Wacken Open Air 2006 Day 2
|Event:||Wacken Open Air 2006|
Wacken Open Air 2006 Festival Review
August 4th was the first day of the 'real' metal fest and we were quickly reminded of just how metal this festival is by an army of Vikings practicing at 10:30 AM in the press camping area for their battle, which was to be held later that day during the Amon Amarth gig. Let me tell you, its not every day that you wake up to the sounds of huge Scandinavian guys hitting each other with swords… Soon enough we also got to hear some music coming simultaneously from three stages. End Of Green was what I heard first since they played on the Party Stage, which is located closest to the press camping site where I was still uncomfortably trying to get some sleep in my crappy tent. "Oh well" I said to myself, took a quick shower, drank a beer for breakfast and went out again to see what the real metal fest is all about.
End Of Green ended up being one of the very few bands of the Party Stage that I had the chance to see. The bands that played on the other (bigger) stages tended to be a lot more interesting. This is perhaps the only downside of a festival as big as Wacken - there will be times when two bands that you like equally are playing at the same time. Sadly, I would find this out rather painfully by myself on the next day… But lets get back to day 2...
In the meantime, Mystic Circle was making a bastard amount of noise on the Black Stage and it was very clear to me that this day was to be a lot more extreme than the day before. Sadly, with Mystic Circle, perhaps the biggest flaw of Wacken became apparent to me. When it comes to extremely fast, chaotic music, the open-air setup of the festival simply doesn't do the trick. Although the sound engineers were obviously trying very hard, most of the blast-beat moments of the band's music became a wall of sound that echoed everywhere and was pretty intolerable to even the most hardcore fan. Throughout the whole festival, very few extreme metal bands were able to achieve the sort of sound clarity that would make their music enjoyable…
Wintersun was actually one of those bands, although obviously their music wasn't quite as extreme as Mystic Circle's before them. I am not a fan of Wintersun at all but I could see that they knew what they were doing and were offering their fans a very exciting show. If I were to sum up this show with one word, it would be enthusiasm. The Finns definitely made everybody feel a little better and less tired.
Sadly, once Legions Of The Damned started playing, I started feeling oppressed by the music once again. Indeed, it was at this time that I decided to go back to the Press Beer Tent and hang out with fellow journalists and the occasional band member who ventured there for a beer.
Danko Jones, who played next was a completely different story. As a matter of fact, I think this was definitely one of the highlights of this year's Wacken. The band plays a very heavy, punk-influenced form of hard rock'n'roll. Unlike the cluttered aural assaults offered by the extreme bands that played before them, Danko Jones used the open air nature of the festival to their advantage and offered powerful riffs with room to breathe. The band's vocalist also kept on talking to the audience, making wisecracks and generally putting everybody in a very good mood. "This is it", I thought with a huge smile on my face. I wasn't the only one. Even the grim black metal fans around me were obviously having a great time.
Danko Jones was a very welcome break from the extreme metal that most of the bands of day 2 presented and it made it much easier for me to tolerate Six Feet Under even though Chris Barnes' band really sucked. There are some really great songs on their albums but live the band isn't able to play them with the appropriate amount of energy and passion. What we got instead is a whole lot of murk with Barnes' indecipherable grunt barely audible beneath the layers of guitar. Essentially it all sounded like all of the musicians were playing something different.
At the same time, Ektomorf was occupying the Party Stage. Bored with SFU's wall of sound, I decided to check them out. Sadly, Ektomorf was just a poor man's Soulfly (who we would be able to see the next day) so it was the Press Beer Tent again for me…
Nevermore was up next and their show was very capable and well performed. Nevermore is of course quite a big band these days so seeing them in the middle of the day just seemed a little wrong but they made up for it by playing a very energetic and exciting show. It was obvious that a lot of the people were there waiting for the next band though.
And indeed, when Opeth entered the stage, the crowd was bigger than ever. I have seen these guys a few times already and their music in my opinion doesn't work particularly well on festivals. The introspective, carefully constructed compositions of these Swedes are definitely better suited for small clubs where the audience can take it all in without any disturbance. In spite of all this, the Opeth show was very well received and in fact allowed for the tired people of Wacken to take a bit of a break.
In Extremo was up next and although their stage show included a large imitation of a ship, I decided my ears needed a bit of a rest from all of the high decibel overkill and I made my way back to the Press Tent. There, I got to meet a lot of bands and party with them so unfortunately, I missed the Carnivore and Children Of Bodom shows. CoB I could care less about but Carnivore… damn, I regret not seeing them to this day. Still, I absolutely couldn't afford to miss the show of the legendary band that was to play next.
As the fog machines started to prepare the Black Stage for the arrival of the great Celtic Frost, I made my way through the large crowd in order to be as close to the stage as possible. Unfortunately, my efforts resulted in me crashing into some big hairy dude who accidentally pushed me into the famous Wacken mud… What can I say? As much as I wanted to stay and see all of the CF show, I couldn't stand being covered in black mud. I hung out for another 5 tracks in order to get an idea of the CF experience and then made my way back to my tent in order to change clothes and wash up. Sadly, that is another thing that I regret from this day but what was I supposed to do? Let me also take a moment and mention the sanitary conditions of Wacken. Frankly, they could be a LOT better. The afore-mentioned mud is everywhere, it stinks to the high heavens and if it rains, there is basically no way to remain clean. I highly recommend all metalheads to go to Wacken in their old shoes and clothes. Your clothes WILL be wrecked.
Luckily, I did make it back in one piece to catch Ministry, one of my personal favorite bands and one of the reasons I even went to Wacken in the first place. The sound was once again a little unclear but that didn't stop Ministry from totally killing the audience with their aggressive show. The band mostly played new songs but we also got to hear some of the old favorites (although the anthemic "So What" was missing). Definitely one of the best shows of the day.
Indeed, I was so tired by this point that I decided to call it a day. I have already seen Amon Amarth a few times before after all so I knew what to expect and I have already seen the Viking battle in the morning…
NOTE: All photographs used by permission of Rolf Klatt / metaltix.com. All rights reserved
||Written on 25.09.2006 by With Metal Storm since 2002, jupitreas has been subjecting the masses to his reviews for quite a while now. He lives in Warsaw, Poland, where he does his best to avoid prosecution for being so cool.|
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