Heart of Steel: Concert Reviews

WOA 2002
By Michael De Los Muertos
Pictures and Commentary by Ice Maiden

This year felt different than all the others. This was my third trip to Wacken for the greatest metal festival in the known universe, and as the date grew closer I started to get the feeling it would be something truly extraordinary. After all, the yearly pilgrimage to the quaint farming village in northern Germany has become a trusted tradition, so long as the finances hold out and the odd crew of metalheads from Portland and various outlying areas (including Sweden and Italy) are still up for another trip. But this one felt different. It wasn't just the stellar line-up that included several of my favorite bands including Edguy and Blind Guardian, neither of which I'd seen. It wasn't just the jinx of fate that this was the 13th Wacken festival. On the long plane ride to Hamburg I had an inkling that the metal gods, whoever they are, were about to smile down at us. I didn't bring myself to hope that Wacken 2002 might be the best one ever, because what if it didn't live up to that expectation? But part of me was secretly expecting it. Thankfully, the experience didn't disappoint. Not only was this the greatest Wacken I have personally attended, it might well be the greatest Wacken ever.

(Ice Maiden's Commentary: I arrived in Hamburg earlier in the day than Muertos. True to their word, just as I exited the airport gates, there were Black Goat and Skyklad, waiting with a welcoming bottle of Jaegermeister to toast the beginning of our Wacken experience. Black Goat made quick time of the trip to Itzehoe-that high speed Autobahn business rules!-and we dumped our gear into the hotel. As we neared Itzehoe, more and more cars were jammed full of metalheads and their stuff, sporting all manner of metal banners and "Wacken or Bust!" type signs in different languages. I couldn't resist flashing the horns and waving as we passed.

Since we had a whole day in front of us, we decided we'd take a day trip to the North Sea. Most of the "coast line" is really "swamp line", but eventually we found a spot where you didn't have to pay to park and where you could actually see the Sea. The countryside was beautiful and we listened to some of the new Barbarian Wrath and Witches' Brew metal releases-the trip was off to a fine start.)

We landed in Hamburg and made our way to Itzehoe--the nearest large town to Wacken--without incident. Already we could see the exciting signs of the metal invasion: several metalheads were already stationed down at the bar of the Hotel Mercure as we checked in. Weary of our long trip across the Atlantic, Ice Maiden, Nomad and I had a leisurely dinner on the outdoor patio--until it was rudely interrupted by an epic cloudburst. Hmm, an omen of things to come? I wondered. Unfortunately the thunderstorm did not cool off the 85-degree heat. In order to get any sleep at all we had to have the windows of our hotel room wide open. Awakening to a faint high-pitched insectoid whine in the middle of the night brought me face-to-face with the first of our official Wacken Tribulations: mosquitoes. Getting up the next morning, already drenched in sweat and dotted with itchy mosquito bites, I thought, things aren't going too well, and we haven't even seen the festival site yet! Was I wrong about the metal gods smiling at us?

(Ice Maiden's Commentary: My room, across the hall, was totally cool and insect-free. I was, however, awakened at 3 am by the sounds of serious partying downstairs and someone drumming. I don't mean using drumsticks on furniture-I mean someone had set up their drums in their room and was practicing at HIGH VOLUME. Under normal circumstances, I probably would have gone to find out which band was practicing-but after a bazillion hours flying and a day in the hot sun, I just wanted sleep. Ear plugs did the trick, and I had a restful night.)

Read on....
Thursday, August 1, 2002
Friday, August 2, 2002
Saturday, August 3, 2002

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