Hellfest Festival 2014

Hellfest Festival 2014 – Saturday 21st June

Sweating out of a tent before 8am is a good sign of another blazer of a day. It’s not a good way to wake up. Neither is the news that apparently Aerosmith have called a blanket ban on Mainstage 1 photography for the whole day. Hey guys, you do know you’re not on until 11pm yeah? But I guess all those 11am photos would just cause havoc.

The Big Bird....
The Big Bird….

No matter what the time of day though, or the temperature, the songs of Led Zeppelin are always a winner. Even when sung by someone else. As the name suggests Lez Zeppelin (3/5) are an all-girl tribute, and they not only show that these songs translate, but on the whole they play them pretty good. Only problem is whilst the songs are easily main stage material, the girls aren’t yet. Put them on at Metal Corner in the campsite and they’d go down a storm, but right now they seem a tad overpowered up there.

Lez Zeppelin setlist
Immigrant Song (Led Zeppelin cover)
The Ocean (Led Zeppelin cover)
Dazed And Confused (Jake Holmes cover)
Rock and Roll (Led Zeppelin cover)
Black Dog (Led Zeppelin cover)

And taking over the second Main Stage directly after them are US metalcore misfits Miss May I.

View from the photo pit:

Melodic metalcore from Miss May I from Ohio. They draw in a fair sized crowd for what is still wakey wakey time for most of the festival go’ers and are well received. Not one of my aves from the weekend though I’m afraid….

Miss May I
Miss May I

Miss May I setlist
Refuse to Believe
Relentless Chaos
Masses Of A Dying Breed
Day By Day
Hero With No Name
Hey Mister

There’s no denying that Bach continues to be the set bar on those classic tracks, but Skid Row (4/5) are not out of voice. In fact Johnny Solinger is doing a pretty fine job, although it’s hard to imagine any wrong on an afternoon like this. The whole set is solid rock, but it’s those hits like “Big Guns” and “18 and Life” that really do the business and closer “Youth Gone Wild” still sounds sufficiently angry. When you forget all the talk of “reunions” and commentary, and focus on those stood listening it’s truly the music that says it all. And it says that Skid Row still have some force.

Skid Row setlist
Let’s Go
Big Guns
Piece Of Me
18 And Life
Riot Act
Kings Of Demolition
Monkey Business
Get The Fuck Out
Slave To The Grind
Youth Gone Wild

At the same time French progressively dark metallers Supuration (4/5) are keeping out of the sun at The Altar. The French masses are fantastic at supporting their own and Supuration are no exception with a good number crowding round the stage.


Seriously the rest of us could do well to learn by their example. The band growl and rasp their way through the vocals parts, before breaking into some deep singing, and musically it’s a diverse palette that asks a touch more from the listener than just nod head banally. Particular note to the drums which manage to leave the strongest impression.


Supuration setlist
The Elevation
Soul’s Speculum
1308 JP 08
The Cube
Through the Transparent Partitions
Spherical Inner-Sides
The Accomplishment
The Dim Light

Also playing to a sun-burned mass are punk rockers Burning Heads over at The Warzone.

View from the photo pit:

Burning Heads are an old school French punk band from the 80’s. They draw in a very decent crowd, obviously helped by the fact that they’re French. Spitited performace, enjoyable stuff and the crowd lap it up!

Burning Heads
Burning Heads


Sleaze rock in all its glory will always fly, and Buckcherry (3.5/5) are one of those that keep on waving that flag. Frontman Josh Todd gradually sheds layers, as the band get rock n rolling. Amongst their own tracks they chuck in snippets from the likes of AC/DC and Rolling Stones. ‘That song’ closes it though, and it’s all theirs.


“Crazy Bitch” kicks in and it seems everyone was waiting for just that as the pits start to churn and the feet jump. The downside of such a monster hit is that the rest of the set sags a little under the inevitable knowledge that it’ll be aired, and unfortunately that’s exactly what Buckcherry faced today.


The rock vibe continues, although takes a slightly different path with the arrival of Walking Papers (3.5/5). Although not his project from the start, Duff McKagan is the big draw here and he continues to do good with the perfect soundtrack to a sunny afternoon. The lovely thing about a band with just a debut is that the set is all from that, a one album rendezvous that you know by heart and can completely indulge in. The sad thing is I’m not sure how many of those watching have given the band their time previously and so it’s lost on them a touch. Hopefully though a few more people will look them up on the way home.

Walking Papers setlist
Leave Me In The Dark
Red Envelopes
Red And White
Your Secret’s Safe With Me
Capital T
Two Tickets And A Room

Those who like it heavier might want to visit The Altar where US death metal act Incantation are getting chunky.

View from the photo pit:

Incantation play some interesting technical death metal with enough variation and hooks to keep the interest. Some nice slow passages and breakdowns to keep me and the assembled crowd smiling despite the dust and heat outside!


