HELLFEST OPEN AIR 2017 PREVIEW: Main Stages & The Valley

Just like in previous years, Hellfest takes place in the picturesque surroundings of the village and vineyards of Clisson in France. Between 16th and 18th June the organisers of Hellfest have wowed us again by booking yet another fine selection of some of the most legendary bands across six stages.

The two main stages bring you the bigger names in the history of rock, which I’ll be dissecting. For fans of punk and hardcore the Warzone Stage is the base camp. If you’re more into doom, sludge and stoner the Valley Stage will be your port of call (also my specialty!) Everything black, death and corpsepaint will gather at the stages of the Altar and the Temple.

With ten festivals under their belt, Hellfest know a thing or two about how to make it an amazing experience from artists to festival-goers. Also, when they announce the full line-up I already feel absolutely overwhelmed as how to even start writing about it.

Let’s have a look what we can expect on the main stages for three days. Deep Purple needs no introduction and the name should speak for itself. Deep Purple gave the world the cataclysmic riff of ‘Smoke on the Water’ and they are one of the most legendary bands in rock history. The other household name in rock history is Aerosmith and Hellfest is part of the European leg of their “Aero-Vederci Baby” farewell tour. Prophets of Rage are a supergroup formed by the members of Public Enemy, Cypress Hill and Rage Against The Machine. But don’t just expect the ‘old but gold’ tracks because these guys still have a lot to shout and they are not afraid to bellow it from the rooftops.

Rob Zombie will perform Astro Creep: 2000 in its entirety and for this horror fuelled groovy set they will bring us the full US show. Linkin Park are one of the most successful and well-known bands from the nu-metal era of the early 2000s. Still coming up with new material so if you’re following their work you probably don’t want to miss them at Hellfest. Airbourne is mostly referred to as the new incarnation of AC/DC but fortunately they have so much more in them than just a younger copy of the great Australians.

Catchy industrial thrash can be expected from Ministry but make sure you get your tweed and sandals ready before In Flames hit the stage. As much as I love Behemoth I hope I won’t have to listen to The Satanist for the hundredth times and their set will be more varied. Steel Panther’s ridiculously over the top glam rock is vulgar and hilarious but it also comes with impressive instrumental talent. Ugly Kid Joe will take us back to the ‘90s when you had a garage band and a can of beer in your hand. The Dead Daisies are an Australian-American musical collective formed in 2012. Good old school rock from people who were already making music history before you were born. Let’s not forget about W.A.S.P, the darker rebellious side of 80s glam rock era. Also, a brilliant band live.

Kreator is out with Gods of Violence, their latest tsunami-level-heavy album so we’ll surely see how it sounds live. Apocalyptica, the cello players who kick ass will be here, too and Saxon, the keepers of the flame of British heavy metal will also make an appearance. Skindred is known to be a very entertaining band live and Benji Webbe is the ultimate showman who won’t tolerate anyone standing still. Do I really have to say anything about Slayer? I don’t think so. You might have seen them a thousand times but it never stops being good. Alter Bridge will be another highlight as Myles Kennedy and former members of Creed are known for ushering euphoric sounding hard rock.

There are many more bands I’m looking forward to see such as the American instrumental progressive band Animals as Leaders, or the French grindcore band Ultra Vomit who mock and pay tribute to all metal styles at the same time and the American crossover thrashers Prong, who happen to be one of my personal favourites.

Monster Magnet is a returning guest on the Valley Stage at Hellfest but we welcome them with just as much love. Electric Wizard from the UK will bring their 70s styled doom and a modern cult that never gets boring but keeps evolving and renewing itself. Subrosa is strongly recommended if you’re a fan of experimental sludge-doom. Red Fang will be a little more upbeat among all this doom and gloom.

Baroness’ album Purple came out last year and it is probably the best album they put together and I’m looking forward to hear tracks live. If John Garcia puts his hands on a band you know it’ll be amazing. Same happened to Slo Burn which came to life after Kyuss split up. Slo Burn is now rising from their ashes so their set is an absolute must if you want to catch a bit of stoner rock history. The only way I could describe Primus is…well, that you can’t really describe them. Weird band but with great musicianship.

Chelsea Wolfe will undoubtedly bring us a very distinctive and unique atmosphere. Again, strongly recommended. Bongripper will have a set with lengthy, sludgy and dark instrumental doom sonances. Blood Ceremony will stay on the dark side with their take on the occult rock. Blue Öyster Cult is a band that has also cemented itself in the history of rock and despite the line-up changes throughout the decades they are still active and touring. I’m hoping to hear ‘(Don’t Fear) The Reaper’ live. Hawkwind are another classic English rock band, who’ve been around since the 60s and still releasing new albums. Their latest full-length, The Machine Stops was critically acclaimed and one of their best ones.

Pentagram have a widely-documented and prolific history, so it is difficult to highlight anything specific so I’d just recommend you to go and see them live. Ufomammut’s lengthy songs, heavy riffs and droning vocals create a unique brand of psychedelic sludge. The Vintage Caravan hail from Iceland and they are among the promising up and coming progressive and psychedelic rock bands, making waves in that terrain in this day and age.

It is impossible to list and dissect every single band that steps on stage at Hellfest before their actual live performances. This is purely a short teaser aiming to give a quick glimpse into the bands and genres that will be represented during the weekend. The entire line-up is much longer and the scale is also much more colourful.

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