Hellfest is an annual music festival in the French town Clisson. It is held in the outdoor sports complex Val de Moine, about 400 km southwest of Paris. The festival hosts a variety of heavy metal, hard rock, hardcore and punk acts.
Our crew and editors could not resist to attend this extreme festival once again, so now we’d like to share our experience of this 11th edition of Hellfest with you!
#RoadToHell : Our journey started very early in the morning (5 a.m.) in Ghent and led us via Paris all the way to Clisson. Something that’s very important to know, is that on the road to Clisson there are multiple tollbooths (“Péage”). Be sure to either have enough cash or a credit card at hand, as Maestro, among others, isn’t accepted. Keep your toll ticket in a safe place, as you will have to insert it in the machine at the next tollbooth.
After being on the road for 11 hours (!), we finally drove into the Hellfest parking lot. What put a downer on this road trip, was that we arrived in Clisson after about 8,5 hours, but the streets surrounding Hellfest itself were all jammed. On the plus side: This year there were a lot more signs in the streets of Clisson to point you towards the parking lots and the festival site itself.
This brings us to another very important point about Hellfest: Communication. Last year, you could have a hard time at Hellfest if you didn’t speak any French. Luckily, that aspect was also improved this year! A lot more volunteers/employees were able to understand you when asking a question or ordering a nice cold beer.
Lineup changes were clearly announced on the big screens above for example The Valley stage, as well as in the press-zone.
CASHLESS (PREPAID CARD)
Just like last year, Hellfest used the system of Cashless prepaid cards. You can buy and recharge the card at the Hell City Square and at several locations on the festival infield. Both cash and bankcards are accepted to recharge your Cashless card.
You can use this card to pay for your drinks at the Hellfest-bars and for the food at the Hellfest-snack stalls. You can NOT use them at the other food stalls, nor at merchandise stands, there you have to use cash.
FOOD & DRINKS
First of all, you have to buy a Hellfest cup (28 cl cup) that costs you €1. This is not a deposit, you really buy the cup, so you can’t return it at the end of the festival to get your money back. When you go and get a new drink, you obviously hand in your old cup first, or they charge you another €1 extra. Sometimes you get a clean cup in return, but they can just as well refill your “dirty” cup.
Talking about filling the cups: a full cup of soda or beer (Kronenbourg) will cost you €2.80, which is more than last year, but still in line with other festivals. You pay €3 for a pitcher (1,5 l !) which you can fill up with all the drinks they have to offer (beer, soda, wine, …). Own drinks, cans and glass are prohibited on the festival site, but allowed on the campsite.
A really big advantage (especially for vegetarians or people with food allergies) is that you can bring your own food onto the festival site. This can seriously limit the amount of money you would spend at a festival, and also make it somewhat healthier, or you can bring snacks to fit into your busy time schedule. Between the entrance and the forest there are a lot of food stalls with a great range of food, including vegetarian and gluten-free options. One thing we only discovered at the end of last year’s festival were the Hellfest Burgers from the Hellfest Snack Stands. These beef, ham or fish burgers are not covered by bread but soggy, juicy, oily hashbrowns and it really looks terrible. But they taste so fucking amazing and we ended up getting those delicious bastards several times a day, they really became our Hellfest powerfood. We freaking miss them and are still looking for the recipe…
If you want to buy some food outside the festival, there is a supermarket in Clisson, on about a 5 minute walk from the campsite. This supermarket (E.Leclerc) is huge and we’re sure you can find almost anything you would need, so it’s really not necessary to bring your own food from home. You can also buy ice there, to keep your food/drinks cold. The beer in the supermarket is mainly sold in glass bottles, so you better watch your steps on the campsite!
The campsite at Hellfest is included in your ticket, and the area is located just next to the festival area. You could enter the campsite starting Thursday at 2PM if you had a combi-ticket.
There is NO free water at the campsite, you have to buy a €6 “water point” bracelet to get unlimited water and to shower. The water points at the infield however, are for free.
The toilets at the campsite and Metal Corner are no Dixi’s, but cardboard boxes that stay reasonably fresh during the hot summer days and they smell a lot less than Dixi’s, thanks to the sawdust that’s thrown into the toilets. A big thanks to the heroes who sit behind those boxes and keep them clean!
Most of the festival area is the same as last year, but the most notable change would be the redesigned Warzone. The Warzone was moved to get a better flow towards and from the area and got a whole redesigned look, including a big shrine dedicated to Lemmy Kilmister.
The skate park is no longer blocking the main road, but got moved to a more remote location, next to the wine bar and at the side of the Warzone.
In the Metalcorner you can party all night with several (local) bands and DJ’s. The fun already starts on Wednesday evening with one hell of a pre-party, where you can bring your own booze and food, since it’s located at the campsite. For the people who have enough money there are also a few bars, a wine bar and some food stalls.
