Hellbound @ Tuska Open Air 2018 in Helsinki

Tuska 2018


Denmark’s Baest started the 2018 edition of the Tuska off with with a surprisingly tight death outfit in the veins of Entombed or Bloodbath.  Definitely was unexpected, and definitely a surprise out of the gate.  Baest hasn’t even released an album at this point, but their debut is coming later this month. They’ll be a band to follow closely for some to-the-point death metal.

Tuska was off to a great start, and I headed off to the main stage to catch Crowbar.

Maybe it’s the fleurs-de-lis that gives their roots away, but these New Orleans natives really bring a bit of cajun spice to their show.  No stage antics, no bullshit.  Crowbar’s honed sludgey sound just brings out that slow American southern style — not too technical because that would just take the magic away.  They brought their metal gumbo for all to see and were welcomed right at home in Helsinki.

Tribulation is a band that on general principle everyone should see.  To this day I really don’t know what to make of them, but enjoy them every time I see them.  A little bit of some doom metal, death metal, a splash of black, a bit of Satan, and a dash of ballet and you’ve got Tribulation.  They’re fantastic on record, but they’re best live.  They physical performance alone is a bit out there sometimes, but it fits the band’s tone.  Always happy to see them, and seeing them at Tuska is just icing on the cake.

Turmion Kätilöt is most certainly a staple of the Finnish metal scene, yet fairly unknown outside of their home country.  Frequently compared to Germany’s Rammstein, TK really brings a party to their show and brings 100% fun to the stage. The band knows what its audience wants from their show, and they deliver consistently. It’s unfortunate that they’re not more widely known

I have been waiting since 2002 or so to see Moonsorrow. It’s hard to believe that it took over 15 years to finally make it happen. But was it worth it? Absolutely. It may have taken 15 years and a flight to Finland, but it was totally worth it. I tried to sit back as much as I could after shooting the band to just soak up the sound. Their album output has noticeably slowed since 2007’s V: Hävitetty, having only released two albums in the past 12 years, and that makes me concerned about seeing them again. Who knows? But hopefully it doesn’t take another 15 years to see them again.

I love most of Mike Patton’s projects, and I accept that I might not get them. I respect the man musically, and certainly respect Dave Lombardo as a drummer — but I’d be lying if I said “I got this”. This isn’t for me, and I just don’t get punk. Dead Cross is, unfortunately, going to be a project that I just don’t resonate with the same way I do for projects such as Tomahawk or Mr. Bungle.

Norwegian stalwarts, Leprous, are no longer the up-and-comers they once were. Firmly established within the prog metal scene at this point, Leprous’ second performance at Tuska was a much bigger show with a much larger crowd this time around. With two more albums and multiple tours around the world, the band were able to show the Finns what they were capable of. At one time, Leprous attached themselves to Ihsahn as his backing band, but the band has outgrown that description and now stand on their own as an accomplished band. The guys played a bit more of a varied setlist than they have the past few North American shows which was very welcome.

I watched a bit of Arch Enemy from the beer tent, as by that time I needed a break. Arch Enemy were always a band that I knew of and I remember ‘Burning Bridges’ and ‘Wages of Sin’ pretty fondly back when they were released, but everything I heard after just sounded flat and uninspired. They were never quite the same caliber as other stalwarts in their genre such as Dark Tranquillity or In Flames (the 90’s era guys — come on). The band garners quite a following, but I gained a beer.

Meshuggah has been a band that I’ve wanted to shoot for ages. I’m not the biggest fan by any means, but their stage show is pretty insane for a photographer given the constant use of strobe lights to light the band and set. By the third song, I was riding the wave of an intense show. I’ve been doing the Meshuggah thing wrong all these years folks — I should have been seeing them live because that’s where they really shine.

Obviously I’m aware of Ice-T and Body Count, but I never really spent time getting to know Body Count’s work. While it was interesting to watch, it wasn’t my thing.
As a photographer, they were fun as hell to shoot. Body Count has a legacy,


Star Wars + Metal? Only the most serious and trve metalheads need not apply. Galactic Empire is exactly what they look like. A bunch of Star Wars cosplayers playing the hits from a galaxy far far away — but in the key of metal. This shit was amazing and fun, and a welcome addition to the Tuska festival.

Beast in Black was formed after Anton Kabanen left Battle Beast a few years ago. Definitely a band to watch if power metal is your thing. They were fun in their own total embrace of the cheese within.

