Tuska Festival 2015 Part II: Suvilahti, Helsinki FI

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Tuska is so centrally located in Helsinki that there’s no room for parking unless you’re looking to leave your bike in the bicycle park. Still, already by 1:45PM on Saturday when Bloodbath was starting their set, the festival area was getting quickly filled with an unusually high concentration of corpse paint wearing festivalgoers, most staying in the nearby hotels since the festival doesn’t offer a camping area either.

Abbath, photo by Aku Axel Muukka

And not really just for Bloodbath, but Abbath’s world premier show under his own namesake must explain the unusually high spike in face paint sales in Helsinki this week. For more info and full video of Abbath’s show, follow this link:

A clear oddbird for the day was Atomirotta, a Finnish act that would be best described as a mixture of rap, jazz and funk. Not exactly what you’d expect on the second main stage between Abbath and Einherjer. The booking, apparently result of a lost bet, was a testimony of the quirky & fun attitude of the team behind the festival that consistently shows through how the festival keeps being organized year after year. Very professional, yet always tongue-in-cheek.

The small club stage in the Kellohalli hall has always been notorious for its challenging acoustics. This year at least Sotajumala (Finnish for “War God”), which on paper seems like a very difficult band to mix with their speed limit defying death metal, managed to come crystal clear and produce a fantastic sound and a highly energetic show.

In Flames, Aku Axel Muukka

In Flames, Aku Axel Muukka

Saturday closed with In Flames, who had tuned their set not to just push their new album, but to really get the crowd going, opening with ‘Only for the Weak’. Singer Anders Friden made a joke how he’s been in Finland for already several hours, and hasn’t yet had a Lonkero, a popular local long drink mixed out of gin and grapefruit juice. Miraculously, despite all alcohol consumption strictly being prohibited to designated bar areas, an unopened Lonkero was thrown on stage somewhere from the depths of the crowd just seconds later.

Whispered, a melodic metal band with Japanese influences, took the stage at On The Rocks just an hour later. Opening with ‘Hold the Sword’, the band relies on a lot of backing tracks due to their symphonic sound, but also their mad skills with their instruments. Another highlight by this underrated band’s set was ‘Sakura Omen’, their newest piece that takes the band’s music to even further depths into a mystical soundworld.

Fans at Tuska Festival,

Fans at Tuska Festival,

Fast forward to Virgin Oil – another club just a few blocks away – where Amoral was kicking off their first show as a six piece, since the band’s longtime singer Niko Kalliojärvi returned the band doubling the vocal count of the band. Ari, the band’s more recent singer, and Niko would take turns taking stabs at older and newer Amoral material. Perhaps it was Niko’s more active stage presence, but this time old school seemed to have the upper hand on the new school.

To close the night at Virgin, Euge Valovirta’s (Shining SWE) All-Stars band came on playing cover songs with various singers joining them on stage, some more dressed than the others, which went perfectly well with the post 1AM showtime of a long and hazy weekend.

 

WORDS BY LH

PHOTOS COURTESY OF TUSKA FESTIVAL/Timo Asoaho/Aku Axel Muukka

 

Blastfest: Day One – Bergen Norway

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The first year of Blastfest marked the beginning of a somewhat risky adventure, at least for mainman and festival promoter, Yngve “Bolt” Christiansen, a guy you might already know as front man of the Norwegian death metal band Blood Red Throne. He gave everything to get this up and going, and to secure Bergen a replacement for the much missed Hole In The Sky Festival, that unfortunately called it the day back in 2011, after twelve years of catering to Bergen’s metal needs. OK, so we did get Beyond The Gates already the year after, but they had downsized and focused on “underground” acts like Nocturnal Breed, MGLA, Nifelheim, Aeternus and the likes of them. So the gap, the segment of in between bands like these and Slayer, was really not catered to in terms of a festival. Up stepped Yngve, risking both his car and his apartment in the process. Yngve is a guy who thinks in what psychologist Kahneman has coined “System 1” thinking; he is indeed fast, instinctive and emotional, praise Satan for that!

 

I arrived just as the very first band of the festival played the last minutes of their set, thus Tantara was missed, except for that one single song, a couple of minutes of pure thrash metal. However, that was not the case with Finnish black metallers Woland, recently signed on Indie recordings. The two bands would preferably have switched places though, because Woland were a generic black metal trio, most memorable for their vocalist not just taking off his shirt, but also for him doing Fabio poses. Being remembered for poses is hardly krieg, right?

