|Tuska Open Air 2005
So, here we go again: another year, another Tuska. This is becoming a habit. Well, when you get the chance to see such bands as Sentenced (for the last time!), Evergrey, Children Of Bodom, Apocalyptica, Lake Of Tears, Thunderstone, Monster Magnet and the rest of this year's most impressive lineup, there is no choice.
For three days each year Helsinki turns into some kind of Capital of Metal; everything seems to revolve around the festival, and every person you stumble upon is a metalhead. At least I don't recall seeing any 'normal' people in our hostel. Weird - it's like that every year and I still can't get used to it.
I know that a lot of Estonians were planning to go, but this time there was no sign of the Estonian flag; instead a Russian flag was always waving somewhere nearby the center stage. Also, this year the only fellow Metalstormer I met was Angelique, and that wasn't by accident
I was standing in line to get my press pass, trying to explain to two slightly drunk Finnish girls the reason why I have come to Tuska all the way from Estonia. Why? For the bands, of course - and great music! Apparently, it was too much to digest for them and they left, still not satisfied with my answer. That's when Angelique found me. She also brought about 500 printed out Metal Storm flyers to hand out to the public (that was awesome, thank you Angie!).
Wintersun [by Angelique]
I was pretty damn excited while rushing to the SUE-stage: the first of the two bands I was most anticipating was about to start their set. I am sure that Jari Mäenpää (ex-Ensiferum) was at least as excited as me - playing at Tuska Open Air Festival is not just some gig, it's THE place for any Finnish metal band. The band had played live together only a few times before Tuska. So there we were … crowd and band one exicited bunch of metal people.
During the first few songs I was in awe; at loss for words ... these young but very talented musicians played incredibly well together. Not only Jari Mäenpää, who definitely is one of the brightest stars of Finnish guitarists, but also Jukka Mäntysaari from Imperanon, who handled his part more than well. Norther bassist Jukka Koskinen didn't do any worse, not to mention drummer legend Kai Hahto who violated his drum set like a maniac!
Wintersun gave us a very energetic set although the guys were just standing there and playing, but they were playing in rage! The only negative thing was bad mixing, at some moments even lousy. Jari's guitar riffs drowned into vicious drumming but even that couldn't ruin it for me, and from the way the crowd acted I can easily say they didn't leave any of their fans cold. I really enjoyed their show but I need to admit that it was just enough: a longer set would've been too much and could have become repetitive.
Beyond the Dark Sun
Battle Against Time
Death and the healing
Finntroll [by Angelique]
After Wintersun I rushed to see Finntroll who played on the main stage this year. Now, I've seen this band several times so I already knew that they practice what they preach: they're one hundred percent trolls, they look like trolls and they sound like trolls. Unfortunately I can't remember the whole set list - at least we got to hear Fiskarens Fiende, Midnattens Widunder, Rivfader and of course Trollhammaren. Finntroll is an awesome live band and they didn't let me down this time either. I would love to describe how they were but it would be just lame - this band is something that you need to see with your own eyes to realize the troll ideology. And it's not only the band, sometimes it's even more fun to observe the crowd in Finntroll gigs - they absolutely drive their audience insane! People were dancing and moshing in front of the stage, it was just crazy. So to wrap it up: Finntroll were awesome; nothing new to me but definitely one of the bands at Tuska Open Air 2005 that I enjoyed the most.
Apocalyptica is no doubt one of the most original bands in the whole Metal genre; but somehow I didn't really expect much of them. Actually, I thought it would be somewhat boring. Well, it wasn't. In fact, it turned out to be one of the best performances I've ever witnessed! The sound was perfect; the music was haunting and sometimes felt too delicate for a metal festival. The band was passionate and the image of the three wildly headbanging cellists was unforgettable. Somehow it all worked so much better than on a CD. Plus the fact that there were no guest vocalists; I don't know why Apocalyptica always has this problem of inviting the wrong people to sing...
Of course, they played "Nothing Else Matters" and "Master Of Puppets." The audience took it as an invitation to sing and did the best they could with the choruses. But during the verses all you could hear was undecipherable mumbling, since some didn't remember the words and mumbled some gibberish, while others sang words from a wrong verse. It was all quite amusing.
The highest peak of the set was Grieg's "In the Hall of the Mountain King." It was a pure cello-metal frenzy and a great display of the band's musical abilities. In the end they really left me longing for more; I can't wait for another chance to get to their concert.
I'm not a big fan of Monster Magnet and don't own any of their records, but I remembered their highly energetic performance on Metallica's warm-up in Tallinn 6 years ago. It impressed me back then so after Apocalyptica I decided that seeing the band from the front row is worth skipping Primal Fear. The truth is I regret this now. Monster Magnet was OK and put out a decent performance, especially their singer Dave Wyndorf with his rock star attitude. The problem was different. Apparently, the type of music the band plays (which is Stoner metal) irresistibly attracts all drunks from the whole festival area who haste to the stage like flies on shit. In their state they don't notice anyone around them nor seem to understand what's going on (judging by their completely blank stare), they just know that they need to get as close to the stage as possible. There they instantly begin to mosh and headbang, clinging to everyone to keep standing, but still frequently falling on the ground and creating waves in the audience. After a little while they made keeping enjoying the concert totally impossible, and we had to retreat a couple of meters back.
