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Festival Report   

HELLFEST 2009: DAY 1



Festival : Hellfest 2009
Place: Clisson (France)
Date: 2009-06-19 (Friday)
Audience: around 18,000 people


Orakle

Opening a festival such as the Hellfest is not an easy task. The spectre of the legendary bands that will soon follow must be incredibly scary, and warming up the still rather cool festival-goers is probably a bit of a challenge. It’s 11 a.m., and Orakle are ready for their fight against daylight. It’s obvious that the black metal delivered by this band from Angervilliers would be more appropriate under a starry night sky that in broad daylight. And yet, when Orakle deign to appear, they bring a certain kind of magic along. Intermittently, somewhere between a dream and a nightmare, a dark veil manages to block the light that tries to creep inside the tent. Orakle delivers mature compositions that could do with a little more personality (the shadow of Arcturus and Emperor is never far away). It would also be to their advantage to work on the stage presence and to develop their charisma. Once this is done, the magic will truly be complete. The band is still young, with only two albums in its discography, and the odds are that Orakle will soon overcome these little faults. Sp – Se


Gokan

Performing on the main stage was not going to be an easy job for Gokan either. The young band from Nantes was granted the right to tread the boards of the Hellfest at the very last minute, their geographical location making it quick and easy for them to reach the festival grounds. One man’s poison being another man’s meat, the withdrawal of Bring Me The Horizon thus enabled Gokan to go up on stage and express themselves in front of the masses. The band delivers a rather classic death metal tinged with hardcore – nothing revolutionary, but enough to pull the audience out of its morning torpor and to drain off the last (?) remnants of alcohol. Gokan’s music encourages headbanging and, even if the band’s compositions are not exactly mind-blowing, at least they managed to conquer the festival. Quite an achievement for a young band that only saw the light of day back in 2005. Do – Se


Squealer

New stage, new band: let’s now enjoy Squealer’s performance. Squealer is a heavy metal band that aims at “bringing the past back to life”, as the vocalist, Pascal Bailly, puts it. A short keyboard intro initiates a 30-minute-long, rather enjoyable shows with no overlong passages. The enthusiasm shown by Pascal and his bandmates is much appreciated, and the audience revels in the hit songs of this band from the 80s with undisguised pleasure. Let’s salute the excellent performance of all the musicians, who never hesitate to take part in the backing vocals, thus producing an great result. “What You Gonna Do” is a totally brilliant song, whose catchy chorus will be stuck in your memory for a few hours. The only downside of this performance: a very average sound. Do – Se


Melechesh

It is widely whispered that Melechesh had to flee their native town of Jerusalem because of the pressure exerted on them by the local religious authorities. Obviously, black metal is not usually the favourite music genre of the overly religious – especially when said black metal is vastly inspired by Sumerian mythology. As for us, we tend to think that having a black metal band play so soon after breakfast is the real heresy. In any case, the band benefits from a very good sound, and the audience warmly welcomes their oriental scales and Mesopotamian folklore. Vocalist and lead guitarist Ashmedi seems to be an early riser – otherwise he certainly wouldn’t be mistreating his poor guitar with so much energy. Admittedly the voice is a bit monotonous, but the band’s energetic set manages to please a still half-asleep crowd. And the Israeli didn’t do things by halves: the audience is in for an explosion of songs from their new – and, all things considered, rather brilliant – album, Emissaries. Among others, let’s remember “Deluge of Delusional Dreams” and “Ladders to Sumeria”. And with “Rebirth of the Nemesis”, their “last song for tonight – I mean today”, as Ashmedi put it, the Kings of Fire (“Melechesh” in Hebrew) once and for all satisfied the audience, who seemed to appreciate this breath of musical fresh air at the crack of dawn – or whatever you call 1 p.m. Fu – Se


