Live Report - Tuska Open Air Metal Festival 2012 - Helsinki, Finland
Live Gig

Release year: 2012
Reviewed by Aleksie
For make benefit of this review, its coherence and the coherence of the festival grounds, I’ve divided the events described within based on both date and the stage they were each played on. Finland metal summer climax recap initiate!

FRIDAY JUNE 29

RADIO ROCK MAIN STAGE

Exodus

While I’m sure that many in the Friday 9-to-5 workforce were peeved that a band as big as Exodus was given the task of opening the Radio Rock Main Stage so early in the day, it was a fine, fine choice in terms of energy and overall kickassery. Starting the show with the brutally underrated The Last Act of Defiance came completely out of nowhere to me and was stellar. Rob Dukes’ brand of vocals may divide people here and there but the dude’s dedication to the craft in front of the horde is undeniably massive. Gary Holt was still on their roads with Slayer but Lee Altus and the other half of the original H-Team, Rick Hunolt, held the riffy fortress up very well. Thrashy rhythms from the back row came without a hitch. You could tell the audience was pumped this early by the fact that a circle pit ignited for nearly every song and most of all, there were already two wall of deaths initiated by simple crowd chants before the band even got to Strike Of The Beast and Dukes asking for (another) one. Good friendly violent fun all around.

Approximated setlist:

The Last Act of Defiance
Iconoclasm
Piranha
And Then There Were None
A Lesson in Violence
Metal Command
Blacklist
Bonded by Blood
War Is My Shepherd
The Toxic Waltz
Strike of the Beast


Edguy

Germany’s power metal purveyors/hard rock hooligans put on a good show by compensating with on stage energy what some of the setlist lacked in sheer punching power. Tunes like The Arcane Guild and Rock Of Cashel worked nicely but overall, I couldn’t help yearning for more say, Hellfire Club. Instrumentally everything was snappy and Tobias Sammet’s voice was in good shape. His self-deprecating humour and relaxed banter-mood fit the festival environment very well, but some of the between-song joke/rants stretched way too long when considering the relative brevity of a festival show slot. And here’s the thing: Toby referenced more than once in a very self-ironic tone how everyone must find it annoying that the banter between songs goes on too long and why doesn’t the singer stop boosting his ego already and get on with the singing…so you know, he’s clearly “in on it” yet he still keeps on doing the very thing he’s mocking a bit too many times. It just felt confusing, that’s all. But overall, a solid show from Edguy, even if one would long for more older hits into the set (though do understand that the likes of Tears of a Mandrake and Lavatory Love Machine are greatly appreciated).

Approximated setlist:

Nobody's Hero
The Arcane Guild
Tears of a Mandrake
Rock of Cashel
Lavatory Love Machine
Robin Hood
Save Me
Superheroes
King of Fools

Trivium

Even though I’ve firmly found myself relatively old school in terms of the metal (or therefore music in general) that I consume, but Trivium was a pretty good example of a modern band that caught my ears with the The Crusade- and Shogun-albums. Unfortunately for the sake of “the new school”, the band’s latest offering “In Waves” sounded considerably more mediocre in comparison. The new album’s cuts were maybe slightly more energetic on the stage and one can’t deny the overall enthusiasm all four guys display. Still, remembering their 2007 gig in the city backing The Crusade, I couldn’t find the same spark. Looking around though, I was definitely in the minority as the pits circled and the fists pumped. Good for them.

Approximated setlist:

In Waves
Pull Harder on the Strings of Your Martyr
Rain
Into the Mouth of Hell We March
Down From the Sky
Black
Watch the World Burn
Forsake Not the Dream
The Deceived
Dusk Dismantled
Drowned and Torn Asunder
A Gunshot to the Head of Trepidation
Throes of Perdition

Megadeth

I’d seen the mighty ’Deth twice before this at Finnish festivals and at both shows, things pretty much rose or fell based on the current condition of Dave Mustaine’s voice. One of ‘em was real good, the other iffy. Luckily enough, Tuska 2012 was greeted by a good day for the head honcho’s vocal works. Sure, some high notes got real gruff by the end of the set but overall the form was there, biting and cynically strong. Overall it seemed like the dude was in a good mood as he had more banter to the crowd than usual in the middle of songs. He did note that the group’s current tour leg was ending, so it’s also logical that the troupe gave it all they had for this night. Junior Ellefson’s bass thumps brought the force along with Shawn Drover’s beats and Chris Broderick had the floor to widdle away his mind-boggling licks.
Their setlist had a solid mix of the welcome classics like Hangar 18 and Sweating Bullets and the never cuts from Head Crusher to Public Enemy No. 1. The other slices from the new Th1rt3en record didn’t strike me that well. Made me wish for more tunes from Endgame, actually.

