English festivals? Who needs ‘em? France plays host to one of, if not the best metal/hardcore/loud music festivals in the world every June, and here’s six reasons why going to Hellfest instead of staying at home recovering from Download Festival was a very fucking good idea.
Six sets that made Hellfest 2012 better than what you did that weekend
1) KING DIAMOND
Without a shadow of a doubt, the majority of the “Umm… what?” moments of Hellfest 2012 were handed out by King Diamond on Friday night. Starting behind a sort of fence-cum-cage thing, the triple heart attack survivor basically delivered the kind of metal, weirdness, theatrics and upside down crosses that parents have nightmares about. It was certainly something you don’t get to see all that often – glorious in the most deranged way possible.
2) DEATH ANGEL
The last thing Death Angel’s 1987 album The Ultra-Violence is in 2012 is “cool”. The title track is a ten-minute instrumental, it’s older than your average Facebook user and it’s the sort of thrash metal that is largely for those who throw horns and headbang when listening back to their own riffs played back through Garageband. For ALL of those reasons, their set at Hellfest is just perfect. The sun is blasting, the beer is supplied in jug measures and you could probably hear the second stage from London.
3) THE BRONX
Friday’s Main Stage 02 (yes, there are two main stages) featured a fair bit of Punk Rock, and there are few better at it than The Bronx. Matt Caughthran always looks a little bit awkward when he can’t get in the front row’s faces, and once he manages to correct this the band are on top form. It’s not quite Satan-hailing thrash, but it’s certainly a fantastic afternoon dose of the fast stuff.
5) WALLS OF JERICHO
Metalcore bands can sometimes be a bit hit or miss when put next to the more “traditional” metal acts at festivals, but Walls Of Jericho managed to turn the crowd on Main Stage 02 in rabid animals with ease and stole a fair chunk of the show with circle pits even Hatebreed didn’t manage to rival. Proof, if needed, that the band are still one of the essential bands in modern metalcore. An incredible amount of energy on both sides of the barrier made their set an essential watch.
It’s 1am on the second day of a festival. In the UK you’re either in your tent passed out, around your camp site playing back TV theme tunes, in the Silent fucking Disco or walking around being a nuisance. At Hellfest, you’re watching Refused play to 6000 people in a tent. Not only that, you’re watching Refused absolutely slay for an hour at the end of a day of metal and hardcore that started well over 13 hours ago. The set isn’t too different from the one they delivered at Groezrock in April or at Download the week before, but it’s thunderously well delivered and well worth missing Axl and friends for (at least ten times over).
6) CHILDREN OF BODOM
As Ozzy And Friends started on the main stage, the thunderstorms that the heat had been threatening to deliver all Sunday finally arrived in a big way. It was almost fitting that the heavens opened on the Prince Of Darkness after such a face melting weekend of evil, but Childen Of Bodom certainly won’t have complained at the ensuing dive for cover. A fair few underdressed types ran to The Altar seeking cover and inadvertently made a fantastic choice in the process: Ozzy’s vocals weren’t holding at all as well as with Black Sabbath’s set at Download last week, and Children Of Bodom were nothing short of incredible. They will have been fairly happy to a) be playing inside and b) tear the face off a few passers by as well as their own fairly sizeable crowd.
Here’s to Hellfest 2013!