Having to work is a bitch. In the case of Hammerfest 3 at Prestatyn this was particularly true as the need to earn a living meant that I missed out on the fun and frolics of Thursday’s musical offerings. With performances by great bands like Mordecai and Graveyard (who I’m dying to see after hearing their stunning debut album) I’d much rather have been there than stuck in front of a laptop.
I was also particularly pissed off as the awesome Triaxis were playing and by all accounts they stole the show with a set which included tracks from their debut “Key To The Kingdom” album, some new songs such as Sker Point and Severed Sanity and even a cover version of Iron Maiden’s The Wicker Man that people were still talking about the next day.
At least they didn’t play my favourite track of theirs, Aurora. I’d have hated to miss that…
Oh, hang on, they did 🙁
I arrived to join up with the rest of Team CB on the Friday Morning and we made sure we were at the third stage to see one of the hottest new young bands in the UK, The Mercy House and they were even better than when I last saw them late last year. By the time they finished their brief set the largely hungover crowd was definitely beginning to nod it’s head. It was also good to see that Drew and the band didn’t let the fact they were on stupidly early dampen their enthusiasm, and it showed.
An excellent way to start the day.
Blackpool’s hotly tipped Ravenface were on next but after the polished classic rock of The Mercy House these kidz with their ill-fitting trousers and shouty / clean metal was a bit much for the assembled crowd and they never really seemed to get fully into their swing. I’m sure the earliness of the hour and the largely, erm, more mature audience didn’t help though.
By now it was now time for Idiom to open the second stage with what was described to me before the gig as Rock / Rap crossover…. So I wasn’t expecting much.
But fair’s fair they were damn good fun and I must admit I enjoyed their set although I do suspect I’m not exactly in their target demographic. The same goes for Never Means Maybe who followed Idiom and proceeded to have a bloody good go at blowing any remaining cobwebs away. Massive energy, massive hooks and just massive fun. Now neither of these two bands are the type of thing I would pop on to listen to at home but they certainly kicked off a real party atmosphere here.
A couple of months ago I saw The Treatment in Sheffield and they seemed a bit flat and just didn’t do it for me, but here they were like a totally different band. The spark that was missing last time was there in buckets and the band seemed faster, tighter, heavier and were obviously having a great time in front of the substantial crowd they attracted. Why not check out the video we shot of Shake The Mountain?.
After The Treatment I headed off to see the second half of Holy Grail’s set on the Main Stage. Now I don’t mind admitting this is a band I still don’t entirely “get”. I mean I’m sure they are very good at what they do but, to be honest, I can never be sure if I’m supposed to take them seriously.
So I don’t.
If I want to see “novelty” 80s metal, I’ll watch Enforcer and there was much better “proper” 80s metal to come later.
Anyway so far there had been some good bands and some distinctly so-so ones but no one had really set the festival alight for me. But oh boy that was all about to change with the first set of the day that slotted squarely into the “brilliant” category, courtesy of Gibraltar’s best (only ?) alt-metallers Breed77. This was clearly someone that quite a few people were here to see and it’s fair to say no one went away disappointed.
From the moment they opened with Forever Hammerfest really got going for the first time. Hell they even threw in their cover version of The Cranberries’ Zombie for good measure, and the sing-along with that had to be seen (or rather heard) to be believed.
After that I caught a few minutes of Sylosis doing their Thrash thing on the main stage before heading back through for Revoker who had impressed recently in their slot supporting Rob Zombie, and were on top form again here. It’s always a good thing when a band writes songs so catchy that you remember the lyrics after hearing them played live once and Revoker managed this with the ridiculously good sing-along chorus of Psychoville.
Yet another great band from Wales, must be something in the water…..
Godsized should have been on next but unfortunately a tyre on their van blew out in Spain and they missed their flight. I watched a bit of Wolf on the main stage but it just wasn’t the same 🙁 .
“Battle Metal” silliness ensued next as Turisas brought their uber-theatrical show to North Wales. This is a band with a loyal following (judging by the number of people who had painted themselves red and black to match the band) and a smelly one (judging by the number of people still wearing it the next day). Track titles like The March Of The Varangian Guard and Stand Up And Fight give you an idea of what to expect and if you take away all the paint and warrior gubbins Turisas are still a brilliant folk-metal band with some great anthemic songs and a knack for mixing non-metal folk instruments (like the violin) into their sound. Oh, and by gods they know how to put on a spectacle.
I absolutely loved it.
Any lesser headline act would have probably been a little nervous about following Turisas onto the stage, but I doubt THE most Metal band in the world get nervous about much. Accept only do one thing, but by ‘eck there is no one who does it better.
Accept are a band who have been revitalised by the addition of vocalist Mark Tornillo. Now there are some bearded idiots who say that this isn’t really Accept as original vocalist Udo is no longer with them but from the moment they open up with Teutonic Terror (from their frankly brilliant Blood Of The Nations album) you know that Tornillo is the perfect front man for Accept in 2011. In addition he brings something else to the band, a genuine lack of any rockstar ego. I were impressed by this when we interviewed him beforehand and it manifested itself on stage when he would stand at the back clearing the way for guitarists Wolf Hoffmann and Herman Frank to do their thing.
Accept know exactly what their fans want, and by god do they give it to us tonight. This is Heavy Metal in it’s purest, most uncomplicated form played by a band who are clearly delighted to be back and are absolutely on top of their game. On a bill with bands like Wolf and Holy Grail who doff their cap’s squarely to the 80s Metal scene tonight Accept did what they do, what they have always done, better than anyone else. There was more Metal in their encore of Fast As A Shark, Pandemic and Balls To The Wall than any other band managed in their whole set. We captured Starlight on video and you can watch it along with other stuff from HF on the YouTube Channel.
Hell I’m pretty sure I saw CackBlabbath’s resident emo-chick Kat having a little headbang during Bulletproof 🙂
At Hammerfest things don’t finish with the headliners and “Latin Metal” band Ill Nino followed the German masters onto the main stage and proceeded to put on an impressive show. Live the band are an odd mix of Nu-Metal and Sepultura which sounds like it shouldn’t work but kind of does. Well I enjoyed them anyway and judging by the action down in the pit I wasn’t the only one.
And STILL it wasn’t over as NWOBHM survivors Blitzkrieg brought the days entertainment to a close on the second stage. Now back in the day this is a band who more or less passed me by but tracks like I’m Not Insane marked them out as being worthy of further attention.
And so it was that our first day of Hammerfest 3 came to a close. Could day 2 possibly top that ???
Words – Iain