Hammerfest 2009 - Prestatyn, Wales, 25th April 2009
|Written by:||Baz Anderson, Boltus|
Hammerfest 2009 - Prestatyn, Wales, 24th-25th April 2009 by Baz Anderson (149)
Hammerfest 2009 - Prestatyn, Wales, 24th-25th April 2009 by Boltus (57)
Saturday morning was exactly not what you would want at a normal festival, rain and more rain. Luckily Hammerfest here got to show off one of it's advantages of it being an indoor festival. Still, the rain didn't last too long and eventually everyone was awake and about. Eventually the sun decided to put it's hat on and allow the metal population of Prestatyn to have a bit of fun riding around on fun-bikes, and just generally have a mess about. A Jägermeister vehicle had materialised over night and an unplugged stage set up on some grass for additional entertainment.
Grand Magus provided the first real entertainment of the day with their heavy mix of metals. The band play a heavy form of heavy metal with some doom and stoner metal influences. The set didn't have a whole lot of pace to it, but of what they did do, they did well.
Hollow Earth Theory
The audience dispersed somewhat for these guys who played a really typical style of metalcore with melodic death metal influences. For such a bad genre of metal to be playing at such a time, they performed their material well, but unfortunately for the band there was a general sense of disinterest.
Hexagram were the next band on the second stage as the main stage was not yet in use. These guys didn't seem completely solid on stage, and it didn't help that even less people stayed around for this set. They played a mixture of death and trash metal, but none of it had much conviction behind it, probably due to the low numbers. They showed some signs of promise, they have the potential to be good, but unfortunately it didn't work on this day.
The band erupted onto to stage in beautifully decorative leather armour plating and chainmail. During the set Heri gave the audience words of wisdom about the equality of all legends and also encouragement to shun religion. To the joy of the female audience, Heri removed his armour half way through the set and played topless. Týr are not a bouncy or fast paced band, rather they do it all in their own pace and over the live speaker system this is an epic experience as if we had gone back in time and we were being told tales by a few Vikings. A few technical difficulties plagued guitarist Terji, but this was made up for with the enthusiasm of bassist Gunnar. Their set-list had an excellent balance of old and new, heavy and mystical, entertaining and emotionally stirring songs.
Set-list (from the paper)
Hold The Heathen Hammer High
Tróndur í Gøtu
Hail To The Hammer
Ramund Hin Unge
Týr's performance would be a hard act to follow, but the sheer number of people that came forward for the set was unmatched by any other band on the second stage. They are young guys, and even without pirate costumes they were real crowd pleasers. Alestorm are in some respects an awful band, their album smacks of musical unoriginality and gimmickry, but in the live environment their set is highly entertaining and worth the time to watch. It is hard not to smile watching an Alestorm set, especially surrounded by a home, British audience. As a surprise, for the last song, Heri Joensen of Týr re-entered the stage for a duet with a rendition of the Latvian Eurovision 2008 entry "Wolves Of The Sea", which as a metal song sounds fantastic, and had an amusing attempt at playing the Key-tar. Watch Alestorm and have fun, they are no gimmick live.
Another band dressed to impress. These Northern Irish men appeared on stage in full blue Celtic war paint in fairly traditional attire with wild hair and Irish accents. The set unfortunately was riddled with technical demons. Their second guitar player already couldn't make it to the show, and so whistle player doubled up as guitar player, but even still for half the set the guitar wouldn't work. Some drunken audience members didn't help by shouting abusive things due to these problems, but when everything got sorted the band were able to play properly and deliver a brilliant set of Celtic folk metal with a few black metal tinges. Waylander are a great band, and so songs such as "As The Deities Clash" from the new album sound fantastic, and of course also "Born To The Fight" with epic crescendo to finish us off. Vikings, Pirates and Celts in a row, who'd have thought it.
When was the last time you got to see Sepultura live? I bet it was a long time ago, and especially if you are a resident of Great Britain. These guys haven't played here for many years and seemed glad to be back. These guys have been through a lot, especially seeing as only the bass player is the only one of the band from back when everyone thinks of Sepultura of. The last two Sepultura albums have however been good efforts, and it was from the latest, "A-lex" that the first few songs of the set came. They sounded great, but there is only one way a Sepultura set can go, and that is to all the past albums that everyone expects songs played from. Ok, wow, it is one thing to say we had a ton of old songs such as "Troops Of Doom" and "Arise", but it is another thing experiencing this crushing machine live. Sepultura don't only perform these songs live, they absolutely rip through them playing them at what seems double the speed they were recorded at, which turns out to be a face-melting and intense experience as the drums are constantly bashed faster and faster. Highly impressive set, Sepultura destroyed us all. One of the best sets of the festival.
