Whit weekend means Rock Hard Festival since 2004. The open air festival at Amphitheater Gelsenkirchen has kept its family spirit with many fans of Metal and Rock returning to Gelsenkirchen every year. Also Markus‘ Heavy Music Blog is present and here‘s the report of the great 2019 edition.
It is with Vulture a local act that got the challenging task of opening the three days festival. Having with ‘Ghastly Waves & Battered Graves’ a new album in the starting blocks, the festival show is a welcomed moment for the German quintet present new songs to a wider audience, but also perform some stuff from the acclaimed debut ‘The Guillotine’. Vulture‘s Speed Metal is an energetic wake-up call for everybody at the Amphitheater and even more for the guys that were still at the Camping site.
Chapel Of Disease is next and brings some Death Metal to the plate. It‘s the beauty of the Rock Hard Festival that the line-up includes so many different genres, represented by well chosen bands. Chapel Of Disease released a few months ago their forth full-length album ‘…And as We Have Seen the Storm, We Have Embraced the Eye’ which is a blast and the centrepiece of this performance. Raw Death Metal and musical class is what this band presents today. Harsh outbursts are followed by calmer and melodic guitar solos, which explode again in another Death Metal orgy. All in all a cool show of the Cologne-based quintet with song that would have deserved a bit of a better sound. I think that this kind of demanding music would work even better in a smaller venue.
After a short stage rebuild it is German Punk veterans The Idiots, bringing some extra Pogo power to Gelsenkirchen. Although the crowd in front of the stage is bit smaller than with Chapel Of Disease, The Idiots with their iconic frontman Sir Hannes unleashes the Punk Rock beast. The quintet goes strong and is for sure one of the winners if day one. Sir Hannes is the entertaining personality of this show and it‘s his positively meant craziness as a frontman that‘s unbeatable. Smashing songs like ‘Punk Queen Rock’ and ‘Heavy Metal Psycho Punk’ fill the Amphitheater and it‘s the Punkonaise that starts the Rock‘n‘Roll party with a lot of pogo in the pit. Cool.
So, half time on Day 1 of Rock Hard Festival. Speed Metal and Death Metal have been a part of the offer so far and everybody got shakes thoroughly by Punk. Now it‘s time for more traditional Metal in the spirit of the NWoHM. Unfortunately right in time for Tygers Of Pan Tang‘s show rain clouds come in, unloading a heavy rain shower that brought some cool air too. Therefor hot Heavy Metal was very much needed and Tygers Of Pan Tang deliver. Although many fans look for shelter at the beginning of the set, it‘s pretty full in front of the stage later on. Tygers Of Pan Tang rewarded everybody with great Heavy Metal that‘s oldschool but certainly not old-fashioned. The guys blow the rain clouds away too and made the the sun come back. That’s the power of Heavy Metal.
Things go quickly on day one. Lizzy Borden is one of the bands that have been announced rather late and they got the slot right before Watain unleashes their hellish spectacle. Talking about spectacle, the new Lizzy Borden show is one too. After a short intro it‘s showtime. The band appears on stage and with the first chords played also frontman marches in with a silver shiny mask and sings the first song from the drum raiser. After leaving the stage for a few seconds the singer returns with a weird three faces mask, which is the most bizarre moment of the entire festival and the beginning of a glamorous show. You even get a bit dizzy while looking at the three faces since your brain can’t process what the eyes see. Lizzy Borden presented a real cool show with many costume changes. The front row gets involved with some red paint (sorry, ‘Blood’) they get on their faces and ‘American Metal’ is performed with Borden enveloped in a Stars and Stripes flag. With songs like ‘Long May They Hunt Us’ the show has its Pop Metal moments. It’s reminds a bit too much of German Schlagerparade, but fans like it and since ‘Me Against the World’ follows, things are back to Metal rather quickly. All doubts after the latest more average longplayer are swiped away in a second with such an impressive show. Lizzy Borden, the positive and entertaining surprise of Day 1.
Already the sinister background music during the stage rebuild makes it clear that what’s next isn’t a light-hearted party. Swedish Black Metal outfit Watain is supposed to round off day one of Rock Hard Festival and they do it their way. There is smell of petroleum in the air, produced by all the torches that are spread out over the entire stage and it is even more fire frontman Eric Danielsson brings to stage, carrying a torch himself during the malefic entry of the band. With the last fire ignited the bands inflames a vicious show, an evil Gesamtkunstwerk with music, atmosphere and scenery fitting together very well. With all this in place Watain is still authentic. These guys don’t ‘play’ a show, they live the show and it’s a black heart that pumps diabolic blood through their veins. Watain asked for the last energy reserves of all the metalheads in the round of the Amphitheater and they win everybody over. Watain celebrated a black and hellish spectacle in Gelsenkirchen and are a worthy closure of the first out of three days.