For its 20th anniversary celebration, Tuska Open Air Metal Festival attracted 37,000 visitors over three days


This year’s Tuska Open Air Metal was something special as the festival celebrated its 20-year anniversary from June 30 to July 2 at Suvilahti in Helsinki. With headliners like Sabaton and Mastodon, Finnish favourites such as Amorphis, Sonata Arctica and Apocalyptica, as well as international bands that included Soilwork, Mayhem, Suicidal Tendencies and Devin Townsend Project, the lineup was packed with heavy hitters.

Therefore, it was to be expected that the Tuska weekend would again attract a large crowd of metalheads. In addition to these bands, HIM, who had announced their last tour before breaking up later this year, was the headliner for Saturday. In light of this, it was little wonder that Saturday was sold out with 14,500 festivalgoers, and the festival set a new record with a total of 37,0000 visitors over the weekend.

But let’s start with Friday. The Finnish summer didn’t show its best side on this cloudy day, but that didn’t deter anyone from getting into the festival mood. From Anneke Van Giersbergen’s Vuur to Wintersun and Suicidal Tendencies, the afternoon offered up something for everyone, and the bands played in front of enthusiastic audiences. The Inferno Stage was packed for Finnish black metallers Baptism, and the crowd enjoyed the darker side of metal before Finnish voodoo folk tunes took over the hall with Pekko Käppi & K:H:H:L, who even got some goth ladies dressed in PVC dancing.

With the nippy weather, it wasn’t completely unsuitable for Insomnium to bring their latest album ‘Winter’s Gate’ to the Väkevä Tent stage and mesmerize the audience, before things again took a darker turn with legendary Norwegian black metal band Mayhem playing their influential album ‘De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas’ in its entirety. To end the day, Sabaton entered the Radio Rock main stage and took the cheering audience to a metal battle.

Saturday announced itself as even colder than Friday, including a few rain showers, so it was good that Swedish death metal band LIK turned up the heat right at the beginning of the day, before Impaled Nazarene brought their tunes and banter to the main stage.

The rest of Saturday didn’t hold back either. Timo Rautiainen & Trio Niskalaukaus came out of retirement to play a show that evoked many memories, and Lost Society blew everyone away with their energetic performance. Electric Wizard brought the groove and took the audience on a doom-heavy journey, while Tom G. Warrior’s Triptykon turned the Väkevä tent into a cold, icy, blue-lit metal cave.

But of course, everyone eagerly awaited the final act of the day – HIM. With a massive metal heartagram as the backdrop, Ville Valo and co. enchanted an audience that happily sang along to all the hit tunes, many reliving their teenage days – a worthy celebration of Tuska’s anniversary and HIM’s highly successful career that ended with fireworks in the night sky.

Sunday fulfilled the promise of its name and the sun finally peaked through the clouds, meaning the last day of this year’s Tuska festival began under blue skies. First up, Tuska band competition winners Where’s My Bible hit the main stage, before Battle Beast rocked the tent stage, where the passionate crowd couldn’t get enough of them. Dirkschneider turned up the summer festival feeling on the main stage a notch, and Baroness jumped all over Väkevä stage with big smiles and an infectious good mood.

The choice between cello metallers Apocalyptica and Oranssi Pazuzu, who played at the same time, was a difficult one. But it was Oranssi Pazuzu who triumphed and took their audience on an intense ride through a psychedelic black metal universe in the packed Inferno stage hall. Sonata Arctica got the festivalgoers to sing along on the tent stage before Mastodon ended the 20th Tuska festival in the evening sunshine in front of a cheering crowd.

Nina Ratavaara

Photographer: Eija Mäkivuoti