One Wild Weekend in Wales
By MATT GERRARD
Though the weekend kicks off to an uninspired start on the second stage with battle metallers Waylander (4) who run through a stale set of gimmicks and unoriginal material, hope comes in the form of Die Apokalyptischen Reiter (7). With a furious and energetic live show, they cannot fail to entertain. Songs such as ‘Riders On The Storm’ and ‘Revolution’ give the set a real sense of pace though watching them it's clear their show is hampered being on second, the crowd only really warming to them by the end of their set. The same however cannot be said for Korpiklaani (8). The crowd chanting ‘Wodka!’ even before they take to the stage shows testament to this bands popularity. Tearing through a set of folk metal classics they party hard with the people of Hard Rock Hell and see many disappointed when they have to make way for Hysterica (2) who embarrass themselves with a lacklustre performance that reeks of Manowar with no power. With terrible sound and childish unconvincing, gimmicky songs they see many including me leave the second stage in favour of classic rock band Ratt (7). These make an immediate impact and put on a show worthy of their 20 million album selling career. Back to the second stage we see hard rock band Black Spiders (8) making good on their reputation as a hard working band. Putting on a ballsy show they make for an immensely enjoyable live experience. Back to the main stage we see Terrorvision (9) surprise everyone. After much questioning as to their place on the bill, they silence their critics by putting on one of the best shows of the weekend. With the crowd leaping around as though possessed, screaming the words to ‘Tequila’ you have to admire this band's ability to perform and engage with the crowd. Normally that would be a hard act to follow. Yet Monster Magnet (9) do so aptly. The space lords play a masterful set which not only appeals to hardcore fans but wins them many more. With musicianship which cannot be denied they leave Sonata Arctica (4) looking distinctly feeble. Though classics such as ‘Full Moon’ still hold the power we expect from them, a set dominated by new material leaves fans disorientated and newcomers bewildered, making a poor end to an otherwise fantastic first day.
Starting the day the classic Girlschool (6) play the same set they always play, a good sing-a-long set marred with technical issues. The same cannot be said though for Tigertailz (7). The welsh glam rockers clearly loving playing in their home country deliver a tight set and pave the way for classic good time rockers Quireboys (7)who also deliver an energetic set fuelled by a genuine party atmosphere. Only held up by technical issues the wait now is on for NWOBHM legends Angelwitch (8). These 80’s veterans persevere through a set marred with yet more sound problems, and deliver classic songs to an enthusiastic crowd. WASP (9) on the other hand face no such issues and put on a show which feels as though it might destroy North Wales entirely. Blackie Lawless’ voice still spot on, it is with reluctance that I leave to see how old school band Demon (4) go down. Down is the only answer. Playing to maybe 20 people they put in little to no effort and clearly suffer next to titans WASP who can be heard dominating the festival from the main stage. As main stage builds for legends Queensryche (6), this soon turns to annoyance as they arrive a full 25 minutes late on the stage. From there they fail to impress delivering a sterile performance which sees many people leave the main stage in favour of thrash monsters Onslaught (9). With their work cut out for them these masters of the genre set to it with a will generating furious pits to new and old classics alike delivering one of the performances of the weekend. Goatwhore (6) definitely struggle to follow, and again trudge through a set marred with technical difficulties. Many openly wonder now if the second stage is cursed. Up against Lauren Harris, Skeleton Witch (8) deliver a highly charismatic show bursting with energy. Clearly less than impressed with Ms. Harris' rise to fame they tear through a tight set which is only marred by its low turnout. Closing the weekend we see young thrashers Toxic Holocaust (6) try and engage with a flagging, tired audience, which though its clearly appreciative of their venom-esque style of metal cannot be tempted to do more than nod along. Even an appearance from Sy Keeler of Onslaught can't save them from that.
Overall a crazy weekend of terrible weather, awesome bands, great friends and a great atmosphere. Roll on HRH IV!
Rock On, Matt Gerrard.