Heart of Steel: Concert Reviews

Wacken Open Air
31.7 - 2.8.2003

Text by Arto Lehtinen and Jani Koskela
Pics by Arto Lehtinen and Ann Kermans


Saturday, August 2, 2003

Sabina from Holy MosesHoly Moses replacing Sinister and at 11.00 Damnit damnit… Too early to get up after passing out at 4:00am the night before. Once again the mandatory ice cold shower to get the eyes open and then a quick run to the other side of the festival area to catch the legendary Holy Moses.

The ageless, young, and sexy Sabina Classen had pulled the less active festival crowd to follow the old school thrash-core performance. Apart from Sabina, the rest of the Holy Moses line up was damn unknown even though the names of the current guys would have been learned by heart who they are, but after all it doesn't matter as long as Sabina is in the band. The band mainly stuck to the older classic material from Queen Of Siam and of course the legendary Finished With The Dogs. Afterwards, when talking to Sabina she told Rachel from Sinister was supposed to get on the stage, but never showed up. Because of Sinister's cancellation, Holy Moses was recruited quickly to handle the empty spot. Sabina even unveiled the album is being worked on, and hopefully should see the light of day in Autumn…



The Swedish Viking metallers arrived on stage and the vocalist had obviously slaughtered a cow in the nearest field as the man was pretty much covered with blood. Thyrfing's Viking metal worked damn well in the hot sunshine, even though Viking material truly has and ice cold north wind feeling. The audience went berserk for the Viking stuff. Thyrfing focused on the recent material from the latest albums. This one has to be mentioned here - when vocalist Thomas asked in Swedish how many Swedes are here, a lot of hands rose up along with a lot of cheering. When the same question was asked in Finnish, only a couple of Finns realized they should respond, were the rest of us passed out?!



Florida's long time death metallers, Malevolent Creation, provided a deadly metal assault that was definitely one of the most murderous and brutal gigs of Wacken 2003. The band's utter nihilistic and sadistic delivery, without any doubt, made them stand out from other bands on the Wacken bill...especially when speaking of their brutality and utter deep growling vocal styles. Despite the early timing,  the old school death metal five piece crushed a huge crowd with the apx. 60 min set consisting of material from various albums. The current vocalist, Kyle Symons, fits to the band like a coffin to the grave…



Oh boy, a legion of the Norwegian penguins arrived on the stage in the wake of a massive looking bassist. Anyway, CF's set suffered from lousy sounds and somehow their gig didn't work out at all. Instead it created amusement for the audience. The band looked and sounded extremely tired and boring in every aspect. It was pretty much obvious that the Norwegians would rather fill their heads with the mandatory boozing backstage.



Soilwork have increased their success a damn lot during the last few years. That only proved a massive attendance having gathered to follow Soilwork's set and stage working. The set was kicked off with "The Flameout" from the excellent  Natural Born Chaos and they continued to present the newer material from Figure Number Five. For example, the title track, "Distortion Sleep", "Light The Torch" and "Rejection Role". Of course the material from Natural Born Chaos played a dominant role in the set. The vocalist, Bjorn Strid, raged all around the stage. When speaking of insane looking raging, the bassist of the band, Ola Flink, definitely took points home, as the man couldn't stand in one place for not even a nano second...just jumping and swaying like some maniac on the stage. As a few other bands, Soilwork had also undergone a line up change since the former drummer Henry Ranta had thrown his sticks away and had been replaced by Richard Evensand who did a solid job on his premium gig at Wacken.



Ancient Rites' first visit to Wacken was an interesting event as it also marked the return of the old guitar player Bart Vandereycken. I saw them a month earlier at a Finnish festival where Bart played only couple of songs and the rest of the set was played without a second guitar player, so it was nice to see the full band back with a very powerful line-up. The tent they played in was too small for a band like Ancient Rites. The area was fully packed and exhaustingly hot. The atmosphere was great, and the dedicated fans surely made a lot of noise. Ancient Rites has remained an underground band but they definitely have managed to gather a very international following. The most exotic Rites fan that I met at the festival had come all the way from Israel to see the band live once more. The set consisted mainly of the two latest albums Dim Carcosa & Fatherland but such old classics as "Longing for the Ancient Kingdom" & "Blood Of Christ" were also a natural part of the set.



