2013-05-19 DE – Gelsenkirchen - Amphitheater

King Diamond - Sepultura - Threshold - Tank - Orchid - Orden Ogan - Gospel Of The Horns – Attic

[Psycho] Wow… surprise, surprise… what lovely sunny day and comfortable temperatures. So far a rarely experienced phenomenon this year.
[Dajana] Oh yes! Sunday. The big day. For the King and his fans. Expectations are high, critical voices loud. For a long time KING DIAMOND was on hold. Would he still able to deliver a convincing show? We were left reflecting on the shows we experienced in the 90s…
[Sui] After the amazing QUEENSRŸCHE last night, what more has to come? As for me it sounded as if they would have almost written the King off. At least, his alleged hair to the throne kicked off the last festival day…

:: pics ::

[Psycho] Yep, we started with the best of the three openers this weekend, the local heroes :: ATTIC :: who promptly packed the arena much more as you would expect at 12am. With their Merciful Fate-kind of sound they couldn’t do any wrong today. Correspondingly great the response turned out. I at least liked it and especially the singing (incl. high pitched levels) was convincing. Regarding the lead-guitars they should still do more rehearsals. As the saying goes: a band with potential…
[Dajana] …And instantly jokes went around that King Diamond could hire the ATTIC singer if the King would lose his voice… ;)
[Sui] ATTIC really tried to leave ascent mark in their own district. Only the guitar sound was a monkey wrench in the works, first for the one, then for the other guitarist. The technical malfunctions this weekend were really embarrassing. Did the probs alienate the guitar duo? Sounded like that. The harmonies did not match 100% and the solos did not have enough power. As for that the singer was shining even brighter. With his excellent King Diamond voice and real charisma Master Cagliostro is the biggest plus in the band. A band that - with some improvements - may have a bright future ahead.
Setlist: Intro, Funeral In The Wood, Join The Coven, Black Mass Intro, Satan’s Bride, Edlyn, In The Chapel, The Invocation, Evil Inheritance, The Headless Horseman

[Psycho] Australians :: GOSPEL OF THE HORNS :: I did not know before. Those, who weren’t awake yet, got a brutal call now as the band’s sound is a nasty bastard of old school Thrash Metal with a pinch of Celtic Frost and Crustcore. Combined with much delight in playing we got an entertaining riffwork thunderstorm its only drawback is the lack of variety over the length of time. The band scored while entering the stage a bit earlier and playing two songs more as planned. Well, it should be worth to travel the half planet anyway…
[Sui] GOSPEL OF THE HORNS got in quite gruffy. And that’s already that. With their undifferentiated they at least did not need to care about sound problems. During the instrumental A Call To Arms the guitar actually failed but hardly anyone did notice. Those who are able to cut out inspiring songwriting and prefer brute force instead will have enjoyed this show for sure.
Setlist: Gospel Of The Horns, Awakening, Strength Thru Fear, Sorcery And Blood, A Call To Arms, Desolation Descending, Absolute Power, Vengeance Is Mine, Slaves, Death Sentence, The Powers Of Darkness

[Psycho] The two following bands I missed because I either already saw or was not interested in. Instead I learnt how much sunburn one can get after only a half day.

[Sui] Next up is :: ORDEN OGAN :: a band I knew just the name before. They got introduced as German Power Metal what scarred me a bit at first. But ORDEN OGAN are pleasingly non-pathetic and their riffwork powerful. Just the pirate-pathos they could not avoid but here I got the feeling that the band does not take itself too serious.
[Dajana] This kind of music is not so much my cup of tea. But it was great to see how big the fan base grew over the years. Well deserved. ORDAN OGAN are quite popular these days and know how to enthrall their audience. An ocean of raised fists (on command) looks pretty awesome.
Setlist: We Are Pirates, To New Shores Of Sadness, The Lords Of The Flies, This World Of Ice, The Things We Believe In, To The End, Angels War

[Sui] regarding the advanced praise and recommendations I expected nothing less than something great from :: ORCHID :: And I got not disappointed. I know that the band’s strong reminiscences of Black Sabbath might cause criticism, but I don’t care. The band perfectly displayed why great guitar riffs cause much more heaviness than the wildest blastbeat thrashings. Especially He Who Walks Alone and Capricorn from the homonymous album went under my skin. The first real highlight on this Sunday afternoon.
[Dajana] Yes, I agree. Considering the fact that ORCHID played a metal festival for the first time they truly manage to rock the Amphitheater.
Setlist: The Mouths Of Madness, Eyes Behind The Wall, Capricorn, Silent One, Eastern Woman, Wizard Of War, He Who Walks Alone

