Report by: Ingrid (I), Rob (R) and Monica (M)
Pictured by: Ingrid & Joyce
Like every year, your metal-exposure crew travelled to the Holy Wacken fields for the annual Wacken Open Air. This year though, it felt more like travelling to the Holy Wacken mud puddles.
Unfortunately, the days before the festival started and the first days of the festival itself, the rain came pouring out of the sky and had no mercy. The fields slowly turned into pools of mud and little lakes. But of course the 75.000 fans heading towards Wacken didn’t let the rain stop them from having a great time, and underneath the umbrellas, ponchos and rain boots we spotted a lot of happy faces.
Being the biggest metal festival on earth is a great achievement and something Wacken Open Air can be proud of. Coping with this weather circumstances also shows the downside on being the biggest metal festival on earth. Because of the drowned camping fields, Wacken was unable to lead all the thousands and thousands of metalheads who were arriving on Wednesday, and partly Thursday, to a camping spot those days. The organization did their very best to satisfy everybody and to offer a lot of solutions. They offered parking spots outside of Wacken with shuttle busses, the drained the infield as much as they could, they had tractors driving to help cars stranded in the mud and continually kept updating their facebook and app with new information.
For the lucky ones who arrived at Wacken on time, the program started on Wednesday. Traditionally the first bands to watch, were the bands competing for the Metal Battle. From all over the world, starting bands were competing nationally, to compete in the final battle at Wacken. Here, they have 20 minutes to show they jury what they’re capable of, and that jury will decide who wins this year’s battle. This year’s winner is Vesperia from Canada; congratulations!
Besides the Metal Battle there are a lot of other things to do. Of course you can hang out and drink your beer in the beergarten while listening to some live music from the Beergarten stage, which seems to grow every year. Also, the program on the Wackinger Stage starts this day, and after the first load of Metal Battle bands are finished, the regular program continues in the Bullhead City Circus.
After struggling our way through the mud from the press camping to the stages, which was pretty funny and hellish at the same time, we finally arrived in the eye of the hurricane and decided to walk around and watch some bands.
Something we wouldn’t want to miss are The Grailknights. Even though I’ve seen them a dozen times before, I still find them entertaining, and I must say, they have improved a lot since I first saw them about ten years ago. They entertained the crowd with their sing-alongs as Moonlit Masquerade, Grailquest Gladiators and their Superhero Medley. But we could also work on our muscles during the Grailrobics.
After this we went to the press conference that Europe did. The band was really relaxed, answering questions from people in the audience. We got to learn that today’s show will be recorded for a live DVD, that they are working on a new album already, inspired by an old Viking king, and we got to hear some funny anecdotes.
Not even that long after the press conference, it was Europe their turn to shine on stage. As mentioned this show was being recorded so the band did their very best to make it a great show, and a great show it was. They were obviously enjoying themselves and the crowd went crazy. At some point, the Bullhead City Circus was totally full, and people couldn’t get in anymore. Of course they band played some of their old classics as Rock The Night, Superstitious, The Final Countdown and Sign Of The Times. Besides the old classics they played a lot of new songs, unfamiliar to most of the audience. Even though the band stayed energetic, a lot of people in the audience looked a bit lost during these songs; also it left less room for some other classics that didn’t got played (NO CARRIE?! HOW COULD YOU! ;) ) But in the end, Europe was definitely a true headliner of the first day. (I)
On Thursday afternoon the infield opens and the metalheads run to the main stage to conquer a spot in the first row. Traditionally the band Skyline (former band of W.O.A. founder Thomas Jensen) opens the festival with their covers of some very well-known tunes. (I)’
In Extremo played before a packed field. These Germans performed like we are used from them: the concert turns into a great party, with hundreds of metal heads stamping in the mud. Vocalist Michael Rhein told the audience that In Extremo is celebrating their 20th anniversary this year and that they deserved a birthday song. The crowd sung ‘happy birthday’ twice. In Extremo played songs such as Weckt die Toten and Erbeermund. When the harpist Dr. Pymonte started Vollmond with a harp solo, the audience joined in quickly. (M)
A Rob Zombie live show was a first for me. I was pretty excited about it. The excitement paid off for a part. The show itself was great, the sound was pretty good and the crowd obviously loved it. They played even some songs from the White Zombie period like More Human Than Human and Super-Charger Heaven. Several albums were represented by one or two songs and from the debut album Hellbilly Deluxe fours songs were played. But I don’t get why they played three cover songs. They have enough material of their own. And to make it worse, they stopped about 15 minutes earlier than planned. So a show with mixed feelings. (R)
In the meantime, the bands on the W.E.T. Stage and Headbangers stage continued, after the Wacken Metal Battle was over. We first got to see Noctiferia, a band we never heard of before, but that immediately had us interested and we were pleasantly surprised. The power and brutality that this band produced on stage was great!
