Report: WACKEN OPEN AIR 2004 - Lithuanian attitude towards events of anniversary metal fiesta
Birute and Tadas
Birute: 15th Wacken Open Air was the reason fields of quiet village were crowded by huge mass of metalheads and all stages were going to raise a number of very famous and strong metal acts. The jubilee attracted attention of record number of Lithuanian headbangers as well. Our countrymen stood the test of air, water and ground finally to get a trial of extreme heavy fire. Two of them were the most precise to remember events of those almost traditionally hot August days, so…
Tadas: Not the least, some traditions must not be broken, and one of the very important ones is our beloved Wacken and its fête, messing up minds and schedules each and every August.
Thursday, August 5
Birute: A Night to Remember opened Wacken Open Air festival joining forces of first three well-known metal acts on True Metal stage. We started Fiesta 2004 with Motörhead, the formation alias Lemmy & Co. Two years more and we will count thirty starting from the first release On Parole of those terror London children. Old metalheads still remember the triumph back in years and we recall their visit in our country. What the hell rules the command of Mr. Kilmister as such unforgettable hits like Overkill, Bomber, Ace of Spades, Iron Fist, Orgasmatron, Killed by Death etc. delight three generations of headbangers already! There are very few heavy metal commands left to bring the real trial to the necks of old and young, respect. How to charm a secret of the kick? Maybe point like “Long Livin’ Rock’n’roll” is true…
Well, some beer for exclusive show of Böhse Onkelz because the fatigue won the mach upon personal forces. As pointed the comrade that made his debut in Wacken this year, here you feel like in hell on earth. That’s really. So, sleep my friend and you will see that dream is my reality! And the reality of the second Wacken Open Air day will be the opening of nine gates to the abyss…
Tadas: Indeed, Lemmy was a night to remember, and not only for us. The rest of the pack was simply too hectic to check after a long and tiresome journey. Common, you’d better enjoy the cool pool with few beers, and then some, wouldn’t ya? And Motörhead kicked the weary asses, as bad as usual. Rock’n’roll, baby. Nothing more and nothing less.
Friday, August 6
Birute: Fuckin’ sun, feeling like walking in the heat chamber. Swimming pool is rather long-distant from the area of heavy beat and you experience a therapy like being in Wet stage although sitting in your own tent. There is any sign of rain in the sky, even no clouds, but it’s time to make efforts to storm the festival zone early in the morning. Colleague Tadas is more hardy to fight in the side of metal fever, so he meets with Orphanage before we join forces to enter Cathedral…
Tadas: Hey Birute, those hints about rain might be prophetic. Okay, no rain this year, but if it happens next year, and the rain will pour non-stop, I don’t think you will be happy, hehe… Okay, heat is not a single trouble for old school Lithuanian warrior in Wacken, and some rum helps as well. Strange, but it’s no problem to wake up early enough after a more or less violent night party, so here we go to check Dutch Orphanage, a band we are aware of for almost ten years, but never seen live. Well, very rhythmic and groovy performance, lots of expression on stage and loooong dress of the female vocalist – just what you need to clean up the hangover, or to hook up for another party, that is. Not bad, real not bad.
Birute: Cathedral performed in the sunshine and I was dreaming about fresh arcs of grandiose cathedrals. The doom metal canons were painted by psychedelic motives, riffs a la Black Sabbath and other colors with the years, not very successfully if to be true. Consequently, when four guys (hippy rather than metal musicians) entered the stage I was bored by their show. It was curiously to see live acting of legendary British formation but not more. So I could not say any praises to that. Only to add that frontman of the band heads “Rise Above Rec.” producing doom metal albums.
Tadas: I believe Cathedral gig was very special, strange and definitely out off the usual Wacken standard, so that’s why it has not brought easy reachable satisfaction to a common Wacken visitor. Perhaps the biggest mistake was Cathedral music itself, which simply could not fit into the rest of raw, shallow or simply violent heavy metal of those three days. If it were a doom night with 3-4 more similar bands opening, I am sure music of British hippies would have sounded so much more convincing. Anyway, I am feeling great seeing those guys on stage who sort of expose a huge “fuck off” to all and any standards. They have chosen most of their psychedelic tracks to mess it up even more. Cool slap in the face.
