31.7.-3.8.2013 Wacken, GER
Insane weather, mega acts, newcomers and lots of good vibes. The 24th Wacken was a true success and woke up the sleepy township, effectively becoming the focus of the international metal community. This has also been leeching into television and other media, which normally concentrates on other themes. But anyhow, whomever wishes to avoid the newer audience, can do just that by crossing off wrestling, clowns and co. Under the premise of “rain or shine”, we were there for you this year. (sa)
(In case text illustrations and links no longer work, go to interactive Flickr gallery at the end of the text)
Wednesday, 31st of July 2013
The battle fort he best spot for the tent has already begun. It’s a shame that there are no great reference points in the form of light up balloons with text. These have become standard issue at other festivals and they would fit perfectly into Wacken to serve as landmarks.
After each one had set up their tent (some people put a lot of effort into looking original), the masses stormed the stages. The infield (the area which held the main stages) wasn’t opened on Wednesday yet. Because of this, the most people were by the Wackinger stage. (gw)
Thursday, 1st of August 2013
After some morning rain, the first official festival day kicked off with great weather. Skyline as well as organiser, Thomas Knapp, attuned the almost 100,000 visitors to this year’s Wacken Open Air. The normal rhythm of switching between the two main stages –the Black and True Metal stage- was left out and only the True Metal stage was in use. The reason behind this was the preparation for the upcoming Rammstein show. The stage was even enlarged for the massive stage equipment including the extensive pyrotechnics. (gw)
Metal Battle (MB) Mexico – Behold the Grave – W.E.T. Stage
For more Behold the Grave-photos have a look here!
Our Thursday kicked off with the Metal Battle winner Mexico, Behold the Grave. Their thrash/death metal performance did not fail to impress. The band gave its all, especially the very animated singer. One of the fans got a Mexican flag onto the stage via security, much to their pleasure. (oa)
MB Central America – Rotten Souls – Headbangers Stage
For more Rotten Souls-photos have a look here!
The next to follow was the MB Central America, Rotten Souls, who offered the audience some fairly fantastic black metal. Even though the singer was quite still, it fitted to his zombie-like corpse paint and it gave the show a sense of eeriness. If they would have had the chance for some props and pyrotechnics, as well as more play time, they would have been able to give a pretty bombastic show. (oa)
MB Poland – Gnida – W.E.T. Stage
For more Gnida-photos have a look here!
The next to follow was the Polish MB, Gnida. Their extremely energetic music really put the audience into the flow and were the only MB band of the day who managed to form a mosh pit. Their grindcore-ish metal was really vibrant, mostly due to the melody (which is really rare in grindcore), changes in rhythm, and a sense of fun. One of their tracks ended with a shift into a Russian folk song, which apparently revolved around drinking. As their songs were somewhere between 30 seconds and 2:30 long, they definitely managed to pack in the most songs out of all of the MB bands -edit: each band gets only 20 minutes. As impressed as we were, we decided to do a spontaneous interview on the following day. It will be posted shortly. (oa)
MB Japan – Mysterious Priestess – Headbangers Stage
For more Mysterious Priestess-photos have a look here!
MB Japan, Mysterious Priestess came up next and oh boy was that shit. The music can only be described as improvised/experimental jazz metal -their show actually kicked off with jazz. After the intro, when the music really kicked off, it sounded like each musician was playing a different song. Fair enough, looks aren’t that important (as long as you sound right), but they all looked like they just came from an office, so even that went wrong. (oa)
Haggard – W.E.T. Stage
Due to an unfortunate wrestling interlude, whereupon a wrestler accidentally transgressed a cameraman’s back, the photopit was unfortunately closed. The cameraman is already feeling better as the first thing he asked his colleague was “did you get it on film?” The wrestler was surely also relieved to hear this.
As far as I could tell, Haggard was performing undermanned, probably due to the lack of space on stage. Some years back, they played on the Party stage with 22 members, which was a much more impressive. Due to the same reason, there wasn’t that much action on stage apart from the regular show. The Bavarians played their small symphonic metal repertoire nicely. They played their hits, like “The Final Victory”, “Awaking the Centuries” and the national hymn of Mexico. Surely this 45-minute performance was no hit for Haggard, but the sound was okay and the singers Asis Nasseri, Su Ehlers and Veronika Kramheller did not disappoint as far as their voices were concerned. Su’s and Veronica’s exhilaration seemed a bit too forced and acted out. This band simply needs a full stage to show their full musicianship. Hopefully they will be touring soon again. (sa)
Before Till Lindemann and his lads took over, they gave the honour to Annihilator, Thunder and the old rockers Deep Purple. Simultaneously 9mm and Soulless gave their best on the W.E.T stage in the Bullhead City tent. The undisputed highlight on the W.E.T stage was Die Kassierer. The musicians –who, by the way all have a degree under their belts- know how to got the crowd stoked. Nonetheless, the general program at the Wacken grounds was nothing to be ashamed of; there was something for everybody. Another novelty is a serving of spirits in a cowshed. There where one could only get Captain Morgan in the previous times, this time there was a bit of variety in products and labels.
