Wacken Wednesday in retrospect
Wacken has never been for the faint of heart, and with rain having spent most of the day sheeting down to provide a luxuriously thick, earthy carpet, there will be more than a few (dozen thousand!) who are right now (drunkenly) praying for at least a long impasse on shitty weather. Looks like it’s going to hold steady but no-one can ever be sure here…already the time vortex is is in place, Wacken becoming somewhere that the normal rules of the clock do not apply. Morning, night, whatever. You sleep when you can, whatever time that is, and on waking up, you go head-first right back in, because you’re always missing something, because you cannot see everything. Last night I did see two tall, leather-clad psycho-metal-Mad-Max cowboy metalheads from Botswana gracefully striding through catering, all the while someone telling me that these men were part of one of the best death metal groups I was ever likely to see, and I realized that this was precisely the sort of thing Wacken does - bring extreme Botswanian metal to our attentions…more on them later and (indeed) more on everything later. My head’s spinning and the words are warming up. There’s a lot to see, and I will do my damndest to let you know about as much of it as possible…until then…
Watching Phil Campbell, with his sons Todd, Dane and Tyla as they roared through “Killed By Death” was the sort of opening gambit that Wacken always looks to fire from the boughs but which cannot ever be planned. Fronted by the golden voice of Neil Starr, Phil Campbell And The Bastard Sons showed cohesion, chemistry and the air of a band who’d literally grown-up together. Which most of them did seeing as they’re Phil’s sons…I cannot think of the last time a band contained so much literal brothers, let alone their Dad?! Playing one new original song “Big Moth” which carried raw, infectious energy running the lines of a bluesier Soundgarden-meets-Zeppelin (to these ears) as the lads covered a few Motörhead classics I could see the exhale, relief and joy starting to coarse back through Campbell’s body.
‘His’ passing hasn’t been easy for you, it has certainly not been easy for me, but for Phil, I would suggest this has been a painful journey that has taken his pysche to places far, wide and dark. Remember this; Philip Campbell was THE Motörhead guitarist for over three decades. A lot of memories, a lot of shared experiences, a lot to move on through…but what BETTER way to do it then with your family literally surrounding you onstage?! Incidentally, Starr is not a Campbell in the traditional sense, but he is every inch one in spirit, similarity and attitude. This is a band who you will hear a lot more about in the coming months, not simply because of Campbell’s Motörhistory, but also because they have some proper, special pizzazz. It was beautiful to see him in such strong spirits and fine fettle, and I can say with authority that if He is looking down from the sky, He’d have enjoyed that tremendously and be giving his former band-partner a massive thumbs up…
Earlier, on the Headbanger’s Stage, I had seen the loud, fireworks-from-mohawk-helmet-shooting, Sid-Haig-House-of-A-1000-Corpse-painted, mask-wearing artistic aural and visual hooligans Hämatom send the vast tent into a sea of sweaty salutations and cheers with their undeniably quick, sharp hit to the senses. Sharing more than a few things in common with Rammstein, where Hämatom take their deviation is with their more consistently aggressive approach to songwriting, which often comes at such a ferocious rate it left me wondering if this is what get getting branded would sound like. They certainly made an impact on this jet-lagging head, which is sitting in his caravan on-site at 3am trying desperately to get the internet to work consistently and wondering if sleep will come easily or not. This is boots weather for sure, that much is clear with the mud thick and gloopy, squelching dangerously down to offer possibilities for skidding and sliding.
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.