The first gig of the third day of the festival that I witnessed was a relative newcomer to the extreme metal scene, Tribulation. The Swedish quartet released their second and latest album The Children of the Night earlier this year. Their music is defined as death metal but don’t expect fast blastbeats and distorted guitars. What you will get is clean guitars, progressive and heavy rock as well as black metal. It’s dark, melodic, powerful and very engaging. So was their short 30-minute set on the Altar stage.
The Great Old Ones from France is yet another great band from the French black metal scene. Their main inspiration is the work of H.P. Lovecraft and a Cthulhu mask on stage was a reminder.
After two fine acts of black metal I wanted to see something more refreshing and uplifting. And that was when The Haunted came to the picture. You won’t believe where these guys are from. That’s right, Sweden. There must be something in the water because it cannot be an accident that there are so many excellent Swedish bands out there. The supergroup’s prominent members are Adrian Erlandsson and Jonas Björler, for whom it was a good warm-up for their set with At The Gates later that day. Anyway, my point is that it was a delightful little gig consisting of songs like ‘Hate Song’ from the very first album The Haunted as well as ‘Trend Killer’ and ‘Eye of the Storm’ from their latest piece Exit Wounds.
Despite their unique outfit and make-up Khold’s performance cannot be called special or memorable. Norwegian black metal but in a different way. They had maybe one good riff that would be worth mentioning but unfortunately I cannot recall which track that was. One of their songs sounded exactly like a proper copy of ’Troops of Doom’ from Sepultura. Almost the whole set was mid-paced and barely made the crowd do something else instead of standing still. I must say Khold is not really a live band but more like a listen-at-home-type of black metal.
Another band from the symphonic camp of the Season of Mist record label, called Carach Angren tried to enhance the atmosphere after Khold’s failure. The band has released four albums so far, launching one every other year. The presence of the front man Seregor was pretty much stage-compatible. His personal acting was imposing and so to say he won the audience’s interest. Due to the show’s symphonic nature it reminded me more of a dark theatrical performance rather than a regular gig and from this point of view Carach Angren made it well.
Exodus is a very well-known household name for thrash metal and a very safe choice for moshing. Most tracks from their latest Blood In Blood Out were played but after a certain point I didn’t really follow the set but rather got carried away with the atmosphere. The crowd went apeshit, to say the least. Exodus were amazing and from all the bands I saw on the two main stages, Exodus’ set must be one of the top 5.
Recently, no festival can take place without Max Cavalera’s projects. Last year he performed here with Soulfly and this time with Cavalera Conspiracy. Cavalera’s music is already considered as a kind of classic within the metal scene and he is a living legend. He knows well how to keep up two active bands at the same time. An enormous amount of work and constant touring around the globe is not an easy lifestyle but that’s the price of fame and popularity. The show featured some rarities for those who grew up listening to old Sepultura. The song ’We Who Are Not As Others’ was a perfect choice to turn on the massive crowd. Unfortunately, they could not end their set properly. Due to some electrical overloading the sound was gone during ’Roots’ but that was meant to be the last track anyway.
On the way to the Warzone stage from a few hundred metres away where Cannibal Corpse was performing, the voice of vocalist Corpsegrinder and the low-end frequencies of their blastbeats blared out any other noise. Even from the other side of the festival site nothing else was audible, only the most brutal death metal band of all times. Well done!
Punk cannot be destroyed; consequently the punk movement will never die. The Exploited proved this statement countless of times. Founder and frontman Wattie Buchan stood up every single time after he fell. Just think about it, despite the jail sentences back in the old times or his health issues not long ago, The Exploited are still spreading their anarchic views. They kicked off with ’Let’s Start a War’, a really good and stylish warm-up exercise. During the happiest song of the set ’Sex and Violence’ fans invaded the stage for the call of Wattie. Apparently he was really surprised with how many of them managed to make it to the stage. So much so that none of the members of the band were seen and some of the fans even took over the microphone and there was some crowd surfing as well. While everyone was singing ‘Sex and Violence’ it was a very touching moment of a big punk celebration. Eventually, Wattie had enough and yelled “Get off my stage!” several times to restore the order. Order at an anarchist punk gig? Well, miracles do happen.
On the way to see At The Gates I couldn’t help but stop for a while to see a bit of Limp Bizkit’s set. Fortunately singer Fred Durst didn’t see their slot at Hellfest as just another gig that had to be done but I felt he put his heart in it. As far as I remember most of my all-time-favourites were played like ‘Full Nelson’, ‘Hot Dog’, ‘My Way’ and ‘My Generation’. Of course, there is no Limp Bizkit set without ‘Take a Look Around’. Guitarist Wes Borland got the crowd going with Metallica’s ‘Master of Puppets’ at one point but to be honest I don’t think they needed more encouragement.
At The Gates is probably the happiest melodic death metal band ever. It is always a pleasure to see them live and so it was this time. The albums Slaughter of the Soul and At War With Reality provided the core of their set. ‘Death and the Labyrinth’ was a good track to kick off but I don’t think there’s a better song to start off than ‘Slaughter of the Soul’. For the song ‘World of Lies’ Marco Arco from The Haunted joined Tomas Lindberg for a duet. At The Gates’ set also made it in my top 5 of this year’s Hellfest.
In my eyes Phil Anselmo is one of the biggest rock stars on this planet yet he cannot be any more down-to-earth. This time he played with Superjoint Ritual and put on a freaking good party. Their set was the very last set I decided to see at Hellfest this year and I didn’t regret it one bit. It was aggressive, fast, thrashy and – I do apologise for the following – fucking hostile. Both of the band’s releases Use Once and Destroy and A Lethal Dose of American Hatred are well worth getting familiar with. ‘Everyone Hates Everyone’, ‘The Introvert’, ‘Fuck Your Enemy’ and ‘Waiting for the Turning Point’ were especially close to my heart. For me, Superjoint Ritual was the perfect end to Hellfest 2015.
All in all I cannot praise the organisers enough because every year they manage to give us an amazing line-up, a very well-organised and awesome looking festival, so I’m really looking forward to next year’s edition.
Once again, it was an absolute pleasure to be part of Hellfest 2015 and I hope our reviews and pictures will convince you to join the cult. See you next year Hellfest!
All pictures courtesy of Vivien Varga and MetalRecusants.com.