Festival Report: Tuska Open Air 2012 – Friday

The fifteenth Tuska Festival was held for the second time at the Suvilahti-area, only a short distance away from the very center of Finland’s capital, Helsinki. The ever-changing and unpredictable weather saw almost fifty or so bands (including Ministry, Megadeth, Behemoth, Anaal Nathrakh, Sabaton, Trivium and Horna to name a few) play for around 28,000 metalheads during the final days of June (and first day of July) 2012. Teeth of the Divine’s task force was sent to investigate and muster up a report of epic proportions. This is Friday.

by Mikko K.& Matti Manner

I’M OLD! I’M OLD! For some reason, those words were echoing in my head as I was spacing out at this year’s Tuska Open Air Metal Festival, held near Finland’s capital, Helsinki. “Next time, I’ll bring a point and shoot,” I thought — the camera bag was heavy, inflicting more pain and anguish on my already fragile body.

The crowd was primarily younger than me, hungrier and far more eager to dive into the various circle pits that formed in front of the bands — some of which had probably never seen a pit up close before. Tuska’s weekend was filled with pits. Didn’t matter who was playing — there was always a pit. Some were larger, some were smaller, but fuck me if there weren’t at least a couple of metal cubs circling around in each one in a mating ritual of sweat, youthful vigor and a carefree view of life. The etiquette hadn’t changed, either. If someone went down, they were picked up and then back to circle, circle, circle, jump, circle and mosh some more. I hated them like an old man hates anything and everything he can’t be a part of. Those bastards better stay away from my front lawn. Too bad I wasn’t sitting on my front lawn, sipping down shitty beer and hating my grandkids for being a bunch of modern-day pussies. No.

The stream of black T-shirts, camouflage, spikes and long hairs had led me from Helsinki’s railway station to Suvilahti, an old industrial district of concrete and rusting metal. This was the second time Tuska was held here after the festival was moved away from the epicenter of the city (Kaisaniemi Park) to new surroundings. The move brought other changes as well: no own BYOB allowed, and good luck finding anything green or living. These were two ‘small’ changes that had a profound effect on the audience’s demography and the general feeling of the festival.

So, what hadn’t changed? Well, the bands hadn’t become any younger. Some would argue that this year’s line-up wasn’t that interesting, but I have to disagree. Perhaps the problem was the variety: there was something for everyone, which in turn could lend you to believe that there was nothing of interest — particularly if you only dug a single band. But the truth is, there was plenty to see and at times, the variety was extremely refreshing, even if many of the bands didn’t fuck their way onto our favorites-lists.

Anyway, we’ve decided to split this year’s Tuska report into three separate pieces for easier consumption. So here’s the first day.

– MK




Mikko: It’s really easy to get to the festival grounds, no matter how bad you are at navigation. All you need to do is to follow the constant stream of black band T-shirts. It’s like having a real world, 3D GPS laying out the path for you. Due to construction work, this year it was better to get off the metro at Sörnäinen—an interesting Helsinki district full of delinquent and boozed up old-timers—and then take a short stroll from there to the gates of Tuska.

As I was waiting for my pass, Swallow the Sun’s Mikko Kotamäki was there waiting up front. He’d just taken an emergency phone call and learned that Animals as Leaders had cancelled and his other band, Barren Earth, was to be the replacement. To make things slightly more interesting, his main band Swallow the Sun was to perform the same day in Estonia, a short helicopter ride away (supposedly you can see Estonia’s capital Tallinn in the horizon from Helsinki — if the weather/light conditions are willing).

The weather wasn’t too bad, but it was unpredictable. No thanks to our local meteorologists and their endless insight. So, to maintain a certain comfort level meant that I had to carry a bit of extra weight, which, added to the camera gear I was lugging around, really made me feel older than I should have. I had also sprained my back a few days ear;oer, so the odds were definitely not in my favor.