Next band to see was Dark Tranquility, they filled up the tent pretty well. Unfortunately not all of the members could be there (something with becoming a father ;) ) but the replacement did an excellent job. The band was as enthusiastic as ever which made up for the extremely bad sound. It was almost impossible to hear vocalist Mikael Stanne, and the drums were way too loud. Nevertheless we enjoyed songs like The Wonders At Your Feet, The Silence In Between and of course Misery’s Crown.
After Dark Tranquility, it was impossible to get to the infield because the entire exit was blocked with people trying to get out so we watched Combichrist. Even though the tent by now was more than half empty, the crowd to stick around was dancing and going crazy. The band itself played a very powerful and straightforward show with no remorse. (I)
The absolute main act of this year’s Wacken festival is without a doubt the one time reunion show of Savatage followed by a show of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. How this all would play out was still a bit unclear so it was a big surprise how grand it would be. Savatage kicked off with Gutter Ballet and from the first second all those days of mud and storm were worth it. Jon Oliva’s vocals are great as always. Also Zak Stevens kicked ass in songs as Edge Of Thorns and Dead Winter Dead. Of course fan favorites as Jesus Saves and Hall Of The Mountain King are played. But then after 40 minutes the stage gets dark and TSO is starting playing on the other main stage. TSO are showing 40 minutes long a great mix between metal and classical music. The stage is packed with a lot of (backing) vocalist and dancers. The show is great and even Russel Allen (Symphony X) is part of it and sings the Savatage song Another Way. When TSO is done, both stages light up so that both acts play for another hour together split over two stages. With plenty of firework, screens all over the place and a great light show this becomes a unique show you never forget and probably never will see again. With Savatage songs as Believe, Chance, Christmas Eve and Morphine Child there is enough to enjoy for everyone. One of the best shows I’ve seen in my life. Kudos to the production and working crew, to make this two staged concert as amazing as it was! (R)
I’ve never seen Angra before so I got up early to be there at the start at 11AM. The sound was pretty awful and it seems it was too early for the band to give a good show. They tried but it never did become very good. They presented three songs from their new album Secret Garden what maybe is a bit too much for a festival where you only play seven songs including a medley. Hopefully next time better. (R)
The Finnish power metallers from Stratovarious played the Party Stage. The sound was pretty bad during the show, but that did not temper the enthusiasm from the crowd. Stratovarious opened with the song Black Diamond and closed their set with the classic Hunting High and Low.(M)
At the same time, At The Gates climbs the stage halfway the afternoon on the first sunny day of the week. The band is playing a very good show today where the sound is also very good. They play five songs of their latest album that was released last year, 20 years after their previous record. But people don’t have to worry to miss any classics today. Slaughter of the Soul is present with seven songs. I really enjoy the show and people seems to enjoy it also and headbang along with Kingdome Gone and Terminal Spirit Disease. A death metal show I like them to see. (R)
Next up is Queensryche on the True Metal Stage, truly a stage where they belong. I was looking forward to some heavy metal and even though it sounded like ‘new’ vocalist Todd La Torre struggled a little here and there, boy they delivered! They played some classics as Breaking The Silence, The Whisper and Eyes Of A Stranger, and something from their new album ‘Condition Hüman’ as Arrow Of Time.
After Queensryche I walked on to one of my personal highlights of the festival: Annihilator. It was a bit weird to see Jeff Waters back on vocals, but of course he did a great job; he had plenty of time during the instrumental parts to run and jump around and be his happy self on stage. The band started with a song from their upcoming album ‘Suicide Society’, followed by No Way Out from the Feast album. During Set The World On Fire, former drummer (and current Dream Theater drummer) Mike Mangini joined the band on stage to play along, which was quite awesome. In the beginning of the show, the band struggled with some small technical problem, but this got solved pretty fast and the show could continue. Of course near the end of the set, Alison Hell had to be played and the band left a happy crowd behind. (I)
I was wondering what kind of show Opeth would be playing today. With or without grunts. It seems without during the first five songs. The Drapery Falls and To Rid The Disease are played with mush passion but the sound isn’t always that good. At least there is the Åkerfeldt humor there to keeps us entertained between songs. With Heir Apparent, The Grand Conjuration and Deliverance it is getting more interesting but somehow it all don’t work that well today. Maybe a bit of an off day. (R)
The British extreme metal formation Anaal Nakrath devastated everybody with a good set. In between the heavy music, front man Dave Hunt cracked a few jokes: “thanks for the Euuuhh (guttural vocals) and “do you know where we all come from? Between shit and piss”.
