Hellfest. Rarely has a name been quite so apt for a festival. Set in the rural area of Clisson, France, the festival has several reasons to live up to its name. Firstly, the lineup almost invariably makes metal fans go “Bloody hell!” or equivalent. Secondly, it’s in the peak of summer when the country becomes hot as hell. Thirdly, there are six stages, including two main stages, so those with a wide-ranging music taste wish for time machines. Yes, you read that right: over 140 bands in the space of three days. Bring your earplugs.
We at MetalRecusants unfortunately have not invented time travel yet, so instead Vivien and I have taken it upon to narrow each stage down to 6 BANDS. These bands highlighted are only personal taste, and the beauty of Hellfest is, if someone is playing whose music you don’t dig, there are 5 other stages going on. So without further ado, let’s go flying into the punk and hardcore of The Warzone.
There is a gratifyingly large amount of variety featured here, from the raging fury of First Blood through the horror-punk stalwarts Misfits to the pop-punk melody of Millencolin. But it may surprise some to see Protest The Hero on the bill, the band usually associated with highly technical prog-metal shot through with some post-hardcore. However, considering the catchiness and energy behind their recent album Volition, they should still catch some considerable attention, particularly their more chaotic tracks.
The French hardcore scene gets a great airing from the get-go with two very interesting-sounding bands, one right from Clisson itself. I was compelled to check out hometown heroes Stinky Bollocks, mostly from the rather stunning name. That wasn’t all that struck me about the melodic hardcore upstarts; the vocalist bears a surprising resemblance to a French-accented Lemmy, and French moshpits look pretty damn intense. In short, the best way to wake up properly on a Saturday morning. And if you can’t get enough of that, Cobra will sort out your Frenchcore fix.
The Canadians have also done their hardcore well in the past, and their representative is the vicious sound of Comeback Kid, on the back of their recently-released Die Knowing and a reputation for one hell of an engaging live show. Andrew Neufeld’s empowering screams have been serving the band well over the past three releases, and with the top-notch musicianship, the band should prove to be a highlight of the stage. And speaking of comebacks… Bl’ast! are confirmed! Yes, the 80s West Coast punk band have been riding on a high since the Dave Grohl-helmed remaster of their sophomore It’s In My Blood (now rebranded as Blood!). The record itself sounds fantastic, and is sure to go down a storm with the veteran and new-found fans. They may have been termed “Black Flag‘s little brother”, but Bl’ast! will definitely stand tall at Hellfest.
Finally, the two bands I simply must highlight are Flogging Molly and Kvelertak. Despite neither of these names being particularly underground, there are countless reports to show that each deliver their own party onstage. Flogging Molly’s brand of boisterous Celtic-infused punk rock is bound to kick off an inebriated riot, fuelled by tracks like “Drunken Lullabies” and “Seven Deadly Sins”. We only hope the accordion, tin whistle and fiddle are audible over the guitars and drums. For a more chaotic show, I ask you to look to our northern brothers in Norway’s Kvelertak. Blending equal parts of black metal, rock ‘n’ roll and hardcore punk, the sonic maelstrom that results is bound to push the festival into pandemonium on Friday. And it will be glorious to witness.
Although the big names of Mainstage 1 and 2 may well be tempting alone, or you could be a death metal fiend, make sure you look the Warzone’s way. There’s plenty of burgeoning talent here. Stay up to date with the goings-on at www.hellfest.fr.