Film Review: Wacken

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Looking at entertainment newsfeeds right now is pretty depressing with so many of our favorite music festivals being postponed or cancelled outright due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, thanks to the streaming services, we can still escape into the music by watching a great festival documentary as we did this week with Wacken – a film that originally released in 2014 and took us to small town Germany and put us front row at the 24th annual Wacken Festival.  

Held annually since 1990, Wacken has become the tops in the heavy metal genre and is known for blending generations of music together; from legends like Motorhead, Deep Purple, and Saxon, to today’s hottest acts such as Trivium, all the way to the newcomers looking to leave their impression on the fans during an intense battle of the bands competition at the festival.

Like with any documentary a virtual who’s who is interviewed: Henry Rollins, Mikkey Dee of Motorhead, Jeff Waters of Annihilator, Alice Cooper, Biff Byford of Saxon, Scott Ian of Anthrax, and more!

There are also incredible clips of performances from the festival that includes:  Motorhead, Alice Cooper, Rammstein, Deep Purple, Lamb of God, Anthrax, Trivium, Kamikaze Kings, Alpha Tiger, Sabaton, Nine Treasures, etc.

We see the stage curtain fall and 70,000 heavy metal fans clap along and bang their heads as Annihilator rips into their set and opens the entire festival with “King of The Kill.” And it’s in this specific moment, that the film takes shape and gives us the lifeblood of the festival: The Fans!

Several of the fans are interviewed throughout the film and offer their individual take on what the fest means to them, why they made the pilgrimage to it, and share their personal stories of why heavy metal matters to their lives so much.

“They are all very crazy about the music, but it’s most peaceful,” offers one of festgoers.

They come from every which corner of the world and bring different cultures to the festival, but for one weekend they all prove that we can live together amongst our differences with music at the center. Where Wacken initially draws you to watch it because of the incredible music, its strong, much deeper message becomes clear through its major focus on the concertgoers at the festival!


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