The highlight of the festival season is the annual Wacken Open Air festival. Three days of heavy metal music, without any breaks. Can you dig that!!?? Besides that, it’s the perfect place to meet up with all your friends, because it’s also some kind of metal reunion with old acquintances and friends every year. The bill consisted of a few very interesting names this year, like the first ever gig of WARLORD and ROTTWEILLER in Europe, a reunion gig of CANDLEMASS, the return of ROSE TATTOO at the Wacken festival, an amazing gig of the NWOBHM legends BLITZKRIEG and an awesome performance of the Japanese true metal warriors of METALUCIFER. With these names, I already told you our highlights of this years festival. There were also three very interesting bands for Metal Maidens. But I will get to them during this story. There were also a few cancellations, like every other year. HALFORD cancelled his appearance because of other commitments in the USA, while ANGEL DUST’s drummer left the band, just a few weeks before the festival. LOCK UP cancelled their gig, because Shane and Jesse were recording their new album with NAPALM DEATH, and they found this more important than playing at the Wacken festival. RAVEN had to cancel at an earlier phase, because of an accident that happened to Mark Gallagher. A six metre wall fell on him and injuried his leg. The reason, why CHURCH OF FREAKS had to cancel, remains to be unknown until today. It’s a shame they didn’t play, because it was supposed to be a heavy metal band with a lot of great show elements. And Slymenstra Hymen (GWAR) is one of the band members of this new outfit. For us, it was very sad, that they cancelled their gig on Thursday. What did happen at Wacken Open Air 2002 is captured in this review. We did our very best, to update you as good as possible about most of the bands. We walked for miles, made a lot of nice pictures and wrote the next impression..Fasten your seat belts, because here we go!!!!
Thursday, August 1st, 2002.
NIGHT TO REMEMBER
Finally a day off, but I have to get up earlier than on a normal working day. This is not without a special reason, because we have a long way of travelling ahead of us. This afternoon the first bands will get on stage for the annual Wacken Open Air festival. The festival is sold out for the first time in their thirteen years of existence. Congratulations! Because we don’t want to miss anything, I jump (read: stumble) out of bed at five o’clock in the morning. After a nice hot cup of coffee (otherwise I can’t put one foot before the other) and a visit to the cash dispenser, we’re ready to leave for a long trip. After leaving Hamburg behind us, we already see the signs, that lead us to our first destination: Itzehoe. And in particular Hellion records – the store of Jürgen Hegewald and his crew. This shop is like a paradise for metal fans! When my budget wouldn’t say ‘no’ on time, I could easily buy the whole joint. They sell stuff, that you can’t find anywhere else. Right after our visit to Hellion, we check in at our hotel, which is only a few blocks away. It’s there where we meet one of our good friends, who is a photographer for Rock Tribune, Belgium. The party starts right now, and after a short visit to the bathroom, we’re on our way to the festival area, which is a ten minute drive from Itzehoe. Right before the festival site, there is a big surprise waiting for us already: an intensive police control. The cars with a Dutch or a Belgian license plate are pulled off the road, to investigate if we don’t carry any drugs or weapons. We only have a few apples and two tins of soda with us, so they don’t find anything at all. Nonetheless, we wait there for almost fifteen minutes, which is a waste of time. When we finally arrive in Wacken, we notice that the queue in front of the ticket boot is quite long. We see some of our friends there too , so the waiting isn’t that bad. The second ‘pleasant’ surprise is that we have to pay for the photo pass. Each photographer has to pay €20 for a photo pit pass, and gets this ‘beautiful’ red jacket. You’ll get your money back at the end of the festival though. We also have to pay another €10 to park our car at the festival site. Who cares though, we came to see the bands, right?!???
Our timing couldn’t have been better. We were only ten minutes at the festival site, when the first band started to play already under the cloak of “Night To Remember”. They’re called MESSIAH’S KISS, a German metal band with an American singer. They really impressed me, although their debut album “Prayer For The Dying” still isn’t out yet. Besides the title track of this album, we hear songs like “Dream Evil”, “Blood, Sweat And Tears”, “When Night Comes Down” and “Thunderball”. The big man in this band is frontman Mike Tirelli of course, who some of you might know from his work with HOLY MOTHER and JACK STARR. He gives this power metal band just that little extra, they need to convince the audience of their strength. A good start of this thirteenth edition of Wacken Open Air.
