Festival Report: Tuska Open Air 2012 – Sunday

Teeth of the Divine’s battle-worn assault squad is back for the last time to recollect the experiences and ordeals they went through on the last day of Tuska Open Air Metal Festival — held in Helsinki, Finland for the fifteenth time. Sunday provided quite possibly the festival’s brightest highlights with Overkill storming the stage and Huoratron blinding everyone with their over-the-top strobo-lights. This is Sunday and the end of our epic three-part quest to TUSKA OPEN AIR 2012.

by Mikko K.& Matti Manner

Back for the last time. Both Friday and Saturday took their toll on us, but we endured and witnessed some of the best performances of the festival on the sunny last day and Sunday of Tuska Open Air 2012.


Matti: Sunday cometh. The third and last day of Tuska also happened to be the day I personally was waiting for the most. During the first two days of the festival, I must admit that there were several moments when I had to question my motivation for attending. The diverse musical catering provided was somewhat inconsistent when it came to my highly specific needs. Today felt much different. So like a level 60 nerd playing WOW online with a girl for the first time, I showed embarrassingly early.

The day started off with some gothic and melodic metal/hard rock provided by Finland’s The Man-Eating Tree. The apples of this tree do not seem to fall far from those bands in which these guys have played before., and the music was much in the vein of Sentenced, Poisonblack and Embraze. Being a relatively new band, they have been quick to put out two full-length albums (Vine, Harvest), so they had plenty to use for their set. Personally, not the first thing on my favorite list, but not a bad band if you like this kind of music. They gathered a decent amount of confused goth babes to the crowd — which are, in fact, the second thing on my favorite list. It was like flies circling a traplight, where I could be the turd lying on the porch below — a good way to grab the attention of any stragglers… Yes, I am a romantic at heart.

Tuomas Tuominen sang for Fall of the Leafe. Now he sings in Man-Eating Tree.

Speaking of shits and turds — a field which I am a expert in — Suicide Silence gets to compete for the price of being the biggest piece of garbage I have ever witnessed at Tuska. “We are trying too fucking hard at being too cool for school” was one of the phrases that kept playing through my head as I watching this assclownery unfold onstage. Vocalist Mitch Lucker was trying his hardest to bust out his best Phil Anselmo impression, but he kept failing in every way by not having any sense of true conviction. Everything felt so totally dishonest and contrived that it’s hard to put into words how powerful their shit reeked.

Somebody needs to wash their mouth with soap

Even when I thought it could not get any more sad and pathetic, things took a full 360 turn when they broke out their ultimate punchline. (I’ll paraphrase here by channeling my inner douchebag so I can recall this as authentically as possible.) Between songs, Mitch turns and addresses his teen horde by opening his big and magical ‘Book of Words by Mitch’. The one that has over three hundred pages full of the word ‘fuck’ and nothing much else: “Hey all you fuckers out there! I want you all to fucking sing this fucker with me. Are you fucking ready!? This next fucking song is called… Fuck everything!” Ba da-fucking-bum! And to top it all off, the track’s actually their sing-a-fucking-long song too.

I guess angst-filled and immature metal music works well for angst-filled and immature youths; one look at the scores of confused teens in front of Suicide Silence’s set proved that. They’re the epitome of generic metal/deathcore: an endless amount of unnecessary breakdowns, and lyrical content void of any intelligence. Unintentionally funny, but ultimately so stupid, it shouldn’t even exist.

Jack Sparrow, Perttu Kivilaakso or Tuomas Holopainen? The other memorable Apocalyptica-member, anyway. Whatever. 

Having the iffy novelty act Apocalyptica on the main stage was, in my opinion, somewhat of a low moment, considering the band mainly performs cover songs. Okay, I can understand that they’re big at international funfairs, and that they’re some sort of accessible ambassadors for all of metal — they take classic metal songs and give them a fresh face by playing them with cellos. Still, even after all these years, and despite the fact that they do write original songs as well, the band still feels like too much of a gimmick to me. The excessive make-up and easy-to-photo, over-acted facial expressions (not to mention dressing up as Jack Sparrow) does not help the band seem more legit in my book, but whatever. Also, the nicely executed light show was ruined by the bright summer sun.

Still, some of their own songs can be pretty decent, and are helped by the fact that they’ve employed a real drummer for quite some time now. There was also a guest vocalist, Tipe Johnson — maybe Corey Taylor and the other guys singing on the records had something better to do that day — singing backup on some of the tracks. I didn’t finish their set, though — after my shift at the photo pit, I withdrew into the shade to catch a nap.

  • MK: Well, there’s one thing going for Apocalyptica… at least they’re not goddamn Van Canto.
  • MM: Oh, don’t get me started on acapella music. Thinking about shit like that makes me believe that with enough hate inside, spontaneous combustion is actually possible.