Karma To Burn

The sun is finally back when Karma To Burn tread the boards of the stage – and the audience will be feeling very hot during the entire set of this instrumental stoner band. Their music seems to come straight out of a riff factory. Drummer Rob Oswald is excellent behind his simplistic kit, and Richard Mullins (bass) and William Mecum (guitar) deliver right-on-the-target riffs. Their complementarity is fantastic, and the trio grooves awesomely. Giving you the titles of the songs played would be a bit tricky, since it’s quite difficult to remember the name of a song that’s only defined on the album by a number. The only thing we can regret is the absence of songs from the first album, which featured a singer, against the will of the musicians. And where is the excellent “Twin Sisters And Half A Bottle Of Bourbon” gone? This instrumental (obviously…) cover of the famous song appears on the band’s second album under the name “One”. Oh, well, we won’t hold a grudge against them for that. The set was catchy enough to arouse the neophyte’s interest and satisfy the connoisseur. Cl – Se


Girlschool

The sound of a Harley motorbike mixed with saturated guitars as introduction – Girlschool will definitely offer us a good show! Said show opens with a drum rhythm that clearly reminds the audience of “Overkill”, a song from their friends from Motörhead (the two bands should embark on a tour across the UK in November). Unfortunately, the beginning of the show is sabotaged by severe technical problems, and technicians need to tend to Jax Chambers’s guitar during several long minutes. But the lady is not going to let technicalities get her down, and she even jokes to the audience : “I managed to break the amp without playing a single note – must be a world record!” In short, this show is marked by fun and good humour, and the fact that bassist Enid Williams shows some difficulties with her vocals doesn’t change things one bit. Music-wise, let’s remember “Spy”, a song from the band’s latest album, Legacy, that features Dio and Tony Iommi as guest musicians. The word “Girlschool” can indeed shine on above the stage: the audience is cleary happy with the ladies’s performance, even though the heavy metal they deliver is not exactly unforgettable. But as you probably know, a great many English people make the trip to France for the Hellfest, and so when the band leaves the stage, they’re followed by the crowd’s loud cheers. Do – Se


Taake

Taake takes over the stage under the Rock Hard Tent, whose pseudo-obscurity is still more appropriate to black metal that a blazing sun. All five musicians are wearing the compulsory corpse paintings that come with epic, Satyricon-like black metal, topped with rock-sounding soli. The sound is decent, which makes the good music of the Norwegian band fully enjoyable. And to crown it all, the musicians are extremely expressive. Vocalist Hoest exposes his bare chest and his numerous tattoos, among which an upside-down cross on his abdomen. The bassist perfects his impression of a helicopter while the guitarists fully concentrate on their instruments. Behind them, the drummer torments his (not overmixed) double pedal, and the crowd recognizes the worth of the songs played, some of which are taken from the new album. A short distance from the crowd, we even spotted Gaahl (God Seed) and his new boyfriend! But Taake would have been one of the black metal events of this edition of the Hellfest even without this small social column. Cl – Se


God Forbid

A wise man once said that listening to melodic thrash metal is a good thing to do after you’ve had a rachitic, over-priced kebab for lunch. Guess what? That’s what American band God Forbid is here for. The intro is pompous and grandiloquent enough to help us forget our undercooked mutton. And to further aid digestion, Byron, God Forbid’s dreadlocked frontman, orders a general “jump” during the second song. Of course, nausea threatens when Doc’ starts singing, but we shouldn’t have worried: his vocal chords are too fragile for this, and he just can’t keep up when the vocals become more lively on “Empire of the Gun”. Byron, for his part, warms up the audience with some energy, provoking the first circle pit of the festival. The black vocalist turns into an epicurean and advises the crowd to make the most of life with beer and pot, under the watching eyes of the one-armed Statue of Liberty at the back of the stage. Is this statue a message to tell us that the torch of liberty has been extinguished and that the only guide is now popular hedonism? We shall probably never know. In the end, the band leaves the stage under thunderous applause. The audience seemed to enjoy both the epicurean philosophy and the music delivered – even if melodic thrash metal tends to become more and more common lately. Fu – Se


Backyard Babies

We expected a great show from Backyard Babies – and we have to admit that their performance left us a bit frustrated. True, they did play quite a few hits – after all, their latest, eponymous album, contains several punk/rock gems, like “Degenerated”. But under this blazing sun, Backyard Babies seem to have trouble conveying feelings and emotions. Dregen, the band’s second guitarist, is the most dynamic musician and moves as much as he can. But he also seems to be quite lost in his own world, not to mention under the influence of certain substances… The audience, however, is receptive and don’t hesitate to give the band a big round of applause. But we have to admit that, following the example of several other bands, Backyard Babies make all the difference in the relative privacy of a “real” venue. Do – Se


