it’s the only weekend when the city is loaded with enthusiastic fans from all over Finland (and the world). Many seemed to share the opinion that Moonsorrow’s set at the intimate club was the best one of the day.

Saturday 30/6

Metsatöll is a really good Estonian folk band, that has unfortunately released a lot of subpar material, too. The band is at its best on its fast melodic tunes, as opposed to its more long-winded tracks. Their early morning show in Saturday (12:30 slot) could have definitely used some more accessible songs from their first few albums to wake people up. Metsatöll spiced their show up with some pyrotechnics, as did the Finnish rockers Amoral next on the other stage. Neither band was really able to connect with the crowd this early, and the response was particularly cold for Amoral who have gone through painful lineup and musical style changes that the old fans have not tolerated.

Tuska had one massive beer area in addition to the smaller ‘park bar’, and the queues never got unbearable. The price of 6 EUR for a beer was fairly normal for a festival, while cider was priced at 7 EUR. A deposit of 2 EUR per can was applied, which you could collect back at a separate counter. The deposit was the same also for the manly 1L beer cans, which were sold for 11 EUR each.

An unlimited supply of free coffee and cola was available throughout the whole festival, as two companies had set up their stands into the area to promote their brands. Big win for the festival goers, as well as probably for the corporations who certainly managed to raise their brand awareness here.

Battle Beast - Tuska 2012

Objectively, Battle Beast is probably one of the best bands to come from Finland today. There’s just something about bands whose music doesn’t even really do much for you, but whom can still blow you away live. Battle Beast, fronted by Nitte Valo, played the Inferno stage on Saturday. Their music is, well, “just” fairly basic melodic heavy metal, but the songs are very catchy and Nitte has one of the very strongest female voices on Earth. The whole band has grown to be a strong live act, having toured Europe with Nightwish recently. If the band succeeds with their second studio album, odds are we’ll see them on top of the billings very soon.

After Battle Beast’s set the sunny weather in Tuska turned into light rain. The places to seek cover from the rain were quite limited, and people flocked under small canopys at the beer area or bought rain jackets from the Alepa container which served also all sorts of snacks and groceries at fair prices.

Behemoth - Tuska 2012

The Polish beasts Behemoth were one of the most anticipated bands on Saturday. The band’s frontman Nergal has beaten leukemia, and looked perhaps even more dangerous than before with his hair now gone. Behemoth started with Ov Fire And The Void, and proceeded to do their usual routine boosted by some flame pyros. The band was in a good shape but offered only a no frills set for those that have already seen them since the release of Evangelion (2009). Based on this fiery show and the crowd response, Behemoth is very welcome to Finland again once they have some new material out.

In 2010 Sabaton was playing Tuska on one of the early day slots, but they have gained so much momentum that now two years later they were headlining the second day of the festival. By the time Sabaton entered the stage, the rain was getting pretty rough, and even the big flame pyros weren’t enough to keep people dry and many opted to pass on the show of the Swedes.

Sabaton - Tuska 2012

The band’s new album “Carolus Rex” has hit some stunning chart positions in Europe (Sweden #2, Germany #7), which goes to show that they must be doing something right. Sabaton announced a massive lineup change in April but the new group seems to have already molded together, with the band’s new drummer and guitarist sitting well in the group. Sabaton’s songs revolve around war themes, and the group’s hit songs like “Talvisota” and “White Death” worked well thanks to their close connection to Finnish war history. Still, it felt like that perhaps Behemoth would have been a better choice to have the last slot of the day, although neither of the bands were really the caliber of headliners you would expect in return for your 115 EUR ticket.

Sunday 7/1

Suicide Silence - Tuska 2012

Based on the very large amount of younger teens wearing Suicide Silence shirts, there is an awful lot of demand for C-grade deathcore in Finland. Suicide Silence was the first band on the Hellsinki stage on Sunday, which was good news for everyone who decided to sleep in.
The band’s song material is just plain weak, and the entire set just reeked of everything that makes deathcore overall a repulsive genre. I refuse to “fucking bounce” if the band hasn’t managed to compose even 1 halfway decent riff. Hopefully the irony in speeches like “The next song is about me” was just very well hidden..

Lamb Of God were forced call off their 90 minute show, as the band’s singer Randy Blythe was arrested in Czech Republic a few days prior to the show. He was apparently charged of causing a fan’s death in the country in 2010 during a Lamb Of God show, and at the time of writing this report he’s still reportedly being held by the police. The Tuska organization reacted fast, and booked Finntroll to fill in on a short notice. A few schedule changes took place due to this, and Overkill was moved from the tent to the main stage to take LOG’s slot.

Finntroll - Tuska 2012

Finntroll played a whole lot of songs from their two latest albums “Nifelvind” and “Ur Jordens Djup”. Some of the older songs, such as “Midnattens Widunder” and “Slaget vid Blodsälv” seemed like the more effective tools to work the crowd with. The show was alright, but still it feels like Finntroll kind of lost their best edge after the vocalist swap some years back. Vreth is simply not a particularly good frontman, and just doesn’t sit in the band like his predecessors. Plus, it’s always a bit of a downer to see the band without its main songwriter Trollhorn behind the keyboards.

Bob Malmström played at the festival’s fourth, small indoor stage that hosted short sets of some smaller bands. Jules Näveri (Profane Omen) and Vreth (Finntroll) both did guest appearances at the show of this hilarious hardcore band that’s taking a piss at the typical left wing core bands by wearing suits, drinking champagne and wiping sweat from their foreheads with 500 euro bills. A truly fun show, and it was fun to see that the joke was widely appreciated too, as some cashpits (Bob Malmström’s version of moshpits) emerged during the show.

Huoratron was an even more unorthodox booking for Tuska than Ramin Kuntopolku. There was little to no connection between metal and this awkward DJ style, one man electro set. A total miss for many, yet plenty of those who came to the Inferno stage to see the show seemed into it and even set up a wall of death with some tongue in cheek, I guess.

More than 50 bands played during these three days, and overall the band billing was not particularly strong. However it would not be wise for Tuska to try to compete with festivals like Sonisphere on bigger names, and they have found a working formula and middle ground in introducing many smaller, up-and-coming acts, and a few bigger names. Still, Tuska has never been only about the bands- it’s an exceptionally homey festival with a lot of history, some say the ultimate get together for anyone in Finland into metal. A feedback form posted on the Tuska website after the festival asked you to describe what Tuska means to you with one word. I bet I’m not the only one who answered with “tradition”.

LH / Photos: Amelie Lund and Selin