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The next band on stage was Lakei, which is Norwegian for ‘footman’. They set the bar a lot higher with their perfectly executed take on the sludgier and groovier form of metal. They’re also a local band, and really stick out in a scene mostly made up of extreme metal acts, in a city maybe most famous for black metal bands like Gorgoroth, Taake, Enslaved, Immortal and Burzum. Next up was the German thrashers of Fatal Embrace, and boy was this fatality! The lead guitarist seemed to have picked up his playing skills mainly through viewing the Abbath guitar lessons on YouTube over and over, which needless to say made for a subpar performance. And when the vocalist boastfully declared “We destroy this house tonight – this is ‘Another rotten lie’ “, I simply couldn’t help but giggle a little to myself. Said vocalist, as pointed out by some other attendees, could probably do good from a little cardio excercise too, since his face became all red already halfway into the first song. There was a lot of heavy breathing, and very little musical material of interest to be heard from Fatal Embrace.

Fellow Germans, Der Weg Einer Freiheit, were the next band on stage, and boy were they something else. Perfectly executed black metal, good sound and a lot of people left looking to buy their music in the wake of their performance. Sadly they didn’t seem to have brought anything for sale. Although, one must question what black metal has evolved into in later years, when you have a band looking as if they just came from a seminar in C++ programming, even wearing some beach loafers on stage. The aesthetical aspect seems to be more and more neglected, which might very well work out on an album, not so much so in a live setting.

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Koldbrann on the other hand; they adhere to the old school black metal aesthetics, full corpse paint and all. That being said, the vocalist had an eerily similar style to that of Batman sidekick Robin. He still came across as far more dominant and commandeering than the vocalists earlier in the evening, and the band churned out really good versions of songs like ‘Drammen’, ‘Totalt Sjelelig Bankerott’, ‘Djevelens Treskeverk’, and finished off beautifully with their cover of ‘Russian Vodka’. Then came Myrkskog, for the first time ever gracing Bergen with their presence, and with Nils “Dominator” Fjellstöm behind the kit for the occasion. And speaking of this guy; what the fuck does he do to manage to play at such infernal speeds!? The same goes for some of the guitarwork of Sechtdamon (which you might know from Morbid Angel by now). Boy can these guys play! They raced through songs like ‘Discipline Misanthropy’, ‘A Poignant Scenario Of Horror’, ‘Domain Of The Superior’, ‘Deathmachine’ and ‘Utter Human Murder’, all flawlessly executed. However a chaotic sound production probably made sure one had to know the material beforehand to really enjoy the show. The last band before headliner Shining were the veterans of Aura Noir. And one thing is always certain about this band, and that is the certainty of getting a superb performance. Blastfest got a run-through of a set filled with classics, like ‘Blood Unity’, ‘Sons Of Hades’, ‘Mirage’, ‘Released Damnation’, ‘Condor’, ‘Black Metal Jaw’ and ‘Hell’s Fire’. Sadly the band had to walk off stage before they were through with their set, but we all know that might happen at a festival. So there was no ‘Conqueror’, sadly enough. Also, at some point during their set they had to play with only one bass drum, which Apollyon referred to as “just like at the circus”. Speaking of circus … the final headlining act this first night was Sweden’s Shining. Seemingly people implicitly agree with me on the fact that Aura Noir should have been headlining, because the crowd was much thinner during the main headliner this night. we got the usual stuff, like spitting blood and drinking whiskey and whatnot, and the usual suicidal lullabies. And they are somewhat lullabies these days, as it feels more and more like the band has outplayed its role, at least to those having already passed through their teenage angst phase.

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Blastfest on Facebook

Words: Pål Lystrup

Photos: StiPa Photography

Blastfest is this week in Norway!

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Blastfest, the newest and best European metal festival of the Winter 2014 is this week! Held over three days with 36 killers bands on five different stages, Blastfest promises to be an annual tradition of excellence. Ghost Cult Magazine will be on hand to cover the event. Fielding such luminaries from all walks of metal such as Hypocrisy, My Dying Bride, Vader, Triptykon, Marduk, Tiamat, Carpathian Forrest, Aborted, Aura Noir, Wardruna, Shining (SE), Belphagor, Annal Nakrath, Swallow The Sun, Sahg, Obscura, and many more, it should be an amazing show. In addition to the music, there are exhibts and special events all weekend long, making this a unique experience compared with other festivals. Held in Bergen Norway, the main venue USF Verftet is based right at the dock by the city fjord, and second venue Garage is in the heart of town. Bergen is the second biggest city in Norway and counts 250,000 people. The 3-Day passes are all sold-out, but there are plenty of great deals on tickets still left for all three days. Tickets can be purchased via the festival website below. Also keep up to date with the festival on Facebook.

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Buy tickets now!

The Blastfest website

Blastfest on Facebook