Last year there was Ghost and Enslaved, so this year the coin-toss dilemma came up with Skeletonwitch and Baroness playing at the same time. A fifteen minute interval in between starting times enabled me to snatch some photos of both bands, but in the end, the double booking left me sulking after losing out on half of the musical goodness from each.

Chance Garnette felt lively.

Skeletonwitch started hard and hostile, as I had anticipated. Armed with a beer can in his tattooed and claw-like hand, Chance Garnette shrieked through their first songs while hurling himself around the stage like meth-crazed biker that had just eaten some poor sob’s face for breakfast. A mosh pit quickly turned the Inferno tent inside out, but the band was only starting to gear up their blackened thrash assault. Sadly, the good times (for me, at least), were short-lived, as I had to rush over to catch Baroness’ first notes.

Mikko: I slept long as Sunday dawned, and woke up somewhat revitalized — all of my pain from the previous two days was gone, and I went to eat breakfast by the sea. While I would have wanted to see The Man-Eating Tree (mainly because of its Fall of the Leafe connections), it was too early for me to do anything of the sort, so I kept smiling and devoured my bagel. I finally pranced into the premises right before Skeletonwitch took the stage, as I remember this very site hyping them up at one point. I caught up with Matti, and he too seemed ready for good music, especially after he’d just barely avoided being stabbed by one of Apocalyptica’s cellists.

  • MM: Oh, I almost forgot that close call! I was trying to take some sexy low-angle photos during their set and almost got impaled by Paavo Lötjönen. It would have been such a Mortal Kombat-like humiliation if I’d been snuffed by the least memorable member of the band.

Skeletonwitch made a damn good first impression, and their Tuska gig apparently wrapped up their recent tour. They didn’t show any battle-wear as they proceeded to annihilate the audience with a lively set and relaxed banter between songs. Vocalist Chance Garnette expressed gratitude plenty of times to the rather large crowd for giving the band a chance — although he must have felt the reactions to his comments about pot were a tad lacking. No matter, the crowd responded well to the music, and shipped the guys off to the States with smiles on their face.

Matti: I still had not decided which band’s set to finish watching after I had taken three songs’ worth of shots of Baroness. In the end, I let them bring home the bacon, as their set was probably the best gig of the whole festival for me.

A proven live band, Baroness ably replicated the massive and multifaceted soundscape they have on their records. Come to think of it, it worked even better than hearing the same stuff on CD. Strangely, the extremely fine-tuned musicianship was celebrated by an oddly still and quiet Tuska audience. Perhaps that’s because they’re just one of the weirdest metal bands around, soundwise. Their music has some odd qualities, as even the more heavier parts always feel out-of-place due to the peculiar absence of bleakness and aggression that is usually quite prominent in metal/heavy music. Actually, you could argue that they’re more of a progressive rock outfit than a pure metal band — and even moreso after the new Yellow & Green album.

Baroness and the sun. Good mix.

Watching Baroness perform live, I caught this sense of warmth and happiness emitting from the stage. This was not the typical rowdy “Let’s get some beers and take over the night!” type of a thing (which Overkill would bring next to the main stage). Instead, the guys seemed to just enjoy playing out under the sunshine, and all the while interacting with the crowd and doing the whole 9 yards of a good rock show effortlessly.

They played most of the better songs from their color scheme albums, ranging from Red to Blue and also incorporating a few songs from the new Yellow & Green. It was a smooth setlist, and all of the songs from the color-themed albums built an organic, free flowing experience which worked out perfectly. After this showing, I don’t think I was the only one who left with high hopes to see Baroness touring through Finland’s clubs soon…

Mikko: Lamb of God was supposed to be playing next, but due to certain events in the Czech Republic, the band was forced to cancel and Finntroll were summoned on an extra-short notice. Lamb of God’s cancellation led to hilarious outbursts throughout the weekend as the band’s more vocal fans cried tasty bitter tears on Facebook, how they’d be selling their Sunday tickets as their weekend was now officially ruined. Yeah. An event that occurred two years ago in another country was definitely the Tuska organizers’ fault. Sheesh. Not surprisingly, as I roamed through the concrete paradise on Sunday, I saw a lot of those same teary-eyed faces from Facebook and elsewhere here and there on the festival grounds. Go figure.

  • MM: I’m starting to feel like every festival organizer in Finland has a red phone on their desk with a direct line to Finntroll. I don’t think this is the first time the trolls have been called to the rescue…

Matti: When it comes to the case of Randy Blythe vs the Czech Republic, it’s been nice to see how fellow metal bands have been coming out and trying to raise awareness. They’ve brought some valid viewpoints to the whole debacle. I recently read an article with Dave Brockie of mighty GWAR sharing his untypically serious opinions on the case to free Randy. Still, I couldn’t keep “Let Us Slay” from playing in my head as I read his words.

