OPEN AIR METAL FESTIVAL
A nice continuation for summer festivals was Tuska, held in the center of Helsinki as every other year before this. For many metal fans this year was quite special though, as the biggest names from abroad were Type O'Negative who were last seen here many years ago, Ministry who were here for the first time and Soulfly, which has gained success through Max Cavalera from Sepultura, who were very popular in Finland. This is the kind of music that mostly works here among metal fans. The other foreign bands on the bill that were almost as popular were The Haunted, Behemoth, Arch Enemy, Immortal Souls and Burgul Torkhain. From the "lighter" side were Edguy from Germany and Lost Horizon from Sweden. And of course the cream of the finnish bands. This year Tuska gathered 25 000 metal fans and each day was sold out. A lot of press from abroad were interested as well and lots of foreign fans too. It was such a great sight watching Helsinki dress in black for a few days. This was the heaven (hell ?) for metal fans. Hell for others for sure, but some "normal" people came to check out the action outside the festival area and sat down laughing at the black clothes. Well, whatever gives you the kicks.
The weekend didn't treat people as well as it could've, as it rained on Friday and Saturday, off and on. But Sunday was very hot. Friday started with MOONSORROW, blasting their folkish, epic metal with finnish lyrics from the main stage. People were quite anxious to see the band and since the gates opened an hour before the band started playing, the lines outside were really long, stretching for hundreds of meters. If you weren't early enough there to take your place on the line, you missed out Moonsorrow. This kind of arrangement could be compared to the Wacken Open Air in Germany, they never get it working either. Opening the gates two hours before the first band might do it though, depending of course how much tickets were sold. We caught a few songs from the band though and it seemed like a good show from them and the place was already packed at three o'clock in the afternoon. Next was ROTTEN SOUND and at the same time with them REVEREND BIZARRE, but I decided to pass them and wait for Amorphis which started pretty soon after Moonsorrow. A few of Rotten Sound fans were seen walking in the area, you could easily tell it from their appearance with fake blood spread all over their bodies. Kari went to take a few pics of the band though (see left). AMORPHIS played a good set too, both new and old material: "Killing Goodness", "Evil Inside", "Alone", "Divinity", "Against Widows", "Grailīs Mysteries", "In The Beginning", "My Kantele", "Day Of Your Beliefs", "Summer's End", "Drowned Maid" and "Black Winter Day". The HAUNTED and THYRANE played after them at the same time. The Haunted had an energetic and loud show, the tent was filled and even the outside was crowded.
STRATOVARIUS only had an hour show like most of the bands and they decided to play lots of oldies: "Kiss Of Judas" started the show, followed by "Legions", "Hunting High And Low", "Against The Wind", "Soul Of A Vagabond", "Speed Of Light", "Twilight Symphony", "Forever Free", "Visions", "Father Time" and finally "Black Diamond". The band was in great shape, Timo Kotipelto seemed to be in a really good mood and Jens Johansson was fooling around behind his keys more than ever. The pyros were huge again, almost touching the top banners of the stage and the heat from them reached even the fans standing far away from the stage. Kind of a shame though they only included one new song to the set, since we haven't heard the new songs much live. Later on Jens Johansson was caught backstage fooling around with his Elina-spider again, which he also had in Tuska 2001 with him. I think he also had something else with him this time. Oh boy...
