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Various Artists
Armageddon Over Wacken 2004
December 2005
Released: 2005, Magick Records
Rating: 3.0/5
Reviewer: Lord of the Wasteland

Wacken Open Air is to metal what Woodstock was to hippies—a life-altering journey and an experience that cannot be described to the uninitiated...or so I’ve heard. Unfortunately, I am one of the poor souls who has never made the annual pilgrimage to Germany (former Metal Rules staffers Michael De Los Muertos and Ice Maiden always had the North American contingent covered) and most likely never will at this stage in my life, either. As some sort of consolation for saps like me, the latest version of the recorded output from last summer’s three-day Euro orgy of metal bands has been released under the no-surprises title of ARMAGEDDON OVER WACKEN 2004. This year’s version trumps previous ones by boosting the package up to a whopping three CDs that clocks in at almost three and a half hours and adding a snazzy booklet chock full of photos and a message from the WOA team. While the recording seems to be taken direct from the soundboard, there is nothing done in terms of overdubs or enhancements so any mistakes are here. As expected with nearly 50 tracks, there is some filler (ahem, disc three) and some killer (disc one) but, overall, this set is a good representation of what has become the landmark metal festival on a global scale.



The first disc, comprising the “thrash/black/death” bands, is the best by a landslide. Anthrax, Destruction, Unleashed, Bal-Sagoth, Cannibal Corpse…the list is impressive. Whoever decided that Hungarian Soulfly-wannabes, Ektomorf, should get two tracks here must be out of their mind but being introduced to Orphanage on this collection allows me to make amends with the CD’s production team. Also, with Anthrax getting back together with Joey Belladonna, this may be the last “official” live recording with John Bush behind the mike. Interestingly, I hear Bush handle the Belladonna tracks well but time will tell if the same can be said of Belladonna’s take on the Bush-era tracks.



Disc two (“traditional”) is the most accessible CD of the set (I know, Mayhem is the be all, end all to some readers for a sunny, spring morning) has the “hit” factor down pat. Dio, Motorhead, Doro Pesch, Brainstorm, Feinstein and home-wrecker, I mean former Iron Maiden vocalist Blaze Bayley laying out their wares. Thankfully, we are spared another version of “Ace of Spades” and Nevermore’s blistering treatment of “Enemies of Reality” almost justifies the purchase of this set itself. The oddly-unsettling Teutonic crowd chants during Doro’s “Für Immer” (sorry, never been a fan) still boggles my mind and putting Pesch soundalike, Weinhold, on the same CD is a slap in the face to that band’s credibility. JBO’s equally dismal cover of Bloodhound Gang’s “The Roof Is On Fire”—sung here in German and re-dubbed “Arschloch und Spass Dabei”—is an absolute embarrassment. On a positive note, the sorely underrated Feinstein, Mystic Prophecy and Brainstorm are given a song apiece to win over purchasers. The most curious track here is a duet with Pesch and Bayley on Iron Maiden’s “Fear of The Dark.” Both artists work well together and this version is actually quite good with added strings however hearing Bayley sing this song WITHOUT Iron Maiden is like going to a Gary Cherone solo show (just use your imagination here) and hearing him warble through “Hot For Teacher.” He just has no business doing it!



The third CD (“underground”) is an abysmal 68-minute exercise in torture to sit through. D-grade European bands who sing off-key (Vanguard), stumble through cacophonous “songs” (Sufferage) and make ill-fated attempts at sounding modern (Raunchy) gets tiresome REALLY quick. Washed-up 80s never-was band, Zodiac Mindwarp (who knew these guys were still around?!?), even drop in for some reason. I can’t imagine anyone being subjected to a full day of this! The capper is an amusing (in a head-shaking sort of way) “humppa” version of Van Halen’s “Jump.” My apologies to the Finnish people but when I hear this music, I cannot help but think of “Weird” Al Yankovic.



Like Meatloaf says, two out of three ain’t bad and such is the case with ARMAGEDDON OVER WACKEN 2004. The producers of the CD chose quantity over quality here and with obvious marquee bands like Dio, Anthrax, Motorhead, etc. being interspersed with lesser-knowns like Kotipelto, Bal-Sagoth, Mnemic, etc. pretty much guarantees solid sales figures, but the throwaway third CD would be a wise omission from next year’s package. For those of us who look at the annual Wacken Open Air as being as untouchable as Elliott Ness, why sully the overall feeling by forcing us to wade through bands named Gutbucket? Also, I can’t help but wonder if the meeting of Dio and Doro backstage went something like David Letterman’s “Uma/Oprah” blunder at the Oscars: “Dio…Doro. Doro…Dio.” Am I the only one???
Track Listing

DISC #1 (Thrash/Black/Death)
1. Anthrax - Indians
2. Anthrax - Only
3. Destruction - Nailed To The Cross
4. Children of Bodom - Sixpounder
5. Cannibal Corpse – Gallery of Suicide
6. Mayhem - Pagan Fears
7. Death Angel - Thicker Than Blood
8. Unleashed - To Asgaard We Fly
9. Orphanage - Five Crystals
10. Ektomorf - I Know Them
11. Ektomorf - Destroy
12. Bal-Sagoth - The Emperial Lexicon
13. Mnemic - Ghost
14. Cathedral - Stained Glass Horizon

DISC #2 (Traditional)
1. Dio - Holy Diver
2. Dio - Don't Talk To Strangers
3. Nevermore - Enemies of Reality
4. Doro - Für Immer
5. Kotipelto - Reasons
6. Mystic Prophecy - In The Land of The Dead
7. Brainstorm - Hollow Hideaway
8. Motörhead - We Are Motörhead
9. Motörhead – Life’s A Bitch
10. Paragon - Green Hell
11. Weinhold - Strike
12. Feinstein - Rebelutions
13. JBO - Arschloch und Spass dabei
14. Blaze Bayley/Doro Pesch - Fear of The Dark

DISC #3 (Underground)
1. Vanguard - Forgive
2. Reckless Tide - Death Train
3. Reckless Tide - Equality
4. Griffin - The Sentence
5. Hobbs Angel of Death - Crucifiction
6. Dr. Rock - Wicked Show
7. Dr. Rock - Dr. Rock
8. Everfest - See Me Rising
9. Sufferage - Civilized
10. Gun Barrel - Only A Passenger
11. Gutbucket - 82 Hours Bus Hellride
12. Gutbucket - You Never Know
13. Supersoma - Missing Nola
14. Thora - Christ Abuse
15. Methedras - Wreck 'n Roll
16. Zodiac Mindwarp - Like A Hurricane
17. Raunchy - Summer of Overload
18. Eläkeläiset - Humppa (Jump)

Lineup

N/A

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