Day three of Tuska Open Air Metal Festival 2016 is about to begin: today’s big three are Gojira, Katatonia and headliners Children of Bodom. There’s been ominous rain all morning and as we head up to the arena we get a nice respite as the sun glistens over the harbour.
Block Buster: Opening the festival today with their energetic poppy thrash these guys are great fun and deliver some real foot stomping/headbanging groove. They deserve a bigger crowd but those gathered feed off their infectious energy. Bark of the Underdogs was the only title I caught but I definitely recommend checking them out. For fans of Airbourne and good old fashioned rock and fucking roll.
Nuclear Omnicide: Fantastic movement on stage, fast, aggressive thrash which is a nice mix after watching most of Block Buster’s set and then coming to see them. They have really nice melodic snippets (slightly Death-y at times) and the bassist is wearing a Ranger shirt (kudos). Once again another band with great crowd engagement. This is nice to see from such young lads who are good fun to watch. Top points from me. Set highlight is the crushing Merciless Butcher.
Myrkur: I couldn’t get into this project at Graspop, her vocals got a bit lost and it felt quite disjointed due to the large venue. Roll forward a fortnight and I am starting to get it a bit more at Tuska. The audience is giving a better reaction too. With the stage shrouded in smoke, the band take to the stage and Amalie Bruun begins the set at her keyboard to the left. Opening with the spectral Den Lille Piges Død, the clean vocal is soaring and entrancing, but it’s when Amalie takes to the centre stage in behind her two branched wooden mic stand that the true menace of Myrkur is revealed. Her black metal growl equals the best in the business and the band provides the perfect soundscape to accompany the psychotic delivery. Myrkur is marmite, loved and hated in equal measure by the multitudes. Note from Steve: As she finished the final song on her own at Tuska Open Air Metal Festival, I had to leave the marquee to get ready to photograph the next band on the main stage. Her voice soared across the silent main arena which was saturated by rain.. it was hauntingly beautiful as it echoed around the emptiness. It was a goosebumps moment that I’ll never forget.. Thank you Amalie…
Hatebreed: Despite the torrential rain Hatebreed have a great crowd. If I am honest they aren’t really my cup of tea but they are good at getting the pit going and are so happy to be in Finland. Jamey Jasta is an awesome frontman and from the off he grabs the attention of everyone in the arena. It’s metalcore, thrash, hardcore, punk and heavy metal all rolled into one and the Finns are lapping it up. Set highlights for me are Destroy Everything and In Ashes They Shall Reap with its hooky as hell anthemic chorus. Hatebreed are a fantastic festival band and bring positivity through power on the darkest day.
Diablo: Finnish melodic death metallers Diablo make a great entrance with a female vocal sample playing while the crowd clap in feverish anticipation. The twin lead guitars soar throughout the marquee before tearing into the first track. Safe to say, they are home town heroes and are greeted as such. They are not what I was expecting but I am enjoying their melodic thrash style with slower sections in between. I can only catch a small part of their set as I want get a good place in the Inferno Stage hall to see Nervosa. Sorry guys.
Nervosa: No bullshit, fast, insane thrash from this Brazilian three piece who are a must see for me at this festival. The facial expressions of bassist/vocalist Fernanda Lira in particular are fantastic. It’s unfair to compare them to Sepultura due to their nationality, but holy shit, their songs, and Lira’s vocal delivery are right out of the Beneath The Remains modus operandi and it thrashes like a motherfucker. Catch them on their tour with Destruction later this year. The PlanetMosh team reckon they are a massive threat to the three other bands on that tour; prepare to be flattened. A definite favourite of the whole festival for me, highlights of their set being Twisted Values, Masked Betrayer and Hostages. These girls mean business.
Gojira: Gojira have been highly anticipated since they were announced and their fervent performance at Graspop a few weeks ago. The current flavour of the month with the music press have a large audience awaiting their arrival on stage which they stagger to make the most of their entrance. Bassist Jean-Michel Labadie jumping around like a maniac off the drum riser is the dynamic manifestation of their sound. Mario Duplantier takes a quick break after The Heaviest Matter In The Universe to throw sticks to the crowd, after which his brother mocks that he can’t do a full set any longer. As the wind blows the smoke over the faces in the front row they plough through the twin attack of Slivera/Stranded off new album Magma. The inclusion of Wisdom Comes and Terra Incognita is greatly appreciated by the diehards. Highlights of the set for me are Flying Whales, Only Pain and Vacuity. Gojira definitely capture the attention at Tuska with their very unique style of heavy music, laced with a painfully emotive message to all of us. This is a special performance for the records.
Katatonia: I’ll admit I am expecting the Katatonia show to be a come down/crash after the fantastic Gojira set but I am totally blown away. It’s a massive contrast to what has preceded but this band are so reflective and yet they give such a passion on stage. They open with July and follow with highlights Dead Letters, My Twin and set closer Forsaker. A beautiful and heartfelt set, for which I sit on the ground and close my eyes, totally zoning out listening to the music and the stunning voice of Jonas Renske, whose words wrap around me like a warm blanket. Jonas mentions that the Swedes have always loved playing in Helsinki and that they feel at home and welcomed here. Melancholic and majestic in the marquee.
Children of Bodom: This will be my fourth time seeing Bodom, but the first time seeing them in their home country and it is a little strange to hear Alexi speaking Finnish! (much better than his American English accent). I feel that the sound is a bit off, the keyboards are too loud which makes it difficult to hear what is going on even though I know their older albums very well. Still, this is a great nostalgia trip for me, especially when they play In Your Face, Lake Bodom, Silent Night, Bodom Night and Hate Crew Deathroll. They finish their set with three covers (Creedence/Ramones/Cash) which I have to say kind of ruins the set for me. That being said, these closers add to the party atmosphere of the show which is more of a celebration of the COBHC. It’s great fun to watch as they bring members of other bands such as Block Buster, Diablo, David from Havok and members of the audience on stage for the final singalong. Minor gripe aside, Children Of Bodom give us a great end to a fantastic weekend for the PlanetMosh team in Finland.
Tuska has possibly been the best European festival I have ever attended. It is exactly the right size to be able to afford bigger acts to play and yet small enough for it to remain intimate and relaxed. It also means that the more “underground” bands that play get a great audience as the timetables are well organised and every single one was professional and just as enjoyable to watch as the big headliners. There are no huge treks between stages, bands don’t start until the early afternoon so you have time to get some lunch in your hotel before the day begins (there’s no camping) so everyone starts the day fresh and happy. Finland as a county is beautiful, there is no rubbish anywhere and the festival site itself was kept spotless so it was a nice place to be (even though the dust made me a bit snotty – the rain was a big help on Sunday). Such a fantastic experience, I shall definitely be coming again.
Photos by Down The Barrel Photography[flickrapi user=”planet mosh” get=”photoset” id=”72157669838156470″ size=”z” count=”100″]