SENTENCED and THUNDERSTONE had the same schedule, so I decided to go and check out Sentenced for a while and then Thunderstone. Both played in the small tents, which was a shame really, 'cos they could play the main stage. They packed the tents really well and had good shows. Sentenced played at least (not in order): "Konevitsan Kirkonkellot", "Noose", "Bleed","Cross My Heart And Hope To Die", "Brief Is The Light", "Luxury Of A Grave", "The Suicider", "Sun Won't Shine", "Farewell", "Neverlasting", "Nepenthe", "No One There", "Excuse Me While I Kill Myself" and "Broken". Ville Laihiala once again kept his speaches short. From the usual Thunderstone set this one had a different cover song, Dio's "Rainbow In The Dark" (hope I remember the right song) and it worked as well as anything the guys have played before, Pasi Rantanen sang it with real Dio-spirit, a rough and powerful voice. Later Nino Laurenne was caught backstage fooling around and Mirka Rantanen had fun on stage too, though we couldn't capture him on film while he was making faces. We also caught a smaller fellow from the Thunderstone party enjoying the show from Lordi. At five years of age he already had a true metal spirit with his fist held in the air. We met Mirka and he told us Thunderstone has started working with their second album, so we'll be hearing more from these guys. He also mentioned about the second album from Kotipelto, where he'll be playing again with about the same pack that was on the first album. But it's a long wait still, so keep your calm and stay tuned.
TYPE OīNEGATIVE was the last band of the day and they interested many, the long-time fans and the ones who were only interested in the band's strange image. The guys played their show in green shirts and pants, an image taken straight from a hospital. Even their instruments and Peter Steele's bass were green too, which also had chains as a bass strap. Their setlist I have to say was a bit boring and they didn't play "My Girlfriend's Girlfriend" though they were supposed to. The songs I can remember been played were: "Unsuccessfully Coping With The Natural Beauty Of Infidelity", "Wolf Moon", "Everyone I Love Is Dead", "Christian Woman", "Love You To Death", "World Coming Down", "Kill All The White People", "Prelude to Agony (Pain)", "I Don't Wanna Be Me" and "Black No.1". They brought two fans on stage with the Vinnland-flag and they were having a blast there, swinging the flag to the crowd. Steele had funny speaks like "I know we suck, but you paid to get in and I was on the guestlist. I want you to want me!". They got both a bad and a good reception, but mostly people enjoyed the show. For conclusion to the set Peter Steele smashed his bass through the stage floor, but didn't succeed all that well, leaving only a hole in there. This was the last show from Type in their European tour and the band was pleased to get back home, only to get back on tour in the US in the end of July.
Arrived to the area while the French BURGUL TORKHAIN were playing their brutal metal and they sounded good. The first full show we caught was from EDGUY and where I was standing the crowd mostly had bad things to say about them and the normal "go home"..well, no one's forcing you to watch the band if you don't like it, so...also the crowd was pretty silent during the sing-alongs, so this wasn't the best crowd for the band. But the area in front of the stage was packed with fans and they were having fun. Edguy just released their first live album, which is a double cd, and their set in Helsinki was almost identical to the live album. Their intro for the show was this funny song about Finland and the rest of the songs were: "Fallen Angels", "Tears Of A Mandrake", "Babylon" (from which Tobias Sammet said they only sold about seven copies of it in Finland), "Vain Glory Opera", "Land Of The Miracle" to which Tobi stated it being a pussy ballad that no one wants to hear and which they did in hope for commercial success but failed in it, "The Headless Game" (this is where the crowd got to sing, do some German and yoddling and Tobi was pleased about finns' german skills), "Save Us Now", "Avantasia" from Tobi's solo album and "Out Of Control". This was their second gig this year and they're starting to record the new album now. The band seemed very enthusiastic, Tobi climbed on both of the side structures and was watching over the mass of people and Dirk Sauer, Jens Ludwig and Tobias Exxel were moshing together like crazy and swinging their instruments in line. Too bad you never see the drummer though, so I only heard Felix Bohnke, but he sounded very energetic too. The sounds weren't the best to the other side where I was at, but elsewhere they were good. When it started to rain Tobi stated that God always needs attention and reminded that it's a metal festival and not some Ricky Martin show or something of a kind and he also got wet with the crowd. Later he announced that the band will get really drunk after the show and so they did. They were already having fun while at the signing session and while doing one interview (so I heard) in the small press tent that actually was put in there as a joke...bad, bad boys ! We talked with Jens for a while and found out he's not that much into watching sports on tv, but he got excited when we started talking about guitars...Edguy will be back in Finland while doing the new album, of course in Finnvox. Maybe we'll get a studio report from there later on.
