Written By Liz `Bird` Jeffries
Aussie Assault On W:O:A 2006
Since its inception in 1990, the Wacken festival has become arguably the biggest real heavy metal festival in the world. From the first festival with a handful of bands and around 800 attendees, Wacken Open Air has grown into a massive three-day affair where 30,000 metalheads from all over the world gather in Itzehoe, a small town near Hamburg in the Schleswig-Holstein region, to see over 50 bands on four stages.
For those outside of Continental Europe, Wacken is something of a religious pilgrimage each year as loans are taken out, second jobs are undertaken, and Friday nights are spent at home in an attempt to save the necessary funds to set off on the ultimate heavy metal adventure. So here I am with only a month to go, preparing to hop on a plane to Germany for my first, but hopefully not last one. This year, armed with very little besides the ability to order beer in several European languages, a crappy camera, and unbounded enthusiasm HM will be there and in true form (possibly running late, almost certainly drunk). We will, as usual, be bringing you news updates as the date gets closer, and for the first time reviews, photos and travel diary of the festival itself.
Besides the fans departing for Germany this year, several Australian acts will be taking to the stage. Thrashers Mortal Sin recently announced they would be appearing at Wacken 2006 and a couple of other European festivals before heading home to record. In a statement to HailMetal.Com on the 19th of June, they announced “It’s OFFICIAL! After 9 months of haggling, negotiating, breaking our balls, Mortal Sin have finally been confirmed for Wacken 2006.” Commenting on the logistics of an Australian band not only touring overseas but partaking in the biggest metal gig in the world, drummer Luke Cook laughingly calls it a nightmare, “Overseas touring is a very expensive and difficult thing to organise. A lot of people seem to think that because you’re touring overseas you’ve made it! Nothing could be further from the truth, it’s definitely a make or break trip for any Aussie metal band” Having been cited as ‘arguably the first band in Australia to play purely thrash metal’ the Sinners have ridden a tumultuous wave of ups and downs, including several extended hiatus’ and lineup changes. The band’s contribution to Australian metal since 1986’s ‘Mayhemic Destruction’ debut was acknowledged when they were inducted into the Australian Heavy Metal Music Awards Hall of Fame in 2005. Our distance and isolation from either the European metal scene or the American recording industry meat market means that although major Australian metal acts hold respected places in local music circles, this does not mean much in terms of overseas attention. This is perhaps reflected in the attitude of local acts touring in Europe. Playing the summer festivals is more than a gig, it’s about being a music fan as well. Cook suggests “The entire idea of Wacken is everything metal is about. Three days of metal, beer and friends. That’s what it’s supposed to be – No egos, no bullshit”. Mortal Sin will be playing to audiences at Rock Over Hamburg, Wacken’s warm up gig on the 1st of August, and are playing the W.E.T stage at 9pm on Thursday, the opening night of the Wacken festival.
The three bands travelling from Australia for this festival could not be of more diverse origin or style. Besides Mortal Sin, Rose Tattoo and Tourettes will also be appearing. Rose Tattoo are the stuff of Aussie rock and roll legend and really need no introduction. Frontman Angry Anderson is one of the most familiar public figures in both the musical and public media arena. Known for high energy shows that have often seen Angry wind his microphone cord around his throat until he passed out on stage, various members of the Tatts have also been noted for extensive charitable and humanitarian work over the years. Rose Tattoo are another band who have weathered the ups and downs of a career that is now almost 30 years on and in the process have penned some of the most well known and anthemic rock songs in the country, including 1978’s seminal debut ‘Bad Boy for Love’ and the song that has become almost symbolic of televised football ‘We Can’t be Beaten’. Also playing at Rock Over Hamburg on the 1st of August, the Tatts will be hitting the Wacken stage on the Saturday the 5th, just after midnight on the Party Stage and following Motohead and Emperor. The passing of Peter Wells in March this year was an expected, but savage blow not only to rock and roll and the tattoo industry where he had carved a niche as a much sought after and talented artist, but to friends, family and bandmates, who have acknowledged him as being “a great musician, a rock n roll legend, and most importantly a great friend”.
In contrast to both Mortal Sin and Rose Tattoo, who rightly reserve seats in the old school of Australian music, Sydney based Tourettes (Now known as Tourettes Syndrome in Europe due to a conflict of naming rights), have experienced a rapid rise to attention since forming in 2000. Tourettes quickly developed a cult following which has developed into clannish groups of supporters known as ‘the Sik Fuks’. Their rise was rapid as they received both national and regional radio airplay within a short time of forming, something that is highly irregular in Australian media. Playing festivals such as Metal for the Brain, and the Australia’s biggest music festival, the Big Day Out, helped raise the profile of Tourettes in Australia and overseas. They have toured internationally and recorded in Canada. With a musical sound that is somewhere between punk, heavy metal, and mallcore, Their live show has been described as ‘intense’ and ‘mayhemic’, vocalist Michelle Madden’s voice as ‘a thrashing whirlwind of intensity and bile’ (Kerrang).
They are playing at Wacken 2006 on the Saturday, 6:15 pm on the W.E.T stage.
It was clear even when early band announcements were being made, that this year’s festival was going to be huge. Featuring two of the most talked about re-unions of the year, Emperor and Celtic Frost, Wacken 2006 looks set to blow previous years out of the water. Also playing are members of the death metal elite Morbid Angel (with Erik Rutan rejoining to complete the ‘Domination’ lineup), Swedish prog masters Opeth, and four of Finland’s finest melodic acts, Children of Bodom, whose international rise to fame has been meteoric, Korpiklaani, Finntroll, complete with new a vocalist and Wintersun which started as the solo project of ex-Enisferum guitarist Jari Mäenpää, but now features a lineup made up of members of Imperanon, Norther and Rotten Sound. Other major acts include Arch Enemy who toured Australia in 2005, speed metallers Fear Factory, industrial legends Ministry and old school power metal band Primal Fear. Seattle based Nevermore will be appearing despite the serious illness of guitarist Steve Smyth, whose spot is currently being filled, as we understand it, by Jag Panzer’s Chris Broderick. The ugliest man in metal, Lemmy will be playing with Motorhead and the most strangely attractive man, Peter Steele (Type O Negative), will be playing with his old band Carnivore. This is but a small sample of the more well known bands who will be performing at Wacken this year. Numerous German bands are playing (including In Extremo, who I am dead keen to see, we need more bagpipes in metal!!), as well as the annual MetalBattle finals where the regional and national winners of metal band comps throughout Europe converge on the W.E.T stage/Headbangers ballroom to slug it out for the championship.
As a music fan, it seems to me that Wacken 2006 is set to be one of the biggest on record. Not long to go now and as I get organised to spend the next year in Europe, checking out as much metal as I can. It seems appropriate to start with the best, so stay tuned for full coverage of the Aussie experience at Wacken 2006. Full lineup details and running order for Wacken 2006, as well as some of the bands can be found through the following links:
And for those who keep talking about ‘Getting over to Wacken one of these day, stop talking about it and DO IT!!!
Official Wacken 2006 website (News page): http://www.wacken.com/en/woa2006/
Running Order (Subject to change): http://www.wacken.com/en/woa2006/main-bands/running-order-2006/
MetalTix (tickets and merchandise): http://www.metaltix.com/
Mortal Sin Official Website: http://www.mortalsin.com.au/
Rose Tattoo Official Website: http://www.rosetattoo.com.au/
Tourettes (Syndrome): http://www.tourettes.com.au