This is another repost from last year's W:O:A. There will be a similar report around the 10th or 11th of August after this year's wraps.
This is a continuation of the Wacken report found in the prior post. Read that one first.
Friday, 5 August, began with Naglfar, in what would be an appropriate, but ultimately annoying rain that lasted basically all day. This is how black metal should be played, in an icy wind out of the North. This is how death metal should be heard, clogged and clotted in mud and misery. This is how goth metal should be played, under stormy and uncertain skies. And this is how true heavy metal should be enjoyed, a crowd of thousands standing united in the cold and wet, but every one of us warm and happy -- from shared body heat as well as lots of beer. Killer, killer set.
After Naglfar, I went to the Metal Markt and spent way, way, way, way too much on seriously rare shit. This included Agalloch and Nokturnal Mortum shirts as well as a Graveland cassette. I don't even own a cassette player here, but it was too FVCKING KVLT to resist. They had some Absurd CDs at the Blackmoon Productions stand as well, but I figured that given the prominent role of Metalheads Against Racism at this event (their sponsor banners were nearly as big as AMD's, and they got on some of the 0.4-liter cups) and that people were likely to recognize the name, it was safer to just leave them be. Safer to get NSBM that I'd been wanting to get full CDs from for a while from other countries, like Negura Bunget from Romania, Vlad Tepes from France, and Temnozor from Russia. I dropped the bag off at my tent and got back in time to grab a litermug and catch the end of Morgana Lefay's set from the biergarten. Newsflash: they still suck. I have no idea how they got onto a main stage.
Illdisposed, who were on the Black Stage next, though, put on a killer performance that had me headbanging hard enough to see spots. After they finished, I got another beer and half-listened to Sonata Arctica: decent, but not tremendous. They closed with "The Cage", though, and that kicked some hardcore ass.
I heard the end of Sonata Arctica while getting into position for Ensiferum on the Party Stage. Ensiferum was every bit as awesome as expected, tons of crowd surfers, and even a bit of spontaneous moshing, which is fairly rare for Europe. Of course, brimming with energy at being packed into this tight crowd and needing to blow off some steam, I had to get in on the fun, and of course, wrenched my right knee, which had been the "good one" to this point. Fucking fuck! And it HAD to be on the next-to-the-last-song, after fucking 30 seconds in this tiny pit, despite not complaining at all after boosing crowd surfers forward for almost 45 minutes. I left under my own power, walked off the pain on a trip through the camping grounds -- in the process catching an amateur coverband called Duschen ist kein Heavy Metal (Showering Is So Not Metal) -- and got another beer. Maennerwelt Wacken, indeed.
I got back to the infield just in time to sing along with "Gods of Wrath", "Beyond The Black", and "Metal Church", and rock out with some guys more at my "bodily integrity" level, who were probably just as inspired by Metal Church as I was when they were my age -- when the record these three songs were off was new 20 years ago. The "hanging with metal grandpas" tour continued into Obituary's set, which was similarly awesome -- I'm not sure I stopped headbanging at all over the hour that they played, after totally thrashing for Metal Church despite having zero legs at 100 percent; When all silver hair and beard I reach, rock as much as the founding members of the German Deathmetal Club I should hope to.
Demnaechst: Edguy -- well, after their fucking helicopter landed and the band actually arrived. Fucking rockstars. More singalongs, and for those who were there, who can forget the "Wicker Man" leading the choir with handfuls of infield straw, or the Spinal Tap moment when Toby got lost on the stagefront and got stopped from going backstage by the hurricane fencing? Fun times, and they only played one girly ballad in a set that also included "Lavatory Love Machine", "King of Fools", and "Tears of a Mandrake".
Next, and last for me, was Within Temptation. I did not have very high expectatiosn for them, but they put on a hell of a show, and even trotted out a few older, more black-metal cuts to prove they're not just another Amy-come-lately getting by on singer hotness. Sharon is hot, but what was more impressive was her ability to stay on pitch despite being enveloped in fogmachine cloud, and to keep up with her harmonic overdubs throughout the set. More of a studio band, given the amount of other stuff they had playing over the PA in addition to the output of the instrumentalists and vocalists on stage, but they did put on a decent show.
I then repaired to the beergarden for a refill, and sort of caught some of Machine Head. They were ok from what I could hear, but not terribly inspiring, and I got to talking with some Dutch guys and Austrian girls -- society, metal, world affairs (you tend to get this everywhere as an American in Europe), love problems -- and there was a large mount of drinking involved. I saw Stratovarius's lights -- on the Black Stage, a fucking insult, even if they were a surprise act and needed to be hidden somewhere -- but didn't hear them playing at all.
I wanted to catch Apocalyptica, but I was seriously drunk, needed to piss badly, and my knee was starting to lock up. Back to the tent. I sort of heard them and then Corvus Corax, again in bits and pieces, before drifting off again. Red sky at night, sailor's delight; at least the weather would be better Saturday, and if I ate and drank smarter (less hefeweizen and more pilsener to leave room for solid food), I'd be able to take advantage of the huge concentration of "must" bands on the last day's bill.
Next: Part III - Saturday, or Time Flies When The Bands Don't Suck