Saturday, 06.08.2011featuring Avantasia, Motörhead, Children Of Bodom, Kreator, Iced Earth, Sepultura, Danko Jones, Vreid, Mayhem, Dir En Grey, Kataklysm, Onslaught, Crashdïet, Moonsorrow, Shining [NOR], Ghost and the Metal Storm conclusion
corrupt: Friday started off with a cool breeze and some power metal to wake us up. Primal Fear played a set of their classics and it was nice to see a decent number of people attending despite Ensiferum playing on the black stage. Ralf Scheepers adapted to his audience with strict English announcements and interspersed them with one or the other background story to their songs. The set was quite good and pretty enjoyable for somebody hardly knowing one of their albums. The sound wasn't though. It consisted of mainly drums and singing with an occasional guitar chord carried over. And we were standing pretty much directly next to the audio tower. That and the band finishing 5 minutes early put a little damper on an otherwise pretty good first show of the day.
GT: Friday started with a hard decision: Primal Fear or Ensiferum? As you probably have guessed by the title, I chose Primal Fear. I got to know the band in 2008 when I bought the album Devil's Ground at Wacken, but that was about it. A few guys from my camp told me not to get my hopes up too high, as I would probably be disappointed and leave in favour of Ensiferum. I didn't leave and got a good concert of solid power metal with good crowd interaction and a vocalist who, even though he's German, spoke English, yay! As I'm not familiar with their catalogue I'm not able to tell you if we got the classics or whatever, but I honestly don't mind if we didn't. I had a good time and so did my fellow listeners.
Setlist: Sign of Fear, Chainbreaker, Battalions of Hate, Nuclear Fire, Running in the Dust, 16.6, Seven Seals, Final Embrace, Metal Is Forever
Nefarious: Being the first band up on the main stage can be tough as the majority of the crowd are either still asleep or nursing their hangovers from the previous night. And let's face it, hangovers & bright sunny mornings do not create the best environment for metal gigs. It was quite a shock then to find not only did Ensiferum pull in a decent sized crowd, but it was also one of the most energetic crowds of the entire weekend. I had more crowd surfers land on my head during this set alone than I did during all other sets this weekend combined, and that was while enjoying the show from near the back! Ensiferum played their brand of extreme folk metal perfectly and put on quite a show. My only complaint was their sound, as the keyboards had been cranked up to '11' and was overpowering the rest of the band. Despite this, it's a thoroughly enjoyable set and a good start to the day.
Setlist: By the Dividing Stream, From Afar, Twilight Tavern, Battle Song, Tale of Revenge, Blood Is the Price of Glory, Treacherous Gods, Victory Song, Stone Cold Metal, Iron
Promonex: My day started with the American crossover thrashers Suicidal Tendencies. Cyco Miko and his friends delivered a very enthusiastic show, filled to the brim with groove and attitude, and they easily transferred their enthusiasm onto the crowd. And even though Miko was talking an awful lot about being true to yourself, his sermons never got to the point of becoming annoying. The only downside was the setlist: with "You Can't Bring Me Down" and "Join the Army" they've used up two of their greatest hits right at the start and raised the expectations for what was to come. Sure, one definitely can't complain about the likes of "How Will I Laugh Tomorrow" or "Possessed to Skate", but what we really wanted was a Pepsi. Just one Pepsi. And they wouldn't give it to us…
Setlist: You Can't Bring Me Down, Join the Army, War Inside My Head, Subliminal, Come Alive, Possessed to Skate, Suicidal Failure, How Will I Laugh Tomorrow, Pledge Your Allegiance
corrupt: Skipping Suicidal Tendencies for total lack of interest, the next item on our list was a really special one. I'll spare you the explanations and references to their latest record. CDs are one thing and live shows another. And this live show was amazing. Still suffering from the every-morning sound problems (too much drums, not enough guitar, see Primal Fear), Morbid Angel did their best to deliver a set of classics and new songs that even a guy knowing just a selection of their songs had no problems getting into. They showed so much energy and appreciation there that I was tempted not to move over to Van Canto playing on the party stage. In the end we stayed for about ⅗ of their show and didn't regret a minute. There was a sporting plane in the air with a banner saying "I Am Morbid" that circled around the festival area to celebrate these masters of death metal (yeah, I know) and a huge number of fans to join in on every song.