LULLACRY was next for me, but since the tent was so full I only listened to a few songs. The band came straight from a wedding (where they also played) to the Tuska festival with their suites on and after the show they went back. The new singer Tanja has gained more courage on stage than what we saw in one of her first shows and this gig was good. There were both new and old songs and "Sweet Desire" and "Damn You" still work for me. They also played a Wasp-cover "L.O.V.E. Machine" which suits the band well.
LORDI's show didn't offer much new to the ones who've seen them before, but the band came late on stage due to a confusion with the keyboard wires. So they begun about 15 minutes late from the schedule. Heard a comment from a German who saw the band for the first time and she said she didn't get any of it, the costumes and the songs. It sounded too plain for her. Lordi's got a show in Wacken, Germany this summer and if the response with other Germans is the same, there will be no ground to conquer for this band. But I liked the show as always, even if the songs are simple. And most of the people liked the band, everyone in the beer tent stood up too when the band came on stage, they even stood on chairs ! Some of the songs played: "Get Heavy", "Biomechanic Man", "Rock The Hell Outta You", "Dynamite Tonite", "Devil Is A Loser" and this is where Lordi's huge wings got stuck into each other, which is nothing new. Seems like Lordi has these small things happening in all of their shows. There were other small mishaps too, mainly with guitars. And of course they played "Would You Love A Monsterman". The sounds weren't perfect to the beer tent, but still ok.
BEHEMOTH from Poland scared next with their brutality. I didn't see the band, but only heard the growling. They seemed very popular too. The last bands to play on Saturday were NORTHER and CHILDREN OF BODOM and we couldn't help wondering about the order. Two bands so much alike playing after another ? I wasn't in the mood for a "murder" at all, so I watched a few songs from both and surely they were tight as always. COB was a great conclusion for the night though, the area was packed and the fans got what they came for. The crowd was really amazing during the whole festival. When someone pushed you by accident they apologized. If you walk the streets in Helsinki and this happens, people normally just pass you and give you an arrogant look (blame it on the today's rush and selfishness). And what amazed even more was that during the COB show people lifted this person sitting in a wheelchair high above them (see the first pic) so that he could also see the show. I'm really pleased about these acts, since metal people tend to show others the tougher side of themselves through cursing and such. But if you can deal with that, there's usually nothing more happening. What is the place for action then, you ask. Well, check out the finnish tango/humppa events with jealous husbands and wives and you might get stabbed in the back. Monday surprised COB fans with bad news though, hearing about Kuoppala's departure from the band raised a few emotions. Rock United wishes you all the best, Alexander.
