Wave-Gottik Treffen is a festival of its own league. Indeed, no other festival, as dark as WGT, can take ownership of an entire city and its venues. Leipzig is the victim, a happy one we would say, of this possession and provides the most exquisite and dark venues for a festival such as WGT. Amongst the many events, which include concerts as expected, we are gifted with a Victorian Pic-nic, an exquisite show of the highest beauty in the biggest park of the city, Fetish parties in a beautiful palace, book readings and expositions inside churches, galleries and museums.
(Words by Eduardo Rocha)
Concerning concerts, the numbers are quite impressive: more than 200 artists invaded the city in more than 50 venues. And all styles are included with a strong focus on the Gothic scene, but also many folk, ambient and metal concerts. And, on metal we focused! The first day started, for us, in a rather quiet manner, with some concerts and some drinks in the Heidnisches Dorf. And the first band on stage upon our arrival was nothing but quiet. Playing what they call Rag’N’Roll, we were able to witness a wild performance by Ragnaröek, one in which they were kind enough to give some booze to the audience through a bottle and hose that was being passed around. It was a kind of an industrial metal mixed with some folk and rock influences which was a good start of the festival. Metusa was the following act and we have never heard about them before and we weren’t impressed at all. Playing a kind of rock mixed with some folk, this band seemed completely out of place for a festival such as WGT. This gave us the opportunity to grab some more drinks while listening to the too much happy tunes from these folks. Romuvos finally gave us what we were looking for: a good folk metal concert with a serious attitude, which is something, that sometimes lacks in this genre. Opening with a great tune such as “Under the Glaciers of the Baltijos”, Romuvos gave an excellent concert fitting to the atmosphere and the venue. A clear influence of these Lithuanians is Falkenbach, which attests the quality of the music played by Romuvos. “Beyond the Gates of Ouroboros” and “Romuvan Dainas” were others tunes played and it was clear that the public was enjoying the concert.
Then it was time to leave this venue and move to Kohlaribizirkus to see the most anticipated concert of the day (or even of this festival for this sincerely yours). The Portuguese Sinistro were headlining at the mentioned venue and the excellent album “Semente” gives all indications of an outstanding concert. And that was exactly what happened. Sinistro entered the stage discretely, with the perfect sound also we must say, and opened with the immense track “Partida” and its heavy riffs. The public was immediately hypnotized by the sound of the Portuguese and by the exquisite and elegant stage presence of the singer Patrícia Andrade. The whole band dominates the stage and takes its audience into their own world where the heavy riffs and the beautiful and enchanting voice of Patricia shapes all landscapes. Songs like “Estrada”, “Corpo Presente”, “Semente”, “Relíquia” and “Cidade” were executed with such a power that every soul in the venue couldn’t take their eyes away from the stage. A great concert and the tour recently announced with Paradise Lost will help Sinistro disseminate their beautiful music.
The second day had some interesting headliners and the chosen venue was again Kohlrabizirkus. Opening the day, we had a German band called Stahlmann. We only saw a few songs but that was enough to conclude the extreme influence (even copy) of Rammstein. Mixing this influence with some Gothic beats can explain their presence on this stage but some originality would be beneficial. Still, a good visual show and stage presence delighted all those watching their concert. This night was characterized by a constant change of style within our beloved genre. After these industrial/gothic gentlemen, Xandria invaded the stage and the mixing already felt weird. Still, many were present to see the concert of these German Gothic metal icons and they didn’t disappoint any soul (who likes their sound, ours is another story). Opening with the tune “Where the Heart is Home”, it was evident of the quality of this band. The beautiful voice of Dianne van Giersbergen echoed through the venue (literally due to some sound issues). The band is quite powerful and, despite not being our favourite sound, we have to admit the quality and presence of Xandria. The band has changed several times the singer and Dianne seems to be the final and right choice. “Death to the Holy”, “Ravenheart” and “Valentine” closed a very good concert with a full venue.
In The Woods… are a band that doesn’t play often live and, therefore, a concert of these legendary Norwegian is something not to be missed. It was an interesting concert but the sound didn’t help the band and some tunes were just too slow and somehow repetitive. Not an impressive concert.
Then it was time to make another change of environment. Rotting Christ took the stage and we were presented with a switch to the darkest black/exquisite metal courtesy of these Greek gods. The first song “Ze Nigmar”, from the latest album “Rituals”, showed that the band in the best of shapes, with all those years of experience telling them how to give the perfect concert. And so they did! With a perfect sound and attitude, Rotting Christ delivered a dark ritual that would amaze the darkest of souls. The fast “Elthe Kyrie”, “Athani Este” and the iconic “The Sign of Evil Existence” were some of the tracks executed with such perfectionism that impressed everyone in the venue. “Grandis Spiritus Diavolos” and “Non Serviam” closed a great concert and, possibly, the best one of the whole festival.
Finally, it was the turn of headliners and it was our turn to make another switch from the darkness of Rotting Christ to the progressive metal of Amorphis. The Finnish opened with the title track of their latest record “Under the Red Cloud” and it’s impressive to see how Amorphis became such stage giants. The venue was quite full to see this concert and we can say that Amorphis delivered an excellent concert. “Sacrifice” continued the tone of the latest album while “Sampo” and “Silver Bride” brought us back to the times of the album “Skyforger”. The heavy “Hopeless Days” reminded us of the brilliant album “Circle” and “Bad Blood” brought us back to the most recent album. Since the original bassist has returned, Amorphis used the chance to play some old tunes such as “Thousand Lakes”, “Into Hiding” and “Against Widows” to the delight of the old school fans. Then, some other more recent classics had to be played: “The Smoke” and “House of Sleep” were received euphorically and the band was quite satisfied with such reaction. To close, Amorphis presented us with a surprise by playing the very old, but iconic, “Black Winter Day”.
