FESTIVAL REVIEW: ROCKHARZ OPEN AIR 2018 Live at Ballenstedt, Germany – Day 2 (Thursday)
My first full day of the festival started to be a bit crazy. Why? I observed some men in colored pantyhose. No, it is not what you think, but it was a metal band with a bunch of comedy called Grailknights. The superhero-themed band is known in Germany and play some strange but cool mix of melodic death metal, power metal and maybe something like folk. It was a big party on the stage as like as in front of the stage and the light show supported this in a very nice way and I guess in colors of the pantyhose, too. Yes, what a nice party at the beginning of the day!
So, it was time for some real melodic death metal. God Dethroned entered the stage and the audience cheered loudly. The first riff blasted my ears in a good way and the first hairs began to fly. The sound and tracks like the title Track of their newest record “The World Ablaze” or a classic like “Poison Fog” made the show brutal, hymnal powerful. Call me strange, but the God Dethroned, the sunshine and the “Devil’s Wall” (a part of the mountain near the festival) in the background was quite picturesque. It was my first time to see the guys live on stage, and I was quite impressed of the package plus motivated for more.
I have to admit, I am not the biggest power metal fan, but there are some power metal bands I really like. One of them is Primal Fear and I wanted to see their show of course. Just from the beginning, there was a spirit at the infield that was amazing. The spirit was heavy, the spirit was true, the spirit was metal, like expected. Songs like “In Metal We Trust”, “Rulebreaker” or “Metal is Forever” let the visitors sing their lyrics and blast their minds. The band like the visitors celebrated together and enjoyed their stay with a quite cool atmosphere.
It was time for the next neckbreaker: Sodom. It’s a pity that some people had to leave the band at the beginning of the year except Tom Angelripper of course. Really. So, I was quite curious about their show and the new guys in the band. Okay, I cite an old saying: “New brooms sweep clean”. I must admit, this saying fits to the show of Sodom at the festival. I would never say, that the personal changing was an improvement, but the show was much better than expected. Many people came to the infield to see the band and enjoyed the thrashing riffs and blasts of Sodom with a nice sound and a powerful well-chosen set list. The mood of the audience was very fine, too: They screamed, they headbanged, they drank many beers. Simply, it was an awesome old-school thrash metal performance!
After this, Amorphis began to play on the other stage. From the first moment, I was caught by them. The mixture of old songs which are simply death metal and newer ones with clearer, maybe kind of progressive, music with clean vocals is always amazing on stage. Amorphis released their newest record ‘Queen of Time’ two months ago and I wanted to see their newest tracks live on stage. I was sure, that the setlist would be amazing, but my expectations were exceeded. It was my personal highlight of the festival at this moment. The mix of older and new songs like “The Bee” or “Wrong Direction” was wonderful. The sound was brilliant, powerful, and the musicians performed very well. This mesmerized the whole infield and would be strengthened by the likable front man Tomi Joutsen. This impressive show confirmed me that I must visit the concert in my hometown next year!
Then, it was time for some werewolf-themed church songs. Sounds crazy, but I think some people know what I mean: Powerwolf was celebrating their mass. As I said before, I am not a big fan of power metal, but this guys supplied entertainment at its best. The music mixed with their impressive light show with fire effects, a nice choreography, their theme and the opera-style vocals of the front man, called Attila Dorn, are a unique and fine package. Songs like “Amen & Attack”, “Sanctified With Dynamite” or “We Drink Your Blood” let the people in the full-filled infield headbang, sing and dance. Attila talked with the crowd often, made the people do crowd shouts and his Slavic accent gives them a nice special touch. That was a cool show on stage and a nice mixture of different people and celebrating styles in the crowd. Shortly said, it was a big party with this impressive headliner!
One side note: Rockharz always had at least once one party band at the end of a day. The night slot party band this year is maybe more interesting for German readers, but still worth to mention. Pirate costumes on the stage and in the crowd everywhere: Mr. Hurley & Die Pulveraffen was a serious positive surprise for me. This pirate-style folk and jokes made the people everywhere crazy. Very nice, big party!
After the feast at the end, I went back to my tent for a last beer of the day with the generally nice people at the camping site. Simply, it was a very nice first full day of the festival with cool bands, a nice infield and a very fine atmosphere while the sun was shining as well as at night.