2:16 am: Hellfest 2010 is already over! A line-up aimed at purists, full of charm and curiosities, less eye-catching despite a huge sequence of world-famous bands on the last day, that managed to gather both families and fans in the wee hours of the morning, and offered an impressive count of very good shows. Very few disappointments – just one, actually: in the end, Patrick Roy didn’t go on stage, like Olivier Garnier and Ben Barbaud did last year during Manowar’s set! The decision probably came from the festival’s staff, who didn’t want his red suit and his huge charisma to relegate Kiss in the shadows. As for the age-old fight between good (Catholic associations) and evil (metalheads), it took huge proportions, reached the higher echelons of politics and ended once more in victory of evil. Mwahahaha. Nevertheless, we did witness the beginnings of a dialogue, with a debate within the Hellfest itself, and even on our own website.
We wish you all a nice journey back home. And even if you do it only for the festival’s unique atmosphere (and for Coroner as well…), we strongly advise you to get your tickets for next year!
Enough with it all, I’m going to bed.
1:45 am: A Kiss concert is an unusual and legendary moment before it even starts. Just like Motörhead, the band is brought to the stage in a van in an extremely furtive way, shrouded in black sheets, like a bunch of ghosts. The word is not too strong, since we can’t even see them leave the vehicle. The next moment, they’re on stage. But where did they go? Even backstage, Kiss is all about show and staging. Even us journalists look at them from the foot of their ivory tower, without a chance to get anywhere near them. That’s part of the legend as well.
Tommy Thayer, Ace Frehley’s replacement, is about to get aboard the van with Paul Stanley, who’s already in the vehicle. As for Gene Simmons and Eric Singer, they’re right behind, in a second van.
“You wanted the best ? You got the best!”: and off we go, with the excellent “Modern Day Deliah”, the excellent single from the band’s latest baby, Sonic Boom. How can you not electrify the audience with such a song? And I mean electrify in the literal sense: fireworks, explosions, platforms and propos are all around.
Hotter Than Hell!
When Paul Stanley announces: “I can see you guys in the back! Do you want me to come and see you?”, he actually means it. Hanging on to a pulley, he flies across the audience and lands on a platform opposite the stage to sing “I Was Made For Loving You”. When you go to a Kiss show, you’re treated to that kind of stuff all through the night: Gene Simmons vomiting blood during a bass solo, Eric Singer (drums) picking up a bazooka, Tommy Thayer brandishing his guitar and watching it take flight to land at the very top of the stage… In short, the only thing we won’t get is Lady Gaga on stage!
Gene Simmons vomiting blood.
But behind all the tricks, Kiss also have an incredible presence. Although Paul Stanley is the main vocalist, all four musicians sing. Setlist-wise, lots of classics, three songs from the latest album and a few songs performed in their longer versions (“Lick It Up”). Paul Stanley makes the audience sing the Marseillaise, and the spectators take up the hymn proudly. Not the case with “Black Diamonds”, during which the band tries to make the audience participate. Big flop – when the microphone is pointed at the spectators after the first arpeggios, silence answers. Let’s face facts: this is not the band’s most famous song, and the people in the audience tonight only know the classics. An anecdote that reminds us of Angra and their “Rebirth” in Lyons in 2004. As Edu Falaschi’s said : “I wanted to hear the biggest noise of my life, that’s more like the biggest silence!”.
The confetti shower.
Aside from this confusing but still funny episode, Kiss was the crowning piece of the 2010 edition of the Hellfest. After such an impressive show, which contained too many embellishments to list, you can really understand why these guys are such legends.
The apocalyptic finale.
00:47: John Garcia concludes the Kyussian festival with art, a massive sound (except for the sometimes untidy vocal mix) and a very groovy performance. John Garcia is in top form, and the guitar soli are full to burst with feeling. As was to be expected, the man is joined on stage by his two old mates for two songs, to the delight of the audience. And you won’t find anybody to complain about how the band played longer than the allotted time.
00:46: Lemmy Kilmister is not one to rack his brains when he doesn’t have to. Journalists and their analyses bore him to death. Therefore, when we ask him why he decided to modify his setlist to include more recent songs, his answer is: “Why not?”. A few hours after the end of Motörhead’s show, Doc’ interrupts Lemmy, his eyes red with tiredness, while the man plays pinball. Obviously that wasn’t the thing to do. His first words were: “Be brief!”, and the last: “That’s four questions, not two!”. But like those people who love to get their ears blown off by Lemmy’s bass during “Overkill”, we at Radio Metal love hearing Lemmy tell us off.
