Live Words and Live Photos: Markus Wiedenmann
Feature Image Photo Credit:Dirk Jacobs
Day 2 Thursday with a scorcher, hot, and sunny, so any kind of refreshment is gladly taken. Today the two main stages are in operation for the first time and Cirith Ungol starts a band that has the status of a legend. The quintet from California picked up speed after their restart in 2015 and released ‘Forever Black’ an album that seamlessly follows the old classics. So, it’s no surprise that today a few of the new songs are blasting the infield. The veterans know how to get the metalheads on their side, especially since the band has Jarvis Leatherby (Night Demon) in their lines, a bass player who provides an enormous groove and doesn’t stand still for a minute. Cirith Ungol rocks Wacken and pulls a lot of fans towards the Faster stage.
Grave Digger provides the big show. The German metal institution doesn’t miss the chance to perform with the big orchestra. The guys start their triumphal concert with ‘The Brave’, supported by Baul Pipes & Drums and friends. Grave Digger proves that Heavy Metal is not a question of age. but just a number. It’s the attitude and Grave Digger has something ahead of many other bands. In addition, there are the classics in the setlist, such as ‘ Excalibur’ and the closing ‘Heavy Metal Breakdown’ which bring the Scottish Highlands to Wacken.
Rose Tattoo traveled a long way from Australia to the northern German province. Angry Anderson and band mates play the ‘Louder’ stage and are frenetically celebrated by the audience. A lot of experience, authenticity, and great songs bring the fans from 0 to 100 in no time. Rose Tattoo shows that rock and metal don’t need much more. The stage is kept simple so that nothing distracts from the music and that is also a good thing. This music doesn’t need any extra to shine and spreads its party vibe, regardless of day or night time.
Slowly dark clouds move towards Wacken, and the wind freshens up. All this can’t stop Udo Dirkschneider from starting his show. This time it’s the Dirkschneider set-up who plays and so the signs are set for Accept legend. Well, you can’t expect surprises here, but it’s the timeless classics of German heavy metal that provide fans plenty of nostalgia and ecstasy. And who wouldn’t want to sing along to songs like ‘Breaker’, ‘Restless and Wild’ (in a medley with ‘Son of a Bitch’), and ‘Balls to the Wall’ at a festival like Wacken. Dirkschneider plays so loud, that the dark rain clouds cleared up again. With ingenious riffs and a smoky voice, you can thus banish not only bad vibes but also bad weather.
Overkill is always a safe bet. The thrash metal legends from New Jersey deliver solid concerts with incredible consistency and the appearance at W:O:A 2022 is no exception. Germany is a stronghold for the band, with many fans in the land of beer and schnitzel. Like Rose Tattoo, Overkill’s stage is kept very simple. However, obligatory is the color green which always prevails at an Overkill show, this time by the lighting. The five-piece impresses with a hard-hitting set in which songs like ‘Rotten to the Core’, ‘Wrecking Crew’, and the closing ‘Fuck You’ put the fans in a good mood and mandatory headbanging preceded.
Whoever goes for Overkill must be a fan of the band, as Mercyful Fate approaches the ‘Harder’ stage. There is a little surprise though before the show. Between ‘Harder’ and ‘Faster’ stage is a small podium, which probably nobody noticed until this very moment. When the first sounds of Amon Amarth started and Johan Hegg could be seen on the screens, it dawned on one or the other that something unexpected is happening here. Amon Amarth play five songs and the “Heathen Army”, which stood in line at the edge of the stage, made it clear that the five Swedes want to use the opportunity to promote their new album. What is better than presenting two new songs in front of more than 80.000 metal fans?
After that, the stage is ready for Mercyful Fate. It was in 1999 when the band was on the Holy Ground for the last time and so everybody is curious about what Mercyful Fate had to offer. King Diamond, Hank Sherman, Bjarne T. Holm, Mike Wead, and the newly added Joey Vera make it clear why the band deserves its cult status. Songs like ‘Melissa’ are timeless classics and have influenced generations of bands. Visually framed by a gigantic stage set-up, Mercyful Fate delivers an impressive show and satisfies all expectations. The only band that can top that is Judas Priest. The crowd density shifts a few meters to the left before the Metal God calls for the service. What to write about a band that hasn’t already been written? The moment the glowing icon of Judas Priest rises, hell breaks loose. Standing close to each other, fans experience metal history closely. Frontman Rob Halford is like fine wine, which gets better and better with age. Judas Priest is a headliner on day two and rightfully so. Wacken experiences many metal bands these days, but none has shaped heavy metal as much as Judas Priest has and still does.
In the meantime, the night has come over Wacken and musically it gets darker too. Rotting Christ from sunny Greece provides the musical soundtrack for the dawn. Sakis, Themis, and the band deliver a dark black metal spectacle and manage to attract many fans in front of the W:E:T stage, despite Mercyful Fate and Judas Priest rocking the big stages.
The nervousness of the security staff is spreading before the performance of Belphegor. However, the reason is not security-related but rather the fact that flesh and blood will be involved in the show. Rain ponchos are hastily distributed before Herman and his guys burn down a diabolic inferno. Light and fire create visually a very own netherworld and Belphegor’s music underlines this mood in perfection. Evil and madness are what fascinate fans during these 60 minutes.