Power of Metal.dk Live Review

Location: Wacken Open Air, Germany
August 2nd - 4th, 2012

Wacken Open Air. An institution. A giant of a festival. The meeting place for thousands of headbangers. If you haven’t heard of it then, sorry, my friend, you’re not metal at all.


The first day here haven’t been without trouble. Why? Because this festival has outsized itself. One part of our team arrived Wednesday and got a space for the rest of us. Only, we were stopped at the entrance and refused access to the press camp site, even if we insisted that we had friends in there, and that space was reserved for us. No can do. After an hour’s going back and forth and discussion and calling bosses, things worked out in the end, but, dammit, the zero tolerance attitude of a way too big organization is all of a sudden felt.

Anyway, all was good eventually, even if the hassle meant that we missed some one of the bands we’d planned to see. Missing all but 30 seconds of Danish KELLERMENSCH’s Wacken debut doesn’t really justify a comment, but the people leaving the WET stage tent look happy enough.

In the meantime, SKYLINE warm up the Thursday audience with covers ranging from AC/DC over Manowar to Rammstein. I’m not entirely certain why it has become tradition that this combo opens Wacken – it’s not because it’s great art, that’s for sure.

Different with SEPULTURA. Here’s a band that deserves shitloads of respect if you ask me. They’ve gone through an almost impossible situation with a seemingly irreplaceable front man leaving only to replace him with a completely unknown fellow. Then, after years of struggling their way back on the map, the drummer, one of the cornerstones of the band, also leaves (to rejoin his brother, the aforementioned front man). I think many of us considered Sepultura bygones. But no, with Derrick Greene now having been part of the band for a longer time than his predecessor and with a strong new drummer behind the kit and the last couple of releases being fine efforts, Sepultura seems to be heading in the right direction and that even without making compromises along the way.

And today’s gig owns Sepultura even more respect. Instead of doing the obvious best-of gig they COULD do if they wanted to and thousands of people would be more than pleased with, Sepultura have invited the French percussion group Les Tambours Du Bronx who open the show. Les Tambours aren’t present throughout the entire gig, but enhance most of the already strong rhythm section of the Brazilian band. Along the way, we get old and new Sepultura tunes, most notably Refuse/Resist, Territory and Roots as well as the title track from last year’s critically acclaimed ‘Kairos’ album. Cool to hear the Seps doing Firestarter! Excellent gig!

[Rating: 83]
Attending: Thomas, Philippe, Jørgen, Kent

No Wacken festival without lots of German metal. And this year is no exception. UDO DIRKSCHNEIDER has had a hard time impressing the Power Of Metal.dk staff with his solo albums, but we’re expecting some Accept material…right? Jawohl! We get what we want in the shape of Princess of the Dawn, Man Or Machine, the mighty Metal Heart and Balls to the Wall. As a little gimmick, U.D.O is joined by Mr. Lordi for a rendition of Break the Rules. Sadly, he’s also joined by Doro for Dancing with an Angel. Oh, horror! Terrible kitsch.

[Rating: 70]
Attending: Thomas, Jørgen, Philippe, Kent

I was a week ago at Ian Anderson’s Jethro Tull concert, at Canal Street festival in Arendal: it was just great. But now, it is time for CHANNEL ZERO at Wacken, and no way for them for “Living in the Past”! So their 90’s are quickly revisited with “Suck My Energy” and “Back to the Bone”, then they are wanting to defend “Feed’em with a Brick”, their comeback CD. The quartet is king in Belgium, but it has to conquer each inch outside its border. The guys are hungry, the audience is happy. We are getting 45 short but intense minutes, for a show full of sweat and blood. Their energy is definitely not sucked. Welcome back!

[Rating: 88]
Attending: Philippe, Thomas

SAXON is was Saxon is: heavy metal pure. The Brits deliver a solid gig and Biff is in fantastic shape. They’re almost too good; were we stand it’s hard to focus as circle pits keep emerging! Very metal. Best deliveries from Saxon? Give Me Power, Eagle Has Landed, Denim and Leather, Wheels of Steel, Motorcycle Man are candidates.

