After an unforgettable three days, it was time for the grand finale. There had been some impressive performances across the two main stages but for fans of old school Thrash this was the big one as German legends Kreator brought Hammerfest VI’s main stage proceedings to a conclusion.
Prior to the band’s arrival the stage is set, literally, with a Phantom Antichrist artwork inspired stage set, with the smoke machine going into overdrive and the scene bathed in a cold, blue light. The Hammerfest faithful do like their classic thrash metal, and pretty much everyone still standing was rammed into the main stage arena.
And then Kreator arrived on stage, lit the blue touch paper and sent the place MENTAL. Opening up their masterclass in Teutonic thrash with the title track of Phantom Antichrist.
No frills, no fuss and no fucking about. I have always considered Kreator to be the pick of the European Thrash bands, our answer to the Bay Area domination of the 80s scene, and nothing I saw at Hammerfest has dented that opinion. Tight, precise and heavy as fuck, Kreator blew all of the young thrash pretenders away as they whipped up the weekend’s biggest circle pits and demonstrated that they’re not quite ready to give up their crown yet.
I’m pretty sure the band were impressed by the response they were getting early on too, as Phantom Antichrist segues into From Flood Into Fire frontman Mille Petrozza and bassist Christian Giesler share a look that says “bloody hell, this is insane !!” (in German, obviously).
You’ll have to excuse me if I wheel out the “if the band have slowed down or mellowed out over the past 30 years it doesn’t show” cliche but whereas the other big names of the veteran thrash scene may trade on former glories, Kreator are a class apart and in the form of their lives.
The Setlist is a rocket ride through an unrivalled 30 year back catalogue, from the very early days of Endless Pain (was that really three decades ago) bang up to date with a generous helping from the new album, with the new stuff more than holding its own alongside the classics.
There are albums in everyone’s lives that lead them down new musical paths, and for me Pleasure To Kill was one of those… and seeing the band ripping through the title track mid-set was one of those proper hairs-on-the-back-of-the-neck moments, possibly topped only by the encore of Flag Of Hate.
Honestly, the live music experience just doesn’t get better than this.