We are about 120 days from Wacken Open Air 2014 – its 25th anniversary spectacular. It’s already shaping up to be something that gives legendary a new meaning. But the thing is, Wacken is always a phenomenal event, not just because the music is guaranteed to be awesome but there are many factors which make it the most amazing European festival ever. This year feels that little bit more special, for obvious reasons.
Although we haven’t had an announcement in a while, by the way things are shaping up, any announcement that comes now will only worsen the clash struggles we’re likely to have. Already there are about 20 bands that I plan on seeing in some capacity, but realistically that feat is almost impossible to accomplish. Even when writing this I had difficulty picking the 10 I’m most excited about.
And here they are (in no particular order):
The Devin Townsend Project
With Epicloud being the joint best release of 2012 (along with Between The Buried And Me’s The Parallax II: Future Sequence), Devin Townsend has had a tremendous few years. Need we even mention his epic demonstration in his creativity and depth with last year’s CD/DVD must-buy in the form of The Retinal Circus? Devin and co always deliver a momentous performance, memorable for its precision and hilarity in its circus-like atmosphere. On top of that, his co-headline one-off show with Meshuggah was notorious for being perhaps the best indoor live show I’ve ever seen. Seriously, you would have to be clinically insane to miss this. Devin is an absolute mastermind.
Heaven Shall Burn
Fresh off the heels of releasing Veto, German metalcore heavyweights Heaven Shall Burn are also a live must-see. While their records boast their aggression and ability to near god-like standards, when dishing it out live, it is even fiercer. Last time they played Wacken there were thunderous pits everywhere, not least counting the one during ‘Voice Of The Voiceless’ in 2009. With that in mind, and based on their track record of producing epic standards on the stage, Wacken’s 25th anniversary marks the perfect time for Heaven Shall Burn to shine.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of In The Nightside Eclipse. Need any more be said? When it was announced they were reuniting to play Wacken and Bloodstock Open Air in the UK this year, fans went just a little bit mental. With the core line-up of Ihsahn, Samoth and Faust, this will be Emperor at its finest, and provided they get an open air stage late at night, then we can be thankful for a truly authentic, atmospheric memorable performance.
Check out Dave’s article about In The Nightside Eclipse here.
Speaking of bands who had broken up and then reformed, no extreme metal band’s success story is more unforgettable than that of British grind/death heroes Carcass. After the release of Surgical Steel (reviewed here) last year, Carcass fans began witnessing the resurgence of one of the most influential bands of the last few generations, and one who can still dish out a punishing live show. It’s not as if anybody needed an excuse to headbang, but Wacken 2014 would be the perfect time to…erm…wake up and smell the carcass? If that means go ape, then do that!
Even though I saw them two years ago, they should be at the top of the list for any attendee to Wacken whenever they’re on the line-up. Never failing to impress live, and on one particularly occasion seeing longboats in the actual arena itself, being ridden by fans – a homage to their Viking philosophy. Always delivering punishing death metal on record, the latest belter Deceiver Of The Gods (reviewed here) being one of their finest, a live show is where Amon Amarth thoroughly stand out. Expect a sea of headbanging fans…possibly with longboats.
Last time seeing these hardcore/metalcore sensations was at Bloodstock 2012, where I witnessed a man being stretchered out from the crowd by EMTs with a broken leg at a 90 degree angle. That being said, although it’s rare to happen, that level of damage accurately sums up a Hatebreed pit. And it’s always fucking awesome. This will be my seventh time seeing them, and I’m under the impression that they can only get better each time they grace the stage. Expect a level of madness the likes of which will put everyone on the edge of their seats…even though, there aren’t any seats. Check out their latest album The Divinity Of Purpose to get a vague idea of what the Wacken vibe will be like.
Prog metal mixed with post-rock and death metal. How good can it get? Well, ask Opeth or Cult Of Luna fans. The Ocean, much like them, are capable of delivering an atmospheric experience that pushes the boundaries of theatrical and that is perfected by their musical precision. Almost as good visually as it is musically, it really has to be seen to be believed. Just probably not while on acid – it might go badly. Although I will be seeing them at UK Tech-Metal Festival this year, their Wacken set looks to deliver something quite special for The Ocean’s hometown fans.
Just as if the line-up couldn’t get any more stacked as it is, then make room for Polish blackened death metal pioneers Behemoth. Headlining Bloodstock 2012 was a groundbreaking performance, at least from my perspective, and they can only improve on that – given Wacken has a less strict policy on pyrotechnics and other crazy brutal stuff. If you’ve heard even one minute of The Satanist (reviewed here), February’s album of the month for me, then you’ll probably realise that it’d be a wise move taking a change in underwear by the time they set foot on the Wacken stage. You know, just in case.
The melodic death metal troupe from Sweden have been hitting metal news sites everywhere as of late. But if you somehow aren’t aware, then the news surrounds not only their new album War Eternal – due for release (CONVENIENTLY) in the summer of 2014, but also their change in vocalist. Angela Gossow has left the vocal helm, and replaced by Alissa White-Glutz, formerly of The Agonist. Ironically I saw The Agonist last October and thought nothing much of their performance – but White-Glutz was very good. And if you haven’t heard their most recent single, ‘War Eternal’, basically the monster strength riffs are still there, and the new vocal approach is quite enjoyable. Many fans will miss Gossow but Alissa has filled the shoes comfortably thus far. Wacken could possibly create that one defining moment for the new Arch Enemy, which I figure will be a seriously tremendous showing. Particularly as they had to pull out last year.
Labyrinth was one of the most insane albums 2013, but then again, did we seriously expect anything less from the Italian tech-death masters? Fleshgod Apocalypse, on all albums, can dish out the technical wizardry that is so full of legend that at times it is damn-near impossible to comprehend how it’s played. But live, this is a feat that is topped seemingly all the time. And I still can never figure out how. Expect massive amounts of headbanging, windmilling and pits – but due to the speed and severity of the music, even the fans will not be able to keep up. Bring your best neck for this one.
Also announced are Megadeth, King Diamond, Apocalyptica (with a full orchestra!), Kreator, Sodom, Decapitated, Motörhead, Children Of Bodom, Torment, August Burns Red, W.A.S.P, Hellyeah, Iced Earth, Steel Panther, Avantasia (A German festival exclusive), Godsized, Endstille, Chthonic, HammerFall (an exclusive Glory To The Brave show), A Pale Horse Named Death, Crematory, Bring Me The Horizon, Degradead, Saxon, The Vintage Caravan, Skid Row and many more!
How could you not like this line-up?
Check out our interview with one of the masterminds behind Wacken Open Air, Thomas Jensen: