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02/08/2007 - 04/08/2007, Wacken Open Air 2007, Part 18 – Wacken – Germany

Friday, 03/08/2007

While people backstage quietly start on their first beer, we see a major white cloud of smoke coming from the direction of the stages. Apparently, a fire started in the large quantities of straw that have been interspersed on the ground in order to dry it off a little. Due to this problem the schedule has to be reversed and so Napalm Death are already playing on the Black Stage instead of Amorphis as firemen are doing their damndest to put out the fire.



Napalm Death's latest album 'Smear Campaign' is a CD that still runs many laps on many a CD player, so with opener "Weltschmerz / Sink Fast, Let Go" they were off to a good start. This band is still full of energy on stage, especially Barney, who gallops around the stage like a wild deer with spasms. Both new and old songs are played with verve. Barney addresses the crowd in German after each song, and the fans are pleased. Even at this early hour everyone seems to be enjoying the heavy sounds. "Scum" was dedicated to the 'The German fat bastard who is smoking a cigarette over there' and the ultra-short "You Suffer" is not forgotten. Furthermore, we get to enjoy the following songs off the new album: "Fatalist", "When All Is Said And Done" and "Persona Non Grata", and also old stuff like "Suffer The Children", "Breed To Breathe", "The Kill" and "Fascist Control" isn’t skipped. The action ended with "Nazi Punks Fuck Off", and with this show Napalm Death can certainly be said to have shown one of the better performances of this festival.



Due to the fire before the True Metal Stage the program has suffered some slight changes and after a delay of one hour we can still see the Finnish band Amorphis at work. The released a classic in 1994 when they introduced the album 'Tales From The Thousand Lakes' to the world. In the seventeen years that this band existed, their style changed from deathmetal to melodic metal. When singer Pasi Koskinen joined the band in 1996, this heralded the change in style and since then I kind of lost track of them. However in 2004 Koskinen left and was replaced by Tomi Joutsen whom I heard for the first time on the "Eclipse" album in 2006, I was definitely convinced by his vocals. The combination of grunt and clean vocals somewhat restored the old glory of Amorphis and within a few weeks their new album 'Silent Waters' will be unleashed The material Amorhis played today consisted mainly of aforementioned albums, complemented with songs like "Black Winter Day" and "My Kantele”. Evidently, it is still mainly the older songs like "House Of Sleep" from the early days of the band that the public want to hear. The band manage to put on a decent show today and singer Tomi knows how to work the crowd. In spite of the rocky start, Amorphis yet again managed to win a couple of souls here today.



On the W.E.T. Stage it was time Torture Squad, the delegation from Brazil taking part in the Metal Battle. Not completely fair on the other bands as these guys have already put four CDs, a live album and DVD out there. Their professionalism was obvious, as they ripped it up with their simple, but effective thrash. Many Brazilian flags were held high, and it was fairly busy before the stage. Apparently more people had also heard that this is a more than ok thrash band, many people came to see what these Brazilians were made of. The songs were rapidly bestowed upon the public. Which was not very surprising since every Battle Metal Band had been allocated 25 minutes in the already full roster. As expected, Torture Squad won this year’s Metal Battle at Wacken. These guys are good musicians, the music is very catchy, and after all these years they have formed a well-oiled machine.

Especially for Wacken, Possessed reunited, or so it was announced. In actuality, the only remaining band member Jeff Beccara was there in a wheelchair. The rest of the band was formed by the members of Sadistic Intent. Despite the fact that Jeff was in a wheelchair, he banged his head like there was no tomorrow. Meanwhile, with a raw voice, he screamed Possessed numbers And it was apparent that he was surprised at the number of people that had showed up to witness his performance. Many 'wows' and 'thank you' were uttered meaningfully. As for the music: It sounded possibly even worse than on CD. But nevertheless, this is one of these bands that you need to have seen live as they are as cult as you can get. The performance of the band made up for the poor audio quality, however and many people enjoyed songs like "Confessions", "My Belief", "Pentagram", "Holy Hell", "Tribulation" "Heretic" and of course the classic "Death Metal". This was certainly a remarkable show, especially since one will probably never get the chance to witness a similar get together again. After all, Possessed remains to be one of the founders (along with Death) of the whole death-metal genre.


