Timo Pässler, Maike Eisenmenger, Melanie Haack, Samira Alinto
That weekend the little but world famous one-horse town Wacken in Northern Germany had 70.000 people more. The prospects were at first not very inviting because the grass was soaked by the rain, and so the organizers had to ask the festival-goers on their website to arrive only on Thursday so that they still had time to fix it with straw or other materials. Luckily the Wacken crew seemed to have bribed St. Peter, and so the sun dried everything on Thursday again. This time the line-up offered something for everyone and most people got into a scrape not only once, because often great bands were playing at the same time. In cooperation with Metal.de like last year we managed to see most of them.
Day 1 – Thursday, August 2nd, 2007
Sodom Thursday, 7:45 pm – 9:30 pm
Time travel was the name of the game with Tom Angelripper and his men...namely all available men who are still alive and able to play – Frank Gosdzik (Frank Blackfire), Michael Hoffmann, Andy Brings, Guido Richter (Atomic Steif) and Josef Dominic (Grave Violator). 25 years Sodom were worthily celebrated until sundown with a medley of classics from their entire career like „Napalm in the morning“ and „Ausgebombt“. During the set Tom put on his old jacket and told a godawful joke: „A musician sees a doctor who tells him that he has only two weeks left to live. The musician answers: on what??“ – Awesome! The soon-to-be-released album „The Final Sign of Evil“ with new versions of old Sodom classics will surely sell like hot cakes. I missed „Agent Orange“ but otherwise everything that should be there was there. Even though you could hear that the former Sodomers (except Brings) were a bit out of practice everything by and large was well done and the last song, when all of them played together, was a great sight. (sa)
Hatesphere Thursday, 9:55 pm – 10:40pm
When Jacob Bredahl and his Hatesphere guys entered the stage, one thing was clear: one highlight of this year’s W:O:A was just playing the „Hellfest Stage“. The crystal clear, powerful sound made sure that killer songs like „The Sickness Within“ hit the listener twice as hard as from CD and the band played flawless, especially fronting Dane Bredahl. He was a little bit tipsy, but all the nicer were his announcements and his singing is killer anyway. A successful performance which can only be described with one word: Awesome! (Death Angel / Metal.de)
Saxon Thursday, 10:00 pm – 12:00 am
Wacken is a first class home game for Saxon. There’s no other band that has performed here that often in the last years than those NWOBHM legends. Therefore it was only understandable that Saxon were greeted and celebrated like the home team at a football game. Musically the Brits are beyond all doubt. Besides some new songs (amongst others „Red Star Falling“ and „Let Me Feel Your Power“) the setlist contained primarily classics like „Crusader“ and „Denim and Leather“. Astounding – and in my opinion it’s a shame that the two predecessors „Lionheart“ and „Killing Ground“ almost weren’t included at all. But still Saxon were entertaining as usual which was also because of a brilliant light- and pyroshow. Anytime again! (tp)
Letzte Instanz Thursday, 9:10 pm – 10:45 pm
The sweat of the crowd waiting inside the W.E.T. Tent already condensed on the ceiling, when finally something happened... A theatrical Intro accompanied Letzte Instanz as they entered the sagte, singer Holly showed his trademark grin. They opened with „Du und Ich“ which also is the opener of their new album „Wir sind Gold“. Those Folk-Goth rockers ignited their audience immediately. Songs like „Unerreicht“, „Ohne Dich“ and „Tanz“ were sung along perfectly by an enthusiastic crowd. Their song „Mein Todestag“ probably does not just appeal to old fans only, because it might be the oldest but also best known Instanz-songs. Together with „Das Stimmlein“ and „Rapunzel“ it is always a must at good Gothrock parties. Finally the guys from Dresden surprised their fans when they turned their last song „Rapunzel“ into the 70s KISS hit „I was made for loving you“.
Electric Eel Shock Thursday, 10:15 pm – 10:45 pm
Unfortunately, an overlong soundcheck took much time off of those mental Japanese, but when Electric Eel Shock finally kicked off they made the waiting all worthwhile. Extreme as usual they rampaged with their mix of rock, metal and punk as if there’s no tomorrow. When bassist Kazuto Maekawa climbed up the stage scaffold with his bass, I was a little worried because he swayed badly and I was standing right under him with my camera. This time the drummer didn’t get all naked – only the shirt which probably was because of the fact that it wasn’t Tomaharu “Gian” Ito but a session drummer who filled in for him. Akihito Morimoto really gave his all and during the set every now and then reached for his belt with its attached talisman – a stuffed elephant.
At the end a fan in costume plunged into the crowd with a red rubber boat. Great, just too short! (sa)
Day 2 – Friday, August 3rd, 2007
Suidakra Friday, 11:00 am – 11:45 am
Those who still weren’t awake here were dead. Suidakra delivered a great show in which an odd-appearing bagpipe player was involved, too. With their new, more folkish style they seemed to have finally found their own style and it didn’t sound bad at all.