When you follow the road towards the festival site, you will arrive at the Hell City Square, which you will recognize as it is the first place you see when you pass the festival entrance. Here you can find cool building-like artwork inspired by Camden Street in London, toilets, an ATM, some of Hellfest’s partners, the info-point (like Dr. Martens), the Extreme market and early-bird tickets for Hellfest 2017. At the Extreme Market you can find labels and distro’s that sell the merch of some of your favorite bands.
The festival site itself contains a big infield with several bars, food stalls and merchandise stalls. There are 6 stages in total: 2 mainstages for the headliners, special acts and popular bands, and 4 smaller stages that are divided by (sub-)genre. We can chill out with stoner and doom at The Valley, The Warzone states the obvious chaos and intensity of punk and hardcore, and we can find i.a. thrash, death, black and folk at The Altar and The Temple. This way there’s something for everyone and you immediately know where to go.
Between The Temple and The Valley and all the way opposite the mainstages there are normal flushing toilets and taps where you can find drinking water for free. There’s a ferris wheel, the “Kingdom of Muscadet” forest where you can chill in the shadows of the trees, a skating ramp and next to the forest you can find several great food stalls.
All the way opposite the mainstages and in between The Temple and The Valley there are normal flushing toilets and water points.
The VIP/PRESS area was well equipped and was looking very nice. When we wanted to chill out a bit, we could do so inside the VIP-bar or in the hammocks right outside. From inside the VIP bar you could watch the concerts on big screen, and we were even able to watch the football game in which Belgium won! The artwork outdoors was very nice, so it was actually a shame that the rest of the people at the festival didn’t get to see it. A downside was that it was rather crowded at some times, causing some lines at the toilets. A few more toilets would have been better, seeing as you might be in a hurry to do an interview or go to a press conference.
The Press-Area/tent inside the VIP-area was equipped with quite a few laptops that everyone could freely use. On the side there were some booths to hold interviews where you wouldn’t be disturbed by other people. At the back of the tent was the press conference zone. The whole press-area had a great setup, but it could get quite hot in the press conference zone, so an open door/window or some air vents would have been nice.
Time to see some bands on the first day in Hell! The weather is great and we are ready! After a stroll from our campsite “far-far-away”, a.k.a. Camp Orange, we get our asses towards the Valley.
Hellfest started in the Valley with the first gig of the day: the Swedish trio Monolord. The calm intro’s slowly transferred to slow, heavy stoner riffs and they really warmed the Valley up in a good way. The sound was loud and heavy, promising for the rest of the festival.
The Dutchies from Delain brought us a great show of symphonic metal. The audience went wild at this early hour and welcomed Delain with a nice atmosphere. Lead singer Charlotte was wide awake and really whipped the crowd up with her energetic performance. Nice one to wake up with!
It was our first time seeing Stoned Jesus live on stage. We’ve heard a lot of positive comments on the band from our friends, so we decided to check them out. They’ve got some amazing songs, but the best thing about their setlist was that song after song, you got to hear different things. There were different vibes throughout their songs and they did a great job at flowing over from a more slow and solid song, to an energetic song, and vice versa. The Hellfest audience clearly enjoyed their last song “I’m the mountain” a lot, and the song resonated in our heads all day. The band really brought their energetic A-game and got so excited that they even threw their shoes into the audience at the end of the show. We’re not sure how stoned Jesus was, or if in fact they were on speed, but we’d love to see this band again sometime!
We experienced a little bit of a delay for the Wo Fat show, because Nashville Pussy was really amusing as well. Re-entering the Valley we immediately got to experience some fuzzy guitar sounds, with a great sound and vivacious, heavy riffs. The crowd slowly filled up the Valley, and the steam was starting to rise from the audience.
Solefald is a one of a kind band, they bring the crowd of Hellfest a avant-garde metal sound from all over the world (even electro). For the people who don’t know this band look for the song “World Music With Black Edges“!
Altough we were deeply intruiged in what this concert would turn out to be the expirience was greatly disturbed by the sound quality at this stage. The discography of Solefald have been evolving al those years but they keep on putting more notice on the first album Linear Scaffold. A fun note was that during the concert a painter was doing his thing on stage and his timing could not me more on point, right after the last notes he presented the crowd a beatiful piece. Later that day we still saw the guys of Solefald running around in the VIP-area with that painting. To bad a lot of people will remember the painting instead of the daring and innovative sound they brought into the metal genre. We would suggest you give these guys a chance!
Walking to the second mainstage to see if something cool was going on, we heard a great rumble on the first one. Upon seeing the size of the crowd we thought there was a big act coming up from one of the greats but no. We saw the backdrop of a band we had not heard of yet, and this band would change our opinion of the way we look at the french metal scene as a whole.