As Possessed and Volbeat are scheduled to play at the same time today, we are forced to choose, and even though the Possessed show at Wacken is a one-off, we decide to give the sympathetic Danes a go. When we arrive at the Party Stage it quickly becomes clear that we are not the only ones who decided to take a look: there must be five to seven thousand people there! The band has become more popular than ever as they attended a number of major festivals such as Graspop and Fields Of Rock last summer. After the band kicks off half an hour late, the atmosphere is great right away and we hear the songs "The Gardens Tale", "Soulweeper", "Radio Girl" and "Violate ". The Danes manage to arouse the crowd at this relatively early hour as they passionately show what they’ve got. The most striking thing about this band is the splendid voice of singer Michael Poulsen. They go on to play "Devil And The Blue Cat Song" And they end their set with their own unique rendition of the Dusty Springfield cover "I Only Want to Be With You". Volbeat really had it nailed today, these guys know how to party on a high musical level, very impressive. They played a rock solid show today and if they manage to keep this up there is definitely a golden future ahead of them.



As the schedule is still all mixed up, we arrive rather late at the WET Stage and as a result we miss part of the Dutch band Mennen’s efforts. The band is now halfway through their set and the tent is still frightfully empty, which is hardly surprising as Volbeat and Possessed are playing the two other stages at this same time. The band however manages to remain enthusiastic and they stand their ground, especially frontman Jos Mennen who knows exactly how to attract one’s attention with his energetic performance. We hear the heavy song "Power To The Bone" and the funky "On Fire" from the forthcoming album 'Black Planet'. The new album, which was recorded in the USA with producer Erwin Musper, will be released in October or November this year. In between the songs, Jos knows how to work the crowd with witty comments and the rest of the band really put it out there. We hear the songs "Feel Put Asidel" and the closing "Mr Father ". After half an hour their time’s up and although there was only a small crowd present these guys really played a solid show.



Swedish metallers Therion take the stage some forty minutes later than planned. Earlier this year we saw in Therion work it in Tilburg 013, where they had the advantage of a splendid light show, today however, the band play in the broad light of the early. Therion seems to kind of need a good light show and I therefore wondered whether the band would pull it off today in the sun. Earlier this year they released an album entitled 'Gothic Kabbalah', which was of course promoted here today with songs such as "Der Mitternachtlöwe", "Tuna 1613" and "Son Of The Staves Of Time". Furthermore, the setlist contained an excellent combination of the last four Therion albums of the band in addition to some classics like "Muspelheim", "Seven Secrets Of The Sphinx" and "Rise Of Sodom And Gomorrah". Also this show was used as an opportunity to introduce singer Thomas Vikström who is set to replace current singer Mats Levan in the near future. Therion did not have an orchestra or choir with them today but the the bombastic sound of the band maintained with the aid of a tape playing on the background. The vocals were excellently complemented by the two singers Katarina Lilja and Lori Lewis. The sound on the whole was very reasonable, the synergy of instruments, vocal parts and added orchestral keyboard sections and background choirs was an impressive mix. The show ended with the classic "To Mega Therion" from the 1996 album 'Theli', top notch!



The big question mark for me was the Norwegian band Turbonegro, of course, I had often heard the name, however, I had never seen them live and I must confess that I had never bothered to listen to any of their CD’s. Quite some time before the band is due to play it becomes very busy in front of the Black Stage, why this act is scheduled on this stage is a mystery to me. They play dirty, smudgy rock with Rock-'n'-Roll and punk influences and the whole band is dressed like a bunch of nuts with make-up. The extensive fan-base of the band who are referred to as the "Turbojugend" are seemingly pleased and happy to join in singing the songs with over the top lyrics. I seriously wonder whether or not these guys take themselves. They play "All My Friends Are Dead", "Back To Dungaree High", "Fuck The World" and the new "Do You Dig Destruction". For me, this band just doesn’t do it and so after a half hour I decide to take a stroll around the massive metal market.



On the W.E.T. Stage Sabbat is up next. Personally, I didn’t know this band, but given the amount of people that rapidly entered the tent, I should maybe have given them a listen. During their show, the tent was almost demolished by the happy crowd and I must say I really enjoyed listening to this true thrash band from England, I had not expected this! I banged my head to "Hosanna In Excelsis", "Behind The Crooked Cross" and "The Clerical Conspiracy". A legion of crowdsurfers emerged out of nowhere and it was raining people, to the great joy of the band. Especially vocalist Martin Walkyier, who was visibly enjoying himself. With the song "The Church Bizarre" the band had come to the end of the set much too soon. we hope that this band will go on tour soon and come to the Netherlands!



