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Festival Report   

HELLFEST 2009: DAY 3


Festival : Hellfest 2009
Place: Clisson
Date: 21-06-2009 (Sunday)
Audience: around 18,000 people


Hacride

The young French band starts off this Sunday under the Rock Hard Tent. The audience is quite present and appreciates the great technical death with heavy influences from the progressive metal. Sometimes heavy and sometimes mind-blowing: Hacride’s music captivates a well-awake audience who enjoys the band’s music to its fullest. It thus mixes electro samples tinged with some layers of keyboards with some sharp riffs. All of that on double bass drums. The band starts to have quite an expertise of the stage. They already shared the headlines with Dying Fetus on a previous European tour and you can feel it. Samuel Bourreau, the vocalist, seems to be real comfortable and the two musicians beside him have overpowered their instruments all the while headbanging all they can. Fifteen minutes from the theoretical end of the show, the singer already announces the last piece. Can we expect a fifteen-minute-long title?! Well…yes! This title actually sums up perfectly their music and it doesn’t seem to go on forever. A very good concert to start off the day! Cl – Ol


Black Stone Cherry

Waking up on this last day of the festival is really hard. Many of the festival-goers are sleeping off two or three days of excesses or are trying to get their strength back after these hectic days. This could explain why at 11am the audience is not quite there to welcome Black Stone Cherry. Well, too bad, he who is absent is always in the wrong, because the rockers have set their mind on blowing some heavy music on Mainstage 2 ! Eye-opener from these last few years under the Roadrunner label, Black Stone Cherry both revives the spontaneity dear to the 70’s and the heaviness of the 90’s. A real explosive mix lead by four very young Americans who, let us be clear on that, already have the talent and the attitude of the greatest. Chris Robertson, Ben Wells, Jon Lawhon and John Fred Young lash out all they have without restraints. They jump, hit, headbang and gesticulate on a catchy soundtrack: opening with “Rain Wizard”, then the infectious hit “Lonely Train”, the single “Blind Man”, etc. The sons of Led Zeppelin are in the house! Special notice for Wells, a stage furia (how can he still play?) and for Robertson who definitly owns a specific and rare voice. To end the show, the band grants the audience an electric jam of “Voodoo Child” by the great Hendrix. The rythmic duet amazes everyone when Lawhon stretches his bass high up in the air towards his drummer. Up to him to assist this guitar melody by hitting the bass cords with his drum sticks! Top-notch! Black Stone Cherry definitly raised the bar high on this stunning morning. Sp – Se


Adagio

Adagio starts off their show real bad since there’s no sound on the guitar. Stephan Forté can play all he wants on his seven-strings, nothing comes out from the facing loudspeakers. The height of disapointment when you know how talented the guy is with his guitar. The first bit thus loses all of its interest, the audience hearing only the drums and its huge double drum bass on which have been layed out loads of symphonic keyboards. It is in those times and places that you become aware that the bass is often undermixed in metal music. It is even barely audible! On stage, no one seems to be conscious of the problem. It is therefore the audience that made it obvious at the end of the title! The band has already strated its second bit… but the problem is still there. Only the singer seems to notice that they are asked something. He finally gets the message and shouts to the other members: “stop the fucking music”. The music stops. Stephan Forté understands then the extent of the damages. Everyone’s searching for the bug, where it came from, they try again but still no guitar. The singer tries to fill in the silence as he can and starts singing the intro to “Stand Up And Shout”. At last we hear the guitar! The concert can go on, and actually really starts… Christian, the singer, steps off in the pit to slap some hands. But nothing can make for all the troubles, the ambiance is not there. Maybe this singer is lacking the charisma needed to wake the audience… Though we noted a special attention: in between two titles, our friend asks how many Finns there are and then just blabbers a sentence in Finnish. No doubt a welcoming message that could be understood only by a few! “Life is short”, he claims rightly… and the concert as well. Outcome: in about thirty minutes, Adagio will not have made a big impression. Too bad. Cl – Ol


Aborted

A band becomes bigger than itself when they carve their name with a real personal touch. A band becomes respectable when they flow through a crisis that stares at them as underhanded as Damocles. Aborted is having a crisis. The death fans squeals that the band is doing a flip-flop, is becoming too much core. The worshippers of long hair are offended that Sven had his hair cut. And yet it is with a backhand that the Belgian will fire back these bad reviews. If Aborted became more core, it doesn’t for all that become Black Dalhia Murder but at a pinch Dying Fetus. We are not dealing with the unbearable hollerings of a flabby bearded chap; with Aborted, it is a luciferian singing that grabs your guts. And you ask if we miss the hair? But I would say that Sven can for the better show off his face, a face that is disturbing, with eyes that bustle. And when you can release titles from Engineering The Dead and from Goremaggedon, how can you be left starving? Svencho! Sven hot! Sven saw! Fu – Se