Mass Hysteria brought us a mixture of industrial/alternative and Nu metal. A great vibe was taking shape in the minds of the crowd, and although the band almost exclusively sang in french the songs were about not finding your place in society, corruption and things that bring outcasts together as one. And boy does this seem to work, for this was the most impressive moshpit at Hellfest and we saw one of the biggest wall of deaths we have ever seen.
We do have to admit that not everyone is going to like this band, the singing is repetitive and quite stale (some rapping included), but we tolerated it and even after a while you really understand what is happening. It is an angry society out there and we need bands like Mass Hysteria to rant about it and bring us together. What a discovery!
The Temple stage had its issues this Hellfest. Lots of times the start of a concert was very underwhelming, like the sound guys did not have enough time to prepare or set up the right volume for such a big place. It was no different with Kampfar, but slowly they amped up the volume so Kampfar could truly show its colors. It was a good passage at Hellfest, but not a convincing one for metalfans who already knew them. It’s better to see them in a smaller venue where all of the attention is on them. The fire and candles on stage did help of course but which black metal band does not do that these days?
With favorites like “Caugh in a Mosh“, “Antisocial” and “Indians“, Anthrax couldn’t do much wrong. They gave yet another incredible show, with a great energetic performance and great sound on top of it! They were as enthusiastic and energetic as ever. If we really have to say one bad thing about the show, is that it’s a shame that it didn’t last longer.
Time for a little breather at the Valley with Earth. These founders of drone and doom brought us a wonderful set, full of slow and vivacious sounds. The movement of the musicians almost seemed like slow-motion, which really added to the show that was almost hypnotizing. The set started with some songs from the last album, “Primitive and Deadly“, after which they turned back to “The Bees made Honey in the Lions Skull“. The next song didn’t get a title yet, but let us wondering what these Americans will bring us in the near future. Afterwards followed “Old Black” to bring us some rest for the last time, only to be somewhat bewildered when getting outside to the rest of the festival.
In the meantime we were anxious to see the old school death metal from Polish metal band Vader at the Altar stage. The turnout of death metal fans for this band was not great and they certainly deserved a bigger crowd because they were releasing a new album called The Empire, another great album for all fans of the genre out there. The gig started of with the classic “Wings” and the mood was set for mixture of songs spanning the whole carrier of the band. It seems that since James Stewart has joined the band they finally have achieved a line up that will keep be stable for hopefully many years to come. At the end of the gig they played Lord Vader’s Imperial March we could march out happily and satisfied from a great show.
The intensity of this iconic metal duo has reached far beyond the borders of Colombia and the USA, and their second passage at Hellfest will not go unnoticed. A serious crowd gathered at the Temple stage because Dagon and Incubus had prepared a 50 minute set for all fans of violent music. Again the difficulty of mixing at Hellfest became rather obvious, because the drum sound and vocals were not quite clear as the band started their unholy ritual. Some people found it annoying that there was not much interaction with the audience and the performance was very static, but we have to take into consideration that there are only two guys on stage and the music is not meant to be a party starter. The doomy passages filled with excellent riffs blended beautifully with the unique vocal sounds this band is famous for.
After Inquisition, we returned to the Altar stage to go and see Sacred Reich. The eighties’ thrash band sure knew what the fans wanted, as it didn’t take long for the headbangers to give it all they had. After a couple of songs like “Death Squad”, “Love…Hate”, and a cover of Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs“, the moshpits started to grow bigger, to great delight of the band.
In the meantime, the Valley was being invaded by the Melvins. We looked forward to this for a long time, and especially to seeing the legendary King Buzzo. When we were all ready and standing in the Valley, full of anticipation, we got to wait a little longer. This because the first 15 minutes of the 60-minute show were just some weird intro, leaving us standing there and asking ourselves if something else would follow. Luckily something did! And a really heavy set at that, going on a journey through almost the whole discography, with 1 song per album. In between we got to enjoy some covers, like “Deuce” from KISS and “Halo Of Flies” from Alice Cooper. In combination with their weird outfits this resulted in a weird and unique show, as we could expect from the Melvins.
Time for a party with Korpiklaani! We already saw them before and really love their older songs. That’s why the beginning of the set, with some newer material, was a little bit less of a party for us. Nevertheless the Temple was packed, as we often see at Hellfest when a folk band is playing. It took a while to warm up the complete audience, but when our beloved Finnish folk band started to play their golden oldies the crowd went wild. Dancing around, we really enjoyed the end of the set too, but we still missed some of our favorites.
While checking out Korpiklaani, we missed the first part of Volbeat’s show, but luckily they had some of our favorite songs left on their setlist. Even though they put up a great performance, they couldn’t really get us too pumped, but that’s probably just due to the transition from Korpiklaani’s energetic concert to this calmer show, because the crowd that was already present seemed to love it! People happily sang along to songs like “Fallen” and “Still Counting“.