The band JBO. Is another typical German phenomenon, we saw the band a few weeks ago at the Earthshaker festival and I never cease to wonder why the band draws such a big crowd. The band enters the stage dressed entirely in pink, matching the colour of the instruments such as guitars and drums and they kick off with a cover in the form of "Rock Muzik", a late seventies disco and the massive crowd immediately starts to party in front of the stage. we hear many German songs like "Verteidiger Des Blödsinns", "Faulheit Siegt" and Udo Jürgens cracker "Griechischer Wein", which is converted to "Fränkisches Beer". Here and there are a familiar riff of an old classic can be recognized as the bandmembers crack lame jokes. The crowd is completely into it and the crowdsurfers constantly fly over the fences, some fans are even dressed up for the occasion. Tthe setlist contains songs like "Melodien Für Melonen", "May Alde Is' Im Drin Playboy", "Ejaculatio Praecox, "Schlaf Kindlein, Schlaf" and "Wir Ham 'ne Party". The party ends with the song "Ein Fest" that is sung along to by practically everyone here. The audience thought it was all wonderful, but this kind of strange party band with their weird jokes are a little hard to get for Dutch people I guess.



Although the Italian band Lacuna Coil are set to play the Black Stage, their music can’t really be described as black metal., But hey the bands need somewhere to play and the various stages should have a name. In the USA, the band has attained the superstar status, but at the beginning of the show it becomes evident that the Italians are also quite popular in Germany, the area in front of the stage is packed when the band starts out with songs like "Fragments Of Faith", "Fragile", "Our Truth" all from the 2006 'Karmacode' album. The variation of the beautiful dual vocals of singer Cristina Scabbia and singer Andrea Ferro have long been the trademark of the band. Both of them put on a very strong performance during the whole show, Cristina and Andrea know how to keep each other balanced perfectly. They continue to play the Depeche Mode cover "Enjoy The Silence" and the song "Heaven's A Lie." In between songs the crowd and the Wacken organization are thanked exuberantly to which the audience responds spontaneously and from then Lacuna Coil just can’t go wrong. This fine performance was a perfect Wacken debut for the band!



At the moment, one of my favorite bands is Enslaved. The last two albums' Isa 'and' Ruun' are masterpieces, both steeped in black metal with experimental spheric elements. Today at Wacken they play a crushing show. The set consists Mostly of material off the 'Isa' album such as the title track, "Bounded By Allegiance" and "Return To Yggdrassil" and off the "Ruun" album we hear "Path To Vanir", "Fusion Of Sense and Earth" and "Ruun", but also "Jotunblod" 'Frost' and of course the epic song "Slaget I Skogen Bortenfor" are played. Wonderful to hear all the songs played almost as if you were listening to a CD. The clean singing of singer Herbrand Larssen is excellent, For me, this was one of the highlights of Wacken.



It is now time for one of Germany greatest powermetal bands to entertain us, of course I am referring to Blind Guardian. This band released a number of classic albums such as the 1998 album "Nightfall In Middle Earth." Blind Guardian was founded at the end of the eighties Hansi Kürsch (leadvocals), guitarists Andre Olbrich and Marcus Siepen and Thomen Stauch (drums). The band has an immense fanbase and so the field in front of the stage becomes so overcrowded it is impossible to move an inch. They immediately launch into a fine rendition of "Into The Storm" followed by the songs "Born In A Mourning Hall", "Nightfall" and "The Script For My Requim". The masses go absolutely nuts. As it is still early in the evening, the light show is not that impressive but no-one seems to give a damn. The bombastic music carries us away as we hear oldies "Valhalla", "Otherland" and " Welcome To Dying " and we are pleasantly surprised to hear " Traveller in Time”. Although they seem to lack enthusiasm from time to time, Blind Guardian has the crowd wrapped around its little finger as singer Hansi Kürsch in particular has no problem addressing the outrageous crowd. During the song "Bright Eyes" thousands of lighters are held in the air and the first part of the show comes to an end with "Time Stands Still". The first bonus we are treated to is the Blind Guardian classic "Imaginations From The Other Side" followed by "Divine Punishment" and the acoustic "Lord Of The Rings", to which the crowd passionately sings along. After a good two hours Hansi says goodbye with the song "This Will Never End", after which the band returns to the stage one more time for the encore "Mirror Mirror". With this show Blind Guardian proves once that they belong to the absolute top ranks of heavy Metal, hail!



