Review: Wacken Open Air 2005

The time came again for Metal to dominate the village of Wacken, whose name is as mythic as the event itself. One thing was clear from the start: Odín was mocking us from the beginning until the end. The weather was anything but stable, with constant rain (pouring rain), succeeded by some sun beams. Seeing the terrain type , where the festival and camping site take place, that meant a lot, but a lot of mud. Mud that was at least 20 cm deep in certain areas. Still, that was not enough to dismiss the thousands of people that were there for the festival. For personal reasons, great part of the time (especially during the afternoon) it was impossible for me to be on the festival ground, henceforward, I will make a short noticed over the bands that I indeed had the opportunity to attend.

Thursday, around 18h, Tristania opened the hostilities and got on the True Metal Stage. Starting up with "Libre", followed by "World of Glass, they presented a set quite similar to the one offered during the last tour. With only 45 minutes available, they had a good performance and managed to heat the crowd a bit. The closing track would be (as is already a tradition) Angellore.

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Later, after Candlemass, it was the turn for OOMPH!. It seems to me that they felt a bit awkwardly on that festival, but the audience was there in great number and accompanied the band on their tunes and more popular lyrics. After all, they are a big act in Germany and some songs stick into peoples minds, whether they want it or not. Great part of the set was composed by songs of their last effort, "Wahreit oder Pflicht", but also not forgetting older material such as "Gekreuzig" or "Niemand". "Augen Auf" was the closing track and, as usual, they got most of the crowd singing the chorus. I appreciate their feeling on stage and the way they try to communicate with the crowd. A fairly nice concert.

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Nightwish were the ones responsible for ending this first night with big names in Wacken. At this hour, the festival ground was amazingly full. This was not just because of the night`s headliners but also for the fact that there was only one stage working (normally there are at least two – of the four – stages on during the rest of the festival days), what meant that the number of people concentrated for the concert was great and occupied more than half of that area. Also presenting a set alike to the one performed during the tour, Nightwish started with "Dark Chest of Wanders". One of the songs that sounded as a surprise was "The Kinslayer". The cover of Pink Floyd`s "High Hopes" was also present, with Marco taking the lead. Tarja presented a good performance. Still, I have to point out that using the "non-operatic" voice in old songs, for which that (the operatic) was a feature, makes it sound a bit weird. I dare say, not as good as the original. The closing set was the usual, "Kuolema Tekee Taiteilijan", "Nemo", "Ghost Love Score" and "Wish I Had An Angel". The pyros were not dispensed, of course, and the end of the concert was complemented by the festival`s nice fireworks.

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On Friday, the opening act for the Black Stage was Naglfar, which I only had the chance to see the last minutes. Though they started "early in the morning", at 11h, there was already a lot of people awake and standing there, ready to party. The rain and mud, especially the latter that was even more than on the previous day, where not a threat to the listeners (as I stated above). The band was sounding interesting.

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The next concert for me would be the end of Within Temptation on the Black Stage after 20h. I was quite surprised that they played the song "Enter", which was not featured on their last tour and last year at Mera Luna. I could still hear "The Other Half (of Me)", one of their strongest song in my opinion, along with "Jane Doe". I did see "Cage", "Ice Queen" with Sharon getting the metalheads to sing that initial and background notes and finally "Mother Earth". Can not really have an opinion on the concert, for I did not see much of it, but Sharon sounded quite good and Robert`s vocals were heard properly this time. The stage had their now typical extras and the band seemed generally appealing.

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After this, it was time for Machine Head on the True Metal Stage. I only saw the beginning of this concert, but I can say that they started out with a "bang". Their performance was filled with power and it seemed they would not take long to lead the crowd. I`m almost sure it was one of the best concerts of the festival.

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Around 23h, it was the turn of Apocalyptica, back on the Black Stage. Also presenting in great part their tour`s set, most of the highlights were, of course seeing the circumstances, the Metallica`s covers. They played several songs from the new album, such as "Life Burns!", "Betrayal", "Bittersweet" and also "Farewell" (one of my personal favourites). "Heat" from the previous album was also featured and, finishing the concert in class, the Norwegian "Hall of the Mountain King" took place. The Finnish seem to be in shape.

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Corvus Corax and their special performance with an orchestra and a choir were responsible for closing the True Metal stage. It was an interesting concert but, though I did not have great expectations, I did think they would offer a bit more. Or maybe it was the fact that it also seemed quite weird in the festival`s context. They presented their interpretation of Carmina Burana. I expected them to play the main song of the piece, but that did not happen. At the end of the concert, they were accompanied by the festival`s fireworks, which were placed with a good timing along with the music.