Birute: Yes, I was not satisfied with the show of Lee Dorrians’ band. Consequently me spent more than hour in the camping site trying to understand what has happened. Maybe Lee would be better to remain in Napalm Death then? Anyway, I also attempted to rest before the performance of Arch Enemy in order to headbang well despite of troublesome heat. I am much into Swedish melodic death metal nowadays, so entered the ball of Angela & Co. with great satisfaction. Oh yea, the union of female growling and the technical passages of experienced musicians was really perfect. And the tone of anti-fashion in red and tatter Angelas’ jeans was cool. The crowd of metalheads made a challenge to sun raging in front of Black stage for an hour. It seemed the confrontation with the virtual enemy to be successful as well as one of the best shows in Wacken that day, at least for me. The best remembrance today when listening to the new product titled Doomsday Machine…
Tadas: It was the third time for Mayhem in my sight this year – perhaps none other foreign band has topped that off, but I guess it was the least impressive their show witnessed. Might be that two others were much more suggestive and effective, might be the difference of stages and different surroundings, since the pig heads were there, but something was definitely not there – the feeling, perhaps? Or Maniac’s hair cut off in half again? Perhaps it was not their day, and that’s it.
Birute: Well well, we met Tadas with a big bag expecting to find the head of pig from Mayhems’ bloody feast here. Unfortunately there was not one, thus our pot kept empty: no meat jelly, no brain soup, no roast… OK, I am going to visit True Metal stage at least trying to find some skeletons or treasure hand in hand with famous German heavy/power metallers Grave Digger. Heavy Metal Breakdown was done twenty years ago and white-headed frontman Mr. Chris Boltendahl is the only person from the first line-up left today but the band still stands in front of the style with comrades-in-arms Helloween, Running Wild and Rage. I also remember the infernal opening of the grave back in years so it was cool to repeat together with the crowd: “heavy metal breakdo-o-o-o-own, heavy metal breakdown…” The dose of melodic tunes was very betimes after beat of extreme black metal, no offence for Mayhems’ fans. When the grave was closed it seemed like the distress of the second Wacken Open Air day to be buried here. But long live to Heavy Metal! And one hour break to prepare to meet famous vocals of hard music scene in a face of Ronnie James…
… Dio, that’s true. Years in Black Sabbath, Rainbow and 11 albums with solo group – such tremendous luggage is of small man with great voice. And Wacken was entranced by excellent pastorals and passages, effective light play, fire effects, all in all – by really nice performance duration on more than hour. It is impossible to compare the impression after live show versus that listening to studio albums. When the action was finished and Ronnie hosted a rather large gift from Manowars it was burst to say: “we want more!” But no, Dio seemed to be tired. On the other hand, it was time to run to Black stage for the killing attack of insane thrashing destructors…
I just remembered the movie Desperado where three men used guitars in a way of arsenal of massive killing ammunition. Now three guys of Destruction were going to crush everything with ablaze thrash metal. Those who did not ground arms for twenty years know what to do with that. So we talked for an hour with destructors in words like Life without Sense, Invincible Force, Curse the Gods, Devastation of Your Soul etc. Yeah, that was great. It seems thrash metal to be alive and strong again. But what’s the hell? I did not drink any alcohol, nevertheless the stage was accessed by… Peter Tagtgren, Sabina Classen and two more persons to do last cuts with the command of Mr. Schmier! That was a real surprise, not vision of my heated brain…
So not any Wacken festival stage was destroyed by pyrotechnics and we were bystanders of uncommon event worth to be written in metal history. What relation one could find among Warlock, Doro, Blaze and… symphonic orchestra? It should be mystery if not to look at action in True Metal stage that evening. Re-union of Doro Pesch with previous “home” band to one nigh alliance was surprise itself but the whole orchestra along! Moreover, Warlocks started using acoustic guitars and percussion and duet of Doro with Blaze in Iron Maiden stuff was some kind of tableau. All metalheads enjoyed such appearance, spiced with common Warlock & Doro show like 15 years ago… That was unique experience of the 6th August, even worth to be a “caramel” of A Night to Remember. Nothing to add, incredible show…
Tolkien became famous because of mystic trilogy Lord of Rings. Vikings won fame of their glorious sea marches. Sweden bore a lot of good metal acts. So what? Vikings’ saga told by five Swedes Amon Amarth in veins of Viking metal called a crowd of metalheads which would be slept in other situation. Horn to serve like water-bottle to Johan Hegg and other Vikings also showed who is who. An hour of fine, technical, melodic metal and a cut of powerful growling showed Amon Amarth not only to know Tolkiens novella and Viking sagas but also to find formula of really desirable and interesting music. Announcing their forthcoming release Fate on Norns then they proved to stand ahead of Viking metal stage world wide. Oh, hard satisfaction…
How to reach the tent when you are going on but extremely tired legs after standing of near 13 hours drive you back? The question seems strange but that’s so. When I came to the camp at last I wanted nothing but to rest sleeping well. And I saw Vikings, pigs and angels of death near Bodom lake in my sweet dreams…
Saturday, August 7
Tadas: Good morning, black Friday! Shit, it’s Saturday already? Ah, well, and we still have one looong day at Wacken to feast! Then let’s go and bang the fuckin’ head out, even if it is heavy as hell after quite average German beer! Well, nobody else to blame just ourselves for buying mediocre sorts of it. Seems that I am one of the first from our camp to appear right behind the stage again – strange indeed, but worth maybe, since Bal-Sagoth once was a team to be excited with. Bursting out about their grand return, British guys looked poor on stage, mostly because of their clumsy appearance. It was like meeting old buddies from the next street on stage – neither any allusion to cosmic visions of latest releases, nor a single reminiscence of Hyperborean past. And even recognizable music sounded pretty weak on that big stage. Sad but true.
