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ConcertsHammerfest V – In Fear of the Dragon - Day Three 03/17/2013

Posted on Monday, April 22 2013 @ 00:39:53 CDT by Dean Pedley
Heavy Metal Completing our extensive coverage from this year's Hammerfest festival in North Wales, the final day saw yet another diverse mix of metallic genres across the two stages. The glory days of the original NWOBHM was represented by veterans Angel Witch, influential Swedish doom metallers Candlemass returned to the UK and, bringing the event to a suitably cacophonous conclusion, were legendary grindcore pioneers Napalm Death.

It has been little more than nine hours since the music stopped on the previous evening / morning but there is still a healthy turn out for the ear-splitting demented duo known as Oaf. The tongue in cheek drum and bass combo are always good fun and when they enlist the help of Evil Scarecrow's Dr Hell for 'Fuck Off Seagull', their hymn to the pterodactyl of the sea, Hammerfest is united in showing its appreciation with middle fingers raised firmly aloft. Meanwhile over on the main stage a mere handful have turned out to endure Norwegian shredder Commander-In-Chief. You can put the painfully obvious lack of stage presence and weedy vocal effort down to inexperience but there is also much work still needed in the song writing department.

Driven have been making waves in the underground metal scene with some monster grooves and they pummel out the riffs with brutality and aggression. It is not just about the mosh pit however as they get the crowd whipped up to form a mammoth conga line. Iron Maiden and Judas Priest have influenced more bands than we care to mention and Monument, fronted by former White Wizzard vocalist Peter Ellis, are the latest in a long line. The song structures may be predictable but the format never gets tired providing it is well executed and they give a solid display.

Bull-Riff Stampede are really making an impact amongst the British Metal scene and today they proved why. This was a frantic, calculated metal tsunami of riffs and power getting the place buzzing from the offset. Dave Garnett has a Rob Flynn quality about him, his stage presence making you look up and take notice. An excellent set, tighter than a nuns nether regions ensures Bull-Riff Stampede have a long career ahead laying waste to venues as they progress. Another group of British Metal hopefuls go by the name of Def Con One, again forging a path and flattening venues along the way. They march through a set of soon to be metal classics winning many new fans; the bastard child of Fear Factory and Slayer they make quite the impression. Blasting through the excellent P.A. system like a bout of last night's curry through the colon it is good to see British Metal is in safe hands with another spectacular display.

Numerous members have passed through their ranks over the decades but Angel Witch, who formed way back in 1977, are still led by irrepressible guitarist / vocalist Kevin Heybourne. The classic sound of their 1980 eponymous debut still endures more than thirty years later and signature song 'Angel Witch' prompts a huge crowd sing-a-long. German thrashers Sodom are also pretty long in the tooth but their aggressive assault shows no signs of slowing down. War, death, hell and of course 'Agent Orange' are pretty much par for the course with this manic trio across an hour long set that takes no prisoners.

With their difficulties in the front man department made very public, it's good to see Candlemass have returned strong with Mats Levén possibly saving the band from a premature demise. Their doom infused set is simply excellent, whilst not brimming in the energy department the message is clear. Latest and possibly their last album Psalms For The Dead is well represented and it would be a shame if it was to be their swan song. With a vastly improved performance from that I witnessed at Bloodstock a few years ago it was a pleasure to see them back strong.

Saint Vitus remain one of the leading exponents of American doom metal and launch into 'Blessed Night', one of four songs in their show to be taken from 2012's Lillie F-65. Their wall to wall feedback drenched fuzz grabs the main stage by the throat and is relentless in its execution; they deliver an extremely tight set and we would expect nothing less from one of the elder statesmen of the genre. The hour is late and many have retired to their chalets but there is still time for Mark Davies, Sea of Tranquility's very own Encyclopaedia of Metal, to make a shiny new discovery…

As I amble through the Metal Market searching for more vinyl the band on stage are making quite the impression. Mos Generator are the band of the weekend for me, their 3 piece southern groove captivating me. Tony Reed's vocals swathe through the venue and is a pleasant respite from the weekends metal assault. With guitar solos throbbing from the P.A their massive groove takes hold and grabs the attention. Awesome set by a band I've let slip through my fingers for far too long. And so finally we come to Napalm Death, like a fine wine served by a hairy builder are a stalwart to any festival. Playing what seems to be 60 songs in their set Barney's stage antics are now legendary. As he twists and contorts his body around the stage the Hammerfest hardcore lap it up. A sprinkling of tracks from latest album Utilitarian mixed with some old classics keeps everyone happy while they trudge back to their accommodation.

Hammerfest V was yet another great example of how to put on a first class three day festival. Leaving aside the bands themselves the event offered a superb atmosphere and the chance to simply enjoy some excellent music in the company of friends old and new. With Hammerfest VI – Book Of The Dead now on sale for March 2014 the metal hordes have already begun the countdown.

Words by Dean Pedley and Mark Davies
Images by Rob Nankivell of Shoot Plymouth
Images of Bull Riff Stampede and Commander-In-Chief by Mark Davies

Thanks to Claire, Jenny and all at Chic PR

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