Pick Your Rock and Metal

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

LIVE REVIEW: Day Three HRH Utd: Bastards, pirates, robot, folk and black metal - all in a day at Hammerfest

DAY three of Hard Rock Hell United/Hammerfest dawned to a morning chorus on our chalet block of beer drinking, strange games with croissants and someone playing a collection of pop punk TV theme covers...

Breakfast beer consumed, caffeine delivered by IV, blood sugar levels stabilised with a healthy balance of carbohydrates and protein (beans on toast) the weary band of reviewers and photographers were fortified and sallied forth in search of metal sustenance.

On Stage Two, all the way from Yorkshire The Bastard Sons were alive with riffs to set pulses beating at a higher than could be expected an hour after noon and rampaged through a 40-minute set determined to blast any cobwebs away from the unwary crowd of metalheads.

The quintet have within their sound a slight hint of punk without resorting to any hint of crossover, without losing the musicality, but retaining the right balance including that all-important 'attitude'.

Over on the Hammerfest Stage openers for the day Collibus had a different take on the genre, with a more prog metal groove - yeah that sounds contradictory - however, within the complexities of the songs structures there was sufficient rolling movements to keep the audience attentive.

The Manc five piece have Gemma as the focal point of the stage, while Stephen and Daniel's guitar dynamics are allowed to weave the soundscapes over complex rhythms. Within their music there is something potent that manages to raise the spirits of the early afternoon crowd.

Stage Two offered up a selection of Black Metal in the early evening. Old Corpse Road were first up and visually their waistcoats and well-turned out shirts with faces in corpse paint was arresting. But not half as arresting as their musical onslaught of blackened attack.

The use of keyboards amidst the arrangements was a welcome addition to what has become a sometimes predictable genre; hints of folk sounds permeated the darkness, and they are a group that don't want to have anyone assume what they will produce. A definite discovery of the weekend.

And then ahoy! There be pirates on the horizon (Hammerfest stage actually!)

Lagerstein last exposed themselves to a wide UK tour when they set sail with Alestorm and Red Rum. Now the Aussie marauders are encamped in Europe for the next several months, ready to pillage stages and off licences at will.

This was pirate metal fun with a capital F, raucous and rowdy, with added doses of silliness and absurdity: low flying fiddle players, 'camp fire' singalomgs, and drinking booze from boots.

Making a good case to be one of the bands of the weekend the sense of fun against a solid musical performance brought them to a level many would struggle to match. From the off it really was a 'Pirate Music Party' with the shenanigans ongoing for a solid 50-minutes.

When Captain Gregaaarrr invited all to sit down for a little story, yes the audience did want to 'Drink 'til we Die'. Awesome.

But Evil Scarecrow are not a band to be cowed by anyone or anything that goes before or after them: for they have emerged from an inter-dimensional wormhole in the time/space continuum to warn of us of the ills that face us all.

Some years back the sniffy reviewers did not realise the vision that Dr Hell and co were bringing to this benighted world. Now, all realise that the dystopian future can only be avoided by heeding the Evil Scarecrow message.

Robots? Check. Aliens? Check. Astronauts? Check. Crustaceans? Check. More stage props than a Game of Thrones battle? Check.

To see everyone present making the movements in time to 'Robotron' was made even more enjoyable when Dr Hell cajoled a member of security to join in. Ringmaster Monty Blitzfest walked across the crowd to literally bang his drum...beat that Jesus! And who knew that Brother Pain had three dicks?

With Princess Zelda appearing on stage, the audience practised their moves of thrusting and avoiding - yes game console inspired for 'End of Level Boss'

The entire crowd bowed to the Scarecrow magnificence -  we shuffled left and right to Crabulon almost everyone joining in. It was a celebration of all the madness and glory of metal. Sure it is a gentle poke at the po-faced metal acts; but it is affectionate rather than cynical.

Having returned from the stratospheric trajectory towards the wormole Hammerfest was set upon by the piratical Alestorm. The Scottish (with added Northern Ireland) Pirate Metal crew had loaded their canons and donned their cutlasses ready to be a scourge on the exhausted backs of the audience with another musical endorphin rush.

'Keelhauled' from the off, destined for the frozen wastes of 'Magnetic North' with a brief respite in the warm welcome from 'Nancy Tavern The Tavern Wench' - but the less said about the pizza poop paté pipe the better...

With new album 'No Grave But The Sea' out in May new track 'Mexico' was aired, before the headlong charge through 'Drink', the resultant 'Hangover' and, yes, Captain Morgan did get his revenge.

However, the epic '1741 (The Battle of Cartagena) sounded, and felt, better than ever.

As Cancer rounded up main stage proceedings on the main stage, across the way the aggro-crust punk metal (best description we could think of) were Hellbastard. Entertaining thrash-tinged anger, thought provoking and musically deft.

Given that we were in Wales the furious denouncement of Thatcher's destruction of the mining industry and Tory policies was welcomed with a roar from most people over 40.

It was given over to Waylander to conclude Hammerfest. Arguably among the originators of folk metal the Northern Ireland act sounded fresh and full of the whimsical weight that only they can provide.

Those that had not heard the band before were quickly taken by the 'penny' whistle and melody counterpoint to the heaviness of the band.

Like Alestorm there was a new track that was given an outing and from the evidence of this almost hour-long set Waylander should be banging on the door once more.

With a slight chill in the Welsh air weary metal revellers meandered through the lanes and roads to return to their accommodation, while some kept the party going and others settled into the slumber of happy rockers all seemed to agree that, yes, it was a great weekend.

Review by Jonathan Traynor
Pictures by Lizzie Torbitt

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