Blockheads

Here comes the best band the French grindcore scene could offer! Blockheads are as good at grind as they are at oxymorons, though: the band and their music are both simple and efficient, successful and sober, organized and messy. No need to have been the subject of a few articles in specialized magazines. No need to create a new Crüe Fest (the name of one of the festival’s stages, an obvious homage to Mötley Crüe) to make tabloids talk and believe they’re important. No sir. Blockheads are all about sobriety, and that’s why this grind band keeps playing under a tent, in the foulest-smelling atmosphere on earth. You’re not asking much, so we’ll make you play in the stables. And these guys are making the stables look fun. Everybody screams, nobody plays the poser. But the craziness still abounds, like when Xavier imitates Lee Dorrian (Cathedral, ex-Napalm Death) by hanging himself with the cord of his microphone. After a introduction dripping with sludge, the audience is in for a treat, with “Despair”, “Greed”, “Buenos Aires”, and even a cover of “Horrified”, from the very influential band Repulsion. The band leaves after an extremely energetic show (Blockheads will be dull and static when pigs fly), and even if Xavier’s voice got seriously damaged, this band made us understand why this stage is called Terrorizer Tent. Fu – Se


Destroyer 666

Destroyer 666 is an Australian band that has been officiating in underground black/thrash metal for almost 15 years – and today they’re playing at the same time as Eyehategod. If Destroyer 666 remains a cult band for extreme metal fans, they’re almost unknown to most metalheads. That’s probably why the crowd seems a bit scattered under the Rock Hard Tent. The concert starts at an incredible speed, and the music swings from epic to rock’n’roll riffs. All this is topped by a typically thrash drumming, with the compulsory blast beats. For those who were expecting some sort of new Venom, think again. If some mid-tempo passages and Warslut’s voice do sound a bit like the above-mentioned band, the rest of the music is much closer to Gorgoroth or Marduk in the mid- 90’s. And even if Shrapnel’s soli are not very impressive and undergo technical problems, they kinda fit the band’s basic, rather clichéd music. The song “I Am The Wargod (Ode To The Battle Slain)” alone, taken from Phoenix Rising, is a cut above the rest, thanks to its softer intro and slower rhythm. In short; Destroyer 666 is a good live band and it is well transcribed. The band is straightforward – don’t expect more. Se – Se


Eye Hate God

When describing Nola’s scene, a reviewer just has to use the words “bayou”, “filthy”, “marshy”, “unhealthy”, and of course, “bluesy”. Maybe we should start using them for Eyehategod, a highly underrated band. It’s been nine years since Eyehategod last came to France, and the audience is a bit thin at first. After a typical Eyehategod intro (a concentrate of larsen and squeaking guitars), the band starts a medley combining “Blank” and “Shoplift”. Mike Williams, desperately drunk, can barely stand, and his pathetic airs (in the purest sense of the word) are a perfect definition of sludge: dirty, slow, southern hardcore. The hight point of the evening was probably the replacement of guitarist Jimmy Bower by his friend Phil Anselmo, just for a few riffs. Further evidence that Nola has one of the most united metal scenes. Fu – Ol


Nashville Pussy

In the rock’n’roll family, give me Nashville Pussy! The band from Atlanta, USA, was there to introduce its new album, From Hell To Texas, to the French audience. Nashville Pussy is famous for Blaine Cartwright on vocals, but more particularly for the amazing Ruyter Suys on guitar. Thanks to her stage gimmicks, the lady looks like a feminine version of Angus Young. With her impassioned soli and her ability to play while rolling on the floor, following the example of the above-mentioned guitarist, Ruyter does have a sense of theatre. Still, once more she was even more dynamic, and the bands tends to rely too much on said theatre: aside from Ruyter’s gimmicks, and even if the band is at its best music-wise (which can never be a bad thing), the overall performance is rather flat and unsurprising. Songs like “Come On, Come On” or “Speed Machine” did please our delicate ears, though. Do – Se


