Various Artists – Live At Wacken 2013 DVD set (UDR)Tuesday, 5th August 2014
Starting in 1989 as a small festival for 500, this German metal festival has grown over the decades to a 3 day plus affair, featuring hundreds of bands on a variety of stages and sold out to 75,000+ attendees who come clamoring from all corners of the globe. Live at Wacken 2013 is available on CD, DVD, and Bluray, and for the purposes of this review I’m examining the 3 DVD set that features a mindboggling 10 hours plus of footage, including a 45 minute ‘Bullhead Proof’ documentary and over 103 songs by 43 artists.
DVD one contains a delectable lineup. Sabaton elevating their melodic power/war themes through “Carolus Rex”, “Swedish Pagans”, and “Primo Victoria”, the veteran Anthrax reaching back in the early days for “Deathrider” and also coming up to the present for “Fight ‘Em ‘Til You Can’t”, all the way through to symphonic metal superstars Nightwish featuring their new vocalist Floor Jansen getting to perform “Storyline”, “Romanticide”, and “Ghost Love Score”. You can tell Lemmy from Motörhead was really sick as this is the abbreviated performance but you’ll still get “Damage Case” and “Metropolis”, and other killer work from Annihilator, Deep Purple, and Lingua Mortis Orchestra featuring Rage outweighs other acts that may not necessarily meet your approval (insert Trivium and DevilDriver).
DVD two starts with Danish melodic metal act Pretty Maids, reminding us of their classic “Future World”. Ugly Kid Joe may have been the life of the party in the early 90’s with their brand of hard rock, but they are willing to step up their game with their “Ace of Spades” cover on here. Sonata Arctica and Amorphis get 3 tracks each, the former delivering their material brilliantly through a persistent downpour. And there are a lot of bands that never really get much spotlight in North America that you can make a fair assessment of in this live environment, be it Italy’s Secret Sphere, Sweden’s Mustasch or Germany’s Emergency Gate. Again, not all bands or selections will meet approval, but you can’t deny the versatility and depth of the metal genre: from doom to power, death to black, folk to traditional, it’s what makes Wacken the leader of the pack.
The final DVD features a lot of under the radar acts or newcomers, probably the one that will have you scrabbling to seek out albums you’ve never even heard before. Germany’s Dew Scented are one of those thrash acts you need to hear, just as Alpha Tiger is for the traditional/twin guitar power driven style. Cleveland, Ohio’s Soulless rip in their aggressive thrash/death style, while veteran UK hard rockers Chrome Molly remind people of their dynamite sonic outlook. The mud, the crowd surfing, the clapping, the audience screaming, and the energy, as best as can be translated in a DVD set, it’s there in all the glory.
Many will say Wacken has grown too big for its own good, and as a result other festivals have stepped up their game to try to offer better lineups. Having never attended a European metal festival (but strongly plan on doing so in my lifetime), Live at Wacken 2013 gives me a charge every time I chose to watch even a portion of the festivities. Mandatory for those who love the wide aural landscape of heavy metal: past, present, and future.