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– Friday –

With school pretty much taking most of yet another Friday, only one half of the Psychorizon Festival crew is able to make it on time for the first day of the annual Metal Whitsun celebration. On its 2014 edition, German Rock Hard Festival takes off with a bouquet of gloomy, doomy and thrashy encounters that turn the mighty amphitheater – despite the unmerciful sun – into a dark gathering, summoned by the sirens and preachers of their sonic coven. (kp)

NocturnalGirl Power Metal Style – NOCTURNAL & Tyrannizer

Very first blood is shed by unholy Thrash-Sensation NOCTURNAL. Led by the aggressive shouting of charismatic front-screameress Tyrannizer, the band lived up to the honour of opening this year’s Rock Hard Festival. Old School Thrash attacks rolls off the stage and manages to attract already much more than the occasional drunken Metalhead. After 40 minutes of relentless riffing, it is left to another German band, ZODIAC, to calm down the audience. The blues driven mixture of Classic Rock and Stoner attitude is well received, but to be honest, the guys don’t excite me that much, so I decide to explore the camp site a little before coming back to see polish Death Metal Veterans DECAPITATED. A rock-solid show, but nothing very special in my opinion. Hooded Metal Avengers MIDNIGHT are up next and seem to be one of the most anticipated bands so far. Featuring perhaps THE coolest (or ugliest, it just depends…) backdrop of the festival, they deliver an excellent show and don’t shy away from one of the most cliché moves ever celebrated in the history of Heavy Metal, making it somehow cool again to smash guitars.

TryptikonSecond Coming of the Antichrist – Tom G. Warrior and TRIPTYKON return to Rock Hard Festival

Today’s headliner, TRIPTYKON, fully unleash the glacial period over Gelsenkirchen. Formed after the demise of CELTIC FROST, the music perfectly embodies the sick mind of band leader and elder statesman of extreme Metal, Tom G. Warrior. A dark and enigmatic atmosphere blends with progressive Doom Metal grooves modern bands like UFOMAMMUT would be proud of. As an important side note, the gig was dedicated by Tom to Götz Kühnemund. (ys)

Setlist TRIPTYKON

Crucifixus
Black Snow
Goetia
Circle of the Tyrants (CELTIC FROST cover)
Tree Of Suffocating Souls
Abyss Within My Soul
Visions of Mortality (CELTIC FROST cover)
The Usurper (CELTIC FROST cover)
Altar of Deceit
Messiah (HELLHAMMER cover)
The Prolonging
Winter (CELTIC FROST cover)

– Saturday –

SolstafirForgot to bring some chilly temperatures – Iceland’s hottest new band SÓLSTAFIR

Finally united and missing out most of the day’s early live encounters, the icy icing on the cake comes with Icelandic foursome SÓLSTAFIR, who face the first severe technical difficulties of RHF ’14. Checking and changing the settings of the guitar amps, the bands’ into becomes a ten-minute long test of patience, endurance and hope and finally all instruments work and Aðalbjörn Tryggvason, Guðmundur Óli Pálmason, Sæþór Maríus Sæþórsson and Svavar Austmann present their Epic Rock’n’Roll. Touring in support of their most current output “Ótta” and the 2011 charting success “Svartir Sandar“, SÓLSTAFIR make up to their name with the rays of light spreading all over the event sight, bewitching the audience with songs such as ‘Fjara’ – like most songs sung in their native language – or the mesmerizing ‘Goddess Of The Ages’.

MoshpitCrowdsufer

Shiny Happy People – Circle Pit & Crowdsurfing during the OBITUARY show – pictures by Yorck Segatz

The main day of RHF ’14, a fully packed Saturday, ends with a most fierce Death/Thrash attack, starting with one of the elder statesmen of old school Death Metal at 6:15 pm: OBITUARY. Welcomed with frantic “Obi! Obi! Obi!” chants, Florida’s finest deliveres a set-list mostly consisting of songs from the first three albums as well as three brand-new tracks. Incited by an uncompromising attack of classic riffs, a massive pit starts right from the beginning. Although I’m more on the headbanging side, I couldn’t resist to let my self go and got carried away with the good friendly violent fun, as Exodus would have put it. The Tardy brothers (John on vox and Donald on drums) clearly enjoy the mosh-feast in front of the stage, while Trevor Peres windmills himself through the 15 songs. With the searing sun still shining relentlessly into the theatre, I was glad that most of the material was held in grooving mid-tempo, otherwise my muscles wouldn’t have survived long enough to celebrate tonight’s second Death Metal massacre: the mighty CARCASS! (ys) Going back even further in time, Arizona Thrashers SACRED REICH turn out to be the secret headliner of this day and the metal choir does not only sing as one with the 80s classic ‘Surf Nicaragua’ or the BLACK SABBATH cover ‘War Pigs’ and so it seems that with a first wave of departure, the real headliner of the festival will be hailed by fewer people but no less intense.

