Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Hellfest 2013 - Saturday & Sunday (22nd & 23rd June)

...And here's part 2 of my excursion to Hellfest 2013. This covers Saturday, Sunday and a bit of Monday morning. Enjoy \m/

Saturday morning I woke up (once again, hungover) around half past 9 and after breakfast and several cigarettes I regained my sanity enough to leave camp and venture to the arena in time to catch Skindred (8rontman Benji getting on a bit now he still knows just how to work a crowd and their half hour set (which should have been much longer) comes and goes in the blink of an eye and is enjoyable as always.

After a short break wandering around the extreme market (even bigger and better stocked than last year) I head to the death metal tent to catch Greece's Dead Congregation (6). Making a rare festival appearance the band plough through their doomy, raw death metal with style. Next up are Procession (7) from Chile (but now based in Sweden). Playing straight up epic doom with soaring vocals, these guys don't disappoint and the new songs (from recent release "To Reap Heavens Apart") sound great.

Monstrosity (7), the band famous for once having George "Corpsegrinder" Fisher as their vocalist (before his departure to front Cannibal Corpse) are an interesting sight to behold. After numerous lineup changes, drummer Lee Harrison is the only remaining original member. However this proves to be irrelevant as the band work together in near-perfect sync. Vocalist Mike Hrubovcak (ex-Vile) has the skill and vocal power to make the songs sound just as good as one record. Overall a very good performance.

Coal Chamber (6) power through their set and most of the crowd are finding it truly enjoyable to hear Dez and co. live. However, many people (myself included) are starting to think that Dez is a bit old to be wearing make up and playing nu-metal. The set's enjoyable regardless but I firmly believe nu-metal is finally dead and should really stay that way.

While they may be a complete chance of style from every other band I've written about so far, fuck it. 3 Doors Down (9) are the first band that really grab my attention throughout their entire set. They may be completely different to nearly every other band I saw over the weekend but I enjoyed the fuck out of them. Every song is catchy on and point, particularly a favourite of mine "It's Not My Time". They really get the crowd going at several point and just generally enjoyable all round. At this point I'd also like to point out that the weather throughout the day has so far been terrible. Nothing but rain clouds and misery. But a couple of songs into Parkway Drive's (8) set the rain is gone and the blazing sun is beating down as spirits lift and pits erupt left, right and centre. Byron Bay's heroes may divide opinion among "true metalheads" (whatever that really means), but I don't give a fuck. I fucking love those guys and they get mad love from the crowd. Well done lads.

Down (8) put on an excellent show as always and despite a distinct lack of material from Down 3, still drive the crowd wild. During their set Phil Anselmo announces that Clutch have cancelled their appearance due to the unfortunate passing of Vocalist Neil Fallon's father (my condolences), and that Down will be playing a second set the following day to make up for the absent slot. An unexpected turn of events, but not an unpleasant one. Meanwhile Sinister (7) manage to get the death metal tent moving with some good tunes new and old. One of several dutch groups appearing this year, they get as warm a reception as any other death metal band that's played so far, hence my love for this festival. Every style is embraced and shown off equally.

Rotting Christ (7) keep the crowd going but as I'm not familiar with a lot of their material I find it hard to follow at times. I enjoyed myself regardless so I'll definitely acquaint myself with them a bit better in future. I head to catch part of Unearth (5) and while the music is ok, the guitars drown out Trevor's vocals, and the amount of hardcore kids shoving me about makes it hard to concentrate, so I leave and check out Accept instead. Accept (10) are nothing short of phenomenal. Every song gets a great reaction from the crowd and current frontman Mark Tornillo really knows how to work a crowd. "Stalingrad", "Teutonic Terror" and of course fan favourite "Balls To The Wall" all come off well and I leave at the end determined to catch these guys again at bloodstock in August. Phil Anselmo even comes out to join the band for their hit track "Fast As A Shark" and it's nothing short of marvellous. One of the best bands of the weekend hands down.

