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04/08/2005 - 06/08/2005, Wacken Open Air 2005, Part 16 – Wacken – Germany
Thursday 04/08

This is the fourth time we travel to metal-Walhalla Wacken Open Air in the north of Germany. Previous years and numerous traffic jams taught us to leave early this time and so we set off at 9 in the morning. After a 600 km journey we reach the ticketbox for passes around 3 o’clock. It’s pretty busy and so, after a two-hour wait, we are in the possession of our desired passes. We still have to put up our tents and unfortunately miss Tristania, the opening act of the traditional “Night to remember”.

After their reunion in 2002, the legendary doommetalband Candlemass played the wacken Festival in that same year. This reunion however was short-lived as they split up again in 2004. Then in 2005 the band got back together again and started working on a new album which was released earlier this year. Candlemass is the first band we behold this weekend. They kick off their show with the new song “Black Dwarf”. Vocalist Messiah –wearing a monk’s habit as always- puts on an impressive performance and manages to stir the crowd, especially when candlemass play classics such as “The Sorcerer’s Pledge” from their debut album. We certainly get what we came for: oldies from the albums ‘Epicus Doomicus Metallicus’ and ‘Nightfall’. Besides the older stuff we also hear “Copernicus”, “Born in a Tank” and “Seven Silver Keys” from the latest album “Candlemass”. The band is definitely making up for lost time and hopefully we’ll get a chance to see another Candlemass show of this standard during a European club tour…

Due to an interview with the Danish band Hatesphere we have to miss Oomph in their white suits.

Nightwish end this “Night to Remember” with an excellent performance. The intro-tape is followed by “Dark Chest of Wonders”, “The Siren” and “Ever Dream”. The band is clearly into it and especially vocalist Tarja has plenty of contact with the crowd. The set is continued with songs such as “Deep Silent Complete” and “The Kinslayer” after which Tarja disappears off the stage. It is time for the first cover of the evening: Pink Floyd’s “High Hopes” sung by bass-player Marco Hietala. To me, the covers seem unnecessary, the band has plenty of good material and Marco’s singing qualities are not up to standard. After Tarja’s short break Nightwish continue to play “Planet Hell”, “Wishmaster”, “Slaying the Dreamer” and the ballad “Kuolema Tekee Taiteilijan”. Tarja changes outfits twice and we are treated to a fine lightshow with numerous explosions and massive columns of fire. After playing “Nemo” the band leave the stage for a moment and they come back to play “Ghost Love Score”. As a second encore they play another cover of Gary Moore’s “Over the Hills and Far Away”. When the band start to play “I Wish I had an Angel” the crowd goes nuts and they sing along every word. This superb performance is ends in style with an impressive fireworks display.


 

The first day it doesn’t seem to stop raining and the festival site is soon transformed into a large swamp-like area. In the end it was dry for a while and we even caught a couple of rays of sun. Alas we also missed the Hatesphere gig on the Wet Stage due to the fact that the tent was totally overcrowded. Hopefully this friendly Danish band will play the main stage of this festival next time.


Friday 05/08

The first band of the day on the Party Stage is Mercenary. Their show starts at 11 o’clock and so we get up early. They kick off their show with the hits “Redestructdead” and “Firesoul” from their excellent latest album “11 Dreams”. Mercenary sound loud but true. We are treated to “Falling Down” and the older track “Seize the Night”. Singer Mikkel Sandager is in good form today and his voice is complemented well by bass-player Kral. They play “World Hate Center” and end the show with the title track of their latest Album. In the last couple of years, Mercenary has evolved into a brilliant live band. Coming autumn we will get another chance to see them play when they join Nevermore on their European tour.

In between showers of rain we grab some breakfast and a coffee and then we get back to the Party Stage to see the last remaining Ramone (from the American punk-legend the Ramones) at work. Drummer Marky Ramone dedicates this show to his far too untimely deceased bandmembers Joey, Deedee and Johnny, and then start to rip through hits like “Walk Away”, “Teenage Lobotomy”, “I Don’t Care” and “Sheena Is A Punk Rocker” at high speed. In a way, Marky seems to be the odd one out between all the heavy metal thunder at Wacken, still the band stand their ground and the crowd enjoy classics such as “Tonight”, “Rock ‘n’ Roll Highschool”, “I Wanna be Sedated”, “Pet Semetary” and “Pinhead”. This unique show comes to an end with the hit “Blitzkrieg Bop”. The crowd in general and the veterans in particular can look back on this show with satisfaction.