[Rating: 85]
Attending: Kent, Jørgen

Listen: The first time I saw VOLBEAT was in 2003. They played in the corner of a venue. They didn’t even have a real stage. Around people were listening to them, I reckon. After the gig I bought the band’s two demo CD’s from Michael Poulsen outside the venue.

Tonight, I realize just how gigantic my fellow Danes have become in Germany. The grounds in front the True Metal Stage are packed with people. I mean…packed! Poulsen tells us that the band received a platinum record for the German sales of their latest album yesterday. Respect.

Volbeat can do nothing wrong tonight. Perhaps not as agile and dynamic as the now fired guitarist Thomas, Hank Sherman (Mercyful Fate) is technically a more than adequate replacement on the second guitar. Even if they do make mistakes up there, this Wacken audience is just sucking the whole thing up and offering a response that even bigger bands could only dream of.

Fallen, Guitar Gangsters and Cadillac Blood, Heaven Nor Hell, Radio Girl, 16 Dollars, Mirror and the Ripper, Warriors Call, Sad Man’s Tongue, the list of hits seems endless, and the audience knows it all.

The real strokes of genius from Volbeat’s side is the use the coincidence of having both Mille from Kreator and Barney from Napalm Death nearby (Napalm Death will be playing tomorrow). Mille and Michael Denner from Mercyful Fate join Volbeat for 7 Shots and Barney for Evelyn. Bloody Excellent!

The evening with Michael Poulsen and his guitar gangsters end with an encore set of I Only Wanna Be With You, Pool of Booze, Booze, Booze, Still Counting and the mandatory snippet of Rain in Blood. Killer end of the first day of our Wacken.

[Rating: 90]
Attending: Thomas, Philippe, Kent, Jørgen



For us, Friday kicks off with old-school thrash in the shape of SACRED REICH. As it has been the case with quite a few of the performances this year, the bass drums tend to dominate the mix, whereas it at first is difficult to hear Phil Rind’s voice as Death Squad sets off. Things are adjusted slightly during Love/Hate Relationship, but the vocals never become as audible as I’d like them to. Only when the sympathetic, but very talkative Rind does his inter-song speeches he can easily be heard. Man, that guy can talk. He goes on about not liking the wall of death and being much more in favour of the circle of life and about the band not having put out new material in 16 years. Less talk, more songs, please!
Anyway, tunes like The American Way, Crimes Against Humanity, Who’s to Blame, Ignorance, Independent, I Don’t Know, Surf Nicaragua and War Pigs can nothing but convince and make an old-school fan a happy geezer.

[Rating: 80]
Attending: Thomas, Philippe, Jørgen, Kent

One of the gigs I’ve been looking anxiously forward to this year is the return of SANCTUARY, the precursor to Nevermore. The ‘Into the Mirror Black’ (1990) album was huge for me back in the day, and finally hearing these songs live is a very attractive thought, although I have to admit that upon revisiting the two Sanctuary albums as preparation for the festival, the ‘Into the Mirror Black’ material isn’t quite as timeless as I remembered it to be – with a couple of exceptions of course. The ‘Refuge Denied’ (1988) isn’t at all as timeless as I remembered it to be, and I’ve caught myself thinking how relevant Sanctuary would actually be in the year 2012.

The audience turn-out in front of the Black Stage indicates that my suspicion was heading in the right direction. There’s very little pressure in front of the stage as Warrel Dane and Sanctuary start out with Eden Lies Obscured. One thing you notice of course is that the sound is miserable, but that’s also been a typical issue with Nevermore when they played here. The sound improves, though, even if it is far from perfect, and Sanctuary continue with Die For My Sins, Taste Revenge, the all-time classic Future Tense, The Mirror Black, White Rabbit, Sanctuary. A new song is aired, I Am The Glow is what I make it out to be called, but I might be mistaken. Sounds good and up-to-date. You get the feeling that Dane has obviously expected a much more enthusiastic reception than he meets today, constantly trying to incite to more chaos than the early afternoon Wacken audience is capable of mustering at this time of day and, yes, Dane has been accustomed to a much more vivid reaction from the audience with Nevermore, but you’re also looking at a band with a different timing, reach and appeal. Even if Sanctuary play well and Dane’s voice is in seemingly good shape, I seriously doubt that there is enough substance in the old songs to keep things going for more than a few festival gigs.