Just as it was last year, Tuska was built around four different stages. Two main open air stages (titled “Radio Rock” and “Hellsinki”), one in a smaller tent (“Inferno”) and the fourth inside a building (“Musamaailma”). This last one created an intimate setting for the smaller acts.

I was early, but not early enough to catch Profane Omen start the festival on the second stage. They’ve always been a high-power, reliable live band, so I was slightly disappointed to have missed them. Instead, after getting my bearings, I went straight to the third stage (aka the tent) to catch Alcest for the very first time. The clock was pointing at 12:45 hours, and the area was still quite empty since most people were on their way to the show or still stuck at work.

Sunshine hates Alcest

The French group performed well, although the sun shone into the tent and the stage lights didn’t seem as focused as they should have been, making it feel as if Alcest was performing at a school dining hall. Not necessarily the best setting for the band, and I think it hindered the experience quite a bit.

Disconnected, I set my sights towards the main stage, where Exodus were to pop the main stage’s cherry with their Bay Area thrash. While most of the metalheads were still on their way to the festival, it truly was Exodus who kickstarted Tuska Open Air and pummeled the growing metal population into the right mood.

Rob Dukes’ fingernails are clean

When the band returned to the scene after a long hiatus with Tempo of the Damned almost 10 years ago (fuck! Time runs fast!), I was excited because Steve Souza delivered a piercing performance on that album. I was sad to see the man go after that, but Rob Dukes seems like a good fit for the band, even if I think his vocals can be somewhat lacking. On the other hand, the guy definitely brings authority to the stage. Especially his trademarked finisher, the wall of death, during the closer “Strike of the Beast”. That Exodus gem gave a good chunk of people the proper thrash-tastic adrenaline shot — a dose which lasted for the rest of the day. On a side note, Rick Hunolt (no stranger to Exodus) was standing in for Gary Holt on stage. Hunolt was really into the performance, constantly smirking, smiling, laughing and riffing his ass off. Definitely a proper temporary replacement.

Suidakra moshing it up

Germany’s Suidakra combines melodic death metal with some folkish elements. The band had just wrapped a set of gigs in India, but despite looking slightly exhausted, they threw a decent party for the ever-increasing audience. I had restless legs and an uneasy mind, though, so I shot out of the tent to muster up a battle plan for the rest of the day whilst watching Barren Earth bathe in the sun (which wasn’t supposed to shine) and rock out on the second stage.

Animals as Leaders…Barren Earth

Matti: I landed on the beach in the second wave. I had to miss a big (and dare I say, better) part of the opening day because of shitty real-life stuff, i.e. work. I couldn’t catch Alcest, who caught my interest the first time I saw them added to the festival lineup. Someone had poorly slotted them as a third stage opening act. What about those of us who go to work on fucking weekdays, Mr. Asshole producer?! Huh?! Guess that’s what I get for becoming a reliable, grown-up citizen with, you know, a job.

So, arriving around five-ish, I already felt hungry as hell and extremely sleep-deprived not having slept right the whole week — in other words, I was nowhere near tip-top shape for the fun-fun-festivities that are the Tuska Open Air Festival. Others may have been able to navigate their way to the show just fine, but this dummy just could not hack the sweaty and longhaired, bulletproof GPS-system available. I was that dead before even arriving to the premises.

First, I got confused because of the change in metro stations, and got off on a newly-appointed exit. Then I followed some misguided, semi-drunk youngsters wearing Mana Mana T-shirts. While they did look intoxicated, they also emitted an aura of false confidence that got us all lost. After asking some help from a native city dweller, I finally got my ass on the right track and those that once had led now became the followers.

As I got closer to the festival site, I heard what sounded like the voice of Tobias Sammet singing and Edguy playing on the still-distant Radio Rock stage. Even though I can’t say I am the biggest fan of the band—or of the power metal scene in general—I must admit that the last gig I saw from them (also at Tuska) surprised me. In a good way. Reminiscing takes me back several years. Oh, those were the times. I was young and handsome, full of optimism and the world was my oyster… eh, not really. Okay, I was born a natural pessimist and later evolved into a misanthropic semi-nihilist. That really dulls the edge of any nostalgia. Anyway, I was somewhat hesitant to jump in when Edguy were halfway through their set, so I headed down to the Inferno tent, where Lock Up was about to get things rolling. They were probably a more fitting opener for one who has now become a regular slave to the grind — yet another casualty of the working class.

