Hammerfest 2015: In The Hills, Phase Reverse & The Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell
The organisers of Hammerfest aren’t all that daft. Early Saturday afternoon has blessed us with sunshine and, to cradle our tender heads and raging hangovers, the introduction of the Stoner Stage is a belting one. There are few better ways, other than bacon and Faith No More’s cover of Easy of course, at curing a hangover than the slow but ultimately groovy and irresistible thump of stoner rock.
Dorset’s In The Hills get things moving with their gloomy holler. Slow burning riffs ripple out into an audience of slowly nodding but fully appreciative heads and the cobwebs are duly swept away. Their vocalist is a leviathan of a man and he parades the stage and photo pit like a dragon guarding its domain, a look of pure evil disgust slapped across his face. His throaty vocals add to the mix well, but its more their presence and the impact of literal in your face screaming that wins over the crowd here. There really isn’t too much in the way of musicality here in the sense that everything gets buried in their muddy mix and there aren’t many moments where one instrument stands above the rest. Their sound is one of great force as one entire entity, but it works really well.
Portugal’s Phase Reverse follow, playing their first show outside of their homeland. Judging by the swarm of people that gather round them to congratulate their performance post-set, the MR team at the front of that group, it was a journey well worth making. This is a band all about killer grooves, heavy, blues-infused guitars, gravel shredded vocals and shitting out hooks. One of the surprise show stealers this weekend, they’ve gone from a band hardly anyone has heard of to one everyone present spends the rest of the day talking about.
Kindred to bands like Down, Pantera an Corrosion of Conformity, it’s a fun, rambunctious set that wins a place in all of our hearts. They’re multi-faceted too, on tracks like Born To Die, there are mammoth sized grooves, quiet interlude passages, powerful, lead weight melodies and a rip roaring solo that drowns in wah. This could be the start of a really successful few years for the band and after this, god knows they deserve it.
Although they didn’t play it – I urge you to check out their cover of Pantera’s Cemetery Gates to hear the raw power and authenticity this band has. A killer cover of a band that more people really do need to know.
In the same vain, The Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell, a band absolutely adored by MR, deserve tonnes more recognition. Their set tonight, in front of a really big, joyous crowd and their European jaunt in support of Danko Jones which follows this may just be the first bite of some tasty fruits of their labour. I’ve seen this band plenty of times now, but this set was their finest hour in front of my eyes. In time they’re getting better and better, a vibrant chemistry flows between them and cloaks the crowd too. Do It Now is fantastically dirty, it's a song that hasn’t showered in weeks, too busy playing Budgie, Johnny Winter and Led Zeppelin vinyls and snorting anti-inflammatories to do anything hygienic. That is, however, exactly why MR loves this band, the contrast of dirgy guitar work and frivolous rock n’ roll fun meshing together to make something altogether more spectacular. They’re lively, infectious as hell and just downright stonking.
The Thicker The Better is fast and furious, grooving like Ace of Spades era Motörhead with the gang vocals chorus gripping the room. Red Admiral Black Sunrise then has the crowd in full voice; they aren't a flashy band but they’re punchy, unarguably entertaining and a throwback to a more innocent, hazy time when rock n’ roll was the be all and end all without the bullshit self-inflated import so many modern, 70s inspired bands give themselves. Not only one of the bands of the weekend for us, but talking to a number of punters later on, they were a surprise package for many others too.
Words: Phil Weller | Photos: Phil Goddard