[Rating: 70]
Attending: Thomas, Philippe, Jørgen, Kent

Just after 3 P.M., the heavens slam their gates wide open and unleash hell upon Wacken. Rain, wind, lightning as I haven’t seen it in years during a festival hits us. Luckily for us, we’re enjoying our lunch in the tent when the forces of nature are running rampage and turn Wacken Open Air into one big puddle of mud.

As if by magic, the rain stops five minutes before OVERKILL enter the Black Stage and deliver what is probably one of the best Overkill festival gigs I’ve witnessed. Come and Get It from ‘The Electric Age’ functions as the invitation for this speed/thrash ball, only to be followed by Bring Me The Night and the classic Elimination. Then the all fired up Overkill present us to the Wrecking Crew and Electric Rattlesnake. I have to admit I don’t yet know ‘The Electric Age’ well enough to know the names of all the songs, but the next one is just a killer. Then Hello From the Gutter pleases old guys like myself, Ironbound follows suit and Save Yourself. Here’s to the Old School never was my favourite Overkill track, but, damn, the audience sucks it up today. As if to make it up a bit to me, Blitz and the boys then play my all-time favourite Overkill song, In Union We Stand. Colossal! Rotten To The Core and Fuck You end a fantastic festival set.

[Rating: 92]
 Attending: Thomas, Philippe, Jørgen, Kent

I head over to the Headbangers stage to catch Polish DECAPITATED whom I only know sporadically. But, man, without knowing a single song, it’s refreshing, almost liberating to bang my head to this heads-down, top-quality old school death metal. It’s a blast. Excellent band!

[Rating: 85]
Attending: Thomas

The fourth and last time I saw CORONER live it was in the Club Dunois in Paris with Supuration, on 31st of January 1996. It is not a secret: I am a die-hard fan since the beginning. I am standing now in the front, against the security barrier, watching the Helvetian trio doing its sound check under the sun. The show is starts soon after… in heavy rain! I do not care, happy as a young boy, enjoying each note from “Internal Conflict”. The sound is amazing and the Swiss precision is not just a cliché. The marvellous track-listing is based on “Grin” and “Mental Vortex”, except “Masked Jackal” from “Punishment for Decadence”. The more you get, the more you want. I miss some masterpieces from “No More Color” or “Reborn through Hate” from “R.I.P.”, but the band has only one hour - I want three! A young boy, I told you. Anyway, it is a great show, and I am not the only one who says this. CORONER were happy to be here, a fact which was easy to hear, see and feel. And the sun came back before the end. If you know CORONER, you should understand what I mean. If you do not, you must rush on to get hold of their discography or I will curse you until the seventh generation!

Nine bombs: Internal Conflict, Serpent Moves, Masked Jackal, Still Thinking, Metamorphosis, The Lethargic Age, Semtex Revolution, Divine Step (Conspectu Morti), Grin.

[Rating: No rating or 101%, just choose what suits you best]
Attending: Philippe, Thomas (a bit)

In passing, I can hear Opeth are just their usual, slightly annoying selves, and head over to the W.E.T. stage again to see the crossover heroes D.R.I. Obviously not that used to big crowds (and by Wacken measures this is in no way a big crowd, mind you), D.R.I. seem a bit taken aback by the response. Kurt Brecht is holding back with the audience communication, whereas bass player John Menor tries to do a bit of the rockstar thing. Still, D.R.I. is fit for fight and there’s constantly a circle pit going for songs like Beneath the Wheel, Violent Pacification and Abduction.

[Rating: 80]
Attending: Thomas

Whilst waiting for DIMMU BORGIR, we get the last couple of songs of Hammerfall’s toothless power metal. Nothing new here and I can only applaud that the Swedes are taking a break until 2014…

Far from toothless, Dimmu Borgir present a production which is just plain massive. With the full orchestra throughout the entire gig, you can only guess how much effort and money has been put into staging this. And it works! Classical and black metal in sweet unity pour over Wackenland with Shagrath at the helm. Stunning, nothing more, nothing less.