ADX

Listen to good home-made speed metal is always great. The Parisians from ADX are already firing it up on album but what’s the deal live? Division Full, the latest opus of the band, features some real nice and heavy hits. On their live show early afternoon we’ll remember for that matter “A La Gloire De Dieu” and “Division Blindée”, two titles who emerged from the rest. Phil, the vocalist, plays out his deck well by urging the audience to move and shake. His colleagues are not left behind and a real cool atmosphere comes out from this concert. The musicians all have a huge smile on their faces and even seem to be surprised that the audience warmly welcomes them! Special note on the show to Klod, the bass player of the band, who has a really nice way of playing and has a look, small beard and scarf in the hair, that reminds us a bit of Geezer Bulter (Heaven And Hell). In about half an hour Phil and his gang have managed to share their melodic music. Result: we’re eagerly expecting their next concert at the Raismesfest ! Do – Ol


Satan Jokers

It’s with blissed happiness that Satan Jokers celebrate their reunion with their fans, and in a more general way, with their French fans. The talkative Renaud Hantson will actually mention it many times, with an outspoken and shared genuineness. The Satan Jokers have a great pep and also the will to pick a good show which gives way to a great stage show, really dynamic. The show is based around a smooth selection of the band’s songbook, including “Get It On”, a revival to give tribute to T-Rex. A set sprinkled with interludes of questionable interest. Among them, Michaël Zurita rewards his audience with an American anthem played on the guitar. An exercice that sounds a bit too phony or even too much out of context to really excite everyone’s interest. But the star of this show is without any doubt the new bass player of the band, unfortunatly replacing the deceased Laurent Bernat, the national hero of bass playing: Pascal Mulot. Pascal is the show itself. Deeply generous, he doesn’t hesitate inpunctuating his play with flights of devastating melodies or other furious slaps. An unselfishness that even pushes him to shed his jacket as an offering to the crowd. Even if the heavy metal played by Satan Jokers may seem to have aged, the band manages to catch the interest with a very communicative delight. Sp – Ol


Volbeat

Guitar Gangsters And Cadillac Blood, in addition to its concept which is worth noticing, is a high quality album in terms of composition. The melodies of the Danish band are particularly nice and the announcement of their coming to the Hellfest thrilled every fans of rock and of rockabilly; Michael, the singer, has a voice close to that of Elvis Presley. It would be the first comment to make. Michael has a beautiful voice and the live performance of the frontman only highlights the accuracy of his tone. He is great and the variations he uses are as well. Moreover, his infectious buoyancy (“Hey guys, do you understand what I say? Anyway you’re all already drunk… so I can say anything I want and you’ll just say yes anyway!”) enthralled the crowd of experts who has come en masse. More generally the live performance of the band is, like the band itself, real nice and Thomas, the guitar player, unveils to the crowd a somewhat uncharacteristic attitude, including swinging his legs in the air all the while playing! From “Guitar Gangsters And Cadillac Blood” to “Sad Man’s Tongue” : all the hits of their latest album are showcased and Volbeat even saves the best bit for his final at the Hellfest: the Danish actually rerun the introduction of “Raining Blood” from you know who! Brilliant compositions, a very peppy set full of good spirit, some surprises: all these bits, in only forty minutes, show that Volbeat is a great band. Can’t wait for their next shows in France! Do – Ol


Keep Of Kalessin

It’s always nice to see Keep of Kalessin in concert : good time guaranteed. For the intro Obsidian, the guitarist, shows us the extent of his talent by running a great solo along with Vyl behind his drums. The sound is great and the band is very much at ease on stage. The audience is there as well and supports the musicians. They are also helped by samples which reinforce the sound of the band giving an even more grandiose image of their musique. All the band headbangs as a single man, especially Wizziac, the bass player, who swirls his head as if his life depended on it! Tonight the playlist is focused on the two latest deeds of the band, Armada et Kolossus.The most memorable songs are “Crown Of The King” in introduction, as well as the great “Awake The Vultures”, “Many Are We” and “Ascendant” (even if the solo was a bit messed up, although Obsidian seems in great shape). This band shows what the future of “modern” black metal holds for us, powerful, fast, technical and comfortable while played live. To see again and again! Se – Se


Wolves In The Throne Room

To see a band like Wolves In The Throne Room live in Europe was a far stretched idea, for it is a brand new band of American atmospheric black metal, made of guys living totally isolated… The concert starts on a magnificent “Hate Crystal” from Malevolent Grain and it is almost ten minutes of pure bliss that start. The band is awesome on album, they have a very specific music that could be linked to the Ukrainians from Drudkh. A kind of atmospheric black metal. The live staging is done perfectly well: the sound is great for all the instruments sound natural (at last an untrigged bass drum!) and it’s pure pleasure to be there. The two guitar players take turns singing while the music swings from instrumental and calm sequences to violent moments served with growls and blast beats. The crowd has come to support the band and there’s a lot of people under the Terrorizer Tent. In fact Wolves In The Throne Room are helped by the presence on the same slot of Hollyhell who didn’t attract a lot of people…Yep, the songs from WITTR are lengthy but they are worth listening to, for the ambiance is unique. We can note that the second piece played is “I Will Lay Down My Bones Among The Rocks And Roots”, a small diamond of over seventeen minutes from the excellent Two Hunters.Three tracks and forty minutes of a magical concert: there’s nothing to add. Se – Se


