Text: André, Pics & videos: Aidan
After we reported yesterday on the phenomenal Blind Guardian old school set at the Rock Hard Festival 2022, today we would like to take a closer look at the second day of the festival.
It all started for us with the Villagers of Ioannina City, who I only knew by name beforehand. Stylistically, the Greeks are difficult to classify – and I have to admit that it took me a while to open up to their mixture of folk, stoner and psychedelic rock. One thing is certain: this band sounds very independent and offers numerous facets. In my opinion, music like this simply works better in a small club that allows the listeners to immerse themselves in the long instrumental passages. I assume that the Villagers of Ioannina City have a completely different, more intense effect there than in the sun-drenched Amphitheater Gelsenkirchen. In any case, not off-the-shelf and therefore interesting.
After the Greeks, the gig was already on the programme, which, with the above-mentioned performance of Krefeld’s finest, was our main reason to pay a visit to the Rock Hard Festival: Atlantean Kodex did the honours! I can’t write anything here that I haven’t already said in my love letter after Keep it True Rising! last year. So first of all something about the surroundings: Of course, the Kodex Battalions were present in large numbers, many tasteful shirts adorned the venue – and you knew right away that we were in for a powerful-voiced, epic gig as usual. In front of the stage we met many familiar faces – a young gentleman who fulfilled his life’s dream and was allowed to pay homage to the Kodex for the first time, even had extra high-proof stuff with him to get his excitement under control. Fortunately, Aidan and I were also offered a taste of the delicious brew, which ultimately brought us up to operating temperature… (Those who have read the Keep it True Rising! article mentioned at the beginning know that this Kodex warrior is, of course, in reality part of the inventory of a Kodex concert, haha).
Regarding the general settings on Saturday: It is pleasing that the Kodex once again had the chance to play at the Rock Hard Festival in order to reach numerous people there who are not regularly seen at the relevant underground masses. Unfortunately, from our point of view, the organiser placed the band too low in the billing and accordingly granted a much too short playing time. The latter led to the fact that they could only play seven songs, including just one from their debut album The Golden Bough. The Pnakotic demos were completely ignored due to time constraints to focus on the last output The Course of Empire and The White Goddess (three songs each). In view of the circumstances, this was an understandable decision by the band, who played six songs that had not been on the programme at their first appearance at the Amphitheater in 2011.
I don’t have to mention that the atmosphere in front of the stage was great. I don’t have to repeat that Coralie is an enormous enrichment for the band, I already wrote that last year: She is not merely an excellent guitarist, she also has charisma and visibly has fun on stage. Michi will always be missed, but he couldn’t have asked for a better successor. Apart from that, the extremely stylish outfit of her guitar partner Manuel should be emphasised, who, with sunglasses and all in black, almost reached the coolness factor of a Tony Iommi. Musically, of course, everything was just right – even on a summery afternoon, the Kodex completely took me away emotionally and gave me feelings of bliss that couldn’t be paid for with any money in the world. The trip was worth it for this gig alone – and the three-person travel group, consisting of my dear colleague Aidan, his father Alex and me, was completely satisfied.
Afterwards, we devoted ourselves mainly to the issue of food intake. In this respect, the selection at the Rock Hard Festival is always outstanding, there is something for every taste on the grounds. So we went into the second part of the day strengthened. The fact that we only saw the last songs of The Night Flight Orchestra was not bad in retrospect: Generally I like AOR very much from time to time, but this gig couldn’t enthuse me – I clearly liked Nestor at Keep it True Rising! much more! But well, tastes are different… The subsequent Grave Digger played classic teutonic metal – a bagpipe ensemble on stage gave the band a Scottish vibe that lasted through the whole gig, which was solid all in all – nothing more, nothing less.
I found it quite a pity that Phil Campbell and The Bastard Sons had to cancel due to illness, as I was definitely up for a bit of Motörhead. From the replacement, Asphyx, we only got to catch the second half of the set, as again food and drink were on the agenda. What I heard I enjoyed pretty much, as I can appreciate death/doom when I’m in the right mood for it. Martin van Drunen is always a great experience and I am motivated to spin The Rack again in the next few days. All in all, it was great that the Dutch, with Husky on drums, were able to step in at such short notice. Hats off for that!
Conclusion: Thanks to the Kodex gig and the Blind Guardian performance, which was highlighted in detail yesterday, we experienced a fantastic festival day, which also had one or two smaller highlights to offer. The fact that the Deutsche Bahn completely failed afterwards is another story, but it should not spoil our good mood for long. A year before, we would not even have dared to dream of such an experience….