Day 1 of Hammerfest is traditionally the “quietest” day (i.e., the night with the fewest bands). That didn’t stop our man David Keevill from getting stuck in though….
6 things we learned on Day 1 of Hammerfest V:
1) Last year we had “The Hammer of Thor” and were greeted with inflatable hammers, horns of mead (which, to be fair, punters brought themselves) and Norse metallers Amon Amarth getting a decent slot on the bill. This year, organisers Hard Rock Hell were even more tenuous in sticking to the theme of 2013’s Hammerfest “In Fear of the Dragon” and shuffled out some glamorous ladies on stilts garbed in ‘oriental’ get-up who thankfully sidestepped mimicking any accents.
2) Do we care though? Not really. This weekend’s draw isn’t the flimsy motif or even the sophisticated climes of a North Welsh Haven; we’ve come to see a line-up that on paper reads like a menu of all your favourite international cuisines. Are there satay sticks? Oh yes. How about a burrito filled with Hungarian goulash? Fucking aye.
3) Before we can even make it down to see any of Thursday night’s musical amuse bouche, we’re plied with a bottle of Jager that our photographer Gary wins through the sheer sexual magnetism of his beard and we head back to the leafy Pine Lodge where the once full vessel quickly becomes a distant memory. This accounts for several untoward activities that take place later involving wooden sheep, Tom Dare’s beard and the misappropriation of eggs.
4) Stage Two, in its guise as the “Samurai Stage” tonight is plagued by sound problems. Although the good acoustics of this unusually garish setting initially seem to compliment the meat and potatoes NWOBHM stylings of Vicious Nature and their unremarkable riffs, as soon as Savage Messiah step up, it feels like there’s a lot in the band’s surgical sheddery that gets lost to a wall of fuzzy mulch.
Sacred Mother Tongue @ Hammerfest V - 14 March 2013 c/o Jenn McCambridge
5) Plague of Conscience was one of the strongest ‘trad’ metal albums to be released last year, but Savage Messiah haven’t as yet been able to execute the musical precision and giant melodies that the album promised in a live setting yet. Hampered by the aforementioned problems with the sound, the ballsy riffs and razor sharp licks of songs like ‘All Seeing I’ sound decent but are smothered by the thunderous cacophony of the drums; even the more tentative ‘In Thought Alone’ doesn’t give Dave Silver the chance to show how his vocals have leapt up to match Savage Messiah’s excellent musicianship. In better news, the new track ‘Iconoclast’ sounds feral and indicates a retention of form that’ll surely be demonstrated on their upcoming album.
6) Sacred Mother Tongue are something else. The fact that they are still mostly overlooked by the kind of obnoxious people who need to shout about “how good the emerging metal scene is in Britain at the moment” is bewildering. Stylistically they marry clean and aggressive vocals in a way that Rise to Remain could only ever dream of, as well as having the songs to back this up. The stuff off their upcoming album Out of the Darkness sounds like it’ll only cement this fact. Additionally, their live show tonight is proof of how the last nine years have hardened them into an unfaltering and aggressive visual proposition.