Holyhell

Holyhell is the band of the latest drummer of Manowar, Rhino. After a first EP released two years ago, Apocalypse, the band puts forward their first album, Holyhell, released on the 26th of June. Hollyhell offer a super melodic metal, rather heavy more than goth; this last word coming back as often as a female singer takes up the mic. But in this case, Hollyhell have nothing in relation with the goth scene. Except perhaps a certain bad taste, as showed on the huge cover behind the scene with its horrendous columns! Maria Breon has a nice voice without being extraordinary. In fact she is a bit like the compositions of the band: pretty soppy. Maria, in a totally unexplainable fashion, leaves the stage many times when she doesn’t sing. And at a rate of ten times (!)… Pretty amazing, especially for a band who only plays for thirty minutes. You can as well feel a superficial sheen to the whole. The musicians are quite motionless and you can legitimately question the authenticity of this band that does not show many emotions. Actually, at one point, the voice of Maria has been without any doubt doubled by the overdubs… which does not do the deed at all if it is the case. And the recurring calls for the merchandising are a bit tiring… but as we shall see it is a tradition in the Manowar family! Despite all these superficial facets, we can see some great flashes like the tube-like “Prophecy” who will live through the fire of live showing. However, still meager. Do – Ol


Kataklysm

Breathtaking. Staggering. The Quebecois have definitly some sets to pin us down. And it’s not some tabernacles and other caribous who will stand in the way. Maurizio still wants to see violence, and his wishes come true. Besides, the fans will still have the chance to see the band for they’ll be back in France as early as 2010. The sound is powerful, it hyperblasts all it can… but this is a death with a limited lifespan. When you see Kataklysm, you just love it but you’re quickly satisfied. When you see Morbid Angel, you love it and the set leaves you to dream some more. However, these kings of the stop and go squeeze in more melodies that do not actually smoothe their music but enhance their violence. It’s a terrible fact, but you can grow tired of the hyperblast: it is weighty to be constantly pounded. However, our HPG from death will give us their “In Shadows & Dust”… still pounding us. Fu – Se


Pain Of Salvation

The Swedish quintet Pain Of Salvation starts off with « Used », a very straightforward piece but which will suffer from a fickle sound. Fortunatly the situation will be mended from the first solo. This concert is also the time to introduce to the French audience the new (Frech) drummer as well as their new bass player. Everyone goes on with the song “America” from their last album, the great Scarsick. The progressive music with its numerous parts, like the banjo break in the middle of the song, is reinforced by the integration of new bits and new arrangements done for the stage. This initiative deserves to be highlighted because they are one of the few bands in the festival to offer something more musical than their studio versions. POS moves on to “Breaching The Core” and its heavy riffs and even manage to set an original break with a slapping bass followed by funky guitars. POS is all in the art of mixing various musical styles into something of their own. Everyone is really grooving. Daniel even comes back on stage without his guitar and paces up and down the stage with the mic, giving some hip hop parts with an attitude close to that of Faith No More. But Pain Of Salvation is really unique. Even if they come from Scandinavia, which will be pointed out by Daniel in a self-deprecating way, the band is a state in itself that develops its own concepts and ideas. All the musicians play their complex parts with heart while moving around. There will be no “Disco Queen” and the ending song will be no other than “Handful Of Nothing” and its wave of double pedal. A violent final that brings us back to the reality of the Hellfest. This Pain Of Salvation concert will have been a very refreshing break with its various ambiances out of the beaten tracks. Cl – Ol


Dragonforce

Dragonforce, it’s a bit like Manowar. You can see it as the best band in the world… or the worst. Here everything is pushed very far… that’s why they’re called extreme power metal. The music is ultra speed and the rythmic is way up. No wonder for a drummer that comes from the black metal scene. You even got sometimes parts with blast beats that do not compound with the conventionnal rules of speed metal. The riffs are played at an amazing pace and the solos, don’t even get me started… it’s a tsunami of notes. Look and attitude-wise you got the same. You cannot blame the guys for being motionless. Their show is no doubt one of the most vigorous of the festival. They run in all places. Staging-wise as well, Dragonforce use a lot of artefacts. First of all, you’ve got the stands in front of the stage on which the members of the band rise in turns to get exposure or to highlight their parts on a song. It’s particularly true while executing their soli. And then there’s the small trempoline that can give some more heigth or to add even more to get noticed. And at this little game, the gold medal goes out to the keyboard player wearing a super sticky and yellow spandex that he matched with his pink haircut on one side of his head… The effect is guaranteed and you can get a better glimpse when he comes out from behind his many keyboards with a shoulder straped synthesizer (yellow of course!) in front of the stage. There he starts on a choreography with steps from Kasatchok, mimicked as well by the ryhm guitar player. It’s gimmicks upon gimmicks. Herman Li, founder of the band and solo guitar player, uses small theatrical touches as well, like when he holds his guitar by the vibrato rod so as to make it whine a bit more and to add more and more and… Dragonforce on stage, it’s a bit like Spinal Tap who pushes the sound up to eleven: it’s a lot of fun, but for some it goes beyond the border of being pathetic. Cl – Se