Tobias Sammet and Avantasia – Yay. Tobias Sammet and Edguy – Another time, perhaps.

Mikko: A friend of ours had raved about Edguy’s recent live performance after seeing them at Wacken or some other German festival. I was interested in finding out for myself, so I took his word and aimed towards the main stage. Good-spirited Tobias Sammet was having a laugh on stage, posing for the cameras and by doing so, taking care of public relations in a convincing manner. However, entertaining as he was, I realized that I just wasn’t interested in the actual music at all. Don’t get me wrong, I think Sammet’s Avantasia is fucking excellent and catchy, but Edguy just didn’t seem to click. At all. After watching thirty minutes of the Teutonic power metal powerhouse provide the goods to the eager audience, I figured I’d seen enough and went to see Unkind on the fourth stage. They were more up my alley.

Unkind’s fans danced away. And why wouldn’t they?

I hadn’t been exposed to Unkind beforehand, which was surprising considering the band has a decent backlog and were signed to Relapse in 2010-ish. Good fit — Unkind, with their fierce combination of crust and hardcore, must have reminded Relapse of early Neurosis. Their sound doesn’t feature the quiet, open spaces of that band, though — it’s all tight corridors packed with murder and brutality. The group provided the smaller audience with a lesson in violence and in turn, they received one of the more dedicated pits of the festival (despite the small number of combatants). I came out impressed, eventually cussing how I’d now have to spend more money on new good music. Perfect for those fluffy late-evening, antisocial moments.

Anton Reisenegger of Lock Up

Matti: Shane Embury (Napalm Death) played his first set of two when he climbed onto the Inferno stage with the rest of Lock Up. This also seemed to be yet another wayt to sneak Tomas Lindberg into Tuska — the guy seems to have become a staple guest and is always on the scene. From what I gathered, the setlist was mostly centered on their latest album, Necropolis Transparent. As a grind metal act, Lock Up plays it pretty safe — they’re fast, heavy and hostile, which is just as it should be. After about fifteen minutes and nine songs, I bagged up the gypsy caravan and moved to the second stage, where Saint Vitus was going to make an appearance.

Mikko: After watching a handful of songs by Lock Up, I found myself drifting towards the second stage and Saint Vitus. After only watching for a while, I soon realized I should have come sooner. The band had earned the weather’s gratitude, and thus Thor himself had provided the old but extremely vigilant men with a sun that suited the music like a hammer to the face. It was a good-spirited gig with a heavier message that criticized governments’ inability to help those in need, with the legality of marijuana and whatnot thrown in for a good measure. While Scott “Wino” Weinrich was slightly more reserved, guitarist Dave Chandler entertained the audience with his unexpectedly flashy guitar playing, and his banter between songs was warm and inviting. The dude also seemed to be quite the stud, as he seemed sad that the female photographers had to leave the photo pit after three songs.

Wino didn’t need to showboat

Matti: At first glance it might have looked like Saint Vitus were around when the original Saint Vitus walked the streets of Rome. I wonder which has more gray hair — a pack of winter wolves or the guys on stage? Despite their advanced age, Saint Vitus showed very little wear and tear during their performance of groove and doom. The setlist took the audience on a trip from the band’s origins to their latest recordings, and it was a treat for doom and sludge metal fans and non-fans alike.

Matt Heafy showboated

Mikko: After the old men had vacated the stage, the younger studs of Trivium came out to conquer. There’s no denying that the band is extremely capable in a live setting, and shows immense amounts of energy and character, but goddamn, I just did not give a fuck. Definitely not my bag, but watching the audience going apeshit for Matt Heafy and Paolo Gregoletto, I can’t say that Trivium didn’t belong on the main stage.

