9 Aug 2012

Wacken Open Air 2012 Battle Report

This years Wacken Open Air, the 23rd of its kind, is over and hangovers are upon us. While WOA 2012 is by far the muddiest and most wet festival I have ever had the pleasure of attending, it wasn't all bad.
Many fans feel that the quality of Wacken's line up has been steadily declining for years, but this year's festival featured several great metal acts (mixed in with the horde of talentless german gimick-bands ofcourse) such as Overkill, Testament, Six Feet Under, Kamelot, Saxon, Machinehead and others.

Sadly I was forced to skip Overkill because of a very sudden and beyond extreme rain storm. Suffice it to say, I couldn't have been any more wet if I had jumped in a pool fully clothed. Overkill was one of the bands I had been looking most forward to, and I can't imagine them putting on a bad show.
Kamelot, who played right before Overkill and right before and during the torrent of rain, I witnessed however. Having seen Kamelot fronted by Roy Khan only two years prior I had to see (and HEAR) their new frontman Tommy Karevik in action. I was immensely surprised and pleased by his performance, which indeed was more or less an exact copy of Khan's previous Wacken performance with Kamelot, but vocally Karevik was superior to the efforts of Khan in 2010. Armed with a solid setlist, a well-balanced sound and a stage routine that was pretty much exactly the same as last time Kamelot gave a great performance worth withstanding the weather for.

Another outstanding Wacken performance was that of the stoner metal band Red Fang. I was somewhat worried that their show wouldn't meet my previous expectations as I have friends who saw their show at Roskilde Festival 2012 who described it as not up to par. But as I entered the tent that is the split stage "WET" and "Headbangers" I was blown away by a warm and mighty show. Only two albums into their carreer it leaves little room for a varied setlist, but the songs they played seemed well-picked and were more than appropriate for the crowd's state of mind.

The last positive show I would like to highlight is Testament. Playing on Saturday means that some of the crowd is already hung over and tired from the previous days of partying, but that didn't bother Testament and their completely awesome show didn't leave much room for sitting down and feeling sorry for yourself. The power of Testament simply demands vicious headbanging. Musically it sounded like everyone was in their prime. Especially Chuck Billy's unique singing, which range from old school thrashy vocals to more groovy roaring vocals, was nothing but spot on, which meant they could easily play both the really old stuff and a couple of songs from their brand new album The Dark Roots of Earth.

Some of the less positive experiences, other than the oceans of mud (seriously, I have never ever seen so much mud in one place before), were the cancelling of Electric Wizard's show, who I had looked very much forward to seeing, and the performance of Six Feet Under. As I stood and waited for Electric Wizard at the WET and Headbangers stage, which was at the same time as Six Feet Under's set, we were informed that Electric Wizard was "stuck in traffic" and wouldn't be playing WOA 2012. Even as my disappointment was extreme, I realized I could instead go see Six Feet Under, of which I'm also a fan. When I arrived the show was already in full swing, but their performance was in all aspects really boring and uneventful. Even the setlist was incredibly predictable, and though the new lineup of Six Feet Under is comprised of highly talented musicians, Six Feet Under's music doesn't really leave much room for them to show their musical prowess.

In closing Wacken Open Air 2012 was a wet year, which made it really hard at times to fully enjoy the music and the festival. I know I saw fewer bands than in my previous years due to the mud making it bothersome to get around. The metal market was as always worth a visit or five, and the food was equally alright. I wish for next year that they will bring in more extreme metal bands, as these always seem to be left out, making room for shitty brass-band covers of metal songs, medieval covers of metal songs, german covers of metal songs and other gimicky german bands that none but the germans (who are indeed numerous on the festival for obvious reasons) will enjoy.

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