Destruction

We’re on a roll for forty minutes of German trash! Schmier and Mike Sifringer give out huge riffs on their Dean guitars. They really look sharp with their huge heads! Schmier has a strong presence on stage. No doubt thanks to his size, German calibre! His look as well inspire respect with the many piercings on his face that you can see in detail on the giant screen. Not to mention the many tattoos showed off by his sunburnt skin. We can add that he looks a lot like the festivalgoers on site! Our big guy moves a lot on stage going from left to right and all the way back all through the show to take up the available space. And then there is this trademark on the singing with his small high pitched screams that make the identity of Destruction. They play songs from their latest album with in particular the title “Devolution”. Will then follow “Life Without Sense”, of course “Thrash ‘Til Death” and “The Butcher Strikes Back”. The audience is also asked to participate on the lyrics of “Hail to the Fucking Cross”. To end the show, it’s “Total Disaster” that closes this classical set and less memorable than other younger bands… and more forceful. Cl – Ol


Orange Goblin

This is a typical band of the stoner scene: a frontman from the ice age, bikers’ looks setting the era of Ragnarök on fire, and an atmosphere that fully smacks of easygoing fun guys. And then there is this nostalgic pleasure to cover the genre’s classics, “home made sauce”. Fancy some fuzzed Iommi-style guitars, think about titles with never-ending Freebirds-style soli , try to imagine Lemmy back with Hawkwind with a smile. Here’s what you get from a show by Orange Goblin. No need for intricacy or corpse paints or political commitment. Psychedelic stoner doom is light-years away from death, black or grind. Even better: it is at their very roots, and Orange Goblin tuck themselves in between the beginning of Woodstock and the Satanic triton of “Black Sabbath”. And so we are thrilled, we are in the clouds, and we’re venting on “Getting High On The Bad Times”. “Orange fucking Goblin loves you” screams the singer with his hearty humor. And they dedicate a titel to the birthday of one of their roadies, another one to one of the pillar of Italian gore Lucio Fulci. With “So He Lives, So He Moves” and his roadies choirs, you get “We Are The Road Crew” from Goblin. Their eponymous title comes to close the Brits’ show. A concert that wills you to take your chopper and to flee the threesome of “Work, treason, trader”. Fu – Se


Pestilence

You can enjoy a band that comes back. A death old school band that comes back is surely a great honor. And Pestilence is precisely back! Far from having a heavy sound distinctive of the death new school, you can enjoy good riffs with a sound closer to the trash scene. A sound that reminds us of the first albums of Obituary, Deicide, and Bolt Thrower. The Dutch are carved like members of Biohazard and of Noflag, roughly speaking huge quaterbacks sweating out testosterone. It’s been fourteen years since we last heard from them, so the audience is there. In fact, Pestilence are as good as they get. Their set-list is filled with titles from their album Consuming Impulse. Besides you really feel like you are back in the 90’s: a voice like David Vincent’s, at the time of Altars Of Madness, great feeling in the compositions, it’s technical (death is technical in itself) but Pestilence is everything except Necrophagist, Atheist, and The Faceless. With a drum solo that has another meaning than being a mere break and a final cult title, “Out Of The Body”, the band has proven that they’re definitly back with success (in death: with an uproar). Fu – Se


Napalm Death

The grindcore from Birmingham has its best days ahead of it. We must confess that it is a Herculean challenge to pick a grindcore fan. After a concert of Napalm Death, you can see them sprouting here and there. We love to launch great diatribes against grindcore. After Napalm Death, there’s nothing left. These ennemies of the music business are definitely the Huns of metal. Once more, Napalm Death was the extreme show of the festival. Be it the titles from their latest, monumental album, Time Waits For No Slave, like for example “Diktat”, or the famous “Suffer The Children”, “Scum”, and “The Kill”, Napalm get the kids in such a state. They jump from the steel towers that hold the Rock Hard Tent, meaning around three meters high. You can even see Bin Laden slamming while flinging us off. The appeal of this live surely lies in the perfect blend in between the voices of Barney and Mitch: a tough dialogue. “Deceaver”, “You Suffer”, “Nazi Punks Fuck Off”, and Napalm Death go back, weighted down by the ovations… “Smells like victory”. Fu – Se


Epica

To see Epica on stage is always a pleasure. And not only for the magnificent Simone Simons! A true brotherhood comes out from the Dutch band’s live shows and coming out on stage at the Hellfest, the audience expects the best. But rather quickly the technical worries overwhelm their show. Of course Simone still sings beautifully. Especially on the wonderful, “Chasing The Dragon” that really showcases her. Despite all that, there will be many approximations. The musicians got even mistaken at the beginning of one title! In short, we have clearly seen a better Epica in the past. The motionless musicians and the aforementionned problems have resulted in a great sense of frustration. On a positive note: Isaac Delahaye, who just replaced Ad Sluijter on the guitar, seems very concerned by the subject. Epica was thus the biggest disappointment of this Sunday and we tend to think that nothing is better than the intimacy of a small hall to create a true harmony between the fans and the band. A real dull set to be forgotten real quick. Do – Ol