After checking out Belphegor (8) and feeling impressed, I run to catch My Dying Bride (8). Yorkshire premier purveyors of doom and gloom are on top form. And while I'm not completely familiar with their whole setlist, the music is great and well performed so no complaints here. The same can be said for Manilla Road (8), while I may only know material from their latest album, they play brilliantly and I leave with a new found respect for them.

Now onto our mainstage headliner. Kiss (10) are simply superb. Pretty much every hit you can think of makes an appearance and after all these years the lads have perfected a stage show unlike any other. Flying, spitting blood and fire breathing are all featured alongside lengthy, highly impressive guitar and drum solos from Tommy Thayer and Eric Singer respectively. Everyone should see Kiss once in their lives. Because after 40 years these guys are still showing everyone else how to put on a real rock and roll stage show.

I regretfully decide to miss the last half hour or so of Kiss' set, so I can head to the tent and catch the black metal legends themselves, Immortal (9). Norway's finest once again never fail to impress, with songs from across their catalogue and a set full of pyrotechnics despite being confined to a tent. "Tyrants", "Withstand The Fall Of Time" and of course "One By One" all sound fantastic. However once again it's obvious that some people are losing momentum. So when Morbid Angel (6) take the stage, many people have left or are sleeping on their backs in the bigtop. And while David Vincent (hilariously dubbed "the Elvis of death metal" by a friend of mine) and co play well as usual, and the majority of the set is from masterpiece "Altars Of Madness", there is a distinct lack of many of the bands famous songs, such as "God Of Emptiness" and "Where The Slime Live" in favour of tunes from the latest album (which shall not be named for no other reason than the fact that many people, myself included, consider it a festering turd of a record).

All in all, Saturday goes well and after Morbid Angel finish I head to the campsite for drinking and merriment until the wee early hours.

Sunday morning I woke up, complete with hangover (by now you guys should be starting to see a pattern here...), and after breakfast booked it over to the arena to catch Leprous (8), who put on a good show, but I can see many people in a worse state than me who are having trouble grasping prog at such an early point in the day. After the first couple of songs however I wake up a bit and thoroughly enjoy the rest of the set. The new tracks off latest release "Coal" go down very well with the fans. Next, Haemorrhage (7) play a set full of thrashy, filthy goregrind that assaults my ears in a very pleasurable way. Guitarist Ana is pretty easy on the eyes as well. Moving on, I turn a quick 180 degrees to catch Svart Crown's (8) set. One of the newer band's carving out France's legacy in the world of black metal, Svart Crown plough through their songs with determination and songs from new album "Profane" sounds just as good live as one record. Well done Svart Crown.

Minutes later, I receive another sonic beatdown from Krisiun (8), Brazil's master of death metal play a good set but due to the long songs off "The Great Execution" time flies by and they get very few songs in. Regardless, Krisiun are a very good band who I would love to see at their own show one day. After this I take a break from the bigtop and head to the mainstages to catch Prong (9), a band I've always enjoyed seeing live. Tommy Victor is once again on great form and crowd favourites "For Dear Life" and the anthem "Snap Your Fingers, Snap Your Neck" go down fantastically with the crowd. Once Prong finish it's straight back to the bigtop to catch Cryptopsy (6) who, despite playing well just fail to engage my full attention and the attention of most of the crowd. After a brief break for food and beers, I catch the end of Pig Destroyer's (7) set, and from what I can tell they appear to have torn the crowd a new one. However it's not until Ihsahn (9) takes the stage that I myself am torn a new one. With Leprous as his backing band as per usual, the man himself plays a great set (if a bit short) with songs from new age prog masterpiece "After" and new album "Eremita". Soaring choruses and wonderful off kilter uneven rhythms. New prog at its finest. Despite not playing as long a set as his slot at last year's hellfest I'm still thoroughly satisfied.

