Rock Hard Festival 2019

The best way to avoid the traffic jam on the way to the RHF in the Ruhr area is to arrive on Thursday instead of Friday afternoon. Everything is much more relaxed ……. Find a parking space, check in on the festival grounds, camping site search and what else is there. The break in the party tent aka Satanorium was indeed quite short for me due to the very long day, but it does not matter – there are still three blatant and loud days ahead of me. Oh yes, and on Friday you are not half-dead after arrival.

Vulture – High Speed Metal!

Friday afternoon punctually at 15.00 h the so to say local heroes Vulture kick off the festival with their high-speed metal. The focus of the quintet was not on the current album “Ghastly Waves and battered Graves” but on the EP “Victim to the Blade”, from which three songs made it to the set list. In any case, the boys literally sweat out the fun of the game, noticeable by skillful stage acting. Shortly thereafter, the bar for the following bands was already set quite high, because it was time for Chapel of Disease. The guys from Cologne played their first-class Death Metal here without any great bric-a-brac with influences from the seventies Progrock. There was not really much to see here, but much more to hear. I saw some metallers with their eyes closed, lost in the music. A bigger compliment you probably cannot give to the band. The following band The Idiots I preferred to skip, absolutely not my cup of tea.

Lizzy Borden

I’ve seen the Tygers of Pan Tang every now and then over the last couple of years at some festival, mostly paying little attention to it. In the meantime I have liked the …… .. well, for me it’s more hard rock than NWoBHM. They still know the game, those older gentlemen. And the audience rewards hits such as “Suzie smiled,” “Do not touch me there,” and “Gangland,” just to name a few, but with little more than just polite applause. I saw Lizzie Borden at the Wacken Open Air almost twenty years ago, did not really care about that at the time, even though the double guitars sometimes remind of Iron Maiden. The masquerade that Lizzie Borden raises regularly is of course legendary, on the RHF as a three-faced monster – in which, on closer inspection, the glue that holds the mask together due to give up the ghost. But what the hell – the costume just has to survive the first two songs before the guys are switching to something more comfortable. Curiously, more emphasis is placed on the two current albums, something unusual for a US metal band that had their best times in the late eighties. Definitely good entertainment, I will gladly look at them again on occasion. After that it gets even theatrical. And darker. It does smell funny, but that is probably just the front man, or the guy next door … or wait, no matter. Black metallic banners and fire bowls are set into the stage scenery.

Watain – Erik Danielson

Coming up is a black metal frenzy, which actually does not want to pay attention to the regulations of the festival, although the festival has probably come very close to the terms of artistic freedom – decoration, pyros, open fire and so on, you know. The audience does not freak out as much as I have experienced with this band elsewhere. Watain are for a good part of the people here a pretty extreme band and when watched for the first time a bit suspiciously and rather cautious from a certain distance. In any case, the Swedes tear off a good deal for RHF conditions and the darker the scene, the more effective the songs of Daniel Erikson and Co. At the end of the evening, everyone was well entertained and the humor was allowed to regain its usual high level.  

Carnivore A.D.

Saturday starts for me ….. with my breakfast, of course ……. or how do you start to exist in the early afternoon? Musically then a little later only at Carnivore A.D. After all, two-thirds are original members, but without the Steelpete this is somehow only a part of a whole. I do not want to diss the performance, I’ve celebrated, jumped and head-banged and yet – Itsnotwhatitwasbackinthedays! The firecrackers like Carnivore, Predator, Race War and God is dead are singing along loudly and the security guys in the photo pit have quite a lot to do in the early hours. But playing a Carnivore Show without Male Supremacy does not work, just to mention it here.  

With Heir Aparent quite a few of those present followed one of the highlights of the day. The two remaining original members Terry Alan Gorle and Derek Peace with the gifted singer Will Shaw ignited a Melodic Metal fireworks of an extra class. Of course, the main focus this Saturday was on the debut album “Graceful Inheritance”, from which the most important five songs were performed and thankfully celebrated by more than three thousand metallers. It’s getting kinda proggy in the amphitheater when Michael Romeo, Russel Allen and the remaining Symphony X musicians start with Iconoclast from the penultimate album and deliver one hit after the next to the audience. Unfortunately I was unexpectedly invited to a beer and then to yet another, well – and then it was my turn, so unfortunately I did not notice anything after the third song of Symphony X. But hey – they’ll play somewhere else again someday.

Cannibal Corpse

Well, I’m ready for Skid Row and with some friends around me we dance and sing and do nonsense to teenage hits like 18 and Life, Big Guns, Slave to the Grind, Monkey Business and of course Youth gone Wild. What’s happening on stage is rather secondary. Was definitely pretty cool. As Outro there were still Country Roads from the band, which was sung by ALL people present. Music lessons in school were probably good for something, that was really a topic at the time.