After a considerable congestion at the exit of the Party Stage section we make it to the W.E.T. stage where The Answer are already halfway through their set. These guys play a somewhat strange type of rock 'n roll in a heavy kind of Led Zeppelin way (Cormac Neeson resembles Robert Plant in more ways than one). But acts such as AC / DC and Deep Purple can also be heard in in the music of these young Irishmen. When we arrived we were just in time to hear the hit "Under The Sky" in which they were joined by their fans. The tent was not quite full, which was to be expected with German-magnet Blind Guardian on the True Stage at the same time, but the audience was enthusiastic. We hear the songs entitled "Under The Gutter" and "Be What You Want". The Answer stood there and played passionately (apparently they sound a lot rougher and dirtier live than they do in CD) and guitarist Paul Mahon played his solo’s as if it was his last chance to play the guitar. It was a nice little break from all the brutal metal and basically they just rocked. What more could you want?

With nothing else to do, we made our way to the side of the stage where Dimmu Borgir were doing what they do best. No need for further introductions, given their status as the largest export product of Norway. Back in the day I didn’t mind listening to these guys at all but these days are gone. I guess they kind of disappointed me in 2005 at the Dynamo festival where they simply lacked quality. And today they started off with three songs from 'Death Cult Armageddon' (namely "Progenies Of The Great Apocalypse", "Vredesbyrd" and "Cataclysm Children"), so I was ready to make a u-turn. Nevertheless, we remained on our spot and initially had a bit of a laugh at the John Tardy (Obituary) impersonation. But as the show went on, it actually got better and more entertaining. The inclusion of drumgod Hellhammer has definitely done the band a lot of good. This guy plays his drums so fast it's like Dimmu never played a slow note before. Especially in their final song "The Insight And The Catharsis" the difference was very clearly noticeable, it was so fast it almost passed us by. And let's be honest, the new songs on their recently released album 'In Sorte Diaboli' do kick butt live. Although they limited the new songs to "The Serpentine Offering" and "The Chosen Legacy" this was a nice preview of the clubtour for this new album. Dimmu Borgir was a pleasant surprise in the late evening.


It is half past midnight when the American power metal fellowship Iced Earth are ready for the True Metal Stage. This band plays tight rhythms and driving guitars with a harmonious voice supplemented by loud "screams" of current singer Tim Owens. However, the man responsible for this sound since its birth in 1984 guitarist and songwriter Jon Schaffer. A regrettable fact for many fans was the departure of former singer Matthew Barlow a few years ago, Barlow was an excellent singer who had a mixture of aggressiveness, high brightness, sensitivity and melancholy in his voice. Barlow was replaced by former Judas Priest singer Tim "Ripper" Owen. With Owen the band released the album 'The Glorious Burden', but this record was received in a lukewarm manner by the fans of the band. Now, three years later, the band is finally back on main stage Wacken, and we are a few months away from the new album 'Framing Armageddon (Something Wicked Part 1) ". This release will be followed early next year by "Revelation Abomination (Something Wicked Part 2) '. As with Blind Guardian, well before the show commences the large field area in front of the stage is swarming with metalheads so we decide to watch the band from a distance. Iced Earth kick off with the song "Burning Times", followed by "Declaration Day" and "Violate". The sound is slightly messy during the first songs but this is fixed soon and Tim’s voice sounds breathtaking while Mr. Shaffer’s axework sounds as tight as ever. As for the set list, no complaints. We are first treated to some recent songs and then some good old stuff like "Vengeance Is Mine" and "Stormrider" sang by Schaeffer himself, followed by the brand new tracks "Ten Thousand Strong" and "A Charge To Keep". An impressive fireworks show look magical against the dark night sky. The band sounded as though they were reborn, such drive and enthusiasm. Maybe this can be attributed to the three new members among which is drummer Brent Smedley who recently found his way back to the band. From the 1998 album 'Something Wicked This Way Comes' we hear the song "My Own Savior" after which they play the new version of "Something Wicked" trilogy: "Prophecy" , "Birth Of The Wicked" and "The Coming Curse". These three songs form an overview of the science-fiction story that goes 12,000 years back in time, leading us back to today. The complete story will be revealed in detail in the two aforementioned albums. The show ends, (about ten minutes early) with the classic song "Iced Earth". This was a very impressive performance by a solid musical unit, it has left me very curious about the new album and forthcoming tour in November.



Tired but satisfied, we return to our tents for a rest so we’ll be ready for the last day of the festival. We give the aftershow with bands like Die Apokalyptischen Reiter, Samael, Kampfar and metal karaoke a miss, we need to sleep!

Thursday 02/08/2007
Saturday 04/08/2007