A fire spectacle and a female guest vocalist couldn’t save Thyrfing’s show. The Swedish pagans played a mix between old and new songs, but the band was not convincing and suffered from the bad sound.
Dream Theater enjoyed the perfect circumstances for their first show on Wacken: a packed field with an energetic crowd, a nice evening sun and a good sound for the familiar riffs and the clean vocals. The Americans played about an hour and songs like Metropolis Pt. 1: The Miracle and the Sleeper, As I am and Bridges in the Sky were on the set list. The band also has a new release coming up, in 2016. (M)
Death Angel was playing the tent and it was pretty loaded when I came in what was no surprise. The band was playing as energetic and passionate as always. It doesn’t matter if it are the older songs as Voracious Souls and Seemingly Endless Time or newer songs as The Dream Calls For Blood and Buried Alive, the crowd loves it and goes crazy on it. And only 45 minutes playing time is way too short for a popular band as Death Angel. This was a real killer show.
Right after Death Angel, Armored Saint is hitting the stage. Their new Album Win Hands Down is fantastic and the two songs An Exercise in Debauchery and Win Hands Down prove that. The crowd loves it, and they should be. Armored Saint is playing a great show. They obviously have a lot of fun playing. Several albums get their attention with great performances of Left Hook From Right Field, Raising Fear, March Of The Saint, and Reign Of Fire. It is great to see them again playing such a good show. One of the highlights of this year.
Samael is playing a special Ceremony of Opposites set. As expected it is pretty crowded during the show. And what a great show it is. The sound is good, the atmosphere is great and the band really plays a fantastic show. It is nice to hear the whole album being played. After the set the band is playing one more song, The Truth Is Marching On. 45 minutes is way to less playing time for Samael.(R)
In Flames is a band that always attracts a lot of people of big festivals and today was no exception. The field was totally packed with people going wild! Anders Fridén was totally dressed in white and really stood out today. They band opened the show with a great paper cannon and gave a very energetic show including songs as Only For The Weak, Cloud Connected and My Sweet Shadow. (I)
Dutch symphonic metal band Within Temptation played an 1,5 set on the party stage and with that, they were the last band on Friday for us. The band’s presentation in combination with excellent sound and a great light show made it a very good show to watch. Singer Sharon van Adel used the space on the stage and her vocals stayed perfect while doing that. The band started with Paradise (What About Us?), from Hydria (2014). After the hit Ice Queen, the Dutchies returned for an encore of three songs including Mother Earth. The only thing that hindered the show was the sound coming from the black stage, that sometimes disturbed the songs of Within Temptation. (M)
We had to get up early to see the first band on the Black Stage: Khold. It’s been a while since I last saw them, I guess Wacken 2011. It was a bit early to go watch Black Metal on bright day, full in the sun. Yes, you read that right, the last day of Wacken 2015 was filled with sunshine. Some spots on the infield even dried up, so we were able to sit down while watching some of the bands. Nevertheless Khold gave us all they could and I enjoyed their show.
Next on stage were the Germans from Powerwolf. Even though the field was still quite empty during Khold, it got filled pretty fast when Powerwolf was playing, this band is extremely popular in Germany and lately they also convinced me that they’re worth listening to. Their performance on stage is really great and the energy of the band members who were running around was high! Especially keyboard player Falk Maria Schlegel who was running around between his two keyboards, both on the other edge of the stage was remarkable. The band played some songs from their just released album ‘Blessed & Possessed’ such as Blessed & Possessed and Army Of The Night. But of course also a lot of their ‘classics’ as We Drink Your Blood, Amen & Attack and Coleus Sanctus. (I)
The Wackinger village was again the spot to travel back in time. You could find stands with Handcrafted stuff, ornaments, roleplaying battles, shows, good food catering, live music and more, which made it a perfect mix between the past and the present. As is customary in the Wackinger village: get yourself some mead and enjoy the (folk) metal bands that are playing, for example The Gentle Storm and Harpyrie who covered Blue (Da Ba Dee) of Eifel 65.(M)
Amorphis is playing a special set in the form of performing the whole Tales From The Thousand Lakes album. Something to look forward to as did a lot of other people. The sound is really good during the show. Qua show it is all very basic but the music itself says it all. I love the show and see Amorphis performing a more harder show without clean vocals. After the special set the band plays some more old songs as Black Winter Day, Better Unborn and Against Widows. (R)
At the same time, Skindred is rocking the Party Stage. I must say I didn’t know this band before so I was pretty surprised when they came on stage. They combine metal with reggae and other music genres, and this was pretty interesting. It created an entire other vibe than there was before. The band themselves also seemed happy to be back at Wacken.
