A yearly tradition for this writer and GRIMM, is our attendance at one of the longest running metal festivals in THE country of metal: Finland. Tuska Open Air Festival has been going strong for over 2 decades now and it seems that they’re not planning to take it easy any time soon. With an incredibly strong line-up this edition and a couple of major changes to the organisation, we were eagerly awaiting that last weekend of June…
After 2 pretty intense days with a whole damn lot of people, it was time for the last day of the festival. As usual, Sunday is a little bit of a chill-out day where everyone is kind of tired and with a less busy band schedule. We don’t mind at all, because what was offered on this day was definitely some of the best of the weekend!
Another lovely change compared to the other days, was the presence of mini-metalheads (as in ‘kids’) for most of the day. Since this year was the first time that Tuska was K-18, the organisation did something back for the little ones of the metal community by doing a “Piku Tuska” or “Little Tuska”. Anyway, I had to miss out on the first 2 bands of the day (Kaiser and Leverage) because of an interview with Halestorm. Be sure to check that out!
First band I properly saw, was Hevisaurus. A troop of dinosaurs that kick ass on stage. In Finland these friendly giants are basically most of the time the first contact kids have with heavy metal. Every dino on stage have their own personality traits that match perfectly with their role in the band and play it out oh so well. On stage we were looking at big statures and when we turned to watch behind us, we saw a small sea of tiny ones. This little project was a big success in my opinion and Hevisaurus was a blast to see live! Curious to see what they’re going to do with the concept next year…
Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes (****1/2)
Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes seemed like a weird fit in the line-up of Tuska. This band supposedly plays punk rock, which would be the one and only band representing that genre amongst mostly metal and hard rock. From what I heard before, I was in for a treat with Frank Carter, for he is known as quite the frontman and entertainer. And boy, Frank and his band put down one of the shows of the weekend that a lot of people will be talking about for quite a while still. Rainbow backdrop, band coming on stage, dressed all in white. Frank joins them, boasting a Hawaii shirt, a whole lot of tattoos and a cheeky grin.
Not long into the first track they’re playing, Frank climbs down the stage and goes straight to the crowd. Now usually when there’s a big and dense crowd in front of him, you’ll see him lean into that mass of people or even crowdsurf while he’s still singing. At Tuska the gathered crowd wasn’t enough to do such safely, so he just climbed over the fence and joined the moshpit. At times he got lost in there and at other times you saw him bend backwards in the middle of the circlepit going around him. At this point he had already won over the heavy metal hearts of Tuska. And he just added some bonus points when announcing the 3rd song being a moment for a “female exclusive moshpit”, so no dudes. He smoothly removed himself to appear back on stage and the girls went wild! A great & genuine performer that I’d love to see come back to Finland any time, the sooner the better!
Up next was a nice little trio of bands that have been on the rise in popularity within their respective genres due to a combination of awesome music, impressive shows and relentless touring. Tuska did very well booking all of these bands for this year’s edition!
First up: the relatively new metal sensation from Ukraine called Jinjer. They have been around for quite some time already and personally I picked them up years ago with their Napalm Records debut as a future big band. And here we are… they’ve been gaining popularity quickly all over the world and their stop in Helsinki will be remembered fondly by many present. Their proggy/djent-infused blend of hardcore and groovy extreme metal and heaps of melody speaks to the masses and hits like a bombshell live.
Besides the masterfully played music, the focal point is easily vocalist Tatiana who has a talent for belting out seemingly effortless soaring clean vocals and vicious growls. Her quirky yet impressive stage presence wins over the hearts of many and she has the crowd in the palm of her hand from start to finish. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: this band will become one of the great metal bands in the future of the genre.
Another band for who things seem to be going better and better each year, is the Polish extreme metal outfit Behemoth. Their 2018 release ‘I Loved You At Your Darkest‘ was a big hit with metalheads around the world and they’ve been marching their legions all over since then. Nergal and his buddies mounted the stage wearing their classic skull deathmasks for opening track ‘Wolves ov Siberia‘. And suddenly despite their rather chilling presence, the temperature went up quite a few degrees. Even Slayer didn’t evoke as much pyro as Behemoth did.
Besides the rather impressive and hair burning heatwaves coming from all the fire spit out in front of the stage, Behemoth puts down a damn solid show every single time. Whether it’s inside or outside, Behemoth kills it! This band is one of those few outfits that slathers their faces with corpse paint and still manages to come across strong in full sunlight. Fire, blood, immaculate stage presence and damn heavy music. As Nergal shouted to the crowd, this was their biggest show yet in Finland and it begs for more! See you again soon!
As the last band of the weekend to play on the Helsinki tent stage, was the highly popular American rock band Halestorm. This band has been touring relentlessly throughout their existence and released banger after banger of rock albums. We got greeted by drummer Arejay Hale suddenly bursting on stage before taking his spot behind the drumkit and off we went for an hour of modern hard rock!
Lizzy Hale joined her brother on stage together with guitarist Joe and bassist Josh and soon proved why they are so popular all around the world. Rowdy hit after hit was fired at us and Lizzy simply is perfect in her role as frontwoman for the band. The classic drum solo by Arejay with the gigantic drum sticks passed by and a highlight came shortly after with one of their most popular tracks ‘Freak Like Me’! They fittingly were “Finnishing” their European festival tour in Finland (credits for joke go to Arejay) and we’re already looking forward to their next visit.
The Hellacopters (***)
With a day seemingly focusing a lot on new stars or bands on the rise within the metal and hard rock scene, the headliner of the Sunday and festival closer seemed a bit of a weird choice. Swedish hard rock outfit The Hellacopters is quite legendary though in Finland, so I guess it was appropriate. To be completely honest, for me it was the least convincing festival closer in the 4 years I’ve attended Tuska.
Nevertheless the members of this band are all very talented musicians who have been around in the music scene for a couple of decades (with present and former members of bands like Entombed, Backyard Babies, Lucifer,…) and are absolutely skilled at what they do. It was a solid and very enjoyable rock show, just after all the fresh winds and powerful shows that blew over the festival the past days it felt a bit lackluster. Still happy that I was able to catch this cult band live.
Tuska 2019 was an edition with a lot of changes, some for the better, some not. We’re looking forward to see what they have in store for us again in 2020, both on the level of organisation and line-up. See you next year!
For more pics of day 3, go here: