FESTIVAL REVIEW: WACKEN OPEN AIR 2017 at Schleswig-Holstein, Germany – Day 1 (Thursday)
The very first day of Wacken Open Air was filled with a solid spree of bands. The running order for the first day was very good. Especially one had the option to choose from different and varied genres. The highlight for me were the bands which were playing in the Headbanger’s/W.E.T. stage. All big contemporary extreme metal bands back to back. For me the very first day of Wacken started with Aborted. They played a fantastic set. The sound and the lights were spot on during their performance. They played a very mixed set list of songs from the early albums like “Engineering the Dead”, “Goremagddon, “Necrotic Manifesto” to the latest releases like “Retro gore”. After them the next band to hit on stage was the mighty Brujeria. The crowd was excited for their set.
As soon as Brujeria came on stage, I could see lots of South American and Latino fans with their homeland flags raising and waving it high. They started their set with the usual opening track called “Raza Odiada” (Pito Wilson) which was then followed by a lot of their pretty popular songs like “Colas De Rata”, “Hechango Chingazos”, Etc. But the best part about their set list was playing “Mantando Gueros” and the song “Marijuana” at last by which they ended their set. The stage presence and the guitar tone of the band was spot on. During “Marijuana”, they were encouraging the crowd to dance and sing with them which was very funny.
After Brujeria got done with their intense set list. The next band in line was none other than the pioneer of extreme metal in U.K. None other than Napalm Death. As soon as they were starting there were already a lot of people waiting. It’s great so see how even bands like Napalm Death can get a crowd of many thousand people just on the tent stage. Without any time hassles they quickly started their set with Apex Predator (Easy Meat). One good thing about Napalm Death playing live is that they choose songs from nearly every album which makes their set list very versatile. This is a band we are talking about has a history of more than 30 years of just playing fast and extreme music. Call it Grindcore, Death Metal, Hardcore, Crust Punk, Crossover, etc. Every extreme metal fan likes and enjoys them. As I was expecting they played a lot of songs from their new album called ‘Apex Predator- Easy Meat’. But after some new songs they got back to their popular numbers. They played quite some songs from the album Scum. They also played songs like “Suffer the Children” from the ‘Harmony Corruption album’. “When All is said and Done” from the ‘Smear Campaign’ record. Some pretty solid covers as well. They played their classic cover of Dead Kennedy’s song called ‘Nazi Punks Fuck off” in Germany which personally for me was the highlight of their set. One wonderful thing about the vocalist Barney Greenway is that whenever the band begins a song. He addresses the crowd regarding the informative aspects of the songs and what meaning does it have in today’s times. He mostly talks about positive agendas which are directly or indirectly related to metal like humanitarian values, co-existence of world peace, anti-violence and anti-fascism. I would say the crowd was entertained as well as inspired by the things what he had to say. In general Napalm Death was a killer band that evening.
The next band in line was none other than the Norwegian Black Metal Giants Mayhem. Who were supposed to play their classic album ‘Die Mystries Dom Sathanas’. This album is a Black Metal masterpiece. As this was the only album which was recorded by the true and original members of the band (also the controversial ones). I was way too excited to watch Mayhem because this album also for me is the best Black Metal album out there. They came on stage with this gritty and grimy corpse paint and some torn gowns. My eyes were just on Necrobutcher and Hellhammer because they pretty much sum up of what Mayhem is today. Attila and Teloch the vocalist and the guitarist respectively were doing an excellent job as well. Most of the songs what they played were tight. The only drawback of the set was the sound. The sound wasn’t that good with a lot of delay of the guitar and the reverb of the bass. Because of this even the snare drum wasn’t that audible especially during the blast beats. But nevertheless, it was Mayhem one of the best Black Metal bands out there. They were very much responsible for shaping the sound of what the second wave of Black Metal had to offer. The highlight of their set was the song “Freezing Moon” which in my opinion is a song which no band can cover without some glitches. But fortunately, Attila sang the song just the way it is in the album and the legendary solo by Euronymous was played perfectly by Teloch. Also watching Hellhammer do his thing with his legendary drum kit, blasting like no other was the best thing. Some more awesome songs were played from the album like “Pagan Fears”, “From the Dark Past”, “Funeral Fog”, “Life Eternal” and of course the title track. One good thing about the set was the lights. Whoever was handling the lights during Mayhem’s set did a wonderful job. Maybe I was expecting a little too much from them. It wasn’t that epic but it also wasn’t bad. At the end of the set what matters more than anything is that you get to witness one of the legendary Black Metal bands that too at a legendary festival.
The next band to come on stage was the Tech Death masters from the states, none other than Nile. Also, there were a lot of people for Nile. I was very keen on watching them as I knew that Dallas Tole Wade isn’t in the band anymore. According to me he was the face of Nile. But yeah nonetheless the replacement of him was Brain Kingsland who was also a part of Abysmal Dawn. I was also excited for Nile also because they just played a couple of months back in India. They played probably one of the tightest sets of all time. There were popular songs like “Sarcophagus”, “Unas Slayer of Gods”, “Sacrifice unto Sebek”, “Black Seeds of Vengeance”, “Deifying the Gates of Ishtar”, etc. The unique tone of the band was a wonderful thing to note.
The first day of Wacken Open Air on the W.E.T. stage and the Headbanger’s stage was fun. The amount of people was a lot. Maybe the weather and the harsh rain was a big reason behind that.