Well, here it is. Part two of our exclusive coverage of Wacken Open Air 2012. This edition will cover days three and four and showcase bands such as Napalm Death, Six Feet Under, Testament, Scorpions, Cradle Of Filth, Amon Amarth, Nasum, Machine Head, and Ministry. For those of you who have never been, Wacken is an unreal experience. It is literally like being on another planet, an awesome heavy metal fantasy planet that you never want to leave. Everyone is walking around screaming WACKEN and throwing the horns up constantly, so if you want to make friends that is about all it takes. If you haven’t read part 1 of our exclusive coverage yet it’s highly recommended you do and can be found by clicking the link right here. When you’re ready to take the plunge into reading part 2 and checking out more exclusive pictures you can click right here.
First off, for me Wacken is something so amazing it’s almost impossible to put into words, it’s the festival that every other festival wishes it could be but never will. The first time I went back in 2010 I said that it was the best time I ever had doing anything period. Now I’m not so sure. This year was equally as good if not better and I wish I was back over there right now. I live in America and normally go to shows here, but nothing over here could have ever prepared me for what I was getting into. Wacken Open Air is simply impossible to compare with the American metal scene for too many reasons to list.
With almost 100,000 metal heads converging on a giant field for 4 days straight you would expect violence, drugs, a huge police force, and a relatively small amount of females attending. I know I did when I first showed up two years ago, well let me tell you that it is exactly the opposite. The violence is almost nonexistent, for the most part there is only alcohol (and a LOT of it), the festival is handled quite well by an amazing security force that only wants people to have fun, and it is a lot like a family affair over there. You have such a mix of people from both sexes, every walk of life, every country, and every age group that it is absolutely mind blowing. The camp grounds are so big that it’s almost impossible not to get lost at night time, but that doesn’t matter. You’ll always find people camping and willing to let you grab a beer, hang out and talk for a while. It’s unreal.
I never made it back to the camp site once before the sun came up and some nights I would just wander around and meet people for hours on end. There are friends and families that have done this for so long that they will set up literal compounds with trailers, generators, and even build giant two story bars for people to come party in with them. Amazingly everyone speaks english very well too and are usually amazed to find out that you came all the way from America “just” for Wacken. We made tons of friends from all over the planet the first year and possibly made even more this year. The level of hospitality and camaraderie is unmatched. The police are in town and will come into the grounds as needed, but for the most part the festival security is polite and lets you get away with pretty much anything. If you are walking in town, which you probably will at a few points, you can chug beers on the street in front of the police and cause a general ruckus without them so much as batting an eye. They may even smile and throw up the horns. In 2010 I was standing on the Beer Garden picnic tables with about 50 drunk Germans watching Iron Maiden and screaming out lyrics as loud as we possibly could. The tables were rocking and people were falling off left and right. I was amazed that tough guy bouncers weren’t spear tackling us all one by one, but they didn’t need to because people self regulate to a large degree. I don’t think anyone wants to be the guy or girl that ruins the fun for everyone. The other thing too was that you could get as drunk as you wanted and literally take a whiz anywhere you pleased (obviously a few places like the food vendor tents were off limits) and the worst case scenario would be that the bouncers would throw you on an ATV and get you back to your camp safe and sound. You would probably end up in jail and labeled a sex offender in the states for anything even remotely close to what you can get away with there.
Really the only thing that sucks is the toilets and the fact that it rained every day this year. The rain was pretty awesome at times but our tent collapsed and everything I brought got totally soaked. At times the mud would be knee deep in certain places leaving them virtually impassible and by half way through the first day the toilets had shit all over the inside of them and even though they cleaned them every morning. It seemed like the pile of shit in them was almost always high enough to touch your balls. The flushing toilets in certain places were slightly better but still smelled of hatred depending on the time of day. Oh wait, I meant at every time of day.
Anyways, enough of my ranting about the awesomeness that is Wacken Open Air for now and onto the review of the final two amazing days. I rolled into camp pretty drunk, very wet, and VERY muddy sometime after the sun had come up on Saturday and decided to sleep on a wet chair for a couple hours before we started our day off in the Beer Garden. Napalm Death were just starting out when we rolled up and we had a great view of them from where we were buying beers so we stayed there to check them out. They played perfectly and mostly performed songs from their newest release Utilitarian (solid fucking album by the way) as well. They threw in a few classic gems from Scum, Smear Campaign , etc. as well, but definitely a lot of new stuff was played. The sound quality was great even from where we were sitting and it was a great way to start off the day and get pumped. There were even little kids and their parents hanging out in the beer garden to watch them which we all thought was awesome. It’s also really nice to see a band that has been around as long as they have absolutely kill it with new music.