Soilent Green

Nola part 2, aka Soilent Green! Out of the four bands from Louisiana present at the Hellfest, Soilent Green is probably the more brutal – doesn’t Rolling Stone Magazine claim that Soilent Green is one of the heaviest bands of this time? Ben, the screamer, is in top form, and it shows: his cavernous vocals ring out gloomily under the Terrorizer Tent – gargling in Louisiane marsh water every morning is the key. A small tragedy occurs when the guitar stops playing for a good minute, but these guys survived two road accidents, so they’ve seen worse. Their song “It Was Just An Accident” is an ironic testimony of this event. During “Antioxydant”, we witness one of the numerous anecdotes that abound at the Hellfest: a slamming inflatable doll… After a last song, “Sewn Mouth Secrets”, the band’s frontman jumps into the crowd. A truly excellent show. And let’s salute Brian Patton, who just had his second show in a row after the monolith that is Eyehategod. Fu


Misery Index

Misery Index was very much awaited by the extreme branch of festival-goers. The crowd is on fire, the fans are overexcited, and people become crazy from the very first notes on, setting off early circle pits. The double bass drum is blasting, and as a consequence, the guitars are much less audible, even though Sparky Voyles (who looks a bit like Dimebag Darrell, but with a big white beard instead of a pink goatee) and Mark Kloeppel seem to be having the time of their lives. Sparky is a virtuoso guitarist, and his hands travel all over his instrument with much dexterity. His partner is not only playing insanely technical riffs, he also replaces vocalist and bassist Jason Netherton on vocals at times (quite traditional in extreme metal). On top of it all, the audience can relish in its favourite activity – headbanging – thanks to the moshparts included in some of the songs. Cl – Ol


Buckcherry

With their high-class glam metal and four albums beyond reproach, Buckcherry are perfectly fit for the Crüe Fest Stage. Rather unknown in Europe, the band became famous in the US with a first, eponymous album released in 1999, and particularly with the song “Lit Up”. So famous, actually, that they were seen by some as the new Guns’N Roses. From the beginning on, it clearly appears that all is not sewn up: the audience keeps still, looks attentive and slightly amused. In front of them, vocalist Josh Todd doesn’t spare any efforts, and looks like a puppet with broken joints, hanging from the guitar chords. The guy has class, even if he looks vaguely irritated when the audience doesn’t follow his lead on the above-mentioned single. In its original country, the provocative chorus would have provoked a massive “I love the cocaine” from the crowd, but here in France, the song flops. And yet, after a lull, Josh insists and encourages the crowd to chant « cocaine » – with timid results. Still, as the show goes on, part of the audience is swept away by the hard/glam breaker. How can you not succumb to the rhythm worthy of Sorum and McKagan? How can you not enjoy these two high-class guitarists, belching flames on the already sunburnt crowd? The set end with another hit from the band’s discrography: the very sexy “Crazy Bitch”, following a jam that sets the atmosphere and topped by Josh’s particularly sexual attitude. A mild welcome that we hope will warm up with time. Buckcherry has the talent – the audience needs to find the ears and heart to welcome them better next time. Sp – Ol


Torche

Torche is a fucking good band. Sorry to be read, but hey, go listen to the band’s MySpace and don’t you dare tell me that their compositions are not seriously awesome. Torche could be described as a poppish Queen Of The Stone Age. The trio literally set the Terrorizer Tent ablaze, and Steve Brook was not uninvolved. An overcharismatic frontman, Steven delivers his groovy riffs to a super-receptive audience. So as not to be outdone, bassist Jonathan Nuñez headbangs like a madman who wants to break his cervicals. Torche is the first blast of the day, thanks more particularly to the drums, which bring a tribal touch to the stoner-tinged music. The band is very close to Kylesa (another band playing at the Hellfest this year), with whom they’re touring Europe. The similarities (intense, high-quality compositions, rather shorter for Torche, with a natural fondness for drums) between the two bands therefore shouldn’t come as a surprise. One of Kylesa’s two drummers even joins the band on stage for an amazing tribal moment. A great show. Do


