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HAMMERFEST IV, Prestatyn, North Wales
16-17 March 2012

Hammerfest, photo by David Wilson

Hammerfest has always been a festival that has intrigued me. The thought of the metal masses invading Pontins for a weekend of fun and frolics sounded like a grand plan, but being a fair hike from Central Scotland I had never ventured forth.  So it was decided that I would combine the festival with a family weekend away and, accommodation hastily arranged, we headed in convoy down the M6 on the Friday morning.

The intention was to get to Prestatyn in time to catch Irish rockers Trucker Diablo in the early afternoon, but traffic meant that we arrived at the site just as the guys were due to be striking their last chords which was a shame, hopefully I will catch up with them later in the year as their album 'The Devil Rhythm'is a cracker.

Day 2: Friday March 16

Arthemis, photo by David Wilson

So once we were signed in and with wristbands in place we headed for the second stage and Italian thrash metallers Arthemis. The band had drawn a good crowd who were rewarded with a fantastic set.

Playing a mix of thrash and power metal the guys put on a powerful display. Frontman Fabio Dessi was in his element and played the crowd like a pro, well like Paul Stanley to be exact, and his enthusiasm was infectious.

Set highlights included opener 'Scars On Scars', a cover of Deep Purple's 'Burn' and a new song written in honour of their Hammerfest appearance entitled 'Metal Hammer', no sucking up there then ! This was a great performance, definitely a band to catch again in the future.

Following Arthemis we hot footed it around to catch Nottingham rockers Spirytus who play a blend of bass heavy funk rock, sounding like a mix of Korn and early Faith No More.

They put in a decent shift but weren't my cup of tea, so after a few numbers we headed off to regroup with the rest of the family and get booked in to our cheap and cheerful caravan, a top tip if you find the on site accommodation a bit pricey, there are plenty of cheap caravans available close by if you do a bit of web surfing.

Waylander, photo by David Wilson

After settling in it was back for more metal. First up we had Irish Celtic heavyweights Waylander who were highly entertaining. They infuse death metal with celtic touches and are the only rock band I have encountered with a guy playing lead tin whistle.

The crowd was fairly sparse at the start, but grew as the set progressed and by the last number Waylander had proved themselves worthy of their main stage slot.

Slam Cartel, photo by David Wilson

Next up were Slam Cartel who are gaining a lot of airplay with their current single 'Wishing Eye'. Playing on the second stage just before Chimaira hit the main stage probably wasn't the best of slots, but the guys put on a good show for those that ventured away from the main stage.

Highlight of the set was the aforementioned single, but the band proved to be more than a one trick pony putting in a strong set, but as stated they did suffer from the fact they clashed with Chimaira and that is where we headed next.

Chimaira, photo by David Wilson

Chimaira attracted arguably the biggest crowd of the weekend, the hall was rammed by the time the band hit the stage and launched into 'Nothing Remains'.

Their hardcore metal went down an absolute storm with the crowd bouncing along throughout the set. There were highlights aplenty including 'Power Trip', 'The Flame'and set closer 'Resurrection' which rounded off a masterful display.

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It would be a brave band that followed Chimaira and that dubious honour fell to doom merchants Paradise Lost. By the time PL hit the stage we had managed to sneak into the VIP seating area as having been up from 6am we were starting to flag, unfortunately Paradise Lost almost sent me to the land of nod.

It's not that they are a bad band, just that they are a bit, well, boring after a while and sandwiched between Chimaria and Anthrax this became painfully obvious. They went down well though so maybe I am in the minority, each to their own.

Anthrax, photo by David Wilson

The band I was here to see though were the mighty Anthrax and they didn't disappoint. From the opening bars of 'Hell On Earth' to the closing strains of 'I Am The Law', this was a fantastic set.

Scott Ian was in great form, stomping around the stage pulling faces all the while and Joey Belladonna was in fine voice. The set consisted of both classic oldies including 'Indians', 'Madhouse' and 'Death Rider' coupled with tracks from their latest excellent album 'Worship Music'.

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