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Wet sand paints your favorite soft white sneakers grey—not the smartest choice of shoes but when jumping around the three-day Tuska metal festival, with a total crowd of 34,000, in the district of Suvilahti in Helsinki, the mind starts to put comfort first.
It’s not that I haven’t enjoyed the sudden bursts of rain, the sweetness of the sun, the stiff neck of all the moshing, but the feet tend to get tired.
Patrons started to pack into the festival area already on Friday afternoon when the gates were opened at 13:00. Girls wearing horns, guys in Alice Cooper- or Kiss-inspired masks, legs wrapped in camouflage patterns or leather or in dark jeans while the wind flapped those dark shirts emblazoned with bold letters of their favorite bands.
Swedish melodic death metal sensation, Arch Enemy, gave the wildest stage performance of Friday. The fast-paced songs and the superhuman vocals of Alissa White-Gluz inspired the crowd to jump as if they were trying to slam dunk their soul through the gates of heaven. Judging from the faces of people in the front row, they were not far from it.
The group opened with “The World is Yours,” a badass opener—indeed; following with “War Eternal.”
“My Apocalypse,” a song dating back to their sixth album of 2005, Doomsday Machine, was influenced by their homeland counterpart Meshuggah, who was in the backstage warming up and getting ready to take over the stage in the dark tent next to the main stage.
As a teenager playing drums in various cellar bands, one of the tests of our skills was how far we could play a Meshuggah song. Often, not beyond the middle, due to the constant changes in the rhythm.
“Born in Dissonance.” “Bleed.” “Clockworks.” Words do no justice in describing these massive math metal songs, with massive bass sounds and deep vocals seemingly emerging from the bottom of the Earth.
Saturday attracted about 13,000 people as people came to witness, for example, the ’80s classic Kreator and the modern metal giant Gojira. But more good things come to those who wait . . . .
Sunday’s highlight was Parkway Drive a long flight away from Australia. They took over Tuska’s main stage with the lead singer Winston McCall already sweating before the first song. He was charged. Ready to deliver.
They started with newer material from their latest album Reverence, with gigantic arena-ready songs, giving a glimpse of the metamorphosis from metalcore to—some call it Viking metal—to, ultimately, themselves. “Ultimately, I want people to listen to our music and just say, ‘That sounds like Parkway Drive.’ That’s it. I don’t aim to say we have to be a metalcore band or a metal band or whatever genre,” McCall said previously.
“Dedicated” from their next-to-last album Ire, had enough a feel of their old days with heavy, rhythmic riffs and an inspiring message that got the crowd jumping wildly. After a couple of newer songs, “Idols and Anchors” from Horizons (2007) got the crowd to create a moshpit, some tumbling but others helping the fallen soldiers quickly back on their feet. And just when they thought they were to get a breather,”Karma” from Deep Blue (2010) started another furious round in the pit.
“Crushed” from IRE (2015) made the drum cage spin while the drummer Ben Gordon kept hammering the song, all while McCall was sweating in the middle of flames and singing “We’ve been crushed by the fists of god.”
Parkway Drive’s songs and style have, indeed, changed, or perhaps evolved, from their old days. I saw them previously rocking a shirtless crowd during a rock festival on the hot Hietaniemi beach in Helsinki in 2013, giving a heavy load of rhythmic metalcore, having just released Atlas.
On Sunday evening, the crowd got closest to that experience with “Wild Eyes” from the same album. Back then McCall urged the crowd in the moshpit to cool off in the sea.
In Suvilahti, the crowd just kept running and, occasionally, falling, ready to get back on their feet.