Wacken 3D review — Complete Metal-ness

Written and directed by Norbert Heitker | 95 min

“There are many crazy people, but it’s also the most peaceful place in the world,” says a fan from Taiwan. “It’s four days of complete metal-ness,” declares Henry Rollins.

On Thursday night Cineplex is screening the part-concert movie part-anthropological study Wacken 3D: Louder Than Hell, about the annual metal festival in the German village of Wacken. Thousands of metal fans in black t-shirts descend on a cow pasture to drink beer and bang their heads to their favourite bands. It’s a lot of fun if you’re into the scene, featuring live performances by everyone from Annihilator to Lamb Of God to Deep Purple—who, it needs to be said, are a shadow of their former selves without the presence of guitarist Ritchie Blackmore.

But this is a great look at a culture that seems cultish until the true believers gather in huge numbers and worship at the feet of the metal gods. Then it seems wildly mainstream. While it doesn’t quite manage the depth of Banger Films’ Global Metal or A Headbanger’s Journey, there’s still lots of great interviews and terrific live footage, and a nice sense of place and time. You get the music without the mud. There’s also a moment or two talking to the women at the show that addresses a little of the sexism that seems inherent in a scene traditionally filled with a bunch of drunk white guys. It’s encouraging to see so many women in the crowd, from all over the world.

I dig the treadmill keyboardist in glam metallers Rammstein, the oompah version of Europe’s “Final Countdown,” and Alpha Tiger’s NWOBHM vibe.

One other thing: I was sent a link to a version that isn’t 3D, so I can’t speak to to how that might help bring the show off the screen. I suspect it’ll be, as Donald Trump might put it,  HUGE. My version also didn’t have subtitles for the Chinese, Italian, or German band and fan interviews—hope Cineplex has that covered for the non-polyglot in the audience.

About the author


Carsten Knox is a massive, cheese-eating nerd. In the day he works as a journalist in Halifax, Nova Scotia. At night he stares out at the rain-slick streets, watches movies, and writes about what he's seeing.