Stratovarius

We carry on our musical journey with the Finns from Stratovarius. It is with concern that we get to the main stage. The recent worries in the line-up and the past tasteless concerts made us fear the worst. But in forty-five minutes, Statovarius delivered a good show in front of an audience happy to have a great speed melodic metal in this Hellfest 2009. “Speed Of Light”, “Kiss Of Judas” or the final with “Black Diamond” have managed to convince the audience in Clisson. Polaris, the latest Strato album, is not forgotten and we’ll notice the very good “Winter Skies” where Timo Kotipelto shows emotions. Timo did great even if sometimes he didn’t manage to push his voice to the max, especially on the chorus of “Black Diamond”. Despite all that, the singer managed to be great and it is a real pleasure to see his drive. During a very professional show, the Finnish band has shown that they were not dead and that they were to be counted on. The will to do well being prevalent on this concert, the audience from the Hellfest rewarded the musicians’ attitude with a great round of applause. Do – Ol


Black Dahlia Murder

When BDM come up on stage, a pop/dance music escorts the musicians. The tone is set: good spirits and big metalheads. The band is really laid back and in far better shape than the last time they came to France, last February. During the first titles, an extra dressed up as a gorilla shows up and livens up the stage with the musicians! He even goes as far as teasing the crowd in the first ranks. The show starts with a “Everything Went Black” from up their sleeves and goes on real fast with “Helder Misanthropy”. That gives us a chance to appreciate the great sound of the band. The peculiar body language and the many moves of Trevor (singer) are also visible. We are with him in a fitness class and the ultra dynamic attitude of HxC. Trevor talks a lot to the crowd: “You’re potheads or what, I need energy”. The other members of the band are a bit more motionless but headbang all they can. The rest of the evening will go on with “I Worship Only What You Bleed”, a new title “Necropolis” (with the classical alternation of blast beat/double linked with melodic riffs), not to forget “A Vulgar Picture” or yet “Miasma”. The singer evokes the possibility to see the Black Dahlia Murder live again and again with their just released DVD. We noticed that the titles were accelerated on stage, and very quickly, Trevor treats us to a strip-tease that leaves him in shorts, bare chested… One of the high point of the day… for the ladies! Se – Se


Cathedral

Ah! The great Cathedral and their mysterious frontman Lee Dorian! The same Lee Dorian whose “Oh Yeah!” still ring out in every head. Since the end of the tour supporting the great Garden of Unearthly Delights, the silence of the English from Coventry has lasted enough. Almost three years without any news from the band, the fans are stamping their feet. Cathedral’s discography has the particularity of being all in dichotomy: on one side an oppressing doom and on the other a rock’n’roll and sticky stoner. For their coming to the Hellfest they just bent towards this second angle. Little doom, “Cosmic Funeral” being the sole representant, but some really catchy titles (“Soul Sacrifice”, “Hopkins”) raising the fever amongst the crowd gained to their cause. The communion between the audience and the band is total. One damper though, the show lacks the usual madness, even if the reverend Lee Dorian gives his best show: puting the mic cable around his neck, he mimicks his hanging. Let’s take this show as a great foretaste and let’s hope that Cathedral will come back at the best of their form on their next dates. Sp – Ol


Queensrÿche

Queensrÿche is a myth. What a pleasure to see them on this year’s edition of the Hellfest! The band has always looked for novelties and Geoff Tate, its singer, is one of the nicest voices in the metal world. Thus we were expecting the show of the Seattle’s band with a real excitement. And we weren’t disappointed! When Geoff Tate, wearing sunglasses and all clad in black, comes on stage we can only state that they’ve got style, even if nothing has happened yet! A hand on his forehead to salute everyone, and the set starts. Queensrÿche offers a set-list going from new titles and diamonds from the past. American Soldier, the latest opus of the band, is showcased. Its special atmosphere is really nicely transcribed live and a real feeling of urgency emerges from the whole. Audience-wise, the titles “Best I Can”, “Walk In The Shadows” and “Empire” get the support from the public. Though the performance of Queensrÿche cannot be only summed up by these three titles. It would be too simplistic to not point up the saxo used wisely by Geoff Tate, the duet with the keyboard player and the show of the whole band and they even indulged themselves by not playing the titles of the excellent Operation: Mindcrime. A mistake (almost!) entirely forgiven after a set as rich as the discography and the compositions of the American band. A very interesting prestation which will have been penalized by the recurring problems (once more) on the mic of Geoff Tate. He was too much in the background in the mix. In short, great concert of Queensrÿche. And that Geoff Tate, such a style! Do – Ol


Mastodon

“Mastodon at the Hellfest ?! Ouch…watch out, the sound is likely to be shitty, especially in open air!”. We’ll admit it, the Radio Metal team really dreaded the show of the Americans, the progressive sludge of Mastodon having given us some sound abuses in the past. But our fears are from the first bit quickly gone. Actually the sound is of high quality and the complex compositions of the band can then be appreciated to their fullest. “Oblivion” is really a big hit and it is always nice to see the four musicians so concerned by their subject. Moreover Bill Kelliher is really present and apparently is well back in shape after his food poisoning. Troy Sanders has a stage attitude that is nice to see as well. Troy’s got a really expressive look, as if his whole being was possessed by Belzebuth. The extreme care of the musicians (Brann Dailor is still so good), a very good sound and a reseptive audience: Mastodon gave us a great show at this Hellfest 2009. To put the stakes so high must have now great consequences on the future shows in concert halls. The band will actually play on the 6th of July at the Trabendo. Do – Se