ObituaryThe only band with its own German Home & Hardwarestore: OBI(TUARY)

After re-setting stage props once more, it is finally time to “Wake up and smell the Carcass”! Having recovered from the disgrace of playing a half-hour support slot during last years’ AMON AMARTH tour, British Death & Grind masters CARCASS finally step onto their rightful place as headliners and play as if there was no tomorrow. Vocalist/bassist Jeff Walker and fellow legendary guitarist Bill Steer are as vivid as the bands’ new members, drummer Dan Wilding and second stringman Ben Ash. Their full 1 1/2 hrs set includes not only tracks from their reviving record “Surgical Steel” (2013) and the mandatory genre defining “Necroticism” (1991) and “Heartwork” (1993) hits, but also a showcase of the notorious “Swanson” (1996) – the album you love to hate. CARCASS are back and with the new line-up back on top. The clip show of mutilated body parts, the impressive backdrop and Jeff’s witty remarks are a sizzling combination. Eventhough his plan to sing the chorus of ‘The Granulating Dark Satanic Mills’ in German did not work out, the pure joy on stage is fully shared among us all. With the title track of their most acclaimed record to date, ‘Heartwork’, the furious foursome releases us into the night – tired but overwhelmingly happy!

CarcassThe Gory Green Giants – CARCASS

Setlist CARCASS

1985
Buried Dreams
Incarnated Solvent Abuse
A Congealed Clot of Blood / Cadaver Pouch Conveyor System
Carnal Forge
Noncompliance to ASTM F 899-12 Standard
No Love Lost
Unfit for Human Consumption
Edge of Darkness / This Mortal Coil / Reek of Putrefaction
The Granulating Dark Satanic Mills
Genital Grinder / Pyosisified (Rotten to the Gore)
Exhume to Consume
Captive Bolt Pistol
Corporal Jigsore Quandary / The Sanguine Article
Encore:
Black Star / Keep On Rotting in the Free World
Ruptured in Purulence / Heartwork

– Sunday –

Blues_PillsShining brighter than the sun – BLUES PILLS vocalist Elin Larsson

Although aspiring Blues Rock sensation BLUES PILLS miss the Sunday opening position by one, forcing them to play at 1pm still seems most blasphemous considering just how high up the band is on this early stage of their career and after they’ve been headlining at Freak Valley Festival just about a week ago. Nonetheless worries are unneccessary as the ranks of Gelsenkirchen amphitheatre are brimful at this time of day, to witness a first hint of what to expect from the impatiently awaited full-length debut of BLUES PILLS. Catchy tunes like the opener ‘High Class Woman’ and the in-official summer anthem ‘Devil Man’ got large party of the audience singing along and praisefully raising their fists. The current incarnation sees the band with a new sticksman, André “Poncho” Kwarnström from Swedish TRUCKFIGHTERS, who steps in for the currently missing founding-member Cory Jack Berry. Together with bassplayer Zack Anderson, the rhythm-section delivers the perfect foundation for the bands’ miraculous stringmaster, French prodigy Dorian Sorriaux and the enchanting yet forceful vocals of singer Elin Larsson. After roundabout 40 minutes the stirring performance finds an abrupt end, as the band banner is taken down while the final song ‘Little Sun’ is still setting…(kp)

Setlist BLUES PILLS

High Class Woman
Ain’t No Change
Dig In
No Hope Left For Me
Black Smoke
Devil Man
Astralplane
Little Sun

One of my favourite bands of all time would enter the stage at 4:30 pm: MONSTER MAGNET. Once heralded to re-establish psychedelic Stoner Rock during the early 90’s, they even managed to pierce mainstream boundaries with hit singles such as ‘Power Trip’ and ‘Space Lord’. A well-chosen setlist containing the aforementioned songs as well as the title track from their latest effort, “Last Patrol”, is brought to Rock Hard Festival. The new line-up featuring THE ATOMIC BITCHWAX bassman Chris Kosnik leaves a vital impression, despite the searing sun that clearly exhausts the audience. Bandleader „Monster Dave“ Wyndorf seems to grow better and better the older he gets! (ys)

Monster_MagnetWould even wear his leather jacket in the desert – MONSTER MAGNET’s Dave Wyndorf

With the dusty riffs of MONSTER MAGNET still echoing across the equally dusty event scenery, Psychorizon call it a day and conclude another wonderful gathering of old and new friends, fellow writers, photographers, musicians and all those great folks that make Rock Hard one of the true highlights of the festival summer. See you all in 2015! (kp)

Pictures courtesy of Jörg Litges / lautundinfarbe – unless stated otherwise

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