[Rating: 95]
Attending: Thomas

Changing scene completely, IN FLAMES have also decided to make this Wacken appearance a bit different from the usual 1-2-3-4-play thing. With a spoken word and piano intro and a cleverly worked out back-drop, this at first reminds me more of a Pink Floyd concert than a melodic death metal gig. When In Flames then appear to burst into Cloud Connected, all members of the band are encaged in cubicles. Nice stuff!

Über-hit Trigger follows, but even if the crowd is humongeous this evening, the crowd activity is dampened a great deal by the mud, something which is true of the rest of the festival. This only lasts until Anders Fridén entices everyone to jump for Only the Weak. And everyone does! It’s a mudbath!

In Flames move through a setlist of hits, and the only minus apart from the sodding mud is that Fridén has a hard time avoiding chatting between songs, but I suppose that’s nothing new. As long as they play System from ‘Reroute to Remain’ – and they do – then I’m a happy geezer. In Flames and Wacken go well together, that’s just a fact!

[Rating: 90]
Attending: Thomas, Jørgen, Kent

 There’s a magic line after midnight. That’s when the Wacken audience begins to tire after a long day of metal. Anything before 15:00 hrs is a challenge for the bands and anything after midnight can be problematic.

That doesn’t prevent IN EXTREMO from delivering their usual fantastic show, both in terms of audio and visual. The band is a sight to below, it’s no use denying that, kilts and leather and dudelsacks and fireworks. It’s pure entertainment from end to end.

[Rating: 80]
Attending: Thomas, Philippe

There was a time not so long ago when the biggest rock name in Denmark wasn’t Volbeat. No, D-A-D were the crowned kings of rock in our home country, a band that everyone of my generation would be familiar with since the days of upper-secondary level school. I never liked them much back then, but I’ve grown to like some of their material and more so their stage act. It is actually very funny with a downplayed sort of Danish humour.

There’s nowhere near as many people in front of the True Metal stage as there was last night for Volbeat, but there’s a decent crowd for two o’clock in the morning. And it’s a treat. Despite the shitty late spot on the bill, Jesper Binzer and his merry men manage to entertain those who’ve stayed awake with a selection of songs new and old and German language capabilities which would’ve made my German teacher roll her eyes.

But this makes it no less entertaining! The guy doesn’t give a shit! Zu spat? Keine Problem! (Too late? No problem!) Binzer keeps saying, and, no, he’s right, there isn’t really a problem. Even if my bunk keeps calling my name, I can’t leave this show a tongue-in-cheek mannerism mixed with songs from my youth (No Fuel, Sleeping My Day Away, Bad Craziness) and newer material like Reconstrucdead, Monster Philosophy and I Want What She’s Got (which by the way sees drummer Laust Sonne being lifted up in the air on his drum raiser – almost Mötley Crüe style!).

Good, clean family entertainment indeed!

[Rating: 85]
Attending: Thomas, Philippe, Jørgen, Kent

Good night it is – with hopes of a Saturday with no rain!


Hopes are shattered as the rain sends us a morning greeting. Then a short break. Then rain again.

I head over for the Headbangers stage where South African AGRO open the day. This is of course the absolutely worst time to play Wacken. Saturday morning after a Friday morning where everyone’s typically getting totally hammered. Anyway, a few people do show up in the tent and the South African seem not to care how many punters they’re up against.

Agro is a pleasant surprise! They’re thrash with the addition of a violinist, and this combination immediately leads the thoughts to My Dying Bride (which in my book is a very positive thing) and gives the whole thing a touch of folk metal (again a positive). Good thing that the South Africans decide to not be bothered about the undeservedly meagre show-up of audience; those of us who were able to get out of the sleeping bags and wade through the mud get a good half-hour’s worth of a focused, heads-down performance from the sympathetic bunch on the stage.

[Rating: 80]
Attending: Thomas

I would like to see Danish MANTICORA, but because I want to get the Friday review done, I head back to the backstage area, only to realise how time consuming getting from A to B has now become due to the mud that is everywhere. The Wackinger area and the area around the W.E.T./Headbangers stage is a total scandal. Nothing whatsoever has been done during the night or morning to stabilise the situation. People are looking increasingly disgruntled which is more than understandable.