By the time Korpiklaani (10) come on, I'm pretty hammered, among other things. Watching these guys turns out to be possibly the most fun I've had all weekend. I'm so fucking pumped up I end up screaming the lyrics in the faces of people near me in the pit and when "Rauta" and "Vodka" come on I legitimately lose my shit and dance around like a maniac. One of the best feelings of the weekend. After checking out the market and buying a sick "Blessed Are The Sick" shirt from Morbid Angel (my favourite album of theirs), I keep that good feeling going by watching Down's 2nd set in the doom tent. Packed beyond capacity, Down (10) play a set full unlike anything I was expecting. After 2 rare live tracks (Swan Song & Rehab), Phil switches to guitar and his wife comes on to do vocals for a couple of Eyehategod covers (Sisterfucker part 1 & Blank), then Kirk takes centre stage and the band bust out 2 Crowbar classics (High Rate Extinction & Conquering). As is inevitable, Pepper steps up and 2 of my favourite Corrosion Of Conformity songs get played (Albatross & Clean My Wounds) which causes me to go apeshit and instantly call my friends back in England to brag, because that's the kind of bastard I am. The final two tracks consist of a Robin Trower cover (Bridge Of Sighs), and then as if this set couldn't get any better, they play "Walk". FUCKING WALK!!!! To hear Down play "Walk" and have them all dedicate it to Dime is very moving and the cover would've done him proud. Well done guys.

Next is another one of my highlights of the weekend, Stone Sour (10). Corey and the boys play a fantastic set including hits from every album and a couple of surprise covers (Sabbath's "Children Of The Grave" and Alice In Chains' "Nutshell"). Corey Taylor really is a born performer and the crowd love it. Closer "30/30-150" causes the whole crowd to lose their minds and Stone Sour prove why they are among modern day hard rock royalty.

After Stone Sour finish I head to catch the rest of Marduk's (9) set. Mortuus, Morgan, Devo and Lars are all playing on fine form affter releasing the excellent "Serpent Sermon" last year. "Nowhere, No-one, Nothing", "Slay The Nazarene" and "Satan & Victorious Weapons" all sound evil and thrashy as fuck and in my opinion these guys are one of the best black metal performances of the weekend alongside Immortal.

After taking a couple hours break to eat dinner and drink more, I head back to the arena to see Napalm Death close the weekend in style. Napalm Death (10) are a band that you can always enjoy, despite knowing exactly what they're going to do. The band have never compromised their ethics and continue to play anywhere that will have them, putting on a damn good show no matter what. The band's setlist hasn't changed much for years, apart from the odd addition whenever a new album comes out, but nobody gives a fuck because a Napalm Death show is just too damn enjoyable. Barney bounds around on stage like a mad man barking at everybody with that terrifying voice of his and the rest of the band play with a degree of fury and passion few other bands can equal. This is my 4th time seeing Napalm Death (2nd time seeing them at hellfest) and once again they surprise me by including one of my favourite songs of theirs, "Greed Killing". Due to the fact that I was very out of it at this point my memory is a bit blurry but I remember Birmingham's finest having possibly the best pits of the weekend and overall absolutely killing it.

To end the weekend in style after Napalm finished I wondered back to camp and once again got absolutely shitfaced. I somehow wake up hangover free and we make the long trip back to England, after leaving Clisson at 10, taking a taxi across Paris (a moderately terrifying experience), nearly getting scammed outside Gare Du Nord, sweating on the Eurostar for over 2 hours, getting another train from London and then a further 2 hours driving I collapsed at home around midnight happy to be in my own bed. This weekend has left me exhausted, aching, sickly, beaten and bruised, but I wouldn't have had it any other way. \m/

And that boys and girls is my coverage of Hellfest 2013. I promise that next year I will have some good pictures for you once I've bought a decent camera. I will post the shitty pictures that I did take in a separate article. Also my apologies that this took so long I've been rather absent minded recently. But fear not, in a few weeks I'll have my Bloodstock Open Air 2013 review for you. Until then I'll try and keep as many reviews flowing as possible, stay metal \m/

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