By Ben Joyce
A short review of Wacken, including Keithwatch.
Nothing spectacular to report about the journey, other than Baz's quest for beer at Stansted, which was finally rewarded at approximately 5am when the first place that served beer opened. It actually made me feel a bit ill watching him drink it.
Wednesday - Drank a lot and spent some time in the Headbanger's Ballroom
tent when the music started.
Keithwatch - Fairly subdued.
Thursday - Saw Zodiac Mindwarp from the beer garden - they seemed pretty
shit. Next up Motorhead. They were pretty good, but not quite as powerful as
I'd expected. Didn't play Bomber, but R.A.M.O.N.E.S. was a highlight. Bohse
Onkelz finished up the night and were unimaginably terrible. You have to be
German to like this band, but luckily for them, there were an awful lot of
German's there. How to describe their music - workmanlike melodic(attempted
rather than achieved) rock.
Keithwatch - Disappeared for several hours and miraculously turned up at the campsite about four hours after everyone else. He had very dirty feet and didn't know where he'd been.
Orphanage - Much better than expected gothic death metal with female vocals.
Cathedral - Excellent as usual. Pretty doomy set, including Ice Cold Man from the Probot record, and finishing with Hopkins, possibly the greatest song ever. [What do you know? It is... - Jimmer]
Artefact - Unsigned French black metal. The find of the festival. Immense power, turning a tent of people who had never heard of them into a frantically headbanging crowd. A bit like Emperor without the progressive bits. Truly fantastic.
Arch Enemy - Lots of people really loved them, I thought they were a bit pedestrian, but this may have had something to with muddy sound and too-quiet guitars. Surprising, as they should be perfect festival fodder. We Will Rise was good though.
Mayhem - Fucking malevolent. Played a lot of awkward stuff from the last couple of albums, which probably alienated a fair chunk of the crowd who wanted the 'hits'. I personally thought they were superb though. Maniac cut himself to shit, they were fully corpsepainted, there were flaming pigs heads, and the final double whammy of Freezing Moon and Pure Fucking Armegeddon was true black metal at it's best. Eerie and evil, a memorable set from the masters.
Hobbs Angel of Death - Old-school death-thrash from recently reformed Aussies who practically invented it. Can't remember any of the songs, but at the time, they were very good.
Dio - A god. Played a load of Rainbow stuff, including a staggeringly good Stargazer. Seemed surprised by the great reception. Finished with Holy Diver and Heaven and Hell. Don't go and see Ozzy, he can't sing anymore, go and see Dio instead. Slightly surreal ending, with some guy from Manowar presenting him with a special award for being in Elf. The guy from Manowar had to be heard to be believed, as he speaks entirely in metal speak.
Destruction - Classic German thrash. They have no songs where they slow down. At all. Nailed To The Cross was one of the best songs aired all weekend, and they went down unsurprisingly well in front of a field of German thrash fans.
Doro & Warlock - Did a strange orchestral set, peppered with some metal classics, helped along by Blaze Bayley?!?! Not bad but went on forever. Then came back on and did a Warlock set. Again, not bad, but pretty basic stuff that went on too long. Did however feature the lyric of the weekend - 'All we are/All we are, we are/We are all/All we need.' Shakespearian, I think you'll agree.
Amon Amarth - Viking melodic death. Enjoyalbe, but I was too tired/drunk to really appreciate it.
Keithwatch - Tonight was the highpoint of Keith. Got incredibly drunk throughout the day. Got back to the campsite to find him unconscious outside his tent, with a largely empty bottle of Jagermeister suggesting how he'd come to be in such a state. Someone thoughtfully threw a sleeping bag over him. A slightly more thoughtful person decided to put him in his tent, at which point he started shaking alarmingly. He seemed ok the next morning, although his face looked quite funny.
Bal-Sagoth - Ridiculous pompous battle metal, and all the more enjoyable for
it. Why does Byron (possibly not the name he was born with) insist on
looking like some kind of cross between Fred Durst and a nightclub bouncer
though? And now he's taken to speaking in an American accent). Was
disappointed to discover that the track I thought was called The Ethereal
Mexican is in fact named the slightly more plausible Emperial Lexicon.
Death Angel - Awesome. Clearly loving every minute, they seem to have reformed for more than the paycheck. Somewhere between Metallica and Guns 'N' Roses, and highly recommended. Won over the early afternoon crowd too. Unleashed - Proper Swedish death metal with no melody whatsoever. Seriously enjoyable, and possibly best death set of the weekend.
Anthrax - Another thrash great playing a crowd-pleasing set of old classic with a couple from the new album, and one from White Noise. The airing of Indians alone made my weekend. Baz and Emma thought they were shit, but would you believe a man who genuinely likes David Hasselhoff?
Cannibal Corpse - What's not to like? Hamstrung by the fact that it is illegal to play anything from the first three (and best three) albums in Germany, but still pretty damn good. 'This is one for all the ladies. It's called Fucked With a Knife'.
Hypocrisy - Sorry, I just think they're a bit boring. They played at least one really good song mind.
Children of Bodom - Very tight. Initially, I thought they were impressive but soulless. As the set progressed though, they got better and better. Lots of solos that go widdly-widdly, but they somehow make this sound brilliant.
Saxon - Solid but a tad unspectacular, plus I was looking forward to the next band. Also, the special guests appeared to amount to the guy who runs Wacken playing bass on one song.
Satyricon & Darkthrone - Band of the festival, no contest. Perfect sound, pitch black sky. Only thunder and lightning could have improved the setting. A flawless set of old songs and stuff off Volcano. Very powerful and atmospheric, not to mention evil. The added bonus was a four song Darkthrone set in the middle. Bearing in mind Darkthrone never play live, this was a black metal fan's wet dream. To say I nearly spaffed in my pants as they blasted through Transilvanian Hunger would be lie, because I actually did. The festival was topped of by Satyricon climaxing with Mother North (including Nocturno Culto on guitar), probably song of the weekend, perhaps ever.
Keithwatch - Couldn't live up to last night, and remained relatively sensible throughout the day.
All in all, great. See you next year. I'm getting my ticket soon.