Yep, it’s fucking January and Tuska Open Air Metal Festival was all they way back at the end of June 2013. Par for the course of my life, the brand new 3T hard drive I bought from Western Digital crashed right after the festival, in-between that and my wedding, taking with it all my interview footage and photos. My heart was fucking broken and I was so disappointed that I didn’t even want to bring it up on the site.
What I didn’t realize at the time was that while all this hectic shit was going on in planning for my wedding, I was actually smart enough to save all the photos to my old 1T drive as well. I stumbled across them the other day and was so damn happy I can’t even begin to explain. When you gain access to an event like Tuska you have a responsibility to do what you say you are going to do, and thank the metal gods, I am able to do part of that now.
My video interviews are still trapped in a plastic black box with WD blinking in an ever ominous fashion saying it won’t work, but the photos I took are here and I’ve begun the process of editing them. I really hope I can figure out how to fix this damn thing because I sat with Chuck Billy, Soilwork, Kuolemanlaakso, Deathchain and several others for some really awesome conversations that I’d like to share. Time will tell.
Anyway- to the actual recap you you were expecting when you clicked on this link!
Tuska 2013 was something I had been looking forward to for some time. My wife and I actually planned our wedding to be a week later because we wanted to make sure that we could fly to Finland from NYC to be there for the event and the wedding at the same time. There’s no missing one of the most important metal events of the year!
It’s no secret to anyone who visits this site that I’m a fan of Wintersun, and naturally I wanted to see the beast in its natural habitat possibly more than any other act. The guys did not disappoint! What’s even better than having watched them level New York City at a sold out show, was watching every single person at a festival in their home country scream every word back at the metal titans. It was an amazing experience.
So as part of the beer garden this year they had this military tent set up, sand bags and all. The tent probably held thirty people maximum, but more tried to get in there. Naturally I had to see what was going on in there so I waited on the line and eventually found myself drinking some pretty horrid shit they were selling in there. I’m not one to waste so I think I eventually wound up trading my drink for someone’s beer. Metal!
Alright, so now I have to tell you that I did something I know a lot of you will not like but I’m going to say it anyway: I skipped Bolt Thrower. Okay, when you calm down keep reading. I skipped Bolt Thrower to see my friend’s new band on the side stage. Note that the side stage is about a 10 minute walk from the front of the main stage and is not actually on the side of anything, but all the way at the back, in a warehouse, in what I assume is a different country altogether.
The band I went to see i the warehouse was Kuolemanlaakso and I’m so fucking happy I made the decision to watch that set. This is raw, groovy, death-metal at its finest, composed by Markus Laakso and it showcases some of Mikko Kotamaki‘s vocal talents that you wouldn’t otherwise hear; higher screams with a faster cadence and an aggressive brutality that makes you want to punch something over and over. It was pretty fucking awesome. It was also awesome to see this new band thrashing on that stage with a fierce determination. It was obvious they were into the music and the festival and that feeling resonated with the rest of the packed room watching them.
After the Kuolemanlaakso set, going back out into the sunshine was the last thing I wanted to do, but I knew that if I didn’t there would be no beer in my future and I would die thirsty and alone in a warehouse in the middle of nowhere. So as I walked toward the beer garden I realized that Amorphis was playing the second main stage. I postponed my liver failure to snap a few photos of them and then proceeded at full gallop to the beer dispensary. The main observations for me were that Amorphis is made for a big stage and its clear their fans adore them. Oh, and as one dread locked dude to another, I have a lot of respect for the hair of Tomi Joutsen. Those fuckers are long man- I can’t wait to have mine at that length!
At the end of the first night there was something special in store. King Diamond was probably the biggest surprise to me. For some reason their shows and my schedule had never crossed paths and finally I got to see a performance of legendary proportion. I can tell you now that if you have the opportunity, you need to see the show. It’s fucking epic. After watching them at Tuska I am sad I hadn’t seen them before! They had a massively impressive stage setup that you can see in the photo gallery when I post it. Drinking beers and watching the King Diamond theatrics was one of the standout moments of the whole festival for me, and it was a great way to cap off day one in the metal holy land.
All I really need to say is Soilwork, Kreator & Testament and you know how the whole day was right? Okay, well, that’s a bit deceiving so I’ll start from the beginning. I woke up with a hangover that could only be cured by a mixture of beer, dust and the smell of a metal festival. So naturally I medicated on that immediately!
Day two was really all about running around and doing interviews. There was a lot of waiting and then a lot of trying to snap photos of whatever bands I could. I didn’t drink ‘that much’ until after I had completed most of the work for the day so the evening is when the partying really started for me. As an additional bonus, some of my friends arrived from the US for the wedding and joined us for some festival ridiculousness! It’s always fun having people at a festival you’ve been talking about for years. It’s like showing them something you’re proud of even though it isn’t yours. I hope more of you guys will join us next year!
Anyway, I jumped right to the evening but I should have continued the review: Soilwork was the first band that stood out to me on the second day and obviously I have seen them several times before. They put on a show much like you would expect, with a professional brutality that is always awesome. The pit was exceptional. I think the most impressive thing to me is how much more comfortable they appear on a stage in Europe than in the US. In the US you get a totally different feel from these guys… well, at least I do, but at Tuska it was more raw & real to me.
