Abbath played the first show ever at this year’s Tuska Festival.

TUSKA OPEN AIR METAL FESTIVAL did it once again: From June 26 to June 28 the 18th edition brought 25 000 metal heads together in Helsinki for a sunny, music packed weekend. 42 bands played on the three stages and made sure everyone would find something to their liking and the festival sauna offered the chance to take a refreshing, truly Finnish break. Also the food options stepped their game up: From tasty falafels to the stylish and delicious Black Dining restaurant the only thing you had to do to get a nice meal was make sure Helsinki’s infamous seagulls didn’t steal it.

But of course the music was the most important part. On Friday, Ghost Brigade sent their doom melodies from the Inferno Stage to put a layer of Finnish melancholy over the blue skies. Blues Pills created a totally different atmosphere a bit later: Their heavy Blues rock and singer Elin Larssons soulful vocals made you want to take your shoes off, go dance on a meadow and just be one with the groove. Also from Sweden but with a totally different vibe Alfahanne played the Club Stage: dirty rock with an attitude that people either like or don’t, and the small audience that had gathered clearly enjoyed the show. Anything but small was the crowd that the day’s last band attracted and the show they put on: Festival favourites Sabaton brought Swedish power to the Radio Rock Stage and went all out with lights, pyros, a tank and comedic intervals between songs, and were celebrated frenetically.

Saturday didn’t leave any chance to slowly wake up: Bloodbath started the day and they just killed it. There was not much time to recover from that captivating musical debauchery as Finnish Wacken Metal Battle winners Shiraz Lane rocked the Club Stage soon after, and delivered an energetic show. Then it was on to Loudness from Japan who continued on the Radio Rock Stage and played the perfect soundtrack for the holy summer festival trinity: Sun, a cold beer and the sound to go with that. For those that needed a break, Morbid Evils from Finland offered a darker atmosphere on the Club Stage so eyes could take a break from the sunshine and ears could slow down the listening to their sludge sound. The day’s schedule was packed with special shows: Amorphis performed their legendary Tales from the Thousand Lakes album in its entirety to celebrate its 20th anniversary, and metal classics like Black Winter Day put a smile on many faces. A world premier was Abbath’s show: The former Immortal frontman introduced his new band and entertained with his signature humour, fire-breathing, Immortal and I songs as well as the new song Fenrir Hunts. In Flames ended the day, and sent the crowd off into the night with a blast.

Legendary Alice Cooper performed as the last act of the festival and delivered a true rock show.

Sunday was again sunny, and Mokoma made sure to get everyone into festival mood. The day continued a bit mellower with a mesmerizing gig by the Finnish band At The Hollow on the Club Stage, and continued with beautiful melodies on the Inferno Stage: The Sirens a.k.a. Liv Kristine, Anneke van Giersbergen, and Kari Rueslåtten brought female power and wrapped the crowd around their little fingers. Things got progressive-groovy with Opeth from Sweden and singer Mikael Åkerfeldt entertained between songs by talking about everything from colour matching his shoes to his guitar to Swedish ice hockey. Stratovarius played their whole Visions album in front of an excited crowd, but they could not convince everyone to watch them as some fans were already eagerly awaiting the day’s and festival’s last show on the Radio Rock Stage where mighty Alice Cooper was set to go on. Alice and his band delivered a true rock show with great music, rocking out (especially guitarist Nita Strauss who swept over the stage like a dervish), high energy washing over the audience while Alice was throwing fake money and pearls out there, dancing with a real snake.  For School’s Out Michael Monroe got on the stage for a joint performance, and just like that another great Tuska Festival was out.