Next up was Six Feet Under. We caught most of their set and even though I’m not a huge Chris Barnes fan it was honestly pretty good. The sound quality was not as good as Napalm, but still alright for where we were. They really pleased the crowd by playing some old Cannibal Corpse stuff and a lot from Maximum Violence as well. I think there was only one song from Undead, and they closed the show off with a cover of T.N.T. by AC/DC which was actually alright. After that we headed over to the viking ship bar and in what has become a morning tradition for us started drinking mead before we headed off into the True Metal/Black Metal Stage area to check out some bands a little more close up.
Testament was up next and HOLY FUCK!!! They absolutely ruled. The sound was unreal, they played everything perfectly and the crowd was way into it. They played a lot of new stuff from their new release Dark Roots Of Earth and owned all of it it all along with a handful of things from prior albums. It was really cool to see a band that’s been doing this for such a long time get up there and blow everyone away like they used to when they were kids. We were a little skeptical at first but I honestly can’t say enough good things about Testament. They were perfect and it was pretty obvious that they were having a really great time up there. I can only hope that they keep rocking like that for a long, long time because that’s the type of band that will inspire new generations of metal fans.
Now before I talk about this next band let me just say that I hate them and wish they would die. Well, maybe at least get in a bad car accident haha. The only reason we stayed was so that we could get a good spot for Amon Amarth at the stage next to them. Yup you guessed it, I’m talking about Cradle Of Filth. Wow what a pretentious pile of shit that whole thing was. Between Dani Filth’s ear piercing shrieks, and prancing around on stage, right down to the fanboys and girls that came out of the woodwork to see him, it made me want to be sick. You could tell that all the people off to the side were just waiting for Amon Amarth and a lot of boos and thumbs downs were given. Luckily people walk around with giant beer dispenser backpacks so we could just focus on drinking enough to drown out the sounds of tortured cats coming from the stage and getting pumped for Amon Amarth. It’s no wonder that rules 1 through like 100 of metal are DON’T BE DANI FILTH. Sometimes I can’t help but wonder how well he gets along with his dad.
OK, so back to reality. Did I mention the next band was Amon Amarth??? They had a giant backdrop on the stage with the artwork for Surtur Rising on it and it really looked pretty awesome. They started out with “War Of The Gods” and played an awesome mix of songs from most of their albums. There was a lot from Surtur Rising, With Odin On Our Side, and Versus The World. The sound quality was pretty good, but not quite as good close up. Either way it was amazing. I got elbowed in the gut pretty hard and lost my wind but it didn’t matter because I was seeing fucking Amon Amarth at Wacken. Highlights were definitely “Runes To My Memory”, “Death In Fire”, “Cry Of The Blackbirds”, “Twilight Of The Thunder God”, and “Guardians Of Asgard”. You know what, scratch that. Every song was a highlight, they were just great and an amazing redemption for the entire place after seeing that horrible pile of shit band before them. So once again, remember the rules of metal and don’t be Dani Filth. If you want to actually see a pro-shot video of the set you can click here.
After that we ran from Amon Amarth through the mud and across the grounds to get to the W.E.T. /Headbangers Stages to go see Nasum. Now if you’re not aware, the band tragically lost it’s singer Mieszko Talarczyk in the 2004 tsunami in Thailand and has not been active since. Well amazingly they were able to tap Rotten Sound frontman Keijo Niinimaa for a one off farewell tour and oh man what a good choice. It was grindcore at its absolute finest. They played almost 20 songs and it was all mostly stuff from Human 2.0 and Helvete sprinkled with some Inhale/Exhale and a dash of Shift. It was great to see them do there thing one more time and the chemistry was seamless. They made a good choice for a fill in singer and I think that Mieszko would really be proud of the farewell they gave to us. They still have a few dates left, so if you live in Europe and have the chance to see them definitely do.
When that was over we went to go hang out in the beer garden and eat some food/drink lots more beer. We made a bunch of friends while there and I’m still in touch with several. At one point I was so drunk that I dropped my pizza in the mud and decided to keep eating it, it was ok though because a girl was still willing to share with me haha! We caught a little bit of The Scorpions from the Garden and they sounded…well just like The Scorpions. I believe that was supposed to be their last show ever so I wish I could have caught a little more of it, but at least I got to hear “Rock You Like A Hurricane” even if from a distance. We hung out there in the pouring rain for a while before Tyrus and Dan decided to go back to camp. I think they ended up drinking with some more German kids for a while but that may have been the night before. Check out Tyrus’ review and it may be in there. I stayed to hang out with my new friend Mar Tin and we decided to go and check out Ministry and Machine Head.
I had never seen Machine Head live before and let me just say that they were absolutely fucking mind blowingly amazing. They mostly played stuff from Unto The Locust and Burn My Eyes which was fine with me and everyone else since they’re both solid albums. They sounded so clear and tight that it blew my mind and I can’t wait to get another chance to see them. It really made me respect the shit out of them (not that I didn’t before) and want to get more into their catalogue. You can watch the whole set right here if you’d like. It was a pleasant surprise and I’m glad I stuck around to go and see them, but that was by far not my biggest surprise in a band. My biggest surprise was a band that I have shit on for quite some time now. Yup, go figure it was Ministry.
