Hellfest 2014 – Day #1
Every year, by the month of June, metalheads from around the world gather in the small town of Clisson for 3 crazy days of Metal and everything related to it. 2014 saw the 9th edition of Hellfest take place this last weekend. Once again with a killer artist roster, a very high affluence of people was expected. The festival ended up being sold out, which is an excellent sign.
Being gifted with good weather, no rain during the festival, after settling down in the campsite and getting ready, “Day #0” is usually spent doing various activities from partying at the festival site to taking a touristic walk in the beautiful town of Clisson. The festival site is getting bigger and bigger, with more and more attractions in a place called “Hell city” which would close at midnight, but the rest of the area was open until much later, such as the Metal Corner and the eating/drinking tents… It is a good idea to get some rest, because right at 10:30AM the shows start. This year, ANGELUS APATRIDA, NECROBLOOD and MARS RED SKY had the honors of opening the festival at the Mainstage02, The Temple and The Valley, respectively. Half an hour later, NIGHTMARE, WEEKEND NACHOS and FIRST BLOOD took the Mainstage01, The Altar and the Warzone for the first time.
As the sun got higher and hotter, bands like KRONOS, IMPIETY and TOXIC HOLOCAUST didn’t let anyone breath for a minute, while SATAN was bringing classic Heavy Metal melodies to the Mainstage01, and it went on and on, as GEHENNA played a strong, yet not very energetic show focused mostly in “WW” and “First Spell” with a difficult sound at start.
POWERMAN 5000 which features ROB ZOMBIE‘s younger brother, performed their mixture of Industrial Rock / Alternative Metal successfully, while LOUDBLAST made The Altar completely fill up with people who were anxious to see one of the first and most famous French Death Metal bands play some of their classics, even though most of the show were songs from the latest 2 albums “Frozen Moments Between Life and Death” and “Burial Ground”. No one walked away while these guys didn’t end their set. Great reception and interaction with the public.
Going back to the Temple, Australian legendary DESTRÖYER 666 were about to deliver a frenetic 50 minutes of some of the best Black/Thrash that you can find, in a show that started with some minor technical issues sound-wise, but quickly became a solid headbanging frenzy. Their last song “Satanic Speed Metal” resumed it all far accurately. While dutch HAIL OF BULLETS were delivering their oldschool Death Metal at the Altar, TRIVIUM were making everyone jump at the MainStage 02. With a frontman like Matt Heafy, it was not difficult at all to have total collaboration from the audience, so a huge moshpit could be seen while the most acclaimed songs such as “Strife” or “In Waves” were performed, proving how intense a TRIVIUM show is before the Outro (taken from the videogame Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children) started to sound in the PA system. Great performance by these Americans who were making their return to French festivals. The same thing can, more or less, be said about the show that was taking place at the same time by IMPALED NAZARENE. The band gave the impression to be uncomfortable in the beginning, specially Mika Luttinen, but that’s probably due to the fact that the sound was very harsh and confusing in the first 2 or 3 songs. Things got better as the show went by.
5 minutes after the crazy Finnish were done making one hell of a racket at the Temple, an artist who needs no introductions to anyone who lived in the 90’s and experienced alternative Metal/Rock music: ROB ZOMBIE. Famous for his work in White Zombie as well as a horror movie director, Rob approached every important mark of his career in this show at Hellfest: Starting with 1998’s “Dragula”, to the more recent “Dead City Radio and the New Gods of Supertown”, there was time for a drum solo (courtesy of ex-Marilyn Manson’s Ginger Fish). “More Human Than Human”, the hit single from his White Zombie days came next, followed by a song taken from the soundtrack of one of Zombie’s horror flicks “House of 1000 corpses”. To end the show, Rob Zombie planned a medley of covers (Diamond Head’s “Am I Evil?”) and other surprises, like an amazing guitar solo by guitar virtuoso John5 and partial covers of Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” and Alice Cooper’s “School’s Out”. Another band with cult status was performing at the same time: NOCTURNUS AD, which actually is not really to be considered a reunion, according to Mike Browning himself. But the most important thing, the music, is what everyone focused on. The band performed the pioneer album “The Key” in its entirety, as well as a couple of Morbid Angel songs from the early demos. It was a good show, the sound was good, but the audience was too quiet, stagnant and didn’t interact much with the band.
