30th June & 1st July 2023
Castle Rock Festival 2023 Day 2 with Nachtblut, Heldmaschine, Lacrimas Profundere, End of Green, The 69 Eyes and more
If you like ancient buildings and dark music, then Castle Rock Festival is for you. Due to vicious transportation issues, we arrived at Schloss Broich on a rainy and stormy Saturday only after the first bands had been already on stage.
The fans in Mülheim ignored the rain and we were lucky, because the heavy rain had already subsided, good for Dark Metal band NACHTBLUT who donned their finest white corpse paint and darkest outfits. NACHTBLUT have a very melodic approach to Dark Metal that is mixed with brutal hard vocals combined with some clear vocals. The band’s intense performance perfectly suits songs like ‘Gegen die Götter’ or ‘Multikulturell’. The ultimate highlight was the band’s cover of German Pop classic ‘Alles nur geklaut’ (DIE PRINZEN) - the audience was all smiles, dancing and rocking out in front of the courtyard stage. I’m sure the band won over some new fans and won the photographers attention. If the audience had not been standing already, there would have been standing ovations for NACHTBLUT for sure.
The stage was rebuilt for NDH band HELDMASCHINE within a short time and the courtyard filled up within a few moments after the band came on stage. If you like bands like RAMMSTEIN, then this band is for you. Especially the song ‘Radioaktiv’ got many cheers from the fans. The band had brought many gadgets like illuminated drumsticks for ‘Ich, Ich, Ich’ or a giant speaker and a laser pointer for ‘Radioaktiv’. The earth was shaking, when the whole Mülheim audience was jumping to ‘Spring’ (jump) and the band on stage alike. The band was in great spirits and frontman René was all smiles, when he talked to the audience. If you missed the bands show at Castle Rock, make sure to see them at M’era Luna Festival in Hildesheim.
While the stage was being set up for LACRIMAS PROFUNDERE, we checked the merch and spotted NACHTBLUT meeting their fans and signing items. The prices at the shops were really reasonable, so were the prices for food and drinks. If you want to get a drink, you need to buy a voucher first and then exchange it for your drink. Food can be paid in cash and vegan options are available, with a bit of waiting time for grilled options. Unfortunately, most of the seating benches were occupied all the time, so we left for the castle park to eat. Leaving and re-entry is easy, you only show your wrist brand and can re-enter the festival ground without fuss.
LACRIMAS PROFUNDERE, who are currently on their “Thirty Years Of Deepest Tears” tour, had attracted many fans to Mülheim and so the inner courtyard became crowded already, before the band came on stage. Front man Julian Larre used sunglasses during the first songs, just to reveal read eye makeup and red contact lenses, when removing them. The band was literally on fire and I can’t remember a recent show of the band, when fire effects were used but the effects really set the songs on fire. The band played an amazing mix of older songs like ‘The Letter’ or ‘Ave End’, songs from their previous album like ‘Father of Fate’ or ‘Celestite Woman’ and songs from their latest album ‘How to Shroud Yourself with Night’ like ‘To Disappear in You’ or ‘An Invisible Beginning’.
Front man Julian is one of the most energetic musicians in the Dark Music scene and he knows how to stir a crowd. The special effects, the band had brought to Mülheim were nice, but if you have a frontman who effortlessly switches between screams, growls, dark vocals and high clear singing, then you have the ultimate special effect on stage. The front row rocked with him while he stood in the media pit, after he climbed on the crash barrier and his performance of ‘Father of Fate’ included crowd surfing and rocking with the crowd. I saw many of the band’s shows over the years, with various singers and developments in sound and style. By hiring Julian, the band’s founder Oliver set sails, leaving behind the shores of classic Goth Rock steering the band towards a unique mix of their trademark sound and Gothic Metal.
The show was a sheer blast and even people who were not much into the band’s releases agreed, that it had been a great performance. The only thing one had to remark was, that the sound quality was not, what I’m used to from the bands shows. Sometimes the bass was missing, sometimes the vocals were droning or the guitars sounded oversteered. This might have been due to the fact, that an inner courtyard is tricky, but the band definitely deserved better sound. After their outstanding gig at M’era Luna festival in 2022, this was a gig bookers will keep in mind if planning gigs for the Dark Scene. After LACRIMAS PROFUNDERE left the stage, it seemed that the crowd had become really thirsty from rocking out and so the bar ran temporarily out of beer.
End of Green
END OF GREEN are in the business for decades and so the band delivered s solid show. But I must admit that I have seen the band in better spirits. There was not much interaction between band and fans today. Of course, Rock prone songs like ‘Dark Side of the Sun’ or ‘Dead City Lights’ of course steered the bands fans and the more Goth prone songs were sung along by the fans as well. It’s always great to watch the band’s shows, because the partly Metal prone performance of the guitar players is a big contrast to the Goth prone vocal performance. Unfortunately, the sound was a bit muddy occasionally and the drums were too loud for my taste. Front man Michelle Darkness thanked the fans for coming to see the band several times and the fans rewarded this with lots of cheering.
