1st to 3rd June 2018
Rock am Ring Day 2 with Nothing More, Shinedown, Body Count feat. Ice T, Kreator, Bullet For My Valentine, Muse, Parkway Drive
The Saturday on the Ring began with scorching sun rays, which warmed up the tent very quickly, and which represented a welcome change from the day before. The first action of the day was to get some breakfast from the LIDL Rock-Shop at the end of the other end of the festival area. Despite all possible complaints of an exuberant commercialization of these festivals I had wished that these temporary supermarkets would have existed back in the days. It is just way more convenient than hauling your liquid nutrition (aka countless trays of beer cans) from home onto the campgrounds. Millennials, believe me, you do not know what you have got…
Saturday afternoon started off with the bang. This time in the form of the San Antonio, Texas quartet NOTHING MORE, which still has a kind of insider tip status here in Europe, despite the fact that they have been nominated for Grammy’s three times. Their performance on ROCK AM RING definitely looked like they were hell-bent on changing that. Especially singer Johnny Hawkins - despite still suffering from jetlag – hit the stage radiating an enormous amount of energy, zipping back and forth on the enormous Crater stage, screaming into the mic and occasionally pummelling the drums of the enormous ‘Mad Max-like’ instrument monster thingy, called “the Scorpion Tail”, sitting in the centre of the stage. The band used their forty minutes in the spotlight to play all their hits from the last two (and better known) albums, such as ‘Do You Really Want It?’, ‘Go to War’, or the powerful ballad/ neck breaker ‘Jenny’.
Towards the end of the set, during ‘This is The Time’, singer Johnny - with his signature shirtless and barefoot look - climbed the scorpion and catapulted himself hydraulically into a height of approximately two meters, which definitely wowed the crowd and left many spectators open-mouthed. NOTHING MORE closed out their set with a SKRILLEX cover, which definitely underscored their ambitions and musical qualities. I just hope for them to return to European stages with more time on their hands in the near future. Please also check out our interview with Johnny, which we did right after their festival gig. // https://www.facebook.com/nothingmore / www.nothingmore.net // Setlist: 01. Do You Really Want It? / 02. Let 'em Burn / 03. Don't Stop / 04. Go to War / 05. Fadein/Fadeout / 06. Jenny / 07. This Is The Time (Ballast) / 08. First of the Year (Equinox) (Skrillex cover)
Due to the slightly complicated interview logistics with NOTHING MORE singer Johnny Hawkins, I missed a good part of the set from SHINEDOWN. However, what I saw left me quite impressed. The Floridian Alternative rockers have packed a good selection of their record-breaking 12 (!) number one Billboard Mainstream Rock Charts singles into their 55-minute set. Singer Brent Smith exuded an enormously positive aura and seemed to genuinely enjoy the band’s time in the sunny afternoon spotlight (yep, the weather very much cleared up! Yay!).
The well-oiled musical rock machine kept roaring and churning out sing-a-long anthems, so let’s hope that the band will make good on singer Brent’s promise “We do not say goodbye, we say until next time”. // https://www.facebook.com/Shinedown / www.shinedown.com // Setlist: 01. Sound of Madness / 02. Bully / 03. Cut the Cord / 04. Kill Your Conscience / 05. State of My Head / 06. Unity / 07. Enemies / 08. Second Chance / 09. Diamond Eyes (Boom-Lay Boom-Lay Boom) / 10. Devil
Body Count feat. Ice T
Shortly, before 7pm it became dark, like very dark on the Crater Stage. The sun was eclipsed by the seemingly bad mood of legendary rapper ICE-T and his ever-growing crew of band members, whose appearance invoked some bad shit from the past. BODY COUNT formed in the context of the L.A. South Central riots, incited by a particularly obvious incident of police brutality in the Nineties, and it is fair to say that the world (or for that matter, the U.S.) has not become a better place in that regard. So ICE-T - who during the set announced his name change to “ICE-muthafucking-T-Bitch!” - seemingly has lots of reasons to be angry about even after turning 60 recently. The band entered the stage with a bang by playing the SLAYER cover ‘Raining Blood / Postmortem’. From then on they played all their hits from their three decade long career, such as ‘Talk Shit, get Shot’, ‘Manslaughter’, and ‘KKK Bitch’, closing of with the ominous song ‘Cop Killer’, that got them plenty of controversy at that time, forcing their record label to pull the record from the stores.
