Wacken Open Air 2014

July 30th – August 2nd
Wacken, Germany

Review by: Laetitia (L), Rob (R)and Ingrid(I)
Pictures by: Ingrid and Laetitia

Wacken Open Air, the biggest metal festival in the world, where thousands of metal lovers from all over the world gather, to once again have the time of their life. This year marks the 25th year of existence for Wacken Open Air; so even more a reason to bang your heads, put those horns in the air and buy a beer or two.

Sold out in only two days, the expectations were high as were the temperatures those days. One thing is for sure: Wacken Open Air 2014 definitely was one of the hottest and surely one of the dustiest editions we’ve experienced.
Therefor we were glad to see that the organization was better prepared for the weather circumstances than they were last year. Water bags that were allowed on the festival area could be found in the Full Metal Bag this year, and even though you had to wait for a few minutes, they could be filled for free at the water tap points that were situated on the festival area. Another positive change was the fact that it was easier to get from the infield to the Bull Head City Center, because they were no longer seperated as different fields with different security checks, but there was one big festival area.

Even though the infield doesn’t open before Thursday afternoon, there’s enough to do and watch from Wednesday on, for the metalheads of whom most already arrived on Monday and Tuesday. The Wackinger village opens on Wednesday, as does the Beergarten. But the main act this day is the start of the Wacken Metal Battle in the Bullhead City Center. National metal battle winners from all over the world gather to fight the finale of the battle metal. If you’re curious about how such a day is for a metal battle band, you can visit THIS PAGE. Metal-exposure joined Dutch Metal Battle winners Purest Of Pain on their day of performance on Wacken. (I)

Thursday
Even though the party starts on Wednesday with the Metal Battle bands and some groups performing on the Beergarten stage and in the Wackinger village, the festival hasn’t officially kicked off until Skyline performs on the Black Stage. The cover band (and former group of Wacken godfather Thomas Jensen) always gets thousands of metal heads going with rock and metal classics, such as tunes from AC/DC, Iron Maiden’s Number of the Beast, a cover with Wacken regular Doro, and a tribute to Peter Steele (Type O Negative). Even though the band plays enthusiastically and they are received well, the sound of the band lacks the power of these classics. (L)

It’s hammer time! Or in other words: time for real German heavy metal from Sweden; also known as Hammerfall. It’s a pleasure to see them back on stage after two years of inactivity. Singer Joachim Cans couldn’t agree more because as he said ‘it is fucking boring sitting at home, I’m glad to play in front of thousands of people again’. The band played old classics such as Glory To The Brave and Hammerfall, had some guests during the show like Jesper from In Flames who played along with The Dragon Lies Bleeding, and introduced a new song Bushido, from their upcoming album (r)Evolution. Despite some technical problems here and there it was a good show to watch!(I)

Steel Panther is up next. I was pretty excited for them since it was the first time for me to see them live. But I was relieved that their live show is even better than their albums. The show was one great party with lots of jokes, tits and even more tits. I had some great laughs during the gig but there was also music. Asian Hooker, Community Property, Gloryhole, Death To All But Metal and more well-known songs came by. The show ended with many girls on stages stripping down, dancing and kissing while the band played Party All Day (Fuck All Night). (R)

During the 25 anniversary of Wacken, Saxon celebrates their 35th anniversary. And they do that with a little surprises that weren’t announced before. During the first half of the set they play the usual old songs plus Sacrifice, a new song from the latest album. During the second half of the set they came back with a small orchestra. The orchestra did not dominate the music, they played a good supportive role. Again most of the songs are old ones. And this time they play The Eagle Has Landed and they brought the giant eagle, that’s a nice little bonus for a great Saxon show.(R)

Headliner of the day is Accept. And the band does it very well with singer Mark Tornillo. He’s been with for 5 years now and tonight he proves he deserves it. The band keeps up the tempo. They don’t talk much in between the songs but rather let their music speak for them. They still play a lot of old songs. The albums Restless And Wild, Breaker and Balls To The Wall are represented the most on the set list, but of course several songs from the newer albums are played. Even one song, Stampede, from the upcoming album Blind Rage is played. It all sounds good and Accept proves why they are still around after almost 40 years.(R)

Friday

Eleven ‘o clock, the sun is already scorching and the first band that will play on the Black Stage is about to hit the stage. The Taiwanese quintet of Chthonic brought back-up for this show, they are musically supported by the Chai Found Oriental Orchestra. At the start, the music sounds like a mix of noise, but later on the balance between the instruments improves and the traditional instruments really give melodic metal of Chthonic more atmosphere. Vocalist Freddy Lim gives the audience a lesson in toasting in several languages, which is always a perfect way to get the crowd cheering during an international metal festival. (L)

