LIVE REVIEW: Skindred w/ Gloryhammer, Sumo Cyco & Cypecore @ Hammerfest X – 17th March 2018

Despite having an afternoon slot on the Saturday of Hammerfest X, Cypecore (9) create a dark, heavy atmosphere at the main stage. Their apocalyptic lyrics and cybergoth-inspired armour create a fantastic performance and image that differs from other bands at the festival, and an incredibly dramatic performance that defies expectations of those unfamiliar with the band was an explosive addition to the festival’s line-up.

 From the beginning of their set the stage lights are turned down low, with eerie green spot lighting and apocalyptic images on the screens behind the stage establishing the atmosphere for the music. Cypecore explode with their performance, heavily distorted guitar riffs that have the majority of the crowd headbanging before long. The aggressive, distorted vocals add to the depth of the sound. The band include some tracks in their set which involve clean vocals, to create an effective contrast with the aggressive tones and highlights vocalist Dominic Cristoph’s ability with varying vocal styles. Siren-like sound effects used throughout their set both inbetween tracks and through tracks further portray the futuristic, apocalyptic setting. The band are dressed in cybergoth style armour with lighting down the breastplate, with the lighting on their armour flashing in time with the rhythm from the percussion during several songs. Steampunk-style goggles and respirator-inspired tubing gives an extra dimension to their performance. They’ve got great stage presence, standing on the floor speakers which at times give them extra height over the crowd, a powerful stance that works perfectly with their image. The darkness surrounding the stage also creates an air of mystique, for the band members’ faces are never fully visible. Even at the end of the performance the lighting is kept down until the band exited the stage, an aspect of their persona that enhances their image and their performance.

 Their performance is executed well; the instrumentation is performed accurately and the sound levels appeared well-balanced. The fullness of the sound and heaviness of the guitars in their tracks is extreme, and the frequent use of the double bass drum pedal further enhances the sound. It creates an almost war-like aspect not dissimilar of machine gun fire, perfectly suiting their apocalyptic style. The wall of sound that keeps coming is an immersive experience, and possibly a somewhat deafening experience for those not wearing ear protectors. The crowd are clearly blown away by this performance, the sheer force and energy of the music, the dark atmosphere transformed the arena. It’s evident from their movement; the headbanging, moshing and devil horns all displayed the fascination and enjoyment of their performance.

 Cypecore’s explosive performance is beyond any expectations, coming spectacularly and astonishing the crowd from the start. The band’s ability to create such a dark, enthralling, dramatic atmosphere in the afternoon is incredible, and the combination of their image, sound, stage presence and stage effects creates a mind-blowing show that would not want to be missed. Their appearance at Hammerfest X is undeniably a hit with the crowd and will have won them many new fans. 

Punk-metal band Sumo Cyco (7) grace the Main Stage at Hammerfest X 2018. taking an early evening slot. The band have come a long way in gaining recognition over the past few years although there is still a way to go, with Hammerfest being their next stop off for them on their tour around the UK. The band are incredibly energetic from the start with the vocalist, guitarist and bassist jumping and dancing around the stage, whilst still managing to perform seamlessly. Despite their high energy it takes a few tracks for the crowd to properly warm to them, maybe due to the time of day or just not having many punk-metal lovers present. The crowd certainly warms to them when vocalist Sever decides to climb over the barrier and into the crowd, much to the dismay of the stage security. This overcoming of barriers certainly makes a statement. Bursting with confidence, Sever is certainly keen on chatting between songs; the Canadian group arrived in the UK just as the snow was falling and she doesn’t fail to comment on the hyperbolic British reaction.

 At one stage there seems to be a technical issue of a backing track for a song playing whilst the previous one was still ending. A quick conversation between the guitarists suggests there was an issue; whatever occurred it was quickly resolved and did not particularly disrupt the flow of their set. They perform a mixture of tracks from previous releases having some variety to their set with a cover of the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Give It Away. Their performance is filled with energy and stage antics, with at one point Sever singing lying in between the guitarist’s legs. The guitarists appear slightly restless as they do not seem to have any desire to keep still. The inclusion of this cover in their set does add some variety and is well performed, but it’s nothing completely mind-blowing. The highlight of their set, though, is their performance of Move Mountains featuring Benji Webbe from the festival’s headliners, Skindred. His unexpected appearance captivates the crowd and those unfamiliar with Sumo Cyco’s tracks easily get into the catchy rhythm and repetitive chorus of this track.

 The incredibly energetic music, band members who did not appear to tire and busy light displays create an enthusiastic, enjoyable performance, even for those who are not massive fans of the punk-metal genre. As a band who are still growing and building up a fanbase in the UK, Sumo Cyco certainly give it their all in their performance. As an relatively new band, they have greater control over their music but have to work harder to grow, though their appearance at Hammerfest X will certainly have helped to spread awareness of their existence and increase their prospects of developing further as a band. With immense confidence and enthusiasm for what they do, they have the potential to go far.