Something that really makes Hellfest stand out from other festivals, is the attendance of several bands you wouldn’t directly expect in the setting of a metal festival. The biggest example was the performance from Magma. It sucked us away from reality to land in a psychedelic world of strange melodies. In this world, we could hear 1 male (Hervé Aknin) and 2 female voices (Stella Vander and Isabelle Feuillebois), together bringing us a weird and vivacious atmosphere. Adding to this, was the language they use, “Kobaïan”, which was created specifically for Magma, by drummer Cristian Vander. This resulted in the second time we exited the Valley completely bewildered on this first day in Hell. We didn’t really understand what had just happened, but one thing we did know: we want to see this more often!
We were really looking forward to party with Dropkick Murphy’s! And the rest of Hellfest clearly was too! An immense crowd already formed at the mainstages. The band started out great with their opener “The Boys Are Back“, followed by “Prisoner’s Song” from the same (latest) album, Signed and Sealed in Blood. At the past few Dropkick Murphy’s concerts you can really feel how great the response to this album actually is, especially when they play “Rose tattoo” and a massive party breaks loose. We felt the rest of the set was a little bit soft though, for a metal festival such as Hellfest. We’ve seen heavier sets (with greater parties and moshpits) at club shows and even Rock Werchter. Thankfully they closed the set with “Rose Tattoo“, “The State of Massachusetts“, “Going Out In Style” and “I’m Shipping Up to Boston” so we could end the show how it’s supposed to be when going to see Dropkick Murphy’s live.
Der Meister singt: “Seid Ihr bereit?” And YES, we can honestly say we were born ready for Rammstein. Even though we almost died trying to get to the front, we eventually had amazing spots where we could dance, shout, and jump around perfectly! These masters of pyrotechnics and showmanship brought another great show on Hellfest. To be frank, which other band has the balls to start their show with a song that has not been released and no one knows yet?! We must say, the french love their German metal and “Ramm 4” was already a steady singalong from the very first note.
The show was a very good mixture of songs from the entire career of this metal machine and it was churned out with military precision. We did notice an increase in sound sometimes but we can only imagine the mixing of a Rammstein show is not a walk in the park. The seriousness and endearing ways these guys bring forth the message of their music will off course be one of the main things people take home from this festival. Until next time our German friends! And we will keep on shouting, every time we have the opportunity to see this machine: “Wir sind wieder da! Ja – Nein – RAMMSTEIN!”
Then for something completely different… Today, the last gig in the Valley was Sunn O))). Finally, after all these years, we got the chance to see this legendary drone-doom band live, ánd in a tent where the sound has been great, loud and heavy all day long! Earth is known to be a great inspiration for Sunn O))), and they got us warmed up just right for this experience. And what an experience it was! Sunn O))) isn’t a band you’re going to see to listen to the music, but really to experience a whole lot more. The unimaginably slow, heavy and deafening loud sounds went right through everything, until feeling the vibrations through your whole body. Matching this, the amazing voice of Attila, bringing us a sound you can’t ever experience outside of a Sunn O))) show. The habits, the reflecting, lady-liberty-like costume of Attila, the colossal wall of smoke and almost ritualistic light- and lasershow created an incomparable atmosphere. Even though not a lot of people are cut out for this “music”, and Rammstein was proving all of the mainstage area that they are a ravaging machine, the Valley was full of people who were completely out of this world for a while. And it was one of the most impressive moments of the festival.
Still shaking from an amazing Rammstein and Sun O))) show, we can now go back in time with The Offspring! And so we did, dancing around singing all their punk rock songs of the past. They brought us a brilliant setlist with an amazing performance and – we didn’t really expect this – all of the crowd was singing along loudly. Amazing party with hits like “You’re Gonna Go Far, Kid“, “Want You Bad“, “Hit That“, “Why Don’t You Get A Job“, “Pretty Fly (For a White Guy)“, “The Kids Aren’t Alright” and we were just goofing around like some suckers with no “Self Esteem“.
Day 2! A little bit sore and hung over from the great party and bands yesterday, but today is another great day… Like every day at Hellfest because, well,… Look at that amazing line up and this weather! We sent our regards to our colleagues and friends at muddy Graspop, but we’re walking on sunshine! Let’s do this!
Steak Number Eight
We woke up early to see our own Steak Number Eight. The mainstage area was quite empty, which could be explained by the early hour and the queues at the Cathedral entrance. Steak immediately gave it their best with “Dickhead“, and performed a great and energetic show. They whipped up the (small) audience, which resulted in the first moshpit of the day. The microphone got a beating (in what looked like an attempt from Brent Vanneste to eat it whole) and afterwards he sang on with the microphone between his teeth. Not only the microphone suffered during this performance, since Brent used the roadie to sit on, the poor bastard. Then he sang along whilst crowd surfing and the first show of the day was history. The great energy we saw today on this ungodly hour and with the little audience they got,… we can only imagine what their home match at Graspop would be like.
