3 INCHES OF BLOOD
The Canadian metal patrol hailing from the same village as Lord Of The Wasteland happens dwell by the way got the privilege to kick the final day off. The band has undergone some changes as the metallish core growler Jamie Hooper pulled out of the band’s touring activity to sort out the throat problem and instead the guitarist Justin Hagberg handled all the core growling. However Cam Pipes’ voice sounded true as steel from the beginning to the end. His upper register voice reminded slightly of the Rob Halford style. The whole Canadian beard compo did a solid set consisting of several mandatory killer cut and concluded with “Deadly Sinners”. Well heads spun around and beard flew. Well the Canadians who had conquered the frontline were thrilled about 3 Inches Of Blood.
How fortunate for us, this once cover band made the leap to an original band. The first I’d ever heard of Machine Men was in 2005 when I went given a gift of CD and T-shirt by my German metal-DJ-brother, but didn’t get to hear it until after Wacken. By that stage it was too late and I had missed the fact that this band had played the WET stage. (This has now prompted me to research and sample every band on the festival lineup before leaving home.)
People were slower to reach the festival area this morning as hangovers grew more intence from continuous drinking. All the better for Ray and I as we were able to get good front row spots to watch this Finnish band do its stuff.
Vocalist Antony Parviainen was on fire so early this fine Saturday morning working the whole stage and engaging everyone who chose to stand in front of him. The unfortunate thing about being in the front row was my constant ability to take photos and as a result got to pay little attention to the set list. From memory MACHINE MEN did Falling; Back From The Days; No Talk Without The Giant; and Daytime Theatre. Antony also dedicated a song to his recently departed cousin.
Brat: With today being almost like a day off for me I was ready to hit the beer early. My mouth was watering overtime as it looked forward to the girly Becks Lemon Lime beer I had been drinking yesterday and wanted to drown in today and wouldn’t you know it, I got to the Becks counter and there was not sign of my Lemon Lime, instead the fridge had been half-filled with the gay Becks Ice (some locals mentioned this beer was being marketed to the gay crowd). For someone who doesn’t drink standard beer, that left with little alcohol choices for the day that weren’t going to send my bankrupt.
With no decent drinking to look forward to Ray and I dumped out equipment and set forth to shop. Ray was in search of AOR CD rarities while I searched clothing racks for unusual items I wouldn’t find in Australia.
We stumbled upon a merchant we met last year, a Swedish leather clothing designer, who remembered us and mentioned he’d put a photo of us on his website. Kings Dragon designs are definitely for attention seekers and/or performers and I love its style, but I’m still not kosher with the use of elephant and snake skins to produce some of the more exclusive items in the range. I’m pretty sure I spotted the keyboardist of Epica wear a pair of their leather pants in Italy.
After exhausting our shopping attention spans I took Ray into the camping grounds surrounding the festival area. Although we didn’t go as far as Poland, where some of the unfortunate late-comers were forced to camp, Ray was still able to absorb the true spirit of the Wacken festival campsite with its many mini cities and extravagant decorations and facilities brought from home.
Feeling that two and a half days of extraordinary metal bands wasn’t enough for festival goers, organisers provided a sideshow alley of sorts with a festival dedicated radio station, electronic riding bull and its own poker tournament.
The band appeared to be pretty thrilled in the press conference held before going onstage, especially about their brand new release AGONY OF DEATH and the keyboard player added to the line-up. That addition of the keyboard player was a real unexpected surprise. Did it bring something new to the live sounds of Holy Moses? Definitely not, instead it sounded unclean unfortunately. Holy Moses is a pure thrash metal band to the bone, not any melodic gloomy bombastic new age nightwishwithintemptationlacunacoil or whatever. Frankly adding a keyboard to the soundworld of Holy Moses was a weird decision from the band. But othewise the band’s frontlady Sabina Classen was in her element raging all the stage. Sabina’s charisma left other members into the shadow. The six piece(!) visited both the older material, for example “Finished With The Dogs” as well as the new material of the most recent album. But that keyboard… (Arto)
The Bay Area thrash metal veterans were supposed to strike on the stage at noon. Well thousands of people have rushed and packed in the area to arrange a ballistic toxik waltz reaction. But instead the real veterans Sweet Savage arose on the stage leaving the crowd wondering, with jaws wide open, where the expected thrashers were. However Exodus’ metalcommanded strike started a few hours later and caused total pure mayhem in the audience. Rob Dukes whipped the Wacken audience severely and ordered and commanded the people to arrange insane huge looking pits several times. Dukes has become an extremely strong and brutal frontman for Exodus, who has learnt the lesson of violence more than damn well during these years. Exodus of course did plenty of songs picked up from the last two albums and of course the material of the debut album BONDED BY BLOOD played a strong role in the set. Holt and Altus handled the guitar work with the tight attitude. Especially Hunting’s return behind the drum battery was definitely welcomed as his drumming styles create the Exodus sound as well.