Of course, Cannibal Corpse take a completely different direction, the Americans start with the almost untypical slow Code of the Slashers, and the next two tracks Only One will die and Red before Black from the current album of the same name like Stripped raped and strangled, staring through the eyes of the dead or at the end of the show just the classic Hammer smashed Face – but unfortunately without vocals, because the city of Gelsenkirchen is apparently worried about the state of mind of the metal community and fears that delicately tempered souls could be harmed here. A joke! However, George Corpsegrinder or his bandmates could not laugh about it. Furious, he tears the mic plug off the amp and stomps away. You can hear a few fans bellow the text as far as possible. Terrible finale to a great performance, unfortunately.
 
Kai Hansen – Gamma Ray

Saturday’s Headliner was Gamma Ray was hired; after the most blatant death metal, Kai Hansen and Gamma Ray deliver classics like Land of the Free and Man on a Mission, welcomed by the crowd with huge applause and massive fistraising. In between, I’m away for a while and only back to the fantastic double rebellion in Dreamland and Heaven can wait. I think that’s when I lost my voice for the next few days, but at the latest with Send me a Sign. One does not need to understand why the last song of the evening is necessarily a song from the last album. Alright. It was a great show.

Long Distance Calling

Visigoth on the early Sunday afternoon, a bit mean. Yesterday it was late and just as I want to make the first pictures I have to find out the battery is empty – shit! The Utah Quintet starts off with the single Dungeon Master and gets a decent amount of Fistraising as thanks, answer ….. whatever. With the hit Warrior Queen it goes on, the amphitheater is already well filled for the third day at this time and Visigoth put one heavy metal anthem to the next. There is a contrast program afterwards with Long Distance Calling, music completely without vocals is apparently not for everyone and the amphitheater empties noticeably. It’s a pity, I celebrated the guys from Münster anyway. Not much to say to L.D.C.  – you have to experience them and then you’re either dancing or not. There was a lot of dancing.

Possessed

The following Fifth Angel from Nearly Seattle pamper the audience again with classic Heavy Metal and the space in front of the stage fills up relatively quickly again, and the songs of the two now almost 30 years old records and those of the current comeback album blow away your ears. Fifth Angel are not necessarily a band that causes a lot of movement in the audience, but I notice a few fans seemingly quite familiar with the lyrics. Whether hard rock or heavy metal, everyone should decide for themselves – at least new songs from the Third Secret album like Stars are falling and Dust to Dust are as enthusiastically celebrated as their old hits Seven Hours, We rule, Cathedral and In the Fallout. I did not watch the following Magnum, for whatever reason. One of the fans said they were great, another did not like them, I did not like them four or five years ago. Therefore ……Who cares? Possessed are following and it’s going to get kinda cuddly in front of stage. The longest-serving Death Metal band ever sets off brilliantly with No more room in Hell from their new album Revelations of Oblivion, and because of its virtuosity it causes some open mouths. Jeff Becerra is obviously in a good mood – at any rate, if he does not just bawl some nasty words into the microphone, he’s almost always grinning. He does not speak to the audience a lot, or I was just on the toilet again. At least some of the helicopter bangers can be seen and the Circle Pit pulsates with each song and finds its climax in The Exorcist and Death Metal. Very good show!

Everything has an end; also this festival. The smaller quarter of the Big Four is up ….. of course it is a matter of opinion. After it nearly worked out with Megadeth a couple of years ago, in the year 2019 Anthrax was, for the third time, ready to go for it. The hyperactive New York thrashers start with a band-rehearsed intro by Cowboys from Hell, which passes directly into Caught in a Mosh and the whole Gelsenkirchen amphitheater goes nuts. It continues with the Joe Jackson cover Got the Time, for me curiously one of the hottest Anthrax songs; Ian, Belladonna, Benante and Co. have focused largely on the classics in the back catalog on this European trip, which is part of the Slayer farewell tour and fortunately, the 88 album State of Euphoria received slightly more attention than in recent years – at least three songs from the album. This was my first album of Anthrax and it was the first band I saw live at the age of eleven at the Monsters of Rock …….. if only from afar. Well, as usual for the New Yorkers, they deliver a powerful set with the soundtrack by Medusa, the quintessentially inescapable I am the Law, Medusa, A.I.R. and Indians, and then another great Anthrax gig and an even bigger festival comes to an end. Amen.
 
Anthrax
Björn Schmiterlöw

Björn Schmiterlöw

bjorn@stalker-magazine.rocks - - - Reports, reviews, photos - - - Favorite genres? - - - Heavy Metal, Thrash Metal, Doom Metal, Death Metal, Punk, Hardrock - - - Favorite bands: Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Judas Priest, Motörhead, Slayer, Anthrax, In Flames, Kreator, Exodus, Candlemass, Carcass, Reverend Bizarre, Ahab, Orne, Down, Grand Magus, Atlantean Kodex