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Tags: Hammerfest, Denim_And_Leather, Grand_Magus, Overkill, Sound_Storm, Gloryhammer, Unleashed, Kreator, Nick_Malone, Liverpool

Denim and Leather - Hammerfest VI: Book of the Dead

From running late in the morning, to breaking down en route, to having memory cards corrupted leaving no way of shooting any photos, Hammerfest VI was off to a disastrous start, and to top it all off one of our top picks for the weekend in Black Moth had pulled out at the last minute. However a few rum and cokes later plus one nameless hero who saved the day with a borrowed card and we were back on track and ready for the carnage, of which Hammerfest had plenty left to offer.

Grand Magus

What does it mean to be ‘true metal’ in 2014?..Hypnotic basslines? Thunderous vocals? Shredding solos? Personally I believe it to be that uncontrollable urge to pump your fist, pull out your air guitar and bang your fu**ing head, all of which are synonymous with the mighty Grand Magus. Touring with The Vintage Caravan fresh off the release of their truly epic new album Triumph and Power, the swedes took to the packed main stage on Friday night to rapturous applause as they opened things with ‘Kingslayer’ before reminding us about their previous release, a triumph in it’s own right,The Hunt with ‘Sword of the Ocean’. With the crowd already on their side, things moved on into fan favourite ‘Ravens Guide Our Way’ as fists pumped and frontman Janne Christoffersson beamed a smile that could be seen at the back of the hall. Grand Magus were in full swing of berserker rage.

Next came the inevitable new material with the title track followed by the main single from Triumph and Power in ‘Steel Versus Steel’. However there was none of the usual change in flow to the setlist that normally comes with bands playing tracks off their latest record. Instead everything fit together seamlessly, and the crowd was singing along as much as they were with previous hits if not more. This proves that Grand Magus are absolutely in their prime right now, and that Triumph and Power is probably the first ‘true metal’ album of the decade. Leaving the new material behind, the set was brought to a close in a blaze of glory with anthem ‘Hammer of the North’ from the album of the same name. And thus, for us at least, Hammerfest had finally kicked off and Grand Magus had delivered a near impossible act to follow. Que Bobby Blitz…


In all my years I’ve only ever seen one other performance as ecstatic with unhinged happiness as Bobby "Blitz" Ellsworth headlining Hammerfest on the Friday night with Overkill. And that was when I saw him do the very same a few years ago in Leeds...A testament to the group he fronts, Bobby and Overkill have been at the forefront of the Thrash scene for 30+ years releasing albums and touring the world relentlessly throughout, refusing to be slowed down or left behind. Even a stroke live on stage during an Overkill show in 2002 couldn’t stop the unremitting tenacity of Bobby and the group, so it was no surprise when he came sprinting out onto the stage to an adoring crowd with the aptly named ‘Come and Get It’ from Electric Age to kick things off on Friday night.

Next, the green lighting filling the stage oozed out into the crowd as the irresistible toxicity of Overkill submerged all and we were given a run through from the band’s whopping 16 releases to date. Putting a set list together from such a vast span of work has to be difficult, I mean that’s nearly as many as Rush...However they’ve spent many years on the road perfecting this formula, and it works. Playing hits from the likes of Feel the Fire, Under the Influence and Horrorscope was interwoven with more recent works like Ironbound and The Electric Age, and Overkill were as confident playing all of it as the crowd were to be banging their heads to it. It’s just a further testament to how active and committed to heavy metal they’ve been over the years, and how they won’t be slowing down anytime soon. Leaving the stage briefly before returning for the encore and one last burst of energy that can only be found in 80s Thrash, fan favourite and  title track from Horrorscope was followed by Subhumans cover ‘Fuck You’ to bring things to a close. A fitting finale for a band that’s been saying “f**k you!” for over 30 years- to anybody that said thrash wouldn’t last, that Overkill wouldn’t still be around or that they’re ever gonna stop.

Sound Storm

There has been a lack of quality Power Metal gracing the Hammerfest stages in recent years, but this time around there was an abundance of plastic swords being waved around in the crowd ready for this years offerings, starting with Italy’s Sound Storm. Complete with every power metal cliché from vampiric contact lenses to symphonic keyboards, they took to the main stage on Saturday and impressed from the off. Opening things with the title track from their most recent release in 2012’s Immortalia, Sound Storm were clearly comfortable in their skin and the chemistry on stage was heavily apparent from the start.

Hailing from Turin, Sound Storm have two full releases to date-2009’s Twilight Opera and the aforementioned Immortalia. Performing a healthy mix of the two in their set, notably the epic ‘Lord of the Blood’, what started out as a relatively small crowd grew throughout the show as the notably impressive musicianship of the group won over a lot of heads. There is an unfortunate stigma with power metal  for those not a fan of the genre that’s hard for some people to look past, which is understandable because there are so many soulless copycat groups out there, but Sound Storm are definitely doing things on their own terms and by the time finisher ‘The Portrait’(which seemingly had more endings than Return of the King) had faded out nobody watching at the main stage could disagree. I for one hope this won’t be the last time we’ll see them playing on UK soil.


