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Articles : Wacken Open Air 2016 – Metal Obsession Preview

By on June 8, 2016

Wacken Open Air (Germany): August 3-6

Aussies travel. We have to. We need to. We want to. And once again the team from Metal Obsession will be converging on the Mecca that is the European Summer Heavy Metal Festival circuit.

Whilst I hope to catch a few other smaller festivals and minor shows during my 3 1/2 weeks in Europe (including Saarmageddon in Saarbrucken), the main festivals I’ll be covering for Metal Obession this year is Wacken Open Air.

Who knows how many times I’ve been to Wacken. 2016 is the 27th year of the festival and I still remember my first ever trip back in 1999 – a five day trip to Germany and back just to be at Wacken (in fact, I’ve still got the lanyard in my collection). This was followed by 2000 and then 2007. Then there was 2012, 2013, and 2014. I actually think I’ve missed one or two but, you know, it doesn’t matter. Over that time I’ve seen the festival grow enormously and become more international and more diverse and far more sweaty! 😀 The number of non-Europeans attending has increased dramatically over the years and it gets harder and harder to get a ticket. If you want to go to Wacken in 2017 then you need to plan now as the festival will sell out within 24 hours of the tickets becoming available. Thankfully, the awesome organisation looks after the media extremely well..

There is nothing like 80,000 metalheads gathered in one place. Nothing. You have to see it and feel it to believe it. And Wacken’s mantra of Louder Than Hell could only be trumped by changing it to Bigger Than Hell or Smellier Than Hell. It is an experience.

The festival’s size is always a double-edged adamantium sword +1 and whilst the focus still remains on the bands, it is, more importantly, about bringing metalheads together. And beer. I am certain there are small African nations who have a GDP less than the value of beer consumed and merchandise purchased at Wacken. And if you’re after merchandise, this is the holy grail. When you’re not watching a band, you will find an incredible range of CDs, t-shirts, boots (especially gum boots if it rains!), pleather and leather products, food, and alcohol. You even participate in sword fights. I doubt there is dwarf-tossing but if there was then Tyrion will would probably hang you for it. 😉 And, sure, it’s not Eurovision with their incessant, clean pop-songs and political voting but FUCK EUROVISION. This is METAL. 🙂

Wacken starts on Wednesday 3rd of August and mostly centres around the Wacken Metal Battle – a worldwide band competition that brings together a band from each of the 40+ participating countries (true, Australia needs a metal battle as well) and offers them a slot at Wacken. Some bands, like Battle Beast, Hammercult, Torture Squad have all signed record deals based on this competition. and whilst there are 5 stages in action on the Wednesday, it is Thursday when it starts hotting up.

On Thursday 4th of August the two main stages are opened. The Black Metal stage gets the bulk of the bands including Saxon, Foreigner, and Whitesnake but it’s the one and only Iron Maiden performing on the True Metal stage that will have everybody in a frenzy. Not having attended their recent performances in Australia (due to finances and knowing I was travelling to Wacken), I can’t wait to watch them in front of so many people.

Friday the 5th of August is where it all comes together. I could list every band that’s playing but here are the bands I’m keen on watching: Entombed AD, Loudness, Axel Rudi Pell, Blind Guardian and Testament. Not forgetting Tarja, Orden Ogan, Beyond The Black, Hansen (Kai Hansen from Gamma Ray) and Friends, Uni-fucking-sonic, Sebastien, Girlschool, Orphaned Land, Sebastien, and Ihsahn. Sure, I won’t see them all because I’ll be distracted or trying to watch two bands at once (or three) but that’s OK. I’m going to be busy. And probably poor.

Saturday the 6th of August is where it all ends. Dragonforce, Borknagar, Therion, Symphony X, Metal Church, Steel Panther, Twisted Fucking Sister, Dio Disciples, Snowy Shaw, Gloryhammer, and Serious Black. At this stage, for me, Saturday will be less busy but that will allow me to not only catch some other bands but also to do a bunch of merch buying. If it hasn’t all sold out by that stage.

Here is the full list of bands at this year’s Wacken Open Air Festival:



Since 1999, Gary Carson has co-hosted Australia's longest running prog/power metal radio show on Screaming Symphony. Gary has a Bachelor's degree in Psychology/Sociology and enjoys horrifically violent games, horrifically violent books, and horrifically violent movies. And gay power metal. Check out Screaming Symphony every Thursday night from 10pm (Melbourne time) on PBS.FM