After a while and more mud crossing (I’m so happy I brought my wellies!), we’re back in front of the W.E.T. stage where HENRY ROLLINS is sharing some of his wisdom. For one hour, the man talks and talks and talks and is actually saying something! Entertaining and yet so infinitely serious about getting something out of his life and meeting people and visiting foreign countries and help others where he can, Rollins is an extremely inspiring person to listen to, no matter if he tells us about the memories of his alienated youth or his experiences with recording documentaries for National Geographic.

[Rating: 90]
Attending: Thomas, Philippe

In the meantime, GAMMA RAY have opened the ball on the True Metal Stage. Today, Kai Hansen yet again proves himself an excellent, experienced front man, and his voice is at its best. Rebellion In Dreamland and Send Me a Sign go down a storm!

[Rating: 80]
Attending: Kent, Jørgen

I’m going to bitch a bit in this review. The mud is one thing. Another is that I’d really like to have a word with the guy who put the schedule together. Fitting PARADISE LOST, NAPALM DEATH and MASSACRE into the same timeslot on three different stages is NOT a cool thing to do! That’s just about the dilemma of the decade!

The choice falls on the former, simply because it was a longer time since I saw Paradise Lost than the two other bands. And honestly, I wouldn’t want to miss the Yorkshire men’s first ever Wacken gig for the world. How the Wacken bookers have avoided PL for so long is a mystery to me, but there you go.

Nick the boys open with The Enemy, the best track off the ‘In Requiem’ album and that pretty much sets the standard for an excellently executed debut appearance at Wacken. One notices that drummer is definitely not Adrian Erlandsson, but rather some fellow with a shaved head whom none of us recognise. I’m later told that Adrian is in Italy with another band, so there you are. Also, the guitars tend to cut right through the ears in a not too pleasant fashion, but we move a bit closer and all is well.

Honesty in Death from the latest epos, ‘Tragic Idol’, follows suit, and then Erased from ‘Symbol of Life’. ‘This next one was written a hundred years ago by a band from the north of England’ is Nick Holmes’ laconic introduction one of the band’s many über-hits, As I Die. The title track from ‘Tragic Idol’ follows (again a typically laconic introduction by Holmes: ‘This is the title track of our latest album ‘Tragic Idol’. The track is called...Tragic Idol’). Forever Failure from ‘Draconian Times’ is just killer, and One Second likewise, but I wouldn’t expect otherwise!

The last of the new tracks aired today in the rain is Fear Of Impending Hell which, like Honesty In Death and Tragic Idol blend in smoothly with the early to mid nineties material. The same can be said of the title track from ‘Faith Divides Us...’. Marvellous music, that. A solid and approved Wacken debut from Yorkshire’s finest is concluded with Say Just Words. Nice one!

[Rating: 88]
Attending: Thomas, Philippe, Kent

SIX FEET UNDER throw massive old-school death metal punches at the Wacken audience today. I have a bit of a weird relationship with Barnes’ odd occasional squeals, but tunes like Seed of Filth and Shadow of the Reaper hit it right home for me.

During this concert, the people in the pit find a new variant of the Wall of Death: The two lines confronting each other throw mud at each other instead of clashing. Lovely.

[Rating: 80]
Attending: Thomas

Expectations run high among the Power Of Metal.dk team before this afternoon’s TESTAMENT gig. And luckily Chuck Billy and the rest of band deliver the goods. Opening with newie Rise Up, one of the many strong tracks from ‘Dark Roots of the Earth’ set the pace of things. Sound-wise we’re not quite there; Gene Hoglan’s drums drown both guitars and vocals, but this is slowly evened out. Fact remains, however, that throughout the gig, Eric Petersen’s guitar is only vaguely audible from where we stand (front left, i.e. just in front of Alex Skolnick).

Anyhoo, we’re brought on a fantastic ride through Testament history, from the very beginning to now by a Testament in great spirits. Over the Wall, The Preacher, The New Order, Into the Pit and Practice What You Preach represent the earlier band history, D.N.R. and 3 Days In Darkness represent the middle period where Skolnick was away, and More Than Meets the Eye, Native Blood, True American Hate and Dark Roots of the Earth are the worthy messengers of the newborn Testament.

