The sophomore Hammersonic 2013 returned after debuting in spectacular fashion last year, in the bustling Indonesia capital. With presale tickets already exceeding 20,000, the huge double stage, erected at Jakarta’s Eco Park in Ancol, played host to some of the worlds heaviest and most durable metal acts. The crippling humidity did little to dampen (see what I did there?) the spirits of the huge crowd, garnering attendees from other Asian countries, Australia and beyond.
Day One (Saturday) kicked off with a large gathering of those who had come from across Indonesia on charter buses to attend. Opening bands from around the continent included Kraken and Kapital, as well as Australians Sensory Amusia and death machine Belligerent Intent. The crowd continued to build throughout the afternoon to witness more Asia mania, in the form of Revenge & Burgerkill and the appropriately named Power Metal, who led the crowd in sing-along’s in their native Indonesian. Perth’s Voyager hit the stage, preceding a firework display from buildings setup opposite the stages. This signaled the introduction of European and American acts, in the form of Dyscarnate and also the utterly brutal Hour of Penance. Backstage, the beer flowed with abundance, all the while metal celebrities mixed with locals and imports, posing for incessant photos. America’s Dying Fetus led the circle pits into an absolute frenzy, whilst the grind/death styling of Lock Up set the stage for softer prog of Epica to clear the palate. It was after midnight before veterans Obituary polished off the crowd with a classic set of tunes. The evening closed with a DJ set, whilst patrons retired to hotels, buses or simply slept outside the venue.
Day Two (Sunday) started at much the same time, after breakfasts of nasi, ayam and kambing settled the hangovers of the night before. The early crowds were greeted by local bands Rising the Fall, Unremains and the classic Bali porn-slam of Rezume. A duo of Perth bands, Inanimacy and Advent Sorrow came next, followed by Sydney’s Ouroborous who dazzled onlookers with their death metal grace. More Asian bands preceded the final band before intermission, the one man slam fest Putrid Pile, who incited the circle pit into the most feverish, churning maelstrom this reviewer had ever bore witness to. Cain Cressall of Sydney’s The Amenta creeped the crowd out to the point where I’m sure most of them didn’t want to look directly at the stage. The nightly firework display once again foretold better things: in this case avant-garde French death metal technicians Gorod, whose instrumental prowess and stage show left nothing to be desired. American As I Lay Dying segue-wayed nicely into Teutonic Thrash Titans Destruction, who relied heavily on their The Antichrist album for material. Crowd favourites Cannibal Corpse pounded whatever was left of the Indonesian crowd into the dust, with a perfect mix and unequivocal brutality. Cradle of Filth’s vocalist Dani Filth tortured poor ear drums until the death-knell.
Hammersonic has established itself as the biggest metal festival in this hemisphere and with its relative proximity to Australia, dirt cheap accommodation and insane ticket price of $60AU (!): why any Australian metal-head worth his salt wouldn’t be there for 2014 would be reason enough to question his or her conviction.