As a team and as music fans, we are more than delighted to say that day 1 was a complete success. Without even being the most promising day of the festival, we still managed to find, witness and live numerous surprises that could probably convince us that this year’s edition would be far superior to last year's edition. As we mentioned before, the list of bands playing the festival is excruciatingly extensive, which makes it even more fun for us to sway around half-hours and intervals to discover new and surprising acts. Something we applied on day 1 but physically made its mark on us. The earlier you start, the earlier you fall. Those thinking that a festival this big wouldn’t have such an impact on the human body has no clue regarding the sheer abominable dimension of the festival’s area. Most names who we would kill to see play somewhat often in-between the Temple, the Altar and the Valley, but truth is we’re here for the whole experience, and being first and foremost, music fans, we will make sure to drive through the pain to be able to see every single name that stands as relevant to this team.
We had breakfast and planned the day ahead, subtractions and an unrealistic amount of equations were needed to prioritize our schedule after lunch. Stook around at the tents until midday and took the chance to grab something to eat on the way to the Valley. Arrived on time to witness the gore sludgy sound of Primitive Man. Just like Verdun from the day before, we believe that a sound this huge and eventful deserves a later slot in the afternoon. Many people that were still behind sleep, would’ve trembled at the presence of such a mammoth in decibels. Next, on Temple, Igorrr’s performance was nothing less than amazing. True to its core in the purpose of connecting hydraulic noise in-between double-pedals in absurd compulsive ear-shattering distortion.
Gallery with Nails, Igorrr, Primitive Man and Monarque
Anticipating an act such as Nails, we would know that our hearing would not be as healthy as before, right after these two very intense acts. Nails delivered something we like to call “a memorable set” at the Altar. Maybe due to the fact that it’s the first and exclusive European date since the release of the monstrous You’ll Never Be One Of Us, or plainly because the entire tent went berserk at the sound of the first riffs giving entry to their exquisite bulldozer of a sound, these 40 minutes were more than enough for a band that is very used to playing songs with 1 to 2 minutes, so it was more than a privilege for us to hear all our favorite songs from the band. The title-track from the last album, “Suffering Soul”, “God’s Cold Hands”, “Tyrant”, “Made To Make You Fall”, “Violence Is Forever” and much more ranging from the main 3 albums of the band.
At the exact same time, Bongripper were tearing the Valley down with their demolishing sound power. They put the whole crowd in an impressive synchronized slowly headbang, as everyone was hypnotized and were worshipping Gods. In that moment we realize the perfection of the name chosen for this gig’s opening song, “Worship”, as well as their record's name. It was really a pity that the running order’s complexity dictated such exclusive acts in Europe playing at the same time, Nails and Bongripper.
After such intense performances so early in the afternoon, almost everything we saw until two hours later seemed to fall pale beside a set so cruel and disgustingly bestial as that of Nails’. The thirst for violent sounds fell short when all we could feast upon was an uninspired Ugly Kid Joe set that seemed so poor at a distance, to such an extent that it made us realize why the smaller stages mean much more to us than the biggest one. Intimacy is lost when we have to struggle the constant winds shifting the sound and taking away its form and personality.
Something we found and in greater quantities in the Blood Ceremony show at the Valley. A sound so reminiscent of all the 70’s psychedelic/horror exploitation cinema we all have grown to love, mixing both sexy and spiritual elements intertwining with uncompromising architecture and build. The endless amounts of clapping and applause gave the band its due value.
Gallery with Bongripper, Ugly Kid Joe and Blood Ceremony
The heat was killing us. Barely 4:30 in the afternoon and the sun was burning like a motherf**ker. We’re on our way to the Warzone to see what the nostalgic and lovable voice of yours truly, Frank Carter, has to say about this summer day in Clisson. With climate conditions like these, it wasn’t a surprise to see so many people stand right under the shades instead of feeling the burns while a great gig was taking everyone’s attention. Despite the vast range of priorities concerning the crowd, we still saw Frank Carter drive through hordes of shirtless fans dancing and moshing under an astonishingly hot summer afternoon. Security guards saw to it that everyone had at least some water sprayed on their face. Regardless of the tongue, we saw and felt sympathetic voices, sincere hellos and hugs between music fans and couples, just showing that this is the right place for those who would rather celebrate the positive over the bad things in life, just like Frank teaches us. Needless to say, we felt at home.
