Wacken Open Air 2010
August 5th - 8th 2010



Martin Schjönning

This year I made my fifth pilgrimage to the Holy Wacken Land, and it was, by far, the best festival I ever attended. The mood, the weather, the bands, everything was awesome.
I did not go there on a press card, so this is merely my personal and not altogether sober recollections of this great three day party.

Alice Cooper (25/100)
The grand old man of shock rock has always been a favorite of mine. He was among the very first artists my uncles pushed on me, when I was developing my taste for heavy music. I have been at three of his shows before, and he never let me down.
Sadly, this time I feel let down a lot – not to say down-right disappointed. The stage antics did not work properly, but I could have lived with that. The worst part was Alice himself. The grand old man seemed old indeed, but not grand at all. His voice was a coarse trembling mess, he forgot the lyrics and could not keep of with his backing group. The set-list was nothing to be impressed by either. One would think that a man with 25 studio albums behind him could play more than his greatest hits, but no. He even played ”School’s Out” twice!
This concert was a travesty which left a bad taste in my mouth. Seeing your childhood hero deformed in this way will do that.

Mötley Crüe (65/100)
Maybe it was because Cooper sucked so much that the Mötley Crüe show seemed to kick so much ass. These old boys delivered a good, solid show with a good mixture of mega hits (Shout at the devil, Girls Girls Girls, etc.) and more unknown and new songs, like Saints of Los Angeles – the title track of their 2008 come-back album. Vince Neil was on fire and kept a fast, energetic pace. It was not the best show on earth, but it really woke me up and warmed me up for the biggest show of the year:

Iron Maiden (92/100)
Maiden played Wacken two years ago delivering nothing but great classics for more than two hours (the longest concert I have seen at WoA). This time was very different in the best sort of way. A band with such a vast back catalogue and such die-hard fans must find it difficult to get their new stuff into the live performances. Obviously they did not give a shit about that this time. Aside from a few golden oldies like The Number of The Beast and Fear of the Dark, they played surprisingly many songs from the latest three albums (which I happen to like a lot!). On top of that they played some old songs that is not part of the mega-hit section, for example Running Free.
Iron Maiden played a tight, set with endless enthusiasm, and wonderfully devoid of the ten-minutes ”fuck”-speeches that Bruce seems to love. They also managed to bring tears to my eyes when they dedicated Blood Brothers to the late James Dio (R.I.P.)

Job for a Cowboy (50/100)
If you read my review of JfaC’s Ruination album you will know that I am not exactly a fan of their new style. They have changed from being on the forefront of groovy Technical Death, to being an anonymous ghost among the hundreds of other old school Death Metal bands out there. Still, I love the old songs, and I was not entirely disappointed by their set.
What pissed me off was that the Wacken crew cut the sound five to ten minutes before time, without even telling it to the band (who apparently still had active monitors). The reason for this was a sudden ban on circle pits and walls of death, that no-one had heard of until then. These things has always been legal at Wacken, so it was a negative surprise as well as a very annoying way to end a concert.
The lame rating above is for the Wacken management. JfaC delivered the goods with passion and ferocity.

Hackneyed (100/100)
The German wunderkinder Hackneyed is already making their way up the popularity ladder. This was quite obvious from the size of the crowd, but also from the way the crowd acted. I saw many older metalheads throwing up horns and baning their head off for these teenage-prodigies. I reviewed their debut Death Prevails, and granted it a staggering rating of 95/100, and I expected to be entertained…
I was blown away. They entered the stage with all the audacity and self-confidence of a veteran band of legendary rock-stars AND they threw a party that completely lived up to the attitude. Nothing – really nothing! – was wrong with this mindblasting event. Tight, fast and with great spirit. Plus, it was quite funny when the lead singer insisted that the entire crowd growled ”happy birthday”, as it was the 17th (!) birthday of one of the guitarists.

Voivod (No rating)
Was boring live. Sorry, but that is all I felt right there. I left after three songs. I guess that seeing them right after Hackneyed had something to do with my disappointment.

