So once again it’s time for the Pirate hordes to invade and take over the Hafan-Y-Mor site and by the amount of water falling out of the sky arriving on the Black Pearl wouldn’t have been out of place.
This year the whole makeup of the festival has changed and they have combined Hammerfest and AOR to form HRH United which is definitely not to everyone’s taste. This weekend has always been purely Hammerfest and occupied all the stages but unfortunately as the AOR has taken the main stage, most probably to accommodate the bouffant hair and ego’s, it has pushed the Hammerfest bands and fans to the very Rock and Roll named Bonga Wonga stage.
This alone was not a major issue but the fact that the Doom and Stoner stages were still over near the main stage meant a long walk between bands which meant a lot of missed music. I do feel that the whole layout was not ideal and it seemed to be at the detriment of the Hammerfest crowd: It’s Hammerfest weekend so leave it alone.
It’s reasonably strong lineup for weekend and I’m looking forward to seeing Blitzkrieg, Devilment, Angel Witch, Raging Speedhorn and Orange Goblin amongst others.
I do feel that the whole layout was not ideal and it seemed to be at the detriment of the Hammerfest crowd: It’s Hammerfest weekend so leave it alone.
Thursday night as always is Party night and party they did, the theme this year being Pirates meant many a rowdy crew had come down for a few ales and to get their groove on to the collection of fine troubadours/fiddlers and meatheads shipped in for them tonight.
Getting things going are thrash metallers Incinery who deliver a fast, frantic set filled with huge slabs of shredding guitars and machine gun drumming. Fronted by James Rawlings whose aggressive delivery and stage prowling completes this formidable package they soon whip up the crowd who are now getting drawn into the evening. The stage setup seems to be working well apart from the horrendous lighting rig or lack of it!
Hecate Enthroned have a very Cradle of Filth sound about them as they mix the melodic rhythms of twin guitars and keyboards with the brutal drumming and the ear ripping vocals. Having not heard them before I had nothing to compare to but new vocalist Elliot’s sound fitted in perfectly with the style of their music.
The first of many pirate/folk metal bands over the weekend – Red Rum – seem to have summoned up more pirates as the crowd swells with many a strange sight including a crew of Minions!.
Think sea shanties mixed with drinking songs played by a metal band and you get Red Rum, ‘Make Port Drink Port’ and shouts of drink more drink more and “ooh-arrr me ‘arties” (in a pirate voice) makes for a great set.
Sandwiched between Pirate Metal and Folk Metal, we have a full on Hardcore band, RSJ. A style of music so extreme it can divide crowds faster than Moses can the Red Sea but the hardened Hammerfest crowd lap it up – brutal vocal delivery with hard thumping bass and drums and cutting guitar make this an energy packed set not only for the band but also the crowd.
So now to give the tired necks a bit of a rest Waylander, Irish folk and metal, make for a great combination and these guys hammer it out damn well, it’s not often you see a fiddle and a penny whistle at a metal gig!. Kicking off with ‘Echoes of the Sidhe’, only the sound of the penny whistle gives the hint to the folk side as the music is full on metal, definitely no irish jigging to this tonight.
The final band I catch tonight and one of my faves takes us way back to a time when NWOBHM was as heavy as it got, Blitzkrieg fronted by original vocalist Brian Ross are touring the 35th year of their debut album ‘A Time of Changes’ originally written back in 1980 but due to band splits didn’t get recorded until they reformed and recorded it in 1985.
Brian Ross is a formidable frontman and even after following a decidedly heavier bill delivers a performance that knocks the crowd out and includes the entire album during the set. Ending with their namesake track Blitzkrieg it was an amazing performance.
Review and photos by Simon Dunkerley
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In this two hour special David Randall plays a selection of the GRTR! reviewer choices for ‘Best of 2019′ and announces the results of the popular poll. First broadcast Sunday 22 December 2019.
Featured Albums w/c 20 January (Mon-Fri)
09:00-12:00 AUTUMN’S CHILD Autumn’s Child (AOR Heaven)
12:00-13:00 THE RAGGED SAINTS Sonic Playground Revisited (AOR Heaven)
14:00-16:00 AMBERLY CHALBERG Hi-Line (indie)
Power Plays w/c 20 January (Mon-Fri)
THUNDERSTICK Go Sleep With The Enemy (Roulette Records)
BUFFALO SUMMER Everybody’s Out For No.1 (Silver Lining Music)
ANCHOR LANE Dead Run (R7 Records)
MOLLY KARLOFF She Said (indie)
H.E.A.T. Come Clean (Frontiers)
THE KENDALL COLLECTION Staring Back At Me (indie)
VOODOO RAMBLE Midnight Train (indie)
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