When the first riffs of “Strike Of The Beast” started rolling out of speakers, Dukes commanded the audience to split in half and asked them not to do until he has given permission. After giving permission, the audience literally smashed into each other, a massive tremendous insane looking circle pit started rolling, the brutality definitely causing bruises for all the freaks in the pit. What a brutal gig. (Arto)
I have what I like to call an Exodus jinx. Twice they have visited London, and twice I have had the opportunity to see them, and twice I have failed to do so. I was absolutely determined not to miss them at Wacken, resolute to break this Exodus jinx of mine. And it seemed like the jinx had followed me to Germany. Instead of Exodus taking to the True Metal stage at 12.50 as scheduled, it was the Irish veterans Sweet Savage (their song ‘Killing Time’ was covered by Metallica on GARAGE INC.) who appeared.
After meandering through their set and a little of Holy Moses (they were terrible) who followed on the Black Stage, I had had enough. Utterly defeated, I went back to the beer tent to drown my sorrows and wait for Obituary. I’d just bought a beer when I heard a familiar riff, far away in the distance on the True Metal stage. What the fuck was that? Stone Gods, some twat behind me said. Holy Fuck!!! “Murder in the front row/Crowd begins to bang/And there’s blood upon the stage!” I jumped up leaving my beer behind and ran back into the arena. EXODUS!!!
Rob Dukes has come under a lot of fire for his hardcore vocal stylings and mannerisms, but I have to say that the man can control a stage. As the old favourites were revisited (‘A Lesson in Violence’, ‘Piranha’, ‘Deathamphetamine’), the crowd got more and more pumped up. The highlight had to be during ‘Strike of the Beast’. Dukes commanded the crowd to part, shaping up for a Wall of Death, and not to go until he gave the command. As the riffs blazed out, Dukes warned “Hold! Hold!”; he was the dam holding back a seething wave of pure energy. When he cracked out “GOOOOO!!!” the two walls crashed into each other with the violence of charging bulls. This is the modern day equivalent of the medieval joust. It was a truly chilling sight, and there are videos on youtube that should be essential viewing for everyone. What a moment. This was a lesson in violence indeed. (HannTu)
Bonded By Blood
A Lesson In Violence
Children Of A Worthless God
Strike Of the Beast
War Is My Shepherd
Shovel Headed Kill Machine
MTV hardcore was right after Exodus’ chaos and mayhem. These “wall of deaths” and circle pits definitely belong to these hardcore gigs, but Exodus’ brutal set of aggressive thrash assault was something that none of bands at Wacken could beat, not even Hatebreed. However Jamey Jasta jumped like a bunny having got 230 volt up through his skinny ass. The hatebreeders of whatever hard or metalcore unleashed one hour of a really rampaging maelstrom of brutality and aggression. The band appeared to be in a vicious and vital strike mode. It has to be admitted Jasta is one hell of a frontman encouranging the audience to go berserk and crush each other in the pit. Hatebreed was fine, but seeing them in an indoor gig venue would be more pleasant to feel their hard core mayhem. (Arto)
More death metal from Florida when Obituary got on the Party Stage. As a matter of fact, it was quite weird for Obituary to play on the third stage as the five piece got to play on the main stage a couple of years back. Oh well, somehow the band didn’t sound as tight as expected. At least Ralph Santolla was on fire on his guitar, whereas Allen West usually remained in the background focusing on the playing and staring at the crowd. Somehow Obituary didn’t sound that tight and brutal as supposed to. The gig was quite breathless even though John Tardy’s vocals are as rotten as in the earlier years. Somehow their gig could have been more aggressive and brutal. Even though the set consisted of plenty of killer Obituary classics, they also played the new Celtic Frost cover “Dethroned Emperor” and the renewed version of “Slowly We Rot”. (Arto)
One of the two high profile reunion bands that graced Wacken this year, Carcass are legends in the extreme metal world, and this is no mere rhetorical exaggeration. Children of the mid to late 80s Earache roster, Carcass and their close mates Napalm Death are frequently cited as inspiration for the budding death metal movements in New York, Florida, Stockholm and Brazil. While Napalm Death pushed bands to go faster and faster, Carcass took the shock factor, the “death” section (or vivisection) of “death metal” to more and more gory levels. Unlike Napalm Death, Carcass have had a relatively stable line-up (although Bill Steer served time in Napalm Death, as did every other 20 year old musician in the North West England or the Midlands that was able to travel) before splitting up in 1995/6. The classic lineup is regarded as being Steer, Jeff Walker, Ken Owen and Mike Amott.
