25th December 2008
Darkstorm Festival 2008: Mono Inc., Tanzwut, Crematory, Diary of Dreams, Covenant, Unheilig, And One, Cephalgy, Painbastard, Rotersand, Absolute Body Control
The history of the Dark Storm festival goes back 12 years now and every year anew, the festival taking place in Chemnitz becomes a real Christmas highlight with a diversified line-up and top acts out of the Electro-, Gothic and Industrial scene. This year’s special attraction and for many fans a reason to travel far is certainly the promised Christmas Show of the quite successful German band UNHEILIG.
Speaking of travelling far: DIARY OF DREAMS fans are known for taking on long journeys to see a show of their favourite band. And it would be a wonder if you couldn’t find fans from several corners of Germany there this time. As if those bands weren’t enough already AND ONE will make the sweat drip out of every pore and lay down an energy-driven show for sure. Not to forget our favourite Swedes of COVENANT who’ll provide us with finest electronic music never limited to any particular genre or style. The schedule of the festival was a bit unlucky this year. So I missed the shows of CEPHALGY and PAINBASTARD totally and could only have a short glimpse at ROTERSAND and ABSOLUTE BODY CONTROL.
The group that would later be known as MONO INC started in 1998 under the name MONO69. The name changes around the year 2000. Beginning of 2003 bassist Manuel Antoni completes the line-up. The self-released debut ‘Head under Water’ followed then in autumn 2003. The year 2006 ended with a bad surprise. The band departed from their former singer. But eventually they had an idea and put the drummer and songwriter Martin Engler behind the mic and for him Katha Mia took over drums. As it turns out, the idea to put Martin to the front wasn’t a bad one at all; ever since the band has grown more popular than ever expected. 2007 sees the release of the next record ‘Temple of the Tom’ to be followed only one year later, exactly in June 2008, with the third album ‘Pain, Love & Poetry’. MONO INC. are Martin Engler (vocals), Manuel Antoni (bass, vocals), Katha Mia (drums), Carl Fornia (guitar, vocals). http://www.mono-inc.com/ / http://www.myspace.com/monoincmusic
Music & Performance
Gothic Rockers MONO INC from Hamburg opened the festival one hour after doors had opened. Ever since the release of their third album ‘Pain, Love & Poetry’, the formation which is around since the late 90s, gained lots of popularity and also on this evening singer Martin Engler, guitarist Carl Fornia, bassist Manuel Antoni und drummer Katha Mia could carry the audience away. The sympathetic band started their set with ‘This is the Day’ and singer Martin shared vocal duties with drummer Katha Mia. Still the audience looked pretty reluctant and just watched what was going on up there onstage. It all became more rocking with the second song ‘Temple of the Torn’ which reminded me strongly of THE SISTERS OF MERCY. The audience started to unbend and rewarded the band with remarkable applause.
Wonderfully melodic, but still rocking followed the song ‘In my Heart’ off of the album ‘Temple of the Torn’. Martin’s expressive chant captivated me, while all around me I saw people dancing. As favourite song of the drummer they announced ‘Sick Mind TV’. Subsequently she instigated the current single ‘Get some Sleep’ with a powerful drum solo The people clapped along to the rhythm with raised hands, while the harmonic voices of Martin and Katha Mia sang the lyrics of that catchy song. Sadly the performance already came to an end with ‘Sleeping my Day away’ which became the pinnacle of the performance as we sang the chorus altogether. For all who’ve enjoyed the band: MONO INC will tour Germany together with ASP and SUBWAY TO SALLY this year.