Next on are KOTIPELTO. Timo Kotipelto is, besides being the frontman of STRATOVARIUS, the singer in this solo outfit. It’s also the only show of the band outside of Finland. They play a very secure gig. Their sound is a bit more melodic than STRATOVARIUS. Besides “Love Of Eternity”, “Night And Wisdom”, “Battle Of The Gods”, and “Beginning” from the debut album “Waiting For The Dawn”, they also played a nice version of the QUEENSRYCHE classic “I Don’t Believe In Love”. A great ending of this nice debut gig.
BLAZE proved that he is a good frontman, especially after he left IRON MAIDEN to persue a solo career. And you must admit, when you attended the show, that he convinced the visitors again of his strength as a solo performer. The way he walks, the way he talks and the way he acts are an exact copy from his IRON MAIDEN days. Something, we also noticed with BRUCE DICKINSON, later on this weekend. Nobody seems to care about it however, and BLAZE really shows his best side with this gig. We get to hear tight versions of songs like “Kill & Destroy”, “Sillicon Messiah”, “Stare At The Sun”, “Ghost In The Machine”, “The Tenth Dimension” and the IRON MAIDEN classic “Man On The Edge”.
DORO doesn’t have to prove herself anymore. This lady knows to give away a good performance. DORO is so popular in her homecountry, that she could be on the bill every year. And everybody who feels the need to criticise her has to visit one of her shows, to be convinced that she’s still a very hot metal lady!! She’s one of the two metal ladies, that were on the bill this year, and for us it’s a great opportunity to spend some extra attention to her. All-time favorites like “Für Immer”, “Burning The Witches”, “All We Are” and “Hellbound” are mixed with new songs like “Fight” and “Always Live To Win”. DORO also has some kind of red-eyed monster on stage during her performance, but the deeper meaning of this monster is not really clear to us. DORO says goodbye to her fans with the “Metal Tango”. The rain has already started to fall down during DORO’s gig, and at the end of her show, it’s raining cats and dogs. Our evening dinner is spoiled this way.
The storm, that followed right after this, was already predicted, but it destroys the whole time schedule. And when ROSE TATTOO is about to start their gig, the festival site has turned into a huge pool of mud. Bring in the mudwrestlers, I should say!! When ROSE TATTOO starts their show, I forget this whole mud mess around me. These guys are living legends for me, and the crowd goes really wild. Tears from joy fill my eyes, this is really a great performance! “Assault And Battery”, “Nice Boys”, “The Butcher And Fast Eddy”, “One Of The Boys”, “Rock And Roll Outlaw”, “Rock And Roll Is King”, “Bad Boy For Love”, “Astra Wally” and “Union Man” are all part of the great set, these Australians play. And the rain keeps pouring down. The band has to come back for some encores. They decide to play “We Can’t Be Beaten” and “Suicide City”, where Angry Anderson does his ‘strangle act’ again. What a great headliner of the first evening!! Getting away from the parking place was the next mudfight, we had to get ourselves into. And, if a few nice Germans didn’t push our car out of the mud, I guess that we would still be standing there at the backstage area. I’ll not get too detailed about the mess that we were in, but you can believe me, that I was not amused by this at all. A bad ending of a great first day, but you can only blame the ‘God Of Thunder’ for the bad weather. And we still had two more days to go, so we were still very fresh (ahum!).
Friday, August 2nd, 2002.
Why do great bands always play so early at festivals? And why does a great band like STORMWARRIOR play at 10 o’clock in the morning? I just don’t get it When this great band jumps on stage, most of the people are still asleep. We parked our car outside the festival area, where there’s no mud. We had to walk for about ten minutes, but that’s better than having your car pulled out of the mud for a second time. STORMWARRIOR is a superb opener. This band is from Hamburg, and they’re playing in their own backyard, so to speak. They’ve just released their debut album “Thou Will Never Understand”, which is presented to the audience in a very decent way. Speedmetal, with influences of old HELLOWEEN and old RUNNING WILD stuff. Songs like “Warrior”, “Deceiver”, “The Axewielder” and “Iron Prayers” sound great and the people, who are there, react very enthusiasticly.
