Hammerfest VII – Metal Marauders
Hafen Y Mor, Pwllheli, North Wales
Photographs and Overview by Mia Metall
On the road again! This was my second year attending Hammerfest and the 3.5 hour trip to our cosy caravan by the sea had begun on Thursday Lunchtime.
The festival has seen some changes from it previous formats and has now involved HRH. Hammerfest used to be spread across to stages in the main concert hall and the Boardwalk but instead this year was moved to the pub down in the Caravan Park leaving the HRH part of the festival to take on the main stage and HRH Stoner, Sleaze and Doom to take over the Boardwalk.
We pulled into Hafen Y Mor campsite just after teatime eager to get checked in. Hammerfest is no normal metal festival. The festival takes places on a Haven Holiday site with the stages that normally stage men in tiger suits and over excited children’s entertainers, instead hosting the very best underground metal bands!
Each party gets a static Caravan, Apartment or Cabin to share with their rocking pals and it is all very civilized with a nice Bedroom, shower toilet and Kitchen don’t even get me started on the Living room, Fire, TV and DVD player! HEAVEN!
We arrived just in time to head back to The Mash and Barrel pub that hosted the Hammerfest stage, to see RSJ.
RSJ are a band from York with a groovy metal sound. The band brought energy to the traveling metalheads, with fast beats, powerful vocals and a energetic performance.
Appearing animated on stage, their punchy brand of dissonant riffs, grimy riffs and vocal diversity was an alarming way to open.
After a few beers and pizza from the on site Papa John’s the next band up was Blitzkrieg.
Blitzkrieg are initially from Leicester formed in 1980. The current line-up is Brian Ross (vocals), Ken Johnson (guitar), Alan Ross (guitar) and Bill Baxter (bass) . Mick Kerrigan (drums) has recently parted ways with the band and they are due to make an announcement soon regarding his replacement.
Ross is the only remaining member from the band’s founding. The old school performance included many songs from the 1980s and also their namesake tune famously covered by Metallica.
Melodic NWOBHM vocals and crunchy proto-thrash riffing led to beers raised in approval by the old school brigade.
Next up this weekend for me was Winterfylleth.
Following some technical difficulties the band opened their set with a wailing violin present throughout their set creating plenty of atmosphere along with the dark green stage lighting and the black metal riffs of the Manchester band.
New guitarist Dan Capp fitted in well with the aesthetic created by the plain black t-shirts and swirling heritage sounds of England.
Elvenking livened things up with their folky power metal, complete with violin and face paints! The band’s mixture of genre kept a varied set which was well received.
Their unique makeup added some interesting variation compared to what had been seen earlier that day, and the Italians certainly impressed and won over some new fans
A chilly stroll from the pub, up through and past the sites lakes, complete with pedal boats shaped like swans and zip wire.
Over to the Boardwalk where the Doom night was in full swing. The Boardwalk also held the “metal market” an array of stalls including New rock and retailers of Patches and Merchandise, Kreepsville and banned, handmade and silver jewellery.
Diesel King played the doom stage.
With a blend of dirty sludge and down tempo heavy metal, the band played tracks from Concrete Burial and acid-tarpit.
It is great festival music, with their heavy, crushing beats and cutting guitars that could have well sliced some ear drums in half!
After a rainy few days the weather cleared nicely for a Sunny start to Saturday. After sampling the delights of VIP Caravaning and a sausage sandwich made my way upto the Main stage HRH to catch some White Widdow
Next on the HRH stage was Reach.
Reach are a hard rock band from Sweden seemingly with all kind of influences, particularly Europe! But the roots are mostly 70-80s hard rock.
The band seem quite fresh faced but the foundations are good if a classic hard rock sound is your thing.
Gleeming pop melodies may not have struck a chord with the more extreme attendees, but meant that the songs stuck in the minds of all newbies to the band
Sedulus are from London.
They have their own mix of stoner rock/ psychedelic space rock and progressive rock and metal and were well suited to the Stoner stage in the boardwalk.
Hypnotic guitars were molded together by free, jazzy drumming before being layered by a unique, atmospheric vocal style.
The song “Pilgrim” was especially memorable for it’s grungy sound.
Sigirya are a Stoner metal band from Swansea. The songs are mostly about time, space and earth.
A walk back across to the Mash and Barrel to watch Skalmold.
Skalmold are a viking folk metal band. A catchy and energetic set went down really well with the audience and must of won the band many new followers who soon caught onto the lyrical content and joined in with the traditional folk like see shanties.
Amongst the pipes and typical folk elements, the guitars added a more doomy, dissonant flavour, with various vocal styles showing a range of influences from the orthodox to the extreme.
Lead melodies broke up any cliches and chugging riffs suggested some power metal tones in the mix aswell.
After a short break, and a Burger King, yes the site even has Burger King, I dropped back into the Stoner stage to watch Hang the Bastard
The West London metallers combined the best of fuzzy riffing and wicked themes whilst still showing a forward thinking approach.
Their next show is at London’s Desertfest so if this sounds like your bag, catch them there!
A quick jog back over to the Hammerfest stage to catch me some Raging Speedhorn
Originating back to 1998, the Corby sludgercorers are now the most popular they’ve been in a long time.
Kicking off with “Knives and Faces”, grabbing the audience who were soon well into the set and enjoying Dungeon Whippet, a hardcore metal band, formerly riding the new metal wave of the early noughties and are well worth checking out again.
Orange Goblin followed their pals onto the stage to carry on the audiences good vibes.
Their doomy stoner metal went down amazingly as usual and even now on their 8th studio album, the band continue to go out there and make the stage their own with humbling thanks and excitement.
Joe Hoare’s dexterous riffing provided the basis for some soaring, festival perfect vocals to soar over. Bluesy solos also broke up the more moody sections that were awash with choral guitar work and some fluent drumming
With all the excitement, someone somewhere got something wrong and we were left without water! So after nipping back to the “house” to use that wonderful en suite I ventured back out for the closing
A smoke filled stage started the evening with the usual theatrics for Hell.
The occult metal bellowed through as David joined the stage, whip in hand, covered in blood and with a crown of thorns.
Epic keyboards and guitars, supported by prowling beats and chromatic riffing won over fans in the ritual like atmosphere created by the elaborate as usual stage props and eccentric front man.
Despite having a few years on some of the other bands playing, they showed more than ample energy!
It wasn’t long before he was up on the crowd barriers casting out the sins of audience members. The band took to the stage to thank everyone for turning out, making the joke of it being a Haven site…. and they are Hell… It’s Haven and Hell!
The theatrics continued with explosions, billowing smoke and lights.
All in all the weekend was a lot different to the usual Hammerfest set up, but the metal acts still made it a really enjoyable weekend and of course the happy little metal community enjoying their spring holiday on the beach.