This is the final part of Noise Road’s review of Hellfest. Click here for part 1.
Society had well and truly broken down by the third night of Hellfest… The temporary urinals were overflowing, and now every fence, bush and corner smelt of p!ss. In previous evenings, partied-out festival goers passed out in quiet, non-urine-drenched corners. Tonight punters were taking drunken, fatigued kips not far from stages and moshpits. You had to dish out a friendly nudge to a comatose body every now and then, just to check that they were still breathing…
I’ve already reviewed Dillinger’s performance on day 3 here. Review may be too kind a word for a post that reads like a teenage girl squealing for her favourite boy band… Anyways, what about the remainder of the day?…
Clisson seems to experience every season, everyday. When the sun was out it was too warm to wear my tired Dillinger hoodie. But as soon as the sun hid behind a cloud, I needed to brave the stench of that hoodie which has been worn almost continuously for 7 months touring the world.
Overnight, it was cold in the rotated field, but the day break brought a hot sun on my tent. It was not easy to sleep at any stage. Also any possible snoozing wasn’t aided by the party surrounding my tent. I’m pretty sure I was encircled by partiers conversing over my tent. I guess they wanted to include me. That was nice of them… In the morning I felt like shyte – so I can’t imagine what they felt like, having a hangover on top of 3 days of no sleep…
Day 3 had almost as long a schedule as day 1. So while there were interesting bands early in the day, I was trying to avoid crashing and burning in the evening before the big boys surfaced. I was also trying to avoid another kebab breakfast – so I headed out of the festival site, to the supermarket. But being a small French town on a Sunday, everything was closed except for the local McDonalds… and I’ll take a kebab over McDonalds any day.
Weedeater were the first act that I caught for the day. They brought harsh-vocaled, stoner rock that effectively varied tempo. I’m a sucker for stoner rock, but Weedeater do it well. I don’t need to smoke – I’ve got these guys, out there on the dope front line, everyday, smoking it for me. They’re willing to make that sacrifice, just so that civilians, like me, can chill the feck out to the muzaque that they create… In fact it was stoner acts all day in the small Terrorizer tent. Why didn’t I stay there? There was just to much to check out around the grounds….
I wasted a lot of that potential stoner rock time waiting for Dying Fetus to show up at the Rock Hard Tent. The audience was only notified 15 minutes after the scheduled start time, that Dying Fetus had cancelled their appearance … Someone fecked up there.
That left me too much time to sit around, being hit by the stench of my own hoodie, without any musical distraction. I could no longer put off its replacement. While I waited in the cash machine queue in order to fund the long overdue wardrobe addition, Polish extreme metallers, Behemoth, were playing the main stage.
I have only heard Behemoth previously via their videos. Man, they have the evilest videos around…
Now that is what a good video is capable of – making you interested enough to check out the band. Behemoth opened with the track from the video above, Ov Fire and the Void. Of all the black-ish bands that played the main stage (and these guys are allegedly blackened death metal – whatever that is), Behemoth were the ones who could pull of the big stage the best.
They sound like a death metal band, but they look like a black metal band… but at the end of the day man, whatever you want to call it, it’s all riffs. Their sound was heavy and clear and it felt at home in front of a big open field. These guys embrace the theatre of black metal, wearing corpsepaint and armour, but they aren’t trying to fool anyone that they are actually evil. It’s part of the show. I think their sound and their approach worked.
Devin Townsend walks a few fine lines. Some of the synthy parts and melodic vocals, during heavy passages, do border on cheesy. But I think the most dangerous path he takes is with his outright silliness.
I saw most of Townsend’s set before I left early to obtain a decent position for Suffocation. I think Townsend came out in front. The music is cheesy in parts, but it is interesting. He is silly – but he’s a nerd, and he embraces it. That’s better than him trying to put on some tough metal guy act. In fact he makes fun of the metal cliches – and for all Hellfest’s strengths, there were a lot of metal cliches coming from the mics on stage.
