In a desolate, windswept region of north-west Wales lies a sheep strewn sea-side town named Prestatyn. Within its bowels is a dinky holiday village that goes by the name of Pontins. Amidst the out of date 1950s chalet glamour (malfunctioning showers, flushing toilets and horrifically stained duvets) several thousand metallers ran, stumbled and fell over to the beer addled sounds of heavy metal.
Kicking off with a pre-party on Thursday 18th March, many donned togas (bed sheets), plastic armour and ripped denim for Roman themed fancy dress in order to watch a selection of party bands and pillage the reasonably priced bars. Triaxis were among the first bands to contribute riffs, distortion and some theatrically impressive vocals from front-woman Krissie.
Some truly terrible yet immensely enjoyable covers from Attica Undercover (usually known as Attica Rage) kicked off drunken singing and swaying from those packed into the second stage. Their cover of Ozzy’s Crazy Train became a favourite throughout the weekend and early hours of the morning. Headliners Metallica UK also provided some lovely covers before mostly everyone spilled into the arcade to play shoot em ups and waste change on addictive yet rigged game machines.
Friday morning dawned like a gaping wound on a freshly slain corpse. Thankfully the accommodation provided came with a kitchen stocked with carving knives, sharpened skewers and a rusty frying pan so the first fry ups of the weekend were prepared with Jack Daniels and appreciated on sub-sexual levels.
Bands began at midday in a small traditional English pub, metres away from a chip shop and a giant swimming pool. Naturally this meant that the majority of people were still nursing hangovers and crawling out into the gorgeous sunshine. Those who made it into the venue would have caught freshly born puppy eyed Ravenface , two of the members were too young to even drink at the festival due to being a mere 17 years old. They looked a bit like some lost emo’s had been infected with Trousers Below the Arse Syndrome and Sideways Hair before being placed on a stage and imbued with actual talent. Scarily these boys can actually play heavy metal and not sound like Bring Me The Horizon despite looking a little bit like them before they were legally allowed into the tattoo parlour.
Arceye were another festival gem, they combine technical death metal and thrash with progressive elements which results in them sounding like Opeth, Decapitated and Testament at the same time. As the night drew in, the moon was full and the flawless sky slightly pink when Sylosis took to the main stage and rattled ear drums with the dense thrashy metal that has kept them abuzz in the underground since their legendary Sonisphere performance in 2009.
Turisas ignited the party atmosphere and took it to another level as the hall filled with warpainted fans, dancing and singing along. Accept delivered a set filled with old classics from their seasoned repertoire, followed by the infectious groove of Il Nino before Blitzkrieg brought the second day to a close at 2.30am.
By Saturday morning the neighbouring chalet had half a television, no curtains, three missing chairs and red paint smeared across the walls. People wondered around dressed as Romans, bananas, satan and incredibly hot girls on stilts caused many to gawp in wonder.
Punky Brighton comedy band Oaf titillated those gathered around the third stage/pub with their completely electric guitar free brand of Guinness fuelled metal. A drummer dressed in a white suit crashed through ‘I’m Retarded’, ‘A Euphemism for Tits’ and ‘Tiny when Erect’ while vocalist Dom Lawson molested a groaning bass.
Swedish death metallers Entombed facilitated bruises to be proud of in their circle pits, however many trickled off to see London thrash legends, Mutant on the second stage halfway through. Half an hour of red hot riffs and moshing later Satyricon took to the stage. Girlfriends glazed over at the prospect of Frost engulfed by his clattering drum kit, and fists pounded at the air during K.I.N.G and Black Crow on a Tombstone.
War obsessed distributors of catchy cheese metal, Sabaton returned once again to Hammerfest and converted even more new fans with Ghost Division and Metal Machine. Unfortunately the drums decided to fall apart near the end of the set and so the audience were entertained by smalltalk and banter. This did little to dull the set however as Sabaton know how to please a crowd.
Onslaught and Evile crowned the night with even more British thrash and churning pits as fans tried to squeeze in the best and last mosh of the festival. Many stayed up past the2.30 am bedtime and trawled the site for chalet parties which were in abundance. 3am forays into the sub-zero night with Jager, a ten man entourage and a saucepan filled with chips can result in the best party you’ve had in a long time. Hammerfest proves that a festival isn’t just about a solid line up, it’s about the experience and the batshit people you meet along the way.Hammerfest III Roma Victa was the dodgy drunk uncle that you can’t help but love and leave to sit in the corner with a bottle of whisky and a bowl of salted peanuts. It’s a festival that steals a piece of your heart and liver so that you can’t help but return and experience the luxurious festival chalet chic and rusty crockery.
Photos taken by: Andrew Critchley, Drawing With Light