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oomph1Castle Broich, Mülheim, Germany
1st to 2nd July 2011
Castle Rock Festival 2011 Day 2: Oomph!, Megaherz, Crematory, Van Canto, Lord of the Lost, Golden Apes, Stahlmann

While we were sweating during the previous year’s Castle Rock, it was rather chilly this time with temperatures going down below 15°C at the evening. But luckily it stayed dry, the sun was breaking through the clouds and we were prepared for the second festival day having OOMPH! as headlining act. But before the band around singer Dero entered the stage, we hat six more or less fantastic bands entertaining the audience, opener being STAHLMANN.


Stahlmann [Daniela Vorndran]

STAHLMANN kind of just started their career, founded in 2008 and already making a kick-start with their first release, which is the EP ‘Herzschlag’ that cracked into the German Alternative Charts on #20. Their tour credits already include sharing the stage with DORO, IN EXTREMO, SALTATIO MORTIS or EISBRECHER. The eponymous debut album has been released on 17th September 2010. STAHLMANN is Mart (vocals, programming), Alex (guitar, programming), Tobi (guitar, programming), Fire-Abend (bass) and O-Lee (drums). http://www.myspace.com/stahlmannmusik

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Music & Performance
I’ve seen STAHLMANN just the weekend before at Blackfield festival and now they were opening the second day of Castle Rock. And one thing is for sure: this band was a good choice to open the day. They immediately had the audience in their hands, anyone was clapping and dancing. There were already more people in the castle yard than during the headliner of the previous day. The most obvious optical feature of the band now entering was them being all dressed in suits and being painted in silver steel colours. This outfit became the trademark of the band and I guess it will be difficult for them to change it someday. The set opened traditionally with ‘Willkommen’ (Welcome) followed by ‘Marschieren’. While Mart mostly walked around on stage, the rest posed while playing their instruments. Musically, this mix of RAMMSTEIN and maybe OOMPH! is surely a matter of taste... on this day, STAHLMANN had the perfect audience for their show!

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And Mart definitely liked the audience and the festival ground a lot, like he stated, being a guest during previous festivals and now finally on stage of Castle Rock for the first time which he counted as a big honour.

Setlist
01. Willkommen
02. Marschieren
03. Stahlmann
04. Kaltes Herz
05. Göttin
06. Hass mich
07. Herzschlag
08. Teufel

Rating
Music: 6
Performance: 8
Sound: 7
Light: 7 (+ daylight)
Total: 7 / 10

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Golden Apes [Daniela Vorndran]

THE GOLDEN APES were founded back in 1998 by Peer, Christian and Eric. The guys can already look back on seven albums by now, latest being ‘Denying the Towers Our Words Are Falling From’, released in April 2010 on their new label Echozone Records. So far, the band was playing several festivals and also supported bands like CINEMA STRANGE. THE GOLDEN APES are Peer Lebrecht (lyrics, vocals), Eric Bahrs (guitars), Christian Lebrecht (bass), Ika Mamrikishuili (keys), Dirk Wildenhues (guitars) and Joe Finck (drums). http://www.goldenapes.com/ / http://www.myspace.com/goldenapes

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Music & Performance
GOLDEN APES were the musical outsider on that festival day with their melancholic Dark Wave in-between all those metal and rock bands and surely the slot right after STAHLMANN and before LORD OF THE LOST, both with extroverted performances, did not do them any justice. And so, the castle yard was not as packed as during the mentioned bands. Also the show of the APES is introverted, calm and singer Peer is rather tight-lipped smoking one cigarette after another. All members on stage appeared quite cool and calm, not much movement was to be seen. In my opinion, this music is something for a small smoky club instead of an open air stage in bright sunshine anyway. So, optically you could call the show quite “uninteresting” but the music made up for it. Sounds and style remind lot of JOY DIVISION and well, this band seemed to have some influence.

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Even though the band had only time for eight songs, we got something from all eras, like ‘And thus he spoke’ and ‘Digging Towers’ out off the latest output ‘Denying the Towers Our Words Are Falling from’ but also a very new song called ‘Lithium’ or early ‘The Happy Losers Sweet Delusion’ out off the band’s first album ‘Stigma 3:am’ self-released in 2000.