Mikko: Some said Finntroll wasn’t a worthy enough replacement for Lamb of God. I wouldn’t know since I skipped their show, but from what I saw of it, they seemed to have found their audience and then some.

And truth be told, I didn’t mind Lamb of God’s unfortunate no-show, as it meant that Overkill got their spot on the main stage and with it, a longer set. Truth be told, the guys from New Jersey were definitely the weekend’s headliner for me, as their 2009’s Tuska set left me craving a bigger fix (and back then, they were also slightly overshadowed by my unnerving Nevermore-fanboyism). Three years later, on the first day of July 2012, Overkill showed that they more than deserved this bigger time slot.

Overkill’s Blitz is god-tier. No contest.

It was a killer set, and performed with such relentless and brutal power that a lot of younger bands lost any excuse for being completely motionless live. Bobby Blitz simply puts a lot of frontmen to shame, even though he had to go and take a breather a few times behind the amps. After a few deep breaths though (and, surprisingly, enjoying a cigarette while air-guitaring), he was back out onstage for more vocal violence. “You make me feel like I’m 49 years old again” — definitely one of the better frontmen out there.

He also spoke about growing old and how there’s nothing wrong with that — “as long as you have good friends to do it with.” That struck a nice chord with me as I floated around the festival ground, feeling older and wondering if I felt disconnected from the younger festivalgoers. The band showed no sign of stopping and mixed new with old — “Necroshine” particularly blew my mind. Despite the longer set, a lot of the songs I wanted to hear were left out (“Thunderhead” for example), but considering just how fucking extensive Overkill’s discography is, it’s really no wonder.

The band also addressed the Lamb of God situation briefly and commented on the metal community’s impressive support and solidarity. Brief Lamb of God chants were heard before switching back to Overkill’s name and more thrashing to “In Union We Stand”. It was really pleasing to see that not only was the crowd engaged throughout the set (and for many, this was their first exposure), but the band was also having a ton of fun. Quite telling that Blitz pretty much invited everyone at the show back to his house for a BBQ (so long as they brought their own drinks).

After Overkill’s set, I was more than content, but the festival was still few hours from ending. And while I’m at it, there’s no doubt that with each time I see Overkill, they solidify their place as my favorite thrash act along with Testament.

Matti: My highlight moment was hearing the old classic “Hello From the Gutter” live. I have some fond childhood memories of stealing one of my older brother’s C-cassettes which had this particular song on it. It made a long-lasting impact to my then-unscarred psyche. You know, I think this song might have been a factor in my personal decline as a human being, which resulted in me becoming a worthless scumbag and gave my parents a black sheep of shame to banish from their will (not to mention ruining any chance of building a meaningful relationship with the ladies.). Overkill, I thank thee for bringing me into the fold so young!

  • MK: Shit just got personal!
  • MM: Well, sometimes it can be a virtue to wear your heart on your sleeve. Even if that heart might look like a rotten potato.

Dr. Doom or Huoratron? Probably both.

Mikko: After Overkill’s thundering tour-de-force, many would and could argue that Huoratron was a miscast act for a heavy metal festival, but those people don’t know what the hell they’re talking about. The bludgeoning, electronic wall of noise, armament of strobolights and Aku Raski’s evil genius-like performance had metalheads frantically dancing as if the end of the world was near. The strong, sweet essence of weed puffing out from the audience must have helped as well. Metal or not, but very metal-esque nonetheless. Definitely something that you more open-minded or less electronic-inclined people should check out in a live setting. Top notch stuff, really — even if I was left wondering how there weren’t any epileptic seizures…

  • MM: For me, it was a fun and refreshing move to see Huoratron invade Tuska. I didn’t see or hear much negative feedback from the crowd, as the music seemed to keep most of them busy jumping and dancing to the beat. It’s one thing to look at hot girls screaming and fist-pumping in the crowd, but yet another to see them jumping and shaking those sweet, sweet booties around like there’s no tomorrow. I approve this message.

Mikko: Inside on the fourth stage, Jess and the Ancient Ones were also firing up their set. They’re part of the new occult-rock wave that seems to be gaining more and more momentum in the world’s darker corners. From the little I saw, the band (forged by Deathchain’s Corpse) seemed to be standing on its own two firm feet. Unfortunately, after the pummeling earlier from Overkill’s set, I just didn’t have the patience to come down from my high, so I went to watch the last of Huoratron’s gig instead. There’s just something reassuring about letting the beats pound your head before Ministry, the festival’s headliner.

