And now we come to the third and final day of what had been an epic, epic festival. Hammerfest 2016 had been awesome so far and I personally was looking forward to the Saturday the most. I started the weekend most looking forward to Exodus, and they were to grace the stage later on in the evening. After working through some photos from the day before, I left Mark to do his interviews, and Sean had an early start over on the HRH stage, so I was left to my own devices for a little while.
Savage Messiah were the first band I was able to catch. Having seen these guys several times, most recently at Damnation Festival in 2015, I knew I was in for a treat. With a delightfully thrashy set, there was an impressive turnout for them, considering that they were one of the first bands playing the Hammerfest stage that day. The British power-thrashers tore the stage apart as they had the crowd up in arms, shouting the words to Hellblazer back at them. No strangers to the festival circuit, frontman Dave Silver maintained a light rapport with the audience between songs. A few technical glitches, with lead guitar not shining through the rest of the band, but a delightful performance nonetheless.
Ranger didn’t really follow on well from Savage Messiah, in my opinion. Having been to as many metal gigs as I have, I should have learnt by now to not judge a book by its cover, but I found it so hard to see past the striking face furniture. Not a great many of the crowd stuck around for their set either, which was disappointing. Musically, they put in a great deal of effort to please the ever decreasing crowd, however this band seemed disjointed from the rest playing the Hammerfest stage on the Saturday – perhaps they would be a better fit for the Thursday’s lineup? I don’t know. A good effort, but musically, they were not for me.
Trollfest were a cheeky highlight that I wasn’t expecting from the weekend. They did an absolutely flawless cover of Britney Spears’ ‘Toxic’, made every member of the crowd partake in an impressively silly dance, and their sense of humour alone (aside from their obvious musical talent) gave them the title of Band of the Day. On behalf of the U.K, I would like to apologise to Trollfest for our pitifully small, and even more pitiful strength beers. I have never seen a band as fun as Trollfest – they audibly shuffled onto a silent stage in darkness, and when the lights lifted: hilarious chaos in the shape of what I can only describe as steampunk scientists. Obviously no strangers to crowds, Trollfest soon had the audience laughing along with them as they powered through their set. The lads are also a dream to photograph – catching photographers’ eyes before pulling faces and generally being accommodating for everyone. I don’t have enough nice words to say. An absolute gem to find, and a band who I will most certainly be looking out for in the future.
Evile are always absolutely amazing when I see them live. Having worked with them multiple times over the past couple of years, there’s a strong pang of pride whenever I see them take to the stage. With new addition Piers firmly settled into the band, it is nice to hear that they are working on new material since the drop of their last album, Skull in 2013. Flawlessly smashing through their set, they had die-hard fans representing them in full force on the barrier. They played a set spanning their whole career, ending on crowd favourite: Thrasher. As ever, I look forward to seeing them on their upcoming tour and greatly anticipate the release of their new work.
Penultimate band of the Hammerfest stage, Exodus absolutely smashed the stage to bits. I was, however disappointed that Gary Holt was a no-show. No doubt working intently on Slayer stuff, it was disheartening to see that although he said he wouldn’t let Exodus take ‘the back shelf’ since joining Slayer – he had done exactly that. I was absolutely gutted. Aside from that, Exodus put on a really, really good show, and if I hadn’t come across the hilarity of Trollfest earlier in the day, they would have most certainly taken away the title of Band of The Day. Steve Souza showed such unity with the band, it was really hard to believe that he had ever left – they seemed like a completely different band compared to when I last saw them, with Rob Dukes as their vocalist. An absolute masterpiece to behold, Exodus drew the biggest crowd of the weekend, with a seemingly out of place circle pit erupting in what is usually a holiday park’s amusement arcade.
Lawnmower Deth brilliantly closed the festival. With big green balls being thrown into the crowd, stealing audience members’ phones for selfies, and general anarchical chaos. What a stellar booking from the organisers! Lawnmower Deth perfectly drew the festival to a close with their high-energy and comic genius, resurrecting the dwindling party spirit at 1am on the last day of a mental festival. Everybody left Hammerfest with a smile on their faces, thanks to Lawnmower Deth – and they were very well placed on the bill as the last act of the festival – leaving everyone with happy, fun memories of the weekend that had just passed.
Thank you to the Hammerfest and HRH team for putting together such a fantastic weekend, a definite highlight of the calendar for anyone and everyone who has ever been to Hammerfest. I most definitely look forward to the announcements for next year!
Band of the Day: Trollfest
Words and images by Miley Stevens