Setlist
01. Devil
02. Leaving Ground
03. Ferryman
04. And thus he spoke
05. Lithium (new song)
06. Digging Towers
07. Remedy
08. The Happy Losers Sweet Delusion

Rating
Music: 8
Performance: 6
Sound: 7
Light: 7 (+ daylight)
Total: 7 / 10

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Lord of the Lost [Lisa Young-In]

Before starting his own band with LORD OF THE LOST in 2008, initiator Chris Harms has been involved in various musical activities already. He started as vocalist for PHILLIAE, played live guitar for BIG BOY and worked with THE PLEASURES as well. Nearly instantly after its inception, LORD OF THE LOST locked themselves up in the studio, spending most of 2008 working on their debut album. The album’s called ‘Fears’ and has been released in February 2010, followed by the sophomore ‘Antagony’ in this year’s April via Out of Line. LORD OF THE LOST is Chris (vocals, guitar), Sebsta (guitars), Class (bass), Any (drums) and Sensai (guitars). http://www.myspace.com/lordofthelost

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Music & Performance
The Gothic rockers LORD OF THE LOST were the next band in the line-up, and apparently I was not the only one looking forward to seeing the band. The front rows, which had been quite vacant when GOLDEN APES played, now quickly filled up again, and when the band entered the stage in its flamboyant and distinctive styling and make-up they were welcomed with a lot of applause and cheering. The opener ‘We are the Lost’ immediately captivated the audience and when the self-proclaimed “Lord Of The Lost” Chris Harms started singing with his deep, hypnotic timbre while exposing and moving his well-shaped tattooed body, the band had already won over most of the (female) crowd. After ÄDo You Wanna Die Without a Scar’, the five-piece (female drummer Any Wayst could not play the show due to an injury and was replaced) really surprised with their own, rocky rendition of LADY GAGA’s ‘Bad Romance’ that immediately forced its way into the people’s ear canals, with no intention of ever coming out again. And as many doubts as one could have about a cover like that - the band was able to deliver a great, original interpretation of it and the crowd had fun singing along.

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Other highlights in the set were the current single ‘Prison’, ‘Sex On Legs’, and of course their most popular hit ‘Dry The Rain’ off the debut album ‘Fears’ that was announced with the words that they really hoped this song could help prevent the event from any rain, as the sky had been really gray all day long. With its melancholic and gloomy keyboard lines, the groovy bass fundament, the heavy guitars and the stunning and powerful vocals / screams of Chris Harms that created a certain dense atmosphere that one could not withdraw from, LORD OF THE LOST definitely proved why they were considered one of the fan favourites from the very start of the festival. Note to self: This is definitely a band to watch out for in the future!

Setlist
01. We are the Lost
02. Do You Wanna Die Without a Scar‏
03. Bad Romance (Lady Gaga Cover)
04. Fragmenting Façade
05. Prison
06. Prologue
07. Son of the Dawn
08. Sex on Legs
09. Break your Heart
10. Dry the rain

Rating
Music: 8
Performance: 9
Sound: 7
Light: 8
Total: 8 / 10

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Van Canto [Lisa Young-In]

VAN CANTO is a band from Germany founded in 2006 that coined the term “A Capella Metal” the debut album ‘Storm to Come’ was released in the same year the band was founded. In 2007 the band played several festivals like the Bochum Total and the Rock Harz Festival for example. In the same year, the debut album was re-released via Gun Records, quite swiftly followed by the second album ‘Hero’ in 2008 and finding its momentary conclusion with the release of the hit album ‘Tribe Of Force’ last year. http://www.vancanto.de/ / http://www.myspace.com/vancanto

Music & Performance
After LORD OF THE LOST, who had in fact been able to heat up the place, it was now time for the world’s first heavy metal a-cappella band that was not just the only metal band in today’s line-up, but also the one that stuck out the most: VAN CANTO. The band’s very loyal fan base (yes, a lot of people apparently only attended the festival to see VAN CANTO!) quickly gathered around the stage during the break between the bands so that they would not miss out on any single note of the set. One fan even brought a gigantic white flag with the words “Rakka-Takka fürs Volk” (“Rakka-Takka for the people”) written on it, in order to make the audience aware of the band’s own prominent slogan (“Rakka-Takka” - which is an attempt to put the power chord sound of a guitar into words).

