Hellfest 2015: Day One

All the hellish action from the first day of Hellfest

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Following an airport scenario scarily reminiscent of Taken, we follow some plucky French lads and arrive in Clisson unscathed and unlikely to become part of a global sex-trafficking scandal. Which is fine by us; we’ve got some rock ‘n’ roll to do.

Sylosis [7] are brutalising Main Stage 02 as we make our way into the arena, serenading punters with their progressive thrash oddities. Their fourth record, Dormant Heart, is a genuine world beater; songs from the aforesaid opus contrast harshly with The Quireboys [6], who demand the entire audience shouts “YEE-HAW!” during Sweet Mary Ann. As you do.

Pomposity and excess are leaking through the borders of Clisson by the time We Are Harlot [8] slink on stage; a sterling cover of Queen’s Tie Your Mother Down proves that Danny Worsnop’s latest band are a capable bunch, while Dancing On Nails still makes us feel dirtier than Diglett in a dustbin.

At the aptly titled Warzone stage, Defeater [8] pummel the shit out of willing subjects, the lines to Bastards screamed back in all their conceptually marinated glory. Back on Mainstage 02, Godsmack’s [3] Load era Metallica worship gets old after about three seconds; complete with stale delivery and painfully generic stage banter, their set exudes less power than a hamster’s fart. Melechesh [8] swat away the stench of stale bum burps and deliver an artful 50 minutes of oriental-tinged black metal at the Temple stage.

Motörhead [7] reap a frankly ridiculous crowd; the songs speak for themselves, but Lemmy looks knackered. There’s two breaks in the set – filled by a guitar and drum solo respectively – and, following the legend’s recent health scare, we pray there’s more chapters left to fill in the bible of Motörhead.

We were supposed to be seeing Bloodbath but Lamb Of God [9] are on. Bollocks. Swings and roundabouts, innit. The Virginian groove metallers unleash new tune 512 and it’s made us ridiculously excited for the next album. Alice Cooper [9] follows – extravagant, extroverted and endlessly entertaining, the king of shock rock drags Hellfest through the hits and several onstage executions. He’s the consummate showman and panders to the fans’ needs, even playing Wicked Young Man.

Five Finger Death Punch [7] don’t get quite the adoration they revelled in at Download last week, making some of Ivan Moody’s singalong demands looking a bit silly. But sheer willpower prevails, and by the time they reach Burn MF, the crowd is converted and these Mad Max-esque bruisers have conquered Clisson.

Rob Halford’s vocals are, as some might say, ‘proper mint’. Yes, Judas Priest [9] are on blistering form tonight, with Halford’s Painkiller screams threatening to inflict a Mars Attacks! style death upon all in attendance. Still don’t understand why he doesn’t sing Electric Eye’s chorus, though…

It’s 1am and everyone’s going batshit for Slipknot [8] doing a scaled-down setlist. Even though People=Shit and Custer are blasphemously omitted, it’s still a rabid and powerful – if slightly complacent – outing from the Nine. People will lose their minds no matter what Slipknot play; Corey Taylor’s voice fails to pull off the verse-chorus transition through AOV and sounds a little strained, but nobody gives a shit. It’s Slipknot!

Stay tuned for reviews of the second and third days of Hellfest 2015.

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.