Rockharz - 2011

Text: Tobias Nilsson Photo: Lunah Lauridsen

Gone are the epic images of templars and fighting men as they have been replaced by a much more contemporary Resident Evil looking story-line. Even with this, Hammerfall could still boast the enviable position of headliner here on the second day of Rockharz.

Yes, it was now time for what Mikael Stanne of Dark Tranquillity had called “my old band” as his present band had played moments earlier on the other stage. Now we were in front of the Rock Stage, and when I say we I of course mean myself and the thousands of others who had shown up to watch the concert.
And so the countdown began...
Literally, as Hammerfall kicked off with the opener of their Infected album, Patient Zero, which you may or may not know begins with the sound of a scream, things breaking, an alarm ringing and a female voice counting down. Just as on the album, the band went straight to it with playing the song. At this stage, I was mostly surprised by the lack of stage utilities and the members close to normal clothing. Normally this is a band which doesn’t hold back on the special effects, but this show was scraped down almost to the bone and Hammerfall would have to rely solely on their songs and their own performance to deliver the goods.
Well, Hammerfall are old in the business by now and they have tons of experience to pull from, so there was no cause for worry here; the band clearly still had a lot of fun on stage even without their usual set of toys!
Apart from all the posing, which was quite considerable I can tell you, most of the audience interaction was of course at the hands (or should I say lips) of Joacim Cans as he chatted us up between the songs and orchestrated the sing-along’s within them. One example of the former was when he explained the history of B.Y.H. (which stands for Bang Your Head) from the latest album by telling a story about how he would sit in his room and jerk off while listening to Saxon’s Strong Arm Of The Law album, which was apparently his first metal album...
A good example of the latter, and a far less disturbing one than the one I just told you about, came during Let The Hammer Fall where we all had our vocal-chords stretched to the limits (well, if you don’t do it to the headliner, when will you do it?) as we shouted along to the familiar words which makes up the foundation of what this band is.
Cans was also proud to announce, and say thanks as well for the fact that the release of Infected saw the second top ten placing on the German charts in the bands history, which goes to show that the fans are there for them no matter what. Or that the new album is really, really good (I have only heard what they played live so far, so I cannot pass any comments about that...).

“Good evening templars of Germany!”
- Joacim Cans (vocals)

Even though the band might have left that imagery behind, at least for a while, it was clear that the fans had not. Out in the middle of the crowd I could see a man swinging a very large hammer overhead, created by what looked to be cardboard and tin foil.
That the fans had very clear thoughts about what they wanted to hear as well, and what they wanted was the good old reliable stuff which they had heard a million times before. And they weren’t holding back in sharing these thoughts; in fact, the shouts for Hearts On Fire became so persistent at one point that Cans commented; ”You want Hearts On Fire? You know, fuck Hearts On Fire!” after which the band went on to play The Fire Burns Forever instead. This was of course said with tongue in cheek, and the fans’ prayers would later be heard, but not until after the band had left to simulate an encore...
I already mentioned the sing along’s above, but another prominent feature of audience action was the enormous amount of crowd surfers sailing by throughout the show; this particular activity is not one I’ve seen so popular at earlier shows by this band which normally more lends its power to shouting and headbanging, but obviously the German fans were thrilled enough to want more than another night with sore throats; this was one very enthusiastic crowd!

I myself was not as enthusiastic I’m sad to say...
No, no, don’t get me wrong; I had a great time, and I too was singing for all that I was worth. I just think I prefer this particular act with the special effects and all the gear, that’s all. The performance itself didn’t lack anything, it will just not rank above an average night with the boys for me.


Patient Zero
Any Means Necessary
Blood Bound
Fury Of The Wild
Let’s Get It On
Crimson Thunder
The Fire Burns Forever
Last Man Standing
One More Time
Hearts On Fire
Let The Hammer Fall

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