On the other stage, things start off a bit more modest, with a melodic rock band from Spain called AVALANCH. The compositions of the songs are good, and the band knows how to wake up the visitors of the Party Stage in a good way. The first band that plays at the so called Black Stage, the valhalla of the black and death metal fans, is VOMITORY. A band that makes a cruel mix of bands like ENTOMBED, CELTIC FROST and NILE. Brutal and without compassion. It must have been good, if I look at the reaction of the audience. But this music is not exactly my cup of tea. I’m more into the old NWOBHM stuff and US Metal stuff. And that’s what you will see in the rest of my review too, I guess. REBELLION is a band with a good future ahead of them Their enthusiasm is very big, and their bassplayer is a real master in making eye contact with the fans. A few months ago they already played a big gig in Germany, when they supported RUNNING WILD. The band contains of ex members of WARHEAD, BLACK DESTINY, ANNIHILATOR and GRAVE DIGGER, and their music also shows some comparision to the sound of GRAVE DIGGER. DOMINE is a true metal band from Italy, that I like a lot. I even like their sound better than the sound of RHAPSODY, for example.
Many people will definitily not agree with me, but I really love to shout along with a song like “Thunderstorm”. And to raise my fist in the air during this great battle hymn! Besides this song, they also played songs like “Dragonlords” and “On The Barricades”, where their guitar player played a part of “Die Wahlkühre” of Richard Wagner. On the other stage, we go “Into The Armageddon” again with our Swedish guides of NECROPHOBIC. The band presents us songs from their new album “Blood Hymns” in a way, that must be described as very convincing. DORNENREICH sounds a bit more modest on the Party Stage. And we can’t say they’re making a real party on the Party Stage. The atmosferic black metal of this band from Austria sounds much more convincing on CD, than on stage. The orchestral parts come from a tape, which makes their performance a bit static. IRON SAVIOR present us their new album “Condition Red” this weekend. Remarkable fact is, that they didn’t only play great metal songs like “Night Fever”, but they also pulled out a sort of metal version of the SEAL song “Crazy”. I wouldn’t call this METAL!
What did sound like true metal to me was the performance of WOLF. They can be seen as the new messiahs of the metal scene of today. The new millenium version of JUDAS PRIEST or IRON MAIDEN, so to speak. They play the sound, that is so recognisable for these two bands. They also started their career this way. WOLF really knew to catch my attention. I had to divide this attention however. On the Black Stage started a very promising gig of DEBRIS INC. A band, from which I expected quite a lot, because it contains SAINT VITUS frontman Dave Chandler and TROUBLE bass player Ron Holzner. They didn’t convince me for the full hundred percent though. The band spitted at the music scene of today. Dave rant on about the music business and MTV. Songs like “Pain” and “Full Of Shit” are about the bad musical climate of today, and this needed some doomy melodies. But the songs never got real slow or doomy. This job was beholded for ‘the emperors of doom metal’ CANDLEMASS, later on that night. Maybe they were a bit disappointing, but it’s always good to see some living legends on stage again. Then it was time for the only Brazilian act on the bill of Wacken this year. And however they play a whole different type of music, the enthusiasm of ANGRA can be compared to the enthusiasm of SEPULTURA in their years supreme. (read: with Max Cavalera).
ANGRA had a beautiful backdrop and they played a great set. A set that contained of songs like “Nova Era”, “Acid Rain”, “Angels Cry”, “Rebirth”, “Nothing To Say” and “Carry On”. Besides that, we also were treated on a nice percussion part, in which every band member played a big drum that was hanging around their necks. They really went wild, and their enthusiasm went over to the hungry audience. Great performance, and I think Brazil can be proud of ANGRA!!
