Infernal return of Tuska festival 1.-3.7.2022, part 3/3

Author Ossi Kumpula - 11.7.2022

The thrid and final day of Tuska was the most relaxed one, both in terms of the schedule and the weather. The day’s festivities began at just after two in the afternoon and concluded by ten in the evening, ensuring that even a slowpoke like yours truly managed to get to the festival area for the first band and stay quite comfortably until the last. Cryptic Hatred’s powerful death metal shook the audience from their slumber, and the entire three-day bacchanal was laid to rest by Deftones. In between them I got to catch many old favorites as well as new acquaintances by the names of Gloryhammer, Devin Townsend, High on Fire and Jinjer.

Tuska Sunday was the first day of the festival where I got to execute my favoured battle plan by arriving in time to see the first band in its entirety, and staying until the last notes of the last act dissipated into the air. Cryptic Hatred’s concert marked my second successful visit of the weekend to the Tuska Kvlt stage. Remembering yesterday’s line to the venue right before The Mist from the Mountains were set to play, I made sure to get inside the sweltering room as soon as possible to secure myself a spot. This proved to be the right move as the place was packed by the time Cryptic Hatred entered the stage. The band delivered thirty minutes’ worth of unabashed and uncompromising death metal. I was shocked to learn this group was formed only three years ago, such was the confidence of their execution. The crowd was fully on board with what the band was doing, moshing and cheering along until the very end. Cryptic Hatred released their debut album “Nocturnal Sickness” earlier this year, and if the band keeps at their current trajectory, I see no reason to bet against their success.

Next up on my menu was British Gloryhammer. Prior to the gig all I knew about the band was that they toured with Beast in Black some years ago, and that they have a unique concept to their image and music. Even though the full scope of their mythos didn’t quite open up to me in the hour they spent onstage at Tuska, I enjoyed Gloryhammer’s show a fair bit and could even recognize some seriously enjoyable songs, such as “The Hollywood Hootsman“. A few uninitiated non-believers left the show early, but the open-minded legions who stayed were treated to an hour’s worth of pure escapist, melodic fun. Gloryhammer finished their set a bit early, which left plenty of time for long goodbyes and moving over to the main stage to welcome Devin Townsend.

It’d been well over three years since I last saw Devin Townsend play live, so I was definitely ready for a reunion. The gig started promisingly enough when Townsend made his entrance and immediately began to spill his trademark good humor and jokes, followed by “Failure” from the excellent “Transcendence” album. Unfortunately my knowledge of Townsend’s work is strictly limited to what he’s done under the Devin Townsend Project-moniker, and “Failure” was the only song to be played at Tuska from that era. Overall the set was dominated by slower and lengthier tracks, which was a bit odd considering this was an early afternoon festival appearance. Nevertheless the sun was shining, a light breeze kept the worst heat at bay and a happy Devin Townsend was onstage performing agreeable music, so there wasn’t much room to complain. During the week after the concert it was revealed that Townsend would return to Finland next February to promote his “Lightwork”-album, so that’s definitely something to look forward to for the Finnish fans.

After Devin Townsend’s grandiose tunes it was time for something a bit more down-to-earth and gritty. Enter High on Fire on the tent stage, and what followed over the next hour was pure ass-kicking riff galore in twelve acts. Overweight, greasy and unhealthy were the words used to describe High on Fire’s music on the Tuska website, and the band certainly lived up to the hype. Frontman Matt Pike forsook idle chit chat between songs and let the music speak for itself, which it did loudly and proudly.

I left High on Fire’s set a bit early to make sure I’d have a spot at the weekend’s final talk session at Solmusali. The series of interviews held during the three-day event definitely ended on an especially interesting note as Nikan Khosravi of Confess sat down with Jussi Ahlroth to talk about his experience with persecution. Khosravi gave a fascinating and detailed account of being imprisoned in Iran for the lyrical content of Confess, his escape and eventual settling into Norway. The discussion gave much food for thought regarding the sorry state of freedom of expression in some places, as well as gratitude for the liberties we get to enjoy in our corner of the world. Khosravi will return to Finland with Confess on July 28th, at On the Rocks club in Helsinki.

The theme of freedom continued with Ukrainian Jinjer performing on the tent stage at 19:15 p.m. The show was already canceled at one point due to the war in Ukraine, but the members of Jinjer were given a special permission to leave the country to tour across Europe and serve as ambassadors for the Ukrainian cause. As expected the tent stage area was packed to overflowing, and it was my lot as well to witness this band from outside the tent. Jinjer was already a hot band even before shit hit the fan in their homeland, and naturally their national plight has only increased public interest in the group. The tent stage was so tightly packed that I wondered if there was any room for the sort of moshpits that Jinjer’s type of music calls for, and later videos to emerge on YouTube answers the question in the affirmative. Ukrainian nationalism was flaunted with pride, with the backdrop and stage lights displaying the blue and yellow of their flag. Musically the entire band was on fire, and frontwoman Tatiana Shmailyuk is an absolute force of nature as a vocalist as well as leadership figure. Jinjer’s seventy-minute set was pure catharsis and celebration of art and freedom, and one could easily consider them as the true main event of the day.

The day’s nominal main event was up next on the main stage as Deftones brought closure to the weekend’s festivities. The band’s consecutive shows and Provinssi and Tuska were their first performances in Finland in nearly eleven years, so I imagine a lot of pent-up expectations were finally fulfilled. I don’t have a personal connection to Deftones as I’ve never listened to their music, but nevertheless I was glad for the opportunity to have them as another new addition to my ever growing list of bands seen live. Deftones did not disappoint per se, but the long and hot weekend had drained me of most of my energy and their music just didn’t do enough for me to get me going. Thankfully that was not the case for the entire audience, and Deftones‘ brand of alternative metal solicited decent circle pits near the stage. Vocalist Chino Moreno was in a jovial enough mood, chatting up the crowd a bit between songs but mostly just focusing on screaming and singing his heart out for ninety minutes.

Once Deftones were done with their show I fully expected the bittersweet emotions that usually accompany the conclusion of a festival, but what I felt instead was just happy fulfillment. Covid-19 seems to well and truly have receded in the rearview mirror as gigs and festivals have been going on for a good while now, which gives hope for the future as well as eases the anxiety that any concert could be the last in a long time – or ever. Tuska festival set itself a record with 49000 attendees over the weekend and the early crow tickets for next year’s event sold out in a flash, so we can expect the variety of bands and quality of organization to carry on in the future as well. Festival season of 2022 has been a blast so far and it’s nowhere near done yet, so these truly are great times to be a rock- and metal music fan.

Pictures: Pasi Eriksson