Approximated setlist:

Never Dead
Head Crusher
Hangar 18
Trust
She-Wolf
Poison Was the Cure
Sweating Bullets
A Tout Le Monde
Guns, Drugs & Money
Whose Life (Is It Anyways?)
Public Enemy No. 1
Symphony of Destruction
Peace Sells
Encore:
Holy Wars... The Punishment Due


HELLSINKI ROCK SHOP SECOND STAGE

Starting the day just a tad after noontime with the local rockthrashing maniacs of Profane Omen is always a good bet and the group did not disappoint with a good mix of their older vitriol and new destroyers from their highly recommendable latest release, Destroy. Their fast-paced pit-mongering was nicely counterbalanced later in the afternoon by the bearded legends of Saint Vitus. I don’t know which the stage had more of during their hour out in the sun, grey hairs or massive riffs. The measure may have been equal and it was crushing both ways.


INFERNO THIRD STAGE


Arcturus

One could put it simply that Arcturus was awesome. The whole band was decked in personalized space explorer-gear, the cosmic tunes flew by with magical whimsy especially lead by the swarming keyboard-textures. Vortex’s voice is still a wonderous device that I can’t get enough of, from the high-pitched nigh-opera to the lower ramblings. It’s just so damn unique too, love it. Differentiating much about the songs that were played would be difficult, because I spent most of the gig gliding in cosmic thought patterns, while in a carnevalistic frenzy. Definitely one of my favourite shows at this edition of Tuska.

Approximated setlist:

Evacuation Code Deciphered
Ad Absurdum
Nightmare Heaven
Deception Genesis
Shipwrecked Frontier Pioneer
The Chaos Path
Master Of Disguise
Hufsa
Encore:
Raudt Og Svart
Alone


SATURDAY JUNE 30

RADIO ROCK MAIN STAGE

Napalm Death

You crave for a good way to kick off your day for the main stage and your needs are answered with the ultimate in British bruisers. As much as I consider napalm Death mood music, I can’t really see a mindset where I wouldn’t want to see them live. The torrent of riff-laden force-by-sound without being any kind of noise nonsense is endearingly impressive. I also gotta love Barney Greenway’s mid-song banter about peace and love, which are followed by sonic destruction. The dynamic is wonderful.

Sonata Arctica

Thinking back to the first festival gigs I saw from Sonata Arctica back in 2002 when Silence was just coming out, it strikes me how massively into the band I was back then. They were pretty much my favourites along with Stratovarius back then. In comparison, today’s show was the height of mediocrity, pretty much entirely on the back of the set list. Sure, none of their records have done much for me since Winterheart’s Guild, but at least live for the past 5 or so years things have been passable at worst. But here, with new tunes like Cinderblox, Shitload of Money and the soul-crushingly boring I Have a Right making appearances…just no. Things have changed and personally speaking, not for the better. If Edguy doesn’t currently strike the same chords with me as they did with the finest in their back catalogue, I can still enjoy much of their newer material. With Sonata Arctica, the cause feels lost.

Approximated setlist:

Only the Broken Hearts (Make You Beautiful)
Black Sheep
Losing My Insanity
The Last Amazing Grays
I Have a Right
Full Moon
Shitload of Money
Paid in Full
Cinderblox
Don't Say a Word

Sabaton

Wrapping up the main stage on Saturday, Swedish war historians supreme Sabaton provided an extremely stark contrasts to the Finnish group that got off the same stage before them. Because Sabaton, unsurprisingly considering their air-tight live reputation, was stellar. In my ears the band easily topped the audience singalong chart for this year’s festival with classics like Panzer Battalion and Talvisota. I also must separately commend the setlist-philosophy that the band very openly had for this gig. Singer Joakim Brodén spent one mid-song pause to note that everyone who would like to hear much more material from their latest (and splendid) album Carolus Rex should come over to their Finnish club shows that would take place in November. That tonight would be about going all over the discography. Naturally that is nothing unheard of and this “policy” was made possible by them having these upcoming shows so relatively closely scheduled, but I still liked the gesture of noting this to the die-hards and letting the more casual fans know that ye olden hits were coming as well. All in all, easily among my top 3 shows of this year’s Tuska.


Approximated setlist:

Ghost Division
Uprising
Gott Mit Uns
White Death
Cliffs of Gallipoli
Midway
Into the Fire
Carolus Rex
Attero Dominatus
40:1
The Price of a Mile
Panzer Battalion
Encore:
The Art of War
Talvisota
Primo Victoria
Metal Crüe

HELLSINKI ROCK SHOP SECOND STAGE

First off, it was great to see that my university town’s best known metal troupe, Insomnium, did not only deliver their best album yet with their latest release, One For Sorrow. They’ve translated that momentum onto the live stage as well, bringing their melodic death assault with enviable tightness. The added emphasis on clean vocals has also translated well into the show, while the growls still take center stage as is appropriate. It was a nifty Segway to Behemoth, who had to take home the title of the festival’s official meat grinder. One could say that Napalm Death was more brutal in their most intense moments just before, but overall the vibe of the gig had lax, kinda nicely laid back side to it. In a twisted way. Behemoth on the other hand was an unrelenting wash of banging fists and grim efficiency. It was like a machine firing through their anthems, one blast beat and relentless riff at a time. Also to their credit, Behemoth pulled off the most vicious synchronized headbanging of the festival, even if main man Nergal’s shaved head didn’t bring the hair-aspect into it. In any case, a very impressive if even momentarily frightening showing from the Polish pulverizers.