01. This is the Day
02. Temple of the Torn
03. In my Heart
04. My Sick mind TV
05. Get some Sleep
06. Sleeping my Day away
Total: 7.5 / 10
You can call TANZWUT the electronically enhanced alter ego of the not so unknown medieval band CORVUS CORAX. The idea to not exclusively use medieval instruments already came up in 1996 but first in 199 TANZWUT came to live. Many fans who especially liked the acoustic direction of CORVUS CORAX couldn’t get used to the new style, gravitating towards a more industrial metal approach on the recent releases, incorporating the use of more down-tuned guitars, harsher vocals and darker atmospheres. However the band found other fans and now fill big halls, even in Mexico. The most recent output goes by the name of ‘Schattenreiter’, released in 2006. TANZWUT is Teufel (bagpipe, lead vocals), Wim (bass, bagpipe), Norri (percussion, keyboard), Hatz (percussion, key drum, electronic drums, Riesentara, keyboard) and Patrick (guitar, backing vocals, bagpipe, Tromba Marina). http://www.tanzwut.com/ / http://www.myspace.com/tanzwutmusic
Music & Performance
The festival went on in a slightly different musical direction with the Medieval-Industrial rockers of TANZWUT which came on stage with every single of the numerous band members and a shitload of instruments and started a party right away with the first song ‘Ihr wolltet Spaß’. The centre of attention - as always - was singer Teufel with his distinct red horns and they didn’t have the intention of slowing down a single bit with the next numbers, whereas ‘Meer’ and ‘Lügner’ seemed to be the most notable ones and were heavily celebrated. Powerful guitar riffs with various medieval instruments made everybody rock. Everyone in the audience knew the lyrics when the ÄRZTE cover song ‘Bitte, Bitte’ was on the agenda and the masses partied wildly. Underneath a perfect light show, the sudatory show came to an end with ‘Schattenreiter’ from the same-titled album.
02. Ihr wolltet Spaß
03. Merseburger Zaubersprüche
08. Bitte Bitte
Total: 7.7 / 10
CEPHALGY were opening the second floor. Sadly we missed this band. Founded in 1997, as nameless project, the name soon changes to SVEN WEST who also was a member of the project by the time. The name CEPHALGY, which is a Latinization of the German Zephalgie, meaning Headache, came up after the project got signed to the German label Out of line, where they debuted with ‘Engel Sterben Nie’ in March 2004, followed by their second instalment ‘Finde deinen Dämon in October 2005 and the ‘Moment der Stille EP’ a good year later. Their newest coup is called ‘Herzschlag’ which gained a lot of mixed critics from the press. Besides the regular edition, there’s also a limited one available, including a bonus CD with additional tracks and remixes. CEPHALGY is Jörg Göhler (vocals, programming), Ronny & Chris (synths). http://www.cephalgy.de/ / http://www.myspace.com/cephalgy
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 ‘Pray’ and was released in this year’s February. 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
Music & Performance
Meanwhile CEPHALGY had started their set in the smaller hall. I sadly couldn’t attend it as the German Gothic Rock band CREMATORY soon entered the stage after a short rebuilding break. Despite the repeated stylistic change, the band was welcomed with a warm applause. This formation already exists for 15 years with the current line-up being singer Felix Stass, guitarist and singer Matthias Hechtler, bassist Harald Heine, keyboard player Katrin Jülich und drummer Markus Jülich. The mood stayed on a constantly high level during the entire set and the masses celebrated hits such as ‘Tick Tack’ or the classic ‘Tears of Time’.
From the last album ‘Pray’ they performed the title song, where Felix and Matthias alternated with clean and deep vocals. Quite a catchy tune and you can guess what the happened there in front of the stage. The band enjoyed playing, was motivated and rocked the city hall. With the SISTERS OF MERCY cover ‘Temple of Love’ and the ballad ‘Perils of the Wind’ 40 minutes of playing time already drew to a close.