Next band on the Black Stage was German Black Metal formation Endstille. It seems like it’s become more of a rule than an exception to put this band with their dark music on stage in the bright sun on Wacken. Even though it looks pretty weird, and maybe also a bit funny, the band itself didn’t seem to care much. They even put on a rage towards people complaining that Wacken isn’t heavy metal anymore by saying they should shut up, and that their huge audience here this day proofs otherwise! They played a decent show, during which ‘Mannevond’ from Norwegian Black Metal band Koldbrann made a guest appearance. (I)

The German metalcore formation Heaven Shall Burn seems to be made for big festivals like Wacken. The groove and break downs in the music of this band turned the area in front of the stage into one big pit. The bands brutal cover of the Blind Guardian’s classic Valhalla was one of the highlights of the show. The chorus is still epic enough to sing along to and in a live setting the power that Heaven Shall Burn adds to the track makes it perfect for some more moshpit action. (L)

No doubt that the next band is also made for big festivals like Wacken. Finnish metal formation Children Of Bodom is not an unfamiliar guest on the Wacken festival, and with good reason. They always deliver a good show, and still have fun on stage. Today was no exception; Alexi and his crew seemed to be in a good mood. Me too, because they mostly played the ‘old classics’ which were nice to sing along with. I was a little surprised though that the infield wasn’t totally packed. I remember Children Of Bodom playing on a totally fully packed field in 2011. Then again, it might be the time of the day, and the burning sun that kept some fans away. (I)

Apocalyptica is playing a very special show for the 25th anniversary of Wacken. They brought the Avanti orchestra to make this a unique event. Aside from their first albums, all albums are represented. Also, an orchestra just fits well with the music Apocalyptica plays. The show is just great with beautiful songs like Čohkka, Path, Bittersweet, Burn and Quutamo. Maybe I would rather have seen the show later on the evening but still it was great.(R)

The Vintage Caravan is a band from Iceland that released its second album Voyage earlier this year. The psychedelic seventies rock that these three young guys are playing is just bloody awesome. The show is rocking from front till back. The crowds love it and the band is energetic and happy to play this festival. I already was a fan of the band and this show proves why. For me one of the highlights of this year. Keep an eye on this band in the future.(R)

After the short show of last year due to the illness of Lemmy, Motorhead is back. And the show is good. Athough Lemmy doesn’t move behind his mic much, he sounds a lot better. He gives it all during the full show, where the most well-known songs come by. Overkill, Ace Of Spades, Stay Clean, Damage Case and a nice little surprise during Killed By Death, that is performed together with Doro. This was a good show and I hope Motorhead will exist for a long time to come. (R)

Carcass played on the Party Stage while Motörhead performed on one of the main stages. Frontman and bassist Jeff Walker saw this as an opportunity to make some jokes of course. He asked if the Wacken crowd didn’t have anything better to do and answered for them that people probably wanted to see him play before he died. The set of Carcass was once again a good mix between classics and the material from the latest effort, Surgical Steel and the guys played a flawless show. (L)

In the meantime it became dark, and for today this means it is time for SLAYEEEEERRR!!!! Do I need to say anything more? If you’re unfamiliar with this band, you might want to go ask yourself what you’re even doing on Wacken. I was happy to see some movement and enthusiasm on stage, cause I’ve seen otherwise as well. They played a really tight and good show which of course included all the classics like Hell Awaits, War Ensemble, Seasons In The Abyss, Dead Skin Mask, Raining Blood, Angel of Death and a lot more. (I)

One of the Wacken highlights was up next: King Diamond. So I was surprised to see that not that many people where there to witness this show. It wasn’t the King fault, the show was great and the stage setup was also great. Of course there were some Merciful Fate songs like Evil and Come To The Sabbath. Most King albums were represent as well. Altogether, it was a good show that many people missed out on. (R)

Late at night it was time for W.A.S.P. to hit the stage. And after 32 years they still put on a good show, full of energy. Also the big screens on the back are awesome. They kick off with On your Knees and The Torture Never Stops. Half way the show they play a special The Crimson Idol miniset that contains The Titanic Overture, The Invisible Boy, The Idol and Chainsaw Charlie (Murders in the New Morgue). This good show ends with Blind In Texas. (R)

We ended our day in the Bullhead City Center, where Vreid, together with members from Ulcus was playing a special show as a tribute to frontman Valfar from Windir, who died ten years ago. As usual with this shows, Valfar his brother Vegard took care of the vocals. A nice gesture, but Vegard would do well to improve his irregular vocals. During Vreid their own songs, Dolk from Kampfar took care of the vocals because their own singer Sture was ‘busy reproducing himself’. Even though it took a while before the sound was ok, the show was magical. The tent was pretty filled and people were headbanging all over. The emotion on stage as well as in the audience was extremely noticeable and made it a show to never forget! (I)

Saturday
The field was quite crowded for a Saturday morning at 12AM. The reason: the Wacken deflowering of Arch Enemy in the new line-up. The band has been performing on several festivals and Alissa White-Gluz seems to be accustomed to playing with the Swedes. The Canadian singer grunts along to both the old and the new songs from War Eternal without any trouble and her stage performance is perfectly attuned to that of the guys. (L)

