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   ROCK HARD FESTIVAL 2004
the amphitheater  Cora Gonser Amphitheater Gelsenkirchen (D)
May 29th-30th 2004

http://www.rockhard.de/home.php3?rubrik=316&grafik=7

This festival started last year as a one-time event only, the celebration of Rock Hard's 20th anniversary. The success of the well organized and fair-priced festival in this very special setting (an amphitheater on the shore of a canal) was so overwhelming that they had decided to repeat it. Good decision! For the first time we (Nico, Cora and Marlies) went to Gelsenkirchen to witness it ourselves and boy, we were impressed! Even for spoiled festival/concert visitors like us, this theater was so cool and really something else. The best part for us though, was that we were to see our Canadian friends of Into Eternity after years of chatting and phoning! We had a blast with them on the festival (and a few more occasions during their stay), the weather couldn't have been better (warm, but not too hot and only a few drops of rain at the very end), friendly people and great music - what more could we possibly desire?? Thunderstorm  Nico Wobben

SATURDAY

Opening band of this fantastic festival was THUNDERSTORM. To me, their Candlemass type of slow, heavy doommetal didn't seem to be the right type of music to wake up the crowd, but they certainly got some response from the people who gathered in front of the stage in the shade underneath that nice roof.. These Italians replaced their fellow countrymen Doomsword, who I really wanted to see, but their guitarist got hurt and they had to cancel. (Marlies)

DEAD SOUL TRIBE is a band that I much more enjoy live than on CD, because as usual it's all a tad heavier live. Devon's voice didn't sound right in the beginning but a bit of delay on the vocals did the trick. Devon used his violin Dead Soul Tribe  Nico Wobben stick again and the flute in a song for his "old friends": "I Remember" from his old band Psychotic Waltz - serving an extremely fanatic group of fans in the front. Extra mention for drummer Adel Moustafa, awesome! (Marlies)

My second NAGLFAR show within one week. Again the Swedes changed their setlist, I think I've never seen them playing one and the same setlist so far. Most of the songs may stay the same but at least the running order differs. And here's the catch: I simply messed up the setlist at the festival at some point but that I missed to write down "Through The Midnight Spheres" is the safest guess. Due to the constant changes in their setlist the guys couldn't even help me finding out later on themselves. But anyway, on with the show: What has been last week's final song was the opener this time, "Black God Aftermath". I can't help it but even after seeing Naglfar playing in sunshine or at least daylight a couple of times - these guys need darkness and some lightshow. Not that it would make much of a difference to the actual musical performance which I once again liked a lot - it's just that the atmosphere would be a totally different (better) one. Bright sunshine and those evil faces the guys put on just don't match so well ;) I also found it a little disturbing that two guys next to me were totally freaking out when one of them got a text Naglfar  Nico Wobbenmessage on his mobile about a soccer score. Really, that's what I always wanted to learn about during a Naglfar show *rolls eyes* (Cora)

Setlist Naglfar:
Black God Aftermath
Blades
As Twilight Gave Birth To The Night
I Am Vengeance
Through The Midnight Spheres
Emerging From Her Weepings
The Brimstone Gate
When Autumn Storms Come
Horncrowned Majesty Gluecifer  Nico Wobben

If you think the only music Norwegians can make is furious black metal, than you'd be surprised if you'd see GLUECIFER. Their glam rock party rock 'n roll was catchy and melodic but they looked like a bunch of 50's rock 'n rollers with a modern haircut. I wonder what this band was doing on a metal festival, not at all my thing. But what do I know, they did get the audience going! (Marlies) Destruction  Nico Wobben

Much to my joy we got to see DESTRUCTION instead of Marduk. They've been one of my favorite bands back in the 80's and I can't help but love the old songs the most. The sound was pretty loud and riffs were hard to recognize. Not that it could take away anything from my favorite song "Curse The Gods"! They also played "Life Without Sense" and "Nail To The Cross". Then Schmier said "power, death, heavy, it's all the same shit: "Eternal Ban"!!!!" These guys were definitely more popular than Marduk. For everybody in the moshpit, and those waiting for Exodus, they played "The Butcher Strikes Back". (Marlies)

