The Hellfest can be accused that the bands play too short. It can be said that the Hellfest seems to be a "sushi" festival, when every hour a new band is presented with a new style. That´s right. It´s Sushi, but the best one.
That's the great thing about Hellfest short distances between different stages with their different styles, different atmospheres, better sound and better light. The Hellfest is not a fun party with mud fighting, bull riding and bungee jumping. It is a festival for the connaisseurs, the explorers and the curious of all the musical styles of Heavy Metal.
The trip is long and difficult for the non-French, who will be rewarded with a very precise and punctual organization, the paved roads from the site at the campsite, delicious food at reasonable prices and a unique list of bands.
I refrain from mentioning that all the bands on each stage had the best, loudest and clearest sound and the best way to for assembly and disassembly. There are no delays and three short feedbacks in three days on six stages.
Our festival started at 10:30 with the Spanish thrash metal band Angelos Apartrida and at 10:45 there was the first Circlepit. No wonder, the mix of the old school thrash metal, mixed with a little melody and catchy refrains forced to turn the head and unhook the fans. The young Spaniards who continue to send a good slap in the face. Enough to keep us awake for the rest of the day and prove that thrash metal is completely stateless.
1. Violent Dawn
2. Of Men and Tyrants
4. Give'Em War
5. You Are Next
6. Blast Off
7. Legally Brainwashed
The Mexicans Fuelled by Fire had more instrumental parts in their songs like Death Angel and not these catchy melodies and harmonies like their precursors of Angelus Apartrida so the audience reactions are temperate
Our next stop takes place at the second Mainstage where the Japanese Nu/Crossover-Metal-Band Crossfaith are in complete control of their audience. Each and every spectator knows how to move the band´s music and choreography. The air is full of dust with a light smell of sweat and beer. I mean, it´s 12:30!!
Why got so few bands of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal famous and stars? The same fate befell Satan. Then there were all the successful bands like Metallica, Iron Maiden, Mercyfull Fate and all the thrash metal movement stole all the parts of this band. The songs, especially "Break Free" are catchy, powerful and fast, the voice of Brian Ross is more mature than 30 years ago, but their ideas of playing music, to dress and to behave were robbed and spoiled by others.
Toxic Holocaust is undoubtedly one of the brightest light of the new wave of thrash metal. Sharp riffs charged with unshakeable conviction, hoarse voice, fillings as vicious as indicative, a post-apocalyptic theme filled with abysmal darkness. And all of this in 2 minutes songs
Loudblast, the pioneers of the French death metal, packed the double tent of the "Altar" and "Temple", singer, guitarist and Mastermind Stéphane BURIEZ had the masses under control, the drummer Hervé beat through the varied, wonderful and progressive Death Metal and the audience was completely over Moon. LOUDBLAST kicked fuckin´ ass!
1. A Bloody Oath
2. The Bitter Seed
3. Abstract God
4. Emptiness Crushes my Soul
5. From Dried Bones
6. Neverending Blast
8. The Horror Within
9. Cross the Threshold
10My Last Journey
No matter in which band Martin von Drunen appears if Asphyx or Hail of Bullets: you get a simple, groovy and fast Death Metal with amounts of blood in the lyrics and his fascinating voice. No compromises, songs in one row. So he does with Hail of Bullets and his band mates of this supergroup are the fundament of this incredible tight music.
Deströyer 666 / Kadavar
The four Aussies from Deströyer 666 served all the clichés of old-school Black Metal and it gets boring after fifteen minutes.
So we check in the Valley, 50 meters away to follow the concert of the German power trio Kadavar. We don´t expect such a massive crowd cheering at the band and singing along with them. The music is nothing-special just powerful classic rock, just straighter than Black Sabbath and heavier than Pentagram. Powerchords, powerdrumming, and a powerful and distorted bass created a magnetic storm in the cosmos of Kadavar. What a concert!!
I don´t write about an Iron Maiden-Show. Everything is perfect and this band catch me since 1981 no matter if I stand two, twenty or two hundred meters away from them.
1. Doctor Doctor (UFO song)
2. Rising Mercury
5. The Prisoner
8. The Trooper
11. Run to the Hills
12. Wasted Years
14. Fear of the Dark
15. Iron Maiden
17. Churchill's Speech
18. Aces High
Pro Pain are doing their groovy and heavy Hardcore parallel to Iron Maiden in the Warzone. 5000 guys looking like, acting like and singing like Gerry Meskil. Very impressing!!
Slayer sounds like Slayer but without Jeff Hanneman and Dave Lombardo their soul passed away. Okay, their precission in playing, their arrogance in acting on the scene and the pure class of their songs always give you the impression of a perfect, but a sterile feeling of a Slayer Concert. Despite this hell of a setlist.
1. Hell Awaits
6. War Ensemble
11. Dead Skin Mask
12. Raining Blood
13. Black Magic
14. South of Heaven
The French band Mercyless kicks off this day with old-school Death Metal, a limited range of voice and shredding riffs at high speed. Not bad for a band doing this since 1987 as a hobby.
The Dutchmen from Herder manage to mix Sludge, Hardcore, Metal and Stoner and put it through this massive PA in the Valley. This band is our first positive discovery with their intense acting and playing on stage.
