Helsinki, Finland 12-14.7.2002

The years most waited metal festival of Finland was here again. Even for those who don't listen to such brutal bands as Impaled Nazarene, Marduk, The Crown, Demigod and so forth there was still something to see like Nightwish, Sentenced, Sonata Arctica and the Iron Maiden-God Bruce Dickinson. During the whole festival the sun was shining badly and it must've been really awful for most of the people to walk around in black, but what can you do, it's the dress-code ! And the blood, sweat and "stains" just don't show in black, like the story goes.

I didn't witness any fights, I hardly ever witness any among metal fans. So everything went really well. The beer must've sold really well because of the heat and some of the people were in the right festival condition, where you can hardly understand what they're saying. Way to go ! Party hard !


The last band on Friday to enter the 667 Seconds stage was Machine Head, a band well known from being one damn good live band, who scare some bands away from the supporting bands place. The set was mostly newer material and only a few songs from their first albums, like "Old", "A Thousand Lies", "Davidian" and "Ten Ton Hammer" and some covers like Metallica's "Creeping Death", which got a good responce from the crowd, even though Machine Head wasn't at their best. The second guitar was missing in "Old" and it made the music sound a bit weaker and more poorer. But they were still powerful compared to many other bands. The guys also suffered from an electrical breakdown which lasted about five minutes and singer Flynn seemed a bit bothered from it. He also told the crowd to drink Finlandia Vodka and Koff beer. Must be familiar items to the band, since they've been in Finland before. Seemed a bit strange though, that they left the stage without playing their newest hit "Crashing Around You".


On Saturday Sentenced gathered a lot of fans on the spot. They've never been this popular in Finland and the gig was probably one of their best. The guys are known from being the silent type, just what we finns often are and singer Laihiala didn't speak much between the songs, he hardly even introduced the songs. Their set was pretty good, but "Killing Me, Killing You" was left out and still it seems to be one of the favourite songs among the fans, though a really depressive one. Sentenced forgot all the material from "Crimson". Too bad, as it's a great album. The set list was: "Cross My Heart And Hope To Die", "Blood & Tears", "Neverlasting", "Bleed", "Warrior Of Life", "Drown Together", "Noose", "The Luxury Of A Grave", "Farewell", "Nepenthe", "The Suicider", "Sun Won't Shine" and "Dance On The Graves (lil' siztah'").


Nightwish was the last band on Saturday. This amazing band has sold gold in Finland with their last album in the first two hours it arrived to the stores, so it was no wonder they were the last band to play that day. They started the set with "Bless The Child" and half of the gig was from the new album, songs from it: "End Of All Hope", "Dead To The World", "Ever Dream", "Slaying The Dreamer" and "Beauty Of The Beast". From "Wishmaster" they played "Come Cover Me", "The Kinslayer" and "Wishmaster". Somewhere along the set the speakers started crackling and Tarja's voice got a bit lost somewhere in that noise. Marko's voice was heard the best throughout the gig and he is such an incredible singer who also has the amazing ability to take possess of both fans and the stage. Tarja isn't far from it, though sometimes she seems like a tiny mouse, who needs a bit more self-confidence

for the stage appearance. But she was probably hot for the malefans, as she wasn't wearing her normal beautiful costumes but a pvc top and pants, so she looked more like a metalhead this time. The trouble with the speakers made the music lose some of the emotion and power that Nightwish are so good at. Too bad this had to happen with the main band of the day. Only one song was played from "Oceanborn" and it was "Sacrament Of Wilderness" and none from "Angels Fall First". The last two songs were the great "Sleeping Sun" and Gary Moore cover "Over The Hills And Far Away", which worked out pretty well concidering the lousy speakers. The set seemed a bit short, maybe because they played so few songs from "Wishmaster", an album with only great tracks in it, which people would like to hear more live.


The best bands to enter the stage on Sunday in my opinion were Sonata Arctica and Bruce Dickinson. Now I gotta admit I was a bit lost with my hearing during the Sonata gig, as I kept hearing really strange things such as Tony announcing a song being from the album "Socks Of Silence"...which should be "Songs Of Silence", their latest live album. And in "Last Drop Falls" I always hear him sing "I have found a whore in you" (should be "home") and I'm not the only one hearing it like this ! The speaker problems continued on Sunday and Sonata sounded really bad. Tony's voice disappeared now and then somewhere and others had the same problem. Sonata started the set with a new song I'm not too sure about the title of, but it sounded great, as great as it could with that equipment. The rest of the songlist was good too; "San Sebastian", "Kingdom For A Heart", "Peacemaker", "Full Moon", "8th Commandment", "Last Drop Falls", "Respect The Wilderness", "Replica", "My Land", "Black Sheep" and "Wolf And Raven". I don't know was it the sound or the more darker crowd than usual or hangover, but people weren't giving much response back to the band. Even when Tony was singing the crowd hardly anyone sang. At least I didn't hear much anything to where I was standing and that wasn't far from the stage. And Tony was growling in a few parts and didn't sing too well. But he was really funny when he sang "temple of the evil" (Black Sheep) and stressed the word "evil" with an evil sound, so some parts from his singing were just fooling around.


