For obvious security reasons, the festival organizers implored the bands not to prompt a Wall of Death. Nevertheless, it happened—and we documented the clash of innumerable humans on camera.
All photos by Vincent Grundke
This article originally appeared on Noisey Germany.
There's always that moment when your body has to move faster than your brain cells, particularly after the latter have become twisted by multiple summer festivals—and especially when that moment is called the "Wall of Death." If there's a guy standing in front of you with his arms spread wide, prompting you to come at him, then you really don't have a choice. You're standing on the edge of a large gap dividing a mass of ten thousand metalheads who are about to face off in the genre's most dangerous ritual. There you stand for a few anxious breaths, and then the song's breakdown drops and sets everything in motion. If you're standing still, you're definitely screwed—so you join in the fray and hope to not get trampled underfoot.
The Wall of Death is actually a high security risk for megafestivals like Germany's Wacken Open Air. Organizers of the event even asked the bands to tell their audiences not to enact one, especially considering the massive amount of attendees. But there was one band on the lineup who always guarantees the strongest mosh pit at every festival: Heaven Shall Burn. Their sullen metalcore breaks so hard but remains so melodic that they're generally regarded as one of the most diverse headbangers. In 2011, they unofficially set the world record for the biggest Circle Pit ever at Wacken. I was there myself, and I've never experienced anything of greater caliber since.
This year, singer Marcus Bischoff tried to sway the clash of willing bodies. "We don't want to see any Walls of Death at all," he said, as people started getting in position. In addition to the Thuringians, the Heimorgel-playing solo entertainer Mambo Kurt spoke out against the Wall of Death. Like Bischoff, he tried to prevent the whole thing—sort of. "I know that it's forbidden to officially organize a Wall of Death in the crowd. We don't want to see a Wall of Death here!" Meanwhile, the Super Mario Gameboy theme sounded off. Kurt smiled: It was reverse psychology at its finest. A clever move, you sly fox!
Here are the best Wall of Death photos from Wacken 2017:
Translated by Meredith Balkus.