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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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