When Bruce Dickinson entered the stage people ran to see him. There were a lot of Iron Maiden fans present and waiting to hear some Maiden tunes. Unfortunately one of those was "Revelations", which isn't even the most popular tracks from the band. They also played "Bring Your Daughter To The Slaughter" and "Prisoner". The setlist must've been pretty much the same as in Sweden Rock Festival. Not the best songs Bruce has, but some of the highlights were "Back From The Edge", "Accident Of Birth", "The Tower", "Laughing In The Hiding Bush", "Tattooed Millionaire", "Dark Side Of Aquarius" and the really beautiful "Tears Of The Dragon". Bruce was in his element, he was jumping around the stage a lot, so much that it was hard to photograph him. And he hasn't changed at all with his speaches and jokes either. The last song was just what you could expect him to surprise the crowd with, the old "Delilah". Some fans were really frustrated of this, but some had a blast with it. During those funny guitar parts Bruce was running on stage like an elf and he made his point really well, he's a funny guy. The band was Alex Dickson (Gun, etc), Pete Friesen (Alice Cooper, etc), Chris Dale (Atom Seed, etc) and Robin Guy (Rachel Stamp).


Tuska festival was sold out both Saturday and Sunday. But the place was pretty pleasant to roam around at, it wasn't as packed as some festivals usually are. You also had a chance to meet bands there and to get autographs. The lines were pretty long though, at least during Timo Rautiainen & Trio Niskalaukaus. There were also all kinds of stuff for sale and the Tuska t-shirt sold out ! And again the fans were from all over the world, there were Japanese, Italian and some French guys were yelling "Celine Dion" at one point behind us...And once again the icehockey player Jere Lehtinen was present and appeared on stage as well. And as it goes for metal festivals, there are always religious people hanging around trying to convert us "satanists" to their beliefs. So someone got really bored of it this year and tried to burn their tent down. Fortunately no one was hurt, but personally I think metalheads should be left alone, they've gotten enough crap on them already and most people just don't know what they're talking about here. There's no difference here to the normal disco or country music fan, other than when you dress in black you look scary ! I have my own experiences. Like this grandma saw me on our way to Tuska and quickly pulled this little girl far away from where I was walking, like I looked really evil...I was only wearing black clothes, but I'm the nicest person you can find, I can hardly step on an ant ! So talk about prejudice !


Every evening the party continued at the legendary Tavastia club. We went to check out the action on Saturday, just for the interest against the new finnish metal band Thunderstone and another one some people have been raving about, Burning Point. The latter played a really heavy gig and they were quite good, but Thunderstone should've played in Tuska, they were too good for a small gig like this. And looks like they're getting even better all the time and getting more and more fans, who really dig them. They probably played the whole album through and the last song was a heck of a surprise, at least for someone like me who digs all those old bands from 80'ies. It was Yngwie Malmsteen's "I'll See The Light Tonight" and the guys were incredible, at some point you might've thought it was Yngwie's own band on stage !


Tavastia is a place where you get to meet a lot of musicians and Saturday night was filled with them. We haven't had more fun in ages than that night, as we spoke with Nightwish guitarist Emppu, who wanted to entertain us with a nice poem.. erhm, what an incredibly funny and nice guy he is ! Also Kotipelto of Stratovarius bullshitted us as much as he could, maybe better not believe everything what he says ! As he is going to play in Wacken festival soon, he told us he's going to have Sandra, Samantha Fox etc on stage and he'll just push a button to start the music and then disappear from the stage himself...ok, I do believe him ! Then we bumped into Erkka of Urban Tale, who was quite a surprise to see there. He was really talkative about for instance their shows in On The Rocks club this summer. You might want to check them out, last time they had Thunderstone's singer as a guest and more to come. They are either playing their own songs or covers. All in all an incredible weekend ! My feet were aching still after 5 days and this was just a rehearsal for Wacken, where we'll be running like mad to see all those bands. Stay tuned for that one !

Story: Satu Reunanen

Pictures: Kari Helenius