Setlist: Immortal Rites, Fall from Grace, Rapture, Maze of Torment, Existo Vulgoré, Nevermore, I Am Morbid, Angel of Disease, Chapel of Ghouls, Where the Slime Live, God of Emptiness
Nefarious: For those of you not familiar with them, Van Canto is pretty unique in that they are an a cappella metal band that consists of a drummer & five vocalists who provide all the other sounds. Presuming that they didn't have a very big following and wouldn't attract any curious passersby due to the fact Morbid Angel were playing on the black stage at the same time, we were shocked to see the party stage pretty much full when we arrived. Van Canto put on a great show. It's a little strange listening to the human voice playing the guitar parts, but quite fun and they sang flawlessly. Highlights of the show would have to be their cover of "The Bard's Song" by Blind Guardian as well as their two closing tracks of "Kings of Metal" (Manowar) and Fear of The Dark (Iron Maiden).
GT: After a few beers back at the camp it was time for Van Canto, the crazy a capella metal band. I saw them in 2008 on the W.E.T. Stage. They've grown in popularity since and this time they played at the Party Stage. Like in '08 it was a good party, this time with quite a few of their own songs mixed in between the covers of heavy metal classics. And how great is a festival when you're able to sing along to "The Bard's Song" twice?! The biggest surprise of the concert was a cover of Sabaton's "Primo Victoria", which to my knowledge hasn't been released on any Van Canto release yet. They delivered a good concert and proved to me that they're not just a gimmick band.
corrupt: For about the last 20 minutes of the show we did move over to the Party Stage to grab some Van Canto. When we arrived, they started singing their classic "The Mission" and look here, the sound was awesome. The band was already here in 2008 playing on the W.E.T. stage which was pretty full back then. Now, as they got promoted to the party stage, it became clear how many fans they really have by now. It appears I've missed another trend here as, by my estimation, some 5000+ people were there to party with the band. Despite the good show and awesome sound though, I felt a little like I should have stayed with Morbid Angel. A cappella, challenging as it may be, just doesn't have the same energy as a solid guitar sound. And the feeling proved right as Van Canto finished 4 minutes early, while the terror on the black stage was ongoing.
Setlist: Lost Forever, Wishmaster (Nightwish cover), One to Ten, Rebellion (Grave Digger cover), Primo Victoria (Sabaton cover), To Sing a Metal Song, The Bard's Song (Blind Guardian cover), Water. Fire. Heaven. Earth., The Mission / Master of Puppets (Metallica cover), Kings of Metal (Manowar cover), Fear of the Dark (Iron Maiden cover)
corrupt: Next up another classic in the German scene. Being a frequent flyer in Wacken, Sodom usually know how to lay down a solid show. This year per contra, they completely left out most of their classics and played a show as boring as I've never seen them before. It almost seemed like Tom Angelripper wasn't in the mood to play. His announcements were uninspired and the setlist mediocre at best. Save for a medley at the end, they left out all their German songs. No "Ausgebombt", no "Der Wachturm", no "Die Stumme Ursel" and overall just a few of the evergreens everybody was there for. Instead there were three (and a half - again, the medley) songs from the new album that nobody seemed to care for. What did happen though, were quite a number of walls of death and some huge moshpits. Both of which were used as justification to cut a band's power on this festival in recent years. Just last year, a huge fuss was made about banning circle pits, only to have the festival change their minds and not care at all in the following year. So what we were presented with was a mediocre show with very few highlights, played by a band looking like they'd rather do something else, while the fans passed their time with fatuous violence. Definitely not what we had come for and definitely not what I'm used to from Sodom.
