In Helsinki, Finland, July 16-18, 2004

Friday, July 16, 2004

The completely sold out festival started on Friday afternoon (the 16th) at 15:00:00. I got there in time to witness Sonata Arctica’s set. They were the second act on the main stage and played a bit lame. They hurried their set and suffered from sound problems that took them half way through the set to sort out. Gone were singer Kakko’s custom “mostly-amusing-if-not-a-bit-juvenile” stage antics. Instead, we got a really professional looking performance.

The schedule was set up so that after each main stage act there was a break during which the 2 side stages had bands playing at the same time. So next up on the side stages were Impaled Nazarene, who as usual played their fast and furious Metal with a whole lot of attitude, and Ensiferum, whose set I missed due to the fact that there was no room to get into the tent they were playing.

Kotiteollisuus on the main stage officially played the loudest set of the whole festival. You could feel the vibration even at the back of the field. The site was set up at the park in the heart of Helsinki on a sandy soccer field. You can still cough up and sneeze the sand and dust days after the festival, but that’s part of individual charm of this festival.

Friday’s most “happening set” honor goes to the Finnish Thrash-band Mokoma who played a really tight set consisting of songs mostly off their last 2 CDs. These guys really look and sound like they are having fun while playing, and with songs as excellent as “Takatalvi,” it is certainly understandable. This was the first time I saw ladies moshing and doing really serious headbanging. It must be said that this band cannot be upstaged in the headbanging department by any means.

In Flames ended the first day of the Tuska festival in style. They played a solid set, and singer Anders amused the crowd with new definitions to the songs. We were told that Clayman was really about going to the festival toilets. These guys have real confidence in their own material. “Episode 666” was introduced as “the best song in the world,” according to Anders.

Saturday, July 17, 2004

Once again I got to the site in time to see the second act on the main stage. Sweden’s Dark Tranquillity did their best to entertain the somewhat laid back Saturday crowd with their dark and moody songs. Dark Tranquillity had good news to share — they announced they had just signed a new deal with Century Media! The song “One Thought” showcased what to expect from the upcoming new CD. The sound problems of yesterday seemed to be over, and the bands seemed to have toned down the loudness a bit.

80’s Power Metal was back with the Twilightning, who played on the Helsinki side stage. Leather pants, see-through shirts, and Flying “V” Guitars were in fashion again with this youthful lot who had a small, but fanatical, crowd. Turisas on the other side stage wore costumes made of fur. This lot played their Metal with traditional music flavor, and even had a violin player in their ranks. Manowar shirts and flags were to be seen in the audience, and that’s not far from what these guys sounded like. During their last song, “Battle Metal,” they had white foam coming down from the tent’s ceiling to act as snow. It was funny seeing the front row covered in foam. They looked like they just took a bubble bath with their clothes on!

Soilwork on the main stage were celebrating the last show of the tour, and started their set with the longest intro-tape of the day, and proceeded to play a really energetic and enthusiastic set. Next on the side stage were Blake, who have just released their second album. Their singer Aaro delivered really cool vocals in the Type’s Peter Steele style. There was little to actually watch, though, since they don’t really put on a show, opting to rely on the songs instead.

Death Angel played the best set of this Saturday. Singer Mark kept apologizing that it’s been so long since they last played in Finland, and kept thanking the ones who had stuck by them. Their set was really energetic, and they all kept pulling poses and really rocked the stage. Their bass player had a jean vest with a lot of punk band patches. He provided extra comic relief with his baseball hat that kept sliding down on his face, preventing him from seeing, and eventually he took it off. Death Angel played songs from all of their albums, and ended their set with the song “Kill As One.”

I missed most of Suburban Tribe’s set since I went to see the meet and greet session with Death Angel. I did see Suburban ending their set with Faith No More’s “Midlife Crises,” which gave a good picture were they draw their influences from.

Sunday, July 18, 2004

The first band on the Helsinki side stage was Trollheim’s Grott. This Death Metal band had corpse paint and a really evil looking bass player. Their singer had different kinds of speeches when introducing the songs. We were encouraged to change our religions to pain, and to demonstrate this, the singer pulled at his nipple piercings. He also commented on the sunny day and told us to paint the sun black. They ended their set with a Bathory cover, which included a guest vocalists and guest guitarist. The cover was a bit faster than their own material.

The mighty Fear Factory had the honor of starting the day on the main stage. They did a killer set and gave no mercy to the crowd, launching straight into “Slave Labor” followed by “Cyberwaste.” Singer Burton had 2 black t-shirts on and really sweated in the heat. Drummer Raymond didn’t seem to break into sweat until the 5th song. That man is a machine and an amazing drummer to boot. It took a while to realize that Christian was actually playing guitar since he kept holding and playing it in bass style. New guy Byron strolled the stage like he owned it, and fit right in. These guys have a dedicated crew, since many of them could be seen singing the songs, and one roadie even kept headbanging on the side of the stage. FF’s set was tight but way too short. They only got 1 hour and 15 minutes of playing time.

Diablo played a murdering cover of Abba’s “Dancing Queen.” A studio version of this can be found on their debut.” The tent was full and the crowd was treated to a first encore of the day with “Catch 22,” which ended the set. Since all the bands had inflexible timeframes to play within, most did not include encores at the end of their sets.

Timo Rautiainen and Trio Niskalaukaus are the “house band” of the Tuska festival, and have played all 7 of the festivals. This band is a really cool, Finnish-singing, melancholic Hard Rock band whose lyrics portray an accurate picture of the Finnish male mentality. This is yet another band who knows not how to play a bad gig.

Charon drew all the ladies into the tent and their singer laughed since the first one to shout “take your shirt off” was still a male. Charon performed their hits and even got the audience to sing during “Little Angel.”

The most anticipated set of the day was Dio, which was up next. Ronnie kept apologizing for the shortness of the set and seemed really disappointed that they did not get to play their regular 2 hour set. Instead, we got 1 hour and 30 minutes … half of the songs were Dio hits from the first 2 albums, and the other half were Rainbow and Sabbath songs. They also played one new song from the upcoming new album which sounded unusually heavy. Graig kept doing strange kicks inspired, no doubt, by the sign saying “Graig you rock.” Since the set was already cut short, I didn’t understand the need for drum and guitar solos. We got a long drum solo after only 3 songs, which has to be some kind of a record. Maybe due to the shortness of the set, Ronnie forgot to introduce bass player Rudy Sarzo and keyboardist Scott Warren. It was cool to see Sarzo’s trademark bass-playing style, which has him holding the bass up high in the air. Certainly must take some muscle! Ronnie’s voice was in great form, as usual, and you can’t really go wrong with as strong material as he has from which to draw. Surprisingly, they played the Rainbow song, “Gates of Babylon,” which Ronnie said he hasn’t done in over 20 years. After the set, while walking away from the site, I overheard many people commenting on how amazing of a singer Ronnie still is!

All in all, Tuska was great once again. Thank you Tuska! See you again next year…


  • Metal-Katie

    Katie was a reviewer and interviewer here at Metal Express Radio. She claims to have been born a Metalhead. At least she's been one as far as she can remember. She loves Metal music and she's ever so happy to see generation after another founding its charm. She's always interested in hearing new Metal bands and reading about them and their antics. She lives and breathes Metal, or at least her alter ego does.

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