Dead End Drive-In: Now Showing - Wacken 2012 Print E-mail
Written by Gaz E   
Sunday, 19 January 2014 04:00

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Live At Wacken 2012 (UDR)

 

Don't let the title confuse you: this is a brand new DVD release documenting the 23rd Wacken Open Air festival in 2012.

 

Featuring 58 songs from 24 bands spread over 3 discs, this new set - wrapped in an excellent digipak and containing a 20 page full colour booklet - not only celebrates one of, if not the, finest metal festivals on Planet Earth, but also sees a huge chunk of its sales profits donated to the Wacken Foundation, set up to help young hard rock and heavy metal bands. So, not only do you help the future of rock by purchasing this region-free NTSC set, but you also get the chance to bang your head and pump your fists to some of the finest acts to grace the stages of the famous festival a couple of years ago.

 

What better to usher the wanton metal viewer into the first disc than 'Bang Your Head' by Swedish metallers Hammerfall? What better way to introduce the viewer to your band than by having the drummer fuck up the intro to the song? 'Last Man Standing' and 'Hearts On Fire' follow, the band a brawl of flyaway hair, sampled backing vocals and, of course, trad metal excess. Things get better immediately with a trio of songs from thrash legends Testament: 'More Than Meets The Eye' and '3 Days In Darkness' bookending the classic 'Over The Wall', the band playing in front of then-appropriate "Free Randy" banners.

 

Even better, believe it or not, is the punked-up country of cool German mofos The Boss Hoss. Just two songs from these Berlin bad boys - 'Riding High, Singing Low' and 'Shake & Shout' - but they are an early highlight: the band's upright bass, cowbell, mariachi horns and bright red keytar (!) the polar opposite of the expected denim and leather. They also manage to get the more adventurous members of the crowd to drop to their knees even though the field in which they stand has been turned, by inclement weather, into a mud bath/flood drain fusion.

 

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Don't worry metalheads, the disc quickly returns to normality with three songs from power metallers Edguy. The German outfit benefit from the daylight giving into darkness, the lights highlighting the heavy basics of 'Ministry Of Saints', 'Superheroes' and 'Babylon', the dry ice disguising the lack of anything remotely cutting edge. Not that the mud-caked warriors in the crowd care, of course.

 

Final band of disc one are Volbeat, owners of at least several clues and fine songs. The stage set is amped up and ramped up to headliner quality, the band joined by Mercyful Fate's Michael Denner and Kreator's Mille Petrozza for '7 Shots', and Napalm Death's Barney Greenway for 'Evelyn'. They play third track 'Pool Of Booze, Booze, Booza' all by themselves.

 

Cutting through the fog of 'Heavy Metal Thunder' to open disc two are Saxon. 'Hammer Of The Gods' follows, before Biff dedicates 'Power And The Glory' to "the greatest metal audience in the world." He may be onto something, you know. Things stay classic and cool with three songs from New Jersey thrash veterans Overkill. It's no coincidence that, like Testament's appearance, the thrash bands' power towers over the so-called 'power metal' of some of the more traditional acts. 'Electric Rattlesnake', 'Ironbound' and 'Rotten To The Core' rock, of that there is little doubt. Cradle Of Filth, sadly, do not. Not looking or sounding too pretty in the broad daylight, the famed extreme metallers struggle to transfer their dark stylings to a sunlit stage. Dani Filth et al are upstaged wackendvdcoverby the vocals of (then) keyboard player Caroline Campbell, though 'Her Ghost In The Fog' almost saves the day, stuck between 'Nymphetamine Fix' and 'From The Cradle To Enslave'.

 

Instead of shedding tears over goths struggling in the sunlight, spare a thought for Chinese metal crew Suffocated who took to the stage in what appeared to be the middle of Hurricane Alice. The band impress with their heavy wares, sadly only seen by the most hardened of festival goers, the dedicated metal bastards braving the heaviest rain in festival history. Possibly.

 

The cameras move inside a festival tent, probably to dry out, in time for Polish tech death outfit Decapitated and their trio of songs, 'The Knife' impressing, before a solitary song from Djerv - 'Headstone' - tells me what I already knew: that this female-fronted Norwegian band who I saw support Ministry (sadly absent here, their own Wacken 2012 DVD already available) in 2012 are ones to watch.

