The wait is over… The metalheads of Hamburg have been waiting for the 6th edition of HELL OVER HAMMABURG. This year, a mix of black & heavy metal as well as psych and post-punk formed the line-up of the festival. So a colorful line-up was waiting for the fans. The first day of the festival was a mix of black and heavy metal though… Wonder which side was our highlight? Read on!
Hell over Hammaburg welcomed the fans with Gevurah, the Canadian black metal act. Before the band started their set, the candles were lit and the incense sticks were burned, indicating that we were about to witness a ritual… This was indeed the case as the band sent their regards to the dark Lord and started their set. This whole ritual became clear as soon as we saw the Luciferian patches on the band members’ jackets. Normally, I am prejudicial with a band like this but they managed to surprise me with their music. With the dark and magical black metal in this late afternoon, they managed to capture the audience’s attention from the first song.
Throughout the set, the highlight for me was their dark and ‘satanic’ attitude. No interaction with the audience or no gimmicks, it was all about praising the dark Lord through the music and the atmosphere. So even in this short set and despite being the first act of the festival, I am sure they managed to stay in the audience’s mind.
Dead Kosmonaut next. This Swedish act might be familiar to the heavy metal fans out there. They were formed in 2005 under a different name and released the full-length last year under their current name. It was an interesting contrast after a black metal act like Gevurah but I could see the darkness vanishing and the crowd warming up and some fans cheering. The band’s attitude and the vocalist’s sunglasses were the first things I recognized and so a good time was guaranteed.
Even though the band’s style is heavy metal, their set offered a bit more than heavy metal with the styles ranging up to even death/doom thrash and the tempo changing from fast riffs to doomy melodies. Even though the band offered a dynamic set, they weren’t one of the bands that were one of the highlights for us. Somehow, they didn’t stand out in today’s line-up…
The German black metal band Ultha have been gaining a lot of recognition in the BM scene in Germany and so they were also one of the acts we were looking forward to see in the line-up. I remember having reviewed their release a while ago and the darkness/melancholy in their album captivated me and so I was curious as to how their live show would be… I can say it was beyond our expectations.
Throughout the set, the band managed to deliver the perfect atmosphere and the darkness from the beginning to the end. The fog, the red lights and the attitude was just enough for us to get lost in their music. One didn’t need anything more. We just closed our eyes and gave in to the darkness. We could also see the crowd more serious and focused this time; with a band like Ultha, surely a mosh-pit or cheery attitude wasn’t expected but I could see the crowd dedicating themselves to the music. Our thoughts? The band sounds just as good live as with the album and they were definitely one of our favorites of the evening.
After some atmospheric post-BM, it was time to change the mood with heavy metal! American band Savage Master was about to deliver us some fine heavy metal and we could see a lot of fans gathering to see them. Although we have never seen them live, the band got us curious since they have a front-woman, Ms. Stacey Peak, who rocks the stage!
Throughout the set, one thing that got me hooked was indeed the front-woman Stacey’s energy and her interaction with the audience. She might be stuck at the 80s with her outfit but hey, it’s all about the music and she was indeed able to show it! That wasn’t it though; outfit of the other band members was the total surprise for me as the whole show seemed like a fetish event! But joke aside, her energy was definitely the highlight. Overall, they were maybe not our highlight of the gig but definitely one of the highlights of the audience for today’s line-up. As a person who is not familiar with the band, the song “Sacrifice” stayed on my mind and it also seemed to be the favorite of the audience.
Diamond Head is definitely a name a lot of you know or may have heard of. One of the pioneers of the NWOBHM is mainly known for being an influence and of course for their song “Am I Evil?” which was covered by Metallica. So as with everyone, we were also curious to see them.
The band started the set with some sound problems and in our opinion, the vocals sounded a bit off in the first few songs. The drums and those beats were our highlights however. And despite these problems (I don’t think anyone paid attention anyway), the band surely knows how to rock it; the vocalist Rasmus Bom Andersen kept jumping up and down, entertaining the audience and encouraged everyone to shout, cheer, applaud and sing. With each song, they got more powerful and dynamic and we could feel that this bond between the band and the audience was becoming stronger. Even in certain songs, Rasmus took his guitar and joined the other band members. So you could tell they are definitely pros and they were into it.. maybe even more than the audience.
With a band like Diamond Head, the set list was surely colorful and some highlights were definitely “Set My Soul on fire” and “The Lightning”. Especially in these songs, the crowd sang along and joined the band. The best for the last though… as soon as “Am I Evil?” started, the crowd went crazy as everyone sang along. This was definitely the highlight and made us wonder if most people knew this song only… Nevertheless, the band delivered a dynamic and powerful show. Especially kudos to the vocalist for a bombastic performance from the beginning to the end. My only criticism would be to the audience as I would have waited a bit more contribution and cheery attitude from the fans. Even though the interaction and happy bond was there, that peak and spark was missing from the crowd.. I even remember this one moment where the vocalist told the audience to warm up the mosh pit but sadly only a few fans contributed for a very short time… So with a little bit of contribution from the fans, this could have been even a greater show!
Switching from heavy metal to black metal… Master’s Hammer, the legendary black metal act from Czech Republic, was the act a lot of the fans (me included) was waiting for. Apparently the organizers kept inviting the band for the festival over and over again but their response has been : “We do not play live”. The wait is over and the anticipation was high this time. Formed in 1987, Master’s Hammer has been known as one of the pioneers of the scene. With legendary albums such as Ritual and Jilemnický okultista, they were surely a must-see for all the fans, especially fans of black metal, at the festival.
From Ritual (1991) to Fascinator (2018), the band took us to a time journey in their career as they played the old as well as the new stuff. So for people like me who saw the band for the first time, the set list was a perfect opportunity to get familiar with the music. Surely the fans wanted to hear songs from the older albums and so those were mostly the highlights. Since the songs are in the Czech language, the front-man Franta Štorm explained each song before playing and even had fun with it probably knowing that no one in the audience spoke their native tongue! My impression was that the songs from the “Ritual” album as well as the older stuff got the most attention and appreciation. However, the whole set as a whole was magical. It wasn’t just black metal that captivated me but the versatility and the atmosphere in the songs definitely makes one understand why they are the pioneers. I couldn’t think of any other headliner better than Master’s Hammer; with their atmosphere and the magical time journey in their career, they also gained the appreciation of the audience!
Overall, our highlight for Day 1 was definitely Ultha and Master’s Hammer…. so in our opinion, it was black metal that got us captivated! The crowd’s highlight? It was a tie between Savage Master and Master’s Hammer.
Text: Basak Günel
Photos: Heavy Harlequin
Read on for Day 2!