Welcome to the sequel of my first (and awesome) W:O:A experience. Many things are left to say.
So, the festival started – it was for the 5th, 6th and 7th of August, also with the allowance to stay on the fields until 20:00 on Sunday. The event started in a magnificent way… I remember rushing to the gates while Doro was singing the Wacken anthem which we could hear on the website for the entire year, then we watched a hell of a line up entertain us: Alice Cooper, Motley Crue and Iron Maiden. I doubt everyone there was an oldies freak, but it was quite a show to hear the kings in these bands rock so hard after decades… Thank God they didn’t put W.A.S.P. for this day too! …Though I really loved this “A Night To Remember” concept, I had to make a radical switch of styles for a while, because the Finns of Ghost Brigade were playing in the tent stage. Well done, it was a band with very unique flavor in this year’s festival and I officially started my headbanging with them. Nordic harshness and coldness, typically melodic on aggressive tunes, with surprising slow or fast parts, all this in a very modern manner. I’m happy they made it here, they deserve it. Iron Maiden provided indescribable moments… and surely an indescribable attendance. It was well dark already, all the flames and light effects were at full splendor, showing what’s like to be in the biggest metal festival. By the end I could not believe it was only the first day! I was happy to get to hear top songs for me – “No More Lies“, which they perform very seldom as I know, and “Blood Brothers“, dedicated to the late Ronnie James Dio.
On Friday, I had to end my morning laziness very soon and rush to begin a very full day, even tougher than the previous one. I checked End of Green on the Party Stage and they sounded pretty good. I sometimes find their goth style to be very catchy, while still keeping a bitter and rough edge. On the True Metal Stage, however, a highlight was being prepared (at least for me…): Amorphis. My 5th time to see them, and no, I didn’t watch them just to support one of the few Finnish bands in Wacken. I got a spot in the second row, being very happy with that. They were pure bliss to my ears, now more than ever. With a clear, perfect sound, they pleased a whole crowd gathered before noon – and think how early that feels in a festival!! Not many surprises in the setlist, except for “Alone“, a former Pasi Koskinen hit, now sung flawlessly by Tomi Joutsen. And yeah, he made it sound fantastic, even to the fans of the original version!
Then there was Orphaned Land to watch, which is an interesting, progressive, exotic band. Mixing their metal with traditional sounds of Israel, they invited everyone to get in a positive state and to enjoy the amazing variety of cultures. Well done, a lot of success for this band, must mention! I went to see the heavy Astral Doors, then had a good break until I witness another highlight: Kamelot. At first, I only intended to see it for their songs which have raised my mood during the past years… but it proved to be so much more. A true show, with majestic entertainers on stage and a wonderful public stretching much to the back of the area. Also, there was one totaly epic moment in which the band had to stop in the middle of “Forever” because… everybody turned backwards to watch a ballon pass very low above the crowd The guys handled it well and resumed the gig, all filled with “headbangers’ hits” and some new, very tasty songs (I was sold to “The Great Pandemonium“). I had to skip some bands from my personal running order (like Equilibrium, which would’ve been such a folk metal treat, as well as 1349) but I caught a bit of Ihsahn, Slayer, Atrocity and Corvus Corax. It was getting confusing and frustrating, to be honest… Too much, and at the same time I had to keep track of my friends, cure my hunger and keep the cold away. Damn, it was cold. The much-awaited metal party until morning was not an option anymore.
Saturday was killer hot. For a while, it was all about lying in the shade and drinking anything refreshing, except for alcohol. I saw Unleashed, fine death metal from Sweden in the vein of Amon Amarth and Kampfar, good black metal from Norway. I would’ve watched every bit of these, but they were at the same time, unfortunately! Delain followed (very good, but far from greatness without Marco Hietala…) then W.A.S.P. – my first time to see them, I was very excited… Looovely gig, but too short for me and with too few songs from the latest album. Stratovarius, the well-known Finns, were a band to remember! I expected a serious disappointment, yet they got the crowd cheering! Checked Immortal, Tiamat and U.D.O later on, but my main interest was in Rotting Christ, due to their superb album of 2010 (“Aealo”). Where were the calm and atmospheric passages? Where were the breaks? All I could hear was speed, force, speed, force. And it rocked!!! A very strong and ‘evil’ performance, leaving me in need to catch my breath. That was some pure metal energy, I swear. And there it was… the hottest day ended… with the coldest night. Too bad, it was also the last night of the festival… going through the campsite, I could tell the people were exhausted and maybe sad enough already. No more parties, no more shouting; for the first time, one could sleep in silence… which I felt extremely weird and saddening.
…Time to go back to beautiful Hamburg and join the afterparty in the famous (Headbangers’) Ballrom in the red light district of Reeperbahn.
W:O:A IS BEAUTIFUL!
- The Hamburg airport confusion: As we arrived, we found ourselves in a hall with plenty of ways to take… We tried following several metalheads groups (“They’re going to Wacken, they must know!”), only to realize they were just as confused. Back to that hall. More groups were staring at us, hoping we would ‘lead’ the way… I don’t know who found the right way in the end and how…
- Easy get-around. I hate the part of making my way in the big cities. This time, however, it was not impossible, even without knowing German. At first, a helpful local offered to show me how the ticket system works and then I could buy one myself whenever needed. The S-Bahn trains are cool, fast and the essential route is not hard to learn. also, booking and taking the Metal buses is a great thing.
- No violence. Metal + endless alcohol + freedom might sounds like a dangerous mix. But no, nothing bad happens in Wacken, it’s ever peaceful. Freedom is the key here: people have the luxury of acting however they like – they compete against each other, ‘fight’, ‘battle’, run, scream, wrestle in mud when there’s such etc. Thus they spend the energy, and it brings a positive vibe; no need to get mad and beat people.
- Camping issues: not many, because the weather was perfect most of the time, lucky year! Sleeping bags and good boots are compulsory though, anytime. Make sure you have proper food and drinks with you, to keep you resistant, because you’ll get very little sleep. No quiet hours, as was mentioned before, and as the sun rises high the heat becomes unbearable inside the tent. Safety – great. Nothing was ever stolen from anybody I knew.
- Finnish presence: you figured out so far, the 2010 bill was poor in Finnish bands… There was one hope for many of us, however: the “Surprise Show” of the Red Bull bus. This year, Apocalyptica! Moreover, we are filled with pride and joy because the METAL BATTLE (with a total of 26 participant countries) was won by Battle Beast, which means Finland’s victory!
See you someday, somehow, at W:O:A!