While some big balloons flew over the audience, the first curtain dropped. A string quartet started to play and not much later another curtain dropped and the entire orchestra and band of Rock Meets Classic appeared, and the tunes of Thunderstrike (AC/DC) were heard. Accompanied by the band and orchestra, some famous guests came to sing some of their own songs or tributes to other bands. We saw Jennifer Haben (Beyond The Black) , Joe Lynn Turner singing some of his Rainbow songs and ex Helloween singer Michael Kiske singing some Helloween songs. By then the audience was warmed up enough for the finishing touch of this show: Dee Snider (Twisted Sister). Of course he played some Twisted Sister classics as We’re Not Gonna Take It and I Wanna Rock. He gave a speech about the fact that people should stop taking selfies (he even had a shirt on saying this), and surprisingly ended with heavy metal national anthem Highway To Hell (AC/DC). A great sing along show! (I)
Bloodbath is on in the afternoon and while entering the field during the first song it becomes clear it is going a very loud and hard set. The volume is pumped up but it doesn’t waste the music. The sound is very clear and brutal. Several new songs are played were Mental Abortion is an absolute live killer. New singer Nick Holmes has a nice stage performance and performs a great show with his sickening voice. Old songs as Cancer Of The Soul, So You Die and Breeding Death sound great. During Eaten he gets help from old member Dan Swanö. I don’t get while they left the stage with 15 minutes playtime left. Still one of the highlights of the festival for me. (R)
One of the best shows of Wacken 2015 was that of Swedish powerhouse Sabaton. The stage was entirely camouflaged, as well as the crew who were recording the show for a DVD. Even before the show started, the crowd was very enthusiastic. The band started with Ghost Division, To Hell and Back and Carlous Rex. After this, the audience got singer Joakim Brodén to empty his beer in one go by shouting ‘Nog Ein Bier’. A little later, the entire band did this. The interaction between the band members and the audience was humourous. For example, Joakim Brodén gave guitarist Thobbe Englund a time-out because he started playing Swedish Pagans, while it was not the next song. Of course the song was played later. Sabaton performed Gott Mitt Uns, but the words got changed to Noch Ein Bier, in which the crowd joined in. After Screaming Eagles came an encore of three songs and the Swedish band ended their performance with Metal Crüe. Well done Sabaton! (M)
One of the headliners is Judas Priest. I saw them six weeks before this show in a venue what was absolute a killer show. Today was not that good but still a fantastic show. New songs as Halls Of Valhalla and Redeemer Of Souls fit good with the rest of the songs. The version of Beyond The Realms Of Death they play is so wonderful. Also fan favorites as Electric Eye, Breaking The Law and Hell Bent For Leather are still great songs after all those years. The band obviously love to play the festival and Rob Halford plays the crowd very good. Painkiller stays an absolute classic and keeps one of the highlights of the show. The sound is very loud but also good. And with Living After Midnight the show is over and the crowd has seen a great show of a band that goes along for 41 years and is still going strong. (R)
The German folk band Santiano got promoted after the last time they played Wacken. Today they stood on the party stage. The mud was knee high, but this did not stop people to sing along and party. Santiano opened the show with Santiano, Blow Boys, Wir Sehen uns Wieder in Walhalla and the cover Johnny Boy. The sound was fine, only during the more calm tunes, you could hear Cradle of Filth performing on the other stage. (M)
The UK- metallers Cradle of Filth played a very varied set list with songs as Summer Dying Fast and Born in a Burial Gown, which prompted the audience into a circle pit. The sound was mediocre; Dani Filth’s famous high pitched scream sounded thin, yet the (rather small) crowd cheered anyway. The show ended with the most well- known song: From the Cradle to Enslave. (M)
We ended our evening and with that, our Wacken 2015, in the Bullhead City Circus watching Blood Red Throne and Shining. The first of those two simply blew us away! What a powerful show they gave. Heads were banging all around and a wall of sound was blown into the tent. Besides the well-known songs, they also performed something of their upcoming album ‘Union of Flesh and Machine’. Shining was the last band to play on the W.E.T. Stage. The Swedish depressive metallers performed a nice show with songs as Vilseledda barnasjälars hemvist, Vilja & Dröm and of course Ohm (Sommar med Siv) and Låt oss ta allt från varandra. Their time was already running out when they started their last song For The God Below, so halfway the song they had to stop and go off stage, which led to huge frustration of frontman Niklas Kvarforth. (I)
And so our Wacken 2015 had ended. Despite all the mud we, and about 80.000 thousands other metalheads, and the organization itself of course tried to make the best of it. We will be back!