00:26 am: The audience is hot as hell for Mikael Akerfeldt’s death metal release valve, Bloodbath. With Bloodbath, Opeth’s leader clearly states that he doesn’t want music to be a drag. Don’t you go looking for diversity and finesse, even if the groovy death is performed with surgical precision. The band is extremely sympathetic on stage and the set is pretty digestible, even if the linear quality of the songs can get on your nerves near the end.
11:30 pm: Claude brought Metal’o Phil beer and crisps earlier this afternoon. But the award for Most Supportive Person goes to Dimebag, who brought an egg to the studios at 11:30 pm. You’re the best, Dimebag.
11:08 pm: Dillinger Escape Plan is quickly becoming a new reference in hardcore. The band have judiciously broadened their horizon, and by extension their setlists, by inluding more progressive, melodic songs. But don’t worry, they haven’t quieted down in terms of musical and theatrical violence. Their performance might be under control, it’s also completely crazy and overexcited. On stage, the musicians contort themselves nervously, violently, even dangerously (just for fun, click this link). Impressive. And let’s not forget this burning declaration of love from the vocalist to a fan: “Christine Boutin might suck some dicks”. So much emotion.
10:53 pm: Between two Sonisphere festivals with their best enemies, Slayer made a detour via France. For their third Hellfest in four years, the Americans remain true to themselves, offering a clear and precise performance for their usual vindictive and intense thrash – a real call to violence that wreaks havoc in the pit. The band still give the feeling they’re on autopilot, but the music speaks for itself, and in the end, that’s enough. Let’s note a judicious use of blue lights on “Dead Skin Mask” and a Tom Araya who, although unable to headbang (the man went through a difficult year health-wise, with recurring back problems that forced the band to postpone several shows), does a very honest job as a frontman. The man can scream “God hates us all” all he wants, we know he’s a fervent Catholic. A nice illustration of the second degree some bands use in their lyrics, and that some people take way too seriously.
10:30 pm: In the Radio Metal studios, despite a few beneficial visits from his colleagues, Metal’o Phil shows the first signs of tiredness. Now he’s having weird debates with himself – and sending surreal text messages to Doc’, who, feeling it best not to hurt the poor, fragile man, does his best to just go with it. We’ll let you judge:
“Actually, Amaury, sugarless coffee should be drunk hot, or it’ll suck.”
“D’you think I should get my hair cut?”
“I think I can ask my brother to shave your head.”
“What’s your opinion on radishes?”
“I’m not fundamentally against.”
9:52 pm: Nile’s set smartly alternates between fast songs and more ambient titles. The show is powerful and professional, but that’s no surprise given how good the musicians are known to be. The sound is good and the samples are well underlined. As usual, the guitars are used in a fantastic way to create sounds closer to those of a keyboard and maintain the band’s trademark exotic, Egyptian atmosphere.
9:50 pm: “You want us to turn the volume up? Raise your hand if you want us to turn it up!” Everybody does raise their hands, obviously, but it’s no use. And anyway, there’s no need: in terms of decibels, Motörhead could compete with an airport. We will never forget Lemmy, without earplugs, testing the sound of his bass before his Marshall wall, his hair flying around in response to the racket.
Motörhead release album and album and give show after show the way their leader consumes groupies and over-alcoholic evenings (just like Ozzy or Nikki Sixx, we really do wonder how the man can still be alive, medically speaking). In the absolute, the show is great, but it’s no surprise to read the “auto-pilot” metaphor, often used to talk about Slayer, in many live reports. Therefore, a certain apprehension was present before the beginning of the set – but we were treated to a pleasant surprise! We were expecting an umpteenth set with the same old hits, but the band decided to innovate and to pick songs from their most recent repertoire, with two titles from their latest album, or “In The Name Of Tragedy”, from the excellent Inferno. On this last song, Mikkey Dee (“Ze best drummer in ze world”, as Lemmy usually introduces him) performs his traditional drums solo, which fits perfectly in the music and gives way very naturally to Campbell’s guitar solo. Other delicious surprise, the presence of an French Oriental dancer on “Killed By Death”. Weird but nice – at least it’s not the usual strippers!