Time to get back to the low tunes coming from the Valley, with Hangman’s Chair. The sound continued to be amazing, and they played a set existing of only numbers from their last album. This is not supposed to be positive; they brought a dark atmosphere over the audience with, on the contrary, a positive response as a result.
Legendary bands are not to be ignored, so we headed over to the mainstage where the legendary Japanese heavy metal band Loudness showed what they are made off. We were eager to finally see them, since it was our first time ever to see them live…and they didn’t disappoint! It felt as though they brought us right back to the golden eighties! Great guitar riffs combined with a vocalist that happily screamed his lungs out, made sure this was a show to remember. It was a shame that they didn’t get more time by playing later in the afternoon, but nonetheless they were a perfect band to start the afternoon with.
The next show in the Valley was Crobot, and giving us a show is what these Americans can do with their eyes closed! Groovy riffs, a Rock ‘n Roll attitude and artists who were flying around the stage, jumped on their amps or on each other,… Somewhat less dark than the other performances in the Valley, but a party nonetheless!
Legendary black metal at 13 o ‘clock in the temple. A very tough nut to crack. While we were digesting a delicious Hellfest Burger we had to give these guys a shot at the Temple Stage. They did not disappoint! The show was very well balanced and the Teutonic madness was very well mixed in the otherwise difficult stage that is the Temple. Maybe we were still hungover, but the new Keyboard Player Phenex had a touch of grace and Morean brought the whole place together. It’s a shame these guys did not make it to a higher place on the bill!
Cattle Decapitation is a one of a kind band. Like the name the band is known for their shredding music and violent outbursts. We were quite pleased to see a lot of fans heading to the Altar stage for yet another brutal gig at this lovely festival. It was an enormous honor to see Josh Elmore bring forth the complex music that is the backbone of this band and songs like “Manufactured Extinct” and “Kingdom of Tyrants” give this band an allure to behold.
Heidevolk gave us a great amount of energy, right from the fields of Gelderland and we’d gladly like to ride around on our Mammoths with them. The setlist contained some newer material from their latest CD Velua and some of our favorite oldies. They brought a great setlist and performance until the last big hit: “Vulgaris Magistralis” on speed. We were confused at first, but could then enjoy it a lot anyway. We danced around and shouted the lyrics along, just a little faster than normal. And the French didn’t know what happened at all. The whole gig they were looking at us like we were wizards, screaming the lyrics along, but we were just having a blast. Afterwards we asked the band members what happened, and they told us it was a deliberate choice to play the song faster, because this was the only way to squish in an extra song. Well played guys, well played!
Torche’s show resulted in yet another great crowd in the Valley, which might have been enforced by the rain. But in the end it just was a very good show. The combination of the low stoner rock-sludge with clean vocals came across excellently and resulted in a sea of headbangers.
After all these rather young or recent bands, it was time to go back to the seventies, with the amazing hardrock sound of Foreigner. With classics like “Cold as Ice“, “Feels Like the First Time” and “Juke Box Hero” they couldn’t do much wrong. Everybody eagerly sang along. When the singer suddenly asked to put your arm around the person next to you, we already knew what was coming. The amazingly beautiful song “I Want To Know What Love Is” instantly gave us goosebumps. With our arms around each other, going from side to side to the beat of the music, this show couldn’t have gotten any better.
The Italian death metal power house that has become Fleshgod Apocalypse had gathered a huge crowd in front of the Temple Stage. We ourselves had a lot of trouble getting into the tent and people were forced to see the gig at the big screen outside of the tent as far as we could see. The 10 years this band has been building towards an unique sounds has clearly payed off. The crowd was pleased to see them building songs that envelop you and bring you to a somewhat static awe. It was strange to see so little movement in a crowd this big. The set itself was build around the latest album of the band (a general tenure at this edition of Hellfest as 2015 and ’16 were loaded with extremely good releases and bands really toured the heck out of this festival season. Fans that already saw them would maybe have been a bit disappointed, but what the hell, the album King was a successful release so why not go with it.
Time to check out the Warzone! After existing for 40 years and giving us around 20 albums, the UK Subs are still giving everything they got on stage, and how! The old school punk immediately convinced us and with the amazing amount of interaction with the audience they made our evening. Charlie Harper (age 72! and still the original singer) knows how to play with the crowd and they gave him back the same! We really enjoyed the exuberant atmosphere and the chance to see this founder live.
