With (hopefully) a painful and debilitating hangover in tow, we forced David Keevill back out into the drinking pits of Hammerfest to report on Day 2 – the first full day of the festival. Little did we realise at the time that one of the band he would see would result in him getting “spermy pants”. Jeesh….
6 things we learnt on Friday at Hammerfest:
1) Hangover be damned, we’re going to get some face-melting heavy metal and get back on the lager before our bodies have realised we’re not pissed anymore. The second stage happens to be geared for some particularly ballsy fun, kicking off with Italian thrashers, Arthemis. The combination of vocalist Fabio Dessi’s enthusiastic good humour and the willingness of the band to throw in a cover of Deep Purple’s ‘Burn’ redeems their fairly unobtrusive set. Conversely, Heaven’s Basement raise seven circles of hell with their hard rocking fare; frontman Aaron Buchanan swaggers with a kind of Robert Plant-esque gait while ripping through some absolute corkers from HB’s first two EPs. ‘Reign On My Parade’ is a particularly raucous highlight, as lead guitarist Sid Glover provides backing vocals that soon have the crowd throwing the words back at them with all kinds of gusto. Buchanan somewhat optimistically calls for crowd surfers during their sample of Rage Against The Machine’s ‘Bullet in the Head’, but regardless of the muted response, the set leaves the crowd moist and wanting.
2) Speaking of moist and wanting, Sci-Fi Mafia bring all kinds of crazy to Hammerfest, complete with fire breathing babes, monkeys with angle-grinders and some massive glowing vagina-starfish thing, apparently known as “The Globot”. Shit knows what the music’s all about, but the band (completed by two Pet Shop Boys lookalikes and Shavo from System of a Down) manage to get even the most dour of metalheads guffawing at this obscure spectacle.
3) It’s a fact that Waylander are better when intoxicated. As a band, they sound like the thing that shouldn’t be – combining downtuned guitars with squealing tin whistles – but actually make a decent case for Pagan metal in a live environment. It’s not long before an early audience gathered at Stage One are prancing round like they’re at a heavy metal Ceilidh. Off the back of Waylander, we’re treated to a top form Chimaira, who are undoubtedly the most crushing band of the weekend. Before you know it, the floor is a swirling mass of circlepits, sucking any unsuspecting metalhead into the vortex. Mark Hunter commands the crowd with the abdominal smash of ‘Year of the Snake’ and roars through a full paced set groaning with the sheer volume of classics that can be found in Chimaira’s back catalogue.
Steve Edmondson of Paradise Lost @ Hammerfest IV - 16 March 2012 c/o Gary Wolstenholme
4) Being one of the few doom-influenced metal bands of the weekend (not to mention having garnered a huge following over their near 25 years of existence), there is a huge weight of expectation on Paradise Lost. Unfortunately, they’re hampered by sound problems from the start, and Nick Holmes looks more than a little peeved by the fartsticks in the photog pit flashing him directly in the face. The set is still solid, and the burdening crush of ‘Forever Failure’ doesn’t fail to rile the crowd, but it all seems a little too late. Paradise Lost, undoubtedly masters of that gothic, doom influenced sound, fail to reflect the sheer immersive and suffocating strength of their music in this cavernous hall.
5) You cannot underestimate the weight that Worship Music has added to an Anthrax live set. Don’t get me wrong, this is a performance that showcases the best of the New York thrashers, but their 2011 release has flooded their setlist with a sea of unadulterated modern classics. Opening with ‘Earth On Hell’ demonstrates the ease and the glory of this material in a live environment; Joey Belladonna may look like a mummified Cher, but he sounds like a wailing hellhound either in giving Scott Ian a run for his money on single ‘Fight ‘Em ‘Til You Can’t’ or building the tension on the foreboding ‘In The End’. As expected, it’s the more well-known tunes that receive the biggest reception from the audience; true to its name ‘Caught In a Mosh’ sees the crowd erupt in a fury of banging heads and windmilling hair, ‘Indians’ gives the chance for a bit of a wardance and closing with ‘I Am the Law’ is a sure fire way to give the TH team spermy pants.
6) From the founders of the Thrash movement, through to the band rejuvenating the scene with a fresh approach to this well-trodden sound. Evile, undoubtedly riding high on the heaped acclaim of 2011 Five Serpent’s Teeth, tear through a set filled with brutal riffs and calloused vocals. As they sound off the night with the fury of ‘Infected Nation’, it’s clear that Evile are still only in the early stages of ascendency. Unfortunately, one too many shandies for the TH team has left us gawping into the urinals, trying to find the fabled Pontin’s lady of the lake. Carriages methinks!