Samaël

One could legitimately reproach Samaël for their lack of coherence. For example, Above, the band’s latest album, wasn’t even supposed to be released as a Samaël album – but it was. We had therefore no idea what to expect from a band so prone for surprise, and which is consequently so hard to understand and follow. But on Friday, the Swiss band was obviously looking for some clarity. Based on the most agressive songs of their discography, the 45-minute-long show was extremely professional and topped with a great sound. In sparkling form, Vorph literally showed off his vocal range, particularly on a song like “Rain”, which is never easy to render on stage. “Into The Pentagram”, “The One Who Came Before” or “Under One Flag” were particularly good moments, while “Slavocracy” and its dancers brought a small erotic touch to the music. In other words, the Swiss’ show was amazing, even if the choice of songs will never truly satisfy every fan. We’re looking forward to another show very soon! Do – Ol


Kylesia

One could legitimately reproach Samaël for their lack of coherence. For example, Above, the band’s latest album, wasn’t even supposed to be released as a Samaël album – but it was. We had therefore no idea what to expect from a band so prone for surprise, and which is consequently so hard to understand and follow. But on Friday, the Swiss band was obviously looking for some clarity. Based on the most agressive songs of their discography, the 45-minute-long show was extremely professional and topped with a great sound. In sparkling form, Vorph literally showed off his vocal range, particularly on a song like “Rain”, which is never easy to render on stage. “Into The Pentagram”, “The One Who Came Before” or “Under One Flag” were particularly good moments, while “Slavocracy” and its dancers brought a small erotic touch to the music. In other words, the Swiss’ show was amazing, even if the choice of songs will never truly satisfy every fan. We’re looking forward to another show very soon! Do – Ol


Voivod

With the very good Infini, Voivod have immortalized what might just be their last words. It might even be one of the last times that Voivod will top the bill. From the beginning on, Voivod deliver their trademark punk to a crowd of particularly receptive fans. Denis “Snake” Bélanger sure knows how to get the audience on his side and doesn’t hesitate to address the crowd in French. Utterly likable, this man is. During one of his speeches, the frontman warns the enthralled audience that they’re in for several surprises. The oldest fans have already noticed the first one, but the newest ones seem to be a little disappointed to see that Jason won’t be the bassist tonight: Metallica’s former bassist left his place to Blacky, who came back to pay homage to his former bandmate. Piggy is gone since 2005, but he is in everyone’s mind. “You can be sure he’s watching”, Snake says, pointing towards the sky. Dan Mongrain, their countryman from Quebec and guitarist from Martyr, is in Piggy’s shoes tonight. A fan of the Canadian UMO (that’s unidentified musical object), Dan honours the memory of his predecessor by carefully rendering his work. Half-way through the set, Snakes announces a very special guest: Eric Forest, Voivod’s singer from 1994 to 2001, invited for a special duet. Seeing these two more or less “rival” vocalists sing together, embrace like old friends and dance like kids is a nice himility lesson. Happy times. The last treat comes at the end of the show, when the band starts playing their very personal cover of Pink Floyd’s “Astronomy Domine”. The song send the audience to the stars, where a unique and unforgettable musician is probably waiting and watching. Sp – Se


Papa Roach

We have to confess a serious lack of enthusiasm when we drag ourselves to see the second-rate neo-metal band that is Papa Roach. The guys should have died, split, or at the very least start doing drugs. But no, they merely took the dreadfully and pathetic path of emo-rock – from their original neo-metal to this new genre, there was a step the size of a canyon, but they took it anyway. And that’s how they survive. And what better way to keep their identity than to call their new album “Metamorphosis”, the way boys bands from the early 90’s always entitle their come-back album “resurrection” or “rebirth”? But from the very first notes on, we realize that this is probably going to be one of the most energetic shows of the night. The singer’s expressions make him look like Dero from Oomph!, and so does his “Hey! Oh! Let’s go!” to the audience. The spring-mounted vocalist even encourages the crowd to split for a braveheart, but the confrontation isn’t too impressive. In the end, Papa Roach gave a good performance, but it takes a die-hard fan to truly appreciate the experience. Fu – Ol