After this I had to rush to another stage, where a Japanese metal orgasm started. METALUCIFER….. Either you worship them, or you think that they’re absolutely over the top. I loved every single second that Gezol (who also plays in the Japanese black metal band SABBAT) was on stage with his band. The NWOBHM like sound of this band is a mix of the best of ACCEPT, JUDAS PRIEST, IRON MAIDEN, SAXON and ANGELWITCH. The band was completed by members of the German heavy metal band METAL INQUISITOR on guitar and drums. During “Heavy Metal Chainsaw”, a guy showed up with a chainsaw to complete this Japanese metal party. At the end, the guitar player smashed his beautiful purple Flying V guitar, and threw the remaining parts into the public. An awesome gig, and definitily one of the highlights of the whole festival for me. I hope that these guys come back real soon. I really had to go backstage for a short moment to congratulate these guys with their great show.
I just got back in time to see Ronnie Atkins and Ken Hammer climb on stage with PRETTY MAIDS. They still play a melodic kind of metal, in which the keyboard parts are getting bigger and bigger every time I see them. I am glad to see, that they ended their gig with a smashing version of “Back To Back”, that was definitely the highlight of their show for me. Maybe they could give it a bit more power next time. BORKNAGAR constantly changes singers. They change their singers so often, that it’s always a surprise who will go on stage this time. Vintersorg, their new singer, seems to be their new frontman now, who sounded very convincing to me. SAVATAGE also has a new singer, and they also had another surprise for us. Jeff Waters of ANNIHILATOR, showed up as their guitarplayer. A guest role, but a very nice surprise indeed. It remains to be seem, if the new SAVATAGE singer will become a long term member of the band.The man is a great singer, but I don’t think that he really fits within the rest of the band, if you’re only judging him on his looks and charisma. Their set was a ‘best of’ show consisting of songs like “Gutter Ballet”, “Sirens”, “Hall Of The Mountain King”, “Believe” and “Power Of The Rock”. I’m convinced though, that their performance lacks the power of their gigs in the early eighties. The audience loved every single second of their gig, and that’s what counts.
DRAGONLORD is a band, based on the ex TESTAMENT members Eric Petersen and Steve Smyth. Their music is much softer though, than the ‘steam train metal’ of TESTAMENT. The use of keyboards isn’t really disturbing either. They played very tight and songs like “Spirits In The Mist”, “Rapture” and “Born To Darkness” were really nice, but I must admit I’d expected a bit more power of these DRAGONLORDS. No, for a real splash show, you had to see DESTRUCTION on the Black Stage. What a vicious attack! Schmier was the first one, who gave his audience real fireworks, next to the high level of musical ‘destruction’. They played great versions of songs like “Nailed To The Cross”, “The Butcher Strikes Back”, “Eternal Ban” and “Bestial Invasion”, and turned the whole Wacken site into one big moshpit! It was very original, that a few DESTRUCTION fans walked around in butcher suits, totally covered with blood instead of a black teeshirt with a horror logo on it. On one of the other stages, we were treated to a good performance of PUNGENT STENCH from Austria. The band is doomed to stay in the underground scene, but they played a hell of a set. They undressed themselves from their black preachers outfit, which got the interest from many female visitors. You won’t see a technical death metal band play on stage in their lingerie too often, I think.
BRUCE DICKINSON is a real hero. And I liked it a lot, that this man didn’t play a regular set at this festival. Okay, songs like “Accident Of Birth” and “Tears Of A Dragon” didn’t come as a real surprise to me. But an IRON MAIDEN song like “Revelations”, from the “Piece Of Mind” album, can at least be called surprisingly. In “Runaway”, he even made time for a rather long drum solo. Bruce did what he liked, and he did it in a very enthusiastic way. It reflected on to the audience, and this proves how professional he must be. It’s a shame, he didn’t jam with BLAZE at Wacken. This would have been the ultimate chance to have both IRON MAIDEN singers at one stage. Bruce also shouted at the camera people, who made it impossible (according to him) to get in proper contact with the people. An almost hilarious scene! And the party continued. First with CHILDREN OF BODOM, the metal heroes from Finland. With their most recent single “Hate Me”, they have a million seller. But I wanted to focus more on the reunion gig of CANDLEMASS, which interested me much more.