Total: 8 / 10
Diary of Dreams
Formed in 1989 by singer and mastermind Adrian Hates, the project grew from an insider’s tip to one of the most popular bands in the scene and I really mean band, because DIARY OF DREAMS is no mere solo project anymore and meanwhile has become a real band, which is more like a family by now that, with a widely-spread devoted fan base has members in every corner of the world. From the very first flare with ‘Cholymelan’ to the current chapter ‘Nekrolog 43’, a central theme of the music of DIARY OF DREAMS always is the melancholy in all its nuances, but also a gleam of hope, like a fire in the sonic depths, shines through time and again to the present day. Right now the band works flat out on the yet untitled successor to ‘Nekrolog 43’ except some concerts and a few visits at festivals here and there. DIARY OF DREAMS is Adrian Hates (vocals, guitar), Gaun:A (guitar), D.N.S. (drums), Taste (keyboard) and occasionally Torben Wendt (keyboard, backing vocals). http://www.diaryofdreams.de/ / http://www.myspace.com/diaryofdreams
Music & Performance
Simultaneously, PAINBASTARD started in the small hall and DIARY OF DREAMS on the main stage, so it was no tough choice and I kept waiting in front of the stage for my heroes of the evening. Word had it, that (former) band member and keyboard player Torben Wendt was support to deliver a guest performance on this show. They said as replacement for Taste, but after two keyboards left and right of the drum kit had been built up, it became likely I would see both of these fantastic keyboard players tonight. And then they already came on stage: Taste on one side, D.N.S on Drums, Torben on the other side and last but not least Gaun:A and Adrian appeared. It was just great to see the five guys like this. I couldn’t have imagined any better Christmas surprise. The impulsive ‘MenschFeind’ - as Adrian said their “Christmas” song where he had some presents (MenschFeind Shirts) for the crowd - was the opener of a generally fast and energetic set. Singer Adrian didn’t come on stage with the typical outfit from last tour, but with a plain coat, pants and open hairs. Full of power he danced at the stage rim and raised his arms during the chorus, animating the audience to follow suit and with every “MenschFeind” all the hands went up. Gaun:A did the deep background vocals and the additional keys fitted perfectly to the song.
After a warm applause and the first notes of the classic ‘Butterfly:Dance’ suddenly Torben grabbed the mic and joined Adrian at the front to sing together with him. Not only I was wide-eyed and it stayed like this the whole song through. Sadly, Torben’s vocals were a little low (as learned later the band did not even had a sound check); still this duet was hard to beat in terms of verve. Either they stood together or each one on a different side of the stage, it was hard to take in everything happening on stage. Cast under their spell, we still managed to raise our arms and sing “Hello”. Screams and thunderous applause went through the hall. Adrian welcomed the audience and the set went on with ‘Chemicals’ and the splendid drum parts by D.N.S. Adrian sang this song alone again, but Torben’s voice in the background was clearly audible. All around me, people sang along to the chorus loudly. The set continued with rocking guitar sounds and ‘The Plague’, where also Adrian played the guitar.
Gaun:A roamed across the stage, while you had to be worried about Taste’s neck who’s doing the keys and presenting some serious head banging at the same time. The initial calm ‘AmoK’ was presented - like on the “Nekrolog 43 Tour” in a faster and rocking version with Torben still supporting Adrian from the background. The cult song ‘Traumtänzer’ surely couldn’t be missed on this evening as well and together we sang the chorus, towards the end even a few times alone. The mood in the audience was fantastic, when Torben joined Adrian for another duet on ‘The Curse’. Adrian was always pushing him to the small catwalk to show himself to the masses. Even though I’ve heard and saw this song live so many times, it was a very special experience this night with the voices, mimics and gestures of the two fantastic singers.
Too bad we’d already come to the last song with ‘Kindrom’ and again we sang altogether “All the Rebels in the world can’t bring me down”. A deserved and ferocious applause followed and a hugging and bowing band left the stage. Honestly, I could really get used to this constellation!
