Photography by: Toni B. Gunner – www.mondkringel-photography.de
For many, many years people were telling me about Rockharz, and how I just had to go there. A festival with an average size (+/- 20.000 people) and a good, diverse line-up every year. There was enough to enjoy for fans of folk and paganmetal, with bands like Korpiklaani and Heidevolk, and In Extremo as the headliner of the festival. With a forecast of terrible weather we left, and with a terrible sunburn we returned. The review of the festival can be found below.
Vogelfrey was supposed to start the festival, but due to several line-upchanges, the band played early in the evening. Definitely a lot better, since it was a bit cooled down in comparison to the intense heat of the afternoon. The Germans from Hamburg played a solid show, as we got to expect from them. The sound was good, although the guitars were a bit low in the mix. During the show, you could see clearly that these guys are born entertainers. The audience was a bit tame when they started, but willingly participated further towards the end of the show, especially when the audience’ favourite ‘Heldentot’ was played. Nice show!
While a lot of bands were suffering from a terrible sound on Thursday (I’m looking at you Insomnium! It was terrible), the problems seem to disappear suddenly while Amorphis entered the stage. I’ve never seen the band with such a great sound, and this made the performance even better than usual. With a varied setlist with old and new songs perfectly in balance, the band seemed to enjoy it, just like the audience. With ‘House of Sleep’ there was put an end to this great concert.
It’s hard to find a band which is more German than Saltatio Mortis I guess. A band typical for the ‘Mittelalter-rock’ genre, and loved throughout Germany. It seems that way at least, with the audience crowding en mass before the stage. Vocalist Alea did exactly what we expect from him; besides singing and his capouera-movements he was a star in letting the audience participate. At each song it was expected that the audience clapped, sang or jumped around, and it got quite annoying after a while. Decent show, but nothing really special.
Well, saying that Korpiklaani is way past the top of their career would be an understatement. What this band shows us, as last band of the day, is just a weak reflection of what they used to be. The whole discussion about whether they should play there drinking songs aside (yes they should, no they didn’t), the band just performed really, really bad. The band looked like they were forced to be enthusiastic, and playing in sync was too much to ask for. However, the (often drunk) audience didn’t really seem to care. Too bad.
Was it due to the early timeslot? I don’t know what the reason was, but it was really calm in front of the stage when the Vikings of Einherjer entered. The lack of audience didn’t seem to affect the band, because they clearly enjoyed their time on stage. Not that impressive, but nonetheless a decent show.
A new album, and two new members. Equilibrium was subject to a lot of change lately, and I was curious to see how this would influence their live performance. Although the individual members played just fine, it was clear to see that they weren’t used to playing together from time to time. Especially vocalist Robse’s timing was bad during some songs. Nonetheless a pretty decent performance.
And just another great German band. Again a Mittelalterrockband, and again pretty big in Germany. Although this musical genre isn’t really popular outside of Germany, it definitely is in Germany and that was easy to see by the large number of people standing in front of the stage. The band seemed to enjoy themselves, and with a lot of firework they ensured a spectacular performance. Although, on CD, some of the songs were a bit soft, live these songs had a lot more punch, also because of the great soundmix. The songs sounded a bit more ‘in your face’ what had a positive effect on the music in general.
Heidevolk had the opportunity to close the festival as the last band. Although the band played at a ridiculous time (they started around 1), there were enough people to celebrate. That Heidevolk is popular in Germany is proven every time. And even though singing along is quite hard with all the difficult Dutch lyrics, the music is catchy and accessible enough to party. Although guitar-player Raemon and drummer Joost were replaced for this gig, their replacements were more than worthy. Both enthusiastic (just as the rest of the band!) and they played well with the other members. Great closure for a great festival!