When the red smoke fills up the stage at the beginning of the show of Sodom you know it’s time for Agent Orange. From the start, it’s a typical Sodom show. You get an old skool German thrash show. Outbreak Of Evil, I Am The War, Ausgebombt, Blasphemer and much more killer songs are fired at the crowd. Surprisingly enough only one song, Stigmatized, from the latest album is played. A cool surprise is Surfin’ Bird followed up by The Saw Is The Law. This was a great thrash show. (R)

For two days already I heard jokes being made about the next show, because be honest, seeing Behemoth perform on mid day in the burning sun was quite hilarious. Burning sun or not, the men stood their game and delivered well. Of course songs from their new album The Satanist had to be played, but also classics as Slaves Shall Serve and Christians To The Lions came by. And even though it was hard to spot the burning crosses and the show would have been a bit more atmosphericin the dark, Behemoth managed to deliver hell on earth (I)

The Devin Townsend Project added a lot of humor and general happiness to the festival. Of course Devin Townsend’s music makes most metal fans all fuzzy inside and if that doesn’t work, his jokes crank everybody up. Most notable from this show was the wall of hugs that emerged when the creator of Ziltoid asked for it. When normally people would run into each other, this time they created a mass hug. Furthermore, Devin Townsend treated the crowd with songs as Juular, Supercrush, Kingdom and By Your Command. (L)

Emperor played its In The Nightside Eclipse twentieth anniversary show on Wacken. The show was quite straightforward, but great all the same. Ihsahn and the other musicians played the tunes vehemently and they were encouraged by raised metal horns continuously. Aside from a fire show and some fireworks at the end, there weren’t much frills, which is just right when hearing the songs from a classic black metal album and a cover of Bathory’s ‘Tomorrow Is A Fine Day To Die’.(L)

Amon Amarth always knows how to be impressive, and to make that big impression today, they brought a big dragon with them on stage. And even though their show was really good, the dragon was about as most impressive as it could get for me. Don’t get me wrong, because like I said, the show was pretty good, but after seeing them on stage a lot of times, and new songs that sound exactly the same as the other songs, my enthusiasm for Amon Amarth does not go up to eleven anymore. (I)

The stage setting with all the screens in the back for Megadeth looks really great during the show with all the images projected on it. They tried to play a good show, but the sound wasn’t always good. Besides that, I was much more impressed by them 2 years ago on another festival. Compared to this it was all a bit weaker. Also the setlist could be better than it was now. Better luck next time. (R)
Three years after their so called last show ever, Avantasia is back on Wacken with several guests. The show starts with some new songs, Spectres and Invokew The Machine. But for the fans that like older songs better, there is much to enjoy. Songs as Reach Out For The Light, Avantasia, Farewell, The Scarecrow, Shelter From The Rain are pure highlights of this great show that has an excellent sound. The show comes to an end with Sign Of The Cross and The Seven Angels, performed by everyone. (R)

Time to get our asses to the big tent again because Fleshgod Apocolapsy was playing there. A bit of an odd choice if you would ask me. This band has grown so much the past years, that one of the main stage or the Party Stage would be a better place. Therefor I didn’t expect anything less than a fully packed tent; and a fully packed tent they got. One week earlier I was lucky enough to also witness a show by this band, which was, to be honest, not much of a good show; but today they totally made up for that. What – a- blast! They played a very tight set and blew everyone away! (I)

I.C.S. Vortex performed for a small crowd on the W.E.T Stage. Quite a shame, since his show was one of the highlights of yours truly. On the other hand, this created a cozy small venue atmosphere which is hard to find on Wacken. Vortex’s vocals were crystal clear and he put a lot of effort on interacting and talking to the crowd. The set list mainly existed out of songs from Storm Seeker, but also a few Borknagar tracks. (L)

You know what to expect from Kreator, a pure aggressive thrash show. Kreator always plays good shows with little surprises. The surprise today was that there were a few old tunes played and a lot of songs from the last few albums. It’s good to change the set at times. Newer songs as Warcurse, Enemy Of God, Phantom Antichrist and Hordes Of Chaos are pure new classic songs that deserve to be on the setlist. With Flag Of Hate and Tormentor this great show comes to an end.(R)

German a capella metal band Van Canto invited some guests for their show. Among them were Tarja Turunen, with whom they performed Turunen’s song Anteroom of Death. This was also the highlight of the performance. The band puts on quite a show with almost a theatrical/musical style of performing and that gave the whole thing a slick atmosphere. Adding that the vocals were off key from time to time resulted in the fact that Van Canto didn’t really impress us. (L)

Koldbrann was a band that we had been waiting for, literally. Whether or not we could make it to the show at 2AM after a few festival days was doubtful, however we managed. Thankfully, because ending Wacken with a no-nonsense, good ol’ Norwegian black metal show is never a bad thing. Even though there weren’t many people present at this hour, the ones who were there enjoyed the show thoroughly, judged by the amount of head banging that was done after a festival of three (or actually four) days. (L)

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