We begun the journey early enough to catch Lost Horizon from the front row and I got my place. I hardly ever find myself from the first row anymore, but this was a must. I've been listening to the band intensily after the first album was released and even more so just before the Tuska gig. They were the first band to play along with an Iron Maiden cover band from Finland called MAURON MAIDEN and the tent wasn't that full. Good for me. But the fans were waiting for this show anxiously, to the point of thinking "will I pass out"...the ones who arrived early enough got a chance to see the band do their soundcheck without make-up and hear a few clips of the songs they were going to play. The band has never been in Finland, but those who've been to Wacken 2001 and Sweden Rock 2002 have witnessed the band's power and the amazing vocals by Daniel Heiman, or Ethereal Magnanimus for fans. The band's message is clear, bringing light to the ones who've been forced to travel the darkest paths not always by their own will and to trust in yourself and the power of will. So the fans are quite fanatical when it comes to the lyrics. The half filled tent were singing along to the songs and even before the band came on stage the crowd was applauding madly for them and screaming. What a great welcome for the band ! And they seemed very pleased about it, smiling all through the show. The setlist as I remember it (the one they had written down was probably not correct, but let me know if you have the right list): "Transdimensional Revelation", "Pure", "Song Of Air", "Lost In The Depths Of Me", "Cry Of A Restless Soul", "Highlander (The One), "Again Will The Fire Burn", "Heart Of Storm", "Sworn In The Metal Wind", "World Through My Fateless Eyes", "Perfect Warrior", "Denial Of Fate", "Welcome Back", "Kingdom Of My Will" and a Crimson Glory cover they've played in their other shows "Red Sharks". Daniel sung it without any difficulty and many times I found myself just watching him in awe and I wasn't the only one. The guy is amazing ! And the band was so amazing that when they started the show, I forgot over half of the lyrics I usually remember just like that. Well, Daniel forgot some of the lyrics too. He had a tough time with his cape in the lights and all that summer's heat and the other guys weren't exactly "cool" on stage with their leather pants either. Everyone was sweating, even the fans, who behaved really well, not really pushing each other or anything nasty. Some of them even closed their eyes to just enjoy the music. And some were wearing the paint just like the band members. One of those fans was Esa, the guitarist of the finnish band Dreamtale. After the show I did an hour interview with Daniel Heiman and the guitarist Wojtek Lisicki, but it wasn't until 17th of July that brought news about Wojtek leaving the band. This year hasn't been too good for me in all aspects, I'm already scared what the rest of the year will bring ! But I hope a good journey for Wojtek and Lost Horizon.
SOULFLY was next and they really got the crowd going. They had an energetic show and Max was doing his usual moves on stage and wearing a finnish coloured shirt. From their raging show with some Sepultura tunes included they had a surprise in their set too, a Nirvana song. This left a lot of the fans wondering what the heck is that song doing there, grunge ?! But all in all it was nice to hear some Sepultura in the set.
TAROT packed the tent and their set included at least: "I Rule", "Convulsions", "Descendants Of Power", "Warhead", "Wings Of Darkness", "Undead Son", "The Punishment", "Angels Of Pain" "Rider Of The Last Day" and "Do You Wanna Live Forever". The band sounded as tight as always and the guys seemed to be in a good mood. During "Punishment" Marco Hietala asked the crowd to turn their backs to the band 'cos "this is The punishment". Everyone was wondering what's this all about, but still did what was asked. The band and the fans both had a great time and the band fooled around with a song called "Yankee Doodle" and lots of jokes, Marco naming the festival as something referring to the lower male body parts.
Didn't see MINISTRY much, since we spent the time doing Tarot interview, but the first three songs didn't impress much. Surely they were popular and they had huge beats to knock off fans from their feet (with TWO drums in the set) and sounded good, but I hardly can listen to this kind of music anymore (brings me a headache) and the songs sound quite monotonic. The only song that stuck in my mind from the set was "New World Order". I heard they also played "Jesus Built My Hotrod", which would've been fun to see and hear as it used to be one of my favourite songs. Al Jourgensen seemed like a preacher behind his huge mike setup.
After all the bands had played we spent some time backstage to see what was happening there and ended up discussing politics with CHILDREN OF BODOM drummer, Jaska. Of all the things you could talk about (of course music being number one when you're on the job) it's politics ! But hey, we did talk about COB too and heard of their US tour in November with Nevermore, Dimmu Borgir and Hypocrisy. Jaska was pleased with the bands that were joining them. But we had to leave in spite of all these nice chaps backstage and get something to eat. The only meal we had almost every day was breakfast because of all the rush, so if we would've stayed any longer someone would've passed out or something gross. Happy happy, joy joy, festivals are still fun ! And you gotta check out Tuska, it's one of the best metal festivals there is, eventhough it's located in the center of Finland's capital city and doesn't offer any tent areas near to the festival area. So book your hotel early enough and see you next year !
Report by Satu Reunanen,
by Kari Helenius,