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After this, though there were requests for a "Zugabe" and they indeed came back to the stage for a moment, the sounds of an intro were coming from the Party Stage and this meant that Turisas were starting. A great number of people, including myself, simply ran to that area, with no intentions of loosing any bit of that concert. If not mistaken (not sure though), they started off with "As Torches Rise". The time was short, merely 45 minutes, so it had to be good and intense. And it was! Turisas presented some pieces of their debut album, as "One More", followed by a short pause that was taken to call the female guest singer (Emmanuelle Zoldan) on stage and ask the audience to turn their lighters on, so "Midnight Sunrise" could take place. They are undeniably good entertainers, for the way they act on stage and speak with the crowd. The medley they proposed was also a proof of this: they managed to join songs from "Ode to Joy" to the song from Bonanza and many others that in a way or another were a part of our youth or lives. The "Lambada" in the middle of that mix just got me laughing for a long time. Amazing medley! "Among Ancestors", "Rex Regi Rebellis" were presented amongst others and the band ended their performance with "Battle Metal". The crowd was completely positively wild and enjoying the concert, screaming along, headbanging, doing everything typical of a good metal concert. For me, this was one of the best concerts of the whole festival, leaving a big smile and a good mood. After this, for two minutes I saw the end of Samael`s performance that seemed to be rocking the Black Stage. The surprise act for day was Stratovarius, but unfortunately I did not see them.

Saturday, the last day of this big festival.

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Almost at 19h, Finntroll took their role on the Party Stage. For an hour, they delivered their set, in which I could recognize only a small number of songs like "Slaget Vid Blodsälv", the well-known "Trollhammaren" and others that I cannot associate to a name at the moment. The crowd was… a bit dangerous. But when you go to a concert like this, you should know what to expect. Many crowd surfers that appeared out of nowhere, muddy boots hitting heads but also a good mood. The bass sound was way too loud and almost irritating, messing up the sound of the performance altogether. I was told that it was not the first time this situation happens in the Party Stage.

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A bit later around 21h, I was on the WET Stage to see Regicide once again. The sound of this indoor stage was surprisingly good, though sometimes the speakers made weird noises. The band started off with "The Fragrance" (I think… was not taking notes during the whole festival) and followed with "An Embracing Space Parts II & III". The audience received them enthusiastically and there were also headbangers and crowd surfers enjoying this concert. This young but professional band seemed completely happy and proud of themselves for being there and for what was standing in front of them. Other songs from their debut were played, such as "Behind His Eyes", "Viorus" and "Biography" (not specifically in this order). It was a really good performance, especially considering that they were performing for an audience that would normally listen to completely different types of metal/music.

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Could not hear the last notes of their performance, for the time for Equilibrium was coming and I could not loose that. It is also impossible of me to say in which order they performed the songs from their debut, though I recognized them all. They called on stage their female guest vocalist, Gabi Ross (her name was screamed aloud by the audience several times), for certain songs, such as the end of "Widars Hallen", which her part was stylishly played before the song itself, and "Heidalls Ruf". As expected, "Met" was definitely one of the highlights, kind of played twice in a row, with almost every person of the crowd singing along. "Die Prophezeiung" also took place and the final track was the great "Nordheim". For me, if this promising band continues to have a good career, this song will always be "the" song! This one was a really great concert.

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Finally, some time to relax and have a beer in the Biergarten before checking out Primordial for a bit. It was also an interesting performance, but was not there until the end.

The last concert of this festival for me would be Sentenced. One again, the weather had its touch and at the exact moment they started playing, it started pouring terribly. It eventually calmed down. The band appeared to present a mixture of feelings during the concert, for they only had an hour to play for the last time in Wacken and in Germany. "We only have an hour, so not time for bullshit, just playing", but also "time for bullshit and not playing", were more or less the words of Ville Laihiala, presenting the ambiguity. Once again, cannot really present names of songs, besides the old "Bleed", "The rain comes falling down", the new "Ever-Frost"… They presented classic and songs from the new and their last "Funeral Album". I expected this concert to have a greater audience, but well, people say that it is not the quantity but the quality that matters. Although it was rainy and extremely cold, their performance was a warm one.

I would like to leave notice here concerning the good security searches at the entrance (not counting the times when there was too many people waiting and they eventually allowed the entrance only by showing the wristbands). Also, the quality of the sound in the four stages and the incredible light system in the main stages. The mood and ambience of the festival are also quite amusing and motivating sometimes. Hope to be able to go back one day.

Bericht von Joana Santos, Fotos von Torsten Volkmer

Links:
alle Bilder vom Wacken 2005
wacken.com