Hellfire Festival Day 2 – Islington Academy – 21/02/2009
Words – Sexy Dave / Images – Trudi Knight
After a difficult birth (originally planned for November 08), the inaugural Hellfire festival is finally upon us, promising three days of premium metal. The opening night was a joint venture with the Overkill / Exodus tour, but we missed that due to reasons beyond our control, so let’s go straight to the Saturday…
Opening the Scuzz-sponsored second stage are competition winners Scar My Eyes. First band of the day is never an enviable slot, and despite obviously making an effort, Scar My Eyes’ fairly generic death/thrash comes across a bit scrappy.
Making a better opening on the main stage is London-based outfit Godsized. Now including the drummer from recently-demised Head On, these lads lay down pure and simple metal, at times thundering and groove-laden, at times lightening fast, and always a treat to see. One to keep on eye on I think.
Sleazy metallers The Defiled are a curious proposition. The stage presence is definitely from the Motley Crue school of tattoos and ripped, stained denim, whereas the music is screaming hardcore with electronic influences. All of which gives an engaging live show, and while I have to say I’ve never seen someone play a keyboard quite like that before (thrown around the stage gaffa-taped to the stand), it’s a bit hard to take this lot seriously. The drum-and-bass moment was perhaps ill-advised, which could explain why a lot of the crowd filtered off to the other room to see Dead Beyond Buried instead.
After catching a bit of Burning Skies on the second stage (who would’ve thought such a fearsome death roar could come from such a skinny chap!), it’s back to the main room for The More I See. Kicking out anthemic classic metal, The More I See provide a welcome respite from the screamier elements of today. As well as an energetic stage presence and some impressive musicianship, front-man Peter really plays off the crowd in a Bruce Dickinson style (those of you who frequent London’s Metalworks night may recognise him…). With that in mind, an Iron Maiden cover comes as no surprise, and is always a sure-fire way to get the crowd onside.
Panic Cell have been around a while now (certainly in comparison to much of the rest of today’s bill) and have really honed their craft. With some ear-splitting shredding, thundering bass lines and well-timed crowd baiting, these guys really know how to put on a live show. Plenty of live favourites from the last two albums, plus some teasers from the forthcoming third album (played live for the first time tonight) got the early evening crowd going, and I’m sure standing at the barrier handing round a bottle of Jagermeister didn’t hurt (until security took the bottle away – shame on you!).
Easily the most awaited band of the day, greeted by waving cutlasses and pistols, Alestorm really had no trouble putting on a triumphant performance tonight. With such Slayer-meets-Pirates-of-The-Caribbean classics as Over The Seas, Leviathan and Captain Morgan’s Revenge, it’s no wonder these pirate-metallers are doing roaring trade on the high-seas of rock. What’s the appeal of piracy today? Who knows, but it makes damn fine music to raise a tankard and sing and dance to. Not only did they inspire the only moshpits of the day, they even succeeded in organising a wall of death, much to the despair of event security.
Greece’s Firewind had no chance of following up Alestorm’s performance really. Or so I thought – despite a slightly dwindling crowd, the somehow managed it, due in part at least to the dedicated following obviously here just for them. Firewind’s particular brand of melodic power metal is nothing if not impressive, and after the best part of ten years assembling this bunch of quality musicians, I should think so too. The crowd are with them all the way, getting a two song encore, and refusing to stop calling for more, even when the house lights come up. A fitting end to a day of high quality metal, leaving us wondering – what will Sunday bring?