Hellfest 2017 Review – Day 1 of 3 : Too many bands, too little time!

Welcome to hell ! This year again, almost 60,000 metalheads reached their shrine : Clisson, where takes place one of the main metal events of the year in Europe : Hellfest. The festival has welcomed the biggest names in extreme music over the last ten years, and this year’s lineup won’t stop them getting bigger and bigger.

Through those three days, we’ve seen headliners such as Rob Zombie, Aerosmith, Rancid, Linkin Park, Prophets of Rage, and, what’s one of this festival’s strengths, more confidential ones, which makes this -more than 160 bands- bill one of the strongest that you’ll see this summer.

11AM and already in the pit, how could an editor be more devoted to The New Fury ? French rock/metal band Sidilarsen is the first one to play on the Main Stage 1 and a fair amount of people came to party with our very own self-proclaimed Dancefloor Bastards. With a positive energy and the band’s ability to write big choruses, the day couldn’t have begun in a better way, and let’s hope that this first appearance at Hellfest won’t be the last !

Next on the Main Stage 2, an oriental dancer prepares the audience to the arrival of Myrath and their Tunisian Metal. Prior to their European tour with Epica, the band can give us a taste of their interesting and intriguing blending of progressive music, heavy metal, and oriental influences. Zaher Zorgati (lead vocals) delivers a performance on point, and even if the show is a bit too polished to be really rock’n roll, you can’t deny the originality of this band, and they totally deserve their place at Hellfest.

Right after, we’re heading to the Main Stage 1 to see Betraying The Martyrs. The band is playing for the second time here, and they’re here to show that the new wave of metal bands doesn’t have to blush compared to more experienced bands. The communication with the audience -both in French and English- is on point and the energy spent on stage is shared with the crowd, as the pit starts getting wild. As a bonus, the band has chosen this show to shoot their next video, which gave the public one more reason to get crazy !

7 songs in, and the band wlaks out of stage, with a big smile on, and you can tell that they had a hell of a time !

 

Next  band playing is Textures, and this metal band, tainted with progressive influences from Netherlands has 40 minutes to show their talent, and to showcase the efficiency of a few of their songs from Phenotype, their last album to date, released last year. No particuliar performance on stage, the band delivers their heavy and precise sound to an audience a bit less numerous than during Betraying The Martyrs, but this is still good, for a technical band playing this early on a main stage.

 

The first big revelation of this edition takes the stage by storm at 3PM, and it’s Avatar, a circus metal band from Göteborg, Sweden. Despite having released no less than six records since 2006, it really is since this year, and their latest effort, Feathers and Flesh, that the band knows a real success over the world. This kind of band is always a hit-or-miss, and the imagery sometimes isn’t enough to make a show good. But in this case, musicians are at the top, the performance is extremely on point and the new songs fit perfectly into the show, as they allow the band to communicate with the audience. Our new favorite clowns made a strong impression and let’s hope that we will hear from them even more in the future !

Next band on our list, French punk-rock titans Tagada Jones. The band is the modern incarnation of the French punk scene, thanks to a solid discography, and ability to write huge hooks and an energy that’s been growing through the years. Add a burning political context and you get why Tagada Jones is an essential band today. Niko still has it, hitting all these notes so perfectly, the latest members of the band Joby and Warner have added some fresh blood, and they are now getting bigger and bigger, as the Warzone is full, more than during any other set this weekend on this stage.

 

Right after our interview with Alestorm, we’re heading to the Valley to see the end of Baroness‘ show, and the biggest regret that I had during this weekend is to have missed the first half of it, as every song sounds bigger than life, the sound is perfect, and the band is as charismatic as it can be. Every song is a triumph, and rarely have I seen so much emotion after each song at Hellfest. This band is gold, and we won’t be waiting very long to get to see them again, because this is the kind of show that we’re looking for when we go to festivals ! Perfect vocal harmonies, heavy riffs, a clean sound that’s almost as good as on record, and the band even managed to play one more song than what was planned, to the audience’s biggest pleasure !

So be sure that we’re going to write a full report for you as soon as we can see them on stage again !