Kreator might have been my favorite band of the day and mostly that’s because when I saw them in NYC they weren’t half as good as they were at Tuska. Maybe they just sound better on European soil? In New York I spent most of the time at the bar because there was either something wrong with the sound, something not right with the band or maybe the energy in the room just wasn’t good and the band felt it. It didn’t even seem like the same band this time around. Tuska definitely brought out the best in Kreator and they went from a band I didn’t care to see live again, to a band that I feel required to see live again. The energy on stage, the audience going absolutely insane, the festival atmosphere… it all came together and it was fucking amazing.
To cap the day off we had the mighty Testament. There are two things I want to say about this set in particular. First, there was a moment where Chuck does some banter with the audience and the band kind of sits back and jams a little bit. I forget which song it is now but there’s a break and they rock out in the background at a lower volume while Chuck spends a good three or four minutes throwing picks out to people making fun of some and talking with others.
While this was going on, Alex was standing off to the side doing these amazing runs and arpeggios as if he were practicing for some guitar contest. He kept going and going as if no one was looking and after the set when I asked him about it and he told me that he didn’t think anyone every paid attention when that shit was going on! It was some of the most fantastic guitar work I’ve seen on a stage and he didn’t even think people paid attention to it. My mind = blown. Next time you see Testament, watch for that shit, it’s amazing.
The second thing I’ll say about the Testament set is that any band who can work in a wall of death three time into one song can only be called, ‘legendary’. I’ve been on the front line for many a-wall-of-death for Lamb of God and I’ve seen many massive pits open up on videos from around the world. I’ve seen a wall of death with chicken fighting. I have never seen a band pull off three walls of death in one song. The best part? None of them were pathetic. They were each massive and people were going absolutely insane. A festival sized wall of death three times in one song? Testament wins. That was a hell of a way to end day two.
Ah, the infamous day three. You wake up smelling like three days worth of puke, piss or beer or some combination of the three and you’re not really sure whose liquids they are. Not that I woke up that way; I slept indoors and only got rage drunk, not purge drunk. There was too much to do! But the beauty of day three is that there’s nothing to do the day after, so if there is ever a day for a blowout, day three at the Tuska Festival is it!
So day three for me started a bit early because we had an interview with Deathchain so we showed up an hour in advance of the gates. There wasn’t anyone there to help us get in so I put a couple of holes in my SkullsNBones hoodie squeezing through a hole in the fence before promptly being met by festival security. Situation solved! Every time I’ve had to interact with security at Tuska over the years it’s always cool. Security personnel are a bunch of down-to-earth people who are typically metalheads and are having just as much fun as anyone else. When the staff is having fun, you know the festival is awesome.
Anyway, I went and hung out with the Deathchain dudes who were really cool and then I watched them destroy the second main stage. It was pretty damn awesome. I remember listening to the latest record for the first time and getting really excited to find out they were on the Tuska Fest. I’m always talking about how bands need to be able to ‘do it live’ when you hear some awesome shit on a disk. Mission accomplished. I’m really looking forward to catching them again!
Next up was a band called Amaranthe. You know how they say, “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all?” Not my style but I’m going to let it ride this time and instead I’ll tell you about getting punched by a girl and then being called an idiot. Apparently this chick didn’t like where I was standing in the photo pit when the drummer came out. I was snapping pictures just like the rest of the swine at the front of the stage. I can’t really help that I’m massively tall, but if you’re five foot nothing and trying to take pictures in the photo pit of a festival sized stage (about 7 feet high), you’re not going to do so well, I don’t care how powerful your lens is. Anyway, I told her to go fuck herself and continued shooting. I didn’t like the three lead singer having, rap-core band but I am going to post the pictures anyway, mainly because I paid for them with a punch and an insult. It’s like an added, ‘Fuck You’ when I can post a picture she didn’t get.
After I healed my wounds with a spiked coffee in the press area, I walked back to the warehouse and caught this band Khroma. They were this mixture of electronic, thrash and death and had a really interesting light / video show. The video was playing directly on the band which added a lot to the imagery. The pictures won’t do it justice because the lights were so intense and the camera was set up for outdoor stage shooting but there’s a shitty photo gallery coming for those guys. Why post a shitty gallery? Because I think it’s worth it for you to know about the group. Stay tuned!
After Khroma there was a whole day of bands that feature female lead singers (emphasis on ‘singing’), vibrato and all kinds of other stuff that makes one want to drink until their liver explodes. I’m not a fan of most of those acts, you’re not a fan of most of those acts, so I didn’t snap any pictures. There were a lot of bands that just aren’t my thing playing on that Sunday. That said, the place was absolutely packed for the hometown heroes, Nightwish. The line for their meet & greet stretched across the entire festival grounds. When I saw it I didn’t realize what was going on and I thought maybe they were giving away free beer. Nope. It was Nightwish shaking babies and holding hands. I settled in enjoying the festival experience in the beer garden for most of the third day; enjoying conversation with metalheads and making some new friends.
In all the festival was a great experience again this year. It’s bigger and better than I remember. I got to see some bands I didn’t know about before, and was impressed by some bands I might not have gone out of my way to watch. At this festival the beer isn’t as expensive as you might think and people become your best fiends at every turn (except for that chick in the photo pit). Tuska is a must-attend festival in my opinion. They’re already announcing bands for the 2014 event, and if there’s a few groups performing that you like, I highly recommend making the trip to the north to party in the metal holy land.
Stay tuned for the photo galleries from the festival!