Hard Rock Hell United Friday Review

GurtSo the usual “Lets just take it easy for the first night” never happened, but we’ve recovered and first up on the Boardwalk stage it’s time to kick off all things doom and stoner.

If we weren’t quite awake, then a double header of Gurt and Spider Kitten is sure to get us going again. Actually, what the hell, let’s have a beer and get straight back into it!

Gurt have some mammoth sludge cuts but they “Don’t like being called just a doom band”

That’s cool with us, two of them have white t-shirts on so they’re basically the S Club 7 of sludge anyway.  They rattle off their songs beginning S with some clatter however and we are well and truly back in the mix again. A 12 hour marathon of heavy music (and the odd stroll over to AOR ) has begun…

Spider Kitten delight us even more with some feedback soaked dirge as they clatter along through their set of heavy hitters and it’s reassuring to see that there are plenty of others in attendance early on this first full day of music. There are some familiar faces on stage for Spider Kitten which is a common theme throughout the day. These doom bands like to share their members around a bit, it’s like a big swingers club. Or maybe not quite like that.

Spider iv

Our first stroll over to the AOR stage of the day introduces us to Psycho Kiss. Front woman Helen has a feisty stage presence and a powerful vocal and the band as a whole are a mighty fine opening act for the stage. Tracks like ‘In Your Groove’ and ‘Red, White and Gold’ sound great on the big stage and the South Wales lot keep a healthy crowd throughout their set. The band invite the crowd to film the show in a buck to current trend but it’s all in aid of making their new video. We’ll look out for ourselves down the front…

Psycho Kiss

Over in the VIP lounge we’re getting set up for an afternoon of laid back acoustic delights from some of the bands appearing over the weekend. Getting things kicked off were Night X Night, a band we were looking forward to catching in their all-electric glory all the more after watching them nail it on the acoustic stage.

Bonafide Live at HRH UnitedAnother HRH regular that are usually pretty high on the “do not miss” list are HRH house band Bonafide. The Swedes are presently undertaking a monster tour in support of their last album, Denim Devils and we’re treated to a couple of cuts from that opus here. Bonafide are always great fun to watch wherever they are playing and as it turned out this was one of the most enjoyable sets of the day.

Nice to see Pontis taking it easy, sticking to orange juice. Well as he said he’s not 21 anymore.

Brilliant, and it wasn’t to be the last time we saw Bonafide this weekend.

TKIBOpening up the  Hammerfest stage for the day is The King Is Blind. This band are rapidly becoming one of CB’s favourite up and coming bands at the minute and it won’t be long until they can stop being the opening band of the day and start climbing the fesrtival bills. Similar to their opening show at Bloodstock, the crowd is pretty sparse to begin with but as soon as some death-ridden riffs and Steve’s growl starts to erupt from the stage, the punters take notice and move towards the stage.

The King Is Blind are getting ready to release their debut album and we get some tasters from that. Some of the set is so good today that someone shouts “Play that song again!” but the band have plenty of mammoth tracks up their sleeves and ‘A Thousand Burning Temples’ still sounds terrific to us.

Staying faithful to the Hammerfest stage, next up are the awesome Winterfylleth. A no frills band who let the power of their music grab everyone’s attention. Soaked in green light, their crushing atmospheric metal – as usual – has everyone mesmerised. And as usual they take it in their stride, seemingly unaware of just how splendid they are.

Tigertailz Live at HRH UnitedBack over on the Acoustic stage 2/3rds of Team CB were looking forward catching Tigertailz after their storming set the night before. Judging by the look on Jay Pepper’s face we were looking forward to it a lot more than he was. As it turned the Matt-less ‘tailz didn’t quite live up to the expectation and their short set was politely, rather than enthusiastically, received.

Our last band of the day on the Acoustic stage were Vega, and we thought that was that for the day’s proceedings on there. Alas it turned out we were premature in our departure as The Poodles (more on them later) also played a blinder.

Diesel King are the last doomsters of the day and they hit Wales hard. The first thing you notice about Diesel King is frontman Mark. The phrase “Brick shithouse” comes to mind…

Diesel King

Yep, quite a formidable looking frontman then. You don’t find ’em looking like this over at the AOR stage, you know!.

There’s more to Diesel King than gargantuan arms though. Wheeling out some riffs that sound as though Anselmo and co. would be proud of them, the band are a stoner/doom delight to close up the  first half of the day. Forceful, in your face and maybe just a little bit scary too. They top off a afternoon of doom in style.

Night x Night Live at HRH UnitedWe’ve been long overdue another appointment with Night X Night, and judging by the packed crowd in the AOR stage we weren’t the only ones keen to catch the guys in their natural environment.