Wasp

WASP is probably the one band we were most looking forward to see at the Hellfest this year. Blackie Lawless is one of the key figures of metal, and WASP is simply a cult band of the heavy scene. Seeing them on stage therefore induces a great excitement. First and foremost, Blackie has a voice and an incredible charisma. In spite of his weight gain, neither voice nor charisma have lost anything over the years, and even if Blackie’s physical appearance now resembles that of Al Jourgensen, his mobility on stage is beyond comparison! The man won’t stop moving, and his stage performance is great. But let’s be honest: even if Blackie’s voice is always perfectly on key, the emotion and depth found on the albums are not really rendered tonight. Pity. The set-list, however, is nothing short of cult: “Wild Child”, “I Wanna Be Somebody”, “The Idol”, “L.O.V.E. Machine”, “Take Me Up”… The band managed to find a balance between fury and slower songs. Like before on the two main stages, the sound leaves a lot to be desired – and so do Lawless’s awful white boots, but that’s an altogether different story. In a little under an hour, WASP managed to convince and please the audience, but we were expecting even more from this band, one of the best in its category. Do – Ol


Down

WASP seem unwilling to conclude their show, and Down are getting impatient. In the end Anselmo and his (new) gang finally tread the boards, and the lower-class stoner played by made-up guitar heroes can start. Phil already has the audience on his side when he dedicates “Lifer” to Dimebag. For the story of what happened between the two cowboys from hell, have a look at Doc’s report on Down’s set in Caluire, near Lyons. The band offers an horourable set-list, even if the guitars are far too present (we know this is supposed to be stoner, but still, too much crackling). However, we can deplore the lack of hits from the latest album: no “I Scream”, no “On March Thed Saints” or “Never Try”. What we did get, though, were loud cheers on “Nola Is A Dying Whore”, louder cheers on “N.O.D.”, and the already cult “Stone The Crow” and “Bury Me In Smoke”. The best thing of the evening was not the close-up on Kirk’s half-gruff lumberjack, half-grumpy bear face. Nor was it the arrival of Joey La Caze on drums for “Bury Me In Smoke”. The best thing of the evening was Phil Anselmo himself: this figurehead of metal isn’t completely drunk, he looks good and he cuts a fine figure with his crest. And what can we say about the a capella “Stairway To Heaven” that marks the end of the show? Down, after only three albums, is already set in stone. Fu – Se


Entombed

It’s time for LG Petrov and his guys to storm the Rock Hard Tent for 45 minutes of old-school Swedish death metal. The frontman is on top form and knows how to harangue a crowd like no other: he often moves to one extremity of the stage or to the other, even kneels down to get closer to a very responsive audience. The band doesn’t hesitate to play songs from almost all the albums of its long career, from classics like “The Voice”, to new titles from “Serpent Saints”. And might we add, the eponymous song from this new album is a blast. The pit gets literally crazy during the most violent songs, and a decent number of slammers end up on the other side of the barrier. Old school Swedish death metal is fervently represented by one of its best bands. Big performance from Entombed. Cl – Se


Pig Destroyer

Formed in 1997, Pig Destroyer is an American band with a unique sound, and whose special feature is the noticeable lack of bassist. The Terrorizer Tent is not very full tonight, and the atmosphere very average due to the obvious wait-and-see attitude of the audience. The fact that one can barely see the faces of the singer and of the guitarist doesn’t exactly help, either. The grindocre offered by Pig Destroyer is particularly aggressive and knows no limits, both on their records and on stage. Unfortunately, the band’s performance is very static, and communication with the audience is close to non-existent. The musicians almost look like they’re playing for themselves, lost in their own world. This set should therefore have been reserved to an experienced, specialized audience. Special award to guitarist Scott Hull, thought, for the impressive dexterity of his left hand. Ol – Ol


Anthrax

Anthrax is one of the bands we were most looking forward to see this year. After the ousting of their charismatic vocalist John Bush and the damp squib that was the reunion with Belladonna, Anthrax had to find a new frontman. Corey Taylor’s name was on everyon’s lips for a while, but in the end, the new leader of the weapon of mass destruction that is Anthrax became Dan Nelson, previously unknown. Scott Ian himself once confessed that he wanted to take things up where they’d left them with the fantastic We’ve Come For You All, and we can’t but notice that Dan sounds very much like Josh Bush’s clone. The young singer’s mature voice and his strong charisma are impressive. The fans from the second period of Anthrax are relieved – even more so when the band starts playing a new song, “Revolution Screams”, a slaughter with a very catchy chorus. Special award to the amazing Charlie Benante (what a drum roll!), but boo to the sound engineer for overmixing the bass drum. Other downside: where are the songs from the John Bush era gone? The sole survivor of this blessed era was “Only”. The rest of the set-list comprised “Indians” at the beginning of the show, “I Am The Law” at the end, and somewhere between these two, “Caught In A Mosh”, “Mad House”, and no less that three covers: the already famous “Got The Time” and “Antisocial”, as well as Refuse’s “New Noise”. In spite of a set-list that clearly focuses on the band’s first era, the hymns have not been forgotten and Anthrax delivers quite a show. If only for that, this set was a blast. Sp – Se