Gamma Ray [by Angelique]
First, I have to confess that I'm not a Gamma Ray fan - I don't hate them, but for some reason I've never got into their music that much even though I'm a huge power metal fan. Not being a fan didn't stop me from checking them out as I was curious and of course I had to see the metal legend Kai Hansen live. There was a huge amount of people waiting for Gamma Ray to get on stage and the guys didn't make us wait for long. My first impression was "wow, such nice dudes!" They we're all smiling and cheering at the crowd and seemed so happy to be there.
They started their set with New World Order and I was actually amazed how good Kai sounded. One of the reason why I've never been into them is Kai's singing - I don't quite like his voice but he sounded really good live! One thing is for sure: Gamma Ray has a lot of Finnish fans - people were singing along and I kind of felt sad that I didn't know the lyrics. Unfortunately, the band faced several serious technical problems during their 60 min set. As Richie was having problems with his guitar Kai had some spare time to tell us about their new album "Majestic" and the upcoming tour, saying that there will be a lot more new material in their set. Even with the tech problems the band remained in a good mood and overall it was a really good gig. I still can't say I'm a full Gamma Ray fan but at least more open minded about their music. Funny thing is that Gamma Ray was the band that gave me the absolute highlight of the whole weekend - the last song they played was the old hit "I Want Out." Oh my god! The crowd was singing along so loud that I'm sure they heard all the way in Sweden that we were having one hell of a metal party!
Gamma Ray's setlist:
New World Order
Man on a Mission
Rebellion in a Dreamland
Land of the Free
Heavy Metal Universe
I Want Out
Lake Of Tears
I guess I'll never know the purpose of the awful huge mushroom-colored cap Daniel Brennare was wearing for the first half of the set, but it really distracted a lot of attention from the more important stuff (like music). It also somewhat made the band look like stoners, especially with the kind of music they played. Well, enough about that. Lake Of Tears play a weird mix of 60's Rock and modern Metal with gloomy gothic atmosphere - and if you also add the mushroom cap here you'll get a rather psychedelic mixture. It's great they played on a side-stage which was smaller and inside a tent (light blue with yellow stars, matched the cap very well) - I'm sure the huge center stage with bright light would've totally ruined the show. The band played great - at least that much I remember. Unfortunately, I can't tell for sure which songs they played, since I was too busy counting white dots on Daniel's cap...
Thunderstone was one of the bands I wanted to see the most. They are among the most talented Finnish power metal bands and I'm sure one day they'll get the world-wide recognition they deserve. The band delivered a high-quality performance, playing all their hits from the three studio albums including: Virus; Until We Touch The Burning Sun; Tool Of The Devil; Without Wings; and I Will Come Again. There's not much to add to that since no one was wearing stupid caps, jumping from the stage, cursing in Russian, or spiting 2 meters into the air... Though it doesn't necessarily mean the show was boring - it was just focused purely on music.
Testament [by Angelique]
I waited months for this moment: to see Testament live in their classic lineup. Seeing Loiue Clement, Greg Christian, Eric Petersson, Alex Skolnick and of course Chuck Billy back together was like a wet dream for me and apparently for most of the people at Tuska, I've never seen the main stage area being so packed up. The old thrash legends blew the Kaisaniemi Park up totally and we were spoiled with all the old hits, like "Practice What You Preach," and "The Legacy" and "Trial By Fire."
The band looked good together; Chuck was running around the stage playing air guitar and goofing around while Petersson and Skolnick were shredding their guitars. Honestly, I can't say if they were amazing for real or if it was just the nostalgia of seeing them back together playing all my favourite songs but they absolutely took me to 7th heaven.
Chuck's voice sounded really good and he added some low grunts and growling in the vocals which sent shivers down my spine; his charisma filled the whole festival area. Alex Skolnick has to be one of the most talented guitarists in the metal scene - his solos were just amazing and during one of them he literally blew off one amp.
Testament knows how to work their audience: there was such an energy going through the crowd that I bet we could have created a hurricane over Helsinki. After they were gone I felt insanely happy and peaceful, I feel like I can die in peace now.
The New Order
Sins of Emission
Practice What You Preach
Alone in the Dark
Over the Wall
Trial by Fire
Disciple of the Watch
Hieronymus Bosch is the first Russian band to play at Tuska, for which I congratulate them. It's hard enough even for local bands to get to the festival let alone foreign ones. I doubt many of you are familiar with them (and neither was I) - they play very technical Thrash (they claim it's Death, though), sing in English and have two albums in their discography - one this year, and another 10 years ago. The crowd they gathered was probably the smallest at Tuska - too bad, because the guys played really well. The music was complex and at the same time easy to get into with catchy riffs and interesting passages - and perfectly delivered. I didn't plan to stay for long, but ended up watching the entire set.