[Rating: 91]
Attending: Thomas, Philippe, Jørgen, Kent

The Achilles heel for CRADLE OF FILTH has always been their live sound. As brilliant and complex as their records may be, their one-hundred-riff-per-song plus keyboards dogma is difficult to purport live – and especially outdoors. As Dani and his gruesome crew hurl into Heaven Torn Asunder, the WOA sound engineers are certainly challenged. Thank Satan they get the hang of it, and the sound improves vastly along the way.

This is where I do some more bitching: Placing COF in an 18.45 – 19.45 time slot is simply idiotic. Vampires are NOT fans of the sun! The typical Cradle show visuals suffer greatly, and this is of course something Dani Filth makes more than one remark about throughout the show. I’m secretly hoping for dark clouds right now, but, no, this is of course one of those instances where the sun decides to shine brightly and directly into the red eyes of Dani.

Still, the song catalogue opened this evening is excellent, Lilith Immaculate, Nymphetamine (Dani’s duet partner here isn’t Liv Kristine but COF’s sassy new backing vocalist and keyboarder) and Her Ghost in the Fog being the three high points for yours truly.

[Rating: 85]
Attending: Thomas, Philippe

Total cock-up! I’ve somehow ignored the fact that Scorpions and Amon Amarth have swapped timeslots and as we head into the press tent to get some work done, the monitors in the tent show AMON AMARTH blasting away on stage. ‘Wait a minute, that’s live!’ Off I dash to get as much as possible of the gig (as quickly as I can without slipping in the mud, of course), which proves to be half of the set.

Germany loves Amon Amarth, the Swedes send love back. Pursuit of Vikings is as a fresh and heads down as ever, Twilight of the Thunder God and Guardians of Asgaard are just eternal hits in my book and demand headbanging mania. I’m loving it.

[Rating: 82]
Attending: Thomas

MACHINE HEAD prove that they are worthy of the top central position of the Wacken poster. They simply slay everything today. Fair and square. They play so well that you just stand there and don’t get it.

Robb Flynn and his hardy men start off with I Am Hell from the godly ‘Unto the Locust’ album, and then make a giant leap back to their debut with Old. Imperium, A Thousand Lies (hasn’t been played live in Europe in 16 years!), Locust and Aesthetics of Hate follow. Then the acoustic guitar emerges and Flynn gives us a little speech about life and music, and I reckon we could have been without this chit-chat, but Darkness Within is nevertheless a great tune, so he’s forgiven immediately.

This is the End and the rifforama called Halo comes after. Another cry from the past, Davidian, closes the set.

An amazing performance, an amazing band, just a shame we had no dry ground to move on, because then, oh, yes, then hell would in truth have been unleashed upon Wacken tonight like never before.

[Rating: 98]
Attending: Thomas, Philippe

Al Jourgensen is a crazy bastard. In a good way. The film run on the monitors as the intro to the MINISTRY gig is just another confirmation of this. As the lights go up in the stage for this late night show, and Ghouldiggers blast over the muddy fields of Wacken, it is obvious that the otherwise departed Ministry means business again. They sound fantastic. We listen to No W and then we decide that this is enough. The mud has finally gotten to us. No more. Even if it pains us, we turn our backs on Uncle Al and head for the car. Once the car on the road behind us has been towed away by a giant tractor, we sneak out, carefully, because we most certainly have no intention of getting stuck there in the backstage camping mud. So with the sound of Ministry coming through the open car window we head north and wave goodbye to a both frustrating (weather and mud) and fantastic (the music) Wacken Open Air 2012.

See you next year - rain, mud or shine!


Sepultura - respect!

UDO with Doro - kitsch

Channel Zero - their energy hasn't been sucked

Volbeat - now offically massive in Germany

Sacred Reich sends us positive vibes

Sanctuary - not the bash it could've been

OverKill blasting through the boundaries

Decapited - Polish death metal when it's best

Coroner - our Phil is near an orgasm!

D.R.I. in good shape

Dimmu Borgir - simply grandiose

In Flames - fantastic back drops

D-A-D raising hell...and drummer!

Agro - thrash with violin

Henry Rollins - inspiring person to listen to

Paradise Lost - Yorkshire's finest

Testament rip it up

Cradle Of Filth - vampires enduring the sun

Amon Amarth - missed half the set :\

Machine Head - THE headliner of WOA 2012

Uncle Al - sounding good!

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