Saturday 15th March
So, here we are, the last full day of tunes already. They say that time flies when you’re having fun of course, so that would explain it. Being a bit more with it on this morning (well, it was nothing a decent bacon butty couldn’t sort out anyway), the BurningFist posse made haste to go and catch a genuine festival highlight – any festival incidentally – the mighty OAF! Comprising of just a two-piece (Dom Lawson – Bass, and James Rayment – Drums), they cant half make some noise, but its a fantastic, punk-esque din and its either going to cure your hangover or tip you over the edge!
The on-stage banter between the two members and the often hilarious introductions to ludicrous subject matter only heighten the enjoyment. But, there is one stand out track from their repertoire that this writer can very much relate to with living in a seaside town… a witty-little-ditty called “F*ck Off Seagull!” To say the BurningFist team were “prepared” was probably an understatement… We lovingly inflated a handful of plastic Gulls for some crowd participation during the chorus! Seemed to go down a treat 🙂
Hammerfest… These guys better be there again next year! Do you hear me?! (J)
At this point in the day, i had BurningFist business to conduct (interviews which will be posted very soon), and missed both DERISION and MAPLERUN on the second stage – two bands that my spies in the crowd tell me conducted some powerful performances. Derision have been making a name for themselves as of late, and from what i understand, all of it positive, showing Pwllheli how thrash-tinged hardcore should be done, while Maplerun on the other hand, blend SOAD style vocal hooks, melodic sensibilities and big catchy riffs. (J)
More rests and reunions before I return to an initially pretty empty second stage for THRONE, up from London. No worries, their strangely hypnotic doom is captivating and enjoyable in an Electric Wizard fashion, with a laid back lady drummer, and more people are certainly drawn in to the vibe worship before long. (M)
I manged to then catch the very end of BLACKSTORM’s set and it wouldn’t be very fair to give a full review, but based on the segment i heard, they mix the slower and drone-like elements of Neurosis or Isis together. Wish i’d seen and heard more and so will be keeping an eye out for these guys in the future. (J) Pop over to the main stage to see the accessible metal of Breed77, evidently refreshed after their no-show in Chester on Thursday, there’s a good turnout for them but I have timed it badly as there’s some dreary ballad going on so have no inclination for more! (M)
Again, dashing around caused me to miss the much lauded BREED77 over in the main arena, and i choose not to see GLORYHAMMER (who, many were saying, played a blinding set) in favour of DESERT STORM on the second stage who belted out some really groovy blues tinged rock and roll all wrapped up in sandblasted vocal rasp! It sounds like shouldn’t work, but i can assure you it was a great set and could help but get dragged along on the trip. (J) They wear their hearts on their sleeves, or at least their influences on their chests and you can definitely hear the Karma to Burn and Clutch coming through. (M)
Next up we had GRAVIL from London and these lads did a grand job of smashing through a solid set comprising of a modern metal sound with elements of melo-death and thrash influences. The songs were well judged and kept the momentum flowing through out. A strong performance from a band you need to keep your beady eye on. Another quick dash across to the main arena was on the cards to witness a little gem… (J)
MONSTER TRUCK had made the trip over from the good ‘ol Canada, and proceeded to entertain right from the get go. By their own admission they wondered if their own brand of keyboard driven, rock and roll would go down well with the gathered Metalheads, but they didnt need to worry as this southern-tinged, blues rock went down a storm! Infectious, catchy, emotive and damn entertaining. A genuine pleasure to witness and a refreshing change. (J)
Earthtone9 had to pull out from the festival pretty much last minute, and while this was initially disappointing, their replacement was an inspired choice and a very welcome one at that – EMPIRE are a band that are pretty hard to describe to be honest. Imagine some of the most engaging and unique vocals mixed with hard rock swagger and you had an entrancing show. Just really gutted i only caught the last 15 minutes 😦 (J)
Early evening brings death, in the form of Sweden’s UNLEASHED. I hadn’t seen them since the early 90’s in Manchester when perhaps they were still in Entombed’s shadow but tonight they are simply glorious and on top of their game. It’s a full-on, heads down and thrashing celebration of definitive Swe-death, not without melody but centered on fantastic filthy riffing. Frontman Jonny works the crowd well, and as the song says, it’s a “Death Metal Victory!”. (M)
A brief break to get a flavour of DRUGANAUT, which was decent enough in a raw sludgey way, with some grooves to bang along to before returning to the main stage for CORROSION OF CONFORMITY. Seen them a couple of times since their recent re-incarnation, and as I’d previously described them as a jam band they seem to have taken it to another level tonight. It’s a big mash up of stoner grooves, noodling and aggressive punk or sludge with Mike Dean seeming in his own little (bong) bubble as he croons the choons. (M)
Over on the second stage, we had an air of nostalgia sweep over the probably-way-to-young-to-remember-crowd as the recently rejuvenated TORANAGA took about showing those gathered what the rawer, more traditional British Wave of Thrash Metal was actually like! Some of the BurningFist crew had waited over 25 years to get to see these guys play, and they simply didnt disappoint. A storming, no nonsense thrash attack as fresh as it ever was. Mixing songs from their early career with new material and the headbangers never missed a beat. UK Thrash is still alive and well. (J)
KREATOR: Saturday night’s main headliner, and what a headliner they are! Having not witnessed the mighty German wrecking crew for some years, and even then it was on a decidedly smaller and far more intimate setting in Bradford, i simply cannot get over how far this band have come. They were blistering 10 years ago, but tonight, they were astonishing, and clearly stepped up to the upper tier of Metal greatness!
Bringing with them a half decent stage set and show (well, it would have been if it had worked properly!) the Teutonic Thrashers banged out classic after classic: “Pleasure to Kill”, “Blind Faith” & “Riot of Violence” rip through the crowd as they show their appreciation with some glorious circle pits, constant headbanging and more than enough moshing! Some recent tracks from “Phantom Antichrist” go down a storm and a little speech from mainman Mille about how religion and politics are pulling people apart, yet music brings us all back together precedes “Enemy of God” and the classic “Flag of Hate”. For a band thats been doing this since 1982, it is awe-inspiring to see the pure ferocity and passion they put in to a performance and it leaves this witness absofuckinlutely breathless. A masterful performance. (J)
To finish our evening, there’s AVATAR, who manage to overcome some of my concerns of them being a Marilyn Manson image over substance band by delivering some heavier punchy rhythms, and then PRIMITAI who are very metal, and who doesn’t love a cover of Scorpions “Rock you like a Hurricane” at 2:30 in the morning?! (M)
And so ends our heavy metal adventure in the glorious Welsh mountain range, and the cave calls for some much needed rest. While some have said this year’s line-up wasn’t as potentially strong as previous years, i think its safe to say that any concerns were well and truly blown out of the water.
Until next year – 12th / 15th March 2015 – SAVE THE DATE!
REVIEWED BY: Jason (J) & Mark (M)
All photos are copyright of CHRISTOPHER JAMES RYAN PHOTOGRAPHY and are used with very kind permission. Please check out more of Christopher’s work below: