Wacken Open Air
31.7 - 2.8.2003
Text by Arto Lehtinen and Jani Koskela
Pics by Arto Lehtinen and Ann Kermans
Friday, August 1, 2003
Damn how the tent became suddenly so bloody hot indeed even though the
night was a little bit chilly! Getting up to have an extremely
refreshing ice cold shower definitely got the eyes wide open. After having
eaten some so called breakfast, it was about time to enter to
check out the first opening bands of the second day.
EXTREME NOISE TERROR
The Old British grind core mongers Extreme Noise Terror started the
morning by kicking off an ultimate hyper blast grinding lesson. With the
two growlers the British grindcore veterans terrorized with a less intense passion
than usual as it seemed like the whole band hadn't got their eyes
open when getting onstage so early. Starting out at noon with the utter
brutal grinding stuff ain't the most idealistic start for the new day.
Frankly Extmerers' chaos theory would work much much better in the more
intensive smoky small club, playing in front of wild maniacs.
The Swedish retro thrashers unleashed a beast by doing a
real kick ass set. The Swedes showed no mercy when hammering down a bunch
of brutal thrashy tracks one after another like "Under The
Whip", "Crowned In Terror", "Deathexplosion",
"Blitzekrieg", "Witchcraft", "Satanist",
"World below" and
a bunch of other ones. Even though the clock had just hit 1.00 p.m,
approximately 15-20,000 metalheads had gathered for the Swedish Crown thrashers. Thrash
till Death indeed!
Diamond Head are the famous NWOBHM heroes adored by the Metallica guys.
Well actually Diamond Head had basically altered to Diamond Pang Tang
because of this temporary line up due to the scheduling conflict was quite
weird the vocalist had been hired from Tigers Of Pang Tang and to be
honest the one and only real originally Diamond Head member was basically
Brian Tatler. The band's appearance appeared to be quite
boring and breathless, the singer even had to check out the lyrics
from separate papers. To be honest, Diamond Pan Tang's gig was nothing, but
boring and absolutely a shame to desecrate the old cult metal legend. They
could have cancelled the gig as planned in the first place.
"Are you ready for some old school death metal" growled the
Dismember vocalist to the mic before the band unleashed their deadly strike. Both
Karki and Estby have always been the most important factors to keep
Dismember running even though the band has undergone changes - for example
the new bass player and new guitarist recuited to fill the line up. The
set was like returning back to the early days of the 90's when Swedish
death metal used to dominate the genre since most of the tracks of the set
had been picked up from the first Dismember album Like An Ever-Flowing
Stream for example "Soon To Be Dead", "Skin Her
Alive", "Dismembered", and of
course other classics "Misanthropic", "Casket Garden" and surprisingly even a
brand new track called "Tragedy Of The Faithful The new dudes handled the
set with professional grip and attitude, and vocalist Kärki is as
massive as usual!
The northernmost killers, Sentenced, offered Wacken a sort of "best of" set
from the albums fronted by the singer Ville Laihiala. They
started out with "The Noose" from the Down album and performed one hour
of melodic & rocking suicide metal. This was the first time I saw them
outside of Finland and it seemed like they were more concentrated (or less
relaxed?) on stage than at Finnish shows. This might have been due to
the fact that the show was also filmed. The show came to an end with
"Nepenthe" off of the AMOK album and we also got the Sentenced cover version of
Iron Maiden's "The Trooper". Overall, a nice & decent set. Of course
some aggression and grimness of the early Sentenced could been have there
Primal Fear's Ralf Scheepers must
visit damn effectively the local training gym, or has started enjoying some stimulant, as the
man's muscles have grown an incredible amount. Anyway, it is kinda weird that
how Sinner and Primar Fear guys basically jump from one band to another
- Naumann has not been involved in the last two PF albums by the
way, and of course Mat Sinner is in both bands. When Sinner got
onstage a day later, the same dudes just switched to that band.
Well as a
matter of fact, it is quite simple and easy after all. But who cares, if the
system works in the best way as hoped and planned like now when Primal
Fear hit the stage by putting on one hell of "testosroids" metallic show!
was like having the "painkillerish power metallic bullet train"
roll ahead with
the full force. The five piece hammered with the true heavy metal passion
through a 60min
set by selecting an equal set consisting of tracks from each album and of course the mandatory Judas Priest cover titled
for obvious reason, and then finally the brand new track "Sea Of Flames"
sounding like a typical Primal Fear metal battle hymn! As for Ralf, the man
didn't sing that bad falsetto. But the man's trained arm
muscles…Huh.. It looked like Ralf would dressed up in too small
clothes because moving appeared to be a little bit difficult.
Bay Area's thrashers Testament
were definitely one of the most expected
and awaited bands on the Wacken bill. The five piece received enormous
attention and following. In part this was due to Chuck Billy's battle
against the miserable disease, cancer, which he has fortunately defeated. Before
the Bay Area metallers got onstage, bassist Steve Digiorgio unveiled a
little bit in advance about the forthcoming setlist mostly based on the
older material. Indeed the whole set was a real crossfire of the old
Testament classics, which definitely delighted the incredible huge crowd by blowing them away.
"Over The Wall", "Eerie Inhabitants", "Curse Of
The Legions Of Death", "Raging Waters", "Practice What You Preach", and of course
the newer material like "Low", "D.N.R.", "True Believer" got
a great response from the huge crowd as well.