[Psycho] While many bands here sounded just old :: TANK :: mark the difference, because they are old! Luckily, they did not fall short with all these Swedish whippersnappers. As shouter Doogie White is tied up with other businesses he got temporarily replaced by ex-Dragonforce singer ZP Theart, a choice I found strange to be honest. But ads we could witness it was a good one. ZP Theart brought a lot of movement and dynamics on stage and adapted his singing. No wonder that TANK’s set of old classics and new material went down pretty well. Old bands with a new young singer seems to work very well as of late…
[Sui] In this life TANK passed me by unnoticed, so I had no expectations and an open access to their performance. To my luck! Because that way I experienced a great old school show, except for the little moment where the singer offended the crowd on the upper echelons. But generally the band was much likable and the guest singer fitting in and electrifying the audience – at a point where one gets usually its first personal low.
Setlist: Great Expectations, Honour And Blood, Judgement Day, Don't Dream In The Dark, Echoes Of A Distant Battle, Feast Of The Devil, Phoenix Rising, War Nation, This Means War

[Psycho] Another band I never dealt with before, Great Britain’s :: THRESHOLD :: Must be due to the fact that my Prog phase lies behind me for a long time now. Insofar I did not have high expectations but was much taken with the song-orientated material (and less technically tricky stuff) and enthusing stage acting, which is not so common especially in the Prog Rock scene. I liked singer Damien Wilson’s trip through the arena. Musically not really my cup of tea but from an objective point of view it was a great show.
[Sui] I can just agree with Psycho. Where Psychotic Waltz last year spectacularly failed THRESHOLD raised the Prog banner again. Musically excellent, not up to themselves and most of all with a performance that is addressed to the audience and not to their fingers and fretboards. Singer Wilson was whirling through the arena like a devil while his band was playing also complex stuff super tight and easily. Second highlight!
[Dajana] Yessss! I was much looking forward to THRESHOLD, they are one of my Prog faves and I could not see them on their just finished European tour. But tonight’s show outweighed everything. This band is just awesome, one of the best progressive Rock band around the globe with the most charismatic singer in that genre. I love them!
Setlist: Mission Profile, Don’t Look Down, Ashes, Light And Space, The Rubicon, Pilot In The Sky Of Dreams, Slipstream

[Psycho] I was looking forward to :: SEPULTURA :: right after. I did not see them for a long time and never with this new line-up. After a longer slack their latest three records have been downright good, so let’s see… What I definitely did not expect was the fact that next to guitar hero Andreas Kisser not giant Greene attracted attention, nope, it was the “new” drummer Eloy Casagrande. Can’t remember when I have seen a drummer thrashing his kit that powerful, energetic and so hitting bull’s-eye at the same time. It is incredible with what force and precision this man drums and how much dynamics gets passed down to the crowd. The extremely rhythmic SEPULTURA style with its tribal-like elements perfectly suits. This show was a great experience to watch! Generally there was nothing to nag about. Finally a band living up to its co-headliner status. What a great show! Bands of such quality we definitely did not have enough this year.
[Sui] On their Kairos tour SEPULTURA left an ambivalent impression. They have not been anything bad but not really good either. But here on the ROCK HARD FESTIVAL they appeared to me like a complete changed entity and who is to credit for that. As Psycho said, it was almost impossible to get your eyes off the drummer, who merciless thrashed his defenseless drumkit. With this insane precision. SEPULTURA never sounded that tight, best heard at the classic Arise. For the first time I have heard guitars and drums so perfectly together. And suddenly the song gains even more drive. The audience said thank you with the biggest mosh-pit on this year’s festival.
[Dajana] I saw SEPULTURA not so long time ago on the Barge To Hell with a marvelous best-of set and performance, where I also could experience Mr. Casagrande very close. So I knew what to expect and what we would get. And I was right ;) This show was intense!
Setlist: Intro, Troops Of Doom, Refuse/Resist, Kairos, Sepulnation, Altered State, Convicted In Life, Attitude, Choke, The Treatment, Biotech Is Godzilla, Policia, Orgasmatron, Slave New World, Arise, Territory, Ratamahatta, Roots Bloody Roots

[Psycho] A longer change-over followed to get the King’s equipment, decoration and backline on stage. This time got partly bridged By Mambo Kurt, an old friend of the festival. Those who dared to get into got curiously interpreted Metal classics and at least a homage to Jeff Hanneman. For me an entertaining fun, because it is a Bontempi- and not a Hammond organ.
[Sui] My first thought: Oh my god! Is that really necessary? But… Chapeau! Mambo Kurt knows his craft. Bizarre entertainment beyond of all questions of good taste.
[Dajana] My first thought: Oh my god! Is that really necessary? Well, it seems so… Count me out!