Europe

Since the release in 2004 of the great and dark Start From The Dark, Europe has made the most of the new-found youth. A nice example of reconversion and of modernization of a band who was often been considered “kitsch” by the backstabbers. In fact, tonight there’s a huge crowd in front of the stage. To be honest, most of them have no idea of what is Europe nowadays or even what it was except for the double-edged success of “The Final Countdown”. Actually, they’re all here to listen to THE hard rock hit of the 80’s; to have a laugh some would say. Many will stand corrected and surprised listening to the rest of the songbook of the Swedish rockers. Taking turns between the old devilish rock’n’roll hits (“Seventh Sign”, “Supersticious”), even heavy (“Scream Of Anger”) and new bits with sharp and heavy riffs (“The Gateway Plan”, “Always The Pretenders”, and above all the monstrous and under tuned riff of “Start From The Dark”), Europe has made the choice to shake the walls and with it the received ideas. The band is in great shape, Joey Tempest flies on stage with overflowing energy, making his mic rod turn around like a windmill above the crowd. It’s great since it is still warm. The set turns into a firework thanks to the overwhelming sequence of “Rock The Night”, “Cherookee” and the unmissable “The Final Countdown” which has a bomb effect on a blissful audience. Mission accomplished for Europe who signs there a wonderful performance and earns a true respect from the audience. Sp – Se


Moonspell

As with many bands, we have with Moonspell a grandiose introduction. Except that here we have a video. On the screen in the back some images unfold and eventually lead to the album sleeve. The charismatic Fernando Ribeiro comes up on stage followed by his henchmen. The video brings a lot to the show and reinforces the theatrical side of the music of the Portuguese band. Show-wise, the guitar player (who also manages the keyboard) has a fan that makes his hair stand up and is lighted from behind. The effect is sure-fire: like in a storm we’re hit full face. It is true that Moonspell have come back to something more extreme in their few last albums. The performance on the title “Finisterra” just proves it tonight. We also get the more goth hits and above all less agressive as “Opium”. The crowd, that has not yet filled in the tent, supports the band by singing along on some titles. And the sound is really good. We don’t have, as it is often the case with extreme bands, a competition of double bass-drums. And that’s very well. Moonspell will have given a straight and mastered show. A great performance. Cl – Se


Suicidal Tendencies

“ST! ST! ST!” Who has never sung these two capital letters of Suicidal Tendencies?! Mike Muir’s band was in France to promote Year Of The Cycos, the latest album of Suicidal. When the first notes of “You Can’t Bring Me Down” ring out on the mainstage, the audience just goes crazy! But the craziest among us is without a doubt Mike Muir. The singer of the hardcore/thrash band crosses the stage like a mad man without stopping. Mike pulls through on the singing, even if it’s hard not to be out of breath when you run around all the time. Especially when there’s a lot of voice variations. So we hear a few approximations on his part, but it’s totally understandable, on the breath management. But, honestly, the show of Suicidal cannot be summed up, it has to be a real-life experience. You need to see the madness and all the positive energy of Mike Muir, the skills of the huge Eric Moore or even the extreme ease of Steve Brunner on bass to really appreciate the huge show of Suicidal on stage. What a knock down! “Send Me Your Money”, “War Inside My Head”, “Possessed To Skate” and many others: the set-list really was worthy of their carreer. The Californian band’s will to share was humongous. So much so that Suicidal end up inviting the first rows of the crowd up on stage! Meaning, we saw about 150 people going up on stage on the last song of ST. A great moment and an unbelievable memory for all the audience. After fifty minutes that went way too fast, the lights come back. Thanks Suicidal for this great concert. Do – Ol


Dream Theater

It is 10.50 p.m. when Dream Theater come up on the main stage. For this last day, the audience has answered the call and DT is warmly welcomed. Even if most of the crowd is not mainly made out of progressive metal fans. The first bit taken from Systematic Chaos starts slowly and just sets the scene. The sound is great and the lightshow perfectly showcases the musicians. DT goes on with “A Rite Of Passage”, a title from Black Clouds & Silver Linings, their latest album that will be released at the end of June. This title is really efficient, with a quality of work from the musicians that have nothing left to prove. New exhibit with the instrumental title “Erotomania”. The American band doesn’t stop touring and releasing new albums and despite all this, their live performance is still of high quality. James Labrie has known some harsh times in the past but he found his voice back. Our guy didn’t sing a single quack and James was even better than at the beginnings of the band! “Voices” from Awake was done beautifully and especially the gorgeous “Metropolis” from Images And Words, where the vocal lines are very difficult to reproduce, was done skillfully. The other musicians were not left behind. Jordan Rudess actually brings out a guitar-keyboard that allows him to move around and to come with John Petrucci at the front of the stage. In short: brilliant show from Dream Theater, with talented musicians and a perfect set list for this hour-long show. See you real soon, guys. Ol – Ol