Birute: My last day of WOA 2004 started with “true” metal served by Death Angel. The brutal family (not of sweet Kelly) of famous Bay Area was reborn after many years of silence to show to a crowd of metalheads the wings of angel of death to beat as mightily as before despite the black coat was changed. Old fans could enjoy of the majority of previous stuff although we had to learn for the art of going beyond from the new book name of The Art of Dying. The anger of star and zero chance of rain were covered by a dose of nice music and we escaped the sunstroke while the Angel swept with dark wings the last time and set out. And we started to look at Black stage.
Why? Sweden served a lot of good death metal acts for the table of deadly ball back in years. Entombed, Dismember, Edge Of Sanity, Grave, Hypocrisy, At The Gates carried a black flag or keep on carrying that. One command was not such successful because of lack of originality and technical riffs, consequently it seemed to fall silent for ages. But you never know. The band tried to unleash the hell and Wacken greeted the quartet back in 2002. And those guys were ambitious to desolate again, know in big stage of WOA. I was prying to see Unleashed again. What’s new in the camp of those Swedes? Nothing, to be true: the same hard-line death metal both savage and not melodic. What’s right? The band arose from ashes like sphinx when the homeland lacks bands of classical death metal. What’s wrong? Lack of originality and musical stagnation kinda: where I heard that? – well, Where No Life Dwells; when? – back in 1991. But there is some oomph in the existence of the band and stout Johnny Hedlund is rather nice. So, Wacken was unleashed again, lord devilish jury!
Then I was looking for respirator, vaccine or any disinfection because epidemics of anthrax ramped to be spread in Wacken fields. At last I decided rather to take a lot of water and let the sun to heat ugly bacteria. Enjoy Anthrax! I waited to see famous New York thrashers headed by Joey Belladonna for many years. One of the commands of “big four” (Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer, Anthrax) devastated True Metal stage and treated our ears with such well-known tracks as Enemy, I Am the Man, Antisocial, Keep It in the Family and many more. The big dose of dynamic, sharp, jolly music acted better than any vaccine. The return of those thrashers straight baptized We’ve Come for You All was really cool despite of lacking original bass guitarist Franko Bellos. Fuckin’ heat, I won against you, no matter the sun singed my nose. Oh, wish to be water, water everywhere like in the words of Maidens’ Rime of the Ancient Mariner…
Who’s next? Black stage was going to become something like mix of butchery, cemetery and slab because of the invasion of maniacs/cannibals/necrophils/sadists… Don’t be afraid, that’s only Cannibal Corpse guys. Well, no stumps of human bodies or dead babies on the stage, just two men with bloody aprons near me although without knives. An hour of splitting death/gore/grind nightmare blew alike lightning seeming to hit all the backline equipment and to crush your head. And the stream of pictures like spawning creatures, babies torn from the gut womb, rotten corpses, coupling of the dead should whelm everything around… Modern inquisitors in the face of censor would like to smash all that but not – production of Cannibals is absolute leader in death metal category. Wow, 15 years of hurricane of extreme brutality already. Nothing new still exciting!
