A quarter century of Tuska – Festival report of the 2023 edition, part 2/3

Author Ossi Kumpula - 11.7.2023

The last two days of Tuska turned out to be excellent for checking out bands in the indoor stage and in the shelter of the tent stage, what with the rainy weather outside and all. My Tuska saturday was kicked off with Slash the Smile, a band from Jyväskylä formed in 2018. They released their debut EP in 2022, toured for it a bit last autumn, and are now working on their debut album. The band is clearly pushing for a horror concept that’s somewhat unrefined as of yet, but given time they surely have potential. The band engaged the crowd actively, and they responded with active participation and even a miniature moshpit towards the end. Slash the Smile called it quits after 25 minutes, so obviously they need to work more on producing new material, so their debut album is definitely something to look out for.

In some ways, the next band rocking out on the Tuska Kvlt stage, Angles Mortis, was the polar opposite of Slash the Smile. The band, formed in Helsinki in 2017, seemed to consist of a bit older musicians. As such they were nowhere near as concerned with wooing and pleasing the crowd, content instead to perform their songs at their own unhurried pace. Angles Mortis’s blend of hard rock, heavy metal and even grunge was quite pleasing to the ear, with the exception of the vocals which at times seemed like a horrible match for the music. This was noted in the crowd as well, some of whom chose to protest by laughing and making idiotic faces to each other whenever the singer took to the microphone. Nevertheless the band made a positive impression on me with their music and their easygoing attitude, but unfortunately information on this band seems to be quite scarce on the internet.

After these Tuska Kvlt bands it was time to check out the day’s interviews at Solmusali. Sadly, the number of Tuska Forum interviews were cut down drastically from last year with no panel discussions at all on the last day of Tuska, so saturday’s interviews with Turmion Kätilöt and Marko Hietala were the last fares of this year’s Tuska Forum.

Turmion Kätilöt were first in line to be interviewed by Kiki of Bleeding Metal podcast, and their interview turned out to be an interesting one for unforeseen reasons. The band had finished their show on the main stage not a full hour before, and in many ways they were still riding the high of that gig. Both band members present, Shag-U and MC Raaka Pee, were still in their full stage getup, with a drink in hand, and obviously in a talkative mood. So much so, in fact, that Kiki had some trouble keeping the conversation under control, with the interviewees breaking into Finnish storytelling and anecdotes at every turn. The audience didn’t mind, however, breaking into laughter every few minutes and taking their time to greet the guys after the interview.

The interview segment of Turmion Kätilöt highlighted why it isn’t necessarily a good idea to insist on having the discussion program be entirely in English. This goes especially for interviews of Finnish artists, who perform in Finnish and whose fans are mostly based in Finland.

Marko Hietala’s interview, on the other hand, was much more focused. The man was his usual calm and collected self, with a humorous edge to his banter nonetheless. It was interesting to hear Hietala relay his thoughts and experiences from his long career in music, about how educational his studio internship was in his youth, and how he considers an extensive reform of copyright laws one necessary item on the to do-list regarding music industry overhaul.

Once outside from the cozy warmth and darkness of Solmusali, the sky looked ready to piss on the festival goers at any given moment, and so it did. The downpour was such that I felt compelled to seek shelter at the designated indoor media lounge, which was convenient as I hadn’t visited the place that weekend yet. Before the day’s main event, In Flames tore up the main stage for 75 minutes. The band crammed fifteen songs into that time slot, and the audience lapped up every minute of it. The band’s recent studio efforts continue to be a topic of dispute among heavy music fans, but no one can deny they remain a dominating live act. In Flames delivered an absolute rager of a show at Tuska, and since their latest album “Foregone” has been widely hailed as a prominent return to form, it doesn’t look like this band is stopping anytime soon, or even slowing down.

A perfect antidote to the day’s shitty weather was Ville Valo’s (VV) concert at the end of the evening. HIM had claimed the title as my favorite band from 2007 all the way to their disbandment in 2017. I was really looking forward to hearing old HIM favorites live for the first time in ages, and to my surprise I even warmed up to some of VV’s new songs in a way I hadn’t been able to while listening to the album. Especially the haunting moods of “Heartful of Ghosts” hit way differently in a live setting compared to the record. VV had made the commendable choice of not prattling to the audience since he had nothing to say, aside from very brief farewells and birthday greetings to his father prior to the final song “When Love and Death Embrace“. As much as I might still prefer HIM to VV’s solo material, the gig at Tuska proved that it’s still possible for me to discover the new songs, and the general audience seems quite receptive to them as well. VV continues to tour extensively until the end of this year at least, so it’ll be interesting to see how inspired he’ll be to keep his solo venture going in the future.

And just like that, two days of Tuska were done with only one more to go. More of that in the final part of Chaoszine’s Tuska 2023 festival report.

Pictures: Pasi Eriksson, Juho Virinkoski