As the name suggests, Hammerfest V is the 5th instalment of Metal Hammers own music festival and for the first time this year it was held at Hafan Y Mor in Pwllheli North Wales. Surrounded by stunning scenery, snow-capped mountains and the picturesque coastline this festival is unlike most other weekend music festivals. There is no muddy camping with this one, oh no! There are chalets and static caravans here which is lucky really considering it's held in North Wales!

After some slight disappointment on the costume front (previous years have seen many a reveler dressed to impress in pirate and Viking costumes) there were more Smurfs wandering around than people dressed in the Samurai outfits to tie in with the "In Fear of the Dragon" theme.

Metal Hammer proves that once again, they know their music. Rather than a "something for everyone" attitude, Hammerfest most definitely caters for the metal heads out there. That's not to say that there's not much diversity, but if you don't like your music heavy then Hammerfest is most likely not the festival for you.

The opening night is renowned for hosting an array of lesser known bands due to the fact that the majority of the crowd won't be arriving until the Friday, but Thursday night kicked off in style with The Goddam Electric, a hard rockin' band from Manchester. It was a shame there was only a small turnout there to see the 5pm kick off as they really got the small but perfectly formed crowd going. Tommy's impressive vocals and the catchy riffs made a distinct impression. Named after a well-known Pantera song, it's clear to see where these guys get their inspiration. After an energetic start, they slowed the set down slightly with Jealous Contradiction but it wasn't long before they revved it back up a notch with Something More. Of course, the promise of free jaeger and CDs helped get the early revellers well and truly warmed up...

Later on saw Midlands based metallers Vicious Nature (formed from several other bands) take to the stage for a somewhat uninspiring set showing that they have only played a handful of gigs in their current line-up. However, tracks like We are Revolution and self-titled Vicious Nature show Andy Pikes brutal voice to the best of its ability. With a pounding bass, driving guitar riffs and powerful drums, Vicious Nature may be a band we'll be hearing a lot about more about.

Then saw the late, but welcome, addition of Savage Messiah perform for the ever growing crowd with their first performance of 2013. Combining intricate guitar solos with just enough catchiness to make you hum along this was straight up metal to bang your head and fist along to. The crowd lapped it up especially their closing cover of Diamond Heads Lightening to the Nation.

Then Headliners Sacred Mother Tongue took to the stage grabbing the crowd by the balls and commanding everyone's attention. Although being a bit difficult to figure out, SMT are clearly very talented musicians and are establishing a great reputation. With most of their set being from new album Out of the Darkness you can see that guitarist Andy James is a little wasted playing the bands chugging rhythms rather than the shredding solos you can tell he longs to play.


Opening the smaller Jagermeister stage ensuring to blow away the sparse crowds cobwebs from the night before were Sansara. With a shed load of energy and a horde of well written songs, the guys played like they were headlining the main stage at Download! Add melodic hard rock full of catchy riffs and massive hooks to their rock n roll image and the fact that they are clearly massively accomplished musicians, these guys have a bright future ahead of them.

Friday afternoon saw the onsite pub The Mash and Barrel play host to a number of acoustic sets by some of the bands scheduled to play the two main stages later on. Annoyingly we only caught the last of Triaxis' set but Krissies hauntingly beautiful vocals on their version of Iron Maidens Your Time Will Come certainly whetted our appetite to catch their full set later that afternoon on stage two.

Next up came Chemicals of Democracy hailing from Phoenix Arizona. Unfortunately they had a few technical glitches but you could let that slide after hearing it was the first time they'd ever played acoustic. I say the word acoustic loosely as it was still an electric set, but the vocals and stage presence of this band were amazing especially during Fire in the Hole.

Then came some amazing guitar driven covers from the stunningly talented Arthemis. Hearing the packed out pub (some of whom were still eating breakfast) singing along to Ozzys Momma I'm coming Home was truly a sound to behold. Fabios vocals were clean and his boyish grin showed just how chuffed the band were to be playing there. The only downside was the fact he was holding the lyrics as he was singing but that's only a slight criticism. I couldn't wait to experience their own set later on stage one!

So, we then made our way up to the Jagermeister stage to catch Triaxis' full set and I'm glad to say we weren't disappointed. Unfortunately Krissie had a notably sore throat but she battled on regardless with their amazing set with some distinct Megadeath comparison. With some outstanding energetic fretboard magic and Krissies angelic voice during Sker Point and Some Things are Worth Dying For, Triaxis are a straight up metal band with no gimmicks and well deserve the reputation they are building!

Arthemis chose to record their Live album over on the Dragon Stage and what a place to record it. The swelling crowd lapped up every moment of Fabios stunning voice and uplifting set. Performing the powerful Scars on Scars and the anthemic We Fight these guys have it all from catchy riffs to head banging goodness and uplifting vocals, Arthemis project a wall of sound and a truly astonishing set.

