I arrived in a (surprisingly) sunny Pwllheli in North Wales way ahead of schedule 1pm on the Thursday. This time last year, poor Hammerfest fell victim to a horrendous downpour – flooding the site from day 1. After checking in and exchanging pleasantries with my caravan-mates for the weekend, I wandered over to the Mash and Barrel bar to see what was going on for those, like me – who were eager beavers. Much to my amusement, there was a metal-themed pub quiz underway – with punters already getting merry to the sweet sound of Electric 6’s Gay Bar. Since I was early and had nothing better to do, I went and sat at the back of the Hammerfest stage for a little while whilst the roadies and tech guys made finishing touches to the stage setup and lighting. There was a tangible feel of ‘the calm before the storm’ in the air as the seemingly empty room was a hive of activity.
Crashgate opened the festival with a brilliant energy. The 4-piece was down a member but played with such gusto that it wasn’t at all noticeable. They had a few sound issues with frontman Craig Sheridan’s mic deciding to give up halfway through the set. But the vocalist’s voice was loud enough to carry to at least the 3rd row over the rest of the band, and the sound engineers quickly reversed the issue with a backup mic. I was particularly impressed with how the band carried on regardless of the issue, maintaining their upbeat energy and it made a massive difference. They wound down their set by dedicating a ballad to the fans and during Whiskey Makes Me Frisky they distributed 3 bottles of whiskey to the crowd (complete with little cups) which went down nicely with the early arrivals of the festival. These guys were proof that the early bird catches the worm – because although unfortunately they didn’t have a massive turnout, their performance was big enough to please a crowd of a packed-out room with their quirky, and in some places extreme lyrics comically hidden under a brilliant sound.
Setlist: Tear It Down / As One / Red Rosie Jack / Dodging the Bullet / BOB / Whiskey Makes Me Frisky / The Getaway / Deal With It
Brutai aren’t usually my cup of tea – as PlanetMosh’s resident thrash princess I really didn’t know what to expect from them. Picture this in the best way possible – I by no means wish to offend – but they sound to me like You Me At Six supported by a heavier band. In a good way! Thankfully, there were no technical issues this time, but they brilliantly carried the same energy of Crashgate with a djenty feel. Frontman Felix Lawrie struck me as being a wee ball of talent – hitting both the high notes and guttural vocals seemingly without any effort. The band perfectly fit together, with perfect harmonies and an all-round brilliant performance.
Setlist: Relapse / Never Change / Onyx / Deep / Of Ashes / Alpha / Sleepers / Flood
Reign of Fury were a band I was particularly looking forward to. Having seen their performance on the S.O.P.H.I.E stage at Bloodstock Festival this summer, I was looking forward to their performance and seeing how it would differ in an indoor setting. For an unsigned band, Reign of Fury are a hit with the fans – every other person in the ever-growing crowd seemed to be sporting their merchandise. Reign of Fury definitely lived up to their name, with their brute force seemingly forcing fans to bang their heads as they tore through their set with their fusion of old school thrash with a modern melodic riffs.
Setlist: Faustian Mastery / Hypnotise the Masses / Psycho Intentions / Gates of Sanity / Born to Die / World Detonation
Bull-Riff Stampede absolutely blew me away and took away the title of Band of The Day
for me. Again, these were another band that I had only seen at Bloodstock and good Lord, aren’t they good? These hellions absolutely killed it – whatever ‘it’ is, with the their groove oriented thrash. Being a regular appearance on the festival scene, the Bull-Riff boys drowned the biggest audience of the day under a tidal wave of noise. Due to problems with their lineup, Evil Scarecrow’s very own Jordan ‘Monty Blitzfist’ Spencer took to the drum kit, sounding at one with the band, as he hit every single beat. Upon his introduction to the audience, the room erupted into little ‘crabulon’ pincers. Adorable.
Setlist: Enraging the Beast / Thrashing Machine / Bled to the Arena / Raze / Pieces of Hate / Ten / No Regrets (A Cut-Throat Serenade) / Pit March / Advance and Conquer / Central Embodiment of Evil / Mindless Heresy
Band of the day: Bull-Riff Stampede
Words and images by Miley Stevens[flickrapi user=”planet mosh” get=”photoset” id=”72157665811203701″ size=”z” count=”100″]