Research has shown that two specific demographics love fireworks. Children and metal fans.
It’s a good job then, that this year’s pyrotechnics display at Hellfest are particularly impressive. There’s a huge, explosive tribute to Lemmy soundtracked by Motörhead which ramps up the emotions way into the skies above Clisson, following a day of vegan blast beats, punk and desert rock.
Here are the 10 best bands we saw before some lit that fireworks display fuse and ran for cover…
In less than a minute, Cattle Decapitation mark their territory with an evil concoction of death metal and grind. During their short, brutal set, singer Travis Ryan remains the focal point throughout. When he’s not spitting his lungs out, pouring water over his head, or bending his body into unusual yoga basics, his ability to go from pig squeals to deep grunts keep the thousands of eyes trained on the stage.
Despite most of the kids in the crowd knowing nothing more than Discharge’s name and logo, the band raise the d-beat high and proud. Sounding much tighter and more together than back in 1982, they tear holes through Hell On Earth and Never Again, before going in for the kill with Protest & Survive.
The Massachusetts noisefiends have always been tied to the grind movement, but there’s always been a more progressive edge to their output. Unfortunately some of their experimental leanings are sadly lost on a stage that feels slightly too big for them, but Katherine Katz – who might be small, but sounds like hell – still manages to ensnare the audience.
If you’re a longterm fan, you can’t help but have mixed feelings towards Entombed AD. While they’ve injected a genuine sense of urgency and vitality into their 20-year-old tunes (and LG Petrov is still the Ozzy Osbourne of death metal), it feels rather odd to see them rip through Stranger Aeons from Clandestine – an album none of the band’s five members feature on.
With The Dead
You don’t mosh to With The Dead, it’s basically a funeral procession fuelled by anger and frustration. Despite doom working much better at midnight under a full moon, it’s great to see Lee Dorrian back doing what he does best – shedding a desperate light on heavy music’s darkest alley.
For reasons known only to himself, Joe Satriani has arrived onstage dressed in a jacket that appears to be made of baking foil. Today, he’s sandwiched between Archgoat and Asphyx, and with drummer Marco Minnemann in tow, he shreds his way through his soaring instrumental classics such as Flying In A Blue Dream, Ice 9, Satch Boogie and Surfing With The Alien. Summer Song still makes you want to drive a Cadillac through California with the sole intention of ordering an In-N-Out Burger and an ice cold shake. Maybe have some fries too. Because the weather’s perfect.
Finally, Pete ‘Commando’ Sandoval is back onstage after years of health problems. And yes, he may have turned his back on his former antics as a newborn Christian (with the word ‘god’ written in capital letters on his hat), but his blasts – and there are many to be found on this playthrough of 1989 classic World Downfall – are still menacing. Although it is a shame that his two chosen sidemen may not have what it takes to pay After World Obliteration justice.
Greg Anderson’s Earth-shattering guitar tone and Pete Stahl’s joyful exuberance is a strange combination on paper, but it’s what makes Goatsnake so special. With the sound of the Sunn O))) maestro’s gargantuan guitar locking with Greg Rogers’ groove, Pete’s busy spilling bottles of wine to a kickass Easy Greasy. Spellbinding.
Next to Phil Anselmo and Max Cavalera, John Garcia is Hellfest’s other in-house musician; appearing on the bill nearly every year in one form or another. Today he’s reunited his late turn of the millennium outfit that put him back on the saddle, and it’s like they never stopped playing together. Guitarist Dave Angstrom seems especially touched by the reception, and by the time they put the final nail in the coffin with Angry Americans, there are some watery eyes around – and not just in the crowd.
The banner says ‘Forty and Fuck it!’ and they mean it – this is Twisted Sister’s farewell tour and they go out all guns blazing. Even though France has never been a stronghold for Twisted Sister, they more than justify their headline slot tonight. Granted, Jay Jay French can’t really hide his age and fatigue any more and even with Mike Portnoy on the drums, they sometimes sound a bit tired… But then they’ve got Dee fucking Snider, a man that could get a morgue to dance! And to finish us off, Phil Campbell joins TS on stage for Shoot Her Down before paying tribute to Lemmy with a blistering version of Motörhead’s Born To Raise Hell. Wow.