04. The Plague
07. The Curse
Total: 9.3 / 10
PAINBASTARD started their set at the same time as DIARY OF DREAMS at the main stage. So, this was another band we missed. The foundation stone for PAINBASTARD was laid in 1995 when Alex P. made his first steps into electronic music by buying a synth and experimenting with. His first Promo CD 'Just like Dying' was finished in 2000. The third promo 'Skin on Fire' should become a very special one cause that was the promo which caught the attention of Accession Records. He got a label deal and the album was released in 2003 and got very successful, especially in the clubs. The second album 'Overkill' was released in May 2005 followed by the 'Storm of Impermanence EP' in October of the same year and the next album 'No need to worry' was already released in 2006. It also included a special song called 'Torn' where Torben Wendt of DIORAMA did the vocals. The latest album is called 'Borderline' and also shows the calmer side of PAINBASTARD. PAINBASTARD is Alex P (vocals, programming, production) supported by Alex K. during live performances. http://www.painbastard.de/ / http://www.myspace.com/painbastard
Once upon a time in 1992, there were three school friends that founded a band called COVENANT just for the sake of producing good electronic music. They wouldn’t have imagined that it would grow up to be one of the most successful acts in the electronic music scene today. Albums like the debut ‘Dreams of a Cryotank’ and the following ‘Sequencer’ are classics for every electronic music freak; and together with VNV NATION and APOPTYGMA BERZERK, they’re considered as the inventors of what would eventually be called ‘Future Pop’. On their 2002 release ‘Northern Light’ indeed were some Future Pop tracks like ‘Call The Ships to Port’ and ‘We Stand Alone’ but to reduce the whole album to that genre, wouldn’t exactly do it justice, as it also includes lesser accessible tracks like ‘Winter Comes’ or ‘Rising Sun’, but with the release of COVENANT’s most recent album ‘Skyshaper’ everything seemed to be in tune again for everyone. Meanwhile Clas Nachmanson left the band and sound-wizard Daniel Myer took his place, who had accompanied the band on several live shows before. Right now those sound freaks are working on their next strike COVENANT is Eskil Simonsson (vocals, songwriter), Joakim Montelius (keyboards, songwriter) and Daniel Myer (keyboards, synths, production). http://www.covenant.se/ / http://www.myspace.com/covenant
Music & Performance
I couldn’t attend the next shows on the small stage (ROTERSAND & ABSOLUTE BODY CONTROL) either because of the top line-up on the main stage. But at least our photographer could take a short glimpse on those two fantastic bands. So I was really looking forward the Swedes of COVENANT, being the headliner of the festival two years ago. Eskil Simonsson, Joakim Montelius and Daniel Myer entered the stage accompanied by cheers and applause. As a starter they already had a new song for us with ‘If I would give my Soul’ which was too monotonous for me. Calmly it passed me by without any remarkable details. But the crowd could clap and dance fairly to the sounds of ‘20Hz’ following afterwards. Still, Eskil seemed a little weary, what was rather damping the mood. Also the following ‘Bullet’ was more of a mood killer, actually. But it got better with the classic ‘Go Film’. The driving sounds and Eskil’s and Joakim’s chant made the crowd dance and sing along with them.
Too bad that another ballad was to follow with ‘Invisible & Silent’ which is actually one of my favourites, but not helpful if you have a crowd here that wants to party. So everyone was slowly moving to the rhythm and Eskil’s vocal performance was convincing, but the mood still was on a low level. This was to substantially change with the next song ‘The Men’ and in the further course of the set. From now on followed an explosive set. Especially noteworthy is the great E-Drum solo by Daniel Myer for which he was well rewarded. Everyone was jumping on and off stage. The club hit ‘Stalker’ even more pushed the masses forward, followed by ‘Ritual Noise’ driving the mood to the top. With raised arms and very loud came the traditional closer ‘Call The Ships To Port’ and the crowd literally went wild. All in all the setlist was too calm with too little highlights for such a festival appearance.