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While they had always started their set with their hit ‘Lost Forever’ off their latest album ‘Tribe Of Force’ during recent shows, the band decided to start off with their interpretation of ‘Stora Rövardansen’ today and then continued with the song ‘Pathfinder’ from their second album ‘Hero’. The crowd cheered in excitement and one could often hear the fans’ loud chants of “Rakka-Takka, Motherfucker!” during the set. Highlights of the performance were definitely ‘One To Ten’ (including a “guitar duel” between the guitar imitators Stef and Ross), the SABATON cover ‘Primo Victoria’ that hasn’t been officially released for now and that they had only played a few times before, the medley of the band’s own song ‘The Mission’ and the METALLICA cover ‘Master Of Puppets’, the IRON MAIDEN cover ‘Fear Of The Dark’ that always manages to increase the energy level once again, and of course the encore ‘Rebellion’ that was dedicated to some English people in the crowd.

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All in all, the band delivered a solid and energetic performance that really motivated the fans to not just stand around but to move their bodies, and they also made some entertaining announcements of which one also exposed that their lead singer apparently needs to learn to pronounce the band name again (haha). Their set was a balanced mix between own songs and popular covers which once again proved that one doesn’t need guitars in order to deliver a powerful and melodic metal performance. Especially lead singer Sly constantly showed off his entertainer qualities and even climbed a stage girder in order to fuel the audience even more. Background singer Ross and drummer Bastian, whose outstanding abilities provide the powerful and groovy base for the band’s sound, also established a lot of contact with the fans which once again showed the band’s close connection to their fans. After about 45 minutes (which passed by really quickly), VAN CANTO ended its set and left behind some really enthused fans of which many of them were really happy about their decision to travel quite far just to see their favourite band again.

Setlist
01. Stora Rövardansen (Intro)
02. Pathfinder
03. Lost Forever
04. Wishmaster (Nightwish Cover)
05. One to Ten
06. Primo Victoria (Sabaton Cover)
06. To Sing a Metal Song
07. The Mission / Master of Puppets (Metallica Cover)
08. Fear of the Dark (Iron Maiden Cover)
---
09. Rebellion (Grave Digger Cover)

Rating
Music: 8
Performance: 8
Sound: 8
Light: 8
Total: 8 / 10

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Crematory [Daniela Vorndran]

After the foundation of the band in 1991, and with the addition of two further musicians to the line-up, CREMATORY recorded their first self-titled demo: according to the band it has sold about 1,500 times. In the meantime, the former bassist left the line-up and joined another band, but they quickly found a new one and could start working on their debut ‘Transmigration’, released in 1993 after which he already left the band again to be finally replaced by a fixed bass player. With the following albums ‘Just Dreaming’ (1994) and ‘Illusion’ (1995) they moved further away from the Death Metal what made the band more popular. Many of the following albums would hit the German album charts such as ‘Awake’ (1997) or ‘Act 7’ (1999). Their most recent album is called ‘Infinity’ and was released in January 2010. CREMATORY is Gerhard Stass (vocals), Matthias Hechtler (guitar, vocals), Harald Heine (bass), Katrin Jülich (keys) and Markus Jülich (drums). http://www.crematory.de/ / http://www.myspace.com/crematorymusic

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Music & Performance
Originally planned on that slot was MEGAHERZ, but they just arrived about 10min before they were supposed to enter the stage because of huge traffic jams. So, CREMATORY were kind enough to swap slots and enter stage as next band covering the yard with some hard metal beats. rachial ‘A Story About…’ from latest album ‘Infinity’ opened the set and front man Felix growled out the lyrics at full capacity. From the start, there was a good mood within the audience and you saw many banging heads. ‘Fly’ and ‘Infinity’ from eponymous new album followed up next with offering a few tempo changes beyond the typical. Then we got a metal version of the SISTERS OF MERCY classic ‘Temple of love’ before, as Felix stated, a song about thirst followed, namely ‘Höllenbrand’. With ‘Sense of time’, another song of the latest album followed, bridging into an instrumental ‘Intro’ that led over to ‘Tick Tack’ and the “nice Gothic Rock’n’Roll’ piece ‘The Fallen’.

