Day 3 of Hammerfest is traditionally the “oh my God no more booze NO” day – did our man David Keevill survive?
6 things we learned on Day 3 of Hammerfest V:
1) We like to be surprised. The fiery porcupine that’s been thrashing in our head has now been joined my his mate, but he’s headed direct for the gut and made his residence there thereby ensuring that the idea of having all sensibilities smashed to bits by brutally heavy music is one of the least appealing things in the world right now. Yet moments into Flayed Disciple’s grotesque set these ailments have been forgotten; mixing the frenzied pace of thrash with death metal and sharing Cannibal Corpses’ sense of humour (see track ‘Ejaculate While Killing’), they combine boundless energy with precise, devastating musicianship.
2) For something very different, the main stage plays host to Finnish classic metal outfit Shear. Yes they are female-fronted, enjoy the use of synths and are Scandinavian, but try and group them into the same bracket as Nightwish’s ilk and you’ll end up looking very silly indeed. Vocalist Alexa Leroux utilises a huge vocal range without ever being operatic, adding gravel to her tone and giving a performance that brings her closer to Bruce Dickinson than any lazy [insert symphonic vocalist name here] comparison.
3) Sodom are incredibly tight and show no compromise in their craft as they rattle through classics like ‘Blasphemer’ and ‘Sodomy and Lust’, outstripping every other thrash band that’s played this weekend. Angel Witch too show that they have retained their musical nouse, but whereas Sodom’s assault retains a timeless and unrelenting approach, the ‘Witch just feel a little outdated. The New Wave of British Heavy Metal has been taken into the stylistic milieu of bands like the thrash-hybrid Savage Messiah, leaving many of the less conspicuous NWOBHM originators sounding like they’re dragging the weight of nostalgia around with them.
4) Hell is missing a circle tonight and it has somehow wound up in North Wales. Candlemass, despite never having recovered the form of their earlier work, are still one of best live propositions in the blacker-than-thou doom. While half of their set is from last year’s middling Psalms For the Dead, it sounds much more convincing in a live environment, especially the spoken word intro of ‘Black as Time’. Thematically, everything is bleak yet there’s a huge amount of warmth in Mats Levén’s Dio-esque vocal delivery and the band’s dense guitar work.
5) If Candlemass push towards the more grandiose end of the doom scale, then Saint Vitus’s flavour of slow tempo, crushing fare is about as different as they come. Stripped down and entirely without frills, Saint Vitus play sauntering riffs that reek of marijuana and swamp gas. Dave Chandler’s guitar tone is thick and distorted beyond belief giving Wino’s vocals the room to wander their own emotive path through the debris of broken relationships and unjust existence. Henry Vasquez punctuates every torn lyric with slow, monltihic drumming, emphasising the monstrous crawl of the music’s pace.
6) Napalm Death arrive with a lurching jolt following the suffocating drone of the evening’s major doom acts. Sickeningly frenetic, Barney belches suflur against the disorientating backdrop of Napalm Death’s set; there’s a lot from latest album Utilitarian which sits comfortably against the more entrenched bastions of their back catalogue. The late billing for the band sees the arena emptier than it should be, but the godfathers of grindcore waste no time in decimating the crowd that remains.