After Marky Ramone’s punkrock we head to the Black Stage to witness Bloodbath’s performance. Bloodbath is Dan Swaino’s (Nightingale, Edge of Sanity) all-star deathmetal project, supported by Anders Nystrom (Katatonia, Bewitched), Jonas Renkse (Katatonia, October Tide) and Martin Axenrot (Witchery) among others. The bandmembers enter the stage in white blood-stained shirts and thus live up to their name. Bloodbath recently released the killer deathmetal album ‘Nightmares Made Flesh’ with vocalist Peter Tatgren (Hypocrisy, Pain). Today, however, the band is joined by no-one less than Mikael Akerfelt (Opeth). After a long intro they kick off with the song “Cancer of the Soul” from their latest album from which we also hear “Soul Evisceration”, “Outnumbering the Day” and “Eaten”. Older songs such as “Like Fire” and “Ways tot the Grave” from the 2002 album ‘Resurrection Through Carnage’ are also accounted for. The finale comes in the shape of “Drain You Out” from the band’s first EP. We have just witnessed the first and only performance of an extremely brutal deathmetalband. Praise!

The Seattle-based band Metal Church were at their peak at the end of the eighties and then, at the beginning of the nineties, they left the stage for a number of years. Anno 2005 they’re back with a vengeance. Guitarist Kurdt Vanderhoof and drummer Kirk Arrington are the only two remaining members of the original line-up. Singer Ronny Munroe, bass-player Steve Unger and former Malice guitarist Jay Reynolds have joined the band. Today the Metal Church setlist includes songs mainly from the first two classic albums ‘Metal Church’ and ‘The Dark’. We hear “Ton of Bricks”, “Start the Fire”, “Batallions” and the sublimely sung “Watch the Children Pray”, among others. From the 2004 album ‘The Weight of the World’ we get to hear “Leave them Behind” and “Cradle to Grave”. The band takes a moment to remember the decease of the original Metal Church singer David Wayne. Ronny’s voice however is of the same quality as David’s and this is especially evident when the band treats us to fine renditions of “Beyond the Black” and the band’s hymn “Metal Church”. This performance proves that Metal Church is still a band tob e reckoned with. Hopefully we will be able to enjoy this fine live band for a long time yet.

We had planned to shoot some photos of the reborn deathmetalband Obituary, but just before they take the stage, the heavens open and it becomes virtually impossible to take pictures. The band and the fans don’t seem to care about the rain and songs such as “On the Floor”, “Denied” and “Insane” from the latest album ‘Frozen in Time’ blast through the speakers. We also hear “Slowly We Rot”, the titlesong from the Obituary debutalbum. The rain keeps up and in the late-afternoon the festival site resembles an even wetter swamp than before. The Wacken crew roll out bales of hay but this doesn’t seem to make much of a difference. We give up and set out to find a dry spot. In between mudwrestling we still get to enjoy “Threatening Skies” but then the rain gets the better of us and we run for cover and end up in the backstage bar.

Because of the bad weather we skip the first half of the Within Temptation set. When we arrive at the Black stage we are kind of surprised at the large amount of people we find here. We are just in time to hear W.T. play “Stand My Ground”and “Jane Doe” from their latest album ‘Silent Force’. The show is perfectly arranged as usual. The stage is adorned with large pillars and vocalist Sharon is looking well-groomed. We are entertained with explosions and large columns of fire. Earlier this summer at the Graspop Metal Meeting (Belgium) and the Bospop Festival (Netherlands) they didn’t play any songs from the album ‘Enter’ but today we hear the album’s title track. The second half of the set consists mainly of songs from the album ‘Mother Earth’; the titletrack is played and also the hitsingle “Ice Queen”, and we even hear the Kate Bush cover “Running up that Hill”.

Machine Head is one of today’s headliners on the True Metal stage. When they hit the stage with the song “Imperium” the crowd transforms into a churning moshpit. The crowd goes totally mad and produces so much noise that the band’s sounds are almost drowned out. Everyone seems to have forgotten about the rain. Machine Head plays mainly old stuff from the debutalbum ‘Burn My Eyes’ such as “Old”, “Davidian”, “Ten Ton Hammer”, “The Blood, the Sweat, the Tears”, “Take My Sears” and “Descend the Shades of Night”. The band is ripping up the stage and singer Rob Flyn is clearly enjoying the feedback from the large crowd when he proposes the “Deathmetal-toast” numerous times. We are blown away by an excellent cover-medly that includes “Creeping Death” (Metallica), “Territory” (Sepultura), “Walk” (Pantera) and “The Trooper” (Iron Maiden). The grand finale of the show is the M.H. classic “Block”.

This year’s surprise act Stratovarius have the stage to their disposal now fors ome twenty minutes. Singer Timo Kotipelto, who rejoined the band earlier this year, sings “Hunting High and Low”, “Black Diamond” and the current single “Magic Dance”. This might be a teaser for Wacken 2006 like Saxon was a couple of years back.

