Wacken Celebrate 25 Years!!

Metal As Fuck takes you down the rabbit hole with some of our favourite bands and their time at Wacken Open Air!

Many heavy metal festivals have come and gone and many are still yet to rise yet there is one festival that extends beyond; one festival that by sheer mention of its name has metal enthusiasts the world over sending shivers down their spines and increasing their heart rates; that festival is Wacken Open Air.

For twenty five years, Wacken Open Air has been on the pulse of metal. A festival that every metal devotee aspires to visit at some stage of their lives to make their mark on that sacred soil and to leave their footprint in the history books of time. Congregations of tens of thousands make the pilgrimage each year for not just the amazing lineup of talent but to bathe in the ambience, to celebrate metal and to witness one of the greatest and most liberating spectacles on the metal calendar.  

Metal As Fuck is embarking on the journey of highlighting the last 25 years of Wacken Open Air, catching up with a number of Metal As Fuck’s favourites and learning about their greatest moments at one of the world’s most supreme festivals. Strap in because over the next few months, we are diving down the rabbit hole and searching for the greatest moments of Wacken from 1990 to 2014; a comprehensive collection of triumphs, tid-bits, tips and tragedies, we have them all from the ones who have played it. And to kick things off; Soilwork, Kataklysm and Whitechapel…

“It's really a gamble, depending on the weather; if you’ve played another festival the day before and just how hungover you are” Laughs Bjorn ‘Speed’ Strid of Swedish colossus Soilwork. “Regardless, the show is always very intense. So many faces and you almost get dizzy from the adrenaline rushing through your body. It gives you so much energy, even when the thermometer on stage says 43 degrees Celsius, which happened last summer [2013], there's no way I could've pulled through a show that hot, aside from Wacken. That gives you a little bit of perspective”.

Having played at Wacken how do you feel the festival stands out from the rest?  “Well, other than being the biggest it always tends to become the reunion of all reunions. EVERYONE is there, whether you like it or not [Laughs] it’s like a convention of tour stories. It’s usually great fun but last summer was too damn hot, at least for a typical Swede like me. The first or second time Soilwork played Wacken was the best for me, personally. I believe we played the biggest stage the second time and it was absolutely insane. You couldn't see the end of the crowd and I asked the crowd to make an aisle in the middle so that I could see my grandma in the back - a classy way of proposing a wall of death I guess”.

Get up to any mischief whilst at the festival?  “Hmm, not really, I know I slept in a tent one year among my friends, don't ask me why, a hotel room was provided for me… I do remember that I somehow had the back drop with me there and had to carry it all the way from there through the mud all the way to stage. It must have looked pretty comical”.

Certainly no strangers to the big stage; French Canadian death metal band Kataklysm have us in stitches with their Wacken antics. “It’s one of the biggest festivals in Europe and there are a lot of things I love about it; it's like at Wacken you are playing for the whole world, because metal fans are travelling from all over the world, so you play your set to people from every corner of planet earth” screams an enthusiastic Jean-François Dagenais. “That’s what’s really amazing and real intense at Wacken. The people go there to party and to have a good time – there is such a good ambience there. I would go back there on vacation! We’ve been there I think three times now and every single time was amazing”. Playing to the whole world as you say, what affect does this have on you? “Well, I mean there are so many summer festivals in Europe, I like more of the underground ones although it’s crazy to me that coming from Canada, we don’t have that many festivals, and in Europe there is like two every weekend over summer! Just so many metal heads [Laughs] you get up on stage and you’re just like wow! I’m in awe every single time”. Any particular favourite moments playing at Wacken? “Oh yeah. Most of the fans when they talk about Wacken it’s the bands and the party. I mean I’ve played with so many awesome bands at Wacken yet I think it’s definitely hanging out and having great times with friends and making parties”.  What did you find yourselves doing to relax between playing? “It depends, sometimes some of the festivals you get to have a relaxed schedule sometimes you’re up and then out after no sleep. Touring you know, like you are used to waking up really late, doing sound check, have breakfast, play a show, then…. then you play a festival – you realise you have to drive yourself to the stage right away, no breakfast, a hangover, you're sore [Laughs] its hard, it’s crazy [Laughs] it’s a cool experience. All those festivals, it’s like the world upside down, it’s so surreal”.      

“Wacken is great! blurts Alex Wade of Whitechapel. “2013 was our first time playing it. It’s definitely a very legendary metal festival, it’s been around a really long time; well 25 years now [Laughs] there have been a ton of bands who have released live DVD’s and CD’s based off of the Wacken spirit. It’s really a great festival that we had the opportunity to be a part of. Last year we got to play the side stage (well one of the side stages) we’re hoping that if we ever go back, we’re hoping we can play one of the main stages, because the main stages are really big [Laughs].

Being one of the very lucky American bands to play the festival, how had it aided your platform in Europe? “I feel like, you know in the US people have heard of it [Wacken] and are like yeah cool, they’re playing Wacken, yet it really helps more in Europe being on a festival with that kind of profile it really does look good for the band and we have always had a really great crowd when we have played in Europe, the entire continent is amazing”.