PREVIEW: Hammerfest VII

As another March rolls around the Denim and Leather crew will be riding across the Pagan vastlands of the Clwydian Range and through Snowdonia to descend upon Hammerfest once more armed with enough bacon and rum to put down even the stoutest party of Dwarves. With so much action happening across the three days, as usual we’ve done the hard work for you and below you’ll find our top bands not to be missed over the weekend. Note: though not a ‘band’ per se, it goes without saying that Papa Johns is also not to be missed...

Hirax
Katon W. De Pena’s gang of cult LA Thrashers are coming to Hammerfest for the first time in what is also their debut show on UK soil, which is astonishing really since the band has been active since 1984 despite numerous lineup changes. With a 16 Minute full-length album under their belt expect nothing but relenting speed, raging vocals, spilled beer and sore necks after Hirax have laid waste on the Friday night.- Drew’s Pick

Elvenking
Now there is absolutely no point in trying to hide the excitement I have in waiting to see Italy’s Elvenking at this year’s Hammerfest. I’ve been a huge fan for years and have almost spent my monthly wages on lavish trips to wherever in Europe they were playing at the time on numerous occasions whilst also managing to miss them when they did come over here to play. As I wrote about the band in the blog way back when, the 2006 release of The Winter Wake stands as one of the crowning jewels of the whole power metal movement and beautifully captures the band’s initial dream of the sound that brings the best aspects of power metal out of the mix and combines them with elements of folk music to create something upbeat, blissful and truly unique in it’s nature. Since then they’ve released the equally beautiful Era alongside other releases and most recently last year’s The Pagan Manifesto, which has seen their incredibly passionate fanbase grow even larger. You can expect a healthy mix of all their work during the Friday afternoon performance, and you can expect to see me there trying, and failing, to focus on taking photos instead of singing along. - Nick’s pick



Winterfylleth
Another returning act from 2013’s edition are Winterfylleth, a band that has gone from strength to strength since their last appearance from touring around Europe with Enslaved to UK Tours with the likes of Behemoth & Primordial. Playing on the back of 2014’s The Divination of Antiquity, which sees the band improving on their already heavily atmospheric works, expect a selection of songs from across the band’s four albums (hopefully a Hate Forest over) and the now trademark rousing finale with ‘Defending the realm’. Catch them on the Friday night, but please, no plastic swords.- Drew’s Pick

Skalmold
Iceland’s Metal scene is really thriving recently, particularly in their own brand of Black Metal. Also hailing from the isle however are acclaimed folk metal act Skalmold who are really making their mark with three albums, numerous tours and festival appearances to date as well as an appearance in last year’s Eurovision entry (Seriously). Expect an epic and easy going take on the folk metal genre that is tailor made for a drunken live experience, which is ideal for their Saturday afternoon at slot at Hammerfest.- Drew’s Pick

Kamelot
Now then, back to the power metal! And when it comes to the genre, there are few bigger names out there than Kamelot. Across nine brilliant releases in their own right, Roy Khan helped cement Kamelot as the champions of the concept power metal album, and in the process left us with a wealth of breathtaking ballads like ‘Wander’ and ‘A Sailorman’s Hymn’ that go beyond the confines of metal and stand on their own as truly classic songs. Khan left the band and indeed music on the whole a few years back for reasons that are neither here nor there, which saw Kamelot head into a new direction with 2012’s Silverthorn after recruiting Tommy Karevik for the seemingly impossible role of following in Khan's footsteps. Silverthorn was surprisingly good given the circumstances with some fantastic tracks that helped ease the band into a new dawn. From the set I am hoping we can expect a mixture of the classics and a look at the future too as the band are set to release Haven in May of this year. Either way, Friday night’s headline slot is not to be missed! - Nick’s pick



Candlemass
Returning for their second stint at Hammerfest are the unquestionable kings of Swedish Doom Candlemass. Following a very well received set in 2013, Candlemass are returning to North Wales to lay down their traditional blend of epic vocals and heavy riff-laden Doom, and with a career spanning 31 years you can expect a mix of old and new songs on the Saturday night as part of a boosted performance thanks to the reinvigorating return of Mats Levén (Formerly of Yngwie Malmsteen & Firewind).- Drew’s Pick

Einherjar
The war horns will sound on Saturday as the original Norwegian Viking horde Einherjar descend on Hammerfest, with their own brand of Folk-influenced black metal to bring the wrath of the Norse gods upon the wind swept coast of Pwllheli. This rare appearance in the UK is not to be missed and should be a show to remember, so raise your heathen hammer's and prepare for The Dragons of the North.

Angel Witch
Yet another act returning from Hammerfest V is London’s Angel Witch. We’ve seen them play up and down the country over the years to a range of crowd sizes and the overall conclusion is that the NWOBHM crown remains firmly on the head of Kevin Heybourne. Likely to be performing a mixture of tracks from both their latest release in 2012’s As Above, So Below and the still timeless classic Angel Witch with some bits in between, Angel Witch’s set on the Friday has my personal guarantee not to disappoint. “Burn the White Witch!” - Nick’s pick

Well that’s it for our top picks for this year’s Hammerfest. We’ll be arriving in Pwllheli on the Thursday afternoon so come and say hi, and stick your horns up whenever you see our photographer’s cameras pointed at the front row to be featured in the final coverage. For anyone still without tickets, head here to see what’s still available.

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ALBUM OF THE MONTH-MAR '17

Artist - Jesters of Destiny
Title - The Sorrows That Refuse to Drown
Label - Ektro

Thirty years after Jesters of Destiny arrived, dropped Fun at the Funeral and disappeared back into the night, they’re finally back with a second full length release courtesy of Ektro Records, and whilst it could never live up to first album, the eccentricity of the band shines through once more and it’s a crazy ride from start to finish. Pick it up on April 4th!



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GIG OF THE MONTH - MAR '17

Artist - Hammerfest IX
Date - 23rd- 26th March
Venue - Pwllheli, Wales  

One of our main highlights of the year, this month we’re off to Wales for Hammerfest, HRH’s Heavy Metal flagship. With the return of two Power Metal titans alongside a host of others, this year looks to be one of their best ever. We’ll be covering the whole festival and conducting interviews as well so lookout for the cameras!