Gutterdammerung Press Conference
After Entombed A.D. followed another party at the Warzone: The Toydolls! Funny outfits and props on stage, slightly crazy music (but very well executed), a crowd going nuts and dancing like mad people (including non-stop straw-fights) and everybody shouting along with classics like “Nellie The Elephant“. The interaction and music were full of humor, and that resulted in one of the happiest moments of the festival.
After returning from a 4 year hiatus, we couldn’t wait to see Disturbed live again. When they released Immortalized in 2015, it was already clear that they were ready to live up to their reputation once again, and so they did! They treated us to some of their fan favorite classics like “Ten Thousand Fists”, “The Game”,”Stupify” and “Voices”, but they also surprised us with some great covers of famous songs. Their cover of “Sound of Silence” (By Simon & Garfunkel) is truly a masterpiece and they even treated us to guest appearances and covers of “Shout at the Devil” (Mötley Crüe) –with Nikki Sixx on bass!–, “Baba O’Riley” (The Who) –with Glenn Hughes!– and “Killing in The Name” (Rage Against The Machine). The show ended with the well known explosive song “Down With The Sickness“, getting the crowd even more pumped up than it already was!
Olé, Olé Olé Olé…Distuuuurbed, Disturbed!
Greg Anderson’s second appearance on the stage of Hellfest this year. After his show with Sunn O))) his second performance in the Valley this weekend was the show of Goatsnake. Again he amazed us with incredible guitar skills, but this time especially with the riffs. The combination of stoner-doom and blues, and the powerful and emotional clean vocals gave us a great atmosphere where we can slowly headbang to from the beginning until the end. Again a killer show at the Valley.
2 years ago we already saw John Garcia in the Valley with Unida, and this year he was back with Hermano. After 8 years they were back on stage together and brought us a great set, including one new song so let us hope a new album will follow. The band did a really good job, and John Garcia got the audience eating out of his hand in no time: the Valley magically transformed in a sweaty, headbanging, jumping and crowdsurfing mass.
“We are primordial, we’re from the Republic of Ireland!” The starting point of every gig of Primorial is beginning to sound like the infamous “We are Motörhead, and we play rock ‘n roll!”. A great intro deserves a great song and one of this band’s more recent gems is “Where greater men have fallen”, the ideal song to start this metal feast and it could not be done more perfectly. There were still some issues with the sound but the charismatic leader Nemtheanga drove the show with a great performances. A bit of a downside was that we had arranged an interview earlier that day, but because of troubles getting to the festival we sadly had no time to rub in the victory of the Belgian Red Devils over the Irish team at the European Championship (3-0). Not that football mattered, the message of unity over your oppressors is one of the main themes of the band and empowering your fans is what this band does best. Empires may fall but these guys will live on forever!
Time to get back to the eighties, but sadly for a farewell show. Following A.J. Pero’s death in 2015, Twisted Sister announced they were gonna call it quits and do one last farewell tour, ending in 2016. This Hellfest show was part of that farewell tour, so we sure as hell weren’t gonna miss it!
Just like their previous shows that we got to see in Belgium, they put up a great show, bringing some of their greatest songs like “The Kids are Back”, “Burn in Hell”, “You can’t stop Rock ‘n’ Roll”, “The Price”, and of course “We’re not Gonna Take it” and “I Wanna Rock”. Yet, for some reason, even though they put up a great show, we were less convinced, less enthusiastic. Perhaps it’s because we’ve been able to see them quite a lot of times in the past 3 years, or perhaps it’s because they didn’t bring out new material for a long time, or perhaps even both reasons combined. The rest of the crowd seemed to love the show though, so it seems that was just a personal impression.
To end the Valley this second day, we could enjoy the legendary fuzzy stonerriffs of Fu Manchu. Starting with the opener “Hell On Wheels“, the Valley completely burst into party-mode once again, and we don’t think the security was used to so many crowdsurfers. The one kick-ass song followed the other, the riffs even fuzzyer than the previous, and a completely mental audience was making this thé stonerparty of this edition of Hellfest.
To get some rest after a very busy second day in Hell, we go to the Warzone to check out Gutterdämmerung. We already heard a lot about this “loudest silent movie of all times” of director Björn Tagemose (including their press-conference earlier this day), but we still don’t really know what to expect; except for a cast full of rock legends like Lemmy, Slash, Iggy Pop and Tom Araya.
We can’t really say much about the movie itself. It’s a strange rock-opera in all black-and-white, that we first want to see again calmly at home before we can judge it. The images are really beautiful, but it’s composed rather strange, with a story that couldn’t really sink in after two busy days in Hell. The music on the other hand, did! A lot of great classic songs that were performed brilliantly, including singer Jesse Smith who showed us the great reach of his voice. At the end of the movie the band emerges to the front to bring a homage to Lemmy by playing “Ace Of Spades“, and we see Steak Number Eight’s Brent Vanneste coming to steal the show with the hero of the movie in his hands: the guitar. To see this movie live on a big screen, with the live sounds of a festival like Hellfest, against the Warzone-hill where the Lemmy-memorial watches our every move carefully, was a very unique experience and a great way to end this busy second day.