 

"Female-fronted," you say? Yes, the girls still want to have fun, Leaves' Eyes next up on the second disc's running order. The German/Norwegian orchestral band's first lyric is "teardrops on a fragile eyelash" and that pretty much sums up the teen girl bedroom poetry and Eurovision pop metal hybrid. I hear a hissing as I watch: I think there's a problem with the disc, but it is just the will to live being sucked out of me. Who could save me? Not the three songs from German medieval folkers Schandmaul. Not even the DVD's first bagpipes appearance could break my flute/violin-induced coma as the second disc dragged its feet to its conclusion.

 

Thank the maker, then, for the spattering of great bands on disc three. That's after the trio of plodding rock standards from Circle II Circle, the American rockers formed by former Savatage singer Zachary Stevens. Not even camouflage keyboards can save them...

 

Riotgod salvage the disc's early moments, however: the heavy duty groove rock from this Red Bank bunch of gnarly mofos is great, 'Breed' and 'Fool' simplistic in comparison to some of the overblown theatrics on offer elsewhere, and fantastic for it. Things get even better with 'Reverse Thunder' and 'Dirt Wizard' from the fuzzed-out bearded genius of Portland princes Red Fang. Now this disc has a pulse!

 

Shit, it just flatlined with the duo of songs from Crimes Of Passion, played out in front of one of the worst backdrops I have ever seen. The shot of adrenaline needed to bring life back to this fucker comes in the form of 'Fuck The Pigs' from the best band on this disc, Warrior Soul. Kory Clarke has microphone issues at the beginning and end of the ass-kicker of a tune (making its inclusion seem a little misguided) but, backed by one of the better of the recent line-ups of the seminal band (just a Janne away from being the best), the song still thrills. In typically ludicrous fashion the song ends with the curtains being pulled across the stage, Clarke left on his own like a stranded kid on a You've Been Framed school concert video clip. Never a dull moment with Warrior Soul, eh?!

 

Israeli thrashers Hammercult bring back the metal, the band's synchronised windmilling throughout signature tune, 'We Are Hammercult', sure to raise a horned hand from most viewers. Swedish grindcore mob Nasum bring the grubbiest noise to the release, the band celebrating its (then) 20th anniversary with Rotten Sound frontman Keijo Niinimaa replacing Mieszko Talarczyk who was sadly killed in the tsunami that followed the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake.

 

The guitarist of U.S. metalcore outfit Unearth wears a Dr. Dre shirt and show his unashamed love of rap via an insipid bout of fret wankery and widdling on an instrument that carries at least one too many strings. The band are tight if not that exciting, their plight not helped here by an unfortunate on-screen graphic renaming them 'Unerath'.

 

Finnish doom crew Ghost Brigade impress with their atmospheric gloom metal, even if the songs do go on a bit. They impress even more with the way they leave the stage at the end of second song, 'Soulcarvers' - the band members leaving one by one until just the drummer remains. Basic, yet mischievous.

 

The disc reaches its end with one of its greatest moments, 'Uncomfortably Numb' from Swedish retro hard rockers Graveyard: no frills vintage rock excellence that stands out like a sore thumb amid some of the gumby metal on offer. Speaking of which, the last band up are Moonspell, the Portuguese heavy metal band digging up their early albums for a trio of songs - 'Wolfshade', 'Opium' and 'Awake' - that feature about a dozen people on stage playing all sorts of instruments and a drummer hidden behind plastic, surely in the hope of not being able to hear his bandmates properly.

 

There are some curious omissions from the set for various reasons - Watain, Sick Of It All, Paradise Lost, In Flames, Dimmu Borgir, D-A-D, Amon Amarth, Sacred Reich, Sanctuary, Scorpions, Machine Head, Opeth, Gamma Ray, etc - but as a memento of a kickass festival then this mammoth set will surely part-satisfy an attendee. It certainly offers VFM, some of the latter going towards the future of metal.

 

 

[Photo by Mart Sepp]

 

To visit the Wacken 2012 store on Amazon - CLICK HERE