For the last four years, the Suomi metal music freak in me has been having a blast! Tuska Festival has been a mainstay venture of mine since 2013. A great festival that houses a diverse bill each year with international acts as well as loads of Finnish quality metal, residing both in the uncompromising underground and the upper levels of success and mass attention. This year was no different. During the next days, I will be sharing my experiences from the festival. All pics by Eija Mäkivuoti. Onwards! Day one!
The festival started in the most brutal way imaginable! San Diego’s Cattle Decapitation kick-started the festival with sledgehammer death/grind at 2.00 PM with the sun boiling over Suvilahti. I’ve only recently really started listening to this band, especially the latest “The Anthropocene Extinction”, and I have to say that they sound extremely refreshing on record. This type of extreme metal is always in danger of sounding like a hazy wall of sounds. “We’re just feeding off you guys at the moment”, said an encumbered Travis Ryan to the rather light crowd-mass at the concert. The band had played in Hamburg the night before and barely arrived before hitting the stage at Tuska. Despite fatigue, the set was energetic albeit a bit chaotic and the sound elements are always a bit extra hit and miss with opening bands. A decent introduction, little did I know I was to be hanging out with the bassist and drummer in the after-party, before they had to leave for Roskilde Festival.
SWALLOW THE SUN
Originally I had planned to catch all three performances of the band at the festival. Due to poor coordination from my side, I only managed to see the traditional “Songs From The North” set. The circumstances around the band have been difficult to say the least, since main songwriter Juha Raivio lost the love of his life Aleah Stanbridge a few months back. She had also been a musical companion of Juha’s for several years; contributing guest vocals in Swallow The Sun and also completing an album under the name Trees Of Eternity. It was a beautiful, graceful performance on what was also Aleah’s birthday, fronted by the always humble Mikko Kotamaki. The tracks permeated such epic grandeur and loss at the same time, tracks like “With You Came The Whole Of The World’s Tears”, “The Memory Of Light” and the tear inducing “Heartstring Shattering” with Aleah’s vocals in the chorus, reminding us that life may not be eternal but that music very much is just that! Powerful!
I had not planned on going to see Mantar, but after talking so some people and getting them recommended over and over again, I felt it was time and a nice change of atmosphere. Two guys and a wall of noise ensued within the Inferno stage. So much attitude and commanding groove. Huge kudos to the drummer for catapulting so many steadfast beats in this otherwise blackened noise! Even though I’m not that familiar with their material, I felt myself being driven by the atmosphere, it didn’t matter if it not necessarily sounded that super, it was loud and that was enough for me at that moment. Gonna check this out further soon.
I’ve seen Testament a couple of times by now. They absolutely slayed the place, again, just like they did at the festival back in 2014. A thrash metal onslaught where one can barely keep up with the pace. So many classicks, “Disciples Of The Watch”, “The Preacher”, “Practice What You Preach”, “The New Order”, “Over The Wall”, the list goes on and on. It’s such a pleasure watching these guys play; Skolnick’s ripping solos, Peterson’s frantic but tight as hell riffstorms and Chuck Billy’s old school presence dripping down on the metal masses! Even though I still find the “Dark Roots Of Earth” material to be a bit lackluster live (and on record for that matter, and I’m only talking about “Native Blood” and the title track here), a massive rendition of both “Three Days Of Darkness” and “The Formation Of Damnation” sealed the deal. Thrashed asunder! Thank you come again!
Behemoth are an extreme metal benchmark nowadays. There’s no stopping this band and their concept has been extremely well developed through the last two records. The bands performance at Tuska was centred around the band’s latest album “The Satanist”, which I’m still not too familiar with. That didn’t bother me at all, the whole concert felt like a ritual, a black mass elegantly executed with utter conviction. Smoke, fire, incantations, sinister cloaked figures, uncompromising extreme metal art onstage, unrivalled! The performance of this act goes beyond just being individual songs being played live in front of a crowd. A cohesive body of work with a firmly embedded statement is what Nergal and his bandmates are forging when onstage. The encore featured three sublime classicks, “Ov Fire And The Void”, “Conquer All” and the obligatory “Chant for Ezkaton”.
Stay tuned for the report from day two coming soon!
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