Heart of Steel: Concert Reviews

Blessed by Steel: The Wacken 2001 Experience

By Michael De Los Muertos
Photographs and Commentary by Ice Maiden

 Day 1 - Thursday, August 2nd, 2001
If there is an apotheosis to the experience of being a metalhead, then it must be Wacken. At this moment in history, there is probably nothing higher to which a metal fan can aspire. Nowhere in the world but Wacken, on the first weekend of August, are so many metalheads gathered in one place. Nowhere in the world but Wacken, during that magical time, are so many genuine metal bands assembled on the same stage. Some are good, some are bad, but all are metal, and so are all those who come to see them. (Ice Maiden’s Commentary: The Impotent Sea Snakes can scarcely be called “metal”-but more on that later…) The bands, the beer, the aching feet, the lack of sleep, the bad food, the crude facilities - it’s all part of an experience that, once you have it, you realize you were never quite complete without.

This year the Wacken adventure begins on a flight bound for Hamburg. This time my girlfriend is with me. The plan: land in Hamburg, meet up with two of our friends (Witch Hunter and his indefatigable son, DethToFalseMetal), catch a ride to our hotel in Itzehoe and then meet Ice Maiden at the festival ground itself - she’d gone on ahead. Will it all go OK? Will my ride be there? Will our hotel at least be available this year? Visions of last year’s mishap-ridden adventure - a hotel that went bankrupt, delayed flights, missed rides, and comrades with whom we could never seem to meet up - dance through my head. Hopefully this year will be better.

Hello I am BlackGoat(Ice Maiden’s Commentary: I met up with friends, notably Skyklad and the infamous Black Goat, in Hamburg the day before Wacken. We did a little sight-seeing and a lot of hanging out. Here is a picture of the Goat notably distressed at the name of a particular store. Maybe you should consider changing the slogan for Barbarian Wrath from “Death to Norse Core and Fog Gothic” to “Death to the House of Trend,” hmmm Hartmuth??)

Surprisingly, it is! Our ride awaits at the airport. Some blistering metal on a car CD player during the one-hour drive from Hamburg to Itzehoe sets the tone for the evening. “Hey, there’s rumored to be a special guest band playing tonight,” says DethToFalseMetal. We quickly and excitedly make guesses who it might be. The M-word (MANOWAR!) dances on our lips. Could we be so lucky? Only time will tell. Our streak of luck continues. Our hotel reservations come through; in fact our rooms are quite comfortable. Ice Maiden and her little clan have left word to meet us at the festival area. We settle down to a heavy German meal of pork chops, chicken, home-fried potatoes and mineral water - hey, beer is expensive in hotel restaurants! Then, excitedly, on to the tiny hamlet of Wacken itself - I feel a noticeable shudder as I see a highway sign reading “WACKEN” buzz by on the Autobahn - for the Thursday night pre-show.

(Ice Maiden’s Commentary: Our little clan, meanwhile, went and got our back-stage passes at the press area, and sweet-talked to get extra passes for Muertos’ girlfriend. Long lines at the press area this year! There were reputedly 5,000 more people this year at Wacken, and my feeling is that all of those 5,000 were press. Geez! We were in line for ages! For our waiting amusement we got to witness one reveler who got started a little too early weave through the crowd joyfully until he passed out right next to the press booth. His friends could not wake him up, so in came the efficient paramedics, who were able to rouse him. What made him wake up enough not to have to be taken in to the hospital? His friend telling him that he would miss Wacken if he didn’t snap out of it. That woke him up, and off he strolled…)

It’s starting to look like Wacken! Metalheads teeming everywhere! Much excited jabbering in German! Little red-roofed houses clustering around farm fields from whence comes a distant thundering drone - the pulse quickens, butterflies start to flicker through the stomach. The line to get our press passes seems endless. At last we make it inside. We’re barely into the backstage area before we discover two things have already gone wrong. CREMATORY, one of the bands scheduled for the Thursday night pre-show, is trapped in a traffic jam near Berlin and can’t make it tonight. Oh, and that distant thundering you hear? It’s the special guest, but it’s not MANOWAR - in fact it’s the IMPOTENT SEA SNAKES, one of the stupidest, most pathetic excuses for a “metal” band ever to be foisted onto the public. Their ridiculous stage show, consisting mostly of mimed sex acts and lame “shock” tactics, isn’t even worth going to see (although inexplicably Ice Maiden takes numerous pictures). (Ice Maiden’s Commentary: Yes, the Impotent Sea Snakes sucked, but they did have a lively stage show. I, for one, thought it was a nifty gimmick when the guy took a sander to the half-naked chick, so that her metal head-gear and cod-piece threw off sparks. Stupid for an act at Wacken, but hey…) Instead I revel in the reuniting with my metal compatriots, backstage at Wacken, while enjoying a beer. This year my little refundable cup has a logo that reads, “CHEERZ METALHEADS! IT IS GOOD TO GET DRUNK IN WACKEN!”


Two of the "guys" in IMPOTENT SEA SNAKES Hot slutty looking blonde
(Ed. Note: There were several other pics of these cross-dressers but I couldn't bring myself to put them here. The pics of the chicks were nice I guess...but unfortunately, this is not a porno site so I can't post them!)


Late Thursday night. At last some real bands to hear, none other than W.A.S.P. This is my first time seeing W.A.S.P., old 80s staples though they are. My familiarity with W.A.S.P. is passive at best, but I have to admit they put on an excellent show. A powerful array of traditional, 80s-sounding metal - with frontman Blackie Lawless continuing to do what he does best, which is wail - pacified the large, optimistic Thursday night crowd that had come expecting appetites for the rest of the festival to be whetted. In my opinion W.A.S.P. was an excellent choice for the “appetizer,” and there’s certainly nothing better than traditional metal to get pumped for Wacken!

We leave the grounds Thursday night after W.A.S.P. Though it’s late, we’re still bright-eyed and full of stamina - at least most of us who aren’t drunk (ahem, Ice Maiden!) It’s the last time we are to leave the Wacken field in such good shape - by the end of the next evening we know we’ll be utterly annihilated by the onslaught of metal, and we look forward to it!

(Ice Maiden’s Commentary: I’d like to add some meaningful commentary to the review of W.A.S.P., but my last lucid thought that night ended before their set started. Damn Skyklad and her bottle of Jager! J).

Onto Day 2 - Friday, August 3rd, 2001

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