Gloryhammer (8) are a heroic fantasy power metal band who grace the Main Stage at Hammerfest X, supporting headliners Skindred. The band prove unique with their fantasy / space image and song lyrics, and are a fascinating band in the festival line-up. From the beginning of their set the arena is filled, and dressed in their signature costumes, they create a theatrical display including booming voice effects for narratives in-between songs, light displays and a giant hammer. It may appear unusual at the time but considering their band name and performance style, it probably shouldn’t be too surprising.

 Being a festival, alcohol is always heavily involved – even more involved when it also coincides with St. Patrick’s Day – and guitarist Paul Templing partakes in indulging himself with beverages during the performance, to the extent that vocalist Thomas Winkler sends a member of the audience crowdsurfing to the bar to fetch him more beer. It is certainly one way to get hold of a drink in a busy arena, and having received his beverage, the guitarist proceeds to drink his pint in one go. Fortunately, it doesn’t appear to impede his playing ability, as the performance of all the songs are to a high standard. The sound balancing appears very slightly off at points with the bass drum appearing very prominent, but this may vary for crowd members depending on which part of the arena they’re stood and their distance to the speakers. On the whole, the sound is good; the energetic, enthusiastic performance certainly makes up for any small sound issues. Gloryhammer’s setlist includes Magic Dragon and Angus McFife, both of which appear to be firm favourites with the audience, given how many members of the crowd were dancing, headbanging and singing along during their set.

 The band’s performance from an instrumental point of view is well executed, with Winkler’s melodic vocals being very clear through the whole set. His large vocal range and ability to hit high notes accurately each time is impressive, and the accuracy of the instrumentation further displays the band’s talent, with intricate guitar melodies and riffs the tracks are of a high technical level. All the instrumentation parts were performed accurately, despite the consumption of alcohol. Their performance stood out from those of other bands through their inclusion of spoken narrative prior to a number of songs in their set, a dark, booming vocal effect on the microphone that creates a dramatic atmosphere and immerses the audience into the story that runs through the lyrics. This extra dimension to their tracks sets the band apart from others and creates a more interesting performance than just watching a band play on a stage.

 Gloryhammer give a brilliant, immersing performance that temporarily removes the crowd from reality into their fantasy world. Their use of theatrical effects, spoken narratives and heavy metal music brings something different to the final night of Hammerfest X, and from the applause at the end of their set, it was evident the crowd loved their performance.

Welsh metallers Skindred (9) headline Hammerfest X, taking on the Main Stage on the final night of the festival. Leading up to the time of their set, the arena fills quickly, and it’s evident there are many Skindred fans present. The room is filled with anticipation as the stage crew gradually set up and sound checked the band’s instruments. Finally, the time of their set arrives, and AC/DC’s Thunderstruck come blasting out of the speakers – not quite expected, though neither is the dubstep version of Darth Vader’s theme, The Imperial March which follows. However, it does create quite a spectacular entrance for the band who arrive on stage to massive cheers from the crowd.

 From the instance they begin to perform the audience dance and headbang, obviously enjoying the performance. The band’s energy, image, light show all contribute to creating an excellent performance. Their tracks are interspersed with vocalist Webbe addressing the audience, his talk varying from the light-hearted St. Patrick’s Day alcohol jokes, to more serious issues of equality across race, gender and sexuality. Their set is full of heavy, energetic tracks, with one exception of an acoustic performance, in which Webbe once again discusses a more serious issue, telling of a friend who had died from cancer. His narrative is about telling those you love that you love them before it is too late, and the acoustic performance that followed this speech is incredibly heart felt and emotional, felt by the crowd who were soon holding their lighters in the air.

 The tone is soon uplifted following this more serious, heartfelt performance. Following their AC/DC introduction, they intersperse their set with segments of other AC/DC tracks and dubstep motifs. These extras create variety in their performance and provided an unexpected element, however it is perhaps expected that they’re ncluded to flesh out the length of their set. Webbe is very enthusiastic about having the crowd dance and headbang to the music, pointing those audience members who aren’t so keen to join in. Some audience members become extremely enthusiastic; at least ten individuals crowdsurf to the front of the audience and went over the barrier, only to be caught by security and sent back to where they came from. The congregating group of security at the front of the stage searching for crowd surfers does provide some unexpected, extra entertainment, and the band doesn’t seem at all disturbed by these goings on.

The energy of the performance is high – Skindred’s energetic music, enthusiasm and powerful stage presence created a fantastic atmosphere for the last night of the festival. The combination of it being St. Patrick’s day and the last evening may also be contributing factors, but nonetheless, it’s a brilliant ending to the festival.  

Words by Holly Royle 

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