Hellfest @ Clisson, 18-20 June 2010, Day One: the Evening
The evening of day one was one for reformations and veterans. It was also an evening for the 16-year-old inside this jaded, 30-year-old shell. Along with Pantera, Sepultura and Fear Factory’s early to mid nineties albums were the first real heavy music that I got into. It’s fair to say that both Sepultura and Fear Factory aren’t the creative powerhouses that they were back then. But my inner 16-year-old needed to hear the songs that brought him to the dance.
As the sun was falling, the first big decision of the festival arrived. Who do I watch next? Underground metal’s buzz band of the moment, Watain? Or a past-their-prime Sepultura?
Watain are known for speaking the rhetoric of the black metallers of old. None eviler. Read Invisible Oranges interview with the band here. Watain are also known for playing with real blood splashing out into the audience. Call it gimmick, atmosphere or ritual – it still would have been a pretty cool experience.
But I chose Seps. Sepultura were the first genuinely heavy band that I liked. And despite what everyone else says, I like the first 2 post-Max albums. I’ve seen them twice in the post-Max period, and they’ve both been great gigs.
Live, Seps still bring it. They opened with Arise. 16-year-old Moods had to scream “I see the world old! I see the world dead!!!”. The crushing opening riff of Refuse/Resist quickly followed “Chaos AD! The tanks on the streets!”
The new thrashy songs don’t seem out of place. They’re just not memorable like the old classics. I wouldn’t call them interludes as the boys fully try to give them the sell – Derrick, the frontman, works the auxiliary percussion, Andreas wails like a rockstar in his power stance.
If you don’t buy their new records, fair enough. I didn’t buy their latest. But their gigs are still worth checking out.
I had to leave the jungle rhythms of Territory, for the first Godflesh reunion show.
Godflesh’s much anticipated first performance in 7 or 8 years was a series of technical feck ups. First of all there was 20 minutes of main man, Justin Broadrick, trying to remove the feedback from his mic effects. The non-believers were increasingly leaving the small Terrorizer Tent. Then there were issues with his drum electronics, and even a rogue guitar strap held up proceedings for several minutes. Things were not going smoothly. And Broadrick looked rattled.
I am by no means a Broadrick super fan. Last year, before catching his other project, Jesu, at the Primavera festival, I was schooling myself on Jesu. I enjoyed what I heard on the net – but live, I found his vocals distracting. He was clearly trying to sing beyond his range (at least on that day, anyway). As Mrs Eastwood’s little boy always told me “a man’s got to know his limitations”.
So even with the high praise from my favourite bands, Broadrick, was a little tainted in my books. I’ve tried to get into Godflesh a few times – but it hasn’t happened for me. And this trouble plagued gig didn’t seem like it was going to be the place for it to happen, either…
Godflesh is a similar live set up to Jesu – Broadrick on guitars, vox and electronics, with a more than capable partner on bass. But Godflesh was a far different beast to Jesu.
The programmed drums have a cold and stark industrial feel, with plodding bass lines to match. In contrast, Broadrick wrenches out riffs and noises out of his guitar. His voice is aggressive, but it feels tortured. There is human frailty and pain fighting the cold machine behind it.
What I heard, I really enjoyed. I have been checking out Godflesh in a new light since. But its such a shame that half of the hour set was lost to technical issues. If nothing else it has turned me on to the records.
From the Godflesh brand of industrial to the slicker Fear Factory take on the genre…
I have fond memories of my first awkward steps into metal. Fear Factory’s first two albums, Soul of a New Machine and Demanufacture were a big part of that. I listened to Demanufacture in its entirety the other week, and I stand by my teenage enthusiasm for it. The man-vs-machine lyrics match the machine-gun music… Unfortunately after those first two solid albums, Fear Factory descended into a Nu Metal world of shyte.
So I sat my weary body down in front of the main stage, open-minded despite the better part of a decade of shyte from the Fear Factory machine…
I really dug hearing Demanufacture, Self Bias Resistor and Martyr live again. They are great songs that translate well on a big stage. And you can’t fault the performance abilities of the band. Gun-for-hire, Gene Hoglan, is a monster behind that kit, Dino has that huge guitar sound and Burton C Bell still has vocal chops. Both 16-year-old and 30-year-old Moods cathartically yelled with Burton “I’ve got no more godd@m regrets! I’ve got no more goddam respect!”…
Unfortunately they didn’t shy away from their nu metal material. The album Digimortal was represented with multiple tracks… This material wasn’t raising my enthusiasm so much.
An interesting break in the music occurred during the set. A fan boarded the stage and proposed to his girlfriend. As far as I know, this is at least the third time this has happened on a Fear Factory stage in the last few months… So is this a gimmick? If so it’s some out there, performance art gear. A metal band that has a proposal every show… Burton C Bell smiled “how beautiful” and then the band immediately followed that act of love with a song that includes the lyrics:
There was no love,
There was no love for me,
There was only hatred…
I am r@pe. I am hate…
Well played, Fear Factory. Well played.
So while I enjoyed a large part of the set, it was more of a nostalgic enjoyment. The new material does sound solid, but I don’t think I would go out of my way for Fear Factory 2010. There are so many bands today doing new, exciting things, that I don’t need to dwell in the past. But for what it was worth, my inner 16-year-old was pretty d@mn pleased with the evening.
By the end of Fear Factory’s set, I was done. I was curious about Marduk – but the body failed me. I successfully passed out in my tent despite Biohazard thundering from the main stage, and my tent being encircled by partying Frenchman until daylight….
Click here for Noise Road’s review of Hellfest Day 2, and for words on performances from the likes of Alice Cooper and Carcass.