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Live Review: Hellfest – Clisson, France – 15-17/06/2012

To all rock, metal, punk and hardcore fans… THIS is the festival of all festivals! HELLFEST WE SALUTE YOU!

Hellfest Tree snapped by Tom Aylott, Thrash Hits

Hellfest, best described by a t-shirt worn by one of its festival go-ers: Hardcore Music For Hardcore People. As you enter the site to Hellfest you are greeted with a huge sign saying “Welcome to Hell” and it doesn’t stop there. The attention to detail is unlike anything I have ever seen from a festival (and I’ve been to a few in my time!) The bars and merch stands are surrounded by rusty corrugated iron, with red lights and fire spewing out at the top of them. There are scrap metal sculptures everywhere depicting creatures from the underworld, a wooded area that has been made to look like one of the layers from Dantes inferno and in the press area they even had a burnt out car and a revolver shaped table.

Blue mohicans are always better in burnt out cars!

Scrap metal sculptures in the press area.

For the closing night they also ignite a huge bonfire, that glows like the depths of Hell. This is a serious Heavy Metal festival for serious metal fans… but by no means is it actually hell to attend. It is set in the idollic countryside of a small old french town, Clisson, amongst working vineyards. If it does happen to rain, the mud instantly clears up with the smallest hint of sunshine and the beer comes in jugs, at reasonable prices! But the best thing about Hellfest, by far, is the people. Everybody there is there for the same reason. The music. It is an eclectic cauldron of every kind of rock and metal you can imagine. Never in all my life have I been to a friendlier festival. Metal has always gained a bad reputation, I mean the festival is called Hellfest, so that must mean we all worship the Devil and like to beat two shades of sh*t out of each other right!? Wrong. Main society has put anybody even slightly alternative into this  ridiculous pool of evil doers, criminals, thugs and bullies. But they aren’t. This festival gathers music lovers from all over the globe into one place to celebrate the music that they love the most. There is a sense of camaraderie and mutual respect. Everyone shares beer and cigarettes and looks after one another in yes, some fairly brutal mosh pits (but thats to be expected). You can believe yourself to be the biggest outcast in your hometown, but there you are just another face in a endless sea of metal fans. This was my second year at Hellfest, and not once have I ever seen or heard anything bad happening, no fights, no aminosity, there we are all just one against the world.


Voodoo and hippy meet metal!

Skeletal  in chains.

This guy was just… sexy. Damn sexy.

Hellfest 2012 was absolutely RAMMED with mindblowing bands! As you can see from the poster HERE. So we decided to describe some of our absolute favourites…

Friday 16th of June.

Having arrived late at the festival, I only got the chance to see a few bands. Starting off in complete style with Dropkick Murphies on Mainstage 02. What better way to start a festival really than with whiskey, Dropkicks, a wee mosh and a little skanking. It was their classic party manner with some serious irish enthusiasm, eccentric riffs and a well balanced mash up of punk rock meets folk soul. They definitely started my weekend in style by “Going Out in Style”. After that… Lucky me, Megadeth hit Mainstage 01 and though the number 13 maybe unlucky for some, it certainly isn’t for this band of legends. Playing tracks from the new album “TH1RT3EN” Megadeth killed it in a way only they know how in true metal god style. Check out the video below of the bands bassist David Ellefson backstage and onstage at Hellfest!

 Saturday 16th June.

Saturday was an explosion of highlights! Cancer Bats playing the Warzone Stage were always going to be good. This band never fail to deliver an incredible show. They seem unstoppable in their fight to educate the world in brilliant heavy music. I’m always surprised when Cancer Bats are either a support band, or like they were at Hellfest in the middle of the bill in one of the smaller tents. I feel assured however that they are simply conquering the world a country at a time. This band is sure to be headlining a festival like this in the very near future if their performance on the 16th is anything to go by.

We couldn’t let this review go by without a mention of good old Steel Panther, simply a feel good band that are all about the make-up, glamour, guitars and girrrlllsss. We love a bit of glam rock and they didn’t let us down… you could say they went “Balls Out“! Though their set was good, it wasn’t overly memorable, a few lines of banter and some rocking riffs but not the best of the weekend.

BY FAR the best band of the saturday however (maybe even the weekend) was Refused! Having never seen this band or heard much of their music before i wasn’t really too sure what to expect but a friend swore to me they would be insane… and he was not wrong! Refused’s performance was completely compelling and inspiring. Dennis Lyxzén has incredible stage presence that encourages you to soak up as much of the show as you can by trying to jump as high as you possibly can just to glimpse the singer in action. Hailing from Sweden they were also credibly humble, expressing their thanks to the crowd and extending gratitude to all that believed in them. Considering they swore never to reunite, they were welcomed at Hellfest with open arms and horns of rock! I can very much confirm that Refused are NOT f*cking dead! HOORAY!

…Oh and Guns N’ Roses were on time. Congratulations Axl. Anything to do with Slash playing on the Mainstage the next day perhaps!??

Sunday 17th June.

Sunday definitely had to be my favourite for music. Having heard great things about Walls Of Jericho, I was pretty excited to see how hard  Candace Kucsulain can rock… and I can confirm, it’s pretty damn hard! This woman managed to provoke a very deep (if not a little drunk) conversation back at the campsite about the comparison of female hardcore vocalists compared to male. We came to an agreeance however that there need not be a comparison as she can hold the stage just the same as any other man in her genre of music. Their set was complied of energy, anger, excitement and full on mix of rock, punk and hardcore. Mindblowing.

Motley Crue treated us to a rather typical show, including lots of girls, girls, girls! Some half naked beauties danced around on stage with the Crue, whilst behind us above the bar, some more half naked ladies were shimmying and headbanging rather seductively in some rather skimmy latex undergarments! Like Steel Panther, Motley Crue didn’t pull out anything perticularly spectactular, but for me personally this is a band i’ve been waiting to see for years so I still stood there a little awestruck all the same. Playing some of their classics such as Wild Side, Girls Girls Girls, Dr Feelgood and Don’t Go Away Mad were definitely the biggest crowd pleasers and I’m always glad when a band plays some of their golden oldies no matter how sick of the songs they must be. They ended the show by throwing buckets of red paint over the audience, which seemed a bit of an anti-climax and a little pointless but unexpected all the same. I would recommend seeing them as their hits and showmanship is always a feelgood factor, but not the best of the weekend.

Girls, girls, half naked, girls.

And last but by no means least, Slash. This was DEFINITELY the highlight of the weekend. I’d been waiting to see slash not just for 3 days but for a good few years and he did not disappoint! Despite saying four words for the entire show… “Hello Hellfest” and “goodbye Hellfest”, he was amazing! And let’s face it, nobody goes to see the top hatted guitarist for his vocals, its all about those intense riffs and chords. Complimented by Myles Kennedy‘s incredible voice and his backing band, their performance was precision. The way Kennedy can hold a note is just as impressive as Slash’s ability to become one with his guitar, so you can imagine how their rendition of Paradise City went down… like a cold beer on a hot summers day. The crowd totally lost themselves and even Myles looked wide eyed and in awe of it’s reception. This show was definitely worth the wait and blew Guns N’ Roses TOTALLY out of the water. Slash, we salute you.

Slash and Myles, match made in vocal and guitar heaven.

So forget Christmas we are waiting  in anticipation until Hellfest 2013! SEE YOU THERE!

Reviewer: Lois Honeywill

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