When shall we see Sarah from Arkan in Motörhead? Needless to say, Lemmy blows the spectators’ ears off with his bass on the concluding “Overkill”, and we love it!
Lemmy in the van that’ll take him back to his dressing room, right after leaving the stage.
9:18 pm: After some technical misshaps at the beginning of the set, Doom can finally share their punk craziness mixed with typical heavy metal energy with the audience. The songs are very songs (1.5 minute on average) and convey an insanity reminiscent of The Dillinger Escape Plan, who by the way will play right afterwards. In short, it’s awesome, and in answer, the audience totally let themselves go. One regret, though: the sound is far too loud.
8:42 pm: With some epic songs mixed with genius thrash riffs, Exodus’ set delivered a fair share of nice moments and caused many circle pits. Thrash fans are in heaven. The only snag in this is the disparity in the quality of the songs.
8:20 pm: There’s some heavy stuff going on in the VIP lounge! Danny Cavanagh (Anathema), who’s here as a simple tourist, is caught in the act of seducing a charming brunette, going as far as playing something on guitar for her. A few minutes later, he starts singing Queen’s “I Want To Break Free”. This is not going to end well.
In the meantime, Kiss’ guitarist walks by, without makeup and therefore completely incognito. As for Mickey Dee, Motörhead’s drummer, he has to refuse interviews, ‘cause it’s time for him to get a manicure and a perm done: “I’m old and ugly now, so I have to hire people to make me look good for the stage!”.
8:16 pm: “Instead of partying, I’d rather work out and listen to Suffocation”. If only for this brilliantly absurd declaration from Phil Anselmo, Suffocation is worth taking an interest in. And those who, for one reason or another, did enter the Rock Hard Tent, were right to do so! The set is excellent, le band very close to the audience. The music is a little violent but professional. We’re not talking about primary, raw violence, but precise, efficient violence. Really great, even from the outset.
Dear readers, are you interested in a collective bodybuilding session while listening to Suffocation?
8:15 pm: It’s time for Kyuss’ former drummer to introduce his new band, Brant Bjork And The Bros. Musically speaking, this is classic southern rock at its best. Nice, but not transcendent, and a little flat at length. This is typically the kind of performance that you enjoy while it lasts but forget quickly afterwards.
8:10 pm: Udo is a nice character. When he sings the praises of the festival and of the French audience, you can tell he’s being sincere. And when you ask him what shows he’s going to attend tonight, he mentions mainly hard rock bands. Udo is also a very old school character. The most extreme stuff he can listen to is Sabaton-like heavy metal.
7:55 pm: Phil Campbell is on the air, but he hangs up quickly, saying Christina Aguilera is putting her hand on his thigh… He barely had the time to explain why Lemmy, who’s still a life despite a life full of excesses, is probably invincible. As for competing with an airport in terms of decibels, it seems perfectly natural to him:
7:37 pm: Stone Sour surprise us with several titles from their new album, to be released in September, including the single “Mission Statement”. Their performance sparks off a wave of good humor through the audience. Too bad the sound wasn’t up to it. And Corey Taylor, who says a lot of platitudes between songs, is not very convincing either.
7:01 pm: Let the Kyuss night begin! Tonight, several bands featuring former Kyuss members will play under the Terrorizer Tent. Mondo Generator is the first of those bonds, with Nick Olivieri on bass. Their dusty, chaotic punk rock is most notably underlined by stroboscopic white lights, which makes the whole thing stressful, intense and oppressive.
6:41 pm: Saxon is one hell of a heavy band, and the Brits have no trouble convincing the audience thanks to the variety of their repertoire and the charisma of their frontman, Biff, who makes the spectators participate intensely. The setlist is a collection of old classics, which concludes with “Denim and Leather”, dedicated to Dio, who was still alive and singing on this very same stage a year ago…
6:20 pm: Being called The Yawning Man is risky, for it becomes extremely easy for those resistant to your music and unoriginal journalists to play on words! The Amercian band, which has been in existence since 1986, offer something between post-rock and prog. Their music is essentially aimed at fans of this style. The others will hardly find it catchy, except as ambient music. That’s the great thing about post-rock: those who don’t understand or don’t like it are more likely to say: “It’s trippy”, than “I don’t like it”. The band deliver a homogenous set and manages to convince the audience without giving too turbulent a performance.
5:49 pm: In front of their fans, Katatonia give a good performance, without any lengths, and focused on the band’s melodic side, mainly with songs from The Great Cold Distance. A very pleasant surprise for the spectator who thought they were going to be bored. Nice aperitif before Devin Townsend.
