Tyler Leads is around since a few years and the first time I saw them was in December last year when the guys opened for Hank Von Hell. Being impressed by their show it is a ‘must’ to be in time at Rock Hard Festival day 2. The benefit of being a local act is that the guys can count on a stronger fanbase in the front row, cheering for some energetic Hard Rock. Tyler Leads on stage is a blast. Is it a strong wind that blows today and it’s the Hard Rock storm the quintet unleashes in an impressive fashion. These guys are musical caffeine and the best option to start a new day.
Tyler Leads put the bar quite high from the beginning and it was up to The Vintage Caravan to keep the good spirit alive. The Icelandic trio succeeds on this mission. With some firepower the three guys from the North hammers great songs into the rounds of the Amphitheater, enjoyed by fans that gave the guys a very warm applause after a gig that combines hand-crafted Rock with agile and passionate stage acting.
Carnivore AD keep the heritage of legendary Carnivore alive and brought some of the musical wrecking balls to Gelsenkirchen. Without any doubt some die-hard fans came especially for this show and it is those guys having a lot of fun in front of the stage. The bigger crowd though was either on the camping side or getting themselves a beer. Songs great, performance average.
The revitalized prog veterans Heir Apparent, hailing from Seattle, bring a lot musical expertise to Rock Hard Festival and it is this show I was very much looking forward to. Having returned with a new album a few months ago it is the excitement of listening to these new prog metal songs live. However, it’s even a bigger thrill to listen to the old classics, songs from the genre defining ‘Graceful Inheritance’ album. Heir Apparent plays for almost an hour and it’s a show that doesn’t disappoint. Raptly listening fans fill the area in front of the stage, showing their appreciation for each song played by big applause. Heir Apparent plays very tight and even some gusts of wind can’t change a very positive impression. The set of the Metal pioneers is without any doubt a musical highlight. The quintet proves that good music can do the job and it was an enthusiastic crowd that expressed a big ‚Thanks’ with a loud applause.
More demanding Metal music is also what fans can expect from Symphony X. The band of Michael Romeo returns to the festival after 21 years and the show at Rock Hard Festival is the final chapter of a four weeks tour. Symphony X stands for Progressive Metal with a solid punch. Frontman Russel Allen isn’t only an excellent singer, he’s a great entertainer too and it is him establishing a close ink to fans. Romeo adds great riffs and solos to the mix, while Mike Lepond and Jason Rullo work with horsepower on a forceful beat. Symphony X’ show is an entertaining one with good timing, since right after the final note fades away a next heavy rain shower pours out of dark clouds.
The start of hard rockers Skid Row is a bit later than expected. Some technical issues cause a 15 minutes delay, which isn’t the best thing at a festival. However, the problem is fixed after a bit of extra waiting time and the quintet starts furious into their set. Since a few years Skid Row is back with full force and the guys don’t change this approach at Rock Hard Festival. For the first time the Amphitheater is pretty packed and Skid Row does their part to make these 50 minutes to a great Rock party. Songs like ‚18 and Life‘ and ‚Monkey Business‘ are without any doubt classics and bring a lot of movement into the crowd. The Ramones cover of ‘Psycho Therapy’ is a fix part of a Skid Row set and fits perfectly. Fans are a big choir for some of the chorus parts and also a longer applause at the end showed the impact of this gig. Even the John Denver song ‘Country Road, played from tape after the set, was seen as a sing-along song for fans. Skid Row, the winner of the day.
After such a Rock’n’Roll party it was Cannibal Corpse that brought the opposite to the table. Besides all the ‘buzz’ about setlist restrictions it is the gig itself that is a sonic blast. Cannibal Corpse start was also a bit delayed but as soon as the guys enter the stage they unleash a deadly strike. Funny enough the band could play in a nice sunset atmosphere, which would have fit better to bands like Skid Row. However, the 50 minutes riff massacre is the most intense show with mosh pits, headbanging and a satisfied Cannibal Corpse fanbase right in front of the stage. Good show, but 50 minutes are also enough.
The day comes closer to an end and the best is yet to come. Gamma Ray plays their first show in Nordrhein Westfalen in four years and it is at Rock Hard Festival. Kai Hansen, Henjo Richter, Dirk Schlächter, Michael Ehré and Frank Beck, these are the protagonists of a Metal firework that closes Day 2. The Metal veterans don’t lose any time and start strong into their set. The joy of playing in front of a very well-filled Amphitheater is obvious right away and it is enthusiastic festival visitors that carries the band through the show. Gamma Ray is an institution in Metal. Songs like ‚Master of Confusion‘ and all the other hymns belong to the best Melodic Metal has still in the offer. Gamma Ray as a headliner, that’s a safe bet and a great way to end a windy and rainy day full of glorious Heavy Metal.