01. If I would give my soul
04. Go film
05. Invisible & silent
06. The men
08. Ritual noise
09. Call the ships to port
Total: 7.8 / 10
ROTERSAND released their first EP 'Merging Oceans' in 2003. The EP immediately entered the German alternative charts and also became a big club hit. The debut album 'Truth is fanatic' was released in the same year and expanded the bands position even more. In October 2004 they switched over to Dependent Records and the new album 'Welcome to Goodbye' was released in June 2005 preceded by the single 'Exterminate, Annihilate, Destroy' and followed by the Remix EP 'Dare to Live: Perspectives on Welcome to Goodbye' in 2006. The most recent album is called '1023', named after the hotel room in which the guys lived during their last year's USA tour in Detroit. Both, the album and the preceding DJ-Single 'Lost', climbed up to the top positions of the German Alternative Charts. Meanwhile, their former label Dependent Records had to close down; no reason for the band to be sad, as it was recently announced that they found a new home with the Trisol label and released the ‘I Cry’ EP in September. ROTERSAND are Rasc (vocals, guitar), Gun (keyboard, guitar) and Krischan (turntables). http://www.rotersand.net/ / http://www.myspace.com/rotersand
Music & Performance
There was sadly not enough time to witness the full performance of the band. After I had taken pictures of COVENANT and stayed some more songs of one of my favourite bands, I quickly went over to the small hall to see at least one or two songs of ROTERSAND. In fact, I managed even to see the rest of ‘I Cry’ followed by ‘Exterminate Annihilate Destroy’ and the closer ‘Undone’ where singer Rascal introduced the rest of the band. As far as I could say, the mood during the show was fantastic and people were in dancing mood.
02. Almost Violent
04. Dare to live
06. I am with you
07. Merging Oceans
08. I Cry
09. Exterminate Annihilate Destroy
Total: 8 / 10
In 1999, the first sign of life of UNHEILIG appeared in the form of the first single ‘Sage Ja!’ which became a smash hit in the clubs and stayed in the DAC charts for several weeks. The first album ‘Phosphor’ was released in 2001, followed by live appearances on various festivals and open-air events. The second album ‘Das zweite Gebot’ was released in 2003 and was presented to the fans on a tour together with L’ÂME IMMORTELLE. ‘Zelluloid’, the third album, followed in 2004 together with a tour with Terminal Choice. In 2005, the time had come for the release of a Live CD and DVD. The next regular studio release was called ‘Moderne Zeiten’ and has been released in January 2006. UNHEILIG went on tour as a headliner for the first time to play the new songs live. In 2006, Der Graf (The Count) retreated to his studio to work on the new album ‘Puppenspiel’ released in February 2008, followed by the limited ‘Spiegelbild EP’ which was sold-out quickly. With ‘Puppenspiel Live - Vorhang auf’ they’ve released a live DVD in October. http://www.unheilig.com/ / http://www.myspace.com/unheilig
Music & Performance
As co-headliner of the festival now a band came you can’t get around for several years now. You could tell how much fans they drew only by the almost impossible attempt to get into the big hall. Keyboarder Henning and guitarist Licky came on a stage, decorated in the usual way with the large candle-bearer. After the count in his typical outfit had appeared, cheers went through the hall. With his charismatic deep voice he mostly presented songs of the current album ‘Puppenspiel’ such as ‘Spiegelbild’, ‘Feuerengel’ and ‘Puppenspieler’. My waiting for the announced Christmas show, that is, songs from the Christmas album ‘Frohes Fest’ was in vain, instead we got some classics like ‘Maschine’, ‘Sage Ja’ or ‘Freiheit’ to which the whole crowd went nuts, while the count showcased them in his usual energetic way. Goose bump mood came up with the ballad ‘An deiner Seite’ you can’t get enough of and at the end countless elastic lights were spread amongst the audience to swing them during another ballad ‘Mein Stern’.
All in all, UNHEILIG managed to lay down a solid performance, compelling the fans, but after you’ve seen him so many times some surprises (like the Christmas songs for instance) would have been very nice for a change.
