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Tuska Open Air 2016 (01-03.07.2016) - 7/1/2016 - Suvilahti - Helsinki (FI)


This year’s Tuska certainly didn’t start with a whimper, it started with a BANG! Cattle Decapitation’s Finnish debut had the honor of opening up this year’s festivities. Although the band hadn’t had any sleep since the previous day’s gig, they delivered a shattering show with nothing superfluous; no backdrop, no lengthy monologues, just straight-up ass-kicking from start to finish. With only two songs from “Monolith of Inhumanity”, their setlist focused on the newest “Anthropocene Extinction” album, and rightly so. One of my absolutely favorite gigs from this year.

Swallow the Sun had three show’s this year, one on each day, to celebrate their newest triple album. I only caught a glimpse of their first gig and wasn’t really convinced. I blame playing doom early in the day with the sun shining brightly.
Blaakyum, on the other hand played indoors which helped them capture the audience. This Lebanese thrash/heavy metal act had managed to arrive despite the terror attack on Istanbul’s main airport just hours before their scheduled departure. Fittingly, they were outspoken about their political views, with the singer lamenting the cultural destruction of his home country and them performing “The Religion of Peace”. The biggest positive surprise from a to me previously unknown band this year.

It was nothing short of surreal to see Lordi live in Tuska in the year 2016. Last time I saw them live was after their victorious return from the Eurovision Song Contest a decade back. They did bring the biggest stage show of this year and they did manage to rock out OK.
Next up was a Tuska first, a panel discussion in a lecture hall about the book “Error”, centering on personal accounts of mental illness and its effect on a person’s life. While the interviewer Klaus Flaming did try to steal the show, it was still fascinating to hear from two of the people in the book about their experiences. It also brought yet another side to the Tuska experience, with other interviews also in the schedule. I really hope this becomes a staple for years to come, a nice cerebral break between all the music acts.
Testament was again a safe bet, with a good sound and great songs, but for whatever reason, they didn’t manage to captivate me this time. Not for a lack of trying though, especially Chuck Billy’s vocals and Alex Skolnick’s solos were very much on point yet again.

At the same time the most WTF band of the festival, Man With a Mission, were playing indoors. This Japanese band performed weird electronically infused danceable music wearing wolf hats and were supposedly bioengineered by Jimi Hendrix and left frozen in the antarctic to await a world ready for them. It really had to be witnessed to be believed, but props to the organizers for not shying away from bringing something completely different to the roster.
Friday’s main act for me was most definitely Behemoth, who in a special show performed their entire newest album, “The Satanist”, in its whole. Their entire show greatly benefited from another new addition: this year the second stage was in a huge tent. The resulting darkness really helped the amazing light and fire show Behemoth had in store for us, which wouldn’t have looked like anything in the still bright sunlight. The band was really in great shape and it was a joy to hear their best record so far in its entirety. Satan really did arrive in Helsinki for one evening.

See all the pictures from Friday here:


I briefly saw Tsjuder performing their run-of-the-mill black metal with an okay touch, but at least it was the first band this year to wear traditional corpse paint. It wouldn’t be a Tuska without at least one band donning the signature look of metal.

Turmion Kätilöt got the day properly started and the crowd dancing with their industrial metal. Saturday was sold out (probably mainly thanks to Ghost) and the crowd was huge already this early. In a clever way of audience participation they released tens of huge beach balls for people to try and keep airborne while dancing their hearts out.

My personal favorite of the festival, Obscura, had somehow managed to avoid coming to Finland for this long, which is kinda amazing considering they’re from as close as Germany. They were quite taken aback by the amount of people wanting to see technical death metal on the main stage in the afternoon. With sublime virtuosity they delivered some of the most face-melting lead guitaring I’ve seen, and with an amazing setlist they really left their mark. I hope they won’t take as long to play their second gig here.
Lord Vicar had to switch slots with Havok, who were stuck on an airport when they were supposed to start their set. Their groovy stoner doom again benefited from being played in an indoors club setting, but maybe their original, later slot would have fit their music even better.
Anthrax focused on playing a cavalcade of all their greatest hits, which there are quite a few. Belladonna still has a divine voice and with “Caught in a Mosh” they managed the biggest pit so far. Along with Testament and Nervosa, there was quality thrash on every day of the festival.