Tadas: Summer heat has not prevented from expecting the very best from Seattle‘s own Nevermore, and the huge area stuffed with the audience has proved the worldwide interest and appreciation of this highly talented progressive thrash metal band. Few Wackens before I managed to miss them [shame on me! shame on me!!], so this time round nothing could prevent from the full consumption of lethal yet gorgeous metal hymns. All of them were there most naturally, none of the hits was left unplayed. The overwhelming heat perhaps helped this music and kind of correlated the questioning tone of Warrel Dane, whilst music of Nevermore is simply created for huge stages. Otherwise, with such pathos and expression, it must sound great at any time, in any place and on any weather. So, Wacken proved them absolutely rulling the world, and left the deepest open and bleeding scar on yours truly this year. Here I am – now, and forever loyal to Nevermore.
Birute: 18:00 was appointed for the confrontation with canting Swedes. The leader of those is constantly circled from The Abyss to Pain and even did one night alliance with destructors! Anyway he remained true to the main creation – Hypocrisy. And I personally stayed true fan of the band for many years. WOA 2004 should be called like festival of many surprises including four members of Hypocrisy and Immortals’ Horgh on drums. Presenting the brilliant album “The Arrival” four messengers of unearthly civilization made a real hell on earth. Diving, cold shower, a lot of photos, acclamations after each track were only extra to technical, aggressive and melodic, brutal and romantic, raging and lyrical music at the same time. The formation of hypocrites must be one of the best live showing metal bands ever. Fortunately, Peter Tagtgren is still not tired because of a lot of various affairs, Hypocrisy is out of frame of solo project and The Final Chapter did not mean the end of the cant. Respect!
What’s next? My body cried me for war and finally refused to be without any rest. So the tribute to Helloween was done sitting with the glass of beer in the VIP zone. Anyway my soul agreed upon my legs to reach Wet stage for brutalysts Disbelief. Their show was really good despite the sound and the lights were not of high quality. At last drops of sweat signalized it’s time to leave the brutal tent to meet a chill of dark mysterious lake and maybe to face the weird murderer…
Devil sun stood down for light pirouettes to fill Black stage. Four of five Children of Bodom (lacking guitarist Alexander Kuoppala) entered the “waterside” to spread tunes of both dynamic and melodic speed/power with blackish vocals, angry and pretty, enchanting and attractive. The clone of similar bands is natural result as the music of Bodom children is really cool. Stream of water now was for the impression kinda you are crossing the lake and are meeting with ghosts of killed infants. We were greatly satisfied without any doubt. When the mist of Bodom went away and the show was over I could hardly believe there was not the murderer with the scythe somewhere nearby not let to see the next surprising act of black union after. But he was not, luckily or fatally?
Tadas: Seems that organizers have left the very top of the cake for the very end, that is – for the most stout-hearted black [and not only] metallers around. Goddamn, I think black metal on stage has never witnessed so huge audience before!! At least it was one of those exceptional occasions and no wonder why. You know the story by heart, we knew it with Mairtin [Metalworks magazine, cheerz dude!] before the show too, but something got dead wrong with those vodka & orange fruits mixes down there… so half of Satyricon set was veeeery mysterious indeed with uncontrolled jumps into sleepy fields… I know that I was standing proudly, but have seen just a part of the show anyway, hah. Of course Satyricon were huge on stage, their set was not too long but impressive, and still everybody was waiting for the miracle – perhaps the only time of Darkthrone project on such huge festival ever, with Nokturno Culto violating the microphone and speakers, whilst Satyr, Frost and the rest of the crew banging their instruments out with Darkthrone classics. I guess that caused even the dead to rise up from their tombs to see that unique half an hour of black metal history. Must admit that guys have managed to create a pretty dark atmosphere with that A Blaze In The Northern Sky intro and the rest of their music. One more song and none other but Mr. Abbath jumps in to sing along one of the choruses. That’s what I call a nice surprise, worth waiting and paying for.
Birute: So, such is the epopee of anniversary Wacken fest. I remember how sad I was at least six months after returning home from that undoubtedly great event of metal year. But the nature turns round and the next part of Wacken Open Air will be soon. So comrades, shine or rain, we’ll meet in infinite fields to join our anxious souls. See you there!
Tadas: Indeed, time flies faster than you might imagine, and if you still do not count the year cycle “from Wacken to Wacken”, you’d better consult us or those other 30000+ freaks that live, breathe, speak, drink, eat, fuck, piss and throw up Metal those three hot August days!!!