By Mark Gromen
24 hours ago, as SAVATAGE once said, the sun was shining brightly. June 29th, overcast, with a constant threat of precipitation and people dressed in long sleeves and/or rain gear (it's Finland, but I did say rain gear). Despite a reputation for exporting some of the music world's leading proponents of happy sounding metal (NIGHTWISH, STRATOVARIUS, etc.), today's line-up was decidedly heavy, headlined by TESTAMENT, backed by KREATOR, but also featuring SOILWORK, the deadly sounds of VON and old-school, thrash loving native sons, STAM1NA and LOST SOCIETY.
In SOILWORK, bassist Ola Fink is still the visual focal point, bent backwards or dancing around on one foot. Bjorn "Speed" Strid, in sleeveless NEW MODEL ARMY jacket spoke after the opening 'This Momentary Bliss', referencing playing Tuska eight years earlier. He stalked the stage, occasionally taking time to wipe his sweaty, bald head with a plush black towel (ala former Georgetown basketball coach, John Thompson). 'Weapon Of Vanity' was up early in the set, 'Follow The Hollow' got a circle pit going (briefly), while 'Let This River Flow', 'Rise Above The Sentiment', 'Rejection role' and 'Stabbing The Drama' came later. A good start to the day!
The thrashers in STAM1NA apparently thought they were invited to Rock The Beach, on the other side of town, as they showed up shirtless, in grass skirts, Body Glove swimwear, lei around the neck, even an inflatable palm tree. In the 80s, people complained about ANTHRAX wearing colorful, knee-length Jam shorts! At least I can say that I saw/heard the ludicrously named screamo/metalcore act WE BUTTER OUR BREAD WITH BUTTER, the skull mask wearing Cal-surf punk, via Sweden, known as DR. LIVING DEAD and much "heralded" VON. The later is a fourpiece in ecclesiastic robes. You can understand why they're "underground" as there were more people in the photo pit (some on assignment to shoot every band) rather than in front of the stage, aka "fans." It's proof that just because certain high profile extreme mags cover VON that it will translate into paying customers.
Herr Petrozza brought the KREATOR killing squad to Suomi, with a new setlist. Will it be the same come the Fall, in North America? Who knows, but 'Phantom Antichrist' began the day, a ripping way to kick things off. 'Coma Of Souls', into 'Endless Pain' was up surprisingly early, backed by 'Pleasure To Kill'. The middle portion of the show generally revolved around the most recent releases, offering up 'Hordes Of Chaos', 'Death To The World', 'Enemy Of God', 'The Patriarch' and 'Violent Revolution' in succession, only 'Phobia' breaking that post-2000 bloc. There was plenty of fog onstage. 'Tormentor', into 'Under The Guillotine' capped their evening, showing the "kids" how it's done.
Speaking of lessons in violence, all that was left was TESTAMENT, each side of the drums flanked with a 4 by 2 array of Marshall cabinets. Legit or not, it gives a powerful impression! pparently the dry ice/fog machine operator was getting paid by the volume created today, as the Bay Area bangers were also shrouded. Essentially the same set they've used around the globe since the release of Dark Roots Of The Earth, it's a mix of classic hits and a few newbies sprinkled throughout, beginning with the opening 'Rise Up'. 'More Than Meets The Eye' and 'The Preacher' bring all the generations of fans onboard, before Chuck Billy's heritage anthem 'Native Blood' is unveiled. By the time they hit 'Into The Pit' all four members are standing across the front of the stage, guitarist Alex Skolnick happily shredding in the wings, never really approaching the center. Yellow lights greet 'Practice What You Preach', which is followed by 'The New Order'. 'Alone In The Dark' sees SOILWORK frontman Strid join the band onstage, for a boisterous audience sing-along. Billy plays air guitar on his half-stick mic during the yellow lit 'Disciples Of The Watch', then he relates the tale of how they made a promotional video for 'Over The Wall' illegally. Despite approaching the 10pm headliner curfew, it's still light outside, so '3 Days Of Darkness' feels slightly out of place, but no matter, with a crushing 'Formations Of Damnation' sending the Finns into the twilight, headed for one of the numerous bar sponsored after parties.
More photos from Tuska Day 2 can be seen here
Check out Tuska Open Air Day 1: KING DIAMOND Reigns In Hel-sinki here