The last day of this year’s W:O:A was not so busy interview wise – had to do only one. However, band wise, this day was busy as every day at the (un)holy land.
Unlike the day before, the first acts hit the stages at noon – an hour later than Friday and Thursday. Reason? I guess because the last day is always the toughest and an hour more to recover from the metal and alcohol hangover of the last two days is welcome by all the 70,000 (or more) maniacs present in the fields of Wacken.
Gamma Ray from the not so far away city of Hamburg was the first act for me that day while devouring some vegan lunch. Taking my hostility to power metal into consideration, I have enjoyed listening to this band. Their type of power metal is more melodic, and yet aggressive, without overdoing it. Much more comfortable for my ear than bands like Hammerfall or Helloween…
The next band to hit the main stage – the “Black stage – was legendary act from the UK: Napalm Death. Not being afraid to admit to their legendary status, frontman Mark “Barney” Greenway, exclaims that they have loads of songs from loads of albums to choose from for today’s set. The man looks like a psychopath on stage; he’s really crazy. With his psycho eyes and his frantic movements, he definitely lives up to the band name.
Unfortunately, I did not stay to watch the entire one-hour show. I had the gut-feeling that I had to move my ass and catch Massacre at the smaller “Headbanger” stage in the Bullhead City Circus tent. Although they had only a 35 minute slot, they managed to fill the time up with classics of From Beyond, their new EP Condemned to the Shadows and a cover of Death’s “Mutiliation”. The last one was obviously dedicated to Chuck Schuldiner – or otherwise known as the “Father of Death Metal”. Vocalist, Ed Webb, kept praising Robert of Century Media Records as without him, according to Ed, the band would not be where it is now. What can I say more? This was a straight-on death metal gig from a classic death metal band. With the groove among all the extremity, headbanging was guaranteed. Next time these Americans come with a brand new album… the main stage should be calling!
After that awesome show, time was nigh to run to the main stage area to see another death metal classic… Six Feet Under with Chris Barnes (ex-Cannibal Corpse) on vocals. After listening to their latest release Undead (reviewed here), I knew this was going to be a special show. What an epic beginning to the set with the “Final Standoff” off the film The good, the band and the Ugly (thank you, James, for the tip), the band walks on stage… Chris Barnes walks towards the audience, shout outs: “Time to die motherfuckers” and knocks down the mic stand. The band starts blasting off tasty death metal sounds in the shape of the Cannibal Corpse track “Stripped, Raped and Strangled”. Oh, we were in for a brutal ride. The band performed tracks from the new album but as well a handful of tracks from previous albums. The highlight of this show, apart from the great music, was the fact that Chris Barnes is an awesome frontman, he knows how a frontman of a death metal band should act. The most memorable shout out of his for me would be “Scream like they ran out of beer”. The band also surprised us with the last two tracks. While introducing it as an “old one”, they dived straight into the Cannibal Corpse classic “Hammer Smashed Face”. For the end, we were treated to a death metal version of AC/DC’s “T.N.T.”.
Check it out for yourselves:
Right after, on the “True Metal” stage next door, another metal legend was welcomed: thrashers Testament. With the energy and passion and while frontman, Chuck Billy, pretended to play guitar on his mic stand (well, half stand really…), the band presented tracks from the new album True American Hate such as “Native Blood” or “Dark Roots of Earth”. The show couldn’t go on without the classics “More than Meets the Eye” or “Preacher”. As many other bands during this festival, they dedicated the last track to Randy of Lamb of God – with backdrop signs “Free Randy” – who has been freed that day.
After listening to Six Feet Under’s cover of AC/DC we had the urge to listen to something along those lines… Fortunately, Australian three-piece BugGIRL provided just that. However, they’re not just another three-piece – two thirds of the band are women and they know how to rock out. “Blood, Sweat and Beer” describes the music perfectly. Although it took some time for the band to get in rock ‘n’ roll shape, it got better and better with every song. Fans of classic rock and metal were headbanging and enjoying their beers in front of the “Beer Garden” stage. We heard tracks such as “Hot Tonight”, “Blood, Sweat & Beer” and a cover of “I Got Erection”. Stay tuned for an awesome interview with the Australians.
