by Tony Öhberg| July 1, 2019 | Music, Culture

People having beers before entering the gates of Tuska Open Air Metal Festival in Helsinki’s Suvilahti district on June 29, 2019. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today / Click on picture to view gallery

What comes from Ukraine and can pummel heavy metal riffs hard? So hard that it will leave your body trembling.

There’s a fair chance you may not know.

That’s why Tuska Open Air Metal Festival is such a great place for discovery of talent.

And it’s not like Jinjer is an unknown group. In 10 years, they have earned their very own place in the heavy metal world.

But sometimes it takes a dark tent full of metal fans and the finesse of Tuska sound to really start paying attention.

Songs like “Pisces,” which combine Tatiana Shmailyuk’s tender vocals with deep growl, tickle and hammer you at the same time. “I Speak Astronomy” does the same thing. But don’t break your neck!

“Sit Stay and Roll Over” is likely to send you into the mosh pit with men and women running in a frenzy. Inside the circle, it sometimes takes a shove to keep moving forward. If you fall, someone will pick you up. Smile, and they smile back.

“People just started running and moshing. The energy was incredible,” said a woman in her 50s after watching the legendary American trash metal group Slayer perform one of their last shows on Saturday. She was visiting the festival for the first time.


“People just started running and moshing. The energy was incredible.”

A woman in her 50s

“How do they know when they should start doing that? You know, create a mosh pit,” the woman asked from a man about the same age walking next to her.

“They know the song. They know when to start after a certain part in the song,” the man said and smiled. The man had been visiting the festival for the past 12 years, but even he hadn’t heard about Jinjer.

Tuska is a phenomenon 22 years old. It’s a business grown out of a dream of heavy metal enthusiasts who wanted to share their love for metal to others. But it’s also a success story in business. It started as a club festival, and four years later it had entered outdoors at the Kaisaniemi Park in the Helsinki center.

Since 2011, it has been arranged at its present location in Suvilahti district.

This year, however, was the first with the new entrance. The idea was to adapt to the new environment of shopping center Redi.

For the visitor, it meant smooth traveling with a metro, an exit from Kalasatama station, and after a couple of rides with the escalators, the visitor arrived at the gates.

For those, who also wanted to spend time outside the gates it meant sitting on a hill in the sunshine, swilling beer among seagulls, gravel and grass. Perfect with a Tuska mindset.

The new age limit of 18 and over (alcohol could be served everywhere), the fame, and, perhaps, the warm weather, made this a record year for Tuska. A total of 43,000 people visited the festival over three days!

On Friday alone, there were 15,000 people with the helpful pull of groups like Anthrax and Amorphis, who according to our assistant, Klaudia Weber, were great, especially the latter, the Finnish heavy metal band of many genres. “Their show was absolutely fantastic. A special show. They performed their whole new album Queen of Time.”

Saturday gave the spectators a variety of entertainment and metal styles. Weber witnessed an unorthodox act, Heilung, an experimental folk band with members from Denmark, Norway and Germany, and whose music is based on texts from artifacts of the Viking Age. “Is it a band or rather a community of prehistoric shamans performing a ritual? As no press photographers were allowed you have to find out for yourselves,” she said mysteriously.

Slayer headlined the evening; a mind-blowing trip down the memory lane! Yours truly could still drum many of the songs, including “Seasons in the Abyss,” “Raining Blood,” and “South of Heaven.”

The day was another success for the festival with 15,000 attendants.

Sunday pulled 13,000 spectators, which was enough to break the previous record: 37,000. The day was filled with interesting groups. For example, while Jinjer made the crowd mosh, Halestorm—an American rock band with a female vocalist as well—made the crowd dance, to turn on their lighters and to sing along.

The rock ’n’ roll continued with the Swedish Hellacopters giving the grande finale for the evening.

It was another year of incredible memories at Tuska, a word equal to pain in Finnish, but if there was any pain it was now washed away.

Perhaps that’s why the festival is called Tuska?


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