 

Now it’s time for the first headlining bands to go live, and the first one of this list is one of the new wave of hard rock bands whoch popularity has been rising over the last few years : Sabaton.

The military themed act plays in front of a large audience, which is not surprising, after having been a good surprise three years ago here at Hellfest, and a headlining European tour last fall. Unluckily for us, their music doesn’t really catch us, and the epicness of their sound -which is undeniable- lacks a bit of power. Technically, everything is executed perfectly, and you can feel that the show is on point, but maybe a little bit too much.

And when you’re looking for spontaneity, all you have to do is to go and see Rancid. Punk-rock veterans are playing here for the first time ever, and to say that their coming was awaited is such an euphemism ! No bullshit, no theatrical tricks, only music, love, energy, and 22 songs packed up in an hour long set. Each song sounds like an anthem, and makes the crowd go wild. People are thrown back into their teenage years, you can see the pit dancing, moshing, singing along, and even everything at once ! Of course the biggest part of the set list is made of songs from their classic album « … And Out Come the Wolves » , but even the newest songs (« Ghost of a Chance », …) fit very well in this collection of hits. The whole band seems to have fun, and to love the audience’s reaction, and the only thing we can wonder is when will Rancid be back at Hellfest because guys, we need this over and over again !

 

And because of the quality of this show -we didn’t expect this to be THAT good- we had to miss the beginning of Rob Zombie‘s performance, which we planned to see in its entirety. Our favorite living dead brought his full US production tonight, exclusively for us, and the show looks gorgeous ! The scene is visually original, and Rob Zombie is in a good day tonight, switching from his solo songs, some from the White Zombie era, and two covers (School’s Out and Blitzkrieg Bop) with an impressive ease. This show is one of the rock’n roll highlights of the weekend, and when Get Your Boots On comes in, the only thing you can do is to get your moves like Jagger. Period.

With such a concert, Rob Zombie clearly deserves its place among the biggest names of the scene, and for a band that can fit under the shock rock label (among others), the sound lives up to the imagery, which is the core of a good rock show.

 

What’s harder than having to choose between two great bands playing at the same time ? Having to choose between THREE great bands ! And when you’ve been at least once at Hellfest, you know how cruel life can be sometimes ! So, right now, three bands are playing, and we have to make a choice between Alestorm, In Flames and The Damned. So we’ll be skipping The Damned, and first we’re heading to the Temple to see the beginning of Alestorm‘s set and I’m not the only one who had made this choice as people are gathering outside the tent, like two years ago when the band played on this same stage. Let’s hope that next time they’ll be boarding one of the main stages !

The pirates still aren’t on stage but the atmosphere is already hot in the crowd. With an album that broke into the charts a few weeks prior to Hellfest, the band is ready to sail across the world, especially at Warped Tour this summer, and their energetic music is the perfect way to end up this first day of heavy music. Every chorus is an anthem, every song brings joy, thirst and manly brotherhood in the public and at times you’ll see people crowdsurfing, or rowing, dancing, jumping, …

Mexico, Shipwrecked, Alestorm, Drink, No Grave But The Sea, all these tracks work out very well live, and by judging from the crowd’s reaction, you’re going to hear these songs in a lot of festivals across the world ! Oh wow !

 

Last band of the day, and we’re heading to the Main Stages to see the end of In Flames‘ concert. The atmosphere isn’t as crazy as a few minutes back, but still the Finnish act is here to deliver a great show ! Anders Fridén’s voice is still as good as two years ago, the songs are powerful and the ambience is cold (blue lights, smoke, …), and all of this manages to create an intimacy (with us and the thousands of people packed in front of the stage) that gives a human side to the band, more in the emotion than anything else.

 

With a good part of their discography represented in their set list, In Flames gave their audience a really good show, one that doesn’t really compare to any other show that we’ve seen this weekend, without being really able to say why.

 

12 concerts in, and we’re really exhausted. This festival is a hell of a ride, three days of shows, from 10AM to 2PM, and with this warmth (this edition has been the hottest since the festival was created), we knew that the nightmare had only just begun. Welcome to Hellfest !