We have heard many things about the Gorefest reunion but one thing is for sure: with their shows at Dynamo, Fields of Rock an Graspop 2005 they proved that they still belong to the top. Last July Gorefest recorded their new album ‘La Muerte’and believe me, this album rules. The band kick off a greatest hits set with “The Glorious Dead” and “State of Mind” from the ‘False’album. We also hear “Low”, “Mental Misery”, “Demon Seed” and “Chapter 13”. Today the emphasis is on the brutal tracks such as “Frase”and “Reality-When You Die”. After playing “Confessions of a Serial Killer” from their 1991 debutalbum ‘Mindloss’ Gorefest leave the stage only to come back and play a cover of the Kraftwerk classic “Autobahn”. Gorefest made quite an impression with this show and left the crowd screaming for more. And now we wait for their new album which will be released via Nuclear Blast on October 30.

A massive festival like Wacken means making choices and so we decide to skip the bands that play the Wet Stage. We do catch a glimpse of other bands such as Naglfar, Ensiferum, Apocalyptica, Edguy and Corvus Corax, but due to the huge amount of bands on offer, many rainshowers and mudbaths we were not able to review every band.


Saturday 06/08

On Saturday we get up pretty early to enjoy a coffee and death/black metal band Zyklon featuring a couple of ex-emperor members. The band is having a hard time waking the crowd up with songs like “Worm World”, “Subtle Manipulation” and “Transcendental War-Battle Between Gods”. The below-average stage performance of the band doesn’t help either. As the show progresses the crowd starts to loosen up, the set is ended with the song “Hammer Revelation” from the 2001 album ‘World of Worms’.

Next thing we head for the True Metal Stage where the energetic Englishmen from Dragonforce are about to storm the stage. They kick off with great enthusiasm and we hear the songs “Black Fire”, “Fury of the Storm” and “Black Winter Night”. The band is really ripping it up and passionately they bring us their superfast powermetal with inimitable guitar solos and rapid bassdrums. We also enjoy “Start Fire”, “Soldiers of Wasteland” and “Revelations” after which Dragonforce play “My Spirit Will Go On” and “Valley of the Damned”as a grand finale.


Overkill hit the stage in style with a classic opener: the Motorhead cover “Overkill”. The crowd is loving it and a large moshpit takes shape before the stage. The band continues to play “Rotten to the Core” and “Wrecking Crew” followed by “Necroshine”, “Damned” and “Elimination”. We are also treated to the unmistakable classics “In Union We Stand” and “Hello From the Gutter”. The hour’s playtime seems to be passing far too quickly and we sing along to metal-hymn “Old School” from the recent Overkill album ‘Relix IV’. Finally, Overkill shake Wacken one more time when they play “(We don’t Care What You Say) Fuck You”.

Soon after the Overkill show the German band Holy Moses are ready to display their raw eighties thras on the Party Stage. The band with front-woman Sabina Classen are playing a home match today and bring us some oldies such as “World Chaos”and “Live Destroyer” from the 1987 classic album ‘Finished with the Dogs’. The emphasis however was on the songs from this year’s release ‘Strength Power Will Passion’. A group of fanclub members join the band to sing “Too Drumk to Fuck” which is sung by Stuart from Doomfoxx and as an encore Holy Moses play the duet “Im Wagen For Mir” which is sung together with Sodom’s Onkel Tom Angelripper.

Fintroll’s popular humpa folk metal is awaited by a large crowd before the stage. The Finns open their set with “Trollhammaren”. This song sets the tone for the rest of the show; crowdsurfers keep flying over the barriers and security is in overdrive. Finntroll is clearly enjoying the attention. I think we also hear the track “Jaktens Tid”, but seeing as my finnish is not that good I’ll skip the other songtitles.. This sympathetic Finnish band has a good sound but the tearing wind seems to blow it away now and then, spoiling the moment. Finntroll puts on a splendid performance today and leave us wondering why they did not deserve a place on one of the main stages. It is a shame that this band missed the opportunity to reach a larger crowd today.

Between the Finntroll and Hammerfall shows we manage to watch part of former Steeler guitarist Axel Rudi Pell’s performance. The german band succeeds in entertaining their fellow countrymen with songs such as “Tear Down the Walls”, “Rock the Nation”and “Strong as a Rock”. Axel Rudi Pell and his band are in excellent shape today, especially singer Johnny Gioeli who is running and jumping across the stage while singing superbly. The guitar wizard certainly lives up to his reputation and today the band manages to play the complete setlist, unlike the Graspop show last month when they were late because their car had broken down. And so we are treated to inspiring renditions of “Nasty Reputation” and “Temple of the King”.