Then came Attica Rage showing what they can do with 10,000 volts coursing through their Marshall stacks as they churned out some good old fashioned metal mainly from their latest release 88 Miles an Hour. Their performance was completed by a guest slot from Sci-Fi Mafia sending sparks flying with angle grinders spewing sparks out over the crowd. Then dedicating Back to the Old School to the recently deceased Clive Burr made the huge crowd erupt with appreciation.

With the evening drawing on, the crowd getting drunker and the smurfs seeming to multiply, Hatebreed took to The Dragon stage late after the rumours of earlier in the day were founded and Jamey Jasta announced that they had indeed been delayed at Heathrow. With a somewhat shaky start and a few sound issues, the immense crowd didn't seem to care. After being quite subdued for most of the day the masses went berserk from the start of the regrettably short set. Honour Never Dies and Put it to The Torch went down well but when the classics like I Will Be Heard and Destroy Everything kicked in the crowd literally tore the place up with an immense circle pit!


So Saturday kicked off hilariously with some witty banter from the punk rock idiots that are OAF. With one drummer and one bassist, OAF are clearly smarter than Painting Cocks in the Sistine Chapel and Wanking with a Fistful of Shit. The frankly weird duo made an interesting addition to the line-up and I couldn't help but grin like a fool at the immature lyrics and drummers outfit. Meanwhile, over on Stage one was the enchanting Commander In Chief with unspeakably clever guitar work on her specially made 7 string guitar.

Then we caught Driven on Stage Two who we were set to interview later on and we couldn't have been treated to a better introduction to these guys. They have a passion and drive for the music I've yet to see from a young bunch of lads. They're clearly incredibly talented musicians and are proud of what they have accomplished to date. Dedicating In Search of Some to anyone with ambition, this is clearly a song about reaching goals and never stopping, proving these guys know what they want to achieve. Then they flipped it all on its head and got the crowd to form a huge conga line which was just pure insanity and so much fun to watch. I never thought I'd see so many metal heads doing a conga line on a Saturday afternoon. But, more of that to come later.....

Although billed to be playing during the early hours, Sodom's set was moved to early evening, yet the word must have got out due to the size of the faithful horde awaiting their presence on stage. These veterans of over thirty years play relentless overwhelming thrash at super human speeds and never miss a beat! Playing a totally off the wall version of The Trashmen's The Bird is The Word sent the crowd into a grinning frenzy and a clear fan favourite Agent Orange was amazingly tight and terrifyingly loud proving just why bands like Sodom are still going strong!

Saturday evening was all about the Doom in the form of veterans Candlemass and St. Vitus with the former taking to the stage first proving why it is that they are still adored so much after all these years. With an enthralling set of intoxicating tracks they have so much stage presence and switch from playing their slower tracks to ear crushing super human speed in a heartbeat with so much ease. The crushing closer Solitude has so much energy and shows new singer Mats Levens vocals to their full potential as the crowd stood in awe.

Then American doom metal giants St. Vitus prove that heavy doesn't necessarily mean playing at a million miles an hour, as their music packs such a punch you can feel every beat. But their slowness in no way means sloppy. Songs like I Bleed Black and The War Starter have a rawness that's mesmerising. With the band looking more like a bunch of wizards, their set is magical and enthralling as the crowd drank in every minute.

To pick the mood back up a notch or two, please welcome to the stage Napalm Death to inject some much needed adrenalin into the atmosphere. These Lords of grindcore make Sodom and Destruction look lethargic by comparison. And my God are they heavy!! For the next hour and twenty minutes the wall of sound coming from the stage is immense and Barney Greenway's vocals never fail to take me by surprise. With his floppy fringe and chubby features and the way he circles the stage shaking his head, he looks like he'd be more at home wandering the grounds of a care facility, but once he opens his mouth the sheer focused aggression and hostility is blatant. And yet despite looking like a mental patient and roaring like a wild lion with a thorn stuck in his paw he addresses the crowd intelligently as when he acknowledges the overzealous smoke on stage "Excuse me Mister smoke machine man, can you turn it down a bit. Sisters of Mercy we are not. Thanks very much"

With their set spanning their entire career there is something in there for old and new fans alike and the bonus is that because a lot of their tracks are short and sharp, they fit so much into their 1 hour and 20 minutes set. With tracks like Continuing the War on Stupidity and Suffer the Children the crowd is left battered, bruised and knowing that they have witnessed some true legends doing what they do best. Playing heavy fucking metal!

And with that, Hammerfest was over - well until next years instalment of "Book of the Dead" anyway. All in all, Hammerfest is an awesome festival with great accomodation (even the most budget priced is still comfortable compared to your standard festrival tent). With the onsite facilities of Papa John's, Burger King, Fish & Chips, 3 Spar shops, fast serving bar staff including an outdoor bar for people wandering between the two stages and an onsite pub and restaurant this festival proves to be amazing value for money. Everyone there was lovely and as well as taking away some great memories, we've also taken with us some great new friends.