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Hammerfest VI Day3

Hafan y Mor Pwllheli North Wales.
Day 3 – 15th March 2014.

Starting on stage 2 today were a band I’ve known of, but never seen before, the punk duet from Brighton, OAF. The band is made up of a rather unusual looking pair, the drummer James being smartly dressed in a tweed suit and clean shaven and the bass player Dom, with his hipster beard, long ginger hair and scruffy appearance ,make for an unusual look with their music being equally as unusual as their appearance!

OAF

Maplerun, from Greece, were a real surprise this weekend. The first time I saw them, was when they supported American Head Charge, in Leicester, where I didn’t think much of them really, but after this performance, I stand corrected, again. Being at a much better venue, they really stood out as one of the great bands of the weekend, for me.

Maplerun

Breed 77 are clearly a band whose name is on everyones lips right now, especially after Paul announced he was taking a break from the band, last year. Since then Rui Lopez has done a great job filling in, but much to everyone’s surprise, Paul, the original lead singer is back and here to stay, apparently! However, I’m still to see all the original band in its entirety, as original bass player Stuart Cavilla is currently taking a leave of absence to pursue a new path in music and has been replaced by Ben Edis, from the Nottingham based band Spirytus. We’d like to wish Stuart all the best on his new path and would like to thank Ben for stepping in, so we can all continue to enjoy this great band. One question Ive always wanted to ask and got the opportunity to do so after their set, is why does Danny always wears his skeleton print fingerless gloves? The answer I got was that when Breed 77 had played their first show in Germany, it was so cold that Danny cut the tips off a pair of gloves, so he could still play the guitar but keep his hands warm and his signature look was born and has stuck ever since, so now we know!

Breed 77

Now then, not my usual cup of Earl Grey, but the band Gloryhammer really grabbed my attention this weekend. Falling under the Heroic Fantasy Power Metal genre, they take the audience on a quest into the land of the unknown, were they do battle with elf’s, goblins, dragons and such and boy, what a ride! With the crowd going nuts and wielding their foam swords at each other it was very entertaining and a lot of fun was had!

Gloryhammer

Rock riff lords Monster Truck, from Hamilton, Canada, of all places were a fantastic band who helped to keep the crowd in full flow. In my opinion, they should have played in Corrosion of Conformity’s time slot, but there we are. After Hammerfest, they have continued touring around the UK on Metal Hammers sponsored “Lords of Riffs Tour” along with Scorpion Child and Buffalo Summer, who are both great bands and would have been good to have played at this festival!

Monster Truck

Stoner rock grooves courtesy of Druganaut over on stage 2 came up next, and a band that we fell in love with when they played Hard Rock Hell last November. Originally from Newcastle, these guys are receiving a massive amount of media attention at the moment and for very good reason as they f’in rock! Craig, the lead vocalist, practically stripped off to his underwear tonight, as if to lay everything he had on the line, so to speak and in doing so, he gave us a great view of all his tattoos, which are extensive and are all over his body which is clearly a temple. As for the music, other than Kyle’s slight guitar glitch, which soon got sorted, these guys gave another sterling performance that confirmed we weren’t wrong about them at HRH. We also got to interview the band and this can be found over on our You Tube page.

Druganaut

Kreator, who started life back in 1982 with vocalist & guitarist Mille Petrozza, were the one band everyone wanted to see this weekend and rightly so as they were a worthy headliner and closed the main stage at this years festival. Although, from where I was standing in the pit, I couldn’t see a thing as there was very little stage lighting present, the people I spoke too in the crowd said the light show was amazing from their perspective? Hailing from Germany, a country that’s produced many a thrash metal band over the years, Kreator are arguably the most influential and successful it’s ever produced in the whole of Europe! After signing to Nuclear Blast in 2010, they produced the album “Phantom Antichrist” which has been hailed their best album and has catapulted them back onto live stages since its release in 2012! All I can say is, WOW what a set!

My last paragraph has to be used up on the band Avatar, who were, by a long way, the best new find of the weekend – well for me anyway! By no means a new band, with their inception being way back in 2001, their current line up was confirmed in 2003, some 11 years ago. They are all still relatively young, so they must have been in nappies when they started, no disrespect. Since this gig, I’ve tried to discover as much as I can about the band and learned that they have released four albums in total, but its the last two albums, ‘Schlacht’ and ‘Black Waltz’ where they have really found their own little corner of originality within the metal genre. Ok, the clown facade is reminiscent of both Alice Cooper and Marilyn Manson, but their sound is very much their own. Tonight’s set was extremely theatrical, with lead vocalist Johannes first coming on stage looking like Darth Vader, but ended up looking like a circus ring master and yielding his cane for effect. These guys have an extremely busy summer schedule ahead, playing some major European festivals including Download and Bloodstock in the UK, so make sure you check them out if you see their name on a festival you’re attending and definitely check out their new album “Black Waltz” honestly, I’ve had that album on repeat since I’ve discovered this band, brilliant!