On the third day, we changed venue and went to Felsenkeller for a very interesting set of bands. The first one was Unlight who presented us with a very raw, fast black metal with several thrash influences. Unlight are in the scene since 1997, so these veterans have quite some stories to tell the audience. It was also clear their cult status amongst the present, while playing songs like “Create and Annhilate” and “Sulphurblooded”. A great concert with very good sound.
Subsequently, it was the turn for another cult band and The Vision Bleak delivered what they’re known for: a very intensive concert filled with great horror tunes. Opening with the track “From Wolf to Peacock”, from their most recent “The Unknown”, the whole attitude of the duo Schwadorf (guitars) and Konstanz (vocals) is one of unity with the audience. Konstanz was constantly screaming to every soul in the venue, interacting constantly which made the whole concert a delight. The groovy “Carpathia” and “The Night of the Living Dead” rose a frenetic head banging. Konstanz walks around the stage as a creature from the underworld singing all these horror tunes while his voice is of such a fitting tone. A great concert with a perfect sound.
Arcturus is a band that doesn’t play live that often and whose music is a bit eccentric and exquisite. The unique voice of Simen “ICS Vortex” Hestnaes and its tone also need a very particular sound which, if not obtained, can jeopardize the concert. And this was exactly what happened. While The Vision Bleak had a perfect sound, Arcturus struggled to obtain it and the guitars sounded too low and distant while the voice of Simen was too high for its own good. Starting the concert with the beautiful “Evacuation Code Deciphered”, the whole stage presence of the band is unique and sometimes confusing. But that’s part of the show and the public seemed to enjoy it. “The Arcturian Sign” and “Archer”, from the most recent album “Arcturian”, were the following songs and “Hibernation Sickness Complete”, from the album “Sideshow Symphonies”, brought us a bit back in time. “Alone” and “The Chaos Path”, from the legendary “La Masquerade Infernale, being such classics had to be played and the public was euphoric. The whole show demonstrated the unique voice of Simen while Jan Axel “Hellhammer” Blomberg, from the legendary Mayhem, devastated the drumkit. The remaining elements move exquisitely around while space images were projected in the background. “Crashland” was another tune played while the time came for us to leave in order to see Alcest in what is possibly the most beautiful venue of WGT: the Volkspalast. This is the place where the obscene fetish party of WGT takes place, so one can imagine the atmosphere that such venue invokes. When we arrived, Alcest were already on stage playing the song “Kodama”, from the album with the same name. The main room of the Volkspalast has a perfect acoustic and Alcest knew exactly how to use it to make this concert unforgettable. The guitars were so present while being also so well defined while the voice of Neige was beautifully placed above all instruments. “Là où naissent les couleurs nouvelles”, from the album “Les Voyages de l’âme” was another song played while “Oiseaux de proie” and “Eclosion” brought us again to the most recent album. “Ecailles de Lune Pt.2”, “Abysses” and “Percées de Lumiére”, from the album “Écailles de Lune”, were the last songs played to the delight of everyone in that room.
On the fourth and last day, we could already feel the effect of all the previous days. Both our stomachs and legs were complaining from the amount of alcohol ingested and by the amount of time standing up and headbanging. Therefore, we were a bit more relaxed while watching the concerts. The chosen venue was the same as the previous night, the Felsenkeller, and tonight we had some epic and symphonic black metal. The first band of the night was Welicoruss, from Siberia but based in Czech Republic, and they gifted with some cold symphonic black metal tunes such as “Sons of the North” and “Az Esm” and we could hear the many influences from Dimmu Borgir. Still, Welicoruss were a great opening act and everyone enjoyed their concert.
Finsterforst then took the stage to show us their Forest Black Metal and we have to say that we were quite impressed. Heavy tunes with some folk influences and, of course, all the black metal background were the perfect ingredients for a great concert. Opening with “Nichts als Sache”, from their most recent album “Rastlos”, Finterforst showed that they’re a force to be reckoned in stage decimating heavy tunes. “#Yolo” and “Botlle Gods” were some happier tunes while the long “Fremd” closed a very good concert.
The headliners of this evening were the Germans Equilibrium whose popularity has increased immensely recently. In Germany, these folks are well known and a very packed Felsenkeller welcomed them on stage. After an epic intro, “Erwachen” was the opening song and the whole venue was immediately surrendered. “Prey” and “Heimat”, also from the latest album “Armageddon”, proved that these songs are well known amongst the present. Once again, a great sound was crucial to make sure that the audience could follow everything that the band wanted to show. Then it was time to remember some older tunes and “Waldschrein”, from the album “Erdentempel”, was played flawlessly and, by being a happier tune, some dancing could be seen. The slower “Karawane”, from the same album, drove us through an intensive headbanging. “Zum Horisont” and “Helden” took us back to the most recent album and it was evident that Equilibrium puts a lot of faith in it. Between older tunes, such as “Uns’rer Flöten Klang” and “Unbesiegt”, “Frei Flug” and “Eternal Devastation” closed a very good concert in which the Germans displayed their power on stage surrounded by a very enthusiastic crowd.
What can we say about WGT to conclude? There are so many different things that can be seen that a careful planning has to be done. Since some of the venues are quite distant from each other, that planning has to be a bit more careful. But this happens because there are so many interesting cult bands playing and events happening at the same time, which implies that some choices have to be done. In our case, this meant that we didn’t see the concert of Devilment (playing at the same time of Sinistro) and also that we had to (regretfully) skip two (!!!) concerts of Myrkur since that charming Lady was playing at the same time of Rotting Christ, in the first concert, and of Arcturus, on the second one. But this only illustrates the quality of the program of WGT and of the amount of interesting bands playing in different venues. A festival which feels more like being in an eccentric world.