BY: Samuli Keskitalo
The first ever JaloTuska was held in Oulu, Finland 26.9.2015. This particular event was the very first in corporation of Jalometalli Metal Music Festival and Tuska Open Air Metal Festival and that was the main reason why the media named this event as ”bastard son of Jalometalli and Tuska”. The event was held in Oulun Energia Arena, which is ice hall in the middle of Oulu. The first ever JaloTuska included three finnish metal bands and all of those were about to release their brand new records: Diablo from Tampere, which has come back from a very long break, and two flagships of Finnish metal who are also very popular outside of Finland, Stratovarius and Amorphis. This line-up would be ”a dream come true” situation for many Finnish metal fan and especially on a Saturday night, but nevertheless I was little a skeptical about the night to come: Last time I saw these two bands on stage they didn’t leave a very positive feeling with me at all, so the main focus for me this evening was on Diablo and especially on their lead singer and guitarist.
Before this night Diablo has played only a couple of gigs during this summer, for example in Vaasa, Nummirock Festival in Kauhajoki and a small club in Tampere. People have been waiting for their new upcoming album for a long time and the band gave a little preview in Nummirock Festival when they played a new song called Isolation. The new record, called Silvër Horizon is now at the top of the Finnish album charts, so it’s obliviously clear, that they are going to play much material as possible from this record. And so it happened: The setlist contained ten songs and five of those were from the new album. As drummer Heikki Malmberg lead the band to the stage, so began about an one hour lasting metal storm, which contained melodies, hard riffs, Malmberg’s blastings and pretty technical drumbeating and vocalist Rainer Nygård’s rageful and angry vocals. For those who don’t know,that’s what Diablo is all about, you simply mix bands like Metallica, In Flames, Dark Tranquillity, or even Hypocrisy together and that’s it. And Rainer has been known in Finland as a Finnish version of James Hetfield because of his looks, attitude and stage charisma and he has the power to take the crowd along with him to sing along and feel crazy at the gig.
A song called Symbol Of Eternity can be considered one of the biggest hit songs of Diablo and when that song came as the third song the crowd was definitely ready for a great metal evening. In addition to the new album, the band played a few songs from other years, like Mimic47, Read My Scars and maybe their most famous, The Preacher, which contains a very classical ”Voi perkele!” scream before the main riff and it’s also some kind of distinctive mark for the band. There were no problems during the playing, even though the band hasn’t spent much time on the stages. The crowd enjoyed the playing all the way to the end of the setlist and then it was time for the last song. This song was from the new album, called Prince Of The Machine. Diablo are going to do a few club gigs in Finland at the end of 2015 under the name of ”No Sleep Til Horizon”. If you are around the corner, go check them out!
The second band of the evening was the big power metal flagship, Stratovarius. This concert at the JaloTuska was part of the Finnish tour before they start their tour outside of Finland. The band organized a ”Meet & Greet combitation” at every concert in Finland on this tour and I was one of the lucky winners. So getting autographs wasn’t so difficult this time, hah. Stratovarius belongs to the bands, which I started to listen to in childhood with Iron Maiden, Manowar etc. So they will always have a very special place in my heart – even though I have been very skeptical about the last several years of Stratovarius. However, I was very happy to see how powerful a song My Eternal Dream really was and how it worked as an opening song for the evening. It is a very fast power metal song with melodies, guitar solos and keyboards from Matias and Jens shows what this band is really about. When the opening song was over then came the classic Eagleheart from the Elements Pt. I album. This song is always very catchy one and I think it’s very good song to help raise the atmosphere of the concert.
I have always been a huge fan of the classic Stratovarius line-up and especially a fan of Jari Kainulainen, but I really have to say when Lauri Porra became a part of this band, he brought also some very good extra flavors to the songs with his bass lines. He has always had a very classical and dark bass sound, which fits great with Stratovarius, Lauri has also made a handful of catchy songs on the last 4 albums, for example Lost Without A Trace. This song was also on the setlist and was definitely one of the highlights of the evening.