01. Vorhang auf
06. Kleine Puppe
07. An Deiner Seite
11. Sage Ja
13. Mein Stern
Total: 7.4 / 10
Absolute Body Control
When you just mention the name Dirk Ivens, the one thing that comes to most people’s minds is THE KLINIK, but before he became a member of that legendary electronic music project there was ABSOLUTE BODY CONTROL which he founded in early 1980 joined by Mark de Jonghe and Veerle de Schepper. Mark soon left the band after the release of a track on the ‘Blitzpop 1’ compilation and their first 7" single ‘Is there an exit?’ in 1981 and was replaced by Eric van Wonterghem who would remain Dirk’s musical fellow for many years to follow. ABC appeared on several compilations and tapes before they decided to continue the project as a duo. In 1984 both Dirk and Eric became members of THE KLINIK; the latter one left already after the second album and formed INSEKT. Their last tape ‘Tracks’ released in 1989 contained all their compilation contributions. The first and only CD ‘Eat this’ was released in 1993 because of the lasting public interest. After a long time of absence, they played some festival shows in Belgium and Sweden. An album called ‘Wind (re)Wind’ containing re-recorded tracks and a brand-new single ‘Never seen’ has been released on 21st March. ABSOLUTE BODY CONTROL is Dirk Ivens and Eric van Wonterghem. http://www.dirkivens.com/ / http://www.myspace.com/absolutebodycontrolbelgium
Music & Performance
ABC was another band I nearly missed totally. Bad luck for a photographer when you have to be back in the main hall for the first three songs of the following band. So I only had the chance to see (while taking pictures) the first few songs of ABC. Not enough to judge about the whole show. The venue was not that much packed. It seemed really most people were walking over to the main hall to see headliner AND ONE. But back to the show... while Eric was standing behind the keys, Dirk Ivens showed once more his talent as an experienced and very charismatic front man. Who could stand still when this man stands on stage and great electro sounds blast through the PA? I couldn’t - at least for a few songs until I had to leave - and this gig was surely another highlight of the festival.
Total: 8.2 / 10
If the name AND ONE is mentioned in the line-up of a festival or a concert, then wild partying is guaranteed and usually when Steve Naghavi enters a stage, hell breaks loose on and in front of the stage. Songs like ‘Technoman’ or ‘Deutschmaschine’ can’t be missed out on any party and still belong to the fixed repertoire of most DJ’s but only the music excites thousands of people since many years, it’s also Steve’s “special” form of lyrics that always cause discussion amongst fans and press alike. Just remember the text of ‘Pimmelmann’. After a longer absents, amongst others caused through the events of 9/11 and their harsh consequences for Steve Naghavi, AND ONE returned in 2003 with a new album ‘Aggressor’ and three years later ‘Bodypop’ the ninth AND ONE studio album sees the light of day ON 19th December they’ll release a limited 7” single with the name ‘Paddy is my DJ’. AND ONE is Steve Naghavi, Chris Ruiz and Gio Van Oli. http://www.andone.de/ / http://www.myspace.com/andoneofficial
Music & Performance
Meanwhile it was midnight and the big hall became a more pleasant place to hang out again. I decided to watch the headliner AND ONE from the ranks. The stage almost appeared empty without such stuff as glowing letters. Alone the podiums of Chris Ruiz and Gio van Oli had some fluorescent tubes sending out orange light. Besides that they didn’t use much light. Steve Naghavi entered the stage in black jeans, shirt and jacket and proved to the attendees of the festival that you can have a party with AND ONE, so a string of classics followed like ‘Metalhammer’, ‘Technoman’, performed together with Chris, or ‘Deutschmaschine’ making the crowd go nuts. From up there, the jumping masses looked fantastic.
The cracking cover version of PROJECT PITCHFORK’s ‘Timekiller’ couldn’t be missed in this set either and Steve did some pirouette making me dizzy only by looking at it. Like a whirlwind he was sweeping over the stage and spread lots of charm. With a cover version of the ALPHAVILLE hit ‘Forever Young’ they paid tribute to the 80s. Meanwhile, Steve was taking a look at the girls in the front rows and plastered them with praise, so it was no wonder that he brought - during the song ‘Traumfrau’ - a dark-haired beauty on stage, attracted her gently to do a close dance with her. Also the newer songs like ‘Steine sind Steine’ and ‘Military Fashion Show’ made the audience raise their hands, sing along and dance. Again Steve proved to be a perfect entertainer and animator After about an hour this performance was history as well, whereas Steve announced the final release of the highly anticipated and long promised ‘Bodypop 1 ½’
Total: 7.8 / 10
So, the Darkstorm festival ended as a successful event that’s getting constantly better with every year. The line-up was diverse yet the organizers didn’t really risk anything considering which bands were involved.