As far as the foodstuff went, there is room for criticism: On premise there are sausage on sale under three different prices, none of which is affordable. The prices in general have gone up a bit, leaving a good tip to the visitors to provide for themselves as far as food goes. After all, it is a lot cosier to throw a few steaks on the barbeque with your neighbours. Alternatively, we can also bring out the locals’ offer. (gw)
Deep Purple – Black Stage
Deep Purple is one of those old school bands that a lot of people went to see just because one doesn’t know how long they are going to be around. Some of the people in the audience were old enough to have been able to see then in their hay days, though. As the show kicked off, the first thing I noticed was that Ian Gillan’s voice was off. Either he was a few beers short to really be able to let it rip, or he was simply too old. It did, however, get better towards the end, so I’m guessing that is was the lack of beer. The next annoyance was Don Airey, who could have cut his keyboard solos a lot shorter as they really got my teeth grinding. A positive surprise was Steve Morse, who played his guitar with astounding precision considering his age, where arthritis among other problems get in the way. All in all, the show was pretty damn good. They obviously played a lot of the old classics, like “Perfect Strangers”, “Highway Star” and “Smoke on the Water” -to which just about everybody sang along. (oa)
Rammstein – True Metal Stage
The definite highlight to Thursday, as well as Wacken as a whole, was Rammstein. That was not just a performance, but a full-on show! A lot of bands have props and pyrotechnics, but they’re just sort of there. With Rammstein, it seems that all of the props and pyros have a function. For instance, during “Mein Teil” (which goes about cannibalism, if you didn’t know) the keyboarder, Christian “Flake” Lorenz, jumped into a cooking pot and vocalist, Till Lindemann, was heating it up with a smaller flame thrower, only to discard it and got himself a bigger one and continued cooking the keyboarder. Some of the pyro left me totally baffled, like flame throwers on the guitars, which somehow don’t tune out the guitars and flaming microphone stands. The tracklist went from the fast tracks, like the opener, “Ich tu dir Weh” and “Feuer Frei” to slower ones, like “Ohne Dich” and ended with the almighty perverted “Pussy”. The only real minus point there was, was the totally unnecessary presence of Heino, a washed-up German folk singer, who was trying to revitalise his dead career by being hip with the youngsters. (oa)
Four Ears, two opinions:
The Captain Morgan stand with a viewing platform was available for us and offered an amazing view to the stage and at 22:15 it was time for Rammstein to own the stage. With a playtime for over 100 minutes, they showed why they were the headliner and that it was worth having had the stage closed. One fireworks display after another and peppering the show with explosions and lightshows, not to forget the flame throwers and over-dimensional gadgets. When the countdown for their encore “Sonne” was going down it suddenly got dark and quiet and the crowd started murmuring. There were rumours going on beforehand that the German folk singer, Heino, would perform with Rammstein. When Lindemann stepped into the spotlight and introduced the guest, Heino, a lot of hands went down and people stopped singing along. After the song “Sonne”, Heino exited the stage under heavy applause and Till and Flake dismissed the crowd with a piano version of “Mein Herz Brennt”. (gw)
The first official festival day came to an end and we proceeded to wait for Friday, with a forecast of 32°C and clear skies… (gw)
Friday, 2nd of August 2013
I am impressed! The second day at W:O:A flew by. It’s no surprise as there was a lot to celebrate. Alone the performance of Doro Pesch, who was celebrating her 30th year on stage with thousands of fans as well as loads of colleagues in music, filled this day to the brim.
