After two days full of loud music and drinks, eyes around camp were already a bit sleepy when Hammer entered the grounds for the Sunday. But despite a few mishaps from Slayer (who didn’t seem bothered about being there) or Jane’s Addiction (on autopilot), Hellfest once again lived up to its promises. And more.
There must be a reason why a band of Municipal Waste’s calibre ends up playing so early in the day, but they couldn’t care less. Even though they’re cut off for running over their allotted time, the lords of the pit (now with a second guitarist in tow) fire out over 15 thrashcore bullets at the speed of light.
There’s something super-cheesy about Skálmöld’s folk metal feast, and they’re just a few steps away from parody, but they know how to throw a party. And let’s face it, galloping guitars crossed with songs about drinking, fighting and everything else Vikings do, is going to work perfectly at any festival. With the sun shining at its fullest and a fresh beer in hand, this is a fucking great time.
To the uninitiated, The Skull are three former members of Trouble (Ron Holzner, Eric Wagner and Jeff Olson) and today they’re hurtling through not only some Trouble classics but a few originals too, taken from their 2014 debut in the exact same vein. Despite their newfound guitar duo showing little interest in an admittedly thin and unconcerned crowd, Wagner’s golden voice makes thirty-year-old doom nuggets like The Tempter still sound as menacing and foreboding as ever.
Entering the stage like they’re looking for a fight, you can almost smell the rancid flagrance of the DIY punk shows these young Texans used to call home. Hellfest marks the final date of Power Trip’s European tour and they deliver like it’s their final show ever. Conjuring images of ‘80s crossover and thrashcore, this band have it all: a singer that jumps around like a man possessed (when he’s not pouring down JD down his throat), absolutely killer mosh parts and an obvious desire to kill. So it’s a small wonder they have the craziest circle pit of the weekend. Municipal Waste, watch out: there are new kids on the block!
Not exactly a household name, but the Tennessee deathgrind mob are one of the must brutal bands of the weekend. Seven years after their initial split, they have reformed and despite their hair now being shorter, they still have that signature Neanderthalian finesse. Although it’s quite a bizarre yet bold move to see their former drummer now practicing his craft by tapping his fingers on an electronic pad. It’s not to everyone’s taste, but adds an extra later of oddness to their performance.
To say there’s an air of expectancy for Gojira is an understatement. This is their home turf, is their fourth Hellfest, and a massive turnout was worthy of a headliner. The band obviously know this and give it everything they possibly can. But with minimum stage effects and many new songs not everyone is yet familiar with, it’s over way too soon, leaving a sense of unfinished business. Come back soon!
While their studio output might not convince everybody, it’s in the live setting that Kadavar come to life. With the amount of facial hair on display you can barely seen the excitement on the band’s faces, but underneath the caveman-trapped-in-‘70s-clothes look, there’s a genuine rock band with killer tracks like Doomsday Machine and Last Living Dinosaur that roar almost as loud as the crowd.
Even though the five tracks culled from Dystopia knock the crowd on its arse, it’s hard not to wish for more early songs from Megadeth’s extensive back-catalogue – especially with Kiko Loureiro on lead guitar and Soilwork’s Dirk Verbeuren on drums, this could be Deth’s best line-up for a long time. Dave Mustaine has been struggling vocally lately, but this afternoon he’s much more at ease; even letting the mask slip for a second as he dedicates Tornado Of Souls to their former skinbasher Nick Menza.
What. A. Show. One of this festival’s true highlights, Ghost are show the rest of the world just why they’ve grown exponentially in just a matter of years. They’ve got style, a solid collection of hits, and a brilliant engaging and charismatic frontman – with a rather classy tuxedo. But its their sense of showmanship that makes them shine in front of 50,000 people. After a parody of the Eucharist with the ‘Sisters of Sin’ distributing wine to the front row during Body And Blood and the inclusion of a full children’s choir on the grandiloquent finale of Monstrance Clock (which Papa Emeritus III introduces as a ‘celebration of female orgasm’), Ghost really are a giant in the making.
The honour of closing Hellfest falls to King Diamond, who have drawn in thousands of screaming metalheads, which is no mean feat for a Sunday evening. Even if KD’s stage set isn’t as impressive as Ghost’s (a band they no doubt influenced, at least conceptually), it still looks like a setting from a Hammer horror flick, and for good reason as King Diamond are playing Abigail in its entirety.
A week ago King turned 60, but his falsetto has remained uncannily untouched. Even if some members of the audience smirk at the outlandish use of a doll or a cheap coffin, he has so much charisma that you’re whisked away from reality like you’re watching a Christopher Lee flick. And how many so-called rockstars will spend ten solid minutes in the cold thanking every single person in the front row after the show at 2am? Hero.