Helsinki (or should that be Hellsinki in this case?), Finland

13.7 Friday

I arrived at Tuska before 5 pm and the place was packed. Missed out on Finntroll (like the name says, finnish goblin metal!), but did get to hear with my second ear Amon Amarth (from Sweden) and Kotiteollisuus (Finland) and have to say they aren't for me. Of course the wind was blowing all through the festival, so it messed up the sounds and you didn't get to hear the best from any bands. Especially if you were standing far from the stage.

Next was Impaled Nazarene from Finland and they once got my attention some years ago with their album Suomi Finland Perkele, but I never liked their lyrics. But being open-minded and once liking black metal and growling vocals very much I have to say they didn't sound bad to where I was at and I'm sure fans were excited to see them live. But still nowadays it's a bit too brutal for me, so I stayed in the "over-18-only" tent and started to get ready for my fave band for over a decade, Stratovarius. Only 2 bands to go and then...

The 69 Eyes, also from Finland, came next. They've gotten a bit better from the first albums, but I don't like the Type O' Negative-impression they are giving now. The new songs are good though, especially songs like The chair and Brandon Lee made fans go wild. Too bad the wind blew the sounds all over the place, so it wasn't that fun to listen to from far.

Next was Elškelšiset, Finnish "humppa" metal band that plays covers from metal bands. I had to go to see them since I missed their show in Wacken '00 (heard them though). Only after 3 songs the joke kinda gets old. The songs I heard were from Blur (!!), Black Sabbath's Paranoid, Iron Maiden's Run to the hills (if I remember correctly). Don't ask about the lyrics, they're weird... But you can hear the word "humppa" being mentioned in all songs. Of course these guys are fun and try guessing the songs they play!

Finally Stratovarius! So many familiar faces had once again travelled around the world to come to see their last show before the year and a halfs break. Strato-fans sure are devoted! The set list was: Phoenix, Paradise, Kiss of Judas, Will my soul ever rest in peace, Black diamond, Dreamspace, Why are we here, Father time, SOS, Will the sun rise and Hunting high and low. A few changes from the Ruisrock festival held a week earlier. Nice to hear such old songs like Dreamspace being played live again. There were a few pyrothings again and if you stood near the stage it was pretty hot and loud. Seemed like every time a pyro went off Kotipelto ran as far from them as he could. No wonder after his accident in Wacken in 2000!

Fans went nuts of course and even more nuts when knowing this was the last show in a while. And I have to say Stratovarius has been really amazing live for the past few years. This band only gets better and better! No wonder they have as many fans as they have today and as passionate as was proven in Tuska. I left home, after a visit to the backstage, with a huge smile on my face. (Partly because seing Jens fooling around again...) Interview with Kotipelto coming in about two weeks...

14.7 Saturday

Once again, like on Friday, there was only one band I really wanted to see; Rhapsody. But I did manage to drag my hiny to do at least a bit of my job and see Timo Rautiainen and Trio Niskalaukaus as first band. (The first three were Drive, Yearning and Gandalf all from Finland). Although I don't listen to their music I know all their songs. Tells you how popular they are in Finland. Their set was very good, though I don't think this band has any bad songs. They're raw manpower with attitude, just fits for the finnish men especially when drunk... Just check out the video "Nyt on mies" and you know what I'm talking about. After them Swedish Headplate and Finnish Amorphis played. Headplate didn't do anything for me, but having missed out a few gigs from Amorphis I had been looking forward to seing them live once again. Too bad I was pretty far from the stage so I could hardly tell what songs they played. Not many from Tales from the thousand lakes though. They're concentrating on the new style these days and I like the clear vocals more too. Then came Transport league, one more band that I couldn't get in to.

And then the main band of the day, Rhapsody from Italy. An hour's set from all bands in my opinion stinks. You'd expect mainbands to play at least an hour and a half, but no. So I was really surprised and disappointed by Rhapsody's set. First time in Finland and they concentrated on songs from the last two albums. My fave album being the first you can imagine how disappointed others feeling the same way were. But I'm one lucky girl to have seen them before with an older set, so I feel sympathy for those who haven't had the chance. Also many would've wanted to see the costumes Rhapsody used in Wacken. But Fabio told us they were for Wacken only. Oh well. Anyhow everyone was really excited and surely you can expect a few swords in the air when the music is of dragons and Kings... I was too lazy to bring mine though. But I did have an idea of putting on a costume. Or what do you think about trying to dance with an armour on?!

A few things I noticed while partying like hell was Luca had some technical problems with his guitar and Fabio has improved his singing a lot in a year. Hopefully he'll quit smoking though so he won't ruin his voice.

The set list was: (not quite in order) Dawn of victory, The last winged unicorn, The village of dwarves, Wisdom of the Kings, Dargor shadowlord of the black mountain, The bloody rage of the titans, Eternal glory, then encore: Epicus furor, Emerald sword, Symphony of enchanted lands, Holy thunderforce.

Interview with Rhapsody here...

15.7 Sunday

There weren't many interesting bands to see on Sunday. So I only bothered to check out Daniel Lioneye and the Rollers which is of HIM guys and In Flames from Sweden. And Katatonia from Sweden, which was ok.

Daniel's music is, as expected, all party and rock 'n 'roll. Sounded in my ears like chaos and screaming. And the bassists a**(ass) was showing, wearing an a**-licking mask too, so I'm sure you get the idea now. In Flames didn't sound as good as in Wacken or maybe I was too drunk then. But still they were good. But I was too tired to watch them till the end.

During the whole 3 days all the bands played way too loud. If you were in front of the stage, you had better had earplugs. Even from further you could hardly talk with anyone. The rest of Sunday's bands were: United Underworld, Rotten Sound and 45 Degree Woman. Not much to complain about the festival. The t-shirt selection wasn't that good and volumes a bit down next year! And maybe move the beer tent so that you can watch bands from there also.

Satu Reunanen, pix Kari Helenius.

[ pictured on the right: Dominique Leurquin, Alex Staropoli, Jens Johansson's Elina-spider, Satu of AOR-europe and Jens Johansson backstage.]