They even engaged in self-marketing because the whole band (apart from the bagpipe guy) wore shirts advertising their new album “Caledonia”. At the end the band was cut off from electricity but this wasn’t so bad because they anyway had reached their obligatory “thank you’s”. (sa)
Supporting programme – a fire
Already queuing for the media pit for Amorphis and suddenly it got hot at my back because not 10 meters away at the True Stage the dry straw had caught fire. Fortunately the fire fighters must have been just directly around the corner because in under a minute they were on-site but they seemed to be a little out of practice and so the fire got bigger and bigger for a while and everyone, who was standing with me close to it and couldn’t leave because everything was crammed, slowly started to get nervous.
The nice man onstage probably wasn’t able to speak English because the announcement that the 35,000 people should go towards the Black Stage was done repeatedly but only in German. And he said a lot of stuff like “We record everything on tape, that’ll be great!” or “Something like that only happens when I don’t have my camera with me” well, the most important things only. No one was really moving and the awesomely intelligent fire fighters extinguished the fire at first from the wrong side so that giant walls of smoke drifted towards the pent-up crowd. Only the request by the German speaking host that they should please put out the fire away from the people was heard and so they changed the sides.
Within a radius of 20 meters around me everyone had streaming eyes and coughed. When the fire was finally put out Amorphis’ gig was postponed – which made sense because with all that smoke it wouldn’t have worked anyway. Unfortunately I had to skip my photo session for Amorphis because my contacts had to be removed from my glaring red eyes. (sa)
Amorphis Friday, 12:00 pm – 12:45 pm
True Metal Stage
The biggest part of their great set was compiled of songs from their latest album “Eclipse” and so the first three songs were taken from it. After that the Finns started a time travel, starting with “Against Widows” via “In the Beginning” back to the early days (“Sign from the Northside” from their debut). The Finns seemed committed and highly motivated during their whole gig, especially new singer Tomi Joutsen visibly enjoyed his role and scored over his predecessor in “motility” and “agility”. And he’s also the better singer. This became clear with the challenging switch between the brilliantly sung clean parts and the growls. That he also masters those was proven beyond doubt with the older songs and therefore should have silenced even the constant complainers. There were no real surprises in the setlist. But this was only because of the stupid camera man. Because of the postponement AMORPHIS were the only band whose performance couldn’t be followed on the big video screens between the stages which wasn’t that tragic but the only thing the camera man did before he went on strike was to show the setlist on the stage floor for 30 seconds. And thus it wasn’t that much of a surprise that Amorphis finished their good but not staggering gig with “Black Winter’s Day”. (Raphi/ Metal.de)
Napalm Death Friday, 12:55 pm– 1:40 pm
That Napalm Death, the working-class children from Birmingham, had to enter the stage prematurely because of the fire in front of the True Metal Stage led to the fact that those, who came here at the actual time, saw only the end of an intensive and out-and-out great show. Nevertheless a respectable gaggle of fans had gathered in front of the Black Stage when the grindcore legends kicked off their gig with “Sink Fast Let Go” from their latest album “Smear Campaign”. The sound was good, the setlist ranged from very old “Scum” material to songs from their last albums and singer Mark “Barney” Greenway went berserk in such a way you soon started to worry he has to cancel the show because of epileptic seizures. The whole thing was spiced up with Barney’s left-wing and church critical comments of which in a (at best) apolitical scene you don’t necessarily have to think much but he had the crowd on his side and because of his typical, dry English humor the statements never get boring. Setcloser was the obligatory “Nazi Punks Fuck Off” which was belted unerringly as usual and all those who had the luck to know about the changed schedule left the site happy. (Death Angel/ Metal.de)
Therion Friday, 2:30 pm – 3:30 pm
True Metal Stage
Therion had pretty much blown me away already on their last tour so I wasn’t that surprised about the big crowd. In contrast to earlier days the band has now a nearly ideal combination of people onstage to brilliantly orchestrate an entertaining but still ambitious rock show. The orchestral bombast of the records from these Swedes is discreetly taken back and compensated by a clear gain in joy of playing. Already the monstrous opener “Rise of Sodom and Gomorrah” showed that the compositions didn’t lose anything of their fascination but even benefited remarkably from that more spontaneous approach. The instrumental faction is with the technically brilliant and extremely cool posing Niemann brothers, pace setter Petter Karlsson and of course mastermind Christofer Johnsson, excellently staffed. Latter has meanwhile passed the growls completely to the brilliant Snowy Shaw about whose powerful voice and charismatic stage presence one doesn’t have to say much anymore. With Katarina Lilja and the former Aeama Daeva singer Lori Lewis the band has finally found two singers who not only unerringly vocalise the mere opera parts but here and there effortlessly are able to switch to a more rock-orientated singing style as well. Besides, the two – not only in direct comparison to the voluminous opera-matron of Therion’s past – have also optically a lot to offer. Nevertheless, on the big festival stage and in the early afternoon the gig lacked a bit the concentrated eroticism of their club shows which have surely given one or the other metalhead some wet dreams.
