And so it begins, the Tuska Festival has begun and it all kicked off with…Cattle Decapitation. And I will be the first to admit…I have no clue who these guys are BUT I did
check them out as I wanted to get an idea about how the photography for the day might go. So let’s say Cattle Decapitation was my guinea pig for the festival. I will say this; CD is a pretty brutal band from what I could tell. Very Death Metalish but I was able to at least understand what the guy was singing which is a bonus for the genre. I will also give credit to the sound guys who were able to mix the sound so well that every musician is discernable and distinct for the listener. So for me I was actually able to somewhat enjoy the band and they had a lot of energy on stage…and for an opening band they had a somewhat large turnout. So a big thumbs up for the guys of CP.
The second band of the day I checked out was Delain. The band played on the Helsinki Stage, which is to say they played on the second stage of the festival which was covered by a large tent. Delain is fronted by Charlotte Wessels and hail from the Netherlands. This just also happened to be the first time Delain got to perform in Finland. So this show was special for the band. Delain to me are a stronger band live than through their studio albums and for a metal band I feel this is the most important thing because if you are a metal band and can’t perform live then you are over. Fortunately for Delain they deliver a more impactful show live.
For people unfamiliar, Delain would be considered a Symphonic metal band but I think they are much more than that because that makes them sound like a Nightwish clone, which they most certainly are NOT. In the live setting they sound much harder than on their albums and Wessels’ vocals
are truly fantastic and as a front woman she has a presence which seems both epic while also seeming to make the audience feel more connected to her and the band in a more personal way which is always great.
This is the second time I have seen Delain, the first was back in my home state of Tennessee last year where they opened for Sabaton and Nightwish. I even met Charlotte briefly in Nashville where she stopped to just chat a minute on her own time and she commented on my split eye color. A very nice lady. And here at Tuska, again I was very impressed with the band and stayed to watch the entire set. One of the stronger acts of the day and of the festival itself. I hope to be able to see Delain again soon and wish the band lots of success in the future.
The next band I checked out was one of impulse. I was chatting with a fellow photographer in the VIP area and she was going to check out the band Blaakyum…Black-Yum? Anyway, I thought I would tag along. Turns out these guys are from Beirut, Lebanon and play some form of thrash metal with a guy that plays a Rabih drum on the side. Personally, I think it is great we have metal bands coming out of the Middle East as typically we don’t traditionally see that. The band had a good presence on stage and I am going to admit right now though…that musically I can’t seem to remember much from them…however I did go back and listen on YouTube and they have an interesting blend of thrash, clean singing and some mix of Middle Eastern sounds which all make an interesting and enjoyable listen. So I apologize that the live performance didn’t stick with me but it did interest me enough to go and look the band up.
The next band up for me to see was Lordi. Now Lordi holds a special place in my heart. I first traveled to Europe back in 2006 and visited Prague where I was seeing commercials on TV of the band. The commercial was promoting the band’s ‘Hard Rock Hallelujah’ and their then current album ‘The Arockalypse’. I remember looking at the TV being mesmerized by the look of the band and the horror theme they put out. So when I returned back to the States I immediately looked the band up and fell in love with the band’s visual style, music videos and how they tied in various horror movies into their videos.
So for me to FINALLY get to see Lordi live for the first time since moving here to
Finland was a big deal for me. I have to say it was well worth the wait. The band put on one hell of a show and sounded fantastic. They went through many of their classics like, ‘Blood Red Sandman’, ‘Would you Love a Monsterman’ and ‘Who’s Your Daddy’. I have to give the band a lot of credit, the day was very hot and I can only imagine how hot the band felt under the hot lights while wearing their massive monster costumes. Despite all of this the band pulled off a great set with a good sound overall. The stage set looked great like an old gothic graveyard or church and the band put on a top notch performance which they closed out with their biggest hit, ‘Hard Rock Hallelujah’.
I find it kind of sad that the people of Finland have kind of turned their back on Lordi to the point they don’t
get to tour much here in their home country. The band put on a great show, has super catchy songs and is just really fun to watch. Come on Finland! Embrace these guys like they deserve!! They had a great turnout at Tuska and really show that they deserve to be included more in the Finnish music scene here.
For me, Lordi put on one of the best shows of the whole festival.
Next up was Testament on the RadioRock Main Stage. For anyone remotely familiar with heavy metal or thrash metal knows who Testament is. The band rose up in the San Francisco Bay Area along with the then new thrash metal scene of the early 80’s with other bands from the time. The band’s latest album, ‘Dark Roots of Earth’ I feel is one the band’s strongest albums ever. With songs like, ‘Rise Up’, ‘Native Blood’ and ‘Dark Roots of Earth’ the album is a pure thrash metal masterpiece.