INFERNO THIRD STAGE
After Battle Beast’s commendable set of Accept-influenced heavy metal thunder, we got another taste of a Finnish band that for some time eluded my longer attention span, until they released a brilliant new album just earlier this year. Swallow The Sun found some kind of a sweet spot with their melodic doom steamrolling and waves of keyboards on Emerald Forest and the Blackbird, which will undoubtedly end up in the Top 10 of my Albums of 2012-listings. Live, they bring that massive dirge to life very nicely. It’s a hoot seeing someone as blast-ready and virtuosic as Kai Hahto playing a form of metal that is so relatively constrained compared for example to his drumming in Wintersun. In terms of the setlist, we had an alright mix of old and new, even though I was just slightly miffed that the new album’s absolute monster tune, Labyrinth Of London (Horror Pt. IV) was not included, as it was during their domestic winter tour.

Approximated setlist:

Emerald Forest and the Blackbird
This Cut is the Deepest
Hate, Lead the Way
Hold This Woe
Cathedral Walls
New Moon
These Woods Breathe Evil
Swallow (Horror Pt. 1)


SUNDAY JULY 1

RADIO ROCK MAIN STAGE

Overkill

One word: CIRCLEPIIITTTT.
Many of them.
Even gave Exodus a run for their money.
Awesomeness.

Approximated setlist:

Come and Get It
Bring Me the Night
Elimination
It Lives
Electric Rattlesnake
Hello From the Gutter
Ironbound
Save Yourself
Necroshine
Old School
In Union We Stand
Wrecking Crew
Encore:
Deny the Cross
Rotten to the Core
Fuck You


MUSAMAAILMA CLUB STAGE

Bob Malmström

So, I’m sure most of you have noticed that if rock music, be it more rock rock or metal or whatever – if it gets political or at least dabbles in social commentary, it will usually end up leaning to the left side of the standard western world isle, if any. Ted Nugent & Co. notwithstanding.
Well, Fenno-Swedish hardcore band Bob Malmström are somewhat in the camp of the Nuge, with a decidedly local twist that is. Decked on stage in either suits or yacht clubber’s leisure wear, they are defiantly proud of their high-class upbringing. The title of their debut album, “Tala Svenska Eller Dö” (“Speak Swedish Or Die”, a clear reference to their musical predecessors, S.O.D.), is a self-evident statement on the current discussion about the role of Swedish as Finland’s second constitutionally acknowledged official language. With songs like “Fattigdom är sjukdom” (Poverty is sickness) and ”Kött är allas rätt” (Meat is everybody’s right) and even describing their style of music as “bourgeoisie core”, you also get the idea what they think of do-gooder hippie leftists.
This kind of musical and thematic concoction was brought to the live stage very well, with flinging ties and fancy briefcases banging along with the clenched hands and greasy heads. A great live performer with just the right amount of speedy mayhem and body-bashing beatdowns from the rhythm section.

Jess & The Ancient Ones

Following the “right wing” coreists on the Club Stage was another interesting Finnish representative. Jess & The Ancient Ones brought in an extremely 70s-infused blend of occult rock complete with foggy atmospherics, swirling guitar magic and an overall melodic stomp that still felt very heavy while staying in the framework of rock. their singer was an interesting lady with a definite voice resemblance to one Grace Slick. I guess you could say if Jefferson Airplane at their most psychedelic played heavy rock with a dash of evil, this is what they could sound like. It was also amusing that one of their guitar players was Corpse from Finnish death/thrash masteros Deathchain. Being used to seeing him slam furious thrash riffs out of an Explorer-shaped ESP guitar while headbanging with reckless abandon, it was unexpected seeing him do this kind of murky rock thing with a Gibson Thunderbird in hand. Good stuff though and a band to keep an eye on.

Approximated setlist:

13th Breath of the Zodiac
Sulfur Giants (Red King)
Prayer for Death and Fire
Devil (In G Minor)
Come Crimson Death

After all of the action above, the festival was wrapped up on Sunday by Ministry. I never cared too much for their stuff (as I don’t care for industrial in general) but the thrashy cuts from I believe the album with Lizard W. Bush on the cover were very acceptable stompers. Still this final show of the weekend largely served me as a way of beating the exit rush to the main gates.

All in all, Tuska Open Air Metal Festival 2012 had a good mix of different styles on display. In terms of heart-stopping band signings along with gigs that I had never seen before and was really stoked for, this year’s edition was mediocre at best. It was oodles of fun of course, but compared to years with say, one of Emperor’s last shows or Devin Townsend and his Project doing the whole Ziltoid-album live, it wasn’t quite up to that lofty standard. In any case, once again an utterly recommendable festival for all newcomers and grizzled veterans alike.

Killing Songs :
Aleksie quoted no quote
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