Location: Markthalle, Hamburg (DE)
Featured bands: Joseph Tholl, Vemod, Argus, Nifelheim
The doom descended upon Hamburg as the 8th edition of Hell over Hammaburg festival took place in the famous Markthalle in the beginning of March. The festival was sold-out, which showed the dedication and passion of the audience. A nice mix of black, heavy and doom metal (and some surprise discoveries) were awaiting us this year.
As much as I have loved to open this day with (DOLCH), I sadly had to skip them this time due to work and arrived just on time before Joseph Tholl took over the stage. This Swedish multi-instrumentalist is familiar to many in the audience as he is known from Enforcer, VOJD and Robert Pehrsson’s Humbucker. This time, he decided to go on his own path and dis debut album “Devil’s Drum” is out already so it was time to celebrate! The audience was in for a dynamic and versatile show. It was indeed fascinating to see Joseph Tholl changing instruments and delivering a musical feast! There was a bit of everything in his set, with influences ranging from the 60s to the 80s, but with a personalized and modern touch. Overall, a very impressive start for me to this first day!
Vemod was an interesting change and one of the bands I was looking forward to see on this day. This Norwegian act’s style can be described as “dark ethereal metal”. The latest record “Venter på stormene” was out 8 years ago. This didn’t matter though as I could feel the anticipation in the air. Throughout the show, the band delivered some fine atmospheric black metal; the tunes were at times calming and at times brutal. In addition to this, the influences from post-BM, depicted perfectly via the riffs, captivated the audience right away. There was not much interaction as everyone was in awe and just gave in to the music.
One nice highlight was the guitarist/backing vocalist J. E. Åsli’s vocal duties on spotlight, adding a nice touch to the performance as well as the lit incense sticks. I also gotta add that the blue lighting throughout the show gave more dimension and added more depth to the songs. What an atmospheric show this was, one that I will definitely remember!
It was time to change the mood again with Argus. Formed in 2005, these Americans make a fine mix of doom and heavy metal. Their latest album “From Fields of Fire” was released in 2017 and so it was time to celebrate some recent and older songs.
Throughout the show, the band conquered the stage and the hearts of the many in the audience! The overall pace of the show was quite fast except in 1-2 songs such as Pieces. In these moments, the crowd just took a break from that craziness and relaxed. But surely this didn’t last long as the whole performance was like a fucking dynamite! My personal highlight was Butch Balich and his neverending energy on vocal duties! It was such a great feeling to see some action on stage between the bandmembers but also the interaction between Butch Balich and the audience was a remarkable experience. This show was definitely the most dynamic one of this evening, leaving the crowd sweaty for sure!
Setlist: A Curse On The World, By Endurance We Conquer, The Damnation of John Faustus, Durendal, Pieces of Your Smile, Devils Devils, Cast Out All Raging Spirits
NIFELHEIM as the headliner was the most anticipating act for almost everyone in the audience. These legendary Swedish black metallers need no introduction. They have quite a steady fanbase and many releases, with the latest EP “The Burning Warpath to Hell” out last year.
What can I say about this performance? It was chaotic, dark, brutal but also entertaining at the same time! There was this explosion as soon as the band opened the set with Infernal Flame of Destruction and we knew we were in for the complete black metal package and the crazy ride from then on. The band was on fucking fire; it was impressive how each member on stage delivered their own highlights and never ever stopped interacting with the audience for even one moment! In that sense, it was quite the ‘dynamic’ show and it was hard to even stop and breathe or to even think about what was happening around! Well.. that is indeed how the crowd wanted it and the band managed to deliver this atmosphere perfectly!
Since the latest EP was released last year, the band surely focused on this one but also did not skip the past releases, including “Envoy of Lucifer” and “Servants of Darkness”. One highlight that surprised the audience was Satanic Sacrifice from their demo “Unholy Death”, originally released in 1993. This time travel definitely proved how much of an impact the band has on the scene; it didn’t matter if the songs were old or new, the audience celebrated each song with full force and just kept wanting more and more, even after the last song, The Final Slaughter!
Nifelheim brought an amazing end to the first day of the festival and gave the black metal ones exactly what they needed. As I also expected, they became my highlight of this first day and I knew that this was the case for many in the audience as well!
Setlist: Infernal Flame of Destruction, Unholy Death, From Hell’s Vast Plains, Evil Blasphemies, The Burning Warpath to Hell, Bestial Rites, Storm of the Reaper, Sodomizer, The Bestial Avenger, Satanic Sacrifice, Possessed by Evil, The Final Slaughter
Click here for Day 2!