Day 2 of Hammerfest is traditionally the “keep drinking through the hangover” day – we wonder how our man David Keevill is holding up?
6 things we learned on Day 2 of Hammerfest V:
1) Getting up on a gargantuan hangover to listen to heavy music means that the band you’re doing so for better be worth it. Unfortunately Deadman Sugar, a fairly non-descript outfit from Chepstow, nearly see us tearfully heading back to bed. Their thrash-tinged delivery is bullish but entirely repetitive and even their “standout” track, ‘Stix & Stones’, shows no real movement away from the 80s Bay Area template that numerous bands try to innocuously replicate.
2) Hard Rock Hell’s continued elevation of certain so-so bands to their line-ups is baffling. There are names on the bill today that only ever seem to appear at HRH organised events; Italian power metallers Arthemis are one such band. Their sustained prominence at these things must surely be down to some heavy duty nepotism since their whole set lacks any real conviction or interesting delivery. The only minor redemption is in the fact that their frontman grins throughout with a kind of gratitude that only a man who has sidled his way onto a decent live slot must have.
3) Alternatively Triaxis, who appear over on the second stage, have songs that are swollen with full-bodied bombast and dissected by chugging riffs and precision solos. Frontwoman Krissie battles through a sore throat and delivers Rainbow Rising-era Dio vocals even on the less notable songs in their set. Closing track, ‘Black Trinity’, closely follows in the footsteps of Maiden in its guitar structure but does absolutely no shame to its influential forebears, proving to be the highlight of the afternoon.
4) Enslaved’s ‘Thoughts Like Hammers’ must be the longest opener of the festival. Do we care that their stunted set is punctuated by two huge songs off their new album? Not in the slightest. RIITIIR is every bit as much the crushing, sprawling and often melodic piece of music in a live setting that it is on record; the clean vocals, notably on the majestic ‘Roots of the Mountain’ create vast, beautiful areas of respite in between the bleakest segments of black metal.
5) The unkind whispers about Hatebreed’s expected belatedness tonight turn out to be true. As Jamey Jasta reveals midway through their disappointingly-short set, that they were stalled at Heathrow before making their transfer to Manchester, it becomes apparent to the audience that they are going to have to make the most of what they get. Consequently, pockets of windmilling limbs explode throughout the main hall as the ‘breed prove how the endless recreation of the same record has not left them blunted in a live setting. After Bloodstock, there was very little need for the band to prove their mettle as one of most intimidating live acts to follow, yet they do so anyway, albeit in a heavily condensed timeframe.
6) Jaz Coleman is every bit the harbinger of doom that he was when Killing Joke mauled their way onto the scene in the late 1970s. Not a metal outfit in any real sense of the word, Killing Joke still prove themselves to be the heaviest and most disorientating band that have ever taken to a Hammerfest stage. From the dizzying electronica of opener Requiem, through to the tumbling, fretted barrage of ‘This World Hell’ and the zany pulsating ‘Love Like Blood’ the diversity is vast but all very notably produce of Killing Joke’s hungry, distrusting three decades as musicians. The undiluted honesty found on record is tangible here, as Jaz pours brimstone onto every taut lyric, his maniacal eyes darting across the crowd as he lives the persona of paranoia that KJ’s music has come to encompass. It is sensational and the audience are rightfully exultant.