Slayer (50/10)
The Slayer concert demonstrated the constant problem of space at Wacken. The festival has really outgrown the site! It is kind of weird to watch an epic event like WoA strangled in its own success. I was so far back that I’m not sure of what I saw and I got stuck at a place with very bad sound. I heard a lot of old songs, which I guess is what the people want – I have come to believe that I am the only person in the world that actually likes Diabolus in Musica. From what I heard from friends that were closer to the stage, it was a good show.

Anvil (42/100)
I was not really supposed to see Anvil, as I have never really heard much of them. I understood why, as I waited impatiently for Corvus Corax (why the hell do they always play at 2 in the night?). I only liked one song, their smash hit Metal on Metal, which was the last one they played. The reason for the rating – which is kind of high for a band I do not like – is the utter intense joyfulness with which lead singer Steve ”Lips” Kudlov took the stage. He was insanely happy to be there, and his happiness was so contagious that it made me feel all good inside. 30 of the 42 points is for Steves mirth!

Corvus Corax (Cantus Buranus) (84/10)
When the clock finally hit 0200 Corvus Corax were ready to raise medieval hell! Their shows are not just concerts – they are performance art, mixed with opera, mixed with circus, everything strictly directed and visually beautiful to a point of tears. But, it is not metal, and I will not spend much space on them here (at a metal site). I have seen the Cantus Buranus show before, and although this year was good, they made more mistakes. It was still a great show, though.

Tyr (15/100)
I have seen Tyr a number of times, and they generally kick ass. This show was ruined though, because they played on the new Wackinger Stage. The sound techs there must be deaf! I do not think I have ever heard such bad sound at a concert before. Also, Tyr was not really awake, and I was shocked to hear the first guitar solo compete with the sound quality in pure badness. Add the fact that the Wackinger stage is about as high as an ordinary dining table, and you know why I left this show to get beer and go party in my camp.

Special Mention: 9mm (66/100)
I heard 4-5 songs with the obscure German Punk Metal band 9mm - they played the Red Bull Bus (on the roof!), while I was queuing to get my armband. They are extremely lively on stage and plays with bad-ass attitude!
Check them out on www.myspace.com/rockrotten9mm.

See Jørgen's impressions from the festival here

Wacken Open Air 2010

By Steen Schøn

Wacken Open Air is always something to look forward to. This year I had anticipated it even more because the line-up was exceptionally good and I knew a lot of my friends would be there. As the time drew closer to W-Day even the weather seemed to be perfect. Alas as I was getting ready to my yearly pilgrimage to The Holy Wacken Land I was taken rather ill and thus was unable to go until Friday. After a journey filled with mishaps I arrived at our camp Friday evening and went on to listen to tons of cool music in the company of many good friends, my metal brothers and sisters. All this also explains why I did miss out on all the bands that played before Friday evening. My stay was a very pleasant one, the mix of bands was awesome and the company and weather was top notch as well. Everything was as always well organized and the sound was very good everywhere but especially in the tent at the WET Stage. My only real beef with all this is one I share with many I think; Wacken Open Air is in danger of overgrowing itself and getting too oversized. Well, on to the music!

Cannibal Corpse (75/100)
Having been banned from playing a lot of their material in Germany for a long time until a few years ago this band still attracts a huge crowd. I can really understand why, it is a sad thing when censorship rears its ugly head.  The Corpse did deliver the goods to the masses. Hammer Smashed Face and all the other hits.

Corvus Corax (82/100)
Finally! This was the first time I managed to see and hear this spectacular act. Not metal in a strict sense the show was really impressive and very fitting for WOA. I really think it is cool that the organisers have the courage to include this kind of music as well.

Edguy (Unrated)
I missed quite a lot of the set and was not really paying attention when I was present, so no rating for this one. The atmosphere was quite good though.