Setlist: In War and Pieces, The Vice of Killing, Outbreak of Evil, The Saw Is the Law, I Am the War, M-16, Feigned Death Throes, The Art of Killing Poetry, Agent Orange, Blasphemer, Remember the Fallen, Stalinorgel / Knarrenheinz / Bombenhagel
Promonex: Of all the bands at this festival, The Prophecy²³ might have suffered the worst scheduling clash of all. Having to play at the same time as one of Germany's greatest thrash bands while performing revivalist thrash metal themselves probably meant that a lot of people, who would have enjoyed these young guys' show as well, were instead standing in front of the Main Stage during their set. TP23 didn't give a damn though and just did their thing. And you could definitely tell how much fun they had to play this festival. Their brand of thrash metal wasn't really original, but it was a whole lot of fun, and so the audience was entertained enough to bang its head and send bodies towards the stage.
corrupt:Sodom, listen up. This is how you play a festival show. Apart from the usual initial sound problems this year, Rhapsody's show was pure brilliance. They did everything right that Sodom just did wrong. They played all their old classics and some surprises, were incredibly cheery and delivered one of the best shows of the day as if it was the most normal thing to do. Never having seen them before (and frankly not having been into them since around turning 17) I was completely blown away by this. Not only did their show specifically seem to target the older fans, they also played some stuff I never would have imagined like "Village Of Dwarves". Fabio Leone was amazing beyond words. He hit every note right and made the show sound truly organic and definitely better than on CD. Luca Turilli had a small podium (quite obviously for emphasis) that he sometimes stood on while performing a solo. But he never managed to remain there for long as he was moving all around the stage playing his incredible riffs so casually and relaxed that it seemed he could use one hand for something else. If they hadn't split up this lineup a few days ago I would have said now that I really looked forward to seeing them again. Now I'm just glad I got this chance one time and will keep this in a wonderful memory.
GT: After quite a few more beers back at the camp the Italian masters of cheese were on the menu: Rhapsody Of Fire. This was one of the concerts that I had been looking forward to the most and again I was not disappointed. They started out with "Triumph Or Agony" and ended with "Emerald Sword". In between, we got classic after classic and my head was pretty much constantly banging. Not much more to say other than if you're a fan and you weren't there... then you really missed out on something great! And, like corrupt, I'm glad I got to see them before they split.
Setlist: Triumph or Agony, Holy Thunderforce, The Village of Dwarves, On the Way to Ainor, Dawn of Victory, Lamento Eroico, Unholy Warcry, The March of the Swordmaster Encore: Reign of Terror, Emerald Sword
corrupt: After Rhapsody, we took our sweet time and had a nice coffee before moving over to see the rest of Trivium. And what we saw there, I'm not sure what to make of. The band definitely were in an excellent mood, executed their music spot-on and had really good sound. Still they failed to amaze me. Maybe it's the fact that I'm not really into their stuff, maybe I was still stunned by Rhapsody. But this show just didn't get me started as much as the one before. Maybe I am a power metal guy after all. To do them justice though, Trivium played a motivated and well-received show with (as far as I can tell) a quite solid setlist containing at least "A Gunshot to the Head of Trepidation", "Like Light to the Flies" and "Pull Harder on the Strings of Your Martyr". They also had a huge number of fans in place and were celebrated fanatically. Just not as much by me.
