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John Oakley

john oakley

wacken 2012

Wacken 2012 was memorable for being a complete quagmire with more rain than can possibly be imagined and completely waterlogged campsites.

Having camped up the hill, we avoided the worst but still it was one muddy, bloody endurance test. It was also memorable for Mr Mark Taylor totally sleeping through Hammerfall day.

So captured on optical disk, the best bits are here for you (or at least up to three songs from most of the major bands).

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Wacken is successful because it caters for most of the metal music genre in some form, is highly well organised in a very German way, for the community, not to exploit the community. It's also become the right of passage for many a herman and frauline to crowd surf to the front.

The many sites and hilarious costumes you can witness and get a taste for in this three disc DVD. It's also great to see the smaller bands you might have only seen from the Biergarten, or your tent to see what they looked like!

Given prime position on DVD one is Hammerfall. Performance wise, this was a bit of an odd set and time for them. They'd announced a year long break, which tinged their set with sadness and foreboding that this might be the last time see see the Swedish Warriors of Power Metal. They also were missing several of the usual line-up due to family issues.

At the time I thought the show a tad disappointing, with just a basic backdrop instead of their massive stage show used on their 'Gates Of Dalhalla' DVD from the Infected tour. However, hearing 'Bang Your Head' 'Last Man Standing' and 'Hearts On Fire' here really showcases Joacim's vocal power and the glory of Hammerfall. I hope this taster boads well to showcase their talents for their triumphant return in 2014 with a set based on their original Wacken triumph 'Glory To The Brave'.

In this DVD you get three songs from many of the bill from the 2012 edition of the festival. It's a great insight into the weekend and captures well the sights and sounds from across the stages, if you were no doubt covered in mud, beer, mead, or mud tinged Jack Daniels and can't remember.

However, what beggars belief is that there is no evidence of The Scorpions on the DVD, one of the main headliners, and playing what was supposed to be their farewell show. Also, on the bill was UDO Dirkschneider's anniversary set, which featured appearances from Doro and Mr Lordi, yet it's nowhere to be seen! These omissions are quite staggering but presumably it's a copyright or royalty fee thing.

One band I'm very happy to see is the awesome Edguy with the show represented by 'Ministry Of Saints', 'Superheroes', and 'Babylon'. It was Saturday, 2.00am, and the place was a mud bath. Secure in our cosy tents and sleeping bags, we listened to the set thinking: "blimey we should be there as it sounds awesome!"

You can tell from the lakes in front of the stage and around the crowd that it wasn't a pretty sight. However, Tobe's humour and Edguy's majesty enabled them to crown the festival as 'suprise live act' on the last night.

Volbeat show how they've now become favourites with their rockabilly antics and this set was just pre their meteoric rise. Here we have '7 Shots', 'Evelyn' and 'Pool Of Booze, Booze Booze,' which is what our campsite surely had become. Another bottle of Jack anyone?

Does anyone else think the lead singer of Volbeat sounds like Cher?

Festival house band Saxon sets off DVD 2 to give you 'Power And The Glory' 'Hammer Of The Gods' and 'Heavy Metal Thunder'. As the sun went down, they gave a blistering show, with a stage set of pyro, lights and artistic backdrops and energy that cements their position as the festival's godfathers. Indeed it was during this set that Biff announced if they were going to play a farewell gig anywhere, when they eventually retire, it would be at the almighty Wacken.

Another Wacken perennial, thrashers Overkill, endure through just how rainy and stormy it was on stage. Bobby Blitz Ellsworth's vocals and iconic thrash riffs win through and get the circle pits diving into the lakes and rivers of impending doom. The resultant mud men enjoy being showcased heroes.

Cradle Of Filth goth it up, with Nightwish style female operatic vocals before Danni screams all over it, but it's light outside and the terrifying show doesn't really work, but the bondage wearing bleached red heads down the front seem to be enjoying themselves. They've certainly raided the fantastic metal market at the back, as has Mr Filth. Come back at night and we might be scared... or muddy. Sponsored by New Rock Plc.

Did I mention it rained a lot? Suffocated, a far eastern thrash band seem to have just three mates and their dad down the front as the rest of the crowd shelter in their tents. The sheeting rain is evident and fair play for going on at all, let's hope this place on the DVD is reward enough.

This gives the DVD cameras time to make it into the sanctuary of the Bullhead Arena tent with some dreadlocky shouty prog deth from Decapitated before my head is raised by Leaves' Eyes set, complete with Viking longship.

A cracking little symphonic metal band from Germany and Norway with a very powerful singer, Liv Kristine. I'll be sure to check them out again, which is I guess the idea of this thing!

Finally on disk two Schandmaul return us late at night to the main stage for some quirky German folk metal, which completely in German perhaps goes over the Brits abroad heads, but looks highly atmospheric post storm and in the blue evening light, with crowds nestled around the lights of the famous Biergarten. It's fun stuff, and the traditional round a lay style music transcends the language barrier.

Disk 3 summarises the action from the Wacken Experimental Tent. Stand out performances for me are Kory Clarke's Warrior Soul doing 'Fuck The Pigs' and Crimes Of Passions performing 'Accidents Happen, Even Here'.

What this DVD box covers is a taste for the festival, and a showcase for many of the band that ask for the promotion in their performance deal. It would be nice to hear some of the interviews that get broadcast on the main stages between bands.

It's sad that it doesn't capture the headline events such as UDO's anniversary or The Scorpions set. It would also do well to try and capture the crazyness of the Viking Village, with its medieval and cyberpunk feel, and the hospitality of Wacken Town, where the community throws open their gardens for makeshift restaurants and bars.

You can win a copy of the Wacken 2012 DVD in our exclusive competition here.




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