The Viking Swedes, Amon Amarth, which most metalheads love to headbang to did not disappoint either. With Viking scenery and looks – especially the vocalist’s looks and the Viking axe – the spectator was taken into the world of Vikings and death metal. Although the front man’s interaction with the audience was rather simplistic, it was effective. He gave out usual shout outs like asking the band how they are doing and telling how awesome the Wacken festival is and especially the Wacken audience. The most memorable shout out for me would be when he asked the audience to participate during the song “The Pursuit of the Vikings” even if they don’t know the lyrics – because it’s death metal and no one will realise that you’re singing wrong. All in all, Amon Amarth put on a great show with highlight tracks such as “Death in Fire”, “Cry of the Blackbirds”, “Runes to My Memory” and “Guardians of Asgaard”. You may check out the performance for yourselves below:
It’s times like these when you realise why the Wacken festival is one of the best in the world – if not the best – and why the bands always thank and congratulate the audience. It was pouring with rain – not just drizzling a little bit which causes your grandma or grandpa demand you put on your coat but it was LITERALLY pouring with huge rain drops. The Wacken metalheads stayed strong and kept on watching and ENJOYING the shows regardless of the fact that they were soaked and they were standing in mud which caused their feet to disappear somewhere in the ground…
The bands, however, also deserve a huge applause. In this case, the Scorpions put on a great farewell show which consisted of classics such as “Still Loving You”, “Big City Nights” and “Rock you like a Hurricane”. Regardless of age, they proved that they still can rock out on stage. The drummer clearly portrayed this with his crazy drum solos and jumping around all over the place. He also had to pass on the message in writing – just in case if we did not notice – with the back of his T-shirt saying: “Forever Rock n Roll”. He then took it off and the same writing showed up on his back, tattooed. The legendary guitarist, Rudolf Schenker, maybe did not portray this with jumping around all over the place like the drummer but his crazy guitars (one with a car exhaust?!?!) and soloing in the rain proved that the guitar god is still alive and kicking ass with his music. All in all, a very enjoyable show even for a person like me who does not know the band inside out. This was probably one of the last opportunities to see them on stage and I’m glad I did check them out. Rock ‘n’ Roll forever \m/.
Right after the legends finished their great set, it was time for American metal celebrities Machine Head to take the “True Metal” stage. The rain has cooled down a bit by now but Rob Flynn thanked the audience for staying up to see the band headline this fest for a third time. I did not really look forward to their performance because I somehow… grew in KVLT status and stopped following this band – even if I LOVED their previous album The Blackening and I always loved the classic Burn My Eyes. To be perfectly honest though, I really enjoyed their set; hell, I even loved it. Machine Head really put on a tight performance with great sound and lighting. As I kept headbanging – while standing in six feet deep mud – to tracks such as “Old”, “Aesthetics of Hate” or “Halo”, I started to think that these guys really deserved the headlining spot. The word “headliner” was resonating from every note they played, you could really feel it in the air.
Frontman, Rob, kept interacting with the audience; whether it was throwing Wacken cups (of cola?) to the audience or talking in-between the tracks. “Aesthetics of Hate” was dedicated to Randy Blythe who has been freed that day and we also got a special treat in the shape of “A Thousand Lies” as it was the first time they played it in Germany for some 15 years. The frontman even criticised a spectator in the first row who was wearing a cap and not headbanging. Apparently, it is mandatory to headbang at Machine Head shows – especially if you’re by the barriers (with the latter, I have to agree). Rob went on and praised the four girls next to him who have been headbanging all the time – I believe this was supposed to embarrass the guy… I do not see how. Anyways, the band’s set reached a climax during the last track… the track everyone was looking forward to. The track I was headbanging to throughout and the track during which I was shouting out: “Let freedom ring with a shotgun blaaaaast!!!!” I’ll never get bored of that phrase. A perfect ending to a great gig. The only downside, were the spoken intros and interludes to the songs off the new album. In my humble opinion, they would’ve been better off without that. Nevertheless, Machine Head rocked my socks!
Check out the first few songs here:
Right after it was the Swedes from Watain turn to put on a great set. Unlike the previous act, I had high expectations from these black metallers as I really enjoy what they are doing in studio ever since I listened to Sworn to the Dark (2007). Was I disappointed? Of course not. With great pyros, great make up and costumes the band put on a really dark, satanic show. Obviously, there were burning upside down crosses; the show couldn’t go by without that. Again, although it was really muddy – actually, it was more watery than muddy, there was a huge lake now in front of the “Party stage” – the atmosphere was great. It was 1 am and you could feel Satan crawling into your soul with tracks such as “Sworn to the Dark”, “Reaping Earth”, “Stellarvore” and even a cover of Dissection’s “The Somberlain”.
You may check out this great gig on YouTube:
The festival has come to an end and Watain was the last band for me to see on stage. What a way to finish off a festival. Although I still wanted to check out the end of Winterfylleth’s set at the W.E.T. stage, there was no energy to be found to survive more blasting metal at 2 am. Beer at the campground was calling… had to drink enough of it for the journey back home…
The 23rd edition of Wacken Open Air was, once again, an amazing adventure. Even if, according to some people, this was not the greatest line-ups of all, there were a shitload of bands to check out and lots of attractions. Those of you who have been there before you probably already know that Wacken is not all about the bands and the attractions, the atmosphere there is amazing. You feel at home, you feel this metal buzz… it fills you with excitement, causes you to bang your head and puts a huge smile on your face. It’s such a great place that you always feel sad when you are on the bus, train or airplane returning home.
The “mecca” of metal? Without doubt. Will I be there again next year? Hell yeah! Rain or shine? MUD OR SHINE!
Check out the rest of the MetalRecusants Wacken coverage here.