The next short concert is the blues and boogie based Stonerrock from Mos Generator. Their heavy Boogie Southernrock is pure joy of playing and jamming and much more intense than on CD.
We stay for Acid King due to the funny soundcheck. Lori (guit & voc) needs 20 from 40 minutes to find the right delay and reverb for her voice. We left the concert after 20 minutes due to the reverb and the slowmotion riffs.
Witch Mountain with the hypnotic voice of Uta Plotkin creates goose pumps. A doomy Stonerrock makes us stay and celebrate this firework of riffs and a punching bass.
After all this slow and relaxed music we need some excitement. So we walk over to our French mates from Dagoba. Fear Factory meets Deathmetal, growls and a clear voice alternate to a thunderstorm of riffs and double bass drums. And: the biggest wall of death with 20.000 spectators on the festival. Legendary concert!!
Status Quo´s album “On the Level” and especially the song “Down, Down” were my introduction to heavy music in 1975. And so I have waited almost 40 years and 40 minutes to listen to this song live for that my personal circle of music closed.
Our day-closing concert will be Monster Magnet after we meet Chrigel from Eluveitie (right) at the signing session, survived Hatebreed´s one-dimensional Hardcore with quite stupid announcements and Soulfly´s moshpit.
Since Dave Wyndorff passed his inner demons after his overdose in 2008/2009 with an impressing concert at the Hellfest 2011, he surpasses our expectations for this concert. Dominant, powerful and vigorous on stage, powered by a tight rhythm section and Phil Caviano´s unbeatable powerchord riffs, surrounded by a striking light and a huge sound, that´s what a concert should be.
3. Nod Scene
6. Twin Earth
9. Space Lord
The Swedish band Year of the Goat opened at 10 a.m. on the Mainstage with their harmonic three-piece guitars, melodic and catchy occultic hardrock. Mastermind Thomas Sabbathi on vocals and lead guitar accentuated with his passionate voice his musical trip through four decades. That means goose bumps at 10.15 a.m. during a 30 minutes concert.
Blues Pills are next on the second Mainstage. They didn´t create something new, just put a remarkable voice on psychedelic inspired, late 60´s Blues like Cactus or Quicksilver. The bands sounds perfect and sterile at the same time, our first “wow!” changes to “Let us go and have lunch.”
Same happens with Scorpion Child. A voice I already heard by Chris Robertson (Black Crowes) in 1992, musically influenced by late 60´s Blues and early 70´s Hardrock of Led Zeppelin, Lucifer´s Friend or Dust. Not bad, but sadly Aryn Jonathan Black lost his voice shortly before finishing the concert.
The French Lofora are the pioneers for all the French crossover bands like Black Bomb A, The Arrs, Mass Hysteria etc. Lofofora were the first in the late 80´s to combine Metal, Rap, Punk and Hardcore with French lyrics. So no wonder that 20.000 Frenchis get mad and produce a huge circlepit of 5000 raging fans and dust clouds in the sky. Very impressing.
To see Crowbar on stage is a bigger pleasure than to hear them on CD. This extremely slow and heavy music fits perfectly to all the members, dressed in baggies and camouflage and covered with tattoos. Very authentic concert.
Lowrider? They started before I start listen to Stonerrock and the stopped before getting famous. Crazy enough for a band catching up the Kyuss vibes and the rocking Fu Manchu parts with a hypnotic voice. So the audience reacts excited and so do we. Absolutely great concert, but why did they split up for ten years?
Black Tusk are doing their swampy Sludge and Doom fuelled Stonerrock. It´s comparable with Kylesa, but their quantum of aggression and the punk roots are more obvious. A raging powertrio on stage, three frontmen, three different voices, never heard of them, no I love them.
House of broken Promises in fact are Unida without John Garcia and so it´s a good option to book Unida for the night and HOBP for the afternoon. Needless to say, that the music grooves and rocks and has the typical stoner flavour. The quality of their songs without Garcias´s voice is good for a festival gig and a song like “Blister” tears down the roofs.
Dozer just topped the previous gig with a best of-setlist, a monster of a sound and a band tight as fuck and groovy as hell. The audience gets nuts and today is an incredible day with incredible good concerts.
Spirit Caravan is, in my opinion, the more blues and hardrock influenced of Wino´s groups. So we just spend a little time to hear and walk away to see the Icelandic Cowboys of Solstafir and we recognize within a few minutes, that the English cowboys of The Fields of the Nephilim are better.
In fact, those bands were just a pastime for Flogging Molly at the Warzone. And after a short walk over the beautifully illuminated festival area we reach the full-packed Warzone with about 15.000 spectators waiting to celebrate and to dance with Flogging Molly. Imagine, it´s almost midnight and the whole crowd moved in huge circlepits, up to ten crowdsurfers in each song, dust clouds covering the stage. What a concert!!
Anyway, we leave this concert because we are a bit tired after this incredible exciting day. So we cross the beautiful decorated and illuminated festival area again to catch up Black Sabbath´s encore “Paranoid” and Soilwork´s highlight “As we speak” in the Altar to reach the Valley again. Unida should be our last concert for this festival. We like John Garcia´s voice, but not always the surrounding bands. Unida is definitely the weakest of all them so we leave after three songs and fell in our bed in our camper. We decide to come back for all the next years.