Electric Wizard

While Dream Theater triy to wash away the damages done by the tornado called Suicidal Tendencies, the storm is brewing under the Terrorizer Tent. From the first chord of Electric Wizard, the earth crumbles under the storm of distortion. A torrent of sonic mud is forming. Each stream of chord gets the crowd closer to its grave. The atmosphere gets frightening, dark, oppressive. Though some heart-rending melodic flashes manage to break through the heavy mash. Visually, just a few light beams sweep the stage. They just allow us to get a glimpse of the ghostly outlines of the musicians. They appear like wraithes that came here to cry out for vengeance. No need to resist, the wailing voice of Jus Osborn has already reclaimed the feverish souls. Might as well let them guide you. The torment then takes a sugary and psychedelic flavor. The unavoidabe drowning becomes sweet. It is good to just lay down and die. This is when the lights come back. The illusion was perfect. Electric Wizard: most certainly one of the strongest experiences of this festival. Sp – Se


Hatebreed

Hatebreed come up on Mainstage 02 after Suicidal Tendencies. Difficult to do better than Mike Muir’s band, who fired up the Hellfest. Well, it was not taking into consideration the huge energy of Jamey Jasta, who turns up on stage jumping everywhere like his elder. But with the youth’s fire. He wears a smile that cannot hide his joy of playing tonight. Jamey doesn’t stop motivating the crowd to jump, while doing it with an arm high up in the air. The other he uses to tap the mic to his lips to deliver the lyrics of songs like “Straight To Your Fate”.After seeing Cro-Mags, Vision Of Disorder or even Terror, Hatebreed gives us a rerun of the Black Flags. The singer will not fail to thank all these bands for their influences on their music. The other musicians give also all they can and are impressively efficient, setting the crowd literally ablaze and asking for more. You can see here and there a lot of core guys who shake their arms and legs in a choreography close to martial arts! The ambiance will not weaken. The frontman bluntly asks the crowd to create three circle pits! The attempt fails. The audience has already given a lot this week-end by answering to all requests for these kind of exercices. We’ll leave the ending word to a pit fan : “They don’t give a shit about long hair or soli, it’s what I call efficiency”, alluding to Manowar who will play right after on the other Mainstage. A whole bunch of the crowd will actually leave the premises before the arrival of the metal warriors… Cl – Ol


Amon Amarth

The Vikings are out = run for shelter! Everyone under the Rock Hard Tent is here to see what is best in the world of melodic death riffs, aka Amon Amarth. So it is on the eponymous title of their latest album , “Twilight Of The Thunder God”, that the Swedish guys kick off their set, which will be, let it be known, directly under the sign of visual explosions. To see Amon Amarth on stage, be it in a concert hall or under a tent, you’d better not be epileptic! The strobes are used up to the limit of what is bearable and this disco fashion, even if it is to develop the idea of power, tends to quickly bore the public. Strobe + smoke = eyes weariness. In addition to this, we were at a Dantean performance of Amon Amarth who are, once more on this concert, in perfect harmony with their fans. And the fact that Johan is really funny adds only to it: “now you’re gonna sing the lyrics, well sing, if you don’t understand it’s not important, it’s fucking death metal!”. A humongous “Guardians Of Asgaard”, a great “Twilight Of The Thunder God”, a mythical “Runes To My Memory” not forgetting the unbelievable “Pursuit Of Vikings”: the Viking people got their money’s worth! The voice of Johan Hegg is of an exceptionnal depth and his tone recognizable miles away and has never been lacking all along the set. Still, to see all these vikings headbanging as one: what a blast! In one hour the game is over… and the foghorns in the crowd can sound again. Mission accomplished for Amon Amarth. Do – Se


Brutal Truth

To love too much a band, to expect too much from it, you face disapointment. Brutal Truth came here to introduce their latest album, Evolution Through Revolution, and that’s how the New-Yorkers are going to play the twelve (!) fist titles of their new opus. So we get everything, from “Sugar Daddy” to the excellent “Get A Therapist… Spare The World”. The band didn’t change a bit even if getting older: Dan is still high while live, Kevin wears his now famous cow-boy hat and still sings bare feet (tribute to Henry Rollins), Rich still blasts with his tensed face (what a nervousness!), only Gurn is not here anymore and it’s Erik, a colleague from Nuclear Assault, who now plays the guitar (guitar not put forward enough, by the way). The second part of the live is really impressive. All the old titles are played faster : “Still not loud enough ! Still not fast enough !”. “Dementia” will even be played faster than on the Goodbye Cruel World live! Another little treat: Kevin who swallows the mic and mimicks a gorilla screaming (see the sleeve of Sounds Of The Animal Kingdom?). The band leaves the stage after “I Killed My Family”, Kevin says goodbye… But Rich doesn’t see it that way and doesn’t want to stop. He starts a drum solo, blasts all alone. Hence the others come back sheepishly, after a few minutes. They were certainly thinking “Holy shit! It’s over!”. And here we get the Brutal Truth that we enjoy: grind, humble, and simple. Them : “Hem…What do you want us to play?”. Us: “Sisterfucker!”. And the band starts again with the cover of Eyehategod after 1h15 of busted grindcore. Kevin finally loses his grip and starts to hit his forehead with the mic. The audience coming from a broad musical horizon seemed up till now quite gloomy. At last some reaction and we can conclude that Brutal Truth is unifier, surprising and uncharacteristic. “Sisterfucker Part 1”, “Sisterfucker Part 2”, and Brutal Truth leave the grindfreaks facing the Kings Of Metal… or facing their sleeping bags: brutal truth. Fu – Ol