ICE-T’s mood seemed to lighten up, as he introduced his various band members, among them his oldest son ‘Little Ice’, who joined his father’s rap and singing parts. But that was not all in terms of family members, as he also introduced his two-year old daughter, who was led on stage by her artificially remodelled mother. Call me a spoilsport, but it kind of hurt my heart to see this poor little girl seeming lost on stage without any visible hearing protection on a stage with 150 decibels in front of thousands of rowdy people. Thus, I just hope for the kid that this was kind of a one-time stunt. // https://www.facebook.com/bodycountofficial / www.bodycountband.com // Setlist: 01. Raining Blood / Postmortem (Slayer cover) / 02. Bowels of the Devil / 03. Manslaughter / 04. No Lives Matter / 05. Body Count / 06. Necessary Evil / 07. Drive By / 08. Voodoo / 09. There Goes the Neighborhood / 10. KKK Bitch / 11. Disorder (The Exploited cover) / 12. Talk Shit, Get Shot / 13. Cop Killer
Whoever thought that after BODY COUNT it could not get any darker and more pre-historic was caught on the wrong foot. KREATOR, the godfathers of Thrash/ Death/ Speed/ Black/ Ruhrpott Metal from Essen, Germany celebrated their first festival appearance on ROCK AM RING in their 36-year band history. And boy did they crush the stage. Front man Mille Petrozza, whom I witnessed ravaging the Knotfest stage in San Bernardino, California last year, seemed to enjoy the look of crowds of people a quarter of his age engaging in all sorts of dangerous activities such as crowd surfing, wall of death and circle pits. Whereas music-wise, I found the whole affair a little monotonous, it was fairly entertaining to watch the devilish video projections on stage, as well as the way Mille fired up the crowd by demanding “total destruction” and “absolute massacre”.
On top of this, the band’s production included the first use of pyrotechnics on that day, which looked nice in the setting sun, as well the explosive use of tons of red confetti (dust from caskets would have been more fitting), which for a short time made it difficult to breathe for the front row audience members. All in all, this has been a worthy reminder of the good ol’ moshing times of the 80ies and a marvel to look at. // https://www.facebook.com/KreatorOfficial / www.kreator-terrorzone.de // Setlist: 01. Phantom Antichrist / 02. Hail to the Hordes / 03. Enemy of God / 04. Satan Is Real / 05. Civilization Collapse / 06. Phobia / 07. Gods of Violence / 08. Fallen Brother / 09. Hordes of Chaos (A Necrologue for the Elite) / 10. Violent Revolution / 11. Pleasure to Kill
Bullet For My Valentine
Around half past nine it was time for one of my all-time faves. The Welsh Metalcore pioneers BULLET FOR MY VALENTINE made their entry onto the Crater Stage, and tens of thousands of fans joined them. The stage hands had used the 30-minute break to stack up no less than 20 huge guitar cabinets on the stage, which made it clear in which direction this was going. The stage production also featured a pretty impressive light show. All these gimmicks were just mere accessories, when it came to the brutally precise sound production of the band. While the band has been accused of delivering bloodless, sewing machine-like performances in the past, today clearly seemed to be a different matter. Singer Matthew Tuck as well as shouter Michael Paget delivered a performance for the ages, which captured the entirety of the audience. A little more than halfway into the set, the new drummer Jason Bowld was let off his leash and delivered a drum solo from heaven, which I - in this form and intensity - have never seen before.