Regarding the setlist, we were treated to the great tracks off REEK OF PUTREFACTION, SYMPHONIES OF SICKNESS, NECROTICISM – DESCANTING THE INSALUBRIOUS, and HEARTWORK. The band gave an evil, blood-splattered, albeit tongue-in-cheek performance, with vocalist/bassist Jeff Walker keeping up a steady stream of Scouse witticisms and wisdoms. After Angela Gossow (Arch Enemy) had walked off stage after her guest performance on ‘Incarnated Solvent Abuse’ (that girl has a set of pipes indeed!), he joked “We still hate Arch Enemy”. Taking the piss out of guitarists Bill Steer and Mike Amott seemed to be his major source of entertainment on stage, and even Ken Owen did not escape his sharp tongue.
As Daniel Erlandsson moved aside and Ken hesitantly made his way to the drum stool to do a short solo, Jeff quipped, “that’s okay, he’s always stoned anyway”. But credit where credit is due, the band was not about to marginalise such a key founding figure in Carcass and extreme metal history; no Carcass reunion would be complete without Ken Owen. His two brain surgeries make it a miracle that he would be alive at all, let alone sitting behind a drum kit at Wacken. The crowd let him know exactly how much they supported him.
Carcass take this reunion business seriously, thanking the fans at every opportunity for coming out to see them. This down-to-earth band from Liverpool have their heads screwed the right way on, with Walker dedicating ‘Incarnate Solvent Abuse’ to Exodus, saying he considered it a shame that they were playing after Exodus. They play at the Damnation Festival in Leeds, England in a couple of months’ time: their first show in England for 14 years, and possibly their last. (HannTu)
Corporeal Jigsore Quandary
Incarnate Solvent Abuse
No Love Lost
Edge Of Darkness (intro)/This Mortal Coil
Reek Of Putrefaction
Keep On Rotting In The Free World
Pyosisified (Rotten to the Gore)
Exhume To Consume
Ruptured In Purulence (intro)/Heartwork
AT THE GATES
Brothers in metal. The Swedes take that kind of thing seriously. With one half of the Erlandsson brothers having just played with Carcass an hour ago, the other half joins forces with the Björler brothers (doing double duty with The Haunted in the Party Stage the night before) and Tompa Lindberg to make up At the Gates, the second reunion group of Wacken 08. If Arch Enemy had turned up to the festival, we could have had a Swedish Family Feud, a tag team battle royale featuring the Björlers vs the Erlandssons vs the Amotts…Forget those damn humppa singers at the Biergarden, that would be a fucking great bit of entertainment.
At The Gates sounded like they had never been away, which is true since most of their members have kept themselves busy in the intervening years. But the old ATG classics from their four studio albums flowed as smoothly as ever – the guitarwork courtesy of Anders and Martin Larsson was superb, the drumming by Adrian Erlandsson was tight and on the money, while Tompa Lindberg showed us why they were one of the pioneers of the melodic death movement.
As they reappeared on stage for the final time, Tompa said “Thank you so much for coming out, thank you so much for remembering.” Part of me felt regretful that At The Gates had promised not to go back into the studio to record a new album. But if they continue to give shows like that, well, who needs another SLAUGHTER OF THE SOUL? (HannTu)
Blinded by Fear
Under a Serpent Sun
The Flames of The End
Raped By The Light of Christ
World of Lies
The Burning Darkness
Into The Dead Sky
Terminal Spirit Disease
All Life Ends
The Beautiful Wound
Slaughter of the Soul
The Brazilian torturers won the Metal Battle competition last year, therefore they got the automatic opportunity of having a new slot at Wacken. The Brazilians set was plagued by mysterious technical problems ruining the short playing time. Despite the problems, the Brazilians delivered the furious deathrash with the South American metallic attitude and grip. Even though Torture Squad is awesome, for some reason the tent was half full. The Brazilian four-piece delivered an ass kicking set of intensive brutal, tight and technical deathrash with passion for sure.
Brat: For many people at Wacken this year, this would have been the first time they had the opportunity to see NIGHTWISH live with new singer Anette Olzon. In the illustrious words of Tuomas Holopainen, keyboardist and mastermind of Nightwish “…but of course there are diehard Tarja fans who will never even piss in our direction since we have a new singer…” and like everywhere else, the fans at Wacken were divided.