The 69 Eyes make me think of The Cure meets the film Lost Boys meets Sisters of Mercy. I had seen their name around for years, but had never given them much of a thought. The show may have been a gamechanger for me.

Mokoma, another “hometown” band who makes regular appearances at Tuska, is always a welcome addition to the fest.

Carpenter Brut was a big unknown for many going into this years Tuska, but thankfully I was not one of them. Most seemed generally unfamiliar with them, but immediately got into the music once the band started. I didn’t know how they would perform live, nor did I know how the music would translate in a live setting. All I can say is that I never thought I’d see thousands of metalheads jamming and dancing along to ‘Maniac’ from Flashdance. I hope bands like this continue to make appearances at Tuska. It may not be metal, but it certainly encapsulates its spirit.

Having never thought I’d see Emperor, but then seeing them at Tuska a few years ago for In The Nightside Eclipse, I would say I considered myself fortunate. Having now seen Emperor twice, I have to admit I certainly am. This time it was less of a special show and more of a general overview of Emperor’s work. Ihsahn’s solo output does sound like a natural progression of his work in Emperor, but sometimes I just need that raw sound that his solo material doesn’t have in quite the same way.

Hallatar, for those who are unaware, is a band formed by Juha Raivio (Swallow the Sun) in tribute of his late partner Aleah Starbridge. The songs are based on poems that were written by Aleah and Juha chose to put them to music. It was an extremely emotional experience for the band and the crowd. Clapping was pretty minimal as most people were aware of circumstances that led to the the music. Amorphis’ vocalist Tomi Joutsen is a force to be reckoned with already with Amorphis, but give him material dripping in very real joy and loss, and you’ve got a recipe for a truly remarkable performance.

Thrash titans Kreator made a reappearance at Tuska again after a few years. I’m pretty confident in saying that every time I’ve seen these guys, they’re always on. Mille Petrozza continues to put out consistently good new material as well as ensuring Kreator shows are blistering. After the set finished, I headed over to a food area to pick up some portal crepes to get some calories in before At The Gates

At The Gates — what can I say? Slaughter of the Soul has long been heralded as one of the cornerstones of that early melodic Swedish death metal sound that were launching points for bands like In Flames shortly after. Their comeback was a huge deal back in 2007 and a new album was not remotely on anyones radar. But here we are in 2018 and At The Gates not only reformed and played shows, but they’ve continued recording new material and not content with playing the hits. Their post-reunion albums haven’t been earth shattering, but they’ve been good nonetheless. I still think they’re fantastic as a live act and Tuska reinforced that belief.

Gojira has now become a behemoth in metal. Their success was certainly built on the back of great songwriting, hard work, and diligent touring. The work has paid off over the years as they’re pretty much on everyones radar and continue to write blistering material. Their headline slot is well deserved, and their stage show has become increasingly more complex over the years. This Gojira, like its namesake, is a force to be reckoned with.

With Saturday’s show over, the group headed off to the bar to get a few drinks in before the last day of the festival


Stick To Your Guns, I heard, was a band to catch for their sheer energy. Like Dead Cross, I’m just not into the hardcore or punk vibe. But I was astounded at the raw energy put forth from the band. Performance alone made the band worth catching. I can’t say I’d buy an album, but I’d definitely catch their show again.

I headed over to the beer tent to spend a little time with some drinking before Ihsahn

Despite Emperor’s fantastic show the day before, I was still had really high expectations for Ihsahn and boy did he deliver. Easily his best performance from the three I’ve seen. The inclusion of Pulse was unexpected, but said a lot about the man’s comfort zone and what kind of material he’s willing to pull out on stage.

Never thought I’d get the opportunity to see Europe. Obviously everyone has heard “Final Countdown”, and no doubt that was my introduction to them as a kid, but I’m a sucker for that album and getting to hear even a few songs from it made my day. The older stuff is a bit cheesy these days, but their later material is anything but.

Clutch is not a band that I’ve really ever been able to get into. But the show made me reconsider my stance on them. Sometimes bands just don’t hit you in the same way on album as they do live — which seems to be a recurring theme this Tuska quite honestly. Explosive energy on stage and I just felt like the guys were firing on all cylinders.

Parkway Drive is a successful band, but I have no interest in them unfortunately. I gave them five songs and decided I wanted to spend the remaining time with friends that I only get to see once a year. The band had massive energy, but the music doesn’t resonate with me. Plus, I found out that the sweet rotating drum set wasn’t going to happen until the encore, and sometimes you have to have priorities like food, or friends, or sleep.

Another successful Tuska in the bag!