Manowar

Up till now, all the bands have only been a grand opening, no more than an introduction, an “aperitive” (as the dull-witted screamers from the camping area would say) for the only true band of metal, the kings of metal, I call for Manowar. It’s been years since Manowar hasn’t played in France because of the sound restrictions (Joey DeMaio will actually talk about it, often referring to the Elysée “Montmerde”, who forbade them to play loud enough…) and some hearsays are spreading about the fact that all day long the sound of the mainstages have been curbed so that Manowar can be the loudest band. We’re talking 140 decibels here.

The stage displays a very impressive wall of metallic amps.Our four “true metal warriors” come up on stage at exactly 12 minutes past midnight and the concert starts with the song “Manowar”; Eric Adams makes himself heard and makes the audience contribute. The singer will be in perpetual communication mode with the festivalgoers, making them sing along or giving lots of long speeches. Even if in that field the big winner is lord DeMaio! The sound is indeed loud but maybe that after three days of festival our ears grew used to it, and, honestly, up till the middle of the crowd, it’s bearable. Beyond that point, it’s true that the sound becomes too loud. Then a big ten titles follow (correct us if we’re wrong) that will have the concert last up till 2.55 a.m.!

Playlist :

“Manowar”
“Blood of My Enemies”
“Hand Of Doom”
“Brothers Of Metal”
“Call To Arms”
“Heart Of Steel”
“Sleipnir”
“Loki Gods Of Fire”
“Kings Of Metal”
bass solo
“The Gods Made Heavy Metal”
“Warriors Of The World United”
“Kill With Power”, “Hail And Kill”
“The Crown And The Ring”

All the while during this set (not that long if you take out all the speeches times and the few events), only Eric Adams is really active. Joey DeMaio (bass) and Karl Logan (guitar) simply strike terse poses or play together, moving their guitars in the same fashion as ZZ Top… Scott Columbus (drums) is replaced on this tour by Donnie Hamzik, who manages the show quite well apart from a few quacks.

The set list dof the evening is excellent even if a few oldies are missing (in particular tracks from the Sign Of The Hammer) that we would have liked instead of bits from the disposable latest album. After a horrid bass solo (seriously, this guy is talented, why does he make us endure something that bad?!) based on distorsion, floyd, larsens and tapping in high notes, DeMaio gives us an umpteenth speech on “If they fuck with you and you are a true warrior jus tell them ‘fuck’…’ At that point, the other members of the band come back, Adams gets the mic back and re-explains the story about the Elysée “Montmerde”. They dared to ask Manowar to not play so loudly, rebuff of our “true metal kings” who cancelled the concert just hours before the opening… He explains as well that Manowar didn’t want to spoil their fans by downplaying , and that they wanted to have a stylish come-back. So Manowar don’t fail to thank the Hellfest who had the “balls of steel” to invite them here. It’s at this moment that Manowar invite on stage Ben Barbaud and Olivier Garnier, the festival manager and the promotion manager, to give them a high-class trophy: balls of steel. Absolute style!

Who never dreamt to have a pair of steel balls to show off on your TV screen, on your Grandma’s patchwork or under the tapestry of Auntie Jane?!

We go on with a well-known gimmick of the band: they have a guy from the audience come up on stage to make him become a “true warrior of metal” thanks to a beer, a band T-shirt and a guitar from Karl’s personal stock. You just need to believe… These guys are some kind of sales persons, for to make you swallow the bill (we’re talking 30€ for a T-shirt!), Manowar states that they make you “handsome, powerful and strong”. After living through the solo of DeMaio, we get a few minutes of relative suffering listening to Cazu, the happy Marseilles guy from the forum of Radio Metal chosen by Eric Adams. Transition on the song “The Gods Made Heavy Metal”, still with our national Cazu and a sound ten times lower for him than for the rest of the band. At the end of the title, he is offered the guitar. Nice job, dude! The concert goes on, everyone stands his own and the hymns follow. It’s almost 2h30 when “Hail And Kill” rings out in the Hellfest arena. During this bit a few pathetic rockets blow up in the sky, and for an extra two or three minutes of larsen after the musicians left the stage, you know that Manowar is really the Kiss of Metal or even better the “Kiss of the poor”…

BUT IT IS NOT OVER!

The band comes back just to let us know that they’d be the worst of fuckheads if they left this way, and here we go again for another speech of Joey “T-shirts salesman” DeMaio! The music picks up again with the great “The Crown And The Ring”, accompanied this time by a grand firework worthy of a 4th of July. It is 2.55 a.m., they knocked the spots off us and even if it is freaking cold we’re happy. So let’s take back the idiom “Kiss of the poor”, so surprised are we by the final of this concert.

What if their T-shirts really had a special power? Se – Se

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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