Rage's Peavey has obtained a new style by totally shaving his head and he looked quite….cool… and eccentric as well and of course as massive as at the Swedenrock fest last year. Rage has definitely the strong and solid following in Germany as the veteran metallers had pulled a huge crowd indeed. Anyway Rage didn't offer anything unexpected during the 60min set. They covered the mandatory classic tracks and of course some newer material. Fr example, the video track called "Down" and of course the magnificent "From The Cradle To The Grave". Rage is, and has been, a really strong live act and proved at Wacken that the band will carry the metal torch for a looong time.



Ok to the schedule problems once again. Dark Funeral on the black stage whereas the Canadian techno deathsters on the Party stage…Arrghh… Now an emergency plan to make up as both of them have to be seen somehow...Arghh… Finally Dark Funeral won with the raw and primitive black metal assault. The line up had by the way undergone changes as the former guitarist Dominion had been replaced by a new face Chaq Mol and Lord K (known for the activity in Project Hate) handled the bass duties. Anyway, Dark Funeral blew their Norwegian black metal cousins away with a savage utter blackish assault. Vocalist, Emperor Magus Caligula, growled his lungs out with "My Dark Desire" in the warm sunshine, actually it had to be damn hot on the stage for them…



Breed 77 was an interesting new group doing more of the newer style of metal approach by adding some "tribal" things as well as aggressive parts making the music an interesting combination of various and weird musical styles and approaches. The band raged through their set with the intense passion in front of only a handful of people who were intensely watching them. The singer especially appeared to be an unstoppable Duracell bunny jumping all around the stage. In general, the whole band appeared to be a 100% energetic live band having played and gathered live experiences with several gigs at different places.



I have heard and read lots of positive comments about this band but never really got a chance to hear them before this show at Wacken. I had huge expectations for the show and expected original & top quality death metal. Well, unfortunately the show was total crap to me. The sound was awful, which might have been due the fact that the air line company lost all of Nile's gear and as far as I understood the band performed their show with loaned instruments. Still, I can't blame the air lines about the fact that the band had 3 different vocalists, whose voices sounded like the same senseless mumbling to me - from beginning to the boring end. Well, that's my opinion and I have nothing more to say about this band, however it seems that they had a pretty good following, even at this show.



Getting Slayer to Wacken was a pure godsend for the whole Wacken organization. The four piece thrash legends should have visited here much earlier, but better now than never. When Slayer kicked the hellish thrash maelstrom off, the whole field was totally packed with tens of thousands of metalheads. From the opening riff the chaos and mayhem took over the audience, causing an utter ballistic reaction in several pits. Sweaty bodies were literally flying over the security barrier. The poor security dudes were heavily overworked the rest of the night. 

The sound in the early stages of Slayer's set were really awful indeed. The monitors cracked quite often and even somewhere in the set even the second guitar vanished. But those technical failures and problems seemed not to bother the audience who instead enjoyed every second of the thrash legends' nihilistic onslaught. Slayer thrashed thru the mandatory classic ones, but the most amazing surprise was that the whole REIGN IN BLOOD album was unleashed in wake of other tunes for example "Hell Awaits", "Mandatory Suicide", "Stain Of Mind", etc. Slayer came and conquered, leaving us totally thrashed metal heads gasping for air…


Polish death metal legends, Vader, were probably THE ONE of the few bands at the festival who actually could do some kind of impression after a band like Slayer. Being a follower of the band for over 10 years now, it was about time to see the band live for the very first time. I expected a clear and heavy sound, but I didn't know it was also going to be crushing! In the beginning of the set Peter's lead guitar was a bit down in the mix and Mauser's raw rhythm guitar was more dominant, but after a couple songs the balance and overall sound was somewhat perfect for a death metal show. The only bad thing about Vader's set was the short length of it. During the intense 45 minutes we got some of their finest songs like "Silent Empire", "Xeper", "Black to the Blind", but also missed many old classics. This band would have deserved at least show time of one hour.



Tom Angelripper and his Onkel Tom group had the honor to end this year's Wacken festival. It was already early into the morning, so I didn't have much energy left to listen to the traditional German drinking songs performed with a punk rockish attitude. The stage was once again full of beer drinking people, but after 3 songs I felt that it would be much more wiser to drink my beer at the camping area. Onkel Tom works all right, but not at 2 a clock in the morning after three days of beer, sun, metal and only a little sleep.

Yes, yes....and once again yes it was the triumphant metal blast from the beginning to the end. It is absolutely amazing to see how metal heads from different countries got along with each other and in general the whole feeling was one big family thing indeed.

In 2004 the prestigious Wacken fest will celebrate its 15th anniversary and it will be a huge metal party indeed…

Until then… Heavy Metal Is The Law…


Staff from imperiumi.net and Metal-Rules.com