A lot more people wanted to see CANDLEMASS, because it was very crowded in front of the stage, when Messiah Marcolin welcomed the crowd. CANDLEMASS easily turned back time for about fifteen years. Messiah is a great frontman, who uses the whole stage to put on his act. And he did a great job during long versions of CANDLEMASS classics like “Mirror, Mirror”, “Solitude”, “At The Gallows End”, “Bewitched” and “The Well Of Souls”. A giant backdrop of the “Epicus, Doomicus, Metallicus” album made the reunion of this cult doom metal band complete. I still remember, that I played truant for one morning, when this album came out. I just wanted to make sure, that I didn’t miss it. I didn’t get to see MY DYING BRIDE. It was getting late already and I didn’t feel like getting more depressed after the black doomy attack of CANDLEMASS. Although I must admit, their new live album “The Voice Of The Wretched” sounds not bad at all. This is why I decided to go backstage to talk to some friends about this great performance of CANDLEMASS. During the set of IN EXTREMO, we got back to the festival site again. IN EXTREMO brings a mix of medieval music and juggling, pyro and acrobatics. The medieval sounds are played by the bagpipes in the band, and they also dress up like medieval minstrels. Every now and then though, the guitarplayer steps forward to show us, this band is suitable for the metalheads as well.
It made the waitng for the last act on the first day easier. And this last act was nothing else but the first gig of WARLORD in eighteen (!!!) long years. Eighteen years, but it really was worth the waiting. William J Tsamis is a great guitarplayer, and he also writes awesome songs. There is one thing though, that I must mention here. I think I’m one of a very few people, who thinks that the voice of Joachim Cans (HAMMERFALL singer) isn’t really suitable for the songs of WARLORD. Joachim is a good frontman, that’s not the issue here. The combination HAMMERFALL-WARLORD is very odd, and it doesn’t really fit in my ‘heavy metal dictionary’. Damien King II was the vocalist of WARLORD for me. Besides that, I was very glad to see this band at last. The new CD “Rising From The Ashes” is a real masterpiece again. And with drummer Mark Zonder, who some of you may remember as ‘Thunderchild’, we also get to see a second original member of this legendary US metal band. Besides old classic songs like “Deliver Us From Evil”, “Lost And Lonely Days” and “Lucifers Hammer”, we also hear great new songs like “Battle Of The Living Dead”, which sounded like it was written for “And The Cannons Of Destruction Have Just Begun”. This is mainly because of the great virtuosity of William’s guitar playing, who was helped out by some Italian session musicians on bass, rhythm guitar and keyboards. I really hoped that Vidone, William’s wife and singer of William’s other band LORDIAN GUARD, would sing during one of the songs. But this didn’t happen. What did happen was that they called in the help of HAMMERFALL guitar player Oscar Dronjak, during the last song of the set. Joachim directly spend all his attention to his bandmate, and so the attention slowly swept away from WARLORD to HAMMERFALL. Despite this, WARLORD was one of the highlights of this whole festival for me. After the gig, William showed his daughter to the audience, that was still shouting for more. It was a nice ending of the first day. At the end of this day, I realised that I had missed bands like HEAVENLY, MOB RULES and EISREGEN, who all played at the so called Wet Stage, which was situated in a big tent. I was destined to go to the tent on the second day. A second day, that was also very full, so no time to waste. We got back to Itzehoe in a hurry and found our bed there at about four o’clock in the morning. At eight o’clock, the alarm would go off again for round three.
Saturday, August 3rd, 2002.
Do zombies exist, dear metalfriends? I think they do. I saw one in the mirror at eight o’clock this very morning! Four hours of sleep isn’t too much, but after a nice cup of coffee (remember?) and a good solid breakfast we were ready to go again. The second day began with a highlight already. Maybe it’s better to say that the second day started with two highlights at the same time. On one stage STORMWITCH started their show, opening with the title track of the new album “Dance With The Witches”. I will see them live in Holland soon, so I decided to focus myself on the other stage.
