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HAMMERFEST III, Prestatyn, North Wales
17-19 March 2011

Markus Taylor of the Twentieth British Legion Valium Victrix followed the Roman Road to his first major festival of the year, but did his liver survive?

Hammerfest III


Our livers are fresh, our voices are strong and we are ready to let battle commence.

Day 1: Thursday 17 March (pre-show)

It's silly season again.  For most metallers, the pilgrimage to the Hammerfest in Sunny Prestatyn is the first major festival of the year. Our livers are fresh, our voices are strong and we ready to let battle commence.

...the decibels are turned up to Magnus Maximus for the gladiators of metal. Rome wasn't built in a day, but it was destroyed over a weekend.

The theme for the opening night of the Hammerfest is Roma Victa and many are dressed in toga and tunics ready for a weekend of Roman metallurgy inside a Colosseum of Rock.

This is not a weekend to be getting the wrong end of the stick as the decibels are turned up to Magnus Maximus for the gladiators of metal. Rome wasn't built in a day, but it was destroyed over a weekend.

Now anyone who has the slightest bit of common sense attending the Hammerfest, makes sure they are well prepared for three days of racket metal and equally brutal drinking.

It didn't help that this writer attended a Saint Jude gig at the Borderline the night before ending with a session in the Crowbar which resulted in myself taking four hours to get home as I continually fell asleep on the N207 bus three times as I drunkenally attempted to get myself home.

Arriving home at five in the morning before this festival left me feeling that I've been hit over the head with a bronze sword.

Fortunately I took the decision to let the train take the strain this year which allowed me time to recuperate, arriving in North Wales just two and a half hours after I had left Londinium.

Us media types were all sharing chalets, and the GRTR! team were thrusted upon those nice bunch from Metalheadz. I was here on my own for the first night and was staying sober for the evening, little did the Metalheadz crew knew what lay ahead of them when in just over 24 hours time they would be confronted by a couple of out of control hairy rock animals.

The first mucker I bumped into was Krusher who was here to spin the decks. Whilst nipping into the restaurant to line up my stomach it was a joy to meet Rodney Matthews, the artist who painted the iconic fantasy album covers for bands such as Diamond Head, Nazareth, Magnum, Tygers Of Pan Tang as well as many others. Matthews had a stall here selling his works and is alive and well and still working hard. A likeable chap.*


My first taste of live metal came in the Queen Vic pub from the female fronted Triaxis who delivered a good symphonic dose of destruction with their Megadeth hooks and tracks from their debut 'Key To The Kingdom'. Singer Krissie is a warm motherly figure who sings her metal heart out. A fresh impressive set which got the heads banging an an early time.

Mordecai had the job of opening Stage 2. Fronted by a Robb Flynn lookalike, the band grinded out some Black Sabbath/BLS riffs with the commerciality of Nickleback. There is a few bands of this ilk out there but for me Mordecai are the most impressive.

For the rest of the evening we were travelling back in a time machine, firstly with three bands that were around at the time of the explosion of the NWOBHM scene but never really got the right breaks to get their name in the big lights.

Going axe crazy were Jaguar who released the classic 'Power Games' back in '83. Today the band looked like a bunch of roadies. Singer Jamie Manton looked like the kind of guy who would try to sell you dodgy tablets at a rave, but I soon warmed to him with his clowning antics and must be the only singer who has a pogo stick for a microphone stand. Some of the music was incredible like the timeless and masterful 'Master Game' which featured riffs aplenty from Gary Peppard.

Burning the town were Battleaxe who were on the cusp of the big time back in the early eighties. Singer Dave King has clearly enjoyed eating the pies over the years but his band kicked a killer punch. Tracks from the forthcoming 'The Legions Unite' will in fact reunite the legions of metal fans old and new.

Elixir, photo by L & R Publications
Photo: L & R Publications

Elixir sounded like they haven't listened to anything else over the last twenty five years because tracks from the new opus 'All Hallows Eve' sounded just as spellbounding as anything form the classic debut 'The Sons Of Odin'.

And songs like 'Pagan Queen' were just as riveting as anything that Saxon can conjure up these days.  I was wearing my old patched denim jacket with pride tonight.

House band Attica Rage went undercover for the opening night with a small set of heavy classics which kept the drinkers happy, followed by a set from Metalica UK who are a tribute band who play Metallica songs in tribute to can't think of anything else to say about tribute bands, but once again it kept the party hoards happy into the early hours.

Myself, I went off to seek solace back in the chalet to purge my body ready for the real action on Day 2.

Review and photos by Mark Taylor
(except where stated)

Day 2

Day 3

* Mark's interview with Rodney Matthews will be available shortly as a podcast

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