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‘Tears of Time’ revealed melancholy feelings as the innermost core under the hardened surface whereas following ‘Pray’ kicked off slow with down-tuned guitars, then gained momentum in the chorus that came up with growls and alternating clean vocals delivered by Matthias. And I must say he has a great voice. When the last song was announced, I thought I misheard the title, but it indeed was DEPECHE MODE’s ‘Black Celebration’. The version was ok, but the vocals did not really fit in my opinion. Maybe I am too much of a DM fan? The band said good bye with ‘Perils of the Wind’ presented by Matthias Hechtler supported by keys only. This song was great and for me the best one of the whole show!

Setlist
01. A Story About…
02. Fly
03. Infinity
04. Temple of Love
05. Höllenbrand
06. Sense of Time
- Intro -
07. Tick Tack
08. The Fallen
09. Tears of Time
10. Pray
11. Black Celebration (Depeche Mode Cover)
---
12. Perils of the Wind

Rating
Music: 7
Performance: 7
Sound: 7
Light: 7
Total: 7 / 10

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Megaherz [Daniela Vorndran]

The history of the band started back in 1993 in Munich when singer Alexx Wesselsky formed MEGAHERZ together with some other guys. A first demo ‘Herzwerk’ was released in 1995; one year later, the CD ‘Wer bist du’ hit the stores. Several years have passed since then, numerous CDs have been released and the line-up has changed several times. Founder Alexx Wesselsky finally left the band together with Noel Pix in autumn 2002 and founded the band EISBRECHER who is celebrating big success right now. The rest of the band had to find a new singer… Mathias 'Jablonski' Elsholz did the job only a short time… and finally Alexander 'Lex' Wohnhaas joined the band as new singer. After about four years of silence, the band came back with the spectacular chart entry of the album ‘Heuchler’ (2008) to celebrate 15 years of band history. 2009 saw the release of the best-of compilation ‘Totgesagte leben länger’ followed by the 2010 remix album ‘Loblieder’. MGAHERZ is Lex (vocals), X-Ti (guitar), Wenz (bass), Roland (guitar) and Bam Bam (drums). http://www.megaherz.de/ / http://www.myspace.com/megaherz / http://www.megaherz.com/

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Music & Performance
MEGAHERZ were already playing last year’s Castle Rock and now they were back again, just with an in my opinion improved live performance, especially when it comes to singer Lex. The set started with ‘Dein Herz schlägt’ out off the album ‘5’ and quite old ‘Gott sein’. Then it was already time for Lex to announce the upcoming album to be out on 14th Oct 2011. But they wouldn’t play new songs yet, instead go for “some old shit”. After ‘Jordan’ followed ‘Ebenbild’ combining brooding rage with menacing undertones and making up an ominous experience. Time now to let people know why slots were changed with CREMATORY. Lex told us they first had a car break-down. This was fixed soon but then they had to endure very big traffic jams, making them break all rules and drive over the emergency lane just to make it to the festival. And yes, here they were firing ‘Fauler Zauber’ and ‘5. März’ into the audience, latter one was to sing together with the band. Also ‘Kopfschuss’ coming up next was made for interaction with the fans. The audience was loudly yelling “bang, bang, Kopfschuss”.

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Just for WGT a few weeks ago and for Castle Rock they dug out something quite old, ‘Meine Sünde’ from the ‘Kopfschuss’ album (1998), never played so far in the current line-up. ‘Herzblut’ was coming now for all with “romantic feelings” followed by ‘Heuchler’ (Hypocrite) for all “so-called friends”. Following ‘Freiflug’ was the perfect song for Lex to take a bath in the crowd. Obligatory ‘Miststück’ could not be missed and so the set was ended with the enthusiastically celebrated song, also loudly sung along by the audience. Loud calls for encore were answered by Lex: “Do you want one more? Only if you go and buy our album on 14th October….”. If people will go, I don’t know, but of course they got one more song with ‘Beiss mich’. Well done guys!