After watching Axel Rudi Pell we take a break to replenish the inner man and then we move on to the swedish band Hammerfall. The band kicks off with “Secrets” from this year’s release ‘Chapter V Unbent Unbowed, Unbroken’after which they play splendid versions of “Riders of the Storm” and “Renegade”. A large crowd has shown up and the band is going strong. Hammerfall has to deal with the same initial soundproblem that many of the previous bands had to cope with this weekend, but the problem seems to be fixed within a couple of songs. The stage has been turned into some kind of icy landscape with a snowy backdrop, iceberg props and large white stage elements. All this gives us a clear view of the band, right to the back of the crowd. Hammerfall’s older work is accounted for when they play “Let the Hammer Fall” and the band’s hymn “Hammerfall” from the 1997 album “Glory to the Brave”. The crowd is totally absorbed in the band’s melodic powermetal, banging their heads, clapping and shouting the lyrics. We hear “Crimson Thunder”, “Heeding the Call” and the current single “Bloodbound”, after which the set is ended with “Templars of Steel”and “Hearts on Fire”.

For german thrashers Kreator playing the Wacken festival is a home match. The space in front of the Black Stage is crammed full of metalheads and when the stage is completely filled with dark smoke the band comes into action with the titletrack of this year’s sublime release ‘Enemy of God’. They then tear up the stage with “Impossible Brutality”, “Pleasure to Kill” and “Phobia”. It soon becomes clear that Kreator is playing a best-of set tonight and the crowd moshes on until their is mud in their ears. Kreator keeps firing classis thrash hits at us such as “Violent Revolution”, “Suicide Terrorist” and “Extreme Aggression”. Vocalist Mille does not waste any time on small talk; his introductions to the songs are short but sweet.. We hear “People of the Lie” and “Betrayal” among others and the set is ended with magnificent renditions of the thrash gems “Flag of Hate”and “Tormentor. Today Kreator has proven they are still the best european thrashband; hopefully they will keep up the good work.

Accept is headlining the saturdaynight. This year the band is attending a number of festivals in the name of their “Reunion-Best of Tour” which brings them to events such as Waldrock, Graspop, Rockhard and, of course, Wacken. The moment Accept take the stage they are awaited by approximately 25000 to 30000 metalheads in the mudpool before the True Metal Stage. Accept have an incredible amount of hits at their disposal and they have chosen to kick off with “Living for Tonight”, “ London Leather Boys” and “Metal Law”. The band is going strong today, we are entertained with fireworks, explosions and the well-known poses of guitarists Wolf Hoffmann and Herman Franken and bass player Peter Baltes. We hear classics “Metal Heart”, “Breaker”, “Love Child” and “Rebel”. The band saves the best for last and so at the end off the set we are treated to the ultimate Accept hits “Fast as a Shark”, “Princess of the Dawn” and “Winter Dreams”. The grand finale of this best-of set is the encore “Balls to the Wall”.

We decide that watching Accept was a worthy way of ending the Wacken Festival for us and so we miss Sentenced, Torfrock and Onkel Tom. After a couple of beers at the bar it’s definitely time for some dry clothes and a good sleep..

Wacken 2005 was another magnificent festival with an abundance of beer, little sleep and plenty of excellent bands such as Gorefest, Machine Head, Finntroll and Kreator: the crème de la crème of a successful festival. It was also the festival with more rain and mud than we have seen in years. Within hours after kick-off the Wacken site was turned into something resembling a giant swamp, despite the much appreciated efforts of the Wacken crew to fix this with bales of hay.

We would like to take this opportunity to say a big thank you to the Wacken organization: Thank you guys for your hospitality and for organizing one of the biggest European metalfestivals. A note to the organization however, this year there was still little improvement concerning sanitary facilities. The men’s toilets right next to the entry to the photopit caused us quite some grief. Besides the terrible smell we found ourselves ankle-deep in other people’s waste on more than one occasion. In addition to this, there were only 6 gents’ toilets and 8 showers in the backstage area which resulted in long queues.
To top this we realized that we had a flat tire when we had just finished loading the bus! It was a hard task changing this in the wet grass but we managed in the end and so we set off on our long journey home.

Wacken 2006 will take place from august 3-5 and the first bands have already been confirmed: Children of Bodom, Subway to Sally, Soilwork, In Extremo, The Apocalyptischen Reiter and more. The first 10000 limited X-mass tickets will be for sale shortly. Rain or Shine, Wacken 2006!!!

 

To see more photo's from this festival, just go to the photo section of this website.