I already heard the first notes of ROTTWEILLER, a great US Metal band, who were really playing a hell of a show. They played a secret gig in Itzehoe already on Wednesday, as support act for WARLORD. And they also kicked some serious ass there, for a small crowd. For a good metal band, you had to get up very early. ROTTWEILLER was playing for a handfull of diehard fans, at ten in the morning. I wonder why a band from the USA, makes a long trip to Europe to play at a two days festival at ten o’clock in the morning, while everyone is still asleep? Some of the drunken visitors had just found their tent at that time of day. People, who missed this show, just don’t realise what they’ve missed, I guess. ROTTWEILLER already completed their ‘new’ CD “Screams Of The Innocent” in 1985. The diehard US Metal fans will know enough now, I guess. We are dealing with a cult name in the scene, that easily could be compared with names like HALLOWEEN (USA), CULPRIT or S.A. SLAYER. These names got in my head, when I saw this band play. ROTTWEILLER opened their set with a guitar solo. Honnestly, which other band would do this today?? No rules, just do what you like. That was definately the attitude of this band. We heard perfect versions of great metal anthems like “Seduction From Hell”, “No Escape”, “Where Am I” and “Intense As Hell”, completed with long, fabulous guitarwork. Mindblowing!
EVERGREY had the difficult task to play on the same stage, after this band, and maybe that’s why I didn’t like their gig too much. They also had some problems with their sound, which didn’t make things easier for them. WIZARD from Germany, raised the roof. They really had something happening on stage. In almost every song there were explosions, pyro, firespitting or bloodspitting. A very joyfull performance, which was opened with "Hammer, Bow, Axe And Saw". A great song to sing along to, and the perfect opener. Besides that, we heard classics like “Head Of The Deceiver”, “Iron Rod”, “Bound By Metal” and “Defenders Of Metal”. They also played a new song, which showed some influences of the great MANOWAR sound. Last year WIZARD had to cancel their show for unfortunate (personal) reasons, but this year they came back for their revenge. What a great beginning of this second day. The black souls among us were satisfied by AMON AMARTH, who were on next. “Masters Of War”, “Ride For Vengeance”, “Death In Fire”, “Annihilation Of Hammerfest” and “Victorious March” were fired at the hungry public.
After that, VICIOUS RUMORS entertained the crowd. And with songs like “Digital Dictator”, “Down To The Temple” and “Don’t Wait For Me”, they succeeded very easily. Geoff Thorpe got some help, in the middle of the set, from a bull with a guitar that called himself Horny Henry. A gimmick, that doesn’t really match a band like VICIOUS RUMORS, whose music exists for about twenty years already. This guest performance wasn’t really necessary, but the band played a great tight set. The music of MACABRE is not my personal taste. I have to admit though, that the funny stories they told inbetween their songs, made me laugh a lot. But it wouldn’t be a good idea to repeat what these guys were saying, otherwise Metal Maidens would have to censurate them. People who would love to hear more bloody, gore details should go to one of the shows of the band. You’ll find out, what I mean then. NUCLEAR ASSAULT also got back together again. The band is based around former ANTHRAX members Dan Lilker and John Connely. They were the first band, that mixed speed metal with hardcore. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, but for many people these guys are real heroes. Nobody could wait, until they started to play “Hang The Pope”.
FALCONER is definately more modest. The band has got some very nice musical ideas. That surely is not their weak spot. Songs like “Decadence Of Dignity”, “Mind Traveler”, “A Quest For The Bound” and “Lament Of A Minstrel” have got a good song structure, and sound just a little bit better than the average metal song. Their singer Matthias Blad could show a little bit more charisma though. This man is a grey spot on stage, which doesn’t fit with the enjoyable music of this band. I must be very positive about the musical capacity of these German “Falconers” though.
IMMORTAL may not be missed, when they play at a festival. Their appearance on stage is already eye-catching, and besides that you can say these Norwegian giants are the personification of the black metal scene for many of the diehard fans. Their genius thoughts of song structures, mixed with the enervating stage presentation make them belong to the top of the black metal scene. Even people, who are not too familiar with the black metal scene, might get interested when they hear the great sound of IMMORTAL. When Abbat walks on stage, the crowd turns into a madhouse. Songs like “Damned In Black” and “One By One” were sung by thousands of hysterical fans. After one hour, their triumph was over and we were ready for EXODUS. The sad thing about this whole gig, is that we missed Paul Baloff of course. It didn’t seem to bother these Bay Area legends. This whole gig was dedicated to the memory of Paul. And they really showed the world, that EXODUS is still going strong today, with their great speed metal sound. Who doesn’t recognise great songs like “Bounded By Blood” and “Piranha”? They also played a complete new song. They dedicated “And Then There Were None” to Paul Baloff. This really proved the “f*ck everything” mentality of this band.