Avatar

So to close, this festival promised a lot and delivered another amazing year. Admittedly, I knew very few of the bands on this years bill, but that was part of the excitement as I knew I’d go away raving about a new band I’d discovered. Although an absolute bitch of a location to get too, once you’re there, its very hard not to enjoy yourself, so until next time, KEEP MOSHING!

Hammerfest VI Day2

Hafan y Mor Holiday Park Pwllheli North Wales.

Day 2 – 14th March 2014.

Today is a full days worth of music, starting at mid-day and going on right through until 3am, so its going to be a long day! Playing stage 2, at 12.55, for 45 mins were “The Bastard Sons” a band a lot of people were excited to see, but unfortunately I missed, that is, until a band pulled out at the last minute and they got asked if they’d like to do another set. Not one’s to look a gift horse in the mouth, they jumped at the chance and created a second set full of songs that they hadn’t featured in the first set. Thankfully, I got to see this second set, which was full of energy and featured some great music, these are definitely a must band to see, live if you can.

The Bastard Sons

HRH house band Attica Rage, from Glasgow, playing on the main stage at 16.45, for an hour and were in usual fine form, and provided us with two great highlights of the weekend. One was getting a great shot of Jonny lead singer/guitarist, who must have recognised me from our interview at last years event, the other was their cover of The Osmonds “Crazy Horses” which I hear, they also included in their acoustic set, held over on the 3rd stage in the strangely named ‘Bonga Wonga Bar’…..mental!

Attica Rage

Idiom, whom I’d managed to interview before their set over on the 2nd stage at 19.55, were very interesting. During our interview, I asked them to describe what people could expect to see at a live show of theirs, to which they had replied “Energy, lots of energy” and boy they weren’t kidding! These guys have played everywhere and with everyone, so they know how to rock a crowd and the music is pretty bloody good too. After, but before they left to go and play another show the next day, they said ‘I know we’re not the heaviest band on the bill, but we gave it everything we had’, to which I had replied, ‘you were heavier than most would have expected and not to apologies as it was great’!

Idiom

Next up, to impress me, were Stormbringer, who I’d first encountered at The Rock and Metal Circus last year. Although I really liked them as a band, the first time I’d seen them I’d though that the vocalist wasn’t all that good. However, with tonight’s set, being on a bigger stage and having a louder PA system, Mike sounded great, as did the rest of the band. I’d say these guys are predominantly southern rock/metal in style, with some amazing riffs and grooves to their music and even if they were up against the mighty Grand Magus, they still had a healthy crowd in attendance.

Talking of Grand Magus, what a set and everyone got out of their caravans for these guys. There’s a point, even with a pint costing on average £3.60, people didn’t really feel the need to venture out of their caravans during the earlier parts of the day, which meant bands at the start suffered with low attendances. I don’t think it helped not having anywhere to sit, as it seemed the holiday park were doing some renovations, which meant people stayed in their comfort zones until the likes of Grand Magus came on stage!

Grand Magus, are a trio from Sweden and are signed to the mighty Nuclear Blast, and having just put out their 6th studio album “Triumph and Power” they were easily one of the best bands of the weekend. For saying there’s only three of them, telling tales of mythical creatures and gods, they pack a punch mightier than Thor’s Hammer! With the crowd in fine voice and pre-empting the chilling wails from the track “Hammers of the North, it really was a chilling moment when the band made it their last track of the night, OOOOOO, OOO, OOOOOOOO!

Grand Magnus

Overkill, the masters of thrash closed the main stage and gave a set capable of raising the dead and rock out. I got booted in the head by a crowd surfer, so I got my shots and got out of the pit quick time, leaving me safe to enjoy watching the remainder of the set.

Overkill

As soon as these guys finished, I shot over to stage 2, where another band of the weekend were Feed The Rhino were about to start. I’d never seen these guys before but lots of people had recommended them to me. As I stood waiting for them to start, I noticed two heavy set stage hands also loitering around the pit, with towels over their shoulders. At first, I thought this a little pretentious, but when the band blasted into action, it all made sense. I’ve never seen anything like it before, the rest of the band are nuts, but having to play instruments, they were a little calmer, but Lee Tobin, on vocals is a mad man! He throws himself around like he’s possessed and relies on his stage hands to keep him alive as he jumps off the stage, barriers, speakers and into the crowd! I honestly feared for my life at one point, but I was so excited at the same time and stuck around to witness the onslaught, incredible! Everyone in the room, which was full to capacity, went away remembering three words “Feed the Rhino”.