Grave Digger (80/100)
One of the Old Guard, but never really first tier, I have never got around to listen to Grave Digger before now. Of course the Bag Pipes was there as well as all the usual “Germano-Scottish” bravado. Just like so many other old school bands Grave Digger opted for playing one of their most famous albums “Tunes of War”. Unlike other bands this was a one-time event to celebrate the bands 30th anniversary. It was good fun to watch and I had a good time, but the music gets a bit samey for me in the long run.

Ihsahn (93/100)
Best concert this year for me! To put some more words to it I must admit that I am a big fan of Ihsahns work and it just keeps getting better and better in my humble opinion. That of course does not make for a good concert, but in this case it did. The musicianship was excellent, so was the sound quality not to mention the ambience among the crowd.

Immortal (77/100)
Last time Immortal visited Wacken Open Air it was a blast so I was really looking forward to their gig. And they did deliver everything I hoped for, but somehow some of the magic from last time had disappeared. But even if the nearly ecstatic trance I was in last time I heard Immortal was absent, I still had a head banging good time.

Imperium Dekadenz (20/100)
Urgh! This was not too pleasant. I am not too familiar with Imperium Dekadenz and after listening to them for all too long a time I do not feel an urge to be too familiar at all. Very uninspired in my ears and with a very peculiar sound I did not fancy this at all. It seemed like the local fans was quite enthusiastic though.

Lake of Tears (88/100)
When Lake of Tears visited WOA a few years ago they did a concert that was one of the best that year so of course expectations was very high again this time. Also because the band seldom plays live gigs I always try to get to hear them when the opportunity arises.

Lock Up (91/100)
Biggest surprise for me this year! And what a good surprise! This groovy grindcore outfit just churned out stellar music for an all too small crown in front of one of the big stages. The small crowd did nothing to spoil the fun for yours truly and the exercises by Lock Up made it the second best concert for at WOA this Year.

Overkill (56/100)
Meh, I have seen Overkill at Wacken more than once and even though I like the band, their performances in a live setting never leave many traces in my memory. I had a good time in good company but any memories of a great concert evade me.

Slayer (77/100)
Slaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaayer! Well to be honest I missed some of the Slayer concert to be able to enjoy Ihsahn but I saw enough to appreciate a good Slayer concert without any real flaws what so ever. Nothing too fantastic either; I know Slayer can do better in a more intimate setting.

Sólstafir (67/100)
I had very high expectations to this band due to a lot of recommendations from my friends. It was not a bad concert at all, but nothing special either. To be frank it did not leave any lasting impression on me so even if it was not bad at all it was a bit of a disappointment.

Soulfly (15/100)
Urrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrgh! This really sucked! I don’t like Soulfly at all and not even live with an enthusiastic audience did they manage to sway my opinion of them being a highly annoying and tiresome listening experience. Only thing that keeps the rating from plummet below 20 is the fact that the concert was spiced up with the occasional Sepultura track.

Tiamat (40/100)
Over the years I have gone from utter dislike to utter respect for this band. Furthermore when I heard that they were going to play the Wildhoney album in its entirety I was very thrilled. Sadly the concert was very late at night and after a long day of, standing, milling around drinking and whatever one does at a festival this concert hit me like a giant doze of tranquilizer. After just a few tracks I was barely able to keep my eyes open and as it dragged on in what seemed to be an eternity I was battling my urge to just collapse on the ground and sleep. Not one redeeming factor what so ever, no stage banter, not a single up-beat track from another album. A shame really because love Wildhoney and I like Tiamat a lot but the timing really sucked.

W.A.S.P. (65/100)
What a classic band to finally experience live. They did play some of my favourites including their cover of the song “The Real Me” by The Who. W.A.S.P. is one of the bands that has really improved on their albums in later years and has produced stuff that is on par with old classics like The Crimson Idol but be that as it may, after a while I felt myself drifting around the festival grounds, the show unable to catch my full attention. Kudos must be for the good stage presence as well.