The same mentality can be found back by Kimberly Goss and her band SINERGY. This band convinced me a lot of their strength, and they played a very tight set. Kimberly was the second Metal Maiden on the Wacken stage this weekend. It’s a shame, this gig didn’t take place a few months later. Otherwise we would have witnessed new bandmember Melanie Sisneros (NEW EDEN/THE IRON MAIDENS) on stage, too. Maybe next year. Alex Laiho (CHILDREN OF BODOM) had to climb on stage for the second time this weekend. Things got funny when Kimberly started to rant about the fact, they’d put the wrong picture to their story in the festival brochure. ARCH ENEMY (a band, that would’ve fitted on this festival very well, by the way), instead of SINERGY! The set was filled with killers like “The Bitch Is Back”, “Beware The Heavens”, “Gallowmere”, “Venomous Vixens”, “I Spit On Your Grave” and “Suicide By My Side”. During “I Spit…”, Kimberly asked us to spit on the floor, or to a person that we hate. This way, we never get rid of useless violence. Kimberly simply ruled the stage, and it was good to see this metal lady again. After this, the time schedule got screwed up big time. Yesterday, people missed the CANDLEMASS gig through this. So we had to be really carefully, because we didn’t want to miss a thing here.
VANDENPLAS is a regular visitor on the Dutch stages, so I only watched their technically perfect set for a little while. My interest went out to the Wet Stage (finally) for the show of DREAM EVIL, in which we find back Snowy Shaw of KING DIAMOND, ILLWILL, MEMENTO MORI and NOTRE DAME. Their gig started a bit later than expected, because of some technical difficulties. The tent was well filled, and their set consisted of songs from their debut album “Dragonslayer”. I like this album, but it’s not a killer, if I may say so. Snowy’s drumparts were played remarkably tight. They went through songs like “Kingdom Of The Damned”, “Save Us”, “The 7th Day”, “In Flames You Burn” and “The Prophecy”.
Because of this, I missed HYPOCRISY, but I came back just in time to see a part of EDGUY. The band around Tobias Sammet came to Rotterdam earlier this year, together with HEAVENLY, NOSTRADAMEUS and LULLACRY. And right then, they already sounded very professional. They reached that status again on the Wacken stage. Remarkable was the fact, that Tobias and his band played "Avantasia”, from Tobias’ side project AVANTASIA. But of course they also pulled out a lot of songs from their 2001 release “Mandrake”. The band left the stage during a tape of the Tiroler yodelsong “Die Tiroler Holzackerbüben”.
At the same time EDGUY was playing, we were also seeing a reunion of HEATHEN. Again we had to deal with severe technical problems. It looked like their bass player just came back from the original Woodstock festival. He started this gig with the unforgettable quote “Free Beer For Everyone”. It would have been a good idea, the festival was sold out after all! But it didn’t come any further than this remarkable quote. Ira Black was very busy. He just left the stage with VICIOUS RUMORS, and now he had to play again as a guest guitar player. The audience loved every second of their set. I play their album “Breaking The Silence” very regularly. At the end of the set, they announced a cover of what would be one of the biggest influences in music history. For a moment, my thoughts went out to “Set Me Free”, a song played by SAXON, which was originally recorded by THE SWEET. Instead, they did “Holy War” (THIN LIZZY), which really gave me the shivers! Great show! Then it was time to get ready for one of the most brutal bands of this years festival, CANNIBAL CORPSE. They played really loud, and can be seen as one of the hottest acts in the death metal scene. After that, we were supposed to see the highlights of this festival, a two hour show of BLIND GUARDIAN. They started to warn us already, that it was forbidden to use flash lights, when taking pictures. And even before they started to play a single note, we decided to skip this gig.