Testament played Tuska about two years ago when the album
was newly released and they are still out supporting the album now as they prepare their new record. Again, Testament put on a great show for the fans of Finland…fast, furious and full on thrash. Chuck Billy is always in fine form playing the air guitar on his custom made mic, Alex Skolnick (whom I feel is one the best metal guitarists out there) never fails to impress with his great guitar work. The man is really a master of his craft. The band also has a new bass player, Steve Di Giorgio who is WAY more animated and involved than the last bass player. I was really impressed with his stage performance and it helped add an extra dimension to the band live.
Again, nothing to complain about here from Testament. Just a full on thrash show that the fans loved.
I want to note as well that Tuska this year had press sit ins for Q&As with some bands and this year they held one with Alex Skolnick who was interviewed by a Tuska Representative and then he fielded questions from the audience. A very cool addition to the festival in my opinion.
Now we come to, Behemoth. The Polish black metalers who
are currently riding high on their successful The Satanist album. Being a black metal band, Behemoth is a band that I typically wouldn’t listen to. However, I did think The Satanist was an ok album and was listenable for me, which is usually not the case for me with bands like these. As a photographer I was also very interested in seeing the band. Of course so was every other photographer and the pit was extremely full of people to the point it was impossible to move. Regardless of this the band looked extremely impressive live. The Helsinki Tent Stage was absolutely packed to the max and everyone wanted to see this band perform. Again, I am not a black metal guy but I have to say I was impressed by the bands performance and the way they held the audience captive with their show. I would say their show was a success and I think the fans were all very impressed as well.
After Behemoth I had to rush over to the small and cramped Inferno Stage to catch Beast in Black. Beast in Black is the new band formed by Anton Kabanen who was the founder and songwriter of Battle Beast. After Anton’s departure from Battle Beast he quickly formed this band to soldier on with his form of true heavy metal. The band had a few
technical issues with guitar strings breaking but other than that I thought the band sounded really great. Yannis Papadopoulos, the singer, sings the Battle Beast songs fantastically. Anton and the rest of the band looked extremely comfortable on stage with each other and they all seemed to be having a great time and I think this was reflected in the band’s playing as I thought the show had a certain energy that can only be created from a band that is truly enjoying themselves.
I can’t wait to hear new material from the band and see what this new chapter in Anton’s musical career will bring because I think he has a band with the talent to deliver some great heavy metal. Best wishes guys!
Now we come to the headliner of the evening, Avantasia. Avantasia is the brain child of Tobias Sammet lead singer of German power metalers, Edguy. The difference between these bands is that while Edguy is power metal, Avantasia is a metal opera. So you have to expect some grand and epic type songs along with a plethora of guest musicians. You would also tend to expect to see some epic visuals. Well…with the visual part…you would be just a bit let down from this show.
The stage setup WAS impressive, however as the band was taking the stage two guys came out from behind the stage setup and waved to the crowd. They were dressed just like regular guys and I literally thought they were part of the stage crew. Turns out they were the drummer and keyboard players. The backup singers come out and they are dressed for what you would expect for a metal opera but the guitar players all looked like dudes that just got off work and decided to go play guitar out in the garage for a few hours. Tobias himself was dressed for the part of course but other parts of his band were or were not. I was left a little puzzled by this as I would think something like a metal opera would have the band looking more visual than they did. But oh well. Let’s talk about the actual performance.
As for Avantasia’s performance they sounded great. They
opened the show with the very Meatloaf inspired ‘Mystery of a Blood Red Rose’ from the new album Ghostlights and it sounded great. Tobias is one of the best pure singers in metal with a great range and live his voice was fantastic. For the next song he brought out a guest singer, Ronnie Atkins who sings in Pretty Maids and both singers truly enjoyed the performance and played off each other very well. After Ronnie’s song they played the title track, ‘Ghostlights’ and Tobias introduced the next guest singer who was non-other than Michael Kiske of Helloween fame.
Even after all this time, Kiske still has a great voice and the song ‘Ghostlights’ sounds fantastic, with him and Tobias singing off of each other and it was clear they were having a great time.
Avantasia seems like a very fun band and relaxed. Tobias has always had a huge sense of humor and there was a part of the show where he accidently announced the wrong song and he causally played it off with the crowd and the band as if it was just another day at work. I am happy to see someone like Tobias be successful in the metal world. A guy who is so carefree and talented that he can laugh at himself and have fun with what he is doing. Big props to Avantasia!
So this wraps up day one! And what a kicker it was! Next up…DAY TWO!!!
CLICK HERE for Pre-Fest Heastseeker Report
CLICK HERE for Day 2 Report
CLICK HERE for Day 3 Report