Today the third mains stage, the Party stage would be put to use, which would make the choices for the personal running order that much more difficult. As such there was the choice between Soilwork and Agnostic Front. Musically both bands are on the right side. After that the True Metal stage would be given over Sabaton. Latest then the infield would be full with metalheads. The performance from Motörhead had to be cut short after 30 minutes due to health problems. Admittedly, Corvus Corax offered a first class reimbursement as they played simultaneously with Motörhead. After the bombastic show from Doro, one was spoilt for choice with Amorphis and ASP before going onto Grave Digger in the warm summer night. (gw)
Harpyie – Wackinger Stage
As the way to the W.E.T/Headbanger stage was empty, I arrived to the premises early. 40 minutes ahead of schedule, I went to see Eat the Gun at the Wackinger stage. Despite having horrible sound problems, Harpyie gave it all they had. I can well imagine them being a lot better under better conditions. The musical parts were divine and sounded very interesting. I can’t say much to the vocals from “Aello die Windboe” (edit, translation: Aello the sqall) as the sound got mashed up. But really? I thought “Das Letzte Einhorn” (edit, translation: the last unicorn) from In Extremo was the highpoint of this kind of names… (sa)
Eat the Gun – Headbanger Stage
For more Eat the Gun-photos have a look here!
After Negator, Eat the Gun was the second Fresh Act of the Month from STALKER to make it on stage in Wacken –actually this is their second time there- and as such there was no chance that we would miss out on them. The crowd was about 500 heads strong when the curtains opened to reveal that the band was reduced to a trio. Apart from the singer and guitarist Hendrik Wippermann (formerly named Ücüncü), the only founding member left is drummer Gereon Homann. Peter Bergmüller joined the band just this year and became the bassist for Eat the Gun. Unfortunately there isn’t much rock ‘n roll from the previous year left. The sound is flat and Hendrik was overdoing it by closing his eyes and them opening them and acting surprised to see the audience, ending up just being really annoying. As far as the vocals go, one can hear what made him into the front man he used to be, but the ravages of time have left their marks. Nonetheless, this meagre version of Eat the Gun managed to get the first moshpit of the day going and secured a rocky start for the day. Maybe if the band would get a second guitar and Hendrik would find force to his voice and if they wouldn’t seem so exerted on stage, the guys from Münster could rise up the their old standard. They still have potential. (sa)
Gojira – Black Stage
For more Gojira-Photos have a look here!
Gojira started in sweltering heat (it got up to 35C). They gathered up a lot of people and were cheered along from beginning to end, even if the heat slowed the people down a bit. They played beloved songs, like “The Heaviest Matter in the Universe” and the closer “Gift of Guilt”; vocalist, Joe Duplantier, dedicated “L’Enfant Sauvage” to all of the parents in the audience. The thing with bands, like Gojira is, that their music is extremely complicated. It’s the kind of music made by people, who studied music and as such, it is perfect for listening to on a mp3 player, or at home on the stereo, but it just lacks a certain rawness and energy that gets the masses moving about in live shows. Nonetheless, the crowd enjoyed it from start to end. (oa)
There was a particular delight for all black metal fans too. EMPEROR announced their reunification and were hard at work giving autographs and doing photos with fans. There had been enough speculation in the air about a reunion. It came as no surprise that they are signed up for next year. It will be left to be seen if they can continue going where they stopped –as Wacken is the only festival where they have announced to play, this tells a lot. (sa)
Ugly Kid Joe – Party Stage
The next veterans to come on stage were Ugly Kid Joe, who were shortly accompanied by Phil from Motörhead. Vocalist Whitfield Crane still had it as far as stage presence and energy went -furthermore, his voice hadn’t changed that much. On the other hand, we’re talking about a band from the 90’s, not 70’s, so no big surprise. The audience was really drained by the sun, but Crane kept the moving with his hand signals and everybody sang along, especially to songs like “Cats in the Cradle” and “Everything About You”. (oa)
Soilwork – Party Stage
Soilwork faced two major problems: First of all, they played on the Party Stage, which is next to the two major stages, where Agnostic front was playing at the same time. Secondly, they had sound problems. Probably because of this, a fair amount of people drifted away while others muttered and shouted insults or just stood silent instead of cheering. Nonetheless, the band did their best and played older songs, like “Follow the Hollow” and closer “Stabbing the Drama” as well as newer ones, like the opener “This Momentary Bliss”. The bassist Ola Flink did his duracel performance as usual and vocalist Björn “Speed” Strid cursed the heat at every opportunity he got. (oa)
Corvus Corax meets Wadokoyo – Party Stage
The next thing to do is to go as much to the right and to the front as possible so that you can hear something, even though the taiko-drumming from Wadokoyo, who shared the stage with Corvus corax, should have been enough. After the drum intro, the volume was dialled a bit higher so that you could hear at least something from the first song, “Bibit Aleum”. Motörhead played simultaneously on the Black stage and it was difficult to concentrate on Corvus Corax –that’s how loud they were. The drums, bagpipes and the singing was an experience. This combination fit so well that one wishes that they would always play together. Unfortunately then there came a trumpet-like instrument (forgive me for not knowing the correct names for the instruments), which cut through the sound like a knife and could not be ignored. There may be fans for this instrument, but for me it was simply a blemish in an otherwise perfect performance. The bagpipes (especially one) occasionally going off-note is much more tolerable. Songs, like “Sverker” were still brilliant and Castus Rabensang didn’t fail to impress as his worst moment was being out of breath in the faster passages.