[Psycho] Finally. Time has come for the show most fans probably looked forward excitedly :: KING DIAMOND :: Same procedure, also the King needed to live up high expectations, because The Rock Hard crew promised a full KING DIAMOND show. And discussions about this year’s billing, the probably horrendous fee for him that reduced the rest of the billing did not want to stop. One thing can be said here and now clearly: KING DIAMOND not only lived up the expectations he even went beyond! Most of all: when did one last time hear the King with such voice? To be honest: I never did before! Okay, for the high-pitched parts he got support by a female singer in the background, nevertheless: my respect for this effort! The King got backed by handpicked musicians, the best of the best to hear and see in the Metal scene these days. And last but not least a well-chosen KING DIAMOND best-of setlist, added by essential Merciful Fate covers, although I missed the one or the other song…
Musically top but the performance was not much spectacular. Yes, it looked all great and the lightshow was superb, but apart from that it was just amateur theater. That was a “full” show? Hm. At least now the music took center. In any case a worthy finale of the festival.
[Sui] It was like as if everybody tried to play down its expectations. Like if one does not expect anything, he cannot be disappointed. It was all just babble and forgotten when the King began to sing. I never was a big fan of his voice, but what he offered here tonight topped every ROCK HARD FESTIVAL headliner I saw so far: A perfectly staged horror show, with mercilessly good musicians and a setlist, which is hardly to top. His voice withstood the entire set, from the first up to the last minute and shot down all claim on the throne. Normally I cut out the encores of the last day’s headliner. This year I stayed, till the last second.
Setlist: The Candle, Welcome Home, At The Graves, Up From The Grave, Voodoo, Let It Be Done, Dreams, Sleepless Nights, Instrumental, (Drum Solo by Matt Thompson), Shapes Of Black, Come To The Sabbath (MF cover), Evil (MFcover), Eye Of The Witch // The Family Ghost // Halloween // Black Horsemen

[Psycho] In past years I often wrote that the ROCK HARD FESTIVAL has found its niche musically and established itself. Why they have changed that without pain and to the worse in my opinion, I can’t comprehend. It is a fact that the RHF 2013 has seen visibly less visitors, despite of exclusive headliners as QUEENSRŸCHE and KING DIAMOND. And that was not (only) due to the bad weather. It was due to the weak billing. It is my hope that this year’s constellations was only due to the expense and we will get more highlights in the next year again.
As for that the technical problems through the entire festival remain incomprehensible. Too often a singer was not heard, failed a guitar, was the lead guitar generally too dominant and all that not only at the beginning of a set. You really need to be an extra trained sound tech to hear and to fix that.
The security had less to do this year but of course still as professional and polite as every year.
To finish my summary: I’m much curious about the next year’s line-up. But to be honest: if they keep up this new direction the festival could lose its status of a must-be-there event for me, what of course is a pity then…
[Sui] As for the technical problems I agree with Psycho: For such event it was quite unprofessional. By hindsight I have to say that the billing was not worse than in previous years. It just had acts that are less big on the paper. Other bands excelled themselves. For me the ROCK HARD FESTIVAL will still be a must-be-there event, because I do not travel to Gelsenkirchen to watch the backdrops of “famous” bands but to listen to some great music. And there have not been less this year.
[Dajana] I’m still torn as well. A band like ASHES OF ARES was an experiment that did not work. QUEENSRŸCHE was for sure an experiment too that worked out extremely well. I like Stoner Rock bands and although there have been only 2 it felt too much. When I go to the RHF I want to see metal. All kind, yes, but Metal, even if it is the ROCK HARD FESTIVAL and not a Rock Heavy Festival or so (and the mag banned the term “Metal” from its cover). I wanted to see most of all QUEENSRŸCHE and AUDREY HORNE and then THRESHOLD and SEPULTURA. I did not get disappointed. I got surprised by MUSTASCH and TANK and as good as expected were NAGLFAR and DENIAL OF GOD. KING DIAMOND is beyond competition. All those together is less than the half of bands on the billing. It does not mean that the others were bad; they just did not enthrall and enthuse me… Hmm…


story © Psycho, Sui, Dajana • pics © Dajana