Wow! It’s still hot in Hell! And we’re on to day 3!
Day 3 started heavy at Mainstage 1 in the sun with Municipal Waste. This crossover thrash band has a steady live reputation, and at Hellfest the circlepits started out quite fast as well, supported by the fast, aggressive music. We also couldn’t ignore the backdrop of Donald Trump shooting himself in the head. The band linked that backdrop to the song “I want to kill the President“, which was formerly written about George Bush. Sadly, the gig was stopped at the last song “Born To Party“, but still Municipal Waste did fuck us up!
To enjoy some more of the sun after this party, Orphaned Land played at Mainstage 2. These Israelis knowingly avoided political topics and tried to bring us a feeling of unity regardless of origin or religion, a theme that’s really apparent in their last album “All is One“. The music combines metal with traditional Jewish folk music, and the atmosphere fitted really well on this sunny Sunday afternoon.
Back to the Valley, and this time not for fuzzy riffs, heavy basses or some overwhelming drone, but for King Dude. The crystal clear sounds, dark atmosphere and hypnotic voice gave us a modest feeling (contrary to the previous gigs in the Valley, but nevertheless as vivacious). Afterwards we were curious to what King Dude would do as a headliner at a club show, or – even better – at a special dark atmospheric location.
Megadeth press conference
Megadeth’s albums have always been kind of a picture of their lives at that time. During Dystopia there was a lot of bad stuff going on in their lives. Dave’s mother in law was dying from Alzheimer and they also had a lot of problems with their crew, line up and management. They put all of that into their music. When someone asked the story behind “A Tout Le Monde”, Dave told us that it’s something about an old girlfriend, but that he won’t talk about it in dept. The only thing that he wanted to add was that the lyrics are kind of translated from a dream he had.
They are happy and proud of where Megadeth is right now, but Dave said he thinks there’s still a long way to go. The songs get better everyday and they’ll see where it goes. The greatest payoff for them is to stand on stage and see all those people smiling. Dave believes it’s their greatest achievement. Some questions arose about how Kiko ended up in the band and how he fits in. Dave said that when they first got together in Tennessee, Kiko didn’t even come to play guitar. Since they are both capable guitar players, that wasn’t really needed. They just spent time together since Dave just wanted to see if they got along.
To wrap it up, here’s some advice from Dave to young people that want to start a thrash metal band: “Be careful, don’t sign anything unless you have a professional read through it first. Bands are getting taken advantage of way too often.”
The progressiveness and technical sound of Gojira has led them to be one of the biggest names in the extreme metal industry this day. Almost everyone in the metalscene is listening to them, and the teasing of their latest album Magma just before Hellfest brought them high on the watchlist of many people. The whole infield at the mainstage gathered to see these boys of wonder and they did their best. Sadly we were not glad they got on the mainstage. Once you’ve seen this band in a smaller tent or venue you don’t care much for the big stages on the infield, the music has a lot less impact. Sure the gig was great and the birthday of Mario (drummer) made it a big party, but we urge you guys to see them elsewhere! Not on a big stage, but a smaller venue were the massive sound of this band really comes to shine!
2 years ago it was a drag to get into the Valley when Kadavar played. Luckily, in the meantime the infrastructure changed a lot and we didn’t have the same problem. This psychedelic stoner rock is very moving with their 70’s vibe, clean vocals and amazing solo’s, but the live show always gives us something extra. Every time we saw this band they succeeded in blowing us away with a sound that blasts over us like a sand storm. Where they can be a little soft on CD, they tend to really surprise us live with desert rock of a very heavy caliber. And while we’d rather see them headlining a club show, they still brought us a cast-iron show full of classics and this was a last great show in the busy Valley.
While Kadavar was playing in the Valley, Insomnium took over the Alter stage. As can be expected from them, they put up one hell of a show. The setlist wasn’t completely what we had hoped for, but nevertheless the set was actually well put together. Even though their performance by itself was great, their show is way more enjoyable and convincing in a club.
Ghost press conference
Time for the epic vikings to rule Hellfest again. The Swedes had a successful run so far and have been building towards an epic career that has reached its full potential in 2016 with the release of Jomsviking. The band rumbles with a furious start and the first 3 songs “The Pursuit of Vikings”, “As Loke Falls” and “First Kill” give the infield of Hellfest a moshpit true to its name. Too bad these guys did not get higher on the bill because the stage looked awesome with big dragons and smoke coming out of their mouths! The enthusiasm this band brings to every show is well appreciated and the fans are loving it, a big show!
