Article and pictures by Arto Lehtinen
Hammer Open Air is basically a new festival on the map of Finnish summer festivals. The first Hammer Open Air festival was arranged last year and headlined by Pagan Altar, Grand Belial’s Key, Urfaust, Devil’s Blood and of course had tons of other killer names. The line-up of this year’s Hammer Open Air was pure cult from the beginning to the end. The long time occult black thrashers Absu out of Texas made the first ever visit to Finland and so did the gore death metal legends Autopsy out of San Francisco. In general, Hammer Open Air is a real authentic festival of the most extreme death/black bands for all the extreme black death metal worshippers. The festival ain’t any massive event although the event was completely sold-out. Over 1000 maniacs had arrived to testify a number of great bands. Here is the brief article of the Hammer Open Air festival.
FRIDAY – THE FIRST DAY
Caught In The Between was definitely an odd choice for Hammer Open Air. The band’s jokes seemed not to appeal to the audience. Especially the drummer with a horsehead looked nothing, but stupid. Besides the music or whatever of CITB was more or less uninspirated whatsoever thrash, even though the cover tune from Paradise Lost “Eternal” being in the set sounded solid. Sorry guys, wrong festival for you.
The Austrialian metallers Gospel Of The Horns literally blew the main away by doing the excellent the thrash – meets- motorhead type of stuff, only beer was missing. The Australian four piece literally hammered the songs down to the audience leaving them gasp for the air. Tight riff and the nasty thrashing whipping outburst by the frontman Mark Howtiser crowned the punkish unleash of Gospel Of The Horns at Hammer.
When the Australian brutal beerthrash had finished, the Frenchmen Mortifera kicked their gig off in the indoor venue. The mellow and melodramatic metal with the obvious black metal influences were quite complicated to embrace. Songs were quite long and constructed with the complicated riffs and approaches. The singer’s agonizing singing style and performance were quite boring in general.
Primordial has been extremely successful here in Finland. The Irish folk metallers fronted by the charismatic frontman Nemtheanga has been one of the leaders in the pagan folk world. The man literally captured the audience with a magical and dominating grip. The set was pure blitzing huge with the intense passion by Nemtheanga. The set was the true Primordial show consisting of the newer material and of course these older known Primordial hymns such as “Heathen Tribes”,”As Rome Burns”. Even though the new album titled “Redemption at the Puritan’s Hand” has been the light of day, but not that many songs got played. Once again the frontman Nemtheanga’s stage presence was strong as hell leaving other guys of Primordial in the static roles.
The Finnish black metal dominated at Hammer Open Air. One of them was Alghazanth playing uncompromising black-ish metal, surprise surprise. Even though the band has undergone several line-up changes, but still sounds vicious and nihilistic. Even though the band has maintained the nihilistic sounds, but the the way how the band looked was less true as cult.
The Inquisition set delayed app. 20 minutes for a reason unknown. When the US black metal two piece unleashed the blackish hymns, the sounds were truly convincing. For a reason or another the sounds were reminiscent to the soundworld of Immortal. Both the frontman Dagon and drummer Incubus ripped the audience apart by offering both the older and of course material, the gig was the pure black magic from the beginning to the end for the crowd despite the delayed start. Inquisition’s songs are not only based on the total circular sawing, but above all hooks and catchy melodic parts are the essential ones in the songs of Inquisition. Although Dagon was basically the one and the only member, but his character filled up the stage.
Another Finnish black metal band named Baptism being kind of mystery and belonging to the black metal underground for years. Baptism did a strong set by playing songs for example “Malicious Rites”. The singer with the long cowl appeared to be more a mysterious monk with the creepy corpsepaints. Both Viktor and Wrath from Enochian Crescent made a guest visit doing “Morbid Wings Of Sathanas” and obviously a new song.
Finally Proscriptor and Absu was managed to drag to Finland. It truly took some time, but the show proved it was worth of it indeed. Proscriptor’s drumset had been placed in the front in the same line as the bassist and guitarist. The set offered all the essential Absu songs with the furious and full of aggressive grips. The second album “THE SUN OF TIPRARETH” got played from the beginning to the end. Of course other killer tunes such as “Manannan, Never Blow The Eastern Candle, Highland Tyrant, Swords And Leather” were these legendary Absu tunes played at Hammer. Proscriptor behind the drum kit was phenomenal and showed the pure tight playing with the tiredless passion. As some kind of surprise can be said that the current bassist Ezezu handled most of the singing parts along with Proscriptor and he did that extremely well. Absu was literally on fire and in flames during the 90 minutes. The three piece did an outstanding set of the occult black/death thrash and spellbounded Finnish audience entirely going beserk. Welcome back Absu.