Occult, occult, occult

Matti: After a hassle that interrupted the beginning of the show, I got settled next to the soundboard to watch Ministry have a go at it. I haven’t listened to the new Relapse album — Rio Grande was the last one on my shelf — so it took me awhile to get into the groove of things. Ultimately, the band put on a good show and in my opinion, well-worth the festival’s headliner billing. Highlights for me were “Just One Fix”, “NWO” and “Worthless,” and I also liked their revamped take on “Khyber Pass” (which is where they had finally “shot Bin Laden”). The song gave a really nice, subtle addition to the atmosphere, and lingered in the air as the set hurtled towards the encore.

Al Jourgensen and his portable pawnshop

Mikko: The first time I saw Al Jourgensen as a kid was on the “NWO” video. The guy instantly became one of the coolest people in existence back then, so when Ministry took the stage to close down the Tuska Festival, I was naively anticipating an evangelical experience. That got shot down pretty quick, as I haven’t paid attention to the band since Rio Grande Blood, nor had I had any indication of Al’s transformation into a walking body-piercing sweatshop. The dude must get a ton of shit at the airport’s metal detector!

  • MM: Leave the man alone. He has enough to worry about with The New World Order and the upcoming collapse of the modern society. You do know he is deeply committed to fighting the NWO and preparing his home compound for the upcoming free-for-all when shit finally hits the fan.
  • MK: Pure cosmetics aside, the music had a hard time grabbing my interest. Jourgensen seemed to be in a talkative mood, feeding the crowd with accolades and statistics about Helsinki being the metal capital of the world. Sadly, when it came down to hardcore politics and today’s events as topics, the audience seemed a bit more out of tune.

Mikko: I think Tuska was finally starting to overstay its welcome as that unique metal exhaustion began to creep up in my psyche. So after a handful of songs, I decided to call it quits and went to see a friend at one of the beer areas. Funnily enough, that particular bar was set up in an area that had actual nature inside, which reminded me of just how tiring the mix of metal and concrete can be, and how the festival’s spirit and audience had changed so much in just two years. The only thing that sucked was that as I was going through my hippie-phase with beer in hand, I’d missed out on seeing “NWO” live. Shit happens.

  • MM: Jourgensen has such misanthropic views of the future, and surely does not care that taking mud baths for healthier skin will keep pretty rocker-man-crushes alive. If you didn’t know this, you can always search the interweb for the audio of him visiting Alex Jones at Info Wars. His AI/Spielberg story told during that interview was also pure gold.In the end, I think Al and Killing Joke’s Jaz Coleman should have their own TV show, in which they’d have light-hearted chats each week about canned food, all while sitting on their recliners, shotguns across their laps, drinking tea and holding cute, fluffy kittens.


And that was that.

Matti: Not counting some small moments here and there, only Sunday got me somewhat pumped-up. On Friday, I was tired and my overall motivation to check out the bands just wasn’t that strong. Saturday had few high moments with Anaal Nathrakh, Napalm Death and For the Imperium, but it still managed to feel a little lacking luster. Sunday, on the other hand, had several bands that I was really interested in seeing, but as they went on against each other, my raffle ticket didn’t score the grand prize.

My unscientific examination of the average age of this year’s Tuska festival-goer also made me weep for my own golden years. Most of the time, I felt like one of the Old Ones awakening on the bottom of the sea after long, strange aeons, only to find out that times have changed and kids are ruining fucking everything. And I just did not have the tentacles to give them a massive bitchslap.

Mikko: After all was said and done, this year’s Tuska felt eerily similar to last year’s. It’s as if the organizers had used the same template, with minor alterations to book the bands. Jess and the Ancient Ones vs. Jex Thoth, Hatebreed vs. Agnostic Front, Electric Wizard vs. Saint Vitus, Exodus vs. Forbidden and so forth. I guess if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it — the approach really gathered a wide variety of acts together.

  • MM: I can agree with your assessment. This year really followed a similar pattern used last time around. Maybe they have this down in Excel now or something.

The festival was, without a doubt, a success, but given my wavering interest at times, I wonder what the future will hold for Tuska. Beneath the success, I think there’s a call for some sort of a shake up.

While the new area made it far more easier to maneuver through the crowds, some sort of intimacy or community has been lost in the process. In a way, it felt like that second gig from Devin Townsend two years ago was the pinnacle point for the festival. It gathered everyone together for a very special moment. Or perhaps there’s been no change and it’s just my nostalgia talking. Perhaps the new setting simply needs a few more years to burn in. Or perhaps I need to find the leak in my soul and pump some goddamn metal back into my veins…

The fact remains that the festival is still a Top Tier event and runs like a well-oiled machine. As long as the organizers keep booking excellent and surprising performers—as they have been doing—there’s simply nothing to worry about.

But we sure as fuck ain’t growing any younger.

* * *

Our last set of Tuska 2012 photos can be seen on our Facebook-page.



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