The band's singer was Joacim Cans look-a-like only he looked really pissed off all the time. And not the Hammerfall-kind of pissed off, but in a Thrash metal way He also tried to practice his English in between the songs with one phrase in particular sticking in my head: "You want some Death metal more?" That was great. There were quite a lot of Russian folks in the crowd and they cheered the band up by shouting 'positive' curses in Russian. You know, of a 'fucking great' kind - only it sounds a lot more effective in Russian.
Children Of Bodom
Children Of Bodom had quite an impressive stage set: yellow barrels with biohazard signs, a burned car and Alexi Laiho. Every one of them served its own purpose - car was standing there looking really cool, barrels were launching huge flames high into the air and Alexi was launching lush spits high above himself... oh, he was also playing guitar and singing.
If anyone still had an illusion that Children Of Bodom was a serious band, it was brutally destroyed during a short break in the middle of the show. The trademark scythe appeared from the backstage - and instead of being used to reap forsaken souls, as it probably says in instruction, the guys used it to... fry some wieners on one of the barrels with pyrotechnics. Such a shameless mocking at their mascot character! It was absolutely fucking hilarious, though.
Overall, the whole show was largely entertaining. The band performed two new songs (one of them was "In Your Face"), Alexi performed a parody on Terasbetoni (the Finnish analogue of Manowar, also present at Tuska), and "Bodom After Midnight" was rendered as "Tuska After Midnight" (though it was closer to midday) and mixed with "Bodom Beach Terror." Here's the list of songs played, in no particular order - as many as I could remember:
Tuska After Midnight / Bodom Beach Terror
Hate Crew Deathroll
Kissing The Shadows
In Your Face
another new song
Everytime I Die
Angels Don't Kill
Sentenced's performance was the one I was looking forward to the most. First, because it's my favorite band; secondly because it was the last chance to see them live before they break up. My expectations obviously were very high. In part they were met - in another not. Unlike two other performances, by Apocalyptica and Evergrey, this one just didn't have that effect of pure amazement. However, the material was still delivered flawlessly and the band sounded as great as ever. Maybe I was just expecting too much.
The show started with the four Sentenced members (minus Ville) slowly bringing out a casket and putting it down just in front of the drum set. First I thought Ville's about to come out of it and start singing. Then I thought at least someone will come out of it or maybe get into it. The whole show I was expecting them to do something with that mysterious casket. They never did. What a disappointment...
My brother predicted they'd start the show with "May Today Become the Day" and close with "The End of the Road" (which open and close the new album) - it seemed suitable enough. Surprisingly, Sentenced decided to start with the instrumental track from The Funeral Album, "Where Waters Fall Frozen," and then proceeded to their usual suicide theme with "Excuse Me While I Kill Myself". Another surprise was "The Rain Comes Falling Down" from the same album, which I love very much but never expected to hear live. The set closed with the ode to revenge - "Vengeance Is Mine," fast-paced, aggressive and full of scorn; by its theme more suitable for Megadeth than for the usually rather melancholic Finns. The whole set list follows, mostly in correct order:
Where Waters Fall Frozen
Excuse Me While I Kill Myself
May Today Become The Day
The Rain Comes Falling Down
Cross My Heart And Hope To Die
No One There
Vengeance Is Mine
One thing I'm certain of - Sentenced were never meant for big open-air venues. Their music fits so much better in small clubs with less lighting and more intimate atmosphere. Too bad there won't be another chance to see them play there.
If I had to single out one band that totally eclipsed all the rest it would be Evergrey. No second thoughts about it. Their performance was nothing short of phenomenal - powerful and emotionally draining. It captured like no other, to the point where you stop noticing anything around and get lost in the music completely. Tom S. Englund, Evergrey guitarist, vocalist and mastermind was the heart of all this - he was in command of the music, emotions and the audience. When he commanded to sing, everyone was singing along. Honestly, he must be one of the most fascinating people I've ever encountered.
The whole set was amazing but the true highlights were "Mark Of The Triangle" and "The Masterplan" - packed with energy to the limit. "I'm Sorry" was a beautiful ballad and the only brief chance to relax a bit. The set included songs from each album except The Dark Discovery, which was a bit disappointing since it's my favorite Evergrey album.
More Than Ever
She Speaks To The Dead
Mark Of The Triangle
As I Lie Here Bleeding
A Touch Of Blessing
After that I couldn't bring myself to stay and watch Accept like I planned to. That would've been spoiling the last impression of Tuska 2005. So my Tuska ended there, with Evergrey...
Big thanks to my brother for the photos, to Angelique for helping me with the bands I skipped, to Susan for proofreading and to Niklas for arranging the press pass.
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