Setlist
01. Dein Herz schlägt
02. Gott sein
03. Jordan
04. Ebenbild
05. Fauler Zauber
06. 5. März
07. Kopfschuss
08. Meine Sünde
09. Herzblut
10. Heuchler
11. Freiflug
12. Miststück
---
13. Beiss mich

Rating
Music: 7
Performance: 9
Sound: 8
Light: 8
Total: 8 / 10

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Oomph!

For almost 20 years, this band is a true force in the independent music scene. Albums like 'Defekt' (1995) and the unbelievably successful conceptual album 'Wunschkind' are milestones with their unique fusion of the electronic world with the unrelenting power. Every new album opened another door and critics overthrew themselves in trying to categorize the sound and with their 1999 output 'Plastik' they finally made their breakthrough in catapulting their music into the German Charts. 2003 was the year of change. OOMPH! signed to the Major label GUN Records and in the eyes of many old fans, they sound drifted into a more commercially and mainstream oriented direction from there on with the two albums 'Wahrheit oder Pflicht' or 'GlaubeLiebeTod', but maybe OOMPH! just sound like they want to sound. Whether you like that direction or not this is and stays a matter of personal taste. The current album 'Monster' was released in August 2008. OOMPH! is Dero (vocals, drums), Crap (guitar, keyboards) and Flux (guitar, sampling). On stage they are supported by Leo on drums and Hagen on bass. http://www.oomph.de / http://www.myspace.com/oomph

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Music & Performance
Since the release of ‘Augen auf!’, OOMPH! are controversially discussed, especially within the old fans. That they still have it is proven by their still existing headliner status even though I must admit that I am more a fan of the old stuff, not of the recent releases. First thing you spotted when the band entered the stage were their new clothing, black suit with white applications. Looked good! And still, OOMPH! is a band with high professionalism, passion and attitude. They started off with two newer songs, ‘Beim ersten mal tut’s weh’ and ‘Träumst Du’. Then, ‘Unsere Rettung’, from 1998’s ‘Unrein’ album, followed with a clear message to fans of earlier OOMPH! stuff. ‘Fieber’, ‘Sex’, ‘Niemand’ and ‘Gekreuzigt’ were further classics in the set, but my “old” favourite was brachial ‘Mitten ins Herz’ from the ‘Defekt’ album (2003). The more recent stuff like ‘Labyrinth’ or ‘Gott ist ein Popstar’ sounded live much better than their studio counterparts and OOMPH! got especially the younger fans going with it.

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The three guys from Wolfsburg - on stage backed up by Leo (drums, percussion) and Hagen (bass guitar) - definitely know how to perform for a crowd, and vocalist Dero absolutely knows how to wrap an audience around his finger. Vocally, Dero’s qualities as a singer are amazing and he even improved compared with the last time I saw them. From deep growls to pretty demanding melodic lines he displayed quite a range, and he managed this range perfectly. In the middle of the set, two songs, ‘Sex hat keine Macht’ and ‘Auf Kurs’ were played as acoustic versions. With ‘Augen auf!’ and ‘Sandmann’, the show at Castle Rock ended. But OOMPH! wouldn’t be OOMPH! if they go without a little a-capella version. Like during previous shows, the audience got Dero’s presentation of ‘The Power of Love’ releasing them into the night.

Setlist
01. Intro + Beim ersten mal tut’s weh
02. Träumst Du
03. Unsere Rettung
04. Fieber
05. Wer schön sein will muss leiden
06. Du willst es doch auch
07. Wach auf!
08. Das weiße Licht
09. Sex
10. Mitten ins Herz
11. Sex hat keine Macht (Acoustic)
12. Auf Kurs (Acoustic)
13. Revolution
14. Mein Schatz
15. Niemand
16. Gekreuzigt (short)
17. Labyrinth (incl. interaction)
18. Gott ist ein Popstar
19. Augen auf!
20. Sandmann
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21. The Power of Love (Franky goes to Hollywood Cover - a-capella)

Rating
Music: 8
Performance: 8
Sound: 8
Light: 8
Total: 8 / 10

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All pictures by Daniela Vorndran (http://www.vorndranphotography.com / http://www.black-cat-net.de/ / www.myspace.com/vorndranphotography / www.facebook.com/blackcatnet)

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