After longing for the summer to bring out the burning metal festivals, finally the end of June brought me the frantic Hellfest Open Air 2014, which was again took place in Clisson, a cozy small town near Nantes, France. We were packing up our stuff the night before we had our flight to Paris, when I received an e-mail from the French national train station company, informing me that due to a strike, our train will stop its activity. I have to say that this kind of information is the last thing you want to hear just few hours before your so long awaited trip. On the other hand this situation made us wanting to go there even more, so we were hell of a lucky bastards to find a nice couple, who had 2 places in their car and going straight to Hellfest!
The 3 days sold-out festival offered an extraordinary metal realm not only for the French metal heads, but also for many people all over the world, heading there with enthusiasm to hear their favorite bands and ready to bang and jump in the middle of the moshpits. Many – I would say too many- people arrived in the camping on Thursday, so we could hardly find a nice and close to the exit place for our tent, but yet again ‘surprises’ continued ’til the end of the day. While we were showing our heavy backpacks the surroundings, the others were already warming up with beers and some good metal, bringing along their mother’s sofas too.
However, the festival had a nice touch of art having all kind of crafty steel decorations with psychedelic wicked colorful lights covering the ground and the trees’ branches in the night and nonetheless, the successful Hellcity square inspired by the British Camden Town. Also the Grande Roue offered an extraordinary view of the whole festival area, even if at the first sight it was funny to see one at a metal festival, soon a long queue made it hard to get up on a ride. Oh and of course one could take really nice photo shots from high up there. The 6 stages satisfied everybody’s metal tastes and I have to congratulate the organizers for the idea of covering 3 of them with huge tents, which helped us a lot, hiding from the stifling hotness. The Extreme Market was also inside of some warehouse-like buildings…devilish good idea. The eating area was a real quest , having so many choices and the French cheese that was present in a lot of dishes, made it even harder.
First day breakfast served us a traditionally French croissant and Necroblood. The French black/death metal band traveled only from Paris and didn’t feel sleepy at all, so early in the morning and they quickly passed their energy to the matinal metal heads, with dark austere and occult but yet so barbarian gigs. Perfect start for a long, metal day! You could easily replace the coffee with this energy boosting band!
Far far from home, Impiety have brought some good black metal riffs straight from Singapore (and some spicy noodle soup too)! They were brutal and satanic aggressive, the inverted cross and the 666 number above them entwined just perfectly with this majestic band! The people were mesmerized by their aggressiveness and rapidness. It was a pity that the sound wasn’t at its best, but all in all they had a good show with an infernal rhythm blowing in the air!
It’s been a good while since I wanted to see Impaled Nazarene! And finally I had the chance to hear and see them so closely. The Finnish black metal band is harmoniously incorporating elements of grindcore and punk rock, perfectly matching their lyrics mostly based on nationalism, war and satanism. It was a real pleasure seeing them and also the metal heads going crazy on their brutal gigs, even if the crowd wasn’t that big, it quickly perceived their cruel massage! Hell of a band!
Since both Altar and Temple stages were sharing the same tent, I could clearly hear Kataklysm breaking the Altar, while I was caught up in the excitement of the crowd waiting for Watain to play in the Temple. So I didn’t fight back and remained there, waiting for them to kick! They didn’t recant their old bloody style and came up on the stage covered in blood and with their torn clothes. No pig blood splattered on the crowd this time…when in France noblesse oblige (nobility obliges), but they openly professed their devout worship of the devil playing their melodic-satanic lyrics. Great show, good music, good sound, just perfect to start the first night!
I would have liked to have the ability to divide myself and be in front of two stages, but not even I can’t do that so I had to humanly make a choice again and I was waiting for Enslaved while I was all ears to Death to all, the Chuck Shuldiner/Death tribute project, playing some kick-ass songs from old good times. The crowd was in ecstasy, very good sound and energetic atmosphere untrammelled from the scene!! On the other hand, waiting for Enslaved was worthy. The Norwegian Progressive Black Metal band enchanted the audience with their Norse mythology inspired songs and rhythms. It was a powerful energy, boosting from the Temple!
The first day ended with a refreshing also Norwegian, death metal/rock/punk band, Kvelertak! Always a pleasure to see them performing. The lyrics are mainly influenced by rock and roll, black metal and punk rock. A colorful fusion, but such a success! It rarely happens to like a whole album- Kvelertak (2010), but it’s a fact! The crowd just went crazy, ending the first day of the festival in frenzy!
The sun was mercyless from early in the morning, so the second day began much more earlier than we actually wanted and the 1:30 long queue, just to take a deserved shower made the day! Just a good start to see a national legend hitting the Altar stage! Benighted, the French brutal death metal band just made people go crazy from the first riffs, a lot of brutal energy and wildness mustered in a nice moshpit. The sound was very good and they played songs from the latest album Carnivore Sublime(2014), great show!
The Altar stage was such a success on Saturday, one could not go away from there, maybe just to grab a beer, because Brutal Truth, Nile and Carcass were on their way to continue the day with some brutal goodies! Even so, The Temple was so close and in between we managed to see the Swiss folk metal Eluveitie! They streamed waves of pagan sounds, very melodic that made us move unwittingly!
The last day started a bit more chill, with some beers, laying down on the grass, under the tree and wathcing Blues Pills on the screen, due to long distance to the Main stage 1. The Swedish blues/pshychedelic rock band, immersed the audience into an extraordinary and unique atmosphere.
The same sublime state of mind continued in The Temple with the Romanians Dordeduh who came from Dracula’s home, bringing along some eloquent traditional instruments! Watching them closely as they are a soul band of mine, they just made me feel at home and very close to the nature! Extremely good music and technique which quickly brought us in another dimension! It was a pleasure to see them taking part on such a big festival line-up! Speechless concert and great sound too!
Seeing Solstafir is always a guaranteed nice time! They’d also played in The Temple, following Equilibrium the German epic pagan metal delivering some sophisticated compositions and melodic scent of battle field! The people got that message and suddenly became the soldiers!
Opeth on the Altar, Iced Earth on the Mainstage2 and Turbonegro on Warzone stage, closed the festival, just to satisfy everyone’s taste in terms of metal!
In conclusion the only 3 black points, at least for me, were the horrible dust that was rising from early morning and increasing gradually forming an everlasting ‘fog’. I know there have been some improvements in this direction, but still, don’t forget to bring a medical mask or a bandana! And the other 2 were: the cold water in the showers and the huge, hellish queues everywhere, but yes this is a common thing at big festivals.
All in all Hellfest 2014 was a blast, we’ve enjoyed it , the bands, the atmosphere and of course the strangely friendly people (in a good way) were the best!! We’re looking forward to going back next year!