Night X Night are a band who definitely have all the tools in their musical arsenal to go all the way. The band have a unique and distinctive personality on stage, and it doesn’t take long to see just exactly why they are being so hotly tipped.

Over on the Sleaze stage next for some familiar names. Things kicked off with States Of Panic, who appear to have had something of a style makeover. This was another band we were looking forward to after States Of Panic stole the show at Les-fest a couple of years back but here they don’t quite manage to repeat that feat.

Falling Red bring along some props to brighten up the place a bit. A couple of trash cans puthering out smoke ups the expectancy a little bit for the next dose of sleaze. As usual Falling Red are great, a proper rock band to let your hair down to and are the first band of the day on this stage to put on a visual show as well as some kick-ass music. Taking tips from early Buckcherry, Backyard Babies and a bit of Wednesday 13 they have a perfect rock show under their belts. Big sing-along bits on tracks such as ‘Come On Down’ get the crowd involved. Things are hotting up!

Angel Witch Live at HRH UnitedThe Hammerfest faithful do love their legends, and as UK Heavy Metal names go, there are few more legendary than Angel Witch. The band have been around, on and off, since 1977 and like may of their NWOBHM contemporaries they are still going strong almost 4 decades later. Angel Witch never enjoyed the successes of their morw illustrious contemporaries but at Hammerfest they’re among friends as they roll back the years with style. The look on the band’s faces for the massive sing-along to Angel Witch was a joy to behold, they’re clearly having as much fun as ever.

The only problem with catching Angel Witch ?? Well that was the horrendous clash with The Poodles over on the AOR stage. One of those “we need to be in two places at once” clashes.

The PoodlesThe Poodles came highly recommended from a member of Team CB who couldn’t make it to Pwhelli this year, so we trudge over to the AOR stage to find out what all the fuss is about. We’re pleasantly surprised by what we find too. Not that we don’t trust our colleagues or anything…

It probably helps that The Poodles are a bit more heavy metal than the average band on the AOR stage. Sure they have the right look to sit comfortably alongside Vega and Dare, but the Swedes have an epic melodic metal sound that Team CB can easily stand and watch all day. And then you have frontman Jakob. The complete rock frontman in all departments. Dressed to impress with his sparkly cod-piece, rock star sunglasses and long flowing hair. The crowd are immediately put under his spell as he unreels all the frontman moves in the book.

Next up on the AOR stage are Starz. After the glitz and pomp of The Poodles, Starz look out of their depth and quite frankly… out of breath. A sharp exit over the bridge is called for…

Now then, you can’t have a Hammerfest shindig (or any shindig) without some proper thrash! It’s a good job Xentrix are here then. They’ve had a little bit of time off over the years but these guys have true thrash pedigree and they look just as happy to be on stage as we are to be rocking out to them. Massive tracks like ‘Reasons for Destruction’ may not be household names compared to tracks from bands that have shared the stage with Xentrix, but they still sound killer. With a fast paced light show, a little show boating and a whole lot of riffing, CB decides to grab a beer and enjoy this one. A cracking show from the Preston thrashers!

HCSS 2Although it’s not always easy to tell on these type of never-ending festival days, the undoubted headliner of the sleaze stage tonight is Hardcore Superstar.  The Swedes hit the ground running opening up with ‘We Don’t Celebrate Sundays’ and the momentum rarely stops from there. An swathe of classics come Pwllheli’s way with ‘Dreamin’ in a Casket’ also rousing the crowd into a joyous sing-along.

Jocke’s energy levels seem everlasting as he paces around the stage, jumps into the crowd and keeps everyone pumped. Vic peels off the guitar licks and along with Martin they are all smiles tonight as they avoid the whirlwind that is Jocke as he is apparently everywhere all at once tonight. Adde is just a big mass of hair behind the Superstar kit.

Songs about drinking always go down well so ‘Last call for Alcohol’ is a sure-fire winner tonight and the party is ramped up to the max with the hard-hitting ‘Kick on the Upper-class’ too. There is a broad range of rock fans in attendance at this festival due to the new “United” approach, but they all look happy to be partying with Hardcore Superstar. As are CB; a brilliant set from Jocke and the gang.

Stop StopWhat a sight to behold StOp sToP are! The biggest hair of the festival has to go to Danny Stix behind the drums, it is huge. Not to be outshone, frontman and bass slinger Jacob has all the feather boas in the place and with his grinning painted face he makes poor old Vega to his right look a bit under dressed. Not that he is of course. They pull out one of the performances of the night with their lively show being just what everyone wants at this time of night to perk us up a bit. A bit of goose-stepping metal is always a key ingredient to a good night.

Their self -titled ‘Stop Stop’ is a fine protest song towards the end of the set and they manage to draw it out for longer than some bands whole sets too.

Not sure what the folk in the pizza shop thought of their axe-wielding visitor though !!