FESTIVAL REVIEW: ROCKHARZ OPEN AIR 2018 Live at Ballenstedt, Germany – Day 4 (Saturday)
After getting nice food at one of the breakfast stands, I went to the infield quite early. Some would say the music of AHAB, a funeral doom metal band from Hamburg, Germany, is hard to digest, but I wanted to convince myself of the show. I was really surprised that there were much more people as expected at the infield so early and for such a kind of music. This was quite nice and promised a good show, I guessed. The sound was crystal-clear and in any case perfect, so that everyone could swim on the heavy doom sound waves of them hypnotically. The mood was awesome, thanks for that experience!
After lunch, some beers, waiting for cooler weather and an extensive walk through the various market stands I wanted to see the old-school thrashers Exodus, because it is always fun to see them live and this time, like expected no one got disappointed. Many people with Exodus patches on their vests appeared to celebrate the show, drank some beers and bang their heads. Steve “Zetro” Souza knew how to fire up the mood of the audience and got back cheering the whole time. The fine sound and the played songs made a fine show and especially the songs “Blacklist” or “Strike of the Beast” were a true feast.
The next feast would be celebrated by the next artist: Cannibal Corpse. It was brutal and ruthless, just pure death metal. The setlist of gore, guts and splatter attract many people and George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher knew how to keep the headbangers ball alive. Despite all enthusiasm about the show, the sound was quite bad. It was just a thunder of bass frequencies without any brilliance, what a pity. It is possible that the strong wind killed the sound, but the sound was not significant better in front of the stage. But that did not matter for the greater part of the audience. So, it seemed to be a good show with evil riffs, villainous vocals and many flying hairs!
Paradise Lost was my next appointment of the day. They have a really long history with many different records and styles. All the nicer then, when they played a wide spectrum of their discography: From the records e.g. ‘Draconian Times’ or ‘Faith Divide Us, Death Unites Us’ to their newest album ‘Medusa’. The mix of gothic metal and doom riffing attracted a big and mixed bunch of visitors. The atmosphere of the whole show was amazing from the first minute, because at least all of my show neighbors and me sank into a hypnotic state and enjoyed the show. I can’t remember when Paradise Lost played “Rise of Denial” live, so it was a special track in the setlist, nice! All in all, the show was awesome with a well-mixed sound, an appropriate light show and thrilling musicians. Thanks!
I did not tell you about the special point of the festival. The Rockharz festival celebrate its 25th anniversary! Shortly before the special headliner of the festival, the Rockharz chef entered the stage and spoke to the crowd which was waiting for the last headliner of the festival. He thanked everyone for being there and for the loyalty through the years. After a few other expressions of thanks, he announced the last headliner of the festival: In Flames. I guess, In Flames is the band with the highest reputation which played at the Rockharz festival ever. This seemed to be quite appropriate to celebrate a quarter of a century, nice!
I must admit, I was quite skeptical towards this show. I like the older records of In Flames and they later released a few albums with a style which deviate far from it. But that is subjectively perceived and not the point here. Anyway, I was quite curious to see them live, because a long time passed since I saw them live the last time. Okay back to the basic topic: The stage went dark, the music began and the crowd got mad instantly. An imposing light show began to delight the visitors and the musicians entered the stage under loud cheering and applause from the very full-filled infield. The mood was awesome just before any note was played. I must say, I was quite impressed of the show. I apprehended that they wouldn’t play older songs, but they played quite a lot, nice! There was something for everyone in this setlist and the guys on stage performed every single song with a big motivation. Maybe that’s why the vibe was very fine the whole show. The show was supported by a light show from outer space. It was always appropriate, brilliant and massive. Sometimes maybe too massive, but that’s grumbling on a higher level. The sound was very good again und gave, with the lights show together, an awesome impression. My skepticism was destroyed and I was happy to be there to see the show of In Flames like many others at the festival, I guess. Thanks for the impressive show!
The festival is over and everyone drove home. The last day of the Rockharz festival was a highlight again as the whole day was filled with nice bands and a bunch of people in a good mood due to the shows and musicians. My personal highlight and positive surprise as an old-school fan was In Flames. All in All, the festival deserve to exist since 25 years and it was a worthy feast this year! Next year I will be there again!