in Helsinki, Finland, July 15-17, 2005

Friday, July 15

As usual the tickets for the Metal happening of the year, Tuska, were in hot demand, and since most days were sold out well in advance, the black market prices went sky high. Even though the festival is used to these high attendance numbers, it still has an “iffy” future. The town committee is planning on banishing the festival from its famous middle of the capital site. So far this is not definite, but talk of the replacement site has started, and good ideas are scarce.

This year, the line-up was a really mixed bag. There were a bunch of first visits to these shores, and a couple of comebacks, and even one or two odd billings. The site has also been expanded to welcome even more visitors than in previous years, and Sue-side stage had been changed to a different kind of stage, which offered the bands better shade while on stage, but efficiently also blocked the view from the sidelines as well, which was not so good for the punters.

German Thrash band Destruction sweated their way through their set in front of an enthusiastic crowd. Despite their obvious conviction, the band still sounded a bit dated, however, the main man Schmier got the crowd on his side after his speech about Metalheadz being outcasts, and by telling the story of how they had been told early in their career that they would not get anywhere, and now 20 some years later, they were here playing to a new crowd… shows the power of determination.

Apocalyptica on the main stage with their cellos and instrumental only set was the first odd ball. Still, their version of “Seek & Destroy” got most heads nodding, and the band did do some impressive headbanging.

Another German band, Primal Fear, were also on their first visit to Finland, and judging by the response they got, they’ll probably will show up here again soon. If only all the bands could be as thrilled to be on stage and enjoying themselves as this lot seemed to be. Despite looking like a Right Said Fred look-alike, their singer still had the most impressive pipes, sounding like a little brother of Rob Halford.

Monster Magnet had the dubious honor of closing the show playing in front of a baffled Metal crowd. The band was clearly misplaced and in front of the wrong crowd, but this did not seem to phase the band, and they did give the crowd their best, if not somewhat lazy shot. The answer to Dave’s question of “Do you people understand the Blues” seemed to be a loud “no,” as a large portion of the crowd left early.

Saturday, July 16

Danish Mnemic were in Finland for the second time this year, and got a surprisingly eager response from the early afternoon crowd, which they even got to jump on command.

Ajattara on side stage looked and sounded dark. Gone was the hippy look of the former Amorphis singer Pasi, and instead fans got the all black with a bulletbelt version of him, who despite the image, looked and sounded much happier than he did back in his Amorphis days.

Gamma Ray with the ever-smiling Hansen, played an uplifting and energetic set, but did not get the crowd wild until Hansen got them shouting “Heavy Metal,” and proceeded to end the set in crowd-pleasing style, by belting out Helloween’s “I Want Out.”

Testament, with its original line-up, ruled the main stage. The band looked and sounded so good that it could have brought tears to an old Thrasher’s eyes. The band definitely showed the reasons why they were once considered to be among the best Thrash bands around. Chuck Billy’s huge frame thundered the stage, and he was seen goofing around with Eric, who got to growl into the mic every once in a while. The smoke machine got wild during Testament’s set, and, at times, smoke was all you saw, which seemed a bit peculiar. Still, this was definitely the most happening set of the day.

It was obvious by the spikes and leather wristbands that Dimmu Borgir was the band most had come to see. Dimmu’s set worked surprisingly well outdoors, and fans got the extra benefit of seeing the singer’s budding love handles, which probably would have been kept hidden at an indoor show. Luckily, the heat had turned down somewhat, so their makeup did not melt, and Dimmu still managed to look intimidating. The sea of fists in the audience was definitely impressive, but failed to coerce the band into play a longer set, as they finished just a few minutes over an hour… still managing to send the crowd home happy after witnessing their sturdy-sounding show.

Sunday, July 17

Sunday seemed to belong to Finnish bands. Children of Bodom were surprisingly active and mobile on stage. They did air one new song, but mostly their set was as familiar as usual, with Alexi even getting his familiar “Fuck yeah” shouts back into the set after their soundman had complained about never hearing them anymore.

Skyclad, with their Folk Metal, was the other odd choice at the festival, but the crowd really got into their traditional sound with the violin and all, and proceeded to go wild when cheering the band on. The band’s bubbling energy was really infectuous, and the singer even tried to convince the crowd to sing and dance … and nearly got what he asked. This was yet another first-timer at Finnish shores, as their singer Kevin Ridley pointed out. So the crowd may not have been so familiar with the band’s songs beforehand … but as most Europeans can tell you, the booze and the singing go hand-in-hand, and this was once more demonstrated during the Skyclad show.

Ironically, Sentenced, who are finishing up their farewell tour, are getting better and better. Just like at the Sauna Open Air Festival, the band once more chose to concentrate more on songs and leave the bullshitting to rest. Their sound was probably the clearest of the day, which made them sound even more impressive, as tight as they were.

The most talked about visitor to Tuska this year were the German legends Accept, who were on their small comeback farewell tour. Most of the audience had probably grown up with this band, which gives you a clue about the age range of the crowd on Sunday. All the classics were in their set. You name it and they played it -“London Leatherboys,” “Metal Heart,” “Restless and Wild,” etc. The familiar lines of all four, minus the drummer, standing side-by-side doing their synchronized moves hit home that this indeed was the original Accept. Solos were kept to a minimum, not counting the one in which the whole band was offering a backbone to Wolf’s guitar solo. As anyone familiar with Accept knows, this was pure sing-along heaven. “Son of a Bitch” got the loudest participation, overshadowing even the legendary “Balls to the Wall.” All in all, this was one happy reunion, but not quite on the magnificent level.

As usual, the festival was as fun as always, even with the slightly odder than usual lineup and the gloomy cloud of doubt hanging over the festival’s future. Saturday even saw the familiar long entrance queue getting back to its enormous portions, but it did move along surprisingly quick. There will be one hellava big army of Metallers weeping next year if the festival gets cancelled. Wonder if everyone should get on the barricades? Who’s up for bringing the party to the steps of Parliament Building next year if there is no Tuska?


  • 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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