Feed The Rhino

Closing out the days music was the band I was most looking forward to seeing “The Vintage Caravan” from Iceland. Having played a show in Ireland the night before, they had taken a short ferry ride over the Irish sea to play Hammerfest in the early hours of Saturday morning, 01.50 to be precise. These guys are hot property right now, however, someone must of forgot to tell the lighting guy this, because when I eventually gave up trying to take shots, I looked over and he’d pretty much fallen asleep! That aside, although slightly less chaotic than the band before, these guys rocked the house with their hypnotic prog rock grooves, and included tracks like “Expand your Mind” which was the track that made me fall in love with this band in the first place. Thankfully, they are all still young and put on one hell of a show, even if it was well past my bed time – f**k, I’m getting old!

Review by Jay Hawkins and Photography by Jay Hawkins (JJ Photography UK) and Nathan Lucking (NIL Photography)

Hammerfest VI Day1

Hafan y Mor Holiday Park Pwllheli North Wales.

Day 1 – 13th March 2014.

It’s Hammerfest weekend, YIPPEE, fuelled by sheer excitement and anticipation for the weekend ahead, we made an early start to what can only be described as our annual pilgrimage to the mecca of metal, Hammerfest held in Pwllheli, Gwynedd, North Wales..

Notice I say we, as thankfully this year, I managed to acquire a hitchhiker or better described as a travel companion, who helped to elevate the boredom that I usually encounter travelling some four hours to North Wales. For the purpose of this review, she shall be named Earache…..who came bearing gifts for our journey, Savage Messiah’s new album “The Fateful Dark” which, while listening to it several times over only fuelled our excitement further, not only for their set, but for the rest of the weekends acts that lay ahead.

Over the course of the weekend, I managed to speak with many of the HRH/Hammerfest faithful, to get their opinion on all aspects of this festival. To sum up, many, if not all still hold the original site for this festival, which used to be held in Prestatyn, a much better venue, for access and travelling too, for the stages and how they were set up, for the indoor market, where you buy all your merchandise from and for the food you could get on site. The only aspect that scored higher, here in Pwllheli, is the accommodation. I never attended Hammerfest in its original location, so I can’t possibly comment, but this is what I discovered and thought I’d share, as I found it very interesting.

This review is going to concentrate on what I saw only, as I was busy conducting interviews most of the weekend WHICH CAN BE FOUND HERE as personally, I missed a lot of the acts that made up Hammerfest VI. I will, however give you an idea of who was hot and what is of any significance. I did have a man in the field, taking pictures on my behalf, who did however do a stealing job at taking some images, which can be found HERE.

On arrival, as always, we were greeted by the lovely PR girls that work so hard to make this event possible, and for whom we are truly grateful for. As usual, they put a smile on my face, but this time, I’m hoping the large quantity of vodka I gave them as a thank you from us here at www.music224.com helped to put a smile on their faces for a change.

The official start time for the festival was 5pm and kicking off this years festival were SKAM, a band for Leicester, which is only a stones throw away from me, and who, up until now, were not on my radar but after that performance, I’ll be looking out for them again. They were a great opening act, who hit us hard in the face with their groovin hard rock flavour.

SKAM

Next up, were a band we had been tipped to look out for by other media types, and who already know as a great band, Fury, from Worcester.

Fury

I was happy to see them on this years bill as they are a great live band, which was confirmed when they “dropped’” their cover of Drunken Sailor and got everyone in the place dancing an irish jig, linking arms and dancing around in circles – great to see and helped to keep the party atmosphere going. We are keeping our eyes peeled on this lot, as their debut full length album is on the horizon, so check out our interview to find out more!

Al - Fury

I missed both Anihilated and Death Valley Knights sets, so apologies for that, but I did manage to see a band that excites me greatly, Savage Messiah. They are such a great live band, so tight live and who always give 110% and that’s sure to get you feeling good! With their new album now available to buy, the set did feature quite a few tracks from it, which Dave Silver (lead vocals/guitar) helped us understand more by giving us a short synopsis before each track.

Dave Silver - Savage Messiah

I can honestly say, as did so many others who I spoke to over the weekend, Savage Messiah are a band going places, they will be big, how big, that remains to be seen but they are great guys, very level headed and you can find out more about the band in our interview.

Joff Bailey - Savage Messiah

Finishing off the first day was Tragedy, a rock/metal glam cover band to ABBA, who were very entertaining. Their outfits were very colourful and they were very funny to listen to, watch and were enjoyed by all, even if it was ABBA covers!

Review and Photography by Jay Hawkins (JJ Photography UK)