Ministry is a band I haven’t really liked in years. We used to jam out to them all the time as kids and they had a couple really solid albums back in the day. In my opinion most of the new stuff has been complete shit though and I expected them to suck pretty bad. Wow was I wrong. I’m not sure who Uncle Al has got playing with him right now but they tore the place down. The stage show was amazing too. I feel like they just put in the most effort when compared to just about anyone else. The video screens were playing all sorts of bright colored psychedelic images with the band superimposed on it as they played and it was just cool as hell. I’m still not exactly sure how they were doing it, but I’m sure it’s not that difficult. Just beyond my limited technical understanding. Plus they only played a couple songs off Relapse which I think was in their best interest. It was a good mix and really changed my opinions about them in a lot of ways. Way to go guys! You can actually watch the entire set right here.
After Ministry, Edguy played but we didn’t really stick around. Mar Tin and myself decided to grab some more food and make the trek back to camp. We each grabbed a Doner Kebab (if you don’t know look it up as I lived off them for 4 days and they are the most fucking awesome drunk street food on the planet) and started walking. Now by this time the mud was so bad that it was up to your knees in spots and certain paths were shut down. I fell down pretty bad a couple times and it took us over three hours to get home. I did find my friend’s bar called the Titty Twister while we on the way though so we stopped in for a beer. These were kids I had met in 2010 and holy shit they do it right. Sadly my friend Seven had fallen and broken his arm earlier though so he was passed out in his tent all hopped up on pain meds and I didn’t get to see him. We finished our beers and eventually made it to Mar Tin’s camp where we parted ways. So now I was on my own again, still lost as shit and covered in mud. My first year I got so lost I ended up in a corn field a couple miles away and had to walk all the way through town in the morning so this was really nothing new. It was starting to get light out and I heard some girls giggling close by so I decided to ask for a beer. I walked over and met two of the nicest German girls in the world. They helped me wash my hands off because they were black with mud and we hung out and told stories for a while. It was a great end to the night and a really great end to the festivities in general and I’m forever grateful for their kindness and hospitality. When it was getting pretty light out they pointed me in the right direction and we parted ways. I eventually made it to camp and passed out in the car for a while with the heat on so I would not get pneumonia. Either way, what a day and night!
Sunday we woke up, got all our gear together and tried to clean up the best we could. Everything is closed down pretty early on Sunday so we took a walk around to survey the damage. It’s a little sad because everyone leaves all their trash and most of their gear, but locals walk around and collect whatever they can to recycle before a massive clean up crew comes through. This town sure as hell knows what it is doing. There were literally hundreds of tents left up as far as you could see and the mud was so bad there were craters everywhere from cars getting stuck. Luckily the locals have tractors as it is a farm town for the rest of the year and they are all more than happy to help people get unstuck.
When you finally do leave there are massive amounts of metal heads driving home so it not uncommon to be throwing up the horns every 30 seconds or so while on the road. It is a sight to be seen, that is for sure.
We eventually made it back to Hamburg where our flight was leaving from the next day. We were dirty, bruised, and broken so we decided to get a cheap hotel room and find a laundromat because everything was so wet. Honestly, those were probably the two best decisions we made all week. It’s also absolutely amazing because there are still so many people around that were at Wacken and you are all instantly recognizable to each other. Every one you meet is also asking if you were there and how it was. It’s just such a culture shock because it’s so well known, accepted, and even encouraged. I’m getting a little misty just thinking about it and it makes me want to move to Germany. So if anyone knows any German girls looking for a loveless marriage so I can get a green card please let me know. Seriously.
One of the other mind blowing thing is going through German customs on the way home. At first they look at you a little strange because you are so dirty and tired and then they ask why you were there, but as soon as you mention Wacken they get a huge smile and ask if you had a good time. It makes me wonder what the hell I’m doing in America.
So with all that said, I can’t wait for next year and if anyone out there has the opportunity to go don’t pass it up because it’s unlike anything else on the planet and you are guaranteed to have fun. Sadly one person passed a way this year when they laid down on a canvas covered trailer with a generator running nearby. Reportedly he died from carbon monoxide poisoning. All I can really say is my condolences and deepest sympathy goes out to the family, and at least he died peacefully in a place that he surely loved.
I’d really like to thank my MetalRiot partners in crime Tyrus and Dan, everyone at MetalRiot especially Nich, also Dario and Nick from Century Media, and all the metalheads around the world for making Wacken such an amazing time every year. Until next year, keep on rocking, throw up some horns, and scream WACKEN!!!