November 3, 2005

CD Review: Armageddon Over Wacken - Live 2004

This is a massive three disk set dedicated to a metal festival in Germany last year. What attracted me to the set was the promise of live Dio, Anthrax, and Motorhead. If you can get those acts to appear at your festival, it can't be half bad, right? Well, after giving the set a listen, all I can say is "I wish I was there!"

This set is a must have for metal fans. I don't mean nu-metal or metal-core, but real, honest to God metal. The majority of the bands represented, I have never heard of, and some of them didn't sing in English, but that did not matter. Listening to all of these bands ply their trade in front of a live crowd is invigorating.

Armageddon Over Wacken is an open air metal festival that was started back in 1989 and keeps getting bigger. The liner notes give a little insight into just what it takes to put on a show like this. The notes read a little weird, I believe they were originally in German and translated. The 2004 show featured 64 bands on 6 stages over a three day period, with 33,000 fans in attendance. Based on the notes it seems to have been a much better experience that the Woodstock festivals of the 90's were.

The 3 hour/3 CD set is broken down into categories. Disk 1 is Black, Death and Thrash. Disk 2 is Power and Traditional. Disk 3 is Underground, although what they mean by that, I am not sure, I assume the bands are the lesser known acts. This is a great way to help categorize and give you a theme when deciding which disk you want to give a spin. Let's take a look at the disks.

Disk 1 starts off with a pair of tracks from Anthrax, towards the end of the John Bush era. The Anthrax songs are "Indians" and "Only," both of which sound very good. It's hard to pick out favorites as the disk is filled with great tracks. Other bands that are represented by great tracks include Destruction, Cannibal Corpse, Death Angel, and Ektomorf. Also of note is Children of Bodom's "Sixpounder," besides being a heavy track, it is mentioned in the liner notes that an estimated 5000 fans were crowd surfing during their performance. Can you imagine that? Disk 1 is loaded with heavy and dark music, high energy and aggression. This disk is a great way to open it up and give an idea of what this festival was like.

Disk 2 kicks off with Dio's "Holy Diver," one of two Dio tracks here. That leads into a favorite of mine, Nevermore with "Enemies of Reality." We also get Motorhead, represented by a pair of tracks. The most interesting tracks on this disk are the two closing tracks. First is JBO with "Arschloch und SpaƟ Dabei", which is, believe it or not, a cover of Bloodhound Gang's "Fire Water Burn." Picture that sung in, I believe, German with more of a metal edge, an interesting experiment, to say the least! Closing the disk is Blaze Bailey's cover of Iron Maiden's "Fear of the Dark", featuring male and female lead vocal. That song is just amazing live, and these guys pull it off well.

Disk 3 is packed with bands that I had never heard of before, but which most sound great. Highlights include Vanguard's "Forgive," Reckless Tide's "Death Train" and "Equality," and Gun Barrel's "Only a Passenger." Then there is the odd disk closer, Elakelaiset's polka version of Van Halen's "Jump", translated here as "Humppa."

Overall, this is a great set. 3 disks, 46 songs, there's a lot of music here. The majority of it is very good. I was so afraid going in that it would be filled with metal-core stuff, I was ecstatic to discover that this was metal, through and through. I can't help but wish I was there! So many bands, so much good music, it must have been a blast. This set is a great introduction to a lot of bands that we normally would not have been exposed to, here in the states. It is also calming to know that there is still a thriving metal scene somewhere in the world.



Anonymous said...

do you know which is the DVD intro track?

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