From one influential band to another, SEPULTURA came on Mainstage02 to showcase their latest album “The Mediator Between Head and Hands Must Be the Heart” by playing “The Vatican” but soon went back to the “Chaos AD”/”Roots” era with songs such as “Propaganda”, “Refuse Resist”, “Ratamahatta” and “Roots Bloody Roots”, or even older hits like “Arise”. There was also time for a totally unexpected cover (“Polícia”) from a Brazilian rock band called Titãs. With a unmerciful entrance, without wasting any time, Derrick and his friends filled the Mainstage02 with a convincing performance, which triggered the audience in an early stage of the show. Even though they use some extra percussion on stage, the sound was quite good, which helped the band to reach out to everyone clearly. Meanwhile, after some running, there was still time to catch up with one of the bands which was a promise in advance of making everyone move in the audience: TURISAS. These Finnish Folk act is known for making a mess in the crowd, making everyone jump, dance and sometimes mosh as well, and that’s exactly what happened at the Temple stage. As soon as the band jumped on stage and played the first notes, it was a non-stopping frenzy of people jumping around, like a living sea of heads and hair, flying everywhere with the commonly seen crowd-surfing fans, and all this was encouraged by the charismatic lead singer Mathias. Security people in the pit (quite helpful and friendly by the way) had no time to breathe or rest, at least not until the band left the stage after a group vow to the fans after playing their hit cover of the Boney M (yes, you read it right) “Rasputin”.
At 20:45 KATAKLYSM started to play at the Altar, but a few moments later it was noticeable lots of people leaving in order to see IRON MAIDEN. That didn’t demote the band from doing what they were on stage to do: deliver a fast, brutal show. Even though the start wasn’t the best, it didn’t take long for Maurizio & friends to get comfy and receive the feedback of it. The biggest moment was when they played “Push the Venom” which was the last song of the show.
Back to the headliner IRON MAIDEN, 45.000 fans completely filled up the Hellfest site to see the legendary British act. Not mentioning the UFO song in the PA system while a movie was played in the screens, it all started with a sudden entrance accompanied by pyrotechnics while the first chords of “Moonchild” were heard. Without any time to waste, Bruce Dickinson introduced the next song, “Can I Play With Madness”. It is noticeable how in shape everyone in the band is, specially Bruce, who jumps around, sings and does all kinds of dance moves, making it look easy and not tiring at all… The setlist carried on quite similar to the one used in the Maiden England tour from the previous year, with just a couple of changes. Bruce is known for talking and approaching (sometimes important) subjects, so it was with surprise that Bruce maintained everyone informed about… the World cup match results! “France 3, Switzerland 0!” while singing “Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son”. The crowd chanted “Fear Of The Dark” loudly and in sync, and “Iron Maiden” ended the show. There was an encore planned, announced by a Churchill speech, and the last songs were “The Evil That Men Do” and “Sanctuary”. To end the show IRON MAIDEN used Monty Python to tell everyone to “Always look on the bright side of life”. Definitely a memorable show.
In the meantime, Swedish WATAIN were performing their obscure ritual at the Temple… Everything red, everything dark, burning candles and later inverted metal crosses. Nothing is left unplanned in this show. As Erik entered the stage and initiated the ceremony, the first song was “De Profundis” followed by “Black Flames March”, from the latest album “The Wild Hunt”. The quick and violent “Malfeitor” came next and the audience became much more agitated… The stage looked hellish, with burning crosses, tridents and other things, red lights and lots of smoke, only helped to create the right atmosphere for a WATAIN show. With Erik as the charismatic leader, the ceremony proceeded and the band traveled back a few years and slew down a bit to perform “Stellarvore”. Coming close to the end of a really solid performance, there was time to play “Holocaust Dawn” (also from the latest album). It was a shame that the “Casus Luciferi” album was not represented.
When SLAYER came to the Mainstage02, you could notice that it wasn’t as crowded as one would initially predict. Even though they played a great show with Tom Araya looking like he became younger due to his posture and apparently restored vocals skills (the initial scream at “Angel Of Death” was good proof), there were a lot of people “missing”, and this was because DEATH TO ALL were scheduled to play at the same time as the Thrash Metal legends and it was a very rare opportunity to see legendary Death Metal musicians like the ones who took the Altar as their own and delighted everyone with the unmistakable tunes of DEATH. “Flattening Of Emotions” opened the performance. Seeing Steve DiGiorgio, Paul Masvidal and Sean Reinert back on a stage and playing together some of the best DEATH tunes was a dream come true to many people who didn’t step away during the entire concert. From one classic to another “Crystal Mountain” and “Spirit Crusher” echoed everywhere, while you could notice that in spite of not playing together for a long time, longtime bandmate consistency doesn’t just wash away as years go by. Still, not perfect but a memorable show!
ENSLAVED took the stage to perform a pretty varied setlist, with songs from a handful of albums, from the most recent “Riitiir” all the way back “Hordanes Land” EP. While DEATH ANGEL were destroying everything with their American Thrash Metal, Greek drammatical Black Metal colossus known as SEPTICFLESH came to introduce the new opus “Titan”. The show couldn’t have started better as the first notes of “A Great Mass Of Death” were heard quickly followed by “Communion”. “Order Of Dracul” was the first live premiere of songs from the new album, with “Burn” and “Prototype” being the other selected tracks to be performed live. A It was a great and very solid show, which made it a good ending for the first day.