Krokus  Nico Wobben Unexpectedly impressive were KROKUS. Even though their AC/DC-ish music is far from modern, they still have the fire and isn't that what it's all about? Songs like "Eat The Rich", "Easy Rocker", "Rock City" and "Long Stick Goes Boom" just rocked the theater and it was a pleasure to see and hear them! (Marlies)

Exodus  Nico Wobben Time to mosh again with one of the founders of the Bay Area thrash, EXODUS. Center of the show were both the new album "Tempo Of The Damned" ("Shroud Of Urine", "Tempo Of The Damned", "War Is My Shepherd" of which they made a video) and the debut from back in the day "Bonded By Blood" ("Bonded By Blood", "And Then There Were None", "Piranha", "Strike Of The Beast"), furthermore there were "'til Death Do Us Part" and of course "Toxic Waltz". The audience enjoyed themselves up to the highest ranks of the theater and wished Zetro and his men had more than an hour to play! (Marlies)

I have mixed feelings about the show of GAMMA RAY around legendary Kai Hansen. Granted, they are professionals and also the lightshow was really great now that it had gotten dark. But there are two major things that were bothering me, one of which was that Kai didn't have his greatest of days vocal-wise. Sometimes he really didn't sound good and it was almost a pain to listen to some of his screams. The other thing was the overall performance which I felt was a bit uninspired. Still, with Kai as conductor, Gamma Ray managed to have the whole venue singing along to tracks like "Heavy Metal Universe" and "Somewhere Out In Space", which was almost a bit too lengthy in that sing-along part. Gamma Ray  Nico Wobben All in all, a rather average show. I've seen them doing better before. (Cora)

Setlist Gamma Ray:
Garden Of The Sinner
New World Order
Rebellion In Dreamland
Land Of The Free
Armageddon
Heavy Metal Universe
One With The World
I Want Out
Somewhere Out In Space
Send Me A Sign

IN EXTREMO sure are something else. Their folkish metal with old-German lyrics and many self-made medieval In Extremo  Nico Wobben instruments is very popular in Germany and their show is something you must've seen at least once in a lifetime. Only thing is that we aren't a big fan of their music and didn't stay for the whole show, but even during the first couple of songs the audience was already singing along a lot and those who thought a band like In Extremo couldn't be a good headliner were proven wrong. From friends we heard that during "Ai Vis Lo Lop" a few fans were asked on stage to sing along and that "Vollmond" was the absolute highlight of the show with the whole audience singing along! (Marlies)

Desaster   Nico Wobben SUNDAY

To our surprise there was an extra band opening up this day of the festival. We didn't know them (it turned out to be a band named SENG FU) and since we just caught the last part of their gig, we can't really say much about them. Apparently we weren't very impressed either - or were we still too sleepy? (Marlies)

First band on the official bill were the Germans of DESASTER and they really weren't a desaster at all;) Their death/black/thrash didn't seem to be extremely original but very solid and well done. The sound was great too, so the fans, who certainly weren't sleepy anymore and were there in great numbers, had a great time. I'm sure they made a few new ones in the process as well. (Marlies)

Into Eternity  Nico Wobben Finally the time had come to see our favorite band INTO ETERNITY! Although the band had played here in 2001, this was their first open air gig in Europe and they were very impressed by the atmosphere of the festival and the mentality of its visitors. The band we got to see wasn't quite the same one as from 3 years ago, as they've improved their line-up as well as their songmaterial drastically! Now we have a lead singer in Chris Krall, but Tim Roth is still singing too, and the addition of Rob Doherty (ex-Pericardium) gave them, next to a killer guitarist and songwriter, yet another new voice (a deep death grunt). So their vocal approach of the songs has become even more diverse than before with the several clean as well as several death vocals overlapping and alternating. Extremely impressive! Their music is as always that unique and seamlessly blending mix of death and prog, but the songs on their latest album "Buried In Oblivion" are better than ever. The setlist contained the best songs of the last two albums, with "3 Dimensional Aperture" as the vocal highlight (3 death vocals alternating in the beginning), "Splintered Visions" (showing their amazing musicianship) and the heaviest track "Identify" as the ultra-heavy last kick in the ass:) Chris was, as the frontman without instrument, the only one who was able to move around a lot, but there was headbanging everywhere (good job for new bassplayer Troy Bleigh of Dirtbred too!!) and songs were announced by Into Eternity  Nico Wobben several members. Even though the sound wasn't at its best, it was a very satisfying gig! (Marlies/Cora)

