Camp HRH, March 24 2017
Those fortunate enough to have witnessed Sodom’s incendiary performance at February’s HRH Metal shindig will attest to the enduring appeal of German thrash – especially when it is forged up by one of the teutonic ‘big four’.
And just a month later in North Wales it was Destruction’s turn to unleash their own molten wrecking ball on the UK, to show why they are revered alongside the likes of Kreator and Tom Angelripper’s crew as thrash titans, to slake the thirst of those waiting to drink along to Mad Butcher, Release From Agony et al.
But the men from Weil am Rhein struggled with a crowd who, by the time they struck their first chords, had dwindled, its energy sapped by Napalm Death’s ferocious intensity.
A lengthy delay earlier in the evening, caused by an injury to a fan, exacerbated the situation and with Mike Sifringer’s guitar half-buried in the mix – especially during opener Under Attack – a sense of disappointment hung in the air. For a late night Friday headlining set, this wasn’t shaping up well.
Yet Destruction’s mountainous frontman Schmier has seen it, done it and worn the bullet belt – and he wasn’t in the mood to submit to influences beyond his control. The guy has a stage presence to go with his mighty build and he knows how to entertain – whether he’s playing in front of 5,000 people or just a few hundred. And so Hammerfest was on the receiving end of volleys of searing, high velocity neck snappers culled from a 32-year back catalogue, from Curse The Gods to 2016’s Second To None. By the time Nailed To The Cross came around, Sifringer’s riffs were piercing through the audience like shards of serrated steel.
There was also a secret weapon in the form of ex-Evile guitarist Ol Drake, who pummeled and shredded his way through Thrash Till Death and Bestial Invasion, grinning like a kid and swapping smiles and laughs with Schmier.
Drake, who will be contributing solos to Destruction’s forthcoming Thrash Anthems 2, is no stranger to the German outfit, having filled in for Sifringer in the past, and his presence made the band’s rip roaring finale something to savour… for thrashers young and old.
It was just a pity so many people missed that special moment.