Repulsion

Repulsion replaced Deicide off the cuff, the American band having cancelled its participation for the second time. Repulsion may only ever have released one realy album, Horrified, in 1989 (and what an album, my friends!), the band is super-cult in the grindcore world. Because the show started twenty minutes before the announced time, many fans missed the first few songs. The sound is rather bad, but let’s say this is all part of the genre. In spite of the band’s status, few people have come to the Rock Hard Tent for the show – blame Anthrax and their terrific show for that. The people who did make it to this tent, however, are very receptive despite the omnipresent and very annoying stroboscope. The song “Six Feet Under”, Scott Carlson (vocals/bass) announces, will be played by “the fastest guitarist in the world” (Sure, why not…), but before that, the audience has to listen to a sober solo on Flying V. The band’s set, which kinda mixed Motörhead, Venom and Napalm Death, was rather nice but a little boring, considering the linear quality of the music. Still, special award to Scott, who looked very at ease with the audience. Se – Se


Jarboe

As professional as we may be, we’re also metalheads, and sometimes affect hits us square in the face. I mean, between two founders of heavy metal and Jarboe, who would you choose? Heaven And Hell, Iommi and Butler, or the psy(chedeli)co-experimental trip? You get my point. As a result, we only have ten minutes to grant to the enchanting lady that is Jarboe. Of course, her heavenly voice is reminiscent of Lisa Gerrard, but Jarboe is no Dead Can Dance – she’s metal. The disturbing depth of her music makes the Terrorizer Tent turn into catacombs. But Jarboe’s real strength is her ability to mix all these endlessly reverberating voices to tribal sonorities and drums that conjure up the images of Igor Cavalera or Mike Bordin. Just imagine Louisa John Krol singing No Curaçao Dos Deuses. Ten minutes later, we were buying this gem of a record to a mobile dealer. If you like strange psychedelic atmospheres, Jarboe is a prerequisite. Fu


God Seed

“Gorgoroth” being now the property of Infernus, the band’s original guitarist, it’s under the name “God Seed” that Gaahl and his gang performed their show. The tone is set when two hooded, completely naked actors (a man and a woman) tied to crosses are brought to the stage, each on their own side. The sound is surprisingly clean and the drums are very natural, which is usually not the case for an extreme band. Gorgoroth have often received very negative comments regarding their live sound, but it’s not the case tonight. The set-list revolves mainly around mid-tempo songs, and the bandmembers are playing posers. All of them look a bit wild, except for King, the drummer, slightly more of a joker – and even that is relative, the guy being like a new Abbath (Immortal) when it comes to stage persona. As for Gaahl, he has a very particular presence: he seems close to the audience, but his eyes are very far. Weird. His voice is a bit boring on the long run, especially since it’s definitely not as deep as on a record. The band doesn’t communicate with the audience – not even “hello” or “goodnight”, and absolutely nothing between the songs. Which is, you know, not all that bad, since it perfectly fits the atmosphere. Thanks to a faster, cleaner performance than on the albums, the old songs have a great freshness about them. Among the best songs of the show, let’s remember “Carving A Giant”, “When Love Rages Wild In My Heart” and “Revelation Of Doom”. The band made a great impression tonight – but was it a one-night thing, or are they really becoming a good live band? Se – Se