Setlist: Capsizing the Sea, In Waves, A Gunshot to the Head of Trepidation, Dusk Dismantled, The Deceived, Black, Like Light to the Flies, Built to Fall, Pull Harder on the Strings of Your Martyr, Down from the Sky, Throes of Perdition
corrupt: The intention for the next show was to first see half of Morgoth's show and then move over to Heaven Shall Burn to see what they're up to. But let me tell you, Morgoth were insanely good again and made us change that plan on the spot. They did have the same awful sound at first that all bands were blessed with this year but made up for it by starting with "Body Count" right away. Their groovy death sound and their authentic stage appearance was great to watch. Marc Grewe tripped and fell over one of the speakers on stage just to stand back up, smiling and emphasizing the live nature of the show. Halfway during the set, a fan slipped by the security unnoticed and actually managed to climb on stage. Before he was escorted back down, Marc did a little sing-and-dance with the guy and seemed to enjoy the whole situation a lot. They played the same set they played through all of this tour, which I didn't mind seeing another time. Just like Rhapsody before, this setlist emphasized on a lot of their vintage output and made this show just as enjoyable as their last one.
Setlist: Body Count, Exit to Temptation, Travel, Resistance, Suffer Life, Under the Surface, Burnt Identity, Sold Baptism, Pits of Utumno, Isolated, White Gallery
corrupt: Yeah, well, there they were. It took more than ten years for me to finally see Judas Priest and just shortly before this finally happens, K. K. Downing leaves the band. Unfortunate as that may be, I guess I still should be thankful for this opportunity as the band also announced (and Rob Halford briefly explained on stage) this to be their last big world tour. Thanks to the incredible Wacken scheduling, Sirenia, a band I also wanted to see for quite some time played for 30 minutes right in the middle of this set. So I saw part of Priest, then Sirenia and then the rest of Priest. Still enough to get a feeling of what their shows look like. And I was inexpressibly amazed. Rob Halford wore a new jacket for about every song they played. And what they did play was mainly classics. The whole concert went down exactly as I imagined it. In their old-school attitude, the band took their sweet time for Rob to explain the background of some of the songs and, much like Heaven And Hell two years before, they spent a lot of time thanking the audience and emphasizing that metal is a community effort. Their setlist was well chosen and the whole show had a very organic feel to it. We returned from Sirenia just in time for "Nightcrawler", saw the whole crowd sing the lyrics to "Breaking The Law" without one word from Rob and witnessed the loudest show this festival had to offer this year. The show was so good that I completely forgive them for not playing "Ram It Down". It was definitely one of these shows that you'll tell your grandchildren about.
GT: The Priests were on the farewell tour and of course I had to experience that. This time I was disappointed. Yep, that's right, I was disappointed. I don't know if it was the place I was standing or what it was, but I was bored, as in "spending most of the concert talking to the guy next to me"-bored. Again I must have been at a totally different concert than corrupt. The concert was rather long too, but that was to be expected since it was their last one at Wacken. Too late I decided to go for Sirenia instead (they had finished already).
Setlist: Battle Hymn, Rapid Fire, Metal Gods, Heading Out to the Highway, Judas Rising, Starbreaker, Victim of Changes, Never Satisfied, Diamonds & Rust, Dawn of Creation, Prophecy, Night Crawler, Turbo Lover, Beyond the Realms of Death, The Sentinel, Blood Red Skies, The Green Manalishi (Fleetwood Mac cover), Breaking the Law, Painkiller Encore: The Hellion, Electric Eye, Hell Bent for Leather, You've Got Another Thing Comin', Living After Midnight
corrupt: There are a few bands I never managed to see even though I've always wanted to. Some I will never see because they disbanded (Arcturus*), some changed their music to something so bad that I lost interest (Communic) and some just never play somewhere near me (Agalloch). Sirenia, to some extend, fall into all these categories. Being the new Tristania when it comes to the work of Morten Veland and yet having changed their style to something so far beyond awful that I really had to fight myself to leave Judas Priest to go check them out. And boy did I regret that. I could rant endlessly about Morten, about Tristania and Sirenia and about what the former meant to me when I was younger and still no concert review would come of it. So I'll try to make this quick. It was horrible. They had all of 30 minutes for their show, but it was enough to completely destroy all the hopes I had for at least a little nostalgia. Ailyn had some serious trouble hitting her notes and all they played was recent stuff. The songs sounded so simple they started to blend into another. I hardly recall how many they played, much less which ones. I just had to get the hell out of there. But I was stupid enough to wait until they were finished, clinging to that small bit of hope they could play just one old song. But not this band, they won't. Unless you're particularly interested in radio friendly post gothic metal, don't go near this. It will disappoint.
