Various Artists

Armageddon Over Wacken Live 2004

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While it seemed like it wasn't until the early '90s that the U.S. finally accepted annual rock festivals, they had been appearing regularly throughout Europe for decades. And one of the most enduring metal festivals overseas remained Wacken Open Air, located 50 kilometers northwest of Hamburg, Germany. For the most part, the majority of the bands that appear at Wacken are of the "underground" mold, but the 2004 lineup featured more renowned acts than usual, including such metal vets as Anthrax, Death Angel, Cathedral, Dio, and Motörhead, among others. Kicking things off is Anthrax, whose performances of "Indians" and "Only" signal what must have been one of the group's last performances with singer John Bush, who was replaced shortly thereafter by Joey Belladonna (the same chap Bush replaced in the first place). Other highlights include Dio blazing through the classic "Holy Diver," and Motörhead's latter-day favorite "We Are Motorhead." A few forgotten rockers make their return as well (ex-Iron Maiden frontman Blaze Bayley and Zodiac Mindwarp), but elsewhere, the double bass, screamed vocals, and guitar flurries tend to blend into one another after a while. Armageddon Over Wacken Live 2004 is recommended to those who feel that Ozzfest has become far too mainstream and predictable with its major-label-based lineups.

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