  • MM: Yeah. The band I’ve never-ever listened to played a totally forgettable set. I literally have no recollection of them playing. I think I took some photos of them on stage, but I can’t be certain. Oh look, there’s a picture. I guess they did play.
  • MK: You blacked out like a teenage girl seeing The Beatles for the first time. Or perhaps it was the rohypnol I slipped in your water bottle.

Matti: Where was I? Ah yes. Going towards the Musamaailma stage, I was halted by some youngsters who seemed to share the same blood type: Jack Daniels. As drunk as they already were, for some reason they wanted my verbal approval so that they could continue boozing their semi-retarded minds into submission. I was in a hurry, so I gave my most sacred blessing for their ongoing endeavour. At this point, they had spotted my VIP/PRESS-pass and the well-hidden camel-sized camera that made my posture that of a 70-year old construction worker.

“He-Hey, are ya some important person taking photos here? Take a quick photo of me and my pal here, would ya?!”

I took a snapshot of them posing their asses off like it was prom night. This couple sure seemed to deserve each other. As I made my leave, the other guy started to piss and moan.

“Hey, where you taking these picture for? Goddamn, I don’t want my picture to be in any newspaper tomorrow. Promise me it won’t go to a newspaper or we will come and assfuck you!”

Jason found friends too!

As I am no fan of unwelcome sodomy — unless it comes through the airwaves without the letter Y attached to it — I obliged and reassured them that “No news will come out of you” before continuing “…unless it’s in some funny papers or a crime stories magazine”. I then left them on their own devices. As I entered the dark stage hall, they were already probably multiplying it up in some corner.

Demigod raising the roof

Mikko: Trivium might have not had an effect on me, but Demigod’s 30-minute set injected the audience with a good dose of old-school Finnish death metal. The band concentrated mainly on Slumber of Sullen Eyes and performed admirably. Supposedly Demigod has a new album coming out the future.

Ramin Kuntopolku — the festival’s biggest surprise?

Matti: Out of our commando unit, I was the first one to spot Ramin Kuntopolku (which loosely translates to something like Rami’s Fitness Track [kuntopolku; walking path/running track set within nature]) playing in the midst of the idling festival crowd while Demigod was finishing their set inside. The humorous, entertaining and mobile pair of two ski-masked fellows (one on drums, the other utilizing a megaphone) played ultra-short and vocally-incomprehensible grind, and by doing so, they became the first Urban Grind band ever to grace Tuska. Actually, they are the first and maybe only (and quite possibly last) self-acclaimed Urban Grind band in the world.

During the whole three-day long festival, we saw them playing their short unscheduled gigs (duration was apparently based on the amount of beer available) at various corners of the premises. They always attracted a crowd who was eager to soak in their message of good old fun and punk “do it best yourself” attitude. Ramin Kuntopolku has also been quite busy on YouTube as well — their viral campaigning has earned them bookings to perform at several bigger rock festivals this year.

  • MK: Easily one of the festival’s most entertaining acts. Showcasing mad drum talent, the dynamic duo also brought plenty of humor and laughter. Admirable crowd interaction too. Excellent stuff in a festival setting. It’s a shame I had to resort to a YouTube video of the band performing one of their grind songs in slow motion, as that shit would have been an epic live experience.

Arcturus’ Skoll

Mikko: I’ve never been a huge Arcturus follower; case in point, I’ve owned La Masquerade Infernale for the last 12 odd years, but probably listened to it only a handful of times. Still, I felt obligated to check the band out in its current form. Their rich, eccentric music warrants a theatrical show, and a theatrical show was delivere. Each musician was dressed for the occasion in completely different and non-matching gear.

On the flip side, I’ve always been a fan of ICS Vortex’s vocals and it was extremely pleasing to find out that the dude sounds effortlessly good live (I always thought he was underused in Dimmu Borgir). His stage antics weren’t as impressive — he made odd faces, made some half-assed attempts at dancing and just generally looked bored. Wonder if he was just thinking about the beverages that awaited backstage (perhaps he’d already had some). Still, his vocals were pristine, so c’est la vie. It was a slightly odd, though entertaining show, and despite the varied musical selection, it was extremely coherent as well.