Setlist Into Eternity:
Elysium Dream
Embraced By Desolation
Beginning Of The End
Shallow
Splintered Visions
Absolution Of The Soul
3 Dimensional Aperture
Distant Pale Future
Identify

ILLDISPOSED from Denmark played instead of Malevolent Creation and even though they're not as well known, they had enough quality and charm to win over the audience. Singer Bo entertained the people with his funny comments and announcements in his best German;) Musically they surprised quite a few people as well, Pink Cream 69  Nico Wobben so they definity increased their fanbase right there. (Marlies/Cora)

Unfortunately we didn't see much of the PINK CREAM 69 show, because we were called away to do an interview with our Into Eternity boys. They opened with the titletrack of the new album "Thunderdome" and during one of the first songs singer David received a gift from Wooks, the photographer of Pretties For You. A pack of English tea - a very original gift from one Englishman to another :) He was pleased and surprised as it was a nice change from the usual underwear, he said ;) So we didn't see anything from the rest of the gig, but we could hear from the back that they played a.o. "Do You Like It Like That", "Hell's Gone Crazy", "Gods Come Together", "Talk To The Moon", "Living My Life For You", "Seas Of Madness", "Shame" and "Welcome The Night". (Marlies/Cora)

Metal Church  Nico Wobben As an old school METAL CHURCH fan I was very curious to see them again, but also concerned about what a new singer would bring. Well, he brought the IMHO best voice this band ever had!!! Ronny Munroe was simply awesome, as a frontman as well as vocally! He esp. performed the Wayne-songs so well! The band itself, next to Ronny and founder Kurdt Vanderhoof there were Kirk Arrington, ex-Malice guitarist Jay Reynolds and bassplayer Steve Unger, was incredibly tight and blew everybody away!! They played songs from the Wayne-era and the upcoming new album "The Weight Of The World" ("Madman's Overture" and encore "Cradle To Grave"), no songs from the Howe-era. There was a lot of nostalgia with songs like the opener "Ton Of Bricks", "Battalions" (where the audience kept chanting "Metal Church, Metal Church"), "Gods Of Wrath", "Beyond The Black" (after that Kirk Arrington came out from behind his drumkit, to the front of the stage for a moment) and (yep, there it was :)) "Metal Church". Even though my favorite band had played earlier on the day, I have to admit that I thought this was THE best show of the festival! I was so impressed with Metal Church  Nico Wobben Ronny's performance that right after the show I actually ran to him to hug him for it, haha! (Marlies)

Ton Of Bricks
Start The Fire
Watch The Children Pray
Battalions
Gods Of Wrath
The Dark
Madman's Overture
Beyond The Black
Metal Church
--
Cradle To Grave

Dark Tranquillity  Nico Wobben In contrary to Naglfar DARK TRANQUILLITY pretty much stuck to their setlist of last week's 2000 Decibel festival, they only left two songs out and that's it. I just once again enjoyed seeing them though - as they once again proved to be a really good and tight live band. I have no idea what Dark Tranquillity would be without their vocalist Mikael who always puts a lot of emotion in his performance. Out of all members he seems to enjoy himself the most and he's also the one to get in touch with the fans, even directly with the front rowers by going down into the photopit. Dark Tranquillity also had a good sound - at least where I was standing, I should add. With those festivals you never know ;) Of course the band also took the chance to present their new song "One Thought" here, and again I guess everybody enjoyed that aggressive piece of music. If that song is a hint as to what we can expect from the upcoming album, then rest assured Dark Tranquillity haven't whimped out! (Cora)