It doesn’t seem to matter whether Stam1na plays in a huge arena or an overcrowded festival tent, they always take the stage and the audience and won’t let go until the set is over. With tremendous energy and a crowd going wild they once again showed why they are one of the biggest metal bands in Finland.

The night was finished off with Ghost bringing their chill satanic rock to a Suvilahti filled to its brims. With a bunch of great songs they still left me wanting more. Compared to Lordi or last year’s Alice Cooper, I expected a bit more from this theatrical band than just a raiser for playing at different heights and a cool light show. Also it was nigh blasphemous to see Papa Emeritus III donning a non-papal attire for a lot of the show. Still, it was a nice change of pace to have something radically different from the usual acts in Tuska.

See all the pictures from Saturday here:


This was only the second time in my thirteen years of Tuska that it actually properly rained, both Saturday evening and most of Sunday were blighted with heavy overcasts and downpour. It did probably do a lot for the bands performing indoors and in the tent, as evident by the fully-packed hall in time for Mörbid Vomit. They performed their death metal confidently and delivered a solid show.

At the same time Hatebreed were putting on a hardcore show on the main stage. As noted to me, they have that ’inspirational personal trainer’ attitude that seemed to go down well with the crowd. Fittingly, as they performed “As Diehard As They Come” there was a pool pit in the ankle-deep water in front of the stage. Now there’s something you don’t see everyday!
By far the strongest gig of the day, and maybe even the festival, was brought to us all the way from Brazil by the trio Nervosa. Playing a fierce death- infused strain of Teutonic thrash, everything about them just radiated honesty. The joy of playing live and a strong anti-intolerance message was extremely well received by the full hall, with the audience going totally ape shit over their furious playing. Especially vocalist and bass player Fernanda Lira stood out with her stage charisma which consisted of grimaces and maniacal laughter but also genuine appreciation of the amazing reception they got. I can guarantee there are now a lot of new Nervosa fans in Finland, so I hope they keep their promise of returning rather sooner than later.

This year the food selection had further grown. It was rather surreal having some sushi while listening to Diablo playing “The Preacher” in the background. There’s no reason festival food should just be shit! The French Gojira brought with them an immense wall of sound. With the most crushing sound of the festival they played several songs off their brand new album “Magma”, but also older hits like “Flying Whales” and weird short instrumental snippets between actual songs. My only regret was not hearing more songs from their marvellous “L’Enfant Sauvage”.

Like last year, there was a free tent sauna in the bar area. There’s nothing quite like a scorching sauna after three days of torment, and they had added a proper (though ice cold) shower in addition to the sauna master in charge of throwing water on the stove like last year. The sauna is for me the final thing that really elevates the whole Tuska experience to new level.
The honor of closing up shop this year went to Children of Bodom. I was looking forward to hearing “Suicide Bomber” and “All for Nothing” off their magnificent new album, but I was sadly disappointed. This time they went with mostly old hit songs in their set, but just as I was getting bored, they managed to spice things up with guest stars. Netta Skog (ex-Turisas, Ensiferum) took the stage with her accordion and they finished their set with several of their most beloved cover songs rarely played live. “Looking Out My Back Door” and “Somebody Put Something in My Drink” really got the crowd going and they closed off this year’s Tuska with “Ghost Riders in the Sky”, with a huge choir of various singers from the festival’s bands and a few lucky fans from the audience.

With yet another great Tuska behind me, it’s evident that the organizers aren’t resting on their laurels. With the addition of further dining choices and interviews, panels and a Swallow the Sun gig in the new lecture hall, they seem to be determined to make Tuska even greater with a wider selection of activities to be enjoyed during the weekend. The fact that it hardly seems necessary to yet again mention that there were practically no lines or disturbances and everything went as smoothly as can be imagined, is a testament to the dedication and skill of the organizers. With next year being the 20th anniversary of Tuska, I’m sure next year is going to be something to look forward to!

See all the pictures from Sunday here:

Report a cura di Markus Karppinen, photos by Marco Manzi

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