Clad in armour, tabard, fur and of course...goblin head, Anglo-Swiss epic power metallers Gloryhammer lead the fantasy pack at Hammerfest this year with their main stage performance on Saturday night. Performance being the operative word indeed. The brainchild of Alestorm’s Christopher Bowes, I had been keeping a close eye on this project since it was first announced right up until the release of Tales from the Kingdom of Fife last year. It was an album that promised glory, majesty, unity, and then delivered it all plus more. The concept is something that was always going to reach it’s full potential on stage and with every band member in full costume as the lights went down on Saturday night we were in for a treat.

Making their way through the entirety of the album, Gloryhammer presented themselves as a well oiled machine of skilled and proficient musicians not taking themselves too seriously whilst still playing every note with absolute sincerity. The main stage was absolutely packed and the crowd knew this album back to front, singing along to every anthem and waving their various makeshift armaments  in the air whilst they did so. Standing out as fan favourites were ‘Angus McFife’, ‘Amulet of Justice’, and my personal favourite ‘Quest for the Hammer of Glory’ that I can see becoming the band’s anthem played in every show years down the line.

I can only hope that there is a down the line for Gloryhammer because with members schedules inevitably clashing due to other commitments these projects often get left at one album. However the success of the record alongside the huge turnouts on tour and the fan reaction online should make sure that this isn’t the last we see of Angus McFife and co. Let’s hope their next quest brings them back to Welsh shores for a future Hammerfest.


As night drew in around Pwllheli,The Hammer Battalion descended upon Hammerfest’s main stage for Swedish Death Metaller’s Unleashed. With their latest album being 2012’s Odalheim, this was set to be a tribute to the band’s 23 year career with a mixture of songs old and new packed into their one hour set, and pack them in they did. Starting things off with ‘Blood of Lies’ before moving swiftly into ‘Legal Rapes’, the Swedes displayed a strong omnipresence on stage dressed all in black and were here to represent their brothers with vigor and unity.

Johnny Hedlund’s broad stance and black stare continued to be as wintry as his bass was cogent throughout the performance, and as the second half of the show was upon us the band took things back with a host of hits from Unleashed’s classic era. Olsson and Folkhare’s guitars really took centre stage here as the crowd surrendered to the crushing riffs of ‘Victims of War’, ‘Hammer Battalion’ and a set highlight in ‘To Asgard We Fly’. Taking things all the way back for their finale, Unleashed finished on ‘Before the Creation of Time’ from their debut, 1991’s Where no Life Dwells, and left a stamp on the Hammerfest main stage that would be hard to fill.


By the time we had more than one camera fully working with memory cards uncorrupted and all, there was only one place the Denim and Leather team wanted and needed to be, and that was centre stage for Kreator’s Saturday night headlining performance. As headliners go, Mille and co. are one of the most professionally brutal bands you could ever hope to book. Retaining every last bit of their savagery whilst performing with an air of class and elegance is something that’s come over time for the German Thrash giants, almost 30 years worth in fact. As the blood red lighting reflected out into the hungry crowd, Kreator launched into ‘Phantom Antichrist’, the first of five tracks from their most recent album of the same name released in 2012. Things stayed new with ‘Warcurse’ next before a ‘Coma of Souls/Endless Pain’ medley took things back to ‘85. Kreator and their worshippers were official warmed up and ready for the circle pits.

Speaking of circle pits, as Kreator burst into the self titled anthem from Pleasure to Kill Mille screeched his usual demands for two giant ones across the hall and the thrashers young and old were happy to oblige the request. His voice as spectacularly shrill as always with a team of hardened veterans behind him, this was what it means to headline. Sticking with Pleasure to Kill, ‘Riot of Violence’ continued the circle pits and general carnage before one of the more standout tracks from Kreator’s recent releases in ‘Enemy of God’ fit in nicely with the classics. Two more from Phantom Antichrist followed before  Mille vanished only to return with the preposterously sized literal ‘Flag of Hate’ to wave around signalling one last onslaught was upon Hammerfest. Breaking into fan and personal favourite ‘Tormentor’ for the finish, Kreator bowed out leaving a crowd full of pure admiration, respect, and strangers sweat.

So another Hammerfest was over, and it seemed to fly by in no time at all. Aside from huge technical difficulties on our end, the festival was an absolute blast and it’s organisers were as gracious and professional as ever, outdoing themselves as they do more so every year that goes by. We can’t wait to be back in full force, with a full backup of equipment, next year for Hammerfest 7: Metal Marauders! See you there \m/

    Nick's posts By Nick Malone



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