Dark Tranquillity  Nico Wobben Setlist Dark Tranquillity:
The Sun Fired Blanks
The Treason Wall
White Noise/Black Silence
Punish My Heaven
Haven
Monochromatic Stains
Single Part Of Two
Damage Done
The Wonders At Your Feet
One Thought
Therein
Zodijackyl Light
Final Resistance

Rage  Nico Wobben "Are you ready to feel the power of RAGE?" asked Mike and well yes, I was. I always am although this show was nothing special really. Or maybe this is just my personal perception, I don't know. I've seen this band live a lot and there were no surprises at all. As Rage frequently play in this area (Peavy lives next to Gelsenkirchen and was "thinking about cycling over here") it would have been a nice thing if they had put a song on the setlist that they haven't played over and over again the last couple of years. At least the drum solo was nowhere nearly as long as even the shortest I've seen Mike play, I'm not even sure if the one he played can be counted as a solo in his terms. Still, Andreas from Naglfar commented his playing with "They have a very enthusiastic drummer" ;) Of course the last song (and encore) had to be "Higher Than The Sky", it's really funny to see how this particular song turned into THE major song in a Rage setlist. So everybody was happy to sing along to the chorus, only that crazy Canadian sitting next to me (Into Eternity's Tim) who had never seen them before wondered "How can you be higher than the sky?", hehe. (Cora)

Rage  Nico Wobben Setlist Rage:
War Of Worlds
Great Old Ones
Black In Mind
Solitary Man
Down
guitar solo
Soundchaser
Set This World On Fire
drum solo
Don't Fear The Winter
From The Cradle To The Grave
Higher Than The Sky

Stratovarius  Nico Wobben The guy who "promised" to write a review of STRATOVARIUS (Tim ;)) didn't deliver, hehe, so we are forced to write something ourselves. Well, Tim thought they put on a really great show and were a good live band :) We thought Kotipelto's voice wasn't very enjoyable but of course Tim liked it. Some songs we remember were "Judgement Day", "Speed Of Light", "Father Time", "Seasons Of Fate", "I'm Still Alive", "Kiss Of Judas", "Phoenix", "Hunting High & Low", "Forever" and "Black Diamond". It was supposedly one of the last shows of Stratovarius, or at least in this line-up, but by now both Timo's are talking again, so who knows. They didn't kill each other, the final words were "see you maybe somewhere" and perhaps the print on Timo Tolkki's t-shirt ("we") was a positive statement. Maybe Tim will have another chance some day to write a review of the band he enjoyed so much ;) (Marlies/Cora)

Machine Head  Nico Wobben By then it was time for the last band. A band I hadn't seen in years, because I hadn't enjoyed any of their albums anymore in years. A band that re-defined thrash back in the 90's and put a modern spin on it (too modern two albums later on, I'm afraid) and a band that tonight would re-define the words FUCKING HEAVY!! I used to be a huge fan of MACHINE HEAD's first two albums, and luckily they've returned to their metal roots with the new one, "Through The Ashes Of Empires". This show proved it too - no sign of rap or anything like that whatsoever! All good stuff, from the opener "Imperium" to "The Blood, The Sweat, The Machine Head  Nico Wobben Tears" to another new one, "Descend the Shades of Night" to THE classic song of the band, "Davidian". Rob Flynn proved to be a mighty frontman, playing the crowd like it's nothing, he had complete control up to the highest parts of the theater. There was a lot of moshpit activity and Rob would work up the crowd to get them to do a circle pit - wow, I had never seen anything like that before! He clearly enjoyed the show and the German beer and wine, saying "prrrrrrrrrost!" every chance he got. It was also nice to see his former Vio-lence buddy Phil Demmel at his side again! The atmosphere was absolutely insane and the first drops of rain on that whole weekend couldn't spoil that! Time to get my old Machine Head shirts out of the closet! (Marlies)


submitted by Cora/Marlies 04.07.2004

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