The Hellfest is the best festival for the line-up, the decoration of environment, food, toilets, water service, possibilites to rest during the festival, visibility of stages, lights, and the quality of sound. It is allowed to bring chairs, food, umbrellas and plastic bottles to the festival site. You can drink water, the festival grounds and the services are cleaned all the time. You can sit on synthetic lawn.
Each Hellfest is the result of the previous Hellfest because the organizers take care of the sound, the infrastructures, and the accommodations.
Aesthetically, the festival gets more and more beautiful, because the organizers spend 5 million euros each year on the decoration. From the mammoth Gibson les Paul planted in the middle of a roundabout waiting for our arrival, the entrances to the venue in the form of Marshall and Orange amplifiers, the huge metal horned hand at the entrance of the concert area, the new chapel for weddings , the wrestling ring, the most punk bars on the face of the earth, the tributes to Lemmy in the form of a statue and a painting, the increasingly detailed, large and beautiful "Hell city", the pyrotechnic shows at night, the Kingdom of Muscadet. I still remember our first Hellfest in 2011, when we photographed only 90 per cent of the already elaborate decoration.
Briefly said, the Hellfest is a world-class festival for Stoner, Thrash-Metal, Death-Metal, Black-Metal, Metal-Core, Punk and Hardcore, combined with the heroes of Hardrock, Classicrock and Heavy Metal on an extremely beautiful festival ground.
For us, each Hellfest starts on Thursday at two in the afternoon. We pick up our press bracelets and go for the Metalcorner, the first meeting point of Turbojugend, to meet our French friends of the French groups who play on the stage or work in the market. It's almost the only day to chat and have a beer together. And the Metalcorner is an opportunity for young groups in France. The discovery of tonight is Iron Bastards of Strasbourg, which understands how to manage and improve Motörhead's legacy.
This time, the first day is a day of sushi of different styles. There are the French Verdun, who play a hard and ludic Doom (right), and Sidilarsen, who play a danceable Electronic Metal and the Tunisian Myrath, with their progressive metal of oriental influence while my wife queed for the traditional Hellfest T-Shirt .
Dino Sommese (right), the singer of Noothgrush, did the quote of the day: "It's one o´clock in the afternoon and I'm drunk!" Sure, to support Sludge and Postcore you have to take some beers for breakfast.
Better to see the Spaniards of Wormed (below) with their math-tech-death-metal and their singer Phlegeton. Well, the technical skills of all the members are very impressive, especially the computer voice of Phlegeton. I do not want to listen to a CD of this group, you have to see what they can play on their instruments.
Subrosa from Salt Lake City did the more angry version of Doom. For us it is just a torture to stand the violins and the voice. So we left for the Altar to Corvus Corax
There always plays an extraordinary group at the Hellfest. This year ze Germans of Corvus Corax play for the first time at the Hellfest. You can usually see them at medieval festivals in Germany. More than 10,000 spectators in the Altar sung all the songs and danced all the time. The highlight is the title track of "Game of Thrones" and "Twilight of the Thunder Gods" by Amon Amarth. This concert is our first highlight with the perfect harmony of light, sound and band..
After them, we returned to see Baroness. Their new and fully integrated guitarist Gina Gleason makes an outstanding work on guitar and backing vocals. Baroness starts with material from their last two albums such as "Kerosene", "March to the sea", "If I have to wake up", "Green theme", "Shock me" with the voice of Gina Gleason for the final line revisit older material "Isak", "The Gnashing", "Tower falls" and "Take my bones away" as the last song. Brilliant concert.
To understand France, you have to read Asterix. Because Bretons love to celebrate, make fun of all their neighbours and get involved with the government. Not only in Astérix times. Today, Les Ramoneurs de Menhirs do the same with their Minimalist Folkpunk, which is supported by the Breton symphony orchestra with drums and bagpipes. Spectators with or without wheelchair were crowdsurfing, the full-packed Warzone sang, danced and drunk. Our expectations of this concert were exceeded.
We need a break, with a mouth full of dust and an empty stomach after this exciting concert. We want to see Monster Magnet. Two weeks before I saw the group in Munich and we witnessed an incredibly brilliant concert with "Dopes to Infinity" as a starter until "Space Lord" as encoro, with "Teenage Negasonic Warhead", "Powertrip". 60 minutes of power, 60 minutes of thunderstorms, 60 minutes of perfect synchronization in the group, 60 minutes of interaction with the public. What more could you want? They re-established themselves as the keygroup between Spacerock, Stoner Rock, Protopunk and Psychedelic Rock.
Saturday, June 17
The second day of Hellfest starts for us at 10.30 in the morning with the French Los Dissidentes del sucio Motel. It is a group that mixes Pink Floyd, film music and psychedelic Stoner. It is not an attractive group to watch, but the music is epic and heavy with two singers with two different voices. Their musical influence becomes visible during their last song "Welcome to the Machine" by Pink Floyd.
Primitive Man (right) win the price for the today´s most aggressive and brutal Doom and Sludge.
So we left for the Warzone to watch the Austrian Fun- and Skatepunk Band Insanity Alert (below). They´re managed by the French booking agency Rage Tour so they play a lot of concerts in France. We followed their witty and political Punkrock with "Run to the Pit" as a tribute to Iron Maiden. The group was frantically celebrated by the visitors.