Jamey Jasta had plenty of space to exercise (unlike Brennan Huff and Dale Doback)

Matti: While Arcturus were artsying it up, Hatebreed played on the second stage and left a much better impression with their much simpler effort. Now, I’ve never really paid that much attention to Hatebreed. For me, they’ve been one of those bands who feature some good characteristics here and there, but in the end, their lack of originality still drag them down into the cesspool of mediocrity.

That said, this was a very good live performance, delivered with tons of energy, and they earned an equal response from the crowd. Vocalist Jamey Jasta was genuinely into the whole shebang — he ran around stage for the whole show and summoned one of the most active mosh/circle pits of this year’s Tuska. The manifestation of flesh and bruises came in various forms and speeds throughout the whole set.

Surprise. Megadave playing guitar instead of ranting about politics.

Mikko: It was time for Friday’s closing act: Megadeth. They, like their thrash contemporaries in Overkill, appeared at the festival two years earlier, and just like last time, there wasn’t really any motivation for me to stick around. Sorry, Dave Mustaine’s group simply does nothing for me. However, I did notice that Mr. Mustaine did seem hell of a lot happier and more inspired than I’ve ever seen him before — as if he was actually enjoying being on stage. Maybe it’s because it’s election year. It also helped that nobody was chanting for W.A.S.P. or throwing rocks at him like in Croatia.

In related news, I will go on the record and say — just as I have always said — that Chris Broderick is a handsome man (no homo) and an absolute beast on guitar, kind of like Lorenzo Lamas is an absolute beast at kicking ass. Wouldn’t mind seeing his talents utilized on some other, more deserving project though. In the end, “Hangar 18” was the soundtrack for my dramatic exit. Not that anyone noticed me leaving.

Matti: Megadeth sounded and looked better this time then their last appeareance in 2010, that’s for sure. Dave Mustaine was actually moving around the stage this time, and his mumbling vocals were at least comprehensible. The setlist was comprised of their biggest hits: “Head Crusher”, “Hangar 18”, “Sweating Bullets”, “A Tout Le Monde”, “Peace Sells”, “Holy Wars”, “Symphony…” and the likes. I was already walking towards the metro while those sweating bullets were ricocheting in the distant air. Seems to have become a small tradition for me while attending a Megadeth concert. Dave’s midget-sized charisma really makes it hard for him to be the leading figurehead of a band as well known as Megadeth are. And that’s pretty sad, considering that Dave is Megadeth. I can’t deny that the man is highly talented when it comes to making music, but he has to be one of the moistest paper tigers around when it comes to performing live.

David Ellefson’s had his hands on his bass

So, it was time to go off and eat, sleep and regroup for the next day. On the way to the metro, I almost got in a scuffle with some native Balboa of Sörnäinen. I don’t remember if my shoulder said something first to this poor geezer or why it deserved to be tapped with the world’s sloppiest and softest right jab. Maybe it was a bonding ritual of some sort, I dunno.

  • MK: He just fancied your sunglasses after his had been broken a while back. That much I got out of his verbal communication. I’m a little saddened that you didn’t go Steven Seagal on his limbs. That would have made his story so much more sob-worthy the next time he would have harassed someone.
  • MM: I guess, though I could never hurt a bum without fearing that I’d played my part in some kind of twisted chain of events like Oedipus and shit.

Stay tuned next week for Saturday’s excitement. While you wait, why not check out a few more photos on our Facebook page?



  1. Commented by: E. Thomas

    great article guys- thats a great photo of Jasta

  2. Commented by: Guilliame

    Great article. FFS could you please remove the photo of the blood splattering make-upped doofus on the Home Page article intro.
    It’s hideous and annoying.

  3. Commented by: E. Thomas

    Hang in there Guillame- it will be come on monday…

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