FESTIVAL REVIEW: WACKEN OPEN AIR 2019 Live at Schleswig-Holstein, Germany – Day 1 (Thursday)
It couldn’t be helped to feel the undeniable collective buzz on the unholy territory. The weather was glorious. The beverages were flowing. The excitement on the first day of this sacred festival was unparalleled. This could mean only one thing. It was a very thrilling time for Metal Wani to be exploring the acreage, better known as Wacken Open Air. Not only that, it was their 30th birthday for the festival to be put on the metal map. So, without further ado, let the fun begin!
There was a rumble at the W.E.T. Stage. Not even twenty minutes before the lads were due on stage, chants for Indian’s current export Bloodywood could be heard as the punters walked in. There was no denying that the proceeds for Wacken was off to a great start. From their addictive originals Machi Bhasad [Expect A Riot], rolling with Endurant and folky Jee Veerey to nicely flow with hard-hitting covers Tunak Tunak Metal and Mundian To Bach Ke Rahi. Their infectious presence was a beautiful sight from a band who all look forward to seeing Bloodywood grow into their next steps of domination.
It was time to see one of the main stage acts of the day. With the stage looking ready to cause some chaos, Chuck Billy along with his comrades display to all present why Californian’s Testament are still in their prime in the thrash metal field. Crowd surfers were spilling from all corners with the many crowd-pleasing songs The Pale King, More Than Meets The Eye and Low. The pulverizing D.N.R. [Do Not Resuscitate] had moshpits coming in full circle along with the thematic Into The Pit displaying the audience’s full energy. Giving their final push with the aggressive Over The Wall, Testament were true to their musicianship and still showing with their great song history that it can still bring the smiles.
Over at the Wackinger Stage, it was time for sounds of a more calmer nature to settle the eardrums. Calling out to their treaty with traditional presence, French’s sextet Skald effortlessly performed conventional Nordic influences to the packed crowd. Playing from their debut Viking Chants including the evocative Odinn, hypnotic Yggdrasill, the beautiful call through Niu and the unforgettable Rún, their collection of chants were a worthy listen to all appreciating history through their sounds.
With the tent filling up to its edges, Norwegians’ Nordjevel blasted with hunger in their eyes. Their chilling presence with fire and even an oversized voodoo doll were made for making their setting unsettling. Their new record Necrogenesis was just released to the public, which gave fans a feast hearing their new tracks live as well as Fevered Lands, which was a pleasant audio journey for their admirers.
Taking their fans on a journey into over twenty-two years of blazing power metal, Swedish renegades Hammerfall wasted no time in firing intense songs such as Hammer High, Riders Of The Storm and Hector’s Hymm. As more songs old and new of their setlist flowed, their supporters’ energy hadn’t dropped an inch. As Joacim Cans jokily exclaimed that the screams of Let The Hammer Fall should be “longer than this – long, wild, crazy all at the same time”, the crowd surfers blew up the sea in unity. Nearing towards the end of their electric set, hearing their rendition of Games of Thrones was quite the audio experience and bringing the climax into the ground with [We Make] Sweden Rock and Hearts of Fire, it was a great end that fans walked away without a single frown.
Without catching a breath on the Headbangers’ Stage, Swedish dark lords Necrophobic blitzed their way into their enjoyable set. It has been a year since their Mark Of The Necrogram record was released. This gave their fans the opportunity to relish on their new material like their title track and the Tsar Bomba. Bringing in more crushing disaster with Celebration Of The Goat, Revelation 666 & their closer Nocturnal Silence, there was no denying that Necrophobic were having a great time and you see everyone else did too!
Moving across to the W.E.T. Stage, the communal buzz for Dave Vincent’s devastating venture Vltimas explores Something Wicked Marches In and had the place being mesmerized by their deathly vision. Each song arrived with even more shattering effect with tracks such as Last Alive Win Nothing, Diabolus Est Sanguis and bringing in their version to the Black Sabbath’s important track Black Sabbath, showing their versatility.
Bringing the summer party to the Faster Stage were the mad Aussies Airbourne! With many air-guitaring and fist-pumping, there were at times punters couldn’t keep up with their liveliness with Ready To Rock, Girls In Black and new track Heartbreaker. The drinks were flowing in tribute to the late great Lemmy. The lads even took the opportunity for eight crowd surfers to grab a beer. Well, they miscalculated the number of victims taking to the challenge! The high octane vigor was still on the rise with Breakin’ Out Of Hell and Raise The Flag bellowing out of the never-ending amount of speakers. Even a little teaser of Black Sabbath’s Paranoid blending in through their closing number Runnin’ Wild brought their ripping set to an exhilarating close.
You wouldn’t think that the highly regarded Swedes in Grave have been going for over thirty years! With this in mind, there’s no time to waste while blasting through the ear-crushing Deformed, along with the aggressors Here I Died… Satisfied, Into The Grave and finishing their solid set with Morbid Ascent. This brought their mass the much needed sonic beating.
Further with the audible crushing, the W.E.T. Stage brought forth another great death metal band of having the pleasure of finally seeing. Unleashed, hailing from Sweden, wasted no time in pummelling their fans with recognizable tracks Don’t Want To Be Born, The Longships Are Coming and Stand Your Ground. The drive from all present was not lost. A very enjoyable set from all corners of the tent.
The word was out. It was their biggest production the Swedish battalion has ever done. It was a vision that Pär Sundström [bass] explained during the biggest show of their twenty-year career. A dream that could never happen said by their peers. So, what has happened? Across two of their main stages displays the Great War backed by a choir and a second tank. A field that has completely full to witness their first headline European set. An aray or recognizable and educational songs of war. What made it even more marvelous was the wild Swedes brought their original members to perform some of their mammoth setlist. This means some serious business have to be met on the holy land in order to make their mission valid.
With the whip crack of fireworks bringing Ghost Division, Winged Hussars and Resist & Bite on full display, Sabaton brought the battle to Wacken Open Air with minimum effort. The joy on the Swedish five were not afraid to hide on their night. Overlooking the ocean of metalheads, thrills from their huge list of songs were met, including The Price of a Mile, Bismarck, Lion of The North and Carolus Rex. Precious moments were a thing to behold thereon towards the break of the night. It was track after track of immense unity that created the merrymaking craved by all. The drive through their frontline kept pounding down with Far from The Fame, Panzerkampf, The Art of War and Attero Dominatus, which lead to their triumphant trio of desserts Primo Victoria, Swedish Pagans alongside cellist Tina Guo and To Hell and Back.
What Sabaton intended for their evening was unmatched. It was entertaining. Fans were unified with raised voices and horns. All present was an entity. It was a brilliant celebration. The Swedes did give the performance of their lives. What is on their next agenda? Bigger venues across the globe? Well, that vision will be met… soon enough.
To close the first full day of metal shenanigans at the W.E.T. stage was quite packed for Hellhammer with curious metalheads. The spirit of the crowd was in full swing, and nothing was stopping them from enjoying the doom and gloom from Hellhammer’s discography of classics and tracks anew heading to the crack of dawn.