His „viking songs with heroic singing” were even so distracting, that one noticed the sudden calm from the next door stage only a few moments later. Motörhead had to stop early due to Lemmy’s health problems. With some worries about Lemmy in the subconscious, the Berliners had unrivalled reign of sound for a bit over half an hour. Songs like „Spielmannstanz“ and „Ragnarök“ got the people dancing. The sunburnt and exhausted crowd gave their everything towards the end when they were mutually jumping/bouncing with the band during a bagpipe staccato before the great show ended. (sa)
Motörhead – Black Stage
Motörhead came on stage and they played rock ‘n roll, alas for no that long. Lemmy started off the show with “Damage Case” and then said that he had just been in hospital and that he hadn’t been feeling too well. He actually was looking very pale and after “Metropolis” and “Over the Top”, he exited the stage for a bit, during which Phil played an extended solo. After that they played one more track and then Lemmy exited the stage. After a fairly long wait, one of the Wacken organisers came on stage and apologised for the shortness of the show and said there wasn’t anything they could do. Needless to say, the crowd was pretty shaken and didn’t really know what to do; in hindsight, it would have been nice of us to cheer him, but I was just as dumbfounded as the next guy. The shock of seeing a living legend in such a weak state brought tears to some eyes. (oa)
Saturday, 3rd of August 2013
After Rammstein’s show on Thursday and Doro’s stage party on Friday, the first people started heading home. Surely the fierce half hour rain was reason enough for one or another to break camp. For those, who bothered to stay and not be shied away by the rain, there was a brilliant line-up. One could marvel at the dust cloud the people produced when “Apocalyptischen Reiter” performed. Afterwards Lamb of God, Anthrax and Sonata Arctica took over. Despite being bombarded by gigantic raindrops, the crowd stayed. The evening highlights were the performances from Alice Cooper, who amazed with all of his old hits in a well enacted stage show and the long awaited show from Nightwish with their new singer. The powerful tones and spectacular stage show left no-one cold, despite the dropping evening temperature. With Lingua Mortis feat. Rage and Subway to Sally, the nightly program was equally well set. (gw)
Lamb of God – Black Stage
For more Lamb of God-photos have a look here!
The last day started off with Lamb of God who had obviously pissed off some weather god. The show started off sunny, but already after the opener “Ghost Walking”, the sky was clouded and the first rain drops fell. The longer they played, the worse the weather got and after “Omerta”, only the true hard core fans were left -during this time, it was really raining buckets. It was probably just the music that was keeping the crowd warm at this point and then for some reason there was a pause that seemed to last on forever. Everybody was standing still and freezing, until it kicked off again. (oa)
Danzig – Black Stage
Glenn Danzig is one of the polarizing musicians in the sense that you love him, or you hate him. Still, everybody would agree that it was tactically smart of him to leave his one hit “Mother” as last. Otherwise a lot of people would have been off for a drink. Even those, who like his voice would have been disappointed, as his voice is not getting better through the years. There were shouts from the crowd, like “ham face” and “anabolic midget” and as such, I will leave the commentary to the visuals off.
