Friday starts with a much drier morning with a bit of sun to burn those retinas open, also no doubt some massive hangovers as the over-indulgent among us get over their first night adrenaline/drinking sessions. Theycan be no better to do a stint in the Doom/Stoner/Sleaze stage as it kicks into life for the weekend.
Looking at the lineup it has some great bands on and this morning it opens up with Doom, a style that takes the deep heavy bass lines and fuzzed out riffs and chills them down to a more relaxed pace but still keeping the cutting vocals and heaviness in there.
Gurt dragged themselves out of the sludge in 2010 and Gareth Kelly and his mob have shown their latest album does doom at its best.
The ever increasing glassy eyed crowd are having their cells rearranged this morning by tracks like ‘Sludge Puppies’ and title track ‘Horrendosaurus’, an awesome set.
After the swathes of doom from stage 2 we get a proper wakeup call from the Hammerfest stage in the form of The King is Blind, old school death metal fast and furious.
Following them are awesome sets from Winterfylleth and Elvenking and while not huge crowds yet more and more people are dragging themselves over and shaking off last night’s hangovers.
Swedish thrash metallers Darkane are on the experimental side and mix thrash with the dark side of death metal along with melodic metal and produce a sound full of huge shredding riffs and vicious and also melodic vocals.
A full on set that kicks off with the title track from their last album ‘A Sinister Supremacy’ which sees Mackrory’s vocals slip seamlessly from the gut churning growls to the melodic style. A well received and impressive set.
Certainly my set of the weekend came from Angel Witch and although with only one original member, Kevin Heybourne, still sound as fresh and powerful as ever. They last appeared here a few years ago and played a great set and tonight was no different, with most of the set coming from their debut album ‘Angel Witch’ including the title track ‘Angel Witch’ which had the whole crowd chanting the chorus “You’re an angel witch, you’re an angel witch”. Walking out of the show one reveller stated “That’s Hammerfest in one band and it made this festival”. Says it all really.
Thrash metal is taking the festival by storm this year and Xentrix were at the forefront of the scene back in the 80′s having only reformed back in 2013 and now with three original members the band are true to their roots and most of the set comes from the earlier albums ‘Shattered Existence’ and ‘For Whose Advantage’.
Great riffs and twin guitar work between Astley and Havard and standout tracks like ‘No Compromise’ and ‘Crimes’ shows how great a genre Thrash Metal was and still is and how good this band still are, only a stone’s throw from being a Megadeth back in the day.
Kamelot led by founder member Youngblood are due to release their 11th studio album ‘Haven’ in a few months but surprisingly none of the tracks were played in tonight’s set.
With Karevik taking over the vocal duties since Khan departed back 2010 I enjoyed the set and performance as did the packed crowd.
Sean Tibbets was very visual whilst thumping out the bass lines and the vocals sit cleanly on top of the melodic riff-laden metal with plenty of solo licks from Youngblood. Finishing off the set with the epic ‘My Confession’ and ‘March of Mephisto’ it was an outstanding set.
Tonight’s headliners Hirax have been on the scene since 1984 and despite a number of issues over the years reformed back in 2000 and have released three albums since then under the leadership of vocalist and founder Katon W. De Pena.
Now for the first time they are bringing their speed thrash metal to the UK for a countrywide tour and tonight is the first date of the tour, kicking off with instrumental ’100,000 Strong’.
Next up ‘Helion Rising’ the first of a number of tracks from the 2014 album ‘Immortal Legacy’ which shows the continuing strength in the writing of the band, ‘Black Smoke’ and ‘Earthshake’ follow. De Pena and his men provided an amazing set of classic thrash to end the night on a great high.
Review and photos by Simon Dunkerley
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Featured Albums w/c 25 January 2021 (Mon-Fri)
09:00-12:00 ART OF ILLUSION X Marks The Spot (AOR Heaven)
12:00-13:00 THE DEAD DAISIES Holy Ground (SPV)
14:00-16:00 TED & MAJELLA Divine Timing (indie)
Power Plays w/c 25 January 2021 (Mon-Fri)
THE WEDDING PRESENT We Should Be Together (Scopitones)
MIDNITE CITY Crawlin’ In The Dirt (Roulette Media)
JOSEPH WILLIAMS Never Saw You Coming (Mascot)
ALEX JAMES BRIERLEY Go With The Flow (indie)
THE UNDERCLASS The One (indie)
MASON HILL DNA (7Hz Recordings)
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