* Editor's note: Since the writing of this, Arcturus have actually announced a few shows so there is hope yet.
Setlist (in no particular order): The End of It All, The Path to Decay, The Other Side, Lost in Life, My Mind's Eye, Oscura Realidad
corrupt: If you've followed this year's lineup to a certain extent, you might have noticed the absence of Cradle Of Filth. They had to cancel shortly before the festival and were quickly replaced by Triptykon who were given one of the standard one-hour slots to unleash hell this night. Celtic Frost played an incredible show in Wacken 2006, which made it all the more disappointing that this year there was close to no appreciation for the old songs. And there were a lot of them. The set they played was essentially the same as all year, safe for the Hellhammer parts. The only two true Triptykon songs they do play are "Goetia" and "The Prolonging". I don't mind that at all. The show was full of energy and the songs really blend into one another. The darkness and the doomy sound made the stage shrink to small-club size and turned this huge show into a really personal event. But it was quite clear which songs the people came for and Tom Warrior failed to create the atmosphere we know him for. Added to that some technical difficulties and the utter immobility of Vanja Slajh (not to mention a look that could kill), I can't help declaring this the least impressive of the four times I've seen a Tom Warrior band.
GT: After Judas Priest it was time to make another hard choice: Kyuss Lives! or Triptykon? I wasn't really familiar with any one of the bands, but decided on Triptykon. I didn't regret that, 'cause it was a pretty mean and heavy experience. Damn, that man must be angry being able to sound that pissed off and discontent. Again my head was pretty much constantly banging. Based on my very limited knowledge of Celtic Frost, most of the setlist was covers of said band, which isn't a bad thing really. All in all a good surprise and definitely way better than the previous band.
Setlist: Crucifixus, Procreation (of the Wicked) (Celtic Frost), Goetia, Circle of the Tyrants (Celtic Frost), Babylon Fell (Celtic Frost), Synagoga Satanae (Celtic Frost), The Prolonging, Winter
Promonex: Being a worshipper of the stoner rock legend from Palm Desert it was a no-brainer for me whether to go for Triptykon or Kyuss Lives!. I have seen original vocalist John Garcia on his Garcia Plays Kyuss Tour in 2010, but had the feeling to see no more than a cover band featuring the original voice which got upstaged by the opening act, the solo project of original Kyuss drummer Brant Bjork. In 2011 these two guys played on the same side and added Scott Reeder on bass plus session guitarist Bruno Fevery to assemble 3/4 of the classic Blues for the Red Sun line-up. And this time around you didn't have the feeling to witness a cover band - this time it felt like the real thing! The vibe between the musicians was just magic, it was easy to tell that this wasn't only one guy and his backing band, a one-man wolf pack so-to-speak, but indeed a band in every sense of the word. Everybody on stage was having a great time, above all Scott Reeder with his LED-adorned bass guitar. The crowd was having a great time, too, and it's not like it had much of a choice with offerings like "Freedom Run", "100°" and of course "Green Machine". And so the people up on stage and the people in front of the stage were having a great time together celebrating the same goddamn thing: the return of stoner rock! Clearly the best concert of the whole festival.
Setlist: Gardenia, Hurricane, Thumb, One Inch Man, Asteroid, Odyssey, Freedom Run, Supa Scoopa and Mighty Scoop, Allen's Wrench, El Rodeo, 100°, Green Machine
GT: I had planned to hook up with Promonex for a beer and while waiting for him to finish Kyuss and fighting his way through the crowd I got to listen to Airbourne. Or at least they played on the stage in front of me. I wasn't paying that much attention most of the time, since I had been told that they're similar to AC/DC, and I'm not the biggest fan of them. It was enjoyable though from time to time and the band seemed like they had fun and so did the audience.