Back under the Rock Hard Tent, the ground had seen no sun and no rain for at least three days. Instead it had been moshed on for 16 hours a day. I had seen dust rise from the torn-up surface, during the more frenzied moments at both the Rock Hard and Terrorizer Tents. Then one of metal’s most charismatic frontmen demanded that we stomp the ground until the dead rose. When Suffocation’s Frank Mullen tells you to raise the dead, you raise the dead.
I’m from a dust bowl of a city, but I’ve never lost a stage in a mosh-pit induced dust cloud. Through the haze, I could occasionally make out the band pummelling through Igniting the Crypt, and Mullen grinning at the mayhem he had created.
Suffocation alternated between slower, chunkier passages, where they sound like they are scooping your guts out, to faster, intricate, pummelling parts that ferociously stab you… If you only ever check out one death metal band in your life, make sure it is Suffocation.
Never before had I seen Motorhead, or the first man of rock n roll, Lemmy. It just didn’t seem right to pass up the opportunity.
Motorhead’s set sounded… a lot like Motorhead. I stayed for over half of their set, but I didn’t hear any of the classics – there was no Ace of Spades, Orgasmatron, Killed by Death or Overkill. Still as Angus Young once said about AC DC “we’ve been writing the same song for 20 years”, the same idea applies to Motorhead. Like AC DC, the Ramones and even Slayer, Motorhead do one thing – but they do that one thing well. So you don’t necessarily have to hear any one song in particular, as they are all kinda the same song.
They are Motorhead. They play rock n roll.
I’m glad to have sat in front of Lemmy and Motorhead. It warms my heart to know that Lemmy is still out there, drinking more than his share, and yelling upwards into a mic. The world is a better place for it.
I may have to hand in my metalhead membership after choosing to Dillinger over Slayer. I always love Slayer live, but Dillinger is Dillinger, dude.
For the remainder of the evening I alternated between the old school, Swedish death metal of Bloodbath in one tent, and the desert rock of Kyuss Plays Garcia in the other. Garcia had special guest after special guest, including Nick Olivieri. In the other tent, Bloodbath were pile of fun, between making awkward Swedish jokes at the expense of Kiss, themselves and bad kebabs.
I only caught Kiss when passing between these stages and on the way out of the festival. I’ll give them this – visually a Kiss show is quite spectacular. They have an extensive stage show, with all the tricks – pryo, big screens… But I’m sure that it is not a music experience. I think the live music is not the most important thing to Kiss when they put together a show…. Just as I arrived back at my tent, Kiss hit their final note, and fireworks lit the sky…
Back to Reality
The next morning, I packed my tent and prepared to re-enter a non-metal world. I hadn’t showered for 4 days. I hadn’t shaved since entering France 10 days ago. I looked like cr@p and smelt much worse. Much, much worse.
I boarded a train to Nantes, and then a shuttle bus to the airport. Both modes of transport were filled by fellow Hellfesters. The big surprise was the plane though. At least half of the plane were wearing metal band t-shirts. Can’t say that I’ve ever experienced a metalhead plane trip. I was almost expecting to hear over the PA “this is Captain Bruce Dickinson, I’ll be your pilot for today…. Scream for me Cityjet. SCREAAAMMMM!!!!”
Any train, bus or plane that we Hellfesters boarded, reeked. I felt sorry for the non-metalhead passengers on the flight. They had paid hard-earned euro’s to be subjected to a Dutch oven of festival stench. The collective pungent odour almost made me oblivious to my own foul scent… But in London I separated from the rest of the Hellfesters. I now had no one to blame for the scent that followed me. It was a long smelly train ride of self loathing to Southampton. I can’t remember ever taking a longer shower to cleanse the layer of filth on my skin.
The filth was a small price to pay for the most metal experience of my life. And with Wacken Festival tickets in my hand, I’m counting days until I can forget about anything non-metal, and work up another solid body odour.