We rushed to the Wet Stage, where we were in for some history lessons with NIGHTMARE (from France) and the NWOBHM legends BLITZKRIEG. NIGHTMARE played at Wacken two years ago for the first time. They already impressed me back then, with their enthusiastic performance. And this gig was even better. Fast, ripping guitar solos, and a constant moving frontman made this gig to a real metal celebration.
BLITZKRIEG was banned from the Party Stage to the tent, which is a crying shame of course. Reason enough for Brian Ross and the guys to turn their gig into one big metal party. Brian Ross was as sympathic as usual, and he raised the roof during the opener “Inferno”. What followed afterwards, was one of the coolest performances I’ve ever seen from this band! “Rock Forever”, “Legion”, “Dark City”, “Unholy Trinity”, “Feel The Pain”, “Metalised” (a new song, which sounded a lot like the best work of JUDAS PRIEST - absolutely awesome!!) and the METALLICA cover “Blitzkrieg” (or was it the other way around? I can’t remember this anymore?!) were fired at the hungry crowd. You won’t believe it, if you didn’t see it with your own eyes! This gig was so cool, that I would like to ask the people of the organisation to bring in more NWOBHM bands like this, because this really asked for much more. After the show there was enough time to do a signing/photo session with the fans, at the side of the stage. For me, the festival was over after seeing these two awesome bands. Nothing would sound interesting anymore after this ‘BLITZKRIEG over Wacken’. I realised, that I had just missed the show of SABBAT, which is a cryin’ shame. But hey, you can’t have it all, can you? You have to make choices in life and it’s absolutely impossible to see every band here.
While the BLIND GUARDIAN guys were already sleeping, KREATOR was desperately trying to keep the crowd awake. And they succeeded of course, because Mille and his band still know how to thrash the shit out of their fans. UDO was on next. There was a rumour that Biff of SAXON would do a guest performance with UDO, but that didn’t happen. UDO played a sort of ‘best of’ gig, in which he also played a lot of ACCEPT classics. The after party was done by HAGGARD on one stage and ONKEL TOM on the other stage. ONKEL TOM claimed that "There was no beer on Hawaï".... Well, I guess so, but you have to be in the mood to watch this. HAGGARD played a good set, which was almost similar to the gig they played on the most recent live CD/DVD “Awakening The Gods-Live In Mexico”. HAGGARD brought the whole orchestra on stage, and a few female singers as well. This makes them the third band on the festival, with female musicians in their line up. After this, my eyes simply refused to stay open and we decided to change our red jackets for money and say goodbye to the festival site. It was time to count back from three hundred and sixty five to zero.
Next year, you can expect a live show of STRATOVARIUS, which is already confirmed. It’ll be the only Open Air show of the band in Germany. And hopefully HALFORD will make up for his cancellation. I’ve got some other nice suggestions on my list, too. I was thinking of HALLOWEEN (US), RAVEN, IRON CROSS (US), MYTHRA (they’ve recently reformed, and got a new album out, callled “The Darkener”!), MANOWAR, and TED NUGENT. If I’d have to choose bands with females in their line up, I would think of THE GREAT KAT, RAVENS’ HEAD, HELLION (Ann Boleyn), GIRLSCHOOL, PHANTOM BLUE (with Jeannine St. Clair) and ARCH ENEMY. But these are just a few names, I can think of right now.
The oldies at this year’s Wacken festival deserved the most respect, as they delivered the goods the best. Black and death metal are gaining a lot of popularity with the visitors of this festival though. And it was quite remarkable, that the organisation didn’t put any Dutch bands on the bill this year. GODDESS OF DESIRE has got a new album out, for instance. The prices on the festival site were high, but after all you’ll only get Wacken Open Air once a year. We’ll get back to you again next year, if we may (July 31 – Aug. 2, 2003) ‘Rain or shine’, so don’t miss it!!!
We’d like to thank Sheree, Holger, Thomas (ICS/WOA) and Eske (CMM) for another great festival!!
Written by: Toine van Poorten
Photos by: Rita van Poorten-Wiegel & Toine van Poorten (Wolf & Immortal)
(Printed in ROCK BRIGADE (Brazil)/Sept.2002)