The Kiss Army
5:30 pm: Karl Sanders, Nile’s leader, notifies Spaceman that his use of the word « jingle » is incorrect : “No one says jingle anymore! It’s station ID, now. Jingle is good for supermarkets”. After that, Karl Sanders sets out to prove for over 10 minutes that Spaceman is wrong. At last, someone got it…
4:57 pm: Behind their apparent sternness on stage, the musicians from Behemoth (particularly Nergal) are very accessible. With obvious pleasure they submit themselves to a signing session, during which they’ll sign highly original object (did someone think of bringing a Bible?). A few hours earlier, they’re on stage underneath a blazing sun, which mars the atmosphere of intensity and hatred the band’s music cultivates. In spite of that, and in spite of an erratic sound, the war machine gives a good show, with a setlist that judiciously offers mini-interludes to let you find your breath after this downpour of oppressive rhythms.
4:49 pm: The American musicians that make up Rwake evolve in a rather interesting personal trip, but its linearity make it difficult to apprehend on stage. The band mix drum’n’bass, electro and hardcore. The calmer, more progressive parts are interesting and allow the listened to breathe a little before the return of more intense riffs. Too bad the band didn’t capitalize more on this particularity.
4:03 pm : We’re getting close to the second half of this last day, and big names are already queuing to play on the two Mainstages. It’s now UDO’s turn to play a series of rallying hymns, tailor-made for the stage, that inevitably create a good atmosphere. The set, however, lacks power. No surprise here, the band won’t forget to cover Accept’s “Metal Heart” and “Balls To Tehe Wall”.
Patrick Roy and Ben Barbaud
3:55 pm: He found him! Spaceman found him! Patrick Roy really is here, wearing his usual red suit. He’s accompanied by Ben Barbaud, who proudly shows him around the place.
Devin Townsend is as classy as ever
3:43 pm: According to Devin Townsend, his next album will be a “journey through his ass”. He then briefly explains that this poetic metaphor actually describes the album perfectly. And he concludes with these words: “In short, I have a very interesting ass”. When we ask him to show it to us, he declines. Too bad.
3:27 pm: Californian band Weedeater became famous because of their unfortunate singer, who shot himself in the foot a few months ago, thus almost cancelling their performance at Hellfest. And we wouldn’t have missed too much. Their sludge is finely crafted, the audience seem convinced, the musicians are honest, but musically, it’s all a bit flat and redundant. Neither good nor bad. And there’s nothing worse than neutrality or indifference.
3:20 pm: A concert organizer for My Referents Events, Stef just won’t stop running around. However, he agreed to answer a few questions and to talk about the secrets of the organizing signing sessions with various bands:
3:10 pm: The Finnish musicians from Ensiferum proudly walk on Mainstage 02, wearing kilts and general warrior looks. The death/black/folk they offer is rather good and reminiscent of a very Eternal Tears Of Sorrow-ish melancholy. The spectators are much convinced.
3:00 pm: Florian is reporting. He talks about the schizophrenic weather and relates an interview with a member of the security staff: according to him, the worst events in terms of security are soccer matches and rockabilly concerts, some of which can deplore casualties! Listen to the newsflash (in French) here:
2:35 pm : Text message from Doc’: “I can’t believe how many pretty girls there are here! And we don’t even have five minutes to hit on them! I’m tired of fighting for the metal scene, I quit! What about my libido?”.
Who’s the hunk?
2:30 pm: Mikael Akerfeldt just arrived with Bloodbath and is currently resting before his show? sunbathing on a couch. He most notably tells us that the 6 shows celebrating the band’s 20th anniversary were unusual moments, and that the Paris show was the best. Political cant? Was it due to the presence of Virginie? You’re the only judges. After that, Spaceman, Mikael’s official double, has his picture taken with the man. When our second reporter, Florian, mentions their resemblance, Akerfeldt turns to Spaceman: “You’re rather handsome indeed!” And to Florian: “You, on the other hand, look like shit!”
2:28 pm: Our first thought upon seeing Black Cobra is: “No bass player?!” But very quickly, we realize that their death/thrash doesn’t need a bass player to be good! The vocals are powerful, the riffs devastating and the drums explosive. The band master the set beautifully and leave the audience high and dry.