It's not a British festival if Saxon isn't playing there. Saxon have a new album out and so have a few new songs to play around with in the set-list. "Into The Labyrinth" is really one of the best Saxon albums for many years, and so it was only fitting that "Batallions Of Steel" was the first song to kick off the set of these legends. The set had many classics from the older albums, but also songs from the new album and recent albums. The audience was perhaps not as loud or active as you would imagine for a Saxon show in Britain, but everyone present had a good time rocking out to these timeless classics that the Yorkshire band play so frequently. Especially considering the age of the band, Saxon are one of the most hard-working and respectable bands out there today.
The only real complaint about the running order was the clash with Saxon and Dream Evil. Fans of both bands will generally like the other, but alas, Dream Evil hadn't been to these lands since 2007 and so they deserved attention. Kicking off with "Made Of Metal" these Swedish chaps brought their "farmer metal" as they called it in 2007 back to British shores. Considering Saxon were playing on the other stage at the same time, the audience was a really healthy size and really appreciative of the band. There wasn't much communication in between songs, but unfortunately they also had to cut their set short presumably due to earlier bands running over. "Blind Evil" was the song dropped from the set-list to my personal disappointment. Still, the band delivered a set that was strangely mostly comprised of songs from their very first album. That would be an understandable move if their later albums were bad, but this is not the case. Whatever the set-list though, Dream Evil delivered a genuinely extremely enjoyable set from the speedy "In Flames You Burn" to the slower, but just as fantastic "Crusaders Anthem". Singer Niklas Isfeldt always has an amazing singing voice, and this night was no different as he soared through these heavy metal numbers. No Dream Evil set would be complete without "The Book Of Heavy Metal", and so with a few screams of "Metal!!", they soon had to leave. For the first time in the weekend, the audience chanted "We want more!", but alas, the band's time was up.
Set-list (from the paper)
Made Of Metal
Fire! Battle! Metal!
Blind Evil (Not played due to time restraints)
In Flames You Burn
Heavy Metal In The Night
Kingdom Of The Damned
The Chosen Ones
The Book Of Heavy Metal
It was late again and Cathedral didn't do much to keep everyone awake. The band stood and performed almost motionless as these doomy anthems shook through the building. Audience numbers were not particularly high, and the people that were watching were not very active either. It was late, people wanted sleep and Cathedral do not play the kind of metal to wake people up. Cathedral are a great band, but tonight they didn't shine.
After delays setting up, Wolf who seem to be getting bigger and bigger in this country after their first real introduction to the country at Bloodstock in 2007. Again, however it was very late at night and many people had gone to sleep or gone home at this point, and even the main stage area looked quite empty. Like Power Quest and Kiuas on the previous day, the sheer late-ness of the set did not to the band justice at all as the audience made almost no noise even when prompted to by the band. It must have been somewhat disheartening for the band after the long wait to finally get on stage, but as previously mentioned the late times of the last band's sets did not do the band's any favours at all, and so unfortunately Hammerfest did not end in any spectacular bang.
And so that was that. The first Hammerfest festival completed. Everyone had a great time, Hammerfest was certainly a success, but not without a few things to consider for the future. Most notably how late some of the bands were set to play which resulted in some great bands, Wolf especially to have a completely shattered and unresponsive audience.
The indoor aspect of the festival was great. The weather was very nice, and so people were having fun outside as well as inside, but had the weather been bad they would have also had shelter. The venue although not looking particularly pleasant from the outside was top-class inside. The stages were brilliant and the sound was mixed perfectly all the time. The marketplace and arcade also helped with the fun over the weekend and lead to an overall brilliant atmosphere through the festival. Two days was the perfect length as three days may have been slightly overkill, the two days had plenty of top quality bands to provide entertainment throughout. Overall Hammerfest was a success, and hopefully the first of many to come! Here's to the future of the Hammerfest in Wales!
Friday, 24/04/09 / Saturday, 25/04/09
Thanks to Duff Battye for accreditation.
Written, and photos by Barry Anderson and Rachel Muir.
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