@Hammerfest VIII, Hafan Y Môr Holiday Park, Pwllheli, North Wales, 12 March 2016

Savage Messiah’s star has been on the rise over the last five years – witnessing their set at Hammerfest, it was easy to see why. The Londoners are a focused, well-honed, sleek metal act, a band born for events like this; if they ever make Hammerfest the Movie, their thrash/NWOBHM/classic metal hybrid would be the ideal film score.

On Saturday the quartet put in a near flawless performance, bulging with the ingredients that have made the band such a tasty live proposition. Alternating between warp speed picking and vicious chugging, Dave Silver and Sam S. Junior were on devastating form, and their twin leadwork brought to mind Maiden in their pomp… which was probably the idea. Cross of Babylon, for instance, felt like a fight to the death between Eddie and Vic Rattlehead – a titanic clash of metal traditions with the audience as the real winner.

Silver’s voice, too, was sensational: the frontman’s range and sheer quality has helped to steer Savage Messiah out of the thrash cul de sac and into more mainstream metal waters… without losing any credibility along the way. His stint at Hammerfest was another example of his prowess, with Zero Hour a particular highlight.

At times, Savage Messiah could be accused of being almost too slick for their own good, lacking the chaotic fury of full force thrash outfits. Yet any notion that they don’t know how to get down and dirty was dispelled by their cover of Motörhead’s Killers, dedicated, of course, to Lemmy. Topping a triumphant appearance, it was a fitting tribute… and proof that even the most technically gifted of metalheads love a bit of biker-friendly, whiskey fuelled rock ‘n’ roll on a weekend.