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ConcertsHammerfest V – In Fear of the Dragon - Day 1 03/15 & Day 2 03/16 2013

Posted on Friday, April 12 2013 @ 16:02:58 CDT by Dean Pedley
Heavy Metal From the team that are behind Hard Rock Hell comes Hammerfest, the second of their annual events held in a holiday park in North Wales and now in its fifth year. Catering very much for those with an ear for the heavier end of the metal spectrum it offers a real opportunity for younger bands with a captive audience of several thousand metal hordes keen to check out something new. Alongside the up and coming talent is a mix of veteran names that this time around included headliners Killing Joke, metalcore merchants Hatebreed and, fresh from their North American dates, Norway's black/prog metal titans Enslaved.

Indoor festivals are an absolute masterstroke; they conveniently bridge the gap until the larger outdoor events later in the year. What they also provide is an opportunity for the more 'seasoned' or less able bodied Rock/Metal fan to get to a festival without the challenges of outdoor camping, which in the UK is a hit or miss affair.

Thursday

Warming us up for the main two day event, Thursday had a selection of bands on the second stage, this proved to be one hell of a night. The Goddamn Electric were first up with their full force noise attack, Tommy on vocals distributing free CD's like Frisbees. Receiving a warm welcome, the crowd nodded heads in approval. I almost lost my bowels to the thunderous bass rumble of Dyscarnate, this P.A system is certainly going to kick some ass this weekend. Black Acid Souls kept the momentum going as the beer was flowing freely as the weekend got underway.

Ex- Members of Marshall Law and Cloven Hoof showed their Metal credentials with new project Vicious Nature. Andy Pyke pulling the poses and really showing the young ones what stage craft is all about. Excellent set from these veterans who prove that experience certainly does count for something. Replacing no show's Jaguar was the metal veracity of Savage Messiah who put in an all-out Metal attack ripping up the pit. These guys were good, very good and it fuelled even more alcohol consumption by the hungry fist pumping Metal Heads. Flavour of the month Sacred Mother Tongue impressed the crowd with their sublime performance. Front man Darrin South and guitarist extraordinaire Andy James really getting into the grove of Hammerfest. Airing tracks from their new album 'Out Of The Darkness' their set was a tight ship which sailed majestically into the North Wales darkness. Sister Sin brought some pyro and eye candy courtesy of Liv on vocals, like an all-out Panzer assault these Gothenburg bruisers laid waste to stage two. With their no-nonsense Rock N' Roll the place turned into a biker bar within minutes. If you like your rock greased up and served by a hot chick, Sister Sin deliver. Retreating to our chalet we awaited the next day's festivities of Metal!

Friday

One of the first bands to make a strong impression on Friday are rising Welsh metallers Triaxis. With the festival being on their home turf there is a bumper crowd gathered at the second stage and the quintet do not disappoint with fifty minutes of dramatic vocals, finely tuned riffs and galloping tempos. Recent album Rage & Retribution has won them many new admirers and in 'Sand & Silver' and 'Black Trinity' they deliver a pair of modern metal anthems that were guaranteed to lay waste to Hammerfest. Channelling the spirit of the undead the Iron Knights have risen from the ashes of Stuka Squadron and their bloodthirsty display offers a rousing call to arms. Not just a band with a mere gimmick these guys can truly play and they have some great songs to more than match the image.

RSJ had spent almost a week building a backdrop, sadly in a reverse Spinal Tap moment it was just too damn big to fit onto the stage. Their performance was incendiary, bringing the venue to its knees with their Red Bull fuelled set, Dan on vocals hurling himself onto the barrier in enthusiastic exuberance. Attica Rage are continuing their rise in popularity as is evidenced by the very strong turnout on the main stage for their hour song set. Full throttle new album 88 Mph has a sound that is big, ballsy and beefed-up and the Scottish rockers succeed in transferring this into the live environment. The chants of "Attica Rage!" are ringing out long after they exit the stage and we are left in no doubt this is band that currently have some real momentum behind them. German power metallers Iron Savior have the unenviable task of following them and do a solid job with their direct Helloween / Queensryche influenced material and the powerful vocals of Piet Sielck right at the forefront of an energetic performance.