The crowd assembled before the stage was almost as big as it was for Iron Maiden as the cameras panned the crowd during the introduction. There was no doubt that this show was all about Anette and how well the Wacken crowd would accept her.
Once again Ray and I were stuck nowhere near the stage as the token bon voyaging of Tarja Turunen resounded with the first beats of “Bye Bye Beautiful” and pyros illuminated the stage without delay. Being a girl, I must comment on Anette’s dress–gone was her rockier, black haired image and what replaced was a brown haired bobbed girl dress in a peasant style dress with knee high boots and waist cincher style belt. The only think spoiling her outfit was the Michael Jackson-esque one-gloved hand. At times the vocal levels weren’t on and where Marco’s voice should have dominated, it was washed out by Anette’s backing ‘oh’s and ‘ah’s.
It’s so hard to get used to “Dark Chest Of Wonders” firstly no longer being the opening track of a live set and secondly missing Tarja’s bel canto vocals, however Anette’s take on this track was quite refreshing and didn’t feel foreign even though some of the higher notes were lost.
Amaranth was a crowd favourite. The great melody and video that accompanied it’s released have made this song an instant favourite with crowds. The flames pulsing in time with the drums lent a theatrical touch to the live performance mimicking themes in the video.
The epic saga of Toumas’s life, The Poet And The Pendulum” is a great piece of music, but I’ve always said entire epics like these take up valuable set time during festivals which could be used by 3 more livelier numbers from the back catalogue and as much as I love Marco Heitala and his voice, the theme song from a Finnish movie, “While Your Lips Are Still Red” lost everyone. It’s a slow song and the movie’s lack of release into an international movie arena did little to expose the song.
The new introduction to “Wishmaster” took some of the audience by surprise but they soon got into thrusting fists into the air in time with “master, apprentice, heartborn, seventh seeker” and the accompanying fire pulses. Wacken was very accepting of Anette but there were still a few older fans who weren’t convinced. At one stage a couple standing in front of me who by their quirky leather attire appeared to be from Russia looked at each other and shook their heads speaking to me silently to the effect of “she doesn’t cut it”. Whether they thought that for all of Nightwish’s songs or just for “Wishmaster”, I couldn’t figure out. But other weren’t so subtle with not accepting the new singer. Ocassionally between songs you could hear the name “Tarja” carried through the wind from one or another direction of the massive crowd.
Sahara was met with approval and while Emppu Vuorinen was playing his intro guitar piece Marco did something weird to him that the camera didn’t quite pick up. Although not an extremely fast song, it seemed to be a favourite with the Wackenese as there was mass clapping in time with Jukka Nevalainen’s powerful drum beats.
At times Anette’s introductions were so distorted I was straining to hear anything resembling English, especially during the introductions for “Nemo” and “I Wish I Had An Angel”.
As much as I love Anette’s freshness on stage there are times when her lack of high notes create a gap in the songs and her voice comes across too thin for this music and it was more obvious seeing her on such a big stage with huge production. This is probably the result of a very noticeable change since she has joined NIGHTWISH–the absence of the multi-layered vocal backing tracks which Tarja could always hide behind if her vocals weren’t going to hit the mark. I salute Anette’s bravery for perfoming on stage in such “nakedness”. I will always long to hear Tarja’s rich voice sing the old material, but there’s always CDs.
Bye Bye Beautiful
Dark Chest Of Wonders
Whoever Brings The Night
Sacrament Of Wilderness
The Poet And The Pendulum
While Your Lips Are Still Red
Wish I Had An Angel
The Swedish black metal squad was one of the interesting names on the tent stage. The stage had been decorated with some extra visual stuff such as a number of skulls which had been placed together with long chains and there was one kind of altar thing in the middle of the stage where Watain vocalist Eric got down on his knees in the beginning of the set. Of course a couple of inverted crosses were on the stage. Watain’s raw and nihilistic black metal had completely filled up the tent. The set had been built to cover a bunch of songs off from the band’s latest effort SWORN TO THE DARK and of course a few older immortal battle hymns got played. When two Swedish leading black metallers Watain and Nifelheim will join dark forces together for the Finnish tour, beware…(Arto)
I stuck around for a bit of Nightwish before deciding to save my energy for Kreator instead. I’ve only seen these guys once before, where they put on an intense, absolutely killer show here in London. People who have seen them multiple times complain that Mille rehashes the same old lines, plays the same old songs in the same old way. Ah well, as long as I get to listen to ‘Flag of Hate’, ‘Pleasure To Kill’, ‘Tormentor’, ‘Violent Revolution’, ‘Extreme Aggression’, ‘Enemy of God’ et al, I’m a fucking happy bunny. A headbanging, fist-pumping, snarling windmilling circle-pitting happy bunny.
