The Big One: Hammerfest 2010

United Kingdom United Kingdom | by Graeme Johnston | 08 March 2010

What is it?

A Welsh three-day heavy metal gig, Hammerfest is the new kid on the UK indoor festival block. In only its second year, the Hard Rock Hell and Metal Hammer-produced event is set to feature Iced Earth in a UK exclusive as well as a slew of top class noise-making talent from Britain and abroad.

When and where?

In a Pontin's Holiday Village (where else?) in deepest, darkest Wales, running from Thursday 11 March until Saturday 13. The festival boasts a seaside resort setting in Prestatyn Sands, Denbighshire, so don't forget your bucket and spade!

Who to watch:

Napalm Death - Metal on Metal Stage - Friday
Extreme veterans, grindcore innovators and all round legends, after thirty years in business Napalm Death are like a fine wine - they get better with age, and too much always leaves you with a bloody sore head! Throwing Napalm Death on a stage is like a footie manager bringing his veteran striker off the bench; they might be creaking at the knees, but they still know what to do better than anyone. Expect carnage from the masters of UK death metal.

Devil Driver - Metal on Metal Stage - Friday
Famed for their record-breaking circle pits, Devil Driver are guaranteed to get even the scrawniest of metal fans baying for blood. Imagine being a scrap of meat thrown to the wolves and you'll have a fair idea of what it's like to find yourself in one of their mosh pits. Not for the faint hearted.

Man Must Die - Fresh Blood stage - Friday
Quite why Man Must Die are merely second on the smallest "Fresh Blood" stage is anyone's guess, as years of hard work have solidified their place amongst the elite of the UK death metal scene. As the first ever UK band to sign to Relapse, the Scots have generated a lot of buzz in recent years. Their live performance more than lives up to the hype.

Skindred - Metal on Metal - Saturday
If you've had quite enough cauliflower ears and burst noses for one weekend, taking a break from brutal mosh pits need not involve a dip in the swimming pool or trip to the six miles of nearby golden sand. Skindred are sure to bring the party on Saturday, with groovy riffs and funky melodies that will just beg your neck to bounce. Headbanging has never been quite this fun... Don't miss it!

One to miss:

Iced Earth - Metal on Metal - Saturday
Perhaps a controversial choice, but headliners Iced Earth are to this line-up what Camembert is to a cheese board; well-known, popular enough, but the smell of cheese is a tad unbearable! If you're not familiar with this huge American act, prepare yourself for oodles of power metal served unashamedly. Their albums include ‘Night of the Stormrider’, ‘Tribute to the Gods’ and ‘The Crucible of Man’.

Inside tip:

Thursday's line-up includes a fantastic rock band from Leeds, Gentleman's Pistols. A class live act, the group boast Stuart Dobbins of zombiecore favourites Send More Paramedics and the legendary Bill Steer of Carcass fame on guitar.

Be at Hammerfest if you like…

Tattooed metallers, beards, dirty riffs, brutal mosh pits, Napalm Death, beer... or sun, sea and sand!

Avoid if you are…
Afraid of loud noises, dislike the smell of beer and sweat, or have bad memories of shit family holidays at Pontin's!

Festival Tactics
Write your chalet number on the back of your hand... it'll seem like a crazy idea until you've just finished watching the last band (as late as 02:30 some nights), after a day spent consuming your own weight in cider and slavering burger meat down your chin, and cannot remember for the life of you which room is yours.

Fashionista or folky?
Fashion is not on the top of the agenda for the metal masses heading to north Wales next weekend. Most fans look like they got dressed in a room as dark as their eyeliner. It's certainly not going to be folky either - expect stacks of Marshall amps, horrible distortion and guitar solos-a-plenty, with not a banjo in sight.

Alcohol of choice

Jagermeister. If you lose the ability to stand after your fifth Jager bomb, perhaps this isn't the event for you.

Take your mum score - 1/10
Unless you grew up listening to Carcass while the rest of us suffered The Singing Kettle, leave mummy at home.

Can I still get a ticket?

No. Organisers announced this week that the festival is sold out, so if you've already nabbed a brief then expect queues at the bar!

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