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Various Artists

Live at Wacken 2012 DVD

Review by Gary Hill

Whenever I see one of these sets – they have the Wacken Festival every year and always release it for video later – I am amazed at the range of sounds presented. I can’t imagine this kind of variety at a metal festival in the US. This time around I’m also incredibly impressed by the video and audio quality here. When you add in the fact that we get three full DVDs, this is an awesome release. 

Hammerfall starts the first DVD. They present a cool blend of classic and modern metal sounds. Testament is next and really what can you say about Testament that hasn’t been said before? I’ve seen these guys and they are always on top of their game. This is a stellar performance. The Boss Hoss is an unexpected pleasure. It’s crazy rockabilly metal. We get stand-up bass, harmonic and even a horn section. As weird as it is, I really like it a lot. It’s just fun.  I dig Edguy and the liver performance presented here is even stronger than their studio stuff as far as I’m concerned. The final performer of disc one is Volbeat. I’ve never heard of these guys before, but all I can say is “wow!” Although there is some death metal in this, overall it’s like a blend of metal with gritty, almost southern rock. It’s a weird combination, but it works really well.

Disc two starts with one of the biggest names here, Saxon. I’ve always been a pretty big fan of the group, so what’s not to like? Overkill is next and they get the moshing going in style. What a killer performance they deliver! Then it’s time for a big change with Cradle of Filth. Another band I like a lot, this is a cool showing. Next up is a powerhouse performance from Suffocated. This stuff is angry and I’m not sure if the rain pouring down during their set made it seem more angry or tempered it. Next comes Decapitated. I’m not a big fan of this type of hardcore, so it’s not for me, but plenty of people like that stuff. Another big change is Djern. I’ve never heard of them before, but their metal meets groove is cool. I just wish there was more than one song here from them so I could get a better picture. Leaves’ Eyes is European power metal with a female lead singer. It’s a big change and more melodic than a lot of the stuff here. I’m just not sure that it’s all that great. It tends to move towards operatic at times. The final band of the second disc is Schaundmaul. It’s like Celtic metal. It’s odd and unusual, but I like it a lot. 

The first performer of the final disc is Circle II Circle. These guys perform a melodic form of metal that’s got a lot of progressive rock in the mix. It’s a great performance, but I’m not sure how metal it is. Riotgod comes in next with some seriously raw stoner metal. It’s smoking hot. Red Fang comes up next. They bring a cool old school metal sound. These guys feel like they could have come out of NWOBHM movement. The next act is Crimes of Passion. It’s more of a melodic metal sound, but it’s still well rooted in the classic era of metal music. There is some thrash in the mix, too. Warrior Soul is melodic heavy metal at its best. It’s rock and roll. Unfortunately we only get one song from them. Hammercult delivers death metal styled thrash. Nasum is crazy fast and crazy noisy. It’s definitely screamo type stuff. That’s not my kind of thing, but for those who like it, I’m sure it rocks. Unearth delivers fast paced craziness that’s definitely on the extreme side. Again, it’s not really for me, but I know a lot of people love this band. Ghost Brigade is next. They are very much extreme metal, but they manage to get melodic, too. I dig those more melodic sections. I have always liked Graveyard, but I’m not sure I’d call them metal. They play great classic rock inspired music. Their performance is quite cool. Unfortunately, we only get one song from these guys. That said, Moonspell is next and it’s another band I like a lot. Their blend of melodic, but dark and gothic metal is quite cool. Yes, they can rock out, too. You’ve got to love anyone who shows up to a metal festival armed with a string section and acoustic guitars. It an unusal way to end the set.

I guess the biggest strength of this is that it gives you a chance to sample a lot of bands at once. Some bands have three songs, others have two and there are a couple who only have one song. It’s a great cross section of different kinds of music. You probably won’t love everything, but it’s an entertaining set and a fair bet that if you dig metal you will find plenty to like here.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2014  Volume 2 at

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