I can’t comment much on the band’s performance, as I didn’t see a lot of them; I was thrashing too wildly for that. This was the second best band for me at the festival, and although everyone was tired and wet and muddy, we picked ourselves up for the final effort. Mille sounds as angry as ever, his trademark snarl exhorting us to greater and more violent heights.
This was a fitting end to my festival. (HannTu)
Favourite performer : 1. Iron Maiden, 2. Kreator, 3. Carcass, 4. At The Gates, 5. Primordial, 6. Exodus
Best discovery: Airbourne, Mortal Sin
Highlight: Iron Fucking Maiden with 70 000 people.
Biggest disappointment: Avantasia.
Most interesting/valuable item purchased: Nothing – the WOA shirts were sold out and the Maiden shirt prices were stupidly exorbitant.
Final comments: My second Wacken didn’t live up to the magic of my first WOA last year. In spite of that, the bands were largely brilliant and I saw more performances this year thanks to my spending less time in the beer garden and more time in the arena. Maiden this year will be hard to top. The crowd, well, Wacken’s getting bigger, in spite of what the organisers say. Too many scene kids, emos, core kids and basically clueless fucks who came to see Killswitch etc. Overall, the status of Wacken as the premier metal festival in the world cannot be doubted, and to see travellers from all over the world make the pilgrimage to metal mecca simply confirms that. See you guys next year you fucking nutters!
Favourite performer: Grave, Iron Maiden, Exodus
Best discovery: Warbringer
Biggest disappointment: Hmm hmmhmm… No rain? haha
Most interesting/valuable item purchased: Nothing this time.
Last comment: Wacken 2008 was an utter blasting metal onslaught when it comes to seeing a helluva lot of bands from various metal sub genres and experiencing the spirit of a metal mecca. Beating this year’s line-up is gonna be quite tough for Wacken as Iron Maiden was already such a big name and the most expensive band in the history. Even though bands will be announced piece by piece, the tickets will be going tremendously quickly. Oh yeah. How many “wall-of-deaths” or circle pits were witnessed during the festival? Lunatics went and arranged walls of death and circle pits even in the pool and when Wacken Firefighters were on the stage…Hilarious and weird. It’s now time to thank the Finnish extreme metal mag for helping out with passes and my travelling comrades.
Favourite band: Mortal Sin-they’re Aussie, they rocked and I was up the front for the whole set.
Best discovery: Sabaton and Mustasch
Highlight: Watching a bunch of hardcore black metal musos step out of their ‘moulds’ and play AOR air guitar and air drums; not being pulled over by customs officers on our way to the festival and having to pull everything out of the sardine can.
Biggest disappointment: Merchandise selling out before we even arrived and there being no Becks Lemon Lime on Saturday.
Most interesting/valuable item purchased: Wacken plush cow who was promptly named “Horny Henrik” and plush Wacken teddy bear for the newest member of the metal family, Shelby, in Melbourne.
Last comment: Maybe I’m getting hard in my old age, but the majority of women singers at Wacken lacked this year. Nightingales and pop princesses should stay away from metal.
The past two years Ray and I have only arrived in Wacken on Thursday, the day the VIP campsite opens, but in doing so I’ve missed so much of the social interaction with my friends I enjoyed almost more than the bands. My goal next year will be to get to Wacken Wednesday morning to enjoy a day of festivities and shopping before merchandise sells out.
Thanks to the genius of many I have been able to rewatch some of my favourite bands’ Wacken sets. Some of the footage was amateur but other footage was ripped from the live stream. Maybe I’ll just have to take holidays and watch the live stream from the comfort of my comfortable couch because battling with huge crowds to see the stage with some clarity is getting old. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always maintained that the metal Mecca is something you must experience at least once in your lifetime and I love coming as seeing all the friends I’ve made over the years and sharing the experience with my fellow countrymen, but I think after 2009 I’ll be concentrating on attending smaller, out of the way festivals.
Favourite band: Kamelot
Best discovery: Sabaton
Highlight: Seeing Maiden for the second time this year and turning up to Wacken driving an Audi TT.
Biggest disappointment: Missing Mercenary
Most interesting/valuable item purchased: Rick Laine CD totally rare!
Last comment: Great year for Wacken. Excellent line up.