Edit: The show was so great it also stars in the new video of “Raise Your Horns“, where you can find some snippets of the fan movie we made for it as well, alongside some of your favorite metal musicians. Check it out:
Megadeth decided to play 5 tracks from their new album Dystopia (as they had already announced in the press conference) and fill up the rest of the setlist with some of their most famous hits like “Hanger 18“, the beautiful and calm “A Tout Le Monde“, “Symphony of Destruction”, and most importantly “Tornado of Souls“, which they dedicated to one of their ex-drummers Nick Menza, who recently passed away. They brought an amazing performance that was a great start of our last evening at Hellfest 2016.
What a beast of band has this become! Still a controversial band where extreme metal fans, thrashers and Heavy metal bangers either hate it or want to become one of the Ghouls. We’re in the group that want to become pap’s bitch and give him the light he deserves. Because of the massive crowd that was forming up in front of the mainstages (Black Sabbath was the next band) we did not get very close to the stage. But the showmanship of this band could be seen from the moon. With a best-off set they blew the hypothetical roof off of Hellfest. A lot of charisma and at the end of the show a female orgasm in the form a children’s choir singing “Monstrance Clock“. We are serious: this show is a must see and they are becoming of the greatest bands of this generation. This could have been the high point to end the festival, but lucky for us the party at Hellfest keeps on going!
Next up: The last Black Sabbath concert we’d ever get to see. Since we already made our way to the side corner of Mainstage 1 while Ghost was playing on Mainstage 2, we were able to secure a good spot for what ended up being an overwhelming show. While Ozzy usually doesn’t seem to have that much energy on stage anymore these days, we were happily surprised this time around! He proved that he still had it in him. Drummer Tommy Clufetos brought even more energy to the show, just like Tony and Geezer, who were clearly enjoying themselves. Bringing some of their most famous songs like “War Pigs“, “Fairies Wear Boots“, “Iron Man“, “Rat Salad” and of course “Paranoid“, they brought us a farewell show we won’t forget anytime soon.
Paradise Lost closed the Altar at Hellfest, but looking at the audience we really felt the fact that Black Sabbath was playing at the Mainstage. Paradise Lost did, however, play a really memorable show, starting with the full album of Gothic (which came out 25 years ago) being played integrally. After this, they played “Embers fire“, plus “No hope in sight” and “Beneath broken earth” from their latest album The Plague Within to fill in a pretty amazing last hour of doom.
The last show of the festival resulted in mixed feelings. The disenchantment for the closure of Hellfest after three phenomenal days was already in the air. Luckily, the band closing the festival down was nobody less than King Diamond, who ripped us away from reality for the last time. The first part of the set was only made up out of classics, after which we could go back in time to Mercyful Fate with “Melissa” and “Come to the Sabbath“. Hereafter the show really began: King Diamond played their most iconic album Abigail from the beginning until the end. It was not only very enthralling to hear this album live in its entirety, but also brought visually stunning. The story throughout the album was brought to us in a theatrical way, with a fantastic decor, props and actress. This made it a very unique experience, and while many had already left, the atmosphere in the remaining audience was immense.
And because the King of the occult still holds his iron voice (35 years after the founding of Mercyful Fate!), and the music and show were theatrical but at the same time musically and technically very well supported, this was an overwhelming end of an amazing festival by a legendary band. And since not a lot could have topped this, we strolled off to the afterparty, tired but very satisfied…
FIREWORKS: LEMMY TRIBUTE
Just like last year, there was an empty slot on the Running Order. As expected, this timeslot was reserved for a beautiful fireworks show. While last year’s fireworks show was all about Hellfest’s 10th anniversary, this time around it was held in honor of late Ian Fraser “Lemmy” Kilmister. It all began with some videos, pictures and quote’s about Lemmy being shown on the big screens and during the fireworks show they played a few Motörhead songs.
The last part of the fireworks show showed us the message “RIP LEMMY” high up in the sky, which was a beautiful way to end this tribute.
ENTERTAINMENT IN THE CAMPSITE
At the end of the evening and all the way through the night, if you don’t want to go to sleep or just sit at your tent, you could always search for the Concours de Caddies. It’s a game / battle where “the elite” of the campsite hold rounds of basically bashing into each other with shopping carts.
As you can imagine, people sometimes get hurt in the progress (no wonder, when you get catapulted in the air, over into the next cart, or your cart flips over and you get hurt by the cart itself). Luckily, the Red Cross stand isn’t far away (and they are well aware of the Concours de Caddies, so they are right on it when something goes wrong).
The Concours de Caddies is held at a random spot (well, at a random intersection), but it’s never that hard to find, as you just have to follow the sound of people shouting “ahoo ahoo”. If the security would dare to intervene and end the fun, everyone unites, yelling “Libérez les caddies!” (=Free the shopping carts!)