Leaving the fuming afternoon on the fields of the festival, we made our way back to the graceful shade of the Altar to see polish legends Decapitated. Even though the sound didn’t have the quality that the band’s music demands, we were still taken in graciously by the anatomical drumming and guitar playing coming from the legends. The crowd reacted the same way we did, in complete awe at the monstrous musicality and groove the band has developed since their colder and methodical circa from the late 90’s to early 2000’s.
Gallery with Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes
Thus far, we couldn’t say we were feeling the slightest discomfort in these three stages that welcomed us with humble shades and strong companionship between the listeners. We’d rather listen to Turisas at a distance than considering losing a spot right up front for one of the most awaited names on the festival line-up, with Ms. Wolfe, aka Chelsea Wolfe. On the brink of releasing yet another incredible album, everyone seemed almost as curious to see what new things Wolfe had to offer on the stage as well as remembering the best and most memorable songs from past albums. She played exactly as we expected, like a pulverizing drum beat right underneath the skin, the bass relentless and the voice seemed most comfortable in-between the darkness and the eerie state of mind. Her eyes possess us in such a way that we can’t bare to ignore such presence and impact with almost no facial expression. It felt like a dream, one which we didn’t want to wake up from. If anything, this is a dream to die for.
It would be truly unspeakable to skip Alcest on the Temple stage, but anyone who’s been on the festival ground non-stop since morning, can never truly last more than 5 to 6 hours without a couple minutes for pause. Most definitely the best example of necessary evil in order to survive the rest of the busy night that awaited us. Fortunately, not all was lost. Rushing back to the Temple, we’re still able to catch a haf-hour of the rest of the Frenchmen set. Pretty on-time of witnessing the sunset, nothing seems as perfect and well-timed as hearing Neige’s soft and humble voice elevating the band’s black metal infused shoegaze that seems as timeless and ethereal as themselves. We’d be lying if we said we’d mind skipping the set but it’s always different when you’re present, especially when present right in front of such passionate, sincere artists such as these.
Gallery with Chelsea Wolfe and Alcest
Gallery with Airbourne and Primus
The night was nearing to an end and our minds had been especially focused on what was going to happen right after Alcest. That’s why one of us insisted on sticking around to anticipate the most remarkable moment of the night: Wardruna. Few to pretty much no words can express the welcoming love and affection that the Norwegian's received upon their entrance on stage. Almost tearful from the strong sense of existence and fulfillment, we are left completely speechless to the sight of Einar himself and the rest of the group drowned in endless applause and “thank-you’s” from a crowd that most certainly felt like they could finally die in peace. With a set dividing itself from all over the trilogy albums, we would be lying if we said we’d mind hearing the rest of the songs that were left out, but time is limited, and everyone under that tent realized just how lucky they were to just be able to stand in front of such an eventful moment. We are forever grateful for this hour of pure bliss.
Wardruna’s set ended during Aerosmith’s farewell show in France and ahead of them was standing the biggest crowd in the whole weekend. Instead of seeing them so far away from the stage, and as we do not like goodbyes, we decided to celebrate the return of John Garcias’s mighty project Slo Burn. They had a smaller time slot compared to the concert we saw at London’s Desertfest but it ended to be enough time for them present all of the edit and unedited discography of this project. And they delivered it in a very enthusiastic and energetic way, in a well packed and enthusiastic as well tent. Almost one hour, so sonic which passed with a blink of an eye. One thing is granted: John Garcia and his associates are in very good shape and we hope that this return won’t end to be a sporadic thing only.
By that time, we were left again with a difficult choice, which dictated how we would end the second day of Hellfest. With these three options in mind, either Kreator, Suicidal Tendencies and Deafheaven, our choice was based on what was more urgent towards the current wave of extreme music, and elevated very logically towards the cascadian arches of Deafheaven’s operatic music. An hour set consisting of songs from all over their discography, it were expecting to hear all of our favorite tracks from the band. “Baby Blue”, “Dreamhouse”, “Sunbather” and our absolute favorite moment, the Mogwai cover, “Punk Rock/Cody”. We can’t fathom to understand the incomprehensible rejection towards such an enormous talent like Deafheaven. Either on composition, sound and aesthetic, it’s criminal to ignore the sheer talent that these guys have shown through their music. The more we think about it, the more we appeal to people to understand the core in which the band stands, they don’t take themselves too seriously and that’s why we truly believe that their results have been some of the most superior inside the black metal genre in the last decade or so. That’s just our opinion though, take it or leave it.
We desperately needed to sleep. It had been a tiresome day and the adventure assigns us a challenging day of activity for the closing hours of the festival.