The singer quartet was completed by Thomas Vikström (Mehida, ex-Candlemass) who, however, couldn’t quite fill the giant shoes of his predecessor Mats Leven yet. The impressive stages setting, in which the clothes of musicians and singers fit perfectly, was already known from their “Gothic Kabbalah” tour. In bright sunshine, however, there was no real gloomy atmosphere coming up. The streaming picture of a Gothic cathedral as a backdrop put up a wild fight with the drummer who was covered in it over and over again. That he still kept the beat and was not impressed by fabric attacks showed that he’s a pro and deserves recognition. Remarkable was also the setlist sprinkled with hits that showed Therion at their best with “Blood Of Kingu", "Seven Secrets Of The Sphinx" or "Lemuria". Songs from their new album only played a minor role today, "Son Of The Staves Of Time”, though, was one of the highlights and gave new singer Thomas Vikström the opportunity to give his all but he was still unable to hold a candle to his predecessor. In the end, “To Mega Therion” couldn’t of course be left out and was enthusiastically received and sang along by the fans. A kick-ass show which whetted the appetite for more. (Xeledon/ Metal.de)
Possessed Friday, 3:30 pm – 4:30 pm
Possessed had half an hour delay – which was not their fault – before they took over right after Therion, who had played right beside them on True Metal Stage, and immediately drew the attention of the crowd. The reason might be singer Jeff Becerra who performed there, after his 18 years stage abstinence, and despite the wheelchair in his full glory. The band is known as the first Death Metal band after their debut „Seven Churches“, and indeed they live up to their reputation. Possessed played a best of-mix of their three albums and reminded the fans of their achievements, celebrating a great come-back! With „Burning in Hell“ they broke the decibel record, and even the toughest had to admit that this was very loud. Finally „My Belief“, according to the singer a very personal song, gave the chance to relax your ears a bit, during a civilised guitar solo and emotional vocals, spiced with fog effects. Yet the absence of decibels soon invited loud „PO-SSESSED!“ chants... A concert that left nothing to desire, hectic guitars, bass and drums, plus blast beats – simply FASTER, HARDER, LOUDER!!!
Volbeat Friday, 3:30 pm – 4:30 pm
With loud „Volbeat, Volbeat“ yells the Danes were called to the stage. The sound came back from the stage as powerful as the crowd had claimed the band. The chemistry was right from the first second on. The energy-laden performance of the Danes had even those in the last rows moving. Those who were not quite convinced by the stage show were in any case captivated by frontman Michael Poulsen’s extraordinary voice. The mix of Live of Agony singer Keith Caputo and Elvis was and is something special and accentuates the band’s uniqueness. But not only the voice had Volbeat stand out from many other bands, also their unusual mixture of musical styles did its bit. Metal combined with rockabilly and a dash of country – that’s hard to copy! “Soulweeper”, “The Garden’s Tale” and “The Human Instrument” were only a few songs that Volbeat belted towards the crowd. A nice change provided the Western guitar with which Michael Poulsen gave a certain something to some of the songs. With this gig everything was just perfect – the sun was shining, the sound was great, the people partied and the band visibly enjoyed playing. (me)
26 years into their career and Grave Digger still storm through the hard’n’heavy scene and show no signs of tiring. And so it wasn’t surprising that the topic of today was “No fillers – just killers”. Songs like “Knights of the Cross”, “Excalibur” and “Last Supper” were enthusiastically soaked up by the crowd in front of the stage and were celebrated by every trick in the book and chef-reaper Chris Boltendal thanked with a big grin on his face. (tp)
Turbonegro Friday, 5:30 pm – 6:30 pm
After the last bag pipes had faded away on the “Party Stage” it was time for a proper dose of politically incorrect fag-rock: Turbonegro! And what can you say: Turbonegro did their thing, did it well, had fun but a real party looks different. Is Wacken and its crowd too traditional for those unconventional Scandinavians? Or was it just too early ? Be that as it may the band played a mix of old classics and lots of material from their last two albums. Only a few seemed to be familiar with the new material (including me) and so mood swings were the result. Even onstage I thought to have seen Turbonegro a bit more cheerful and motivated but whatever the guys are pro’s. They played their set which didn’t appear to be boring or slick and after “I Got Erection” Turbonegro left me in the straw pretty much without excitation. But why was here straw anyway? Oh, that was another story… (Raphi/ Metal.de)