Dark Storm Festival 2012 – Stadthalle, Chemnitz, Germany | 25.12.2012
Every trip to Chemnitz is fun, because I was born in Soviet Union and Chemnitz is a kind of a USSR-island in Germany. So many things have changed, but Chemnitz still looks like a capital of what’s left from DDR. There’s no place like this! Even Carl Marx (or rather his huge head) is still in the town watching the place so no capitalistic wind would come over here. For the very first time I’ve come here in 2008 and thought it was remarkable and… yes, weird how the soviet (oppa Stalin style…) architecture was mixed with the catholic churches and everything here. In other words it was interesting to see Germany still has this kind of places.
Dark Storm is probably considered to be the biggest Christmas dark festival of the country, though it’s traditionally just a one-day event. Probably that’s why you can always expect to see some big names on the bill, Dark Storm has simply no time to let the unknown acts play. This year’s line-up was not shocking but still very nice – SOLTATIO MORTIS, UMBRA ET IMAGO, DIARY OF DREAMS, COVENANT, DEINE LAKAIEN, AND ONE (they seem to be an almost every-year-headliner at Dark Storm, at least I remember them closing the Dark Storm in 2010 and 2008) and several others.
I stayed at the same Mercure hotel as I did 2 years ago, because it’s a really cool place because it’s in the same building the festival is held in. So you can practically just leave your room, have a 3-minutes walk and enter the festival hall. Isn’t that nice? No heavy coats, no taxis, no time spent for the road… Though I still had to go outside once to wait at the press office to get my photo-pass. Unfortunately this time the press routine was all about disappointment and problems. I was standing in a special line for the press and special guests before the office when the rain came. Everybody was cold and wet to the skin in a minute… and they still didn’t open the doors to let us in. Even worse – the press office opened its doors about 30 minutes late. Well I’m used to the fact that sometimes a festival administration can think that the press is not a big deal (and those poor people can stay in the rain in December for an hour), but it was also the special entrance for the guests… and that’s not how you usually welcome your guests, right? Oh well, the great thing is the press guys are not made of sugar, we survived.
Then I was told the photo-passes weren’t ready and I had to wait… I stood there and heard the band ROTERSAND already started to play. Unfortunately when I finally got my photo-pass the gig was over, so my Dark Storm 2012 got started with RABIA SORDA, the second band on the list. Being a side-project of HOCICO‘s Erk Aicrag RABIA SORDA didn’t draw too much attention but still did a nice and emotional 25-30-minute performance.
The next act was SALTATIO MORTIS, also a very common Dark Storm guest. And I must say these guys were the best goddamn band of the whole evening! Let’s just face it – the German folk-rock just can’t be boring and SOLTATIO MORTIS perform like they tale no prisoners! Treating the audience with both the new songs and also some old hits like “Prometheus” and “Spielmannsschwur” the band really raised some major hell and other acts looked not so impressive (if not kind of drowsy) after them. Good work guys, very good work!
In 2005 you could call me an UMBRA ET IMAGO fan, because I loved their album “Memento Mori” and even caught them on tour. To this day I think it was one of the best shows I’ve ever seen, because Mozart and Co were all in their best shape, their music rocked and their infamous erotic (porn?) show was impressive and funny. Unfortunately at some point the band got very shaky, Mozart announced an official farewell with “the last album”, then just canceled his plans and returned to the stage. Why wasn’t I happy about that? All those shake-ups cost the UMBRA ET IMAGO the last “classic” member – the bass player Lutz Demmler, a man who really can’t be replaced. Mozart had to find some new musicians and after all this “not-farewell” he told the press UMBRA ET IMAGO would be a serious band now and there would be no more his famous S&M show, because he wanted his group to be treated like the real artists and not just showmen. If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard this “we-are-serious-musicians” story… I saw UMBRA’s short gig at Wave Gotik Treffen 2011 after that and I was pretty much disappointed with what I saw. I’m sorry to say I wasn’t impressed with the new band’s material, it wasn’t so good as the old one. In addition the band looked weird without their stage show, it all got way too static (I try to avoid the word “boring” for now). Though I didn’t want to make any conclusions before I see a normal-length set and now it was the right time to see it in Chemnitz. Now it’s safe for me to say the new scheme just doesn’t really work for UMBRA ET IMAGO. The new line-up sounds nice, but there’s not much personality in it for me. I was pleased to hear such tunes like “Alles schwarz” and “Rock Me Amadeus”, but Mozart looked kind of tired or at least he looked so for me. The gorgeous Madeleine Le Roy was the only band’s member who really reminded me of the old good times… Well the past is the past, you can’t get it back and I actually liked the crowd was very enthusiastic during the show, so I prefer to think something was wrong with me and it was just another UMBRA‘s incarnation I didn’t really dig. Probably my problem.
DIARY OF DREAMS were next. It wasn’t their best performance and it’s not only my opinion. Pretty much unemotionally they played their usual “best-of” program without any surprises or highlights – “The Curse”, “Kindrom”, “Chemicals”, “MenschFeind” etc, just a “best-of” as I said. I know it would be impossible for any band to make something spectacular out of every gig, but well… Honestly I’ve seen Andrian Hates & Co in a much better shape just about a year ago. Or I’d better say I just got used to them too much? I believe DIARY FO DREAMS had nothing new in their stage presence since 2008-2009 and I’d say they need this “something new” big time now. At least something. All in all it was rather good – and heavy sounding – performance. I noticed they brought their old keyboards player Taste on board again which is a very good omen for the band!
After DIARY OF DREAMS I wanted to pay a visit to the small stage to see FADERHEAD, but I had to cancel my plans because I valued my camera (and don’t forget my life) too much. The small hall was 100% packed with dancing EBM fans and if you’ve ever seen a lot of EBM-people dancing you probably know what I mean – you can’t really tell if they dance or fight and I decided it was better for me to leave than to risk my camera and get into that crazy crowd on my way to the stage. So I got back to the big stage to see COVENANT from Sweden. Synth-pop is not even close to what I actually like and that’s why I don’t have anything to say about this performance. The band was very much alive and happy to be there – that’s for sure!
DEINE LAKAIEN brought their very unusual acoustic program and it was a kind of special Dark Storm set. Suddenly all the equipment was removed from the stage, there was just a piano for Ernst Horn and a chair for Alexander Veljanov. In a very intimate atmosphere the band presented an impressive set-list and got tones of fully-deserved applause.
The frequent Dark Storm headliners AND ONE were the last act and they finished the festival with all the possible energy – and those guys had a lot of it! Unfortunately I’m not a fan and can’t say if the set-list had any surprises, but most of the festival guests enjoyed it very much.
Let’s try to sum it all up – this year’s Dark Storm was good, not without problems, but still impressive and a great way to celebrate another dark Christmas!
Text & pictures : Albert Buchatskyy