From page 99 of Classic Rock Magazine June 2011
All the heavy metal you can shake a large, black stick at.
Hi-de-Hi was never like this. On an
uncharacteristically sunny weekend in the middle of March, a 40-year-old holiday camp on the North Wales coast becomes the epicentre of all things metal in the UK when 3,000 people clad almost exclusively in black descend for a weekend of good old-fashioned noisy fun.
Welcome to Hammerfest, the annual bash thrown
by the good people at Metal Hammer , sister magazine of Classic Rock . Now in its third year, the formula is ridiculously simple: three stages, more than 30 bands of varying degrees of heaviness, plus a seemingly limitless supply of alcohol.
There’s something for all tastes this year, as long as those tastes involve the words ‘heavy’ and ‘metal’. Representing the Scandinavian wing are black metal titans Satyricon, whose machine-tooled menace provides Saturday night’s premier attraction on the cavernous main stage, and Swedish bruisers Entombed, whose gravel gargling death’n’roll hasn’t diminished two decades into their career. At the other end of the spectrum are LA rap-metal standardbearers My Ruin, who draw an impressive crowd on the second stage as frontwoman Tairrie B sets the dial to ‘cathartic rage’.
But it’s not all about the marquee names. Glasgow’s Attica Rage supply dancers, fire-breathers and a blizzard of sparks to augment their trad-metal anthems, while NWOBHM survivors Blitzkrieg roll back the years with a propulsive post-midnight set on the second stage. There are also a smattering of oddities, the oddest of which are easily Brighton duo Oaf, whose stripped-down set on the third stage (handily situated in the onsite pub) brilliantly consists entirely of drum, bass and unintelligible knob jokes.
There is also a small but perfectly formed classic rock delegation scattered liberally across the weekend. The Treatment are a gloriously old school mix of bluesy rock and flailing hair, like Whitesnake parachuted into the middle of a death metal convention. Elsewhere the spectacularly OTT circus that is Turbowolf are simultaneously tongue-in-cheek and utterly convincing. They are, as Oscar Wilde might have said if he’d bothered turning up to Hammerfest, far too important to take seriously.
It’s not a competition, but if it was then Accept would be in with a good shot of a place on the winner’s podium. Having long since banished the diminutive ghost of Udo Dirkschneider, equally short-arsed frontman Mark Tornillo prowls the stage like a cutprice Brian Johnson, complete with flat cap and pebble-dashed throat. Behind him, the band churn out Metal Heart and Fast As A Shark with as much vigour as they did 30 years ago.
By Sunday morning it’s all over and 3,000 weary, possibly hungover souls emerge blinking into the light of the real world, while the Pontin’s staff prepare for Classic Rock ’s own Hard Rock Hell shindig in December. Hi-de-hi, campers.