Despite the gig starting with unclear sound, it got
better and better piece by piece and finally turned to be one hell of
murderous ass kicking gig indeed. Both guitarists Steve Smythe and Eric
Peterson, being the most active person on the stage, handled their parts
damn well. Sadus bassist Steve Digiorgio was the right man in
the right place. Chuck sounded excellent...dangerous...brilliant! New album
out now, guys!!!!
The Greek dark metallers Rotting Christ's gig in an inhuman sweaty hot
tent stage was without any doubts an entirely wrong decision. The amount of
people attempting to invade the small tent caused
an enormous temperature rise giving a feeling even worst than in a sauna. But instead, Sakis and the dark company delivered a solid set mostly
consisting of different albums from Non Serviam via Triarchy Of The Lost
Lovers to the latest effort Genesis. The band's live sound is definitely
raw and even unpolished compared to their album being so highly skilled and
polished. Even though the Greek dark metallers suffered from the sweaty
hot atmosphere, the audience seemed to enjoy them a lot!
How many times has Gamma Ray visited the WOA event before.. Hmm? At
least they finally got a suitable schedule to spread their melodic power
metal message with the nice looking light systems giving a cool visuals. It was obvious
that this was the final gig of the long tour
and some special things had been set up to get the audience surprised. The set was basically based on the almost same tracks,
(with a few exceptions) as on the just released the Skeletons In The
Closet live album. But the surprise to point out was when Ralf
Scheepers showed up to do "The Silence" along with Kai Hansen! Gamma Ray
had also added the keyboard player Nils Neumann from Freedom Call
to their ranks to give a more melodic perspective to the New World Order metal
march. At Wacken, the band sounded so damn tight and Kai appeared to be in
the bloody good shape. As stated above, the set was quite the same as on
the live album, let's pick up a few of them for example "Gardens Of The
Sinner", "Last Before The Storm" (which works damn well live),
"Heart Of The Unicorn", "New World Order", "Heaven And
The massive audience during the Gamma set was damn great, but doing crowd surfing during a power metal band is really weird cos somehow it
doesn't just make sense and fit to that sort of stuff at all!! As a matter
of fact, it was kind of absurd to note that some drunk Finn doing
crowd surfing had the Finnish flag in his hand and even managed to loose
it once and desperately crawled back to get it and continued the
surfing until getting over the security barrier.
It was a damn hard problem to decide: In Flames or Assassin...Argh!!! Assassin
won this time as this was their first gig in over 13 years, whereas
In Flames has been testified on stages more than a couple of dozen times
by now. Getting onstage after such a long break is a real challenge for
anyone. However, the same thing has been faced by the Assassin guys
as well, cos the start out wasn't any ground shaking experience despite
the opening track called "Abstract War" being a real kick ass song
(from the band's second album Interstellar Experience). The set
had been equaled to cover both albums of Assassin and of course the irritating
Junk Food belonged to the set list. Step by step the reunited Teutonic thrashers got more and more thrilled about finding enjoyment
to play in front of the surprisingly huge crowd. Of course vocalist
Robert Gonnella's funny speeches like "we are not old enough to play
thrash and prove thrash must be back" with a strong German accent
were quite fun to listen to. Obviously all of the Assassin guys hadn't
agreed to team up with the reunited band as the former Violent Force, Living
Death, Sodom battery man, Atomic Steiff, seemed to handle the drums.
year's Swedenrock festival was a world premiere show for the return of the
reunited Twisted Sister. At Swedenrock some mistakes in the
playing of the classic hard rock combo were kinda obvious and
discernible, and in general the much expected come back show of TS turned
out to be sort of a rehearsal gig where the band's skills and playing
methods were tested for the first time in the real situation. Twisted Sister got a surprise call from the Wacken organization to
replace last minute cancellation Iced Earth. It was definitely worth of every
penny! Holy hell, the twisted sisters literally blew the whole Wacken countryside up with
a real ass kicking dynamic show. From the first opening track it could be
perceived the sisters have undergone hard training. They have put in more effort
to the rehearsal factors because the whole set proved the band's high
ambitions. Everything was done with a better attitude and a tighter grip
though their 90 minute set. Dee was,
like at Swedenrock, in dangerous looking great condition....jumping
and running all around the stage. The rest of the band has found the
missing link and appeared to be more eager to make a real unique show. The
set was the exact same as in Sweden by starting with "What You Don´t Know
(Sure Can Hurt You)" and of course the whole gig was one hell of crossfire
of the immortal TS classic tunes covering every album apart from their last
one. But the highlight peak was experienced when "We´re Not Gonna Take It"
hit. When the song itself reached the end, the audience
carried on the song by singing it all over again! Dee and his company
didn't have any choice left, just continue with it.
Twisted Sister did an absolutely outstanding and definitely unforgettable
gig with a very professional and excellent attitude. We are gonna take it….
Huh what a day!!! When hanging around in the VIP area I came across the
guitarist of Vicious Rumors, Ira Black, who was promoting the Wacken guitar
designed and made made by Ira himself. The guitar
model looked that great indeed. I couldn't believe my eyes when seeing it
for the first time.
The day was long and truly metallic to the bone. Time to crawl to
the tent to have some sleep for the next day's metal party.
August 2, 2003