So, Friday morning started off to be very sunny and quite warm. If only we knew what the weather gods had in store for us… While most were still recovering from their hangovers, I head to the main stages to catch as much of the first bands as possible.
Endstille is the German black metal act which I see almost every other year on the Wacken bill but it was the first time that I managed to catch them while they were still playing. To be honest, after watching most of their set, I was not disappointed that I missed them before. It was just another black metal act for me. Nevertheless, being the history buff that I am, I got intrigued by the intro tape to one of their tracks which went as follows: “The German radio has announced that Hitler is dead”. As their lyrics are also in German and I’ve started a beginner’s course, I will most definitely be digging up their material and studying it whenever I find time…
It was the second band of the day on the main stages which I was looking forward to most out of all the bands on this year’s W:O:A bill. Don’t start talking to me about Machine Head, Dimmu Borgir, Saxon, Volbeat… I’m talking about Sacred f*cking Reich. Given that the band does not, and will not, tour that often and they’re not planning on releasing any new studio material (as vocalist/bassist Phil states in an interview we did after their show), I definitely had to head to the “True Metal” stage and surf Nicaragua. At the same time I had to sacrifice the Warbringer performance at the W.E.T. stage. Nevertheless, I did not regret that for any second. Every Dio-damn riff, every drum beat, every word sung, every rhythm section, everything about that show was pure bliss. The second you saw that Sacred Reich logo at the back of the stage and you heard Darth Vader’s Imperial March, you knew you were in for a treat. And what a treat that was. Old-schoolers could not be disappointed as the first track after the intro tape was “Death Squad” and we heard other tracks from that very first album (Ignorance) such as the title track and “Violent Solutions”. It was during the latter track that Phil encouraged the audience to keep it up with the circle pit as they “love that shit”. Later on he would disapprove of any kind of “wall of death” and encourage a “circle of life” (i.e. a circle pit). We’ve also been treated to tracks from one of my favourite albums The American Way such as the title track, “Love… Hate” and the legendary “Who’s to Blame”. “Crimes Against Humanity” was dedicated to Randy Blythe of Lamb of God who served some time in Czech prison recently. Obviously, a Sacred Reich show could not go by without the three most important tracks: my personal favourite “One Nation”, the Black Sabbath cover “War Pigs” and the grand finale… “Surf Nicaragua”. This show will be always remembered by me – as by many others present there I believe – during every single track I had goosebumps and almost ended up crying of joy. Thank you Sacred Reich for this present and please come back soon!
The next act on the “Black” stage was another legendary act – Sanctuary. I was very much looking forward to it as I love Nevermore and everything that Warrel Dane does. Nevertheless, this show was a disappointment for me. Who knows, maybe I shouldn’t blame Sanctuary but rather Sacred Reich… because nothing would top that show for me. There was something about Warrel Dane that day (or maybe he’s always like that?), he sounded very silly, like he was on stage for the first time ever. It was a rather weak performance from a front man with so much experience under his belt. We’ve been treated to a new track “I am the Glow” and a handful from their two other albums. Music-wise they’ve been something similar to early stuff Nevermore but slightly worse unfortunately. I am still hopeful for the next time I see Dane & co. on stage.
After that it was time to go somewhere quiet and rest a bit with the opportunity to meet up with Phil (Sacred Reich) and John (Warbringer) for interviews. It was during the interview with Phil that the weather would instantaneously change from sunny and hot to a f*ckin’ storm. More about that soon.
So, after waiting for the thunderstorm to calm down under an umbrella with Phil, we managed to catch a bit of the Overkill show. By that time, the festival area was already filled with puddles and mud. The great front man, Bobby “Blitz” Ellsworth, would keep on praising the W:O:A audience by saying that they “beat the weather” and that this is the “event of the year; be there or be f*cked” while going straight into the track “Ironbound”. Overall, it was another memorable performance from the American legendary thrashers. Last time I witnessed them here (2010), it was extremely hot and Bobby was complaining that Wacken without mud is not Wacken… well, he got what he wanted this time.
and here’s what you got, Bobby:
Later on it was time to catch the recently reactivated with a new album, death metal act Decapitated. The performance was truly amazing. One could wonder why would such an act, with such a cult status, be allowed to play one of the smaller stages (W.E.T. stage) and for only 35 minutes… their show and the numbers their show attracted proved that they truly deserve to be up there either on the “Black” or “True Metal” stage. How can you fit a setlist from such a cult band in only 35 minutes? Anyhow, their set consisted of tracks from the new album Carnival is Forever with a track from the previous album Organic Hallucinations and for the finale, the crowd favourite, “Spheres of Madness” from Nihility. I hope to see them again at Wacken, at a bigger stage with a longer set. Also, if you can please take the time and show your support for their ex-vocalist Covan who needs very expensive surgical treatment.
Another reason I love festivals is the opportunity to discover new bands. Sometimes, as the Metal-Battle competition shows, you might find new favourite bands. Many times, unfortunately, discovery turns into disappointment. Such was my case with We Butter the Bread with Butter. I thought: hey, their name is ridiculous; I wonder how they sound live! (Yeah, I did not bother checking them out online)Their music is very simple to the point of boredom and exhaustion of what has been done so many times… the fact that this is a metalcore band did not help either. There were times when there was hope for something interesting to be built up in their music but it was all wasted with the use of synths and keyboards… Not my cup of tea, thank you.
So, I hurriedly leave the Bullhead City Circus as fast as possible and head back to the “Black” stage to check out cult Norwegian act Dimmu Borgir with the “Diablo Swing Orchestra” – or as otherwise known: the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra. Well, I must say that I was impressed with this show. The orchestra was a really great addition to the music – it did not make it sound cheesy and it did not sound as if it was too much. It was actually perfect. It took me back to my roots of discovering black metal and the Norwegian scene… We’ve heard tracks from the new album Abrahadabra but also a track (“The Serpentine Offering”) from their previous album In Sorte Diaboli as well as classic tracks such as “Kings of the Carnival Creation”, “Puritania”, “Progenies of the Great Apocalypse”, “Mourning Palace”, “Dimmu Borgir” and “Vredesbyrd”.
Check out their performance on YouTube:
Next up was Swedish melodeath act In Flames. Did not enjoy that one bit. The stage setup was more interesting than their actual music. Therefore, immediately after a few tracks, I run to the W.E.T. stage to catch Norwegian black/thrash act Aura Noir. Now that’s what I’m talking about, man. Going back to the roots of black and thrash metal. Put on some Motorhead, Venom with some Norwegian influences and you get the headbanging beauty of Aura Noir. Straightforward headbanging music; nothing less, nothing more! Well, maybe a bit ugly as the vocalist/bassist claims: “We are the ugliest band in the world”. Even if I was shit tired, they managed to keep my head banging throughout their show… Unless it was the beer.
Up next on the W.E.T. stage was Insomnium from Finland. A very interesting show I must say. Their music is a mix of death metal a la Amon Amarth and Opeth, however, with a doom-y feeling. Check them out, check them out both live and on record…now.
Unfortunately, as much as I wanted to stay up for Ghost Brigade, I couldn’t. The fact that they were playing at 2am sounded quite cool at the beginning… I thought it would be a cool atmosphere, watching a doom metal act at such an hour of the night. Nevertheless, as I was up from the very morning checking out bands and interviewing some of them, I had to head to camp, drink a beer and fall dead in my tent.
Make sure to check out our whole coverage of W:O:A 2012 here – links to reviews and interviews can be found there.