Jørgen Ditlev's impressions:

Alice Cooper (30/100)

I missed the first band Skyline, but was ready for Alice Cooper to kick some ass. Mr. Cooper and band played a lot of classics, such as “Feed my Frankenstein”, “Under my Wheels” and the ultimate party piece “School’s Out” . But Mr. Cooper did not really kick anything, the master of horror is, I fear, getting too old.


Mötley Crüe (80/100)

Mötley Crüe was a lot better than Cooper. With songs like “Girls, Girls, Girls”, Shout at the Devil”, “Dr. Feelgood” or “Looks that Kill” and many more, then what can really go wrong? Mötley Crüe was the perfect band to warm people up before the mighty Maiden hit the stage.


Iron Maiden (90/100)

I have seen Maiden three or four times the last couple of years, but this concert was something different.

They did not play as many classics as usual, the focus was on the newer albums.

The concert was kicked off with “The Wicker Man” followed by “Ghost of the Navigator” and “Wrathchild”. As usual the Maidens gave it all and followed up with “El Dorado”, “Dance of Death”, “The Reincarnation of Benjamin Breeg”, “These Colours Don’t Run” and “Blood Brothers” that song Maiden dedicated to the late Ronnie J. Dio.

Then it was time for “Wildest Dreams”, “No More Lies” and “Brave New World”. I really liked to hear all those newer songs but now it was classics time. The crowd went ballistic when the first notes of “Fear of the Dark” were played. This was followed by band anthem “Iron Maiden”, the devilish classic “The Number of the Beast”, “Hallowed Be Thy Name” and the goodnight tune “Running Free”.


Astral Doors (88/100)

Time for some Neo-Classical metal. Astral Doors from Sweden made good use of their 30 min set.

The vocalist of Astral Doors was just superb and the six or seven songs they played were tight as hell.


Eternal Legacy (85/100)

US power metal band Eternal Legacy from the Auburn roster delivered a good and entertaining concert. With songs from the two releases “The Coming of the Tempest” and “Lifeless Alive”.

I think that it is great that “small” bands like Eternal Legacy get the chance to play a great festival such as Wacken, and I am sure that they hauled in some new fans.


Arch Enemy (75/100)

Well, I am not so much into Arch Enemy but the voice of tiny Angela Gossow does not fail to impress me every time I see them. And the Amott brothers must be one of the tightest guitar duos in the world – just impressive. The songs I knew were “The Immortal”, “My Apocalypse” and “Dead Eyes See no Future”.


Grave Digger (80/100)

Grave Digger celebrated their 30th anniversary at Wacken by playing the entire “Tunes of War” album. The concert started with a tattoo, bagpipes everywhere before playing the “Tunes of War” album. Grave Digger got some help from some close friends Hansi Kursch, Doro and Van Canto. The best song was “Rebellion (The Clans are Marching)” – yeah!


Slayer (88/100)

The crowd went crazy when Tom Araya and his men kicked off with “World Painted Blood”, “Hate Worldwide” and “War Ensemble”. Slayer was on fire this night and played the best I have seen since the Clash of the Titans tour back in 1990. 13 songs were delivered with perfection, including all time faves like “Hell Awaits”, “Raining Blood” and “Angel of Death”.


Overkill (80/100)

Overkill is a band that never disappoints me, and with a new, strong album “Ironbound”, there was more great tunes to be played. As usual the 50 year old Blitz gave all that he had.

Two songs were played from “Ironbound” and the rest were a trip down memory lane.


WASP (85/100)

The last time Blackie Lawless and his WASPs played Wacken was one of the worst concerts I have ever seen. So this time it could only get better, and it certainly did!

Great stuff like “The Idol”, “Wild Child” and “Chainsaw Charlie (Murders in the New Morgue)” was played by a band that seemed to enjoy every second of their stage time.

That wraps it up for this year’s impressions from Wacken Open Air – we can’t wait to report from Wacken 2011 – be there or be square!


Attending: Martin Schjönning, Steen Schøn & Jørgen Ditlev