Your heretical Hellfest playlist

We’ve checked. We’ve double checked. We’ve got our mums to check. Everything is packed: sun cream, clean socks and enough toilet roll to stage an ancient Egyptian pantomime. All we need now is a playlist for the flight over to Hellfest; here’s a sordid selection of twenty bands who’ll be desecrating Western France come the weekend.

WE ARE HARLOT – Dancing On Nails We just mentioned sordid, and it doesn’t get much dirtier than this; We Are Harlot are the embodiment of every sleazy chat-up line you’ve heard in your life, from the confines of your local to the vacuous, soul-sucking stage of Take Me Out. Dancing On Nails’ synthy, glam-driven melody is unrivalled in its catchiness and will haunt you like a silent fleet of pubic lice.

MELECHESH – Lost Tribes While some see Enki as Melechesh’s most mainstream disc to date – but really, how can Middle Eastern extreme metal be classed as ‘mainstream’?! – it’s still an opus brimming with black metal brilliance. Lost Tribes features a stereotypically shouty guest spot from Max Cavalera, whose band Cavalera Conspiracy also appear this weekend. He should definitely do a guest spot. Definitely.

**MOTORHEAD – Overkill **It’s Motorhead. You know this one. The one that isn’t Ace Of Spades.

ALICE COOPER – The Black Widow We could have chosen anything from Trash or Billion Dollar Babies, but the Coop’s debut foray into solo territory packs this gem, which turns 40 this year. The creepy choir of kids, Alice’s haunting croon and the guitar solo pulled off by the late, inimitable Dick Wagner all culminate in one of the eeriest – yet undeniably catchy – numbers in the shock rocker’s catalogue.

CRADLE OF FILTH – Nocturnal Supremacy ‘96 They get a lot of abuse flung in their direction, but Cradle of Filth have crafted some utterly devastating extreme metal in their time. Nocturnal Supremacy ‘96 is a slightly tweaked rendition of the 1995 version; you’ve still got Dani Filth’s face-flaying screams, heaps of atmosphere and the greatest twin-lead riff Cradle ever shat onto tape.

**DEAD KENNEDYS – Kill The Poor **Is it really Dead Kennedys without Jello Biafra? As The Rock would say: IT DOESN’T MATTER. They’re on at silly o’ clock in the night and you’ll be too drunk to care (and fuck). Get some proper punk in you and keep your fingers crossed for this cheerful little number.

HAKEN – Darkest Light Pointless fret-wanking to some and technical ecstasy to others, prog metal is a divisive beast. Haken’s militaristic style is a tad more rigid than others; splashes of Dream Theater are more than apparent here. Whatever your opinion on prog, be safe in the knowledge that a home-grown UK act will be smashing the main stage of Hellfest this Friday.

AIRBOURNE – Stand Up For Rock ‘N’ Roll One of the mightiest opening tracks from one of the mightiest debuts rock ‘n’ roll has offered this side of the millennium. Even if you’re one of those people who think Airbourne are just AC/DC on fast-forward, you’ll be biting your fingernails and gnawing your hand off as Joel O’Keeffe scales whatever lofty heights France has to offer.

**ENSIFERUM – Two Of Spades ** Folk metal is a right laugh. It’s brilliant. While Ensiferum are less hurdy-gurdy and more heavy hitting,_ Two Of Spades_ has a whiff of Turisas’ Rasputin cover to it. We’re told that disco is dead, but nobody thought to ride north and tell this lot; just let them do their thing and don’t spoil the fun.

BODY COUNT – Cop Killer Long before he took a Suicidal Tendencies tune and spat lyrics about Oprah and vegans on top of it, Ice-T flirted with controversy on Cop Killer. It’s pretty obvious why, and even though Body Count’s songs could probably be played by a small dog with big dreams, the impact isn’t lost one bit.

ZZ TOP – Sharp Dressed Man Billy Gibbons and Dusty Hill famously turned down a million dollars from Gillette to shave their beards – this was back when money was worth something and you didn’t have to take out a mortgage on a Freddo bar. Billy and Dusty didn’t need the money. They had their beards and they had their suits. They were – and still are – extremely sharp dressed men.

FAITH NO MORE – Digging The Grave To pick just one Faith No More song would be absurd, but Digging The Grave is here because we really, really, really want them to play it.

VENOM – Black Metal Coiners of the term ‘black metal’. Purveyors of noise jettisoned looser and faster than a dodgy kebab the morning after. Cronos’ cohorts may have fluctuated over the years but the dude still stands for what he stood for all those years ago, and the musicianship has improved significantly. This being said, we can’t wait for them to tear into Black Metal.

TRIBULATION – Holy Libations Once exuders of gritty death metal and now pasty preachers of gnarled, morbid ‘70s rock with edges designed to impale, Tribulation are the conduit between Deep Purple and Deicide. The Children Of The Night is set to do huge things for this band, so they’re well worth investigating.

CARACH ANGREN – There’s No Place Like Home Sadistic storytellers Carach Angren have seemingly been ostracised by the br00tal underground legions of Kvlt Klvb for, er, writing content considered too grim. While genocide, Satanism and general nastiness are all go-to subjects, apparently a concept album that touches on domestic abuse isn’t okay. For anyone unfamiliar with the band, this is merely the symphonic black metallers expanding on the twisted, dark-as-moleskin fairytale template that’s emblazoned all of their previous albums.

EYEHATEGOD – Southern Discomfort Absolute filth.

ALESTORM – Hangover Last year, We Came As Romans serenaded Hellfest with their cover of The Wanted’s jizz-stain of a hit single, Glad You Came. This year, we hope Alestorm will right this wrong by blasting out their piratical, booty-shaking – ‘booty’ as in treasure, geddit? Geddit?! – folk metal cover of Taio Cruz’s drinking anthem.

SAMAEL – Mask Of The Red Death Quite possibly the most underrated, unappreciated black metal band of all time. Yeah, they’ve strayed from the nun-humping, goat-sacrificing path in recent years, but Switzerland’s Samael have never phoned it in and Ceremony Of Opposites is one of the crowning moments of black metal’s second wave – a movement which they helped usher in.

KORN – Dead Bodies Everywhere Nu metal’s beasts from Bakersfield were an unexpected highlight at 2013’s Hellfest – save for Danzig, of course – and when they dropped Dead Bodies Everywhere, a field full of beer-soaked, rain-sodden minds nigh on imploded.

SUPERJOINT RITUAL – The Alcoholik Philip, you rascal! We can’t get rid of you! You played two sets with Down and guested with Accept in 2013, and you delivered a shitfaced solo sermon last year! You loose cannon! You maverick! We wouldn’t have it any other way, though; Superjoint Ritual kick arse and we can’t wait to see them back in action.

Hellfest takes place in Clisson, France this weekend.

Alec Chillingworth

Alec is a longtime contributor with first-class BA Honours in English with Creative Writing, and has worked for Metal Hammer since 2014. Over the years, he's written for Noisey, Stereoboard, uDiscoverMusic, and the good ship Hammer, interviewing major bands like Slipknot, Rammstein, and Tenacious D (plus some black metal bands your cool uncle might know). He's read Ulysses thrice, and it got worse each time.