Heaven And Hell

Heaven and Hell, or Black Sabbath, as we used to call them, just released an album that’s been acclaimed by both the critics and the audience – and they’re probably one of the only bands in the world to be able to bring everybody round to the same way of thinking. It’s therefore not surprising to see that the audience has gathered en masse in front of the stage, adorned with two gloomy gates. The attention is first drawn to Vinny Appice’s monster drums, which seem to have sprouted toms and cymbals at the most unlikely places. This layout allows Vinny to make his own show by tying himself in knots to be able to reach certain elements. But the man everyone is waiting for is not Vinny. Nor is it the great Geezer Butler, or even the legendary Tony Iommi. No, people have eyes only for Ronnie James Dio. You can’t help thinking that this guy’s the boss – and he damn well is. With his charisma, his class, his talent, his divine voice and height – no, wait… not the height! –, Dio is the old dog who manages to shut the old pups up. How someone who’s now over 70 could keep his perfect voice intact is a mystery. Only two songs from The Devil You Know are played: the already cult “Bible Black” and “Fear”. But when you only have 60 minutes and a truly heavenly repertoire in front of you, you have to make concessions. So let’s stop quibbling and enjoy the magical moments that are “The Mob Rules”, “Children Of The Sea”, “I”, “Time Machine”, “Falling Off The Edge Of The World”, “Die Young” and the monumental “Heaven And Hell”. The eponymous song is intense and features a long solo that only Iommi knows the secret of. Dio’s theatrical attitude gives a whole new dimension to what stage play should be. During the very last verse, his face lit by a single red light, the small frontman turns into a little devil and screams a terrible scream. Striking and surprising. A faultless, unforgettable performance. Sp – Se


Saint Vitus

The presence of Saint Vitus, announced after the desertion of Edguy, is further proof that the organizers of the Hellfest wanted to put the stoner/doom scene forward – a truly fascinating genre despite its stereotypes. Kuddos to them for that. The audience got it right and came en masse to support one of the genre’s founders and their frontman Scott « Wino » Weinrich, a figurehead of the scene. After the epic furor of Heaven And Hell, Saint Vitus seem to go back to the roots of Black Sabbath, with their genuine heaviness and the atmosphere from the 70’s – and a psychedelic tinge on top of it, thanks to the bright colours on the giant screen. Pretty much like smoking a magic mushroom. But it’s doom we’re talking about here, so slowness must prevail. “Speed kills”, claims the giant screen. At midnight, tiredness playing its part, people start dropping like flies. The only people left are the true doomsters, who recognize the band’s worth. The musicians made a point to reward this trust by performing almost every song from the mythical Born Too Late. Never mind the others – let them sleep. Sp – Ol


Mötley Crüe

When you see the set being built up on the Crüe Fest Stage, you can’t help thinking that you’re in for a huge show American style. The aggressive sound of a Harley resounds, and the band starts with “Kickstart My Heart” as soon as the curtain falls. The band is made up of four different personalities. Even if his nasal voice may annoy a few people, Vince Neil achieves an incredible physical performance, going tiredlessly this way and that – so much so that the guy’s not easy to follow! Tommy Lee doesn’t hesitate to leave his kit at times to come and tease the audience. Nikki Sixx opts for charisma and elegence, while Mick Mars, in spite of an illness that reduces his movements, delivers aggressive, terrifically efficient soli. The saints of LA offer their shovelful of hits under a torrent of lights: “Wild Side”, “Shout At The Devil”, “Like Wire”, “Look That Kills”, “Primal Scream”… Even the newest album gets its share, with the memorable “Saint of Los Angeles” and “Motherfuck Of The Year”. A simply irresistible selection – almost indecent, should we say. Speaking of which, a few young ladies let themselves go, and we did see a nipple or two. With Mötley Crüe, there’s as much show in the audience as there is on stage. For the encore, Tommy Lee sits behind the piano and starts playing one of the most beautiful rock ballads ever, “Home Sweet Home”, while the audience sings at the top of their lungs. They do act like unbearable rock stars sometimes, but on stage, Mötley Crüe are blast, thanks to their heaps of hits. Very few bands can pride themselves on having so much talent. Sp – Ol


Live reports: Doc’, Spaceman, Seb, Fucktoy, Claude and Olivier

Pictures: Seb and Olivier

The author of the live report can be identified by the first two letters of his/her name or screen-name. Same goes for the photographer.

Translation: Saff, Izzy and Sandrine



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