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Thursday, 22 March 2012

Live & Dangerous: Hammerfest Day 1

Hammerfest Day 1 (Pontins Holiday Village, Prestatyn Sands, North Wales)

The Metal Hammer organised Hammerfest reared its head again and this year’s headliners were thrash titans Anthrax and Welsh ragga metals Skindred. After the 4 hour trip to get there we arrived in the middle of the afternoon so I missed Kyrbgrinder but got accommodation sorted and then went back to catch some bands.

Spriytus (Queen Vic Stage)

Funk-metal band Spriytus were the first band we saw and they played a good set of RATM like metal with the occasional cover thrown in to add to the mix (the inclusion of MC Hammers Can't Touch This with its slightly altered refrain of "Stop. Hammerfest" brought a smile to your face) there was nothing out of the ordinary about this band but for an enjoyable band to get slowly drunk to they scored points. 6/10

Heaven's Basement (Second Stage)

Having been around for a while and changing both name and line-up frequently I was looking forward to Heaven's Basement. Unfortunately I should have seen line-up changes for the omen it was as they were nothing more than mediocre Velvet Revolver-lite with many bands i.e. The Treatment doing a much better job of the classic hard rock sound they were trying. 4/10

Paradise Lost (Main Stage)

British miserablists Paradise Lost opened with The Rise Of Denial and proceeded to play a 'greatest hits' set relying more on their faster material from Icon and Draconian Times onwards rather than their slower doom-laden stuff. The juxtaposition of their songs and the way frontman Nick Holmes addressed everyone as 'campers' shows the innate sense of British humour that lies behind all of the gothic darkness. An excellent set from a British institution that should have had longer to show their full repertoire. 8/10

Anthrax (Main stage)

Always the underdog of the 'Big 4' Anthrax's reunion with Joey Belladonna has meant they have slowly become one of the elder statesmen of metal. Kicking off with two tracks from newest album Worship Music the band have no intention of looking back on former glories by coming out of the blocks with two modern tracks before due fully opening the floor with Caught In A Mosh. it's this seamless blending of new and old that is Anthrax's strength and their downfall as much of their set sounds very similar, punk-edged thrash with Belladonna's powerful vocals thrown over the top. Their cover of Antisocial came next causing more craziness before adding another two tracks from Worship Music that were split by the still-fucking crazy Indians (which had to be started twice because of the crowds inability to war dance correctly) before the main set closed with classics Medusa, Deathrider and Among The Living. The entire band played excellently (despite Belladonna still not knowing where the hell he was). The band reconvened for the encore of Madhouse, Metal Thrashing Mad and the perennial I Am The Law. Anthrax played what was a concert set at a festival which meant that not as many classics got an airing as they should (I'm still waiting for a live performance of Bring Tha Noise personally) and the crowd were a little lacklustre despite its size, however Anthrax persevered and delivered the goods. 9/10

Evile (Main stage)

Following one of your heroes would be hard for most bands but not Evile as they admirably followed Anthrax with their modern take on the classic thrash sound. having more in common with Slayer and Metallica. Evile are in a slightly different vein, but with three albums they have already acquired some bonafide classics songs with Thrasher, Killer From The Deep, Infected Nation and the huge Cult. With most of the songs drawn from their newest record they showed just how good they now are as songwriters and with their now established stage show and Matt Drake's perfected vocals they can only get bigger. Great stuff from the UK thrashers. 8/10

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