2:10 pm: You want some heavy? Here’s some heavy. Primal Fear doesn’t exactly invent anything, isn’t particularly striking, and sometimes falls into downright caricature. But in spite of this, fans of the genre enjoy the performance.
2:01 pm: After hearing that Dying Fetus’ set is cancelled, we go see Decapitated. And it’s good to see them on stage again! The sound is just perfect, and so is the new drummer. The musicians headbang constantly, to the delight of the large crowd.
Mattias Eklundh: “Right now I’m going to give four million interviews, have a massage done and then go see Kiss!”
1:47 pm: Mattias Eklundh talks enthusiastically about his show, despite “recurring technical shits”. He’s about to give four million interviews, have a massage done and go see Kiss. Nice day for him!
1:44 pm: Saviours aren’t exactly lively on stage, but their heavy thrash is quite something to listen to. And because of this, this immobility gives them a solemn aspect usually reserved to the greatest bands. A real blast.
1:36 pm: For this edition of Hellfest, folk metal remains marginal. In other words, fans of the genre haven’t come en masse, and Eluveitie has some trouble trying to stir the audience up. The first half of the set will only trigger off a few screams and some clapping. The crowd wakes up barely 10 minutes before the end of the show, notably during the band’s cover of the traditional Breton song “Tri Martolod”. A pity.
1:00 pm: Freak Kitchen used to be more original! The set is barely above decent, despite the unquestionable niceness of the two vocalists. The band conclude the set with “Propaganda Pie”, the most lively song. The show in Lyons proved to be a disappointment, because of its redundancy compared to Freak Kitchen’s global career (that kind of rings a bell…), but at least it was still very pleasant in absolute. Disappointing.
12:40 pm: Creating a squalid atmosphere at 12:40 pm is not an easy task. We’re in broad daylight and thinking about lunch. And yet, 16 manage it beautifully and offer a huge set, a crushing sound, groovy, straight-on riffs, and above all, a vocalist with a strong presence.
12:39 pm: Sabaton won’t revolutionize heavy metal, but several songs produce a nice effect and the band have a strong presence. The Swedes are all wearing the same fatigues and black top, and this uniformity works well. Before everything else, the band show endless passion and devotion for their musical style. Fans of the genre will appreciate this hardline attitude: the band really are hre for them.
12:37 pm: The members of Kataklysm are turning all Amon Amarth with their new project, Ex Deo, slow and groovy death metal that takes the audience back to the Roman era. The crowd is medium-sized and the remains rather calm. A pity, ‘cause the performance is good, and the band fit for festivals.
11:45 pm: At the same time, under the Terrorizer Tent, protected from the wind, Solace’s hard/stoner wreaks havoc. As for the musicians’ looks, think “clichéd American hard rocker”. The performance manages to be both strong and musical.
The Kiss Army is already in the starting blocks in front of the Mainstage 01
11:38 pm: A huge black sheet already covers Kiss’ instruments on Mainstage 01. In the Meantime, Vulcain, or the French Motörhead, are in top form and give a good performance. Unfortunately, the wind will spoil it all by complicating the vocalist’s task and ruining the quality of the sound at the end of the show.
11:15 pm: Death metal fans have a passion for science and medicine. Thus why the guys from General Surgery come on stage wearing white, bloody lab coats, for something halfway between Carcass and Cannibal Corpse. The ideal band to make you forget your morning hangover or your nausea. The Rock Hard Tent is less full than it was yesterday at the same hour, but given the time of the day, the crowd is decent.
11:06 pm: Omega Massif is reminiscent of Meanwhile Back In Communist Russia. We’re talking about good post rock/metal here, something fit for the hour. The performance is warm, but we would have appreciated a longer set.
10:59 pm: The third (and last) day of Hellfest starts with Blaspheme. The veterans of French heavy metal have the difficult job of trying to wake up a still sleepy crowd. The set is pleasant and relatively efficient. Yesterday, Dew Scentend’s vocalist was amazed by the energy the audience displayed at such an early hour. Things are going more softly this time, and the crowd is not as large. Festivalgoers are showing the first signs of tiredness.
9:00 am: Last day at Hellfest! Patrick Roy did say he would be there today, so we’ll have to be careful and try to spot him in the crowd despite tiredness. As a warm-up, he’s a little game by Morgor, called “Where’s Patrick?”. This is going to be very hard:
Your clue: he’s reading Rock Hard Magazine…
This post is also available in: French