There wasn’t much going on the stage apart from a very stern Glenn Danzig. He kicked off with “Skin Carver” and “Hammer of Gods” –okay, that counts as a hit- and went through a further six songs and announced that he wants to bring a close friend on stage, what he normally never does –especially not in Germany- and he doesn’t give a fuck about what people think. Okay, very effective promotion-wise, as the almost scary, imposing body stormed the stage was none else than Doyle, ex-guitarist from Misfits, who released his latest album “Abominator” in mid April. Even with bad posture, he towered over Danzig as they ploughed through seven Misfits covers. The last cover, before “Mother”, he got Randy from Lamb of God on stage and sang “Last Caress” as a duet with him, making this the definite highlight of the show. Being openly a fan of Misfits, it must have been a real pleasure for him. After the evergreen “Mother”, they played one more encore in the form of “Die, Die my Darling”. Whomever only saw the last third of the show did not miss that much. (sa)
Photo: Samira Alinto
Alice Cooper – Black Stage
Alice Cooper was pretty damn good. The show started off with some smaller theatrics, like changing outfits, but soon enough he was being put into a straitjacket and shortly after, executed with a guillotine. Then he “woke up” in a cemetery and played “Break on Through” from the Doors, “My Generation” from The Who and other classics from Lennon and Hendrix. I almost felt a bit sorry for those, who didn’t stay for the beautiful encore “School’s Out”, where they mixed “Another Brick in the Wall” into it. Actually it serves them right when I think about it. The only thing I can criticise in the show is the fact that two years ago it was obvious that there was no playback used as the vocals were a bit off -that I can forgive. This time it was just somehow too perfect. I don’t want to speculate, but… Apart from that, the drum solo could have been a bit shorter, but that’s about all that I can criticise. (oa)
Dunderbeist – W.E.T. Stage
For more Dunderbeist-photos have a look here!
For me Dunderbeist was not just the closer for the festival, but one of the unexpected highlights. Coming extremely unreluctantly from the Alice Cooper show, the crowd of about 500 people as well as the band needed just one song to completely forget cooper on the Black stage and get everybody going. Wow! Hearing the shouts from the crowd, it turns out that the band hailing from Hedmark and operating from Oslo is not pronounced Dunderbeist, but Dünderbeist. Visually, the Norwegians are something –and that’s without that much stuff. Pretty much just white shirts, jeans and panda bear/Zorro/Clockwork Orange –type make up and without knick knack, the six musicians produced a simple, yet cool show that was easy on the eye. Their style really crosses borders as far as the genre is concerned and the borrowed riffs and beats that flood over are purposefully worked in –hence the bandit make up. They didn’t, however, just copy songs, but made something individual and better out of it. Sometimes they strongly remind me of Hurt, other times Alice in Chains and one can even hear influences form their colleagues from Bergen, Audrey Horne. The list goes on for ages; bit of Rob Zombie here, some there and Nick Cave/Tom Waits ect… No song played in the W.E.T stage was boring and at least half of them were really catchy.
As the last album „Songs of the Buried” wasn’t that good, I am surprised to see and hear how big the difference between studio and live is. On stage, songs, which really didn’t really catch on, like title track “Songs of the Buried” and “Father Serpent” were live just great. The guitarists Fredrik Ryberg and Ronny Flissundet cleared out the ear wax with their great riffs without overdoing it. Also bass player Kristian Liljan and drummer John Birkeland Hansen did well. The crowd was especially fanatic and loudly singing along during hits like “Fear and Loathing” and “Shields Aligned”. The mood just couldn’t have been better –on and in front of the stage. Considering that it was in the W.E.T stage, the sound was pristine and the light was also good. The singer duo Torgrim Torve and Åsmund Snortheim overdid themselves at every song and rocked the W:O:A with the other band members. Unfortunately, they didn’t come back on stage, despite the calls for an encore. Dunderbeist was more than an adequate closer for me. Afterwards there were still Kryptos and Crematory, but due to a summer cold, the festival was at an end for us.
Dunderbeist is one of the bands that one must see live once before they are too small for the smaller clubs. On 24th of August, they are playing a club gig in Gregers in Hamar, Norway. In November they are touring Denmark and Germany. You can see the tour dates on their website. (sa)
During the Wacken Open Air this year, there was unfortunately another death. The Polish fan suffered a natural death in the heat of his tent. Our condolences go to his family and friends.
Apart from this, there was an accident with a gas cooker, lots of sun burns and some sun strokes (I had one on Friday after Danzig). The mud from the mega-rain, which started during Lamb of God was luckily dry enough in the evening so that the cars made it out without any big problems.
There is another new record too: Afterwards on Sunday, there were already 30,000 tickets sold for the 25th anniversary and not even two days later, it was sold out. Until now, the following bands have confirmed for next year: Amon Amarth, Apocalyptica, Arch Enemy, Avantasia, Behemoth, Children of Bodom, Emperor, Iced Earth, King Diamond, Kreator, Prong and Schandmaul.
We’ll see who will answer the call for the 25th anniversary. For instance, AC/DC, Metallica and the Rolling Stones haven’t played at W:O:A… (sa)