Thursday in Wacken terms means the “official” start to the festival. While Wednesday is usually packed with Metal-Battle gigs (with a handful playing Thursday as well – report here), Thursday is the day when, most times, the Wacken gods put up the “A Night to Remember”; last year we had Ozzy Osbourne with Blind Guardian and Helloween among others. This year, the line-up may have not been truly spectacular when compared to the previous years’ line ups but Sepultura, Saxon, Volbeat and the comedian Jim Breuer put up a tremendous show.
Similarly to the day before, during most of the time we had the scorching Northern German sun above our heads. It was only on Friday and Saturday that Odin would turn against us and terrorize us with rain and thunder…
Gig-wise, the day started for me with Faanefjell – a very enjoyable show and the band is recommended to whoever has the urge to listen to some Trolls and Scandinavian folklore with the sounds of black/death metal with some folk and classical themes. The band was also mentioned in my Metal-Battle report here.
After a break from ear-pounding sounds coming from huge speakers and amplifiers, the MetalRecusants team went to grab something to eat and refill our beer cups. Since I mentioned food, I believe I should give you the unlucky ones, who have not been to the (un)holy land yet, a brief description of what a metalhead may find in the food area apart from beer, mead, Jagermaister and all those wonderful liquids. The variety and choice is rather enough for a 4 day festival even if you don’t bring your own food with you to the camp site. If you want you can even manage to eat something different every day. Obviously, meat eaters won’t be disappointed with the amount of kebabs, sausages, hamburgers, hot dogs and whatever else you can imagine to eat. Vegans and vegetarians should also not worry, there are quite a few stands with falafel wraps, vegetarian noodles, pizzas and more. For those with a sweet tooth: lots of ice creams, fruit cocktails, cakes and other wonderful eatable things.
The first band to hit one of the main stages – the “Black” stage – was the band formed by the W:O:A organizer Thomas Jensen. Skyline’s performance is becoming an annual opening of the main stages. The band hit off with a cover of Rainbow’s “Long Live Rock ‘n’ Roll” and later continuing with UFO’s “Doctor, Doctor”, Manowar’s “Warriors of the World United”. We also witnessed the guest appearance of vocalist Doro during the Wacken anthem “We Are the Metalheads” (which was also recorded on disc) and her own track “Raise Your Fist in the Air” from her new EP of the same name. Although the cover set started to get boring after the appearance of Doro, there was something to headbang to without doubt.
Now, this guy I’ve been looking forward to most to see that day. After his awesome appearance last year, I was very happy to hear the news that Jim would be performing on the “True Metal” stage (and also on the Headbangers stage the next day). Obviously I was not the only one, thousands gathered in anticipation of his show. Once Jim and his three piece band entered the stage playing some heavy tunes with Jim singing along I started to wonder whether I am going to enjoy this – was this Jim Breuer the band or Jim Breuer the comedian?! Nevertheless, my uncertainty and initial disappointment decreased as the show went on; Jim was singing in a hilarious way making fun of James Hedfield and worshipping metal – the man actually has a rather awesome metal voice. After a few minutes he started doing what he does best, bashing about metal and everything that surrounds it. As last year, we’ve been introduced to hilarious impersonations of Ozzy Osbourne, James Hedfield, Lars Ulrich and Rob Halford. We heard again the awesome story of the teenage kid who goes out with his friends drinking: “4AM, I’m all banged up”. The highlight, for me, however was the story about his adventure at the most recent “Big Four” show where Slayer fans were referenced to some kind of monsters like Orcs and whose arrival was signalled by the sound of a trumpet, which Jim obviously impersonated. I can’t tell you the jokes in detail right now… you must experience it yourselves from the man himself. The “Heavy Metal Family Man” will be coming back to Europe in January 2013 so do not miss his show if you will have the opportunity – more details here. Jim Breuer will leave the stage and you will still be laughing your ass off for hours after the show, if not days.
Although criticised by many as “not the true” band or as “just a cover band which does not release any good material anymore”, the Brazilians did put on an impressive show. They started off with the classic “Refuse/Resist”. Later on we heard tracks like “Territory”, “Ratamahatta” and for the finale: “Roots Bloody Roots”. Even if I’ve heard those tracks a thousand times by now, they never get boring. The sound and atmosphere of the whole event was exalted by the drummers “Les Tambours Du Bronx” which made the drumming stand out and gave it more of a Brazilian feel.
U.D.O. the legendary ex-vocalist of Accept rocked out on the “True Metal” stage with tracks like “Balls to the Wall” and “W:O:A”. I can’t say more about the show as I just observed it passing by. Nevertheless, he is always welcomed with a thunder from most Wacken attendees. To my great disappointment, I missed Hammercult’s show. They are the winners of last year’s Metal-Battle. These thrashers from Israel have recently released a new album and a new music video; check it out, will ya?!
Taiwanese act Chthonic put on a show of extreme. Everything they did was extreme and fast with a bit of folk-ish sounds here and there. How can playing an erhu in a death/black metal band not be extreme? Fans of Turisas were given a treat as the violinist, Olli Vänskä, joined the band for a few tracks with his make-up and uniform obviously.
Saxon put on a great show at the “Black” stage. Although I do not follow this band too much (yeah, yeah, you can start your angry rant now), I have enjoyed their set. Obviously I could recognize classic tracks such as “Denim and Leather”, “747 (Strangers in the Night)” and “Wheels of Steel”. A great classic set with lots of great pyros and lighting. The audience was amazing. Everyone was enjoying the show and the atmosphere, whether it was headbanging, dancing, jumping or… drinking. The band have announced their love to the festival (and its audience) by announcing that when they do their last ever show, that show will be at Wacken and nowhere else.
The next act to hit the “True Metal” stage were the Danes from Volbeat. For some reason this band is very popular all over the world and not only in metal circles. It is fascinating and worrying at the same time. Are they the right band to play so high up in the bill on a main stage? Maybe playing the “Party” stage would have been a better choice? Whatever one might speculate, their show was energetic and enjoyable. Although I was not really looking forward to their appearance (I was actually planning on going to the camp already) because I’ve seen them before (when they were not that popular yet – saw them play to an audience of… 20 max? in London), I got sucked into their music when I heard one of my favourite voices in metal… Mille Petrozza ladies and gentlemen. Yes, the dude from Kreator was singing along to one track (recorded that track on their new album as well) and it was actually really really cool! The other surprise was when vocalist, Michael Poulsen, asked if we like Napalm Death and then he welcomed the vocalist of that band, Barney, on stage for a track. Amazing. Then the band went on to finish their set with a few more hit tracks and a finale with an unfinished cover of “Raining Blood”.
That day and the one before, there were also film screenings which I really wanted to check out but did not manage – especially the screening of Type O Negative’s 2007 W:O:A show, Dio’s 2004 W:O:A show and the European premiere of the first two episodes of Sam Dunn’s “Metal Evolution” series.
Such was my end to the second day of this awesome festival. After Volbeat it was time to hit the camp and drink some beers for a nightcap. Skoal metalheads!
Stay tuned for two more reports and band interviews…