Wacken Friday in retrospect
WACKEN THREE HEAVY D
...as in this is a day of heavy metal and I am doomed to miss half of it by default!
Four hours sleep before doing some early interview work with Beyond The Black's talented and lovely singer Jennifer Haben, someone for whom the voice and melody is perhaps the only true escape and comfort from the world's pressures. She wears her emotions in her heart and larynx...I'd pay attention if I were you.
After that, and a good cloudburst or three which breathed new life into the Wacken mud, I had the huge pleasure of an hour with Girlschool. Characters? Oh and then some, although truth be told they're simply very warm, open and decent people who make you feel you're having tea (or a beer!) and a natter in the living room. Our natter left them with about an hour before the show, however they managed to absolutely cane their gig tenfold NO problemo. Look, they carry the spirit and vibe of Motörlondon (remember, Kim and Enid were in a band together back in '75!) so there is no doubt that this was a shared energy of the era and one which continues to drive the 'school on.
Schedule has prevented me from seeing more of the outer stages, which is a shame, but I made damn sure to get back to the Wasteland Stage and see the fucking phenomenal Overthrust, four men from Botswana who wear spaghetti western meets Matrix meets Ace of Spades Motörhead - era leathers and play scintillatingly tight death metal music. Did I mention that they were also MAGNETICALLY MAGNIFICENT??!??! God damn they burnt the hair off my balls with frightening proficiency, and turned my brain into a filthy death-metalized stew. I mean sweet Jesus, Mary and Joseph, honestly, the brutality displayed by these new behemoths was staggering!!! You'll soon see I'm sure...
Having braved two-foot-thick mud stuggles )I JUST made that word up to describe exceptionally deep, thick and pungent mud) everywhere, I engaged in more 'professional' duties before finally resurfacing in time to see Ministry. I first saw them on their 1990 The Mind Is A Terrible Thing To Taste tour, and over the years Al Jourgensen has been brilliant and disinterested in various phases. Well tonight, thankfully, I saw an Al who was dialed in, dialed on and delivering a fine show. The band is tight, really tight, but Al has always been the focal point, and when he is 'on' then 'it' happens. It was a pretty physical performance from him, and I found myself kicking and stamping the side-stage viewing gantry floor, which is the international sign for 'that was really really fucking cool.' NOW what I can ALSO say is that there was a great swell of nostalgia hearing these songs again, memories flooding in from the days of two drummers and fences, so truth be told, perhaps my nostalgic cerebellum had its filthy way with me and elevated affairs. Because there is an equal truth that Ministry now are a more straight-forward and straight-ahead band than they ever used to be, a true metal machine. Y'know what? Who cares! What does it matter? It was a damn good hootenanny, and given the fact that for a while there Al's mortality was not guaranteed, this was a strong, strong Ministry.
As if that wasn't enough. at 1.30am Testament strode out and proceeded to throw down a thunderous set of classics. There is more balance between Eric Peterson and Alex Skolnick than ever, comfort and wisdom allowing each of them to revel in (and relish) their roles. Gene Hoglan locks in supremely tight with Steve DiGiorgio and what is there to say about Chuck Billy? One of the finest, most ferocious-looking (yet bark thrice worse than bite) frontmen heavy metal has ever delivered. A behemoth? Oh I think so.
Yeah, Testament's fury was defiantly undimmed, indeed, with a good 30,000 saying up until 3am you don't even have to take my word for it!
...but you know the sight I cannot drive from my Wacken-addled brain? The dozen or so guys stomping around in that thick stuggly mud without shoes or socks?!! Trust me, it screams 'trenchfoot bastard' to me. And given that I am closing in on a 24 hour day, forgive me if I bow out and day goodnight right now (it is close to 4am, I just finished decompressing with Pep in the backstage hospitality tent where there was still some stir-fried turkey and peppers to be found)...I need...to go...
THE AUTHOR - Steffan Chirazi has been a writer, sometime-photographer and interviewer for quite some time. He has written for many publications worldwide, and has run Metallica’s So What! magazine and editorial for approximately two decades.