The 69 Eyes
While the stage was being rebuild for THE 69 EYES, we lineup up for drinks and although the guys behind the bar were really busy, they were really friendly and cheerful. THE 69 EYES opened their show with classic ‘Devils’, unfortunately the photographers couldn’t enter the media pit for the first song, but we made it to half of ‘Feel Berlin’ and it was fantastic to hear all the fans singing along behind our backs. ‘Perfect Skin’ saw the whole band roaming the stage in action and the girls in the audience got their “Mülheim Style” in the vocals. ‘The Chair’ offered the fans to catch some breath, before “A song for all the bikers” was announced, aka ‘Cheyenna’, a song from the band’s highly acclaimed 2019 release ‘West End’. The illuminated castle courtyard was the perfect spot for ‘Gothic Girl’, one of the band’s all-time classics.
Front man Jyrki69 was really talkative for his standards, tonight. He frequently addressed the audience and thanked the festivals organizers for inviting the band many times over the years. ‘Death of Darkness’ the title track of the band’s latest album marked the show’s halftime and it seemed that the fans already knew the lyrics by heart. ‘Never Say Die’ saw the crowd rocking and the band rocking the stage even harder. When the band performed ‘Gotta Rock’, a track from their latest album and a real “groove monster” I was pretty irritated, for the sound was awful. When I took out my hearing protection and there were no filters employed, it was even worse. As soon as the sound engineer seemed to have got a grip on the instruments, the vocals turned into a disaster and vice versa. I don’t know, if the mix on the monitor sounded different, but what the fans got to hear was light-years away from the band’s standards. Anyway, the fans rewarded the bands performance with loud cheering and applause.
‘Two Horns Up’ brought back the bass on the sound mix (it seemed to have vanished entirely for a few times previously) and of course the crowd was ready to show their horns up in the air. I was really fearing for the vocal parts of ‘Wasting the Dawn’ after the previous sound adventure, but this one came out with almost no flaws form the speakers, but the fog was a bit overdosed, so the band was hardly visible for those standing further back. Feelgood Rock song ‘Drive’ was perfect for this summer evening and classic ‘Brandon Lee’ marked the end of the show. True fans of THE 69 EYES know there is no show without ‘Lost Boys’ and so we could rest assured, that the band would be back on stage, soon. I could have bet, that ‘Framed in Blood’ was on the encore list, but since I had witnessed that Jyrki had been given a written note by the crew earlier, I was sure that the band would have to cut out a song or two. The reason is that Schloss Broich is in downtown Mülheim and so there is a strict curfew to make sure that the neighbours catch enough sleep.
So, the band came back on stage and Jyrki thanked the fans for coming to Mülheim. Asking the fans if they knew if there was an afterparty and if he could DJ there (of course there was one, but not for the author, who had to kill several hundred miles the next day) telling the fans that the Helsinki Vampires would like Mülheim to dance with them to ‘Dance D’Amour’ and so Mülheim danced in the foggy red light. Then Jyrki asked the mandatory question “Mülheim! You wanna rock?” and as soon as ‘Lost Boys’ kicked in, he and Timo-Timo danced circles on stage while red illuminated fog fountains shot from the stages rim. Then, Mülheim was taken by surprise. Jyrki climbed on the barrier rocking with the fans, so the pit was a big party shouting “Lost Boys”. It seems that the band’s 30th anniversary marked the point where the band decided to put even more action on the stage floor, adding some effects to the show and even gave up the distance to their fans while rocking the venue. If you missed the band in Mülheim you can catch them at M’era Luna Festival in Hildesheim in August.
And then, Castle Rock 2023 was over and many were determined to buy their tickets for the next festival immediately. ORDEN OGAN, GOTHMINISTER, VISIONS OF ATLANTIS, A LIFE DIVIDED, UNZUCHT and BÖSE FUCHS & SLY are already confirmed for the event taking place on July 5th / 6th 2024. The presale starts on August 31st 2023. If you’d like to introduce your kids to the dark scene or festivals, CASTLE ROCK FESTIVAL seems to be the perfect choice. I spotted many kids in the crowd, all wearing hearing protection. People generously made way for them so they could see their favourite bands. Prices for food and drinks are really reasonable and since the restrooms are in the castle, they are clean and with flush. Staff was really friendly and cheerful, no matter how long lines were or how heavy the wind gush or the rain were. All in all, a great event, with a fantastic crew, a line-up that was a very good choice for the dark scene in all is aspects and a wonderful location. I’ll be back in the future, with better travelling schedules, because you don’t to miss a second of this unique event. Make sure, to grab your ticket as soon as possible, tickets were sold out in 2023.
All Pictures by Munich Vampire