Setlist: Raise the Flag, Born to Kill, Diamond in the Rough, Blonde Bad And Beautiful, Chewin' the Fat, Blackjack, Bottom of the Well, Cheap Wine & Cheaper Women, Girls in Black, No Way But the Hard Way, Too Much Too Young Too Fast, Stand Up for Rock 'N' Roll, Runnin' Wild
GT: After the beer I went for Saltatio Mortis, a band similar to In Extremo. But unlike In Extremo in 2009, Saltatio Mortis delivered. The general mood was happy without being silly, both in the audience and on stage. About half way through the concert Doro joined. I would have survived if she hadn't, but what the heck, it didn't ruin anything. Time flew and suddenly an hour had passed. Definitely a band I'm seeing again.
Setlist: Rastlos, Tritt ein, Tod und Teufel, Wirf den ersten Stein, Uns gehört die Welt, Eulenspiegel, Wir säen den Wind, Koma, Salome, Das kalte Herz, Manus manum lavat, Prometheus, Falsche Freunde, Spielmannsschwur
GT: My Friday night ended with a quick look inside the W.E.T. Stage/Headbangers Ballroom tent as I was passing by anyway. In there I caught the last song from a band called Shraphead. There weren't a lot of people watching; but then again, it was close to 3 a.m. The 60-70 people there seemed to have really enjoyed the show and from what I heard I can see why. Unfortunately it was, as mentioned, time for their last song when I arrived, 'cause that one song was actually quite good. The only problem from my point of view was a weird echo effect on the vocals. The style was melodeath/thrash and it was delivered with good energy and quite a good crowd interaction. I for one will be checking out their 2011 debut album.
Promonex: After their surprise performance at last year's W:O:A I didn't have high expectations for the set of the Finnish cello rockers Apocalyptica. But unlike last year, this time they did get to play on the big stage and in the middle of the night, so I didn't want to take the risk of missing a magical show. And my gut feeling didn't prove me wrong: this was a magical performance indeed! There was only one drawback though and this certainly wasn't the band's fault: the director of the big video screens must have failed to see what's relevant to the onlookers. Hell, if Perttu Kivilaakso steps forth and addresses the audience in an announcement while Eicca Toppinen leaves the stage to complain to some stagehands over some problems, I want the video screens to focus on the guy who stands in the middle of the stage talking to the audience and not on the guy off-stage complaining to people nobody in the audience is ought to see, even if the latter guy is the band leader. But aside of these problems: Apocalyptica gave us an impressive light show, gave us five cover songs from the early days of their career and they restricted their unloved vocals-driven songs to an absolute minimum, namely the obligatory "I Don't Care" and - to my great surprise - "Bring Them to Light", probably the only non-instrumental song that has been acclaimed even by the metal community. The rest of the show was just the divine sound of bows on strings, topped off by the "Hall of the Mountain King", creating a mesmerizing atmosphere which was accompanied by a veil of fog sinking onto the festival grounds. Truly a great way to close the second day of the festival.
Setlist: On the Rooftop with Quasimodo, 2010, Master of Puppets (Metallica cover), Grace, Bring Them to Light (with Tipe Johnson), Nothing Else Matters (Metallica cover), Last Hope, Seek & Destroy (Metallica cover), Inquisition Symphony (Sepultura cover), I Don't Care (with Tipe Johnson), Hall of the Mountain King
"The show was so good that I completely forgive them for not playing "Ram It Down""
you should know they haven't played that song in at least 20 years, and i for one appreciated hearing something they never actually did live before (Blood Red Skies) which is also a far more epic and live-worthy song. plus, they play 2 hours and 15 minutes every other night on this tour, at the same insane level of quality show after show... i seriously can't see how these shows on the Epitaph tour can be realistically more well-planned and memorable. it is everything a Priest fan could want from the band as far as playing live is concerned.