HRH United 3 / Hammerfest 9 – Camp HRH, Pwllheli, North Wales. 24th & 25th March 2017

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The third in the series of HRH United Pwllheli camp is once again sold out and brimming with a contagious energy. These events are prominent in the diaries of metalheads and rockers.  These ‘vets’ and ‘royalty’, they know the benefits of the pilgrimage to Camp HRH.

As I arrived (late, as it happens, but that’s a tale for another time) Skyclad were in the main arena; their folk encrusted rock and metallic outbursts bringing forth a varied flavour for the frenzied Friday afternoon punters. Their clear sound and a visual performance Skyclad made for a memorable highlight of the day, as the crow jovially embraced the pagan resonance presented before them.

Next up was Stockholm heavy metal trio Grand Magus. It was now one in… one out… the venue was absolutely rammed! Nonchalantly arriving on stage, taking all in their stride, and commanding the crowd like true Viking warriors, the next hour was to be a headbanger’s ride to Valhalla. With no messing, and going straight for the throat, the Swedish band took Hammerfest by the balls and firmly asserted their presence; delivering a set Odin himself would cower to. All in the venue felt the supremacy.

Hammerfall were going to have a tough time following this. But the power-driven quintet seemed to take it all in their stride and deliver one hell of a suckerpunch to anyone who still doubted them. Holding the near capacity crowd, Hammerfall had them singing along to their anthemic reverberations. It was an hour of molten metal which proved that their addition to the bill was to be one of this year’s highlights.

Next up Brum noise-boys Napalm Death tried to surgically remove your eardrum. With 50% of the original band absent, guitarist and bass positions were filled admirably, maintaining the levels of extremity to the usual maximum. Chaos ensued.

And so to stage 2 and the wrath of thrash heavyweights Warlord who were whipping up a seemingly adrenalized crowd and embracing the hordes of puzzled ND fans who entered this stage area. Embracing the bonus bodies Warlord put their heads down and thrashed mightily.

The Teutonic trio of Destruction pulverised the main arena and left the place in ruins. These Germans know how to serve up old school thrash/speed metal, and delivering a well-balanced career spanning set only highlighted their credibility. The mad butchers were on fine form tonight! Friday at Hammerfest had been one hell of an event in itself.

Saturday; and with many nursing hangovers and the sun beaming bright BBQs were plentiful as the crowds prepared for Power Quest to blow away any cobwebs. Raging Euro style Power Metal is their call, and with a loyal fan base flocking to see them and a crystal clear sound, these guys played as if their lives depended upon it.

Lagerstein cranked things up a notch further; heir party antics, and booze fuelled shenanigans proved popular with the rowdy crowd, and may sang heartily along to the entirety of the set.

On to Old Corpse Road where things got decisively heavy and black. The UK quintet’s stage performance added extra depth to the severity of their songs. Playing to a crowded (albeit stage 2) house, the extreme ferocity mixed tempered with atmospheric moments rendered captivating what can sometimes be monotone music, while the blood splattered, death soaked recital was exactly what the audience craved. savouring every last minute.

Kampfar are truly evil. Only a splattering of black and grey can be seen amidst the stage smoke and lighting. Black Metal fans have been treated well over the weekend and the ensuing forty-five minutes is spent summoning up a possessive force to which their legions heed every command.

Overall though, the Saturday belonged to Alestorm as far as most of Camp HRH were concerned. Most of the punters were in on the joke, as many were sporting fancy dress costumes. Pulling the biggest crowd of the day so far, the main arena was once again partying hard. Songs of boozing, manly antics, and jovial pirate shenanigans had beer glasses raised high and plenty of audience participation. With plenty of banter in between songs and embracing the live surroundings, it’s easy to understand why this band is so popular amongst younger metallers.

It was then left for UK old school Death Metal stalwarts Cancer to close proceedings in the main arena. A real treat for the serious metalheads, having successfully carried fans with them for nearly 30 years, the band have remained strong. This three piece were without doubt the heaviest band of the entire festival, and old school death metal does not come much better. Their punishing sound hammered home tunes, the energy was abundant and the attitude reeked of professionalism. Hung, Drawn and Quartered, C.F.C, and Into the Acid sounded equally as good as it did back in the day. Closing the set with a cover of Celtic Frost’s Dethroned Emperor was a much-respected hone to greatness, and very well received by all in attendance. A much welcomed appearance that pleased many a true metalhead.

Until next year, adios! Mark Freebase



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