When drummer Jörg Michael left Stratovarius after their Jörg Farewell tour in 2011, I was pretty sure, that for me the tale of Stratovarius would be over – because Jörg and Jari have always been the most important persons in the band for me. The first time saw Stratovarius live on stage with their new drummer Rolf Pilve, I was relieved about the fact that the new man behind the drum kit would be the right substitute. So it was also in Oulu: Rolf played his part of the evening with style and good grip. I don’t think I’ve ever been spoken the words groove and power metal together and I won’t now, but I think what really matters is that Rolf has been playing his way into the hearts of Stratovarius fans. And he will be part of this band a very long time to come.
SOS, Black Diamond, Kiss Of Judas etc. The setlist was full of hit songs throughout the night. Music label Ear Music released
the lyric video for the Shine In The Dark song before the album came out. And that song was at the encore. This song worked live very well because it contains a very catchy (and a little groove maybe, hah..) pre-chorus part and the powerful chorus will make you raise your hands up in the air for sure. I would bet my money, that Shine In The Dark will last in the set lists for a long time into the future. The band played on and there were no problems, technical difficulties, or special highlights in the end of the show, so the one hour and fifteen minutes set list was soon over. I have to tell you I really hate when bands who do not make any changes to the set lists, for example the closing songs, like Hunting High And Low. They have been playing this same song at the end shows for years now. Yes, it’s a good song but I really would love the see and hear some other song instead of this one. But the fact is no other song from their long career will make people shake their legs like this song does. Some would say Stratovarius has became a dance metal band – hah.
”Come before the winter’s gale, before the frost and snow”. Last, but not least: The band, who always brings you the fascinating spirit of Kalevala and Finnish folk poetry sagas and tales. Like Diablo and Stratovarius did during the night, Amorphis, likewise did the same and played a host of songs from their new album called Under The Red Cloud. Amorphis served 6 songs from that album and that was very fine by me! They have always kept to their belief, that from a new album as they tour they’ll play not only single hits, or music video songs. Their list started with the title track, Under The Red Cloud and the song, Sacrifice followed right after it. The people wondered which one would be headlining JaloTuska, Stratovarius or Amorphis. For me its was fully clear, that the headlining act would be Amorphis and when Amorphis made their show in Oulu, I think everyone there would agree with the fact Amorphis was the right choice. The front row went crazy and everybody had a nice time and had catchy sing alongs through the rest of the night. I have seen Amorphis a few times in the past years about 10 – 13 times, but now I can finally say they made the night.
Of course, when you are at the concert there are always fans of old school stuff and new fans. For the old school Amorphis fans the band didn’t play Into Hiding, but Drowned Maid from Tales From The Thousand Lakes CD. Tomi Joutsen and the second guitar player and one of the founders of Amoprihs Tomi Koivusaari sang that one as a duet. Unfortunately, Koivusaari’s mic was so low that I wasn’t able to hear it. Maybe next time? Hope they keep that one on the list!
Amorphis has been skipping the era of fomer vocalist Pasi Koivunen almost totally, except with a few exceptions. Almost the entire show of Amorphis was based on Tomi Joutsen era, but of course they played a couple hit songs from the past, like Better Unborn and My Kantele. And like I said on Stratovarius’s part, I hate bands who always keeps the same song in the end – so does Amorphis. This song is House Of Sleep. Normally they make a long sing along before the last chorus, but now we got a little bit lucky, maybe becasue of the show times and they made it fast to the end. I know lots of people who love when the band just keep going and going – but I don’t get it. What’s the point of 5 – 10 minute lasting sing alongs.
The bottom line is this: The evening was filled with great Finnish metal at JaloTuska and was very succesful. Three bands that were a ll a little bit dfferent from each other and has shown their own style at it’s best. And I have a feeling, that we will have JaloTuska again next year in Oulu. Diablo is heading out for the tour in Finland, Stratovarius for the European tour and Amorphis has also a tour in Europe, which contains many days in Finland. If you have a chance to see them on stage – don’t miss it! They all are at their very best right now.