Photo Gallery Wacken 2008 -- Even Death Metal Lives

For those who want to rock, look no further than the heavy-metal music festival held every August in the northern German town of Wacken. This year's festival saw plenty of mud, booze, bands -- and horns!
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Germany's Wacken Open Air festival celebrated all things metal last week. Few music genres can boast a fan base more loyal than that of heavy metal.

Foto: DPA
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In fact, some would say that metal is not an element, not an alloy, and not a music genre.

Foto: DPA
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Rockers take a dip. Metal can be a way of life, a means of organizing the chaos of modern life into a meaningful whole.

Foto: DPA
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Age, gender, nationality and social class mean nothing to the cult of metal. If you can make the horns, you can live the dream, as residents of Wacken displayed last week.

Foto: DPA
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For 19 years now, heavy metal fans have gathered in the northern German town (pop. 1,800) for the three-day Wacken Open Air (W:O:A) festival.

Foto: DPA
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This year's festival drew an estimated 75,000 colorful individuals and fans.

Foto: DPA
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The first event was held in 1990 when 800 people gathered to hear local German heavy metal bands. It now holds a prominent spot on the ever-expanding European metal calendar.

Foto: DPA
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Over 19 years, the festival has grown to attract thousands of metal fans and dozens of bands -- including British metal legend Iron Maiden (pictured here).

Foto: DPA
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Four stages host acts from the full spectrum of metal sub-genres, including Black Metal, Death Metal, Power Metal, Thrash Metal and Folk Metal.

Foto: DPA
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As with any other multi-day musical event, there's plenty of sideshows to be enjoyed.

Foto: DPA
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According to Wikipedia, the preferred gesture of heavy metal afficionados has many names, including "devil sign, devil horns, goat horns, metal horns, metal sign, sticks up, throwing the goat, rocking the goat, sign of the goat, throwing the horns, evil fingers, the horns, forks, metal fist, rock fist, fist of rock, or the 'Rock on!' sign."

Foto: DPA
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The festival also offers participants a chance to bond and share a feeling of cathartic oneness.

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From high above, the festival looks like any other large gathering...

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...but the closer you get, the more you can appreciate the unique perspective of festival participants.

Foto: DPA
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Festival organizers are planning to hold next year's festival in San Paolo, Brazil. It will be called "Wacken Rocks Brazil." Festival founder Thomas Jensen is hoping that a metal legend -- such as Metallica or AC/DC -- will join the list of participants for the 20th festival.

Foto: DPA