The second day in hell arrived. I was chilling out with a morning pint and planning my day and it made me realise a few things. First, at Hellfest there are way too many bands that we could possible see in a day. Second, if we try to see as many bands as possible it is better not to hang out with friends and avoid drinking at all costs. But a festival is not just about the bands but about having fun all day and escaping from our everyday life. Well, so far it was all going according to plan.
One of my friends recommended to watch Primitive Man at the Valley and it turned out to be a good choice to start the second day, but I wouldn’t call their performance relaxing at all. The unpleasant fusion of doom, sludge and stoner death, mixed with the scream of the primitive men worked well for me. Standing close to the stage the bass was so damn strong it almost made me spill my beer and I couldn’t stop staring at my T-shirt vibrating on me. It definitely has a stronger effect on me than triple shots of Jagermeister. A good start.
At the Temple Stage, the Canadian Monarque managed to gather many faces, so instead of sneaking between the crowd to get as close as possible, I’ve decided to just watch the projection. The sound was better anyway from a distance. I really liked their last full album Lys Noi’ but Monarque will stay an album band for me rather than a live band.
I went to see what The Dead Daisies are up to these days. The supergroup’s reputation was convincing as the band includes ex-members of Mötley Crüe, Thin Lizzy, Whitesnake and even musicians from Billy Idol and Dio, so no wonder lots of people gathered to see them but, to be honest, I was more curious to see Phil Campbell & The Bastard Sons. They took place on the same stage not long after the Daisies left but they delivered a much more powerful set than just a good old rock and roll gig. Phil was the guitarist in Motörhead since 1984 till Lemmy’s death in 2016. Then he decided to form his solo project carrying the heritage of Motörhead. Along with their own tracks they played quite a lot covers such as ’Killed by Death’ and ’Ace of Spades’ but when they performed the psychedelic cover ’Silver Machine’ from Hawkwind the gig transformed into a massive celebration. Such a remarkable moment it was!
There was a band which gathered most of the French population of Hellfest and that was Ultra Vomit. This band is a weird combination of a joke, yet serious band. The way they jump between genres is a bit hard to follow but the way they manage to execute those genres is very impressive. Unfortunately, for me I don’t speak French so I missed most of the puns by the singer between songs but I still enjoyed every second of their set.
Now it was time to turn back into the underground realm of extreme musics. Nails provided some more hostile moments. The four-piece American band’s performance wasn’t an easy listen and definitely not for the faint hearted. The sound of their short but elemental songs had literally ripped the eardrums with brutal strength. I know we have all seen brutal shows but sometimes you just can’t explain why some of the gigs are stuck to your brain and remain remarkable with no particular reason. Well Nails’ show was this kind of performance as it was just great.
I wasn’t planning to watch Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes but at the end I didn’t mind at all. It was kind of a ’right place at at the right time’ situation. Not long after they kicked off with the track ’Juggernaut’ Frank was already walking on the top of the crowd like Jesus walked on water. That scene already won me over as it was just so spectacular. He even stopped the flow of the show at some point when he thought the circle pit ’ain’t fucking big. I wanna see a pit around that tower!’ and the crowed did what he said. The end result was a massive dust cloud all over the place where the audience was supposed to be but at this point not a soul was visible.
After the raging gig, the amazing Chelsea Wolfe was next to watch. It took me only a few songs to decide: this show will be the next (among a very few) that I will watch entirely. Despite the slightly depressive atmopshere, the entire performance was relaxing, haunting but sensual at the same time. It was great to switch off during her beautiful songs. She even played the yet unreleased track ’16 Psyche’ from her next album Hiss Spun. Definitely an album that is highly recommended to everyone.
To carry on with the transcendental journey that I’ve started with Chelsea Wolfe I followed Alcest into their imaginary world. The French shoegaze artist’s perfomance perfectly fitted to the mood I was when they took the stage. Although I prefer their first two releases, every single song they performed tonight was spot on. I think no need to dissect the band and explain why Alcest’s music is unique as perhaps the reasons are uncountable. To put their show in a nutshell, the entire set was a beautiful composition and each track took us to some weird, dark dreamland where Alcest played the soundtrack of our dreams.
Wardruna was the musical beauty among so many beasts that appeared during the weekend. For me their performance was one of the higlight of the festival. As it was expected they opened the ceremony with the first track called ’Tyr’ from their latest album. This song was definitely meant to open the gates to the underworld. During their one hour long set they played several hypnotizing compositions from every release of the Wardruna’s trilogy and of course they closed the show with their biggest anthem titled ’Helvegen’. Our spiritual journey for today came to an end now. It was time to see one of today’s headliners.
Primus is a band that I have always found somehow difficult to describe. Les Claypool’s voice is just as unique as the music he plays. There was no doubt about how much the people of Hellfest were looking forward to see Primus as the tent and every square inch around it became impenetrable. While ’Jerry was a Race Car Driver’, ’Frizzle Fry’, ’Wynona’s Big Brown Beaver’ and ’My Name is Mud’ were being played, warped video clips were projected behind the band and every detail of the set created a very special atmosphere.
I was looking forward to see Slo Burn tonight very much. I had to make a big decision here. Since Aerosmith and Slo Burn were playing at the same time I couldn’t stay till the end of the set. Still, John Garcia’s has what it takes to be one of the greatest desert rockers around. Their set included mostly tracks from their one and only full-length Amusing the Amazing. Brilliant set. But I had to make a move to be able to catch the last few songs at the Mainstage where Aerosmith were already making unforgettable moments. I managed to catch ’Dream On’ and ’Walk This Way’ so practically the very end of the whole set. The crowd was insanely big so I should be happy I manged to hear them from that distance. I witnessed a piece of musical history and I was happy to see some of the biggest rockstars on this planet to play for us.
Hereby I present the best stage design and the best thrash metal performer award to the legendary Kreator. Despite the late start (it was 1am when they took the stage) and the tiredness the crowd turned into a horde of chaos lead by Mille Petrozza. If you have ever been to a Kreator gig you know what to expect. As always the set was well balanced. After a few fast tracks they let us rest while they played some mid-paced songs such as ’Satan is Real’ and ’Fallen Brother’. During that track they projected the faces of some of the recently lost musicians like David Bowie, Lemmy and many more. I suppose this moment touched even the toughest metal warrior. To sum it up, even if I wanted to I couldn’t find any negative aspect of the entire show. The sound was brutal, the lighting effects and projections were expectional, even the background was amazing and evil. A perfect closing set of the second day. Hail Kreator!
All live photography by Vivien Varga.