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Tuska Open Air 2014 | FESTIVALPHOTO

Tuska Open Air 2014


What was new at this year's Tuska? Perhaps not much more than a new initiative with three comedians performing stand up on the Club Stage to start each day - otherwise the festival relied mostly on (multi time) previous Tuska performers, and pretty guaranteed crowd pleasers.

One of the first timers in Tuska was Phillip H. Anselmo of Pantera fame, and his new band The Illegals, an act that must have divided some opinions during their main stage slot. Most people in attendance were probably hoping to hear a few classic Pantera tunes - and they did get that, in the form of A New Level, Hellbound and Primal Concrete Sledge - but had to struggle through messy new Anselmo & The Illegals material, that supposedly will make the band "more famous than Metallica" - it was kind of hard to get a read from Phil how serious he was, as he rambled between songs with a wine bottle in his hand and appeared confused on a few occasions that they still had to continue playing as there was more stage time left than expected.

What was supposed to be a rainy cold weekend turned into rain only on Sunday- both Friday and Saturday of the 17th Tuska Festival were against all odds and weather forecasts very sunny and warm. This was the perfect setting for Children Of Bodom's special "Bodom Beach Barbeque" show. The band returned to their hometown festival with a big bang after a seven year break. Since COB had cancelled the previous year's appearance due to a conflicting American tour, the Finnish crowd was psyched about finally seeing the quintet on the Tuska festival stage. Read more about the show and COB's interesting stage set up in the separate review.

Carcass chose to rely pretty heavily on their Surgical Steel comeback album. Perhaps being one of the only good comeback albums I can think of, it wasn't a bad choice seeing that they've played their classics from Heartwork and Reek of Putrefaction pretty excessively in the recent years following their return. The songs from ' Steel are strong, like the video track Unfit For Human Consumption and the lead single Captive Bolt Pistol, but what made this Carcass show one to remember was the laid back attitude that the grand old man Jeff Walker and his posse delivered the show with. The tongue-in-cheek remarks between the songs, like "we're really sorry for starting this whole melodic death metal scene" really sealed the deal and formed a connection between the band and the audience that made the show that much more enjoyable.

Dimmu Borgir's Friday headline show was coined to be a special one, celebrating 10 years of their Death Cult Armageddon album, which the band played in its entirety. In addition to this, the mandatory cuts like Mourning Palace, Puritania and so forth fit the bill too. For the occasion, you would have perhaps expected to see an orchestra on the stage, or a more flashy and theatrical show, and perhaps one of the more popular albums from the band's catalogue would have hit home better for the Finnish crowd that has had dozens of chances to catch the band already this century.

Saturday started off with a friendly match of new school vs old school thrash/speed metal. The boys from Lost Society, Finland's next big hope for international metal fame, weren't even born when the Finnish forefathers of the genre, Stone, had already initially wrapped up their career in 1992. While Lost Society was running, stomping and headbanging all over the stage refusing to stay still for even one moment, Stone strolled through their set with some older prestige. So did old school or new school win? Based on the crowd reactions, fans enjoyed both bands alike despite the shows being early, and you could say that in a way the torch is being symbolically passed on to the new generation, and no is definitely complaining!

You rarely see the type of child-like enthusiasm from a band as old as Tankard. The band's singer Gerre ran around the stage way more than you'd expect someone of his size to be able to. "Rest in Beer", as Tankard's new single is called, pretty well sets the tone on what the band is all about- drinking beer, having fun and singing along, a solid kickoff for the early evening.

The Tuska area followed pretty much the same usual layout from the previous years - you could catch your breath in the park bar for a beer, buy cheap groceries from the Alepa truck, or even wash your clothes in the Bio Luvil tent and get a black bathrobe as you'd wait your stuff to wash & dry. The festival's food area was severely plagued with seagulls flocking around trying to grab a bite of your meals - a challenge the organization should try to find a solution for. From the bar area bordering the two main stages- big plus for a broader selection of lagers and specialty beers, but minus for continuous, excessive queues yet again. Having to wait 20 minutes for your beer is not cool if you want to see the bands.

Bring Me The Horizon seemed to be the biggest favorite of the younger crowd. Starting almost 15 minutes late due to delayed schedules, the band was anxious and eager to get the crowd moving. "We didn't fly all the way here for this shit" pumped the crowd up to a huge circle pit, and some of the loudest sing-a-long moments of the weekend. BMTH plays some kind of modern metalcore or deathcore, a pretty alienating sound for people who were attending the Tuska Saturday for some of the more traditional bands. But then again, their attitude reeked of not trying to politely win any new fans over, but just play their fierce set and let people either take it or leave it.

Devil You Know had called a number of European dates off due to issues with work visas, and they were replaced with Sweden's own Shining. The band's front figure and mastermind Niklas Kvarforth is quite the peculiar character, which guarantees that Shining's shows are never short of surprises, this time involving spitting at the front row and some open arms (not in that fluffy sense). The show involved the usual encouragements for the front row to go end their days, and the crowd's curiosity towards whether the raging frontman would be able to finish his Jack Daniels bottle before the show's end or not (he got pretty close). As a counter balance, to keep the shows somehow intact during all the madness, Niklas has surrounded himself with some of the most solid and able Finnish musicians around like Euge Valovirta (Godsplague) and Rainer Tuomikanto. A truly entertaining show, with the highlight being the creepy Låt oss ta allt från varanda from the V - Halmstad album.

Anthrax summed up Saturday's thrash parade with their long headliner hit streak, showcasing pretty much all the band's standout tracks. A nice surprising touch to break the usual form was the AC/DC cover T.N.T, and a nod towards Dio and Dimebag midway through the set, as two large banners featuring their portraits were revealed for a few songs. Wrapping up the show finally with Be All, End All and Antisocial, the crowd got from Anthrax exactly what it came for.

If Friday featured some pretty safe fan favorites and Saturday was dominated by thrash metal, the spotlight on Sunday was on Norwegian Black Metal. With the weather turning almost conveniently for the occasion into light rain and the sun going hiding for the rest of the day, after Insomnium's moody melodeath, Satyricon was up next on the main stage. Satyr mentioned Finland always greeting them well, and it was clear that it was the case again already when the band launched their show with Now, Diabolical.

Emperor was the last band of the festival, celebrating 20 years from their In The Nightside Eclipse album, and much like Dimmu on Friday with Death Cult Armageddon, playing the entire album from start to finish. Certainly, it's no longer 1994 and Ihsahn may have grown up and all, but if you'll play the kind of bombastic music that Emperor plays for 90 minutes straight, you'd expect to see more of a show than have dudes showing up who look like they've just been woken up from their living room sofas after falling asleep when reading a book, still with their glasses on. Ihsahn still has his screeching voice as strong as ever, but say what you want, listening through every single track of the band's repetitive tracks from In The Nightside Eclipse is really only for the purists.

One could argue that this year's Tuska was a bit uneventful with limited surprises, but that's probably because Tuska has found a functioning formula that doesn't need much more than small finetuning and a solid lineup like this year after year. With the festival's attendance figures once again exceeding expectations, it's clear that they are doing a lot of things right.

Writer: Lari
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