THE 19TH TUSKA Festival took place at Suvilahti in Helsinki from July 1 – 3. The metal weekend was kicked off with the Tuska Heatseeker evening on Thursday, June 30, at legendary rock club Tavastia where Shiraz Lane, Lost Society and Santa Cruz played in front of a packed house and made sure everyone got into festival mood in time for Friday. 

A hot summer day greeted the metal heads the next day, and Cattle Decapitation got the festival started full force with their powerful deathgrind. The Friday continued with performances full of energy by Mantar and Kvelertak. Lordi delivered their ‘The Arockalypse 2006 Redux Show’ - and I can only imagine how sweaty it must have been under their masks and costumes with the hot summer sun shining down on the Radio Rock Main Stage. Testament sounded excellent on the main stage as well, and Behemoth performed their intense metal ritual on the tent stage. Avantasia closed the first festival day and were the first ever Tuska headliner to play until midnight as the City of Helsinki had granted permission to play longer hours on Friday and Saturday for the first time this year.

Saturday was the day of superlatives. The Finnish summer continued to show itself from its best side. That weather and the quality line-up led to the festival selling out for the day with a total of 11 000 metal heads gathering at Suvilahti. One could tell as there were people as far as the eye could see. There was something in the air from the get go - I don’t mean just the promise of a thunderstorm later on. And just like the weather switched from hot to cold(er) in the evening, the music changed from fast to slow, from heavy to black. 

Brymir started the day on the main stage, and the maybe slightly tired crowd woke up fast. Fuck-Ushima kept the energy and a circle pit going on the Inferno Stage. With The Dead and their doom metal provided a moment to calm before Circle took their audience on a crazy ride, and Primordial mesmerized with their beautiful melodies and heaviness on the main stage. Tsjuder kicked things up a notch, playing a raw, in-your-face Norwegian black metal gig before Turmion Kätilöt started the metal disco party, playing the Tuska main stage for the first time. The day powered on with Anthrax and Stam1na before anticipation reached unknown levels as it was finally time for Grammy-winning band Ghost to perform.

Even the weather gods complied in making this a truly spectacular show. The sky was ablaze – burning in 666 shades of red and purple. Ghost stepped on stage and the crowd exploded. The heavens parted and rain poured down. What an atmosphere. What a show to close the second day of Tuska.

Sunday started a bit calmer and under grey skies. This suited the artistic and powerful performance by Myrkur perfectly, alternating between almost angelic melodic parts and demonic metal growls. Mörbid Vomit didn’t take any prisoners and delivered a tight death metal set. Diablo and Gojira played in front of big excited crowds before things took a melancholic turn with Katatonia. Children Of Bodom closed this year’s Tuska and the crowd gave it their all for one last time. 

Swallow the Sun deserve a special mention as they played one of the Songs From The North albums on each festival day. From the summer festival show on Friday, to the very intimate and unbelievably beautiful acoustic concert on Saturday to the dark doom gig on Sunday each and every one of them was incredible in its own right, but as an entity they were one of the most special festival experiences ever.

All in all, 28 000 visitors gathered at Tuska over three days and it was once again a magnificent festival experience.