Next was Monkey3 at the Valley. We saw this Band in 2014 on a narrow stage during "Esslingen frisst Staub"-Festival. It was obvious that this band needs a big stage and the skils of Hellfest´s stage and sound technicans. This turned this 4 piece band in a 40 piece symphonic orchestra.
This group really needs such a huge stage an PA for their epic songs like “Icarus” or “Black Sun”
Next one is one of the oddities of the festival. DJ Igorrr is accompanied by a drummer and two vocalists, female and male, to offer an interesting concert halfway between avantgarde, electronics, extreme metal and classical music. One of those different proposals for which it is appreciated that Hellfest annually.
Now it's time for Zeke, the band we've been waiting for since 2005. None of the 10,000 viewers present knew the band. After five minutes, means three songs, the stage and the band are covered by the dust of the Moshpit. Zeke means: 30 songs in 50 minutes, without rest to arrange the guitars, without greeting the audience, without presenting the band or even without drinking water. When punkrock and hardcore are reduced to the most important ingredients, speed, timing, tightness, aggression and complex songs, Zeke is the result. And all the visitors wanted an encore.
The day continued, and without a break we want to see how the Canadians Blood Ceremony present themselves for a large audience. As we saw the band in a small club in Munich last year, we are very excited by the voice of Alia O'Brien and the complex, progressive and occultic rock of their group. On the big stage, she outshone with their strong presence their technically experienced, but relatively colourless members. The PA very well tuned also shows that his voice does not pass through a full concert with force and comes out after half an hour. A disappointing concert for us.
Soilwork is our next band, which impressed us with the voice of Björn Strid, but the music gets bored after half an hour. The Swedish Death-Metal Melodic has been in the Mainstream and does not give us any news.
The next group are the French of Alcest. It is the first time that we see live. They sound close to perfection. His post shoegaze black metalized (or whatever you want to catalog) Rock perfectly and they knew how to put people in their pockets with much material from their latest "Kodama" as well as some concertation to "Les Voyages de l'ame" and "Souvenir d'outre monde". A great show
Sunday, June 18
We started the last day with the English of Vôdûn in the Valley. Imagine that John Bonham is the drummer who plays West African rhythms, mixed with thrash and progressive me-tal, Toni Iommi is the guitarist and Tina Turner sings about voodoo rituals. And all three in war makeup. A very intense concert with Chantal Brown as Tina Turner, Zel Gaute (ex-Groan) as John Bonham and Oli Ghede as Toni Iommi, a very spicy cocktail with the existential ingredients: rhythm, riffs and rage.
A much more traditional Blues and Stoner is performed by the three Icelanders "The Vintage Caravan". They are not the young people of three years ago while the "Festival of Keep it Low" in Munich, are men with a joy of playing, improvising and conquering the stage with songs like "Crazy Horses", "Craving", "Midnight Meditation” and "Expand your Life ".
Then came the time that the English Crippled Black Phoenix assaulted the Valley to present their latest album "Bronze". It gives the sensation that, after the changes of formation and the edition of this new album, the band is lavishing more in direct which is an excellent news for which we followed them for years. They fell new and not so new teas such as "Rise up and fight", "Long live Independence", "Rotten memories" or "We forgotten who we are". The band sounded clear and solid, without falling into tangles of sound or noise despite the formation with three guitars and two keyboards / synths that they currently carry. Honestly, nothing bad to object.
I have seen Blue Öyster Cult in the Festival of 4th Golden Summernight 1981 with Iron Maiden, Motörhead, Foreigner, Blackfoot and others in Germany and the only difference is the age and composition of the group. The quality of the music stays the same, combined with a very good sound, great instrumental and vocal work, and a repertoire whose final line is choreographed and applauded in equal parts: "Dont fear the reaper" (cowbell included J), "Godzilla", "Cities on flame with rock and roll" ... Another one of those bands that do not play as much as they should live, and that seems to be living a second youth in recent years with the auge of bands of retro rock, stoner and psychedelia that mentions them as absolute influence.
Clutch has found his style from three albums, so they can make a very good setlist of three very good albums, in a very good light with a very good sound with the best frontman Neil Fannon, which results in a very good concert.
The last appearance of Hawkwind in the Hellfest in 2011 took only 20 minutes due to problems with the sound-check. This time, everything is impressive, the sound, the projections, the samples and the environment, to make a 60-minute journey through landscapes of sound and light. Hawkwind is a group that you like completely or not at all. This includes not only music, but also its protagonists, who now comprise four generations. Dave Brock is 76 years and Haz Wheaton, the new bassist, is 26 years old. This shows how generic and influential music is. Be it for Stoner, Ambient, Punk, Hardrock or Psychedelic Rock and for all these styles of music, Hawkwind finds the appropriate songs for a journey in time of 45 years.
And so we finished Hellfest one more year. Very tired, full of dust, sweaty, but as always with a smile on the mouth after the binge of live music that we had hit during the last three days. With some thorns stuck by the bands that we could not see, with a few unforgettable concerts in the retina and already thinking inevitably in the next edition of the festival. We had a year of waiting to return to enjoy our usual pilgrimage to Clisson. Our trip to Hellfest. To the city of rock.