A mere eight months since their debut gig Absolva have made huge strides on the UK metal scene, something which is more than apparent from their high slot on what is a competitive line-up. The duelling guitars of Chris Appleton and Tom Atkinson work their magic and Absolva's set is nothing short of a triumph and one of the weekend's genuine stand-out moments. 'Code Red', 'From Beyond The Light' and the epic 'Empires' leave Hammerfest in no doubt that Absolva on well on their way to becoming a metallic tour de force. Bringing some Southern Wales and NOLA to the stage were our good friends Lifer, Scriv almost losing his eyeballs with a vocal performance bordering on classic. Their Southern Rock meets Doom was highly anticipated and they certainly delivered with new boy Sam fitting in perfectly on bass duties. Big things are on the horizon for Lifer and performances like this justify the hype. With their bass guitars 'lost' in transit, Destruction put in a workman like performance with a notable German efficiency. Having not played that much on these shores Stage 1 was packed as the Metal riffs flowed through the venue. Excellent to see them again proving that their hunger for the live arena is still very much alive after all these years.

Hatebreed were late, very late but they put what time they had left to good use as bodies hurled over the barrier like a WW2 trench. Jamie Jaster is a formidable front man who receives respect from the packed house joining him to jump like possessed horror film extras. The set comes to an end all too soon as the time slots are adhered too, much to the displeasure of the sweaty crowd. With their latest album RIITIIR riding high with critics and fans alike Enslaved's live set was sheer class. The combination of Norwegian Black Metal meets Prog was a revelation and captivated the Hammerfest faithful from the start. With a career spanning set delivered to perfection the balance was perfect as we witnessed it from our press vantage point it truly immersed us in the Enslaved experience.

That Winterfylleth are good at what they do is not in doubt but their particular brand of black metal is so bleak, tortured and downright depressing that getting through their fifty minute set proves to be a test of endurance for both band and audience alike. Main stage headliners Killing Joke have enjoyed a resurgence of fortunes over the last decade and notoriously temperamental frontman Jaz Coleman appears in good spirits as he leads the band through signature songs 'Love Like Blood', 'Eighties' and 'Pandemonium'. Gelling together like you would expect from a band of their vintage, Killing Joke are in commanding form.

The hour may be late but the Hammerfest crowd still has a thirst for more live music and fortunately there are two incredibly diverse and talented bands still to come. Blending Armenian and Greek influences into the conventional rock band format, Viza are a revelation. The seven piece band has a style that is both invigorating and irresistible and after twelve hours of headbanging and throwing horns the audience lets off steam with much locking of arms, swaying and general partying to their unique set, the highlight of which is a raucous cover of The Doors 'Alabama Song (Whisky Bar)'. This band will be welcomed back to the UK with open arms and are a sure-fire festival favourite.

There aren't many bands that can persuade Sea of Tranquillity's intrepid team of reporters to wait up until 1.30 am but Nottingham's Evil Scarecrow are one of the chosen few. When did black metal become this much fun? From the moment they take the stage the outrageous five-piece are in inspired form and they choose Hammerfest to launch a new song, dance and tinfoil / papier-mâché character by way of the mighty 'Crabulon'. With pincers in the air the metal legions are eagerly scuttling to the left and scuttling to the right and yet still have the energy to dance like robots for 'Robototron' and link arms to perform the can-can during 'The Final Countdown'. Evil Scarecrow provides the ultimate feel-good ending to a long day and no one will have left disappointed.

Words by Dean Pedley and Mark Davies
Images by Rob Nankivell of Shoot Plymouth
Images of Viza by Jay Hawkins of Music224.com


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