Hellfest is a dream that every metalhead wants to fulfill. Nobody can ever forget their first time walking through the entrance gates and being overwhelmed by all the grandiosity, whose welcoming stature towards it’s attendants leaves a mark that not even dreams can thrive to create. The epicentre of hundreds of thousands sore necks grows into six ample ramifications - where from morning to late at night - we are offered some of the most interesting metal bands of our days. A menu that is able to satisfy the appetite of both the traditional old school goers and the new-age adventurers, and that’s something you can only get in a festival that is able to live up to its astonishing diversity of genres in each of its epicenters.
The challenge, besides obviously withstanding the physical aspect of the experience, is being able to choose between multiple beloved bands that play at the same time and to be able to attend the first concerts of the day, which start at 10h30 in the morning. A force that those who have a special taste for after-parties have failed to deliver, especially this year, where the festival premiered two new tents for this purpose. The nightlife in the camping area is relatively calm - except for the shopping carts’ battle, which are both funny and primitive - but it’s a way for metalheads around the world to enhance their social skills with each other and share some drinks before going to their tents.
Before crossing the cathedral's gates, metalheads find Hellcity, a city centre made out of numerous shops and services that resemble real metropolitan buildings simulating an oh so believable alternative city. Something original that very few other festivals have been able to emulate, and whose areas destined to the market are always extremely homogeneous. The venue is incredibly decorated, with multiple sculptures and art pieces - a favorite one is undoubtedly the Lemmy statue - including large structures that pour water, an ideal stopping point for those who battle through hot afternoons. For those who fear the cold nights, there are also plenty of structures that spit fire into the festival’s surroundings.
First day began with the news that Manowar’s headlining performance had been canceled. The motif stood behind the band not being happy with not being able to test the pyrotechnic material the night before their show. Whether it’s true or not, they were replaced by Sabaton, who themselves had to substitute Joakim Brodén, who felt extreme difficulties in delivering his voice due to the previous day’s show at Knotfest, with guitarist Chris Rörland, and went on to deliver a show that did not disappoint the band’s fans one bit.
Closing the concerts for the night, Gojira brought a great amount of chaos to Mainstage 2. The adoration the French have for their band was obvious. Everyone seemed plugged in since the very first riff until the long-lasting fireworks at the end. It was without a doubt the most acclaimed band of the first day. The audience got extremely active during the gig, always corresponding to the heavy riffs with the same untiring energy. Everyone around seemed to know all the lyrics and were altering between singing and vigorous headbanging. This concert must have caused a great impact on the band members, who gave long thanking speeches at the end. Some might think that big stages have a tendency to lose out on the sheer emotion of live music, but if there had to be an example that that’s a completely wrong concept, this is the one.