BULLET FOR MY VALENTINE also played three new songs from their upcoming album ‘Gravity’, which will be released end of June. And thankfully enough, they have announced an extensive European tour in fall, which will also lead them to Cologne on 27th October, and where we hopefully will be getting more of their good stuff than just their 65 minutes of playtime, which flew by extremely quickly. // https://www.facebook.com/BulletForMyValentine / www.BulletForMyValentine.com // Setlist: 01. Don't Need You / 02. Over It / 03. Your Betrayal / 04. 4 Words (To Choke Upon) / 05. You Want a Battle? (Here's a War) / 06. The Last Fight / 07. Letting You Go / 08. Worthless / 09. Drum Solo / Army of Noise / 10. Scream Aim Fire / 11. Piece of Me / 12. Tears Don't Fall / 13. Waking the Demon
In between the stage break between BULLET FOR MY VALENTINE and PARKWAY DRIVE, I made a quick run over to the Volcano stage, where the British alternative rockers MUSE celebrated their headline slot on the main stage in style. Singer Matt Bellamy had all eyes on him and made excellent use of his 90-minutes in the spotlight. Unlike his predecessor from the night before, he also extensively documented his abilities to command an instrument, as he shredded away on his guitar during epic and timeless tracks, such as ‘Hysteria’, ‘Supermassive Black Hole’, or ‘Stockholm Syndrome’. However, the end of that song saw an extremely appalling case of superstardom instrument abuse, as Matt first toppled over the guitar cabinet and then sent his guitar flying through the air and crashing in the back of the stage, a sight which probably made the heart of every guitarist bleed. The rest of the packed stage crowd saw a very entertaining (the light show and combined video projection alone set new standards) performance and enjoyed plenty of opportunities to sing along.
I however resisted the urge for a quick nap and headed over to my home turf, the crater stage, to see Australia’s hottest music export, not without making a note to myself that I will probably never ‘get’ MUSE. // https://www.facebook.com/muse / www.muse.mu // Setlist: 01. Thought Contagion / 02. [Drill Sergeant] / 03. Psycho / 04. Interlude / 05. Hysteria (AC/DC's 'Back In Black' outro riff) / 06. Plug In Baby / 07. The 2nd Law: Isolated System / 08. Dig Down / 09. Undisclosed Desires / 10. Supermassive Black Hole ('Close Encounters' intro riff) / 11. Stockholm Syndrome / 12. The 2nd Law: Unsustainable / 13. Madness / 14. Starlight / 15. Time Is Running Out / 16. Mercy; Encore: 17. Take a Bow / 18. Uprising / 19. Knights of Cydonia
Judging from the number of fans wearing their merchandise, the Australian quintet PARKWAY DRIVE certainly deserved to reign the Crater stage by right. For me it was the first time to witness a live show by the Metalcore gods that went viral three years ago with their release of their 2015 release ‘Ire’, which left me unprepared what I was about to witness. To put it into the words of the third song of their recent album ‘Reverence’, PARKWAY DRIVE represented ‘Absolute Power’ visually as well as acoustically. The sound production was excellent (on par with their predecessors BULLET FOR MY VALENTINE), but the visual production blew all expectations out of the water. Not only featured the set-up drummer Ben “Gaz” Gordon going into rounds (literally) inside a circular metal wheel including his drum set while drumming. The stage production also saw vast areas of the stage covered in fire, and so many flame-throwers, fireworks, and pointed explosions; it would have made Till Lindemann [RAMMSTEIN] green with envy.
Those fans not completely set aghast by this enormous firepower, celebrated the performance of their favourites with one of the most vicious and unrelenting displays of circle pits, walls of death and crowd surfing, even behind the second fence. This live show made it abundantly clear that PARKWAY DRIVE with the release of ‘Reverence’ has outgrown the small venues and is now ready for their own stadium tour. This will certainly not go down well with die-hard fans of the first hour, but it is simply a fact of life. And remember, you still can tell your grandchildren “You know, I have seen PARKWAY DRIVE, when they were playing a small club in Timbouktou”. // https://www.facebook.com/parkwaydrive / www.parkwaydriverock.com // Setlist: 01. Wishing Wells / 02. Prey / 03. Vice Grip / 04. Dedicated / 05. Cemetery Bloom / 06. The Void / 07. Idols and Anchors / 08. Karma/ 09. Writings on the Wall / 10. Destroyer / 11. Absolute Power / 12. Wild Eyes / 13. Crushed / 14. Bottom Feeder
The second day of the Ring had everything a festival goer could hope for. The weather cleared up significantly, as it rained only once very briefly in the afternoon. The line-up was spectacular, as were the performances of the bands. And with BULLET FOR MY VALENTINE and PARKWAY DRIVE, two Metalcore giants showed off their music skills in the best possible of ways, paired with a flawless sound production. This by no means can be taken for granted, as the example of AVENGED SEVENFOLD showed, which occupied the final spot on the Crater Stage that night, and whose sound production and uninspired performance managed to ruin even the anthem-like performance ‘Hail to the King’, let alone those filigree songs from the last album ‘The Stage’.
All pictures by Elena Arens