Incantation setlist
Shadows Of The Ancient Empire
Vanquish In Vengeance
Emaciated Holy Figure
Horns Of Eradication
The Ibex Moon
Carrion Prophecy
Impending Diabolical Conquest
Lead To Desolation

Whilst We Came As Romans are doing something noisy over on the Main Stage 2, Witch Mountain (4.5/5) are casting a spell in The Valley tent. Not so much toil and trouble, as doom and blues though, which really lets rip sometimes in a mass outpouring of guitars.

Witch Mountain
Witch Mountain

They’re a weird combination of having been around a long time, and having had most of their impact in more recent years, but it’s all completely deserved. Particularly following the arrival of Uta Plotkin on vocals. Damn that girl can sing, her voice suits the deep bluesy parts on “Never Know” and she can get it high too.

Witch Mountain
Witch Mountain

Witch Mountain setlist
Lanky Rae
Veil Of The Forgotten
Never Know
Wing Of The Lord

Another classic name on today’s line up Extreme (3/5) are perhaps the soft butter knife in the drawer of sharp metal ones, and their set list choice doesn’t dispute that fact. It makes for nice lazy listening, but not to lose your shit to. You can quite as easily lie down and let is wash over you, as actively take a part in it, although the heat is definitely a factor in that. Of course classic screw-you track “Get The Funk Out” perks most people up a bit, but it’s not enough to change their overall fortunes.

Extreme setlist
Decadence Dance
When I’m President
It (‘s a Monster)
Kid Ego
Play With Me
More Than Words
Cupid’s Dead
Am I Ever Gonna Change
Flight of the Wounded Bumblebee / Get The Funk Out
Comfortably Dumb

Doing better are long-time stoners Acid King (4/5) up at the ever popular Valley tent. They’ve been putting some great bands on all weekend and these guys continue to up the ante. Despite minimal activity in recent years and a big gap since their last new material, they’re still drawing a crowd, proving that good music will always find ears to fill.

Acid King
Acid King

Grumbly, fuzzy, unrefined – it sometimes feels more like vibration given form than music proper as in the start of “Busse Woods”, and Lori S’ vocals can feel a bit detached but there’s real grip to it all which holds you tightly.

Acid King
Acid King

Acid King setlist
Busse Woods
2 Wheel Nation
Electric Machine
Sunshine And Sorrow
On To Everafter

Just across the way Swedish black metallers Shining are offering up something from the other side of the metal coin.

View from the photo pit:

Shining are surprisingly good tbh, big sound and an element of real darkness infused throughout the set. Niklas Kvarforth does an impressive job on the vocals, rolling around on the stage and putting his heart and soul into it.


Shining setlist
Han som hatar människan
Förtvivlan, min arvedel
Människa o’avskyvärda människa
Låt oss ta allt från varandra
For the God Below

With Status Quo rocking all over the world and playing sofa advert anthems, Protest The Hero (4/5) are bringing some uber technicality to The Warzone. Kicking off with Star Wars/Star Trek showdown anthem “Clarity” the band as ever sound great, and the banter from frontman Rody Walker continues to be a level above what others can muster. And it seems that despite Canada’s French connections Walker seems only able to muster a sentence that roughly translates as “Can I visit my little friend the toilet?”

Protest the Hero
Protest the Hero

Anyway… the departure of bass guru Arif Mirabdolbaghi earlier this year, sees previous stand-in Cam McLellan standing in and doing alright, even with the band throwing him “just checking” looks every now and then. “Sex Tapes”, “Bloodmeat”, “C’est La Vie” and the searing “Underbite” are all thrown out on a bed of mad guitar work in a set that is over far too quickly. Time to protest for some more.

Protest the Hero
Protest the Hero

Protest The Hero setlist
Bone Marrow
The Dissentience
C’est la Vie
Sex Tapes
Blindfolds Aside

Seriously who stuck Clutch (4.5/5) into The Valley tent? Maybe they misjudged the size of the crowd they’d draw, but now bursting at the seams doesn’t cover it. Although the crowd that encircles the tent goes too far back to even have a hope of seeing the band, goes part way into the gulf between this and the neighbouring Altar/Temple stages, they continue to come anyway.


Maybe it’s because Clutch pulled out last year due to personal reasons and no-one wants to miss them this year. Entering as always to Chuck Brown’s “We Need Some Money” Clutch take no prisoners from the word go with “The Mob Goes Wild” and “Earth Rocker” proving whether past or present, Clutch’s material is all gold. Although the band are still ostensibly touring the Earth Rocker album they continue to mix up the rest of the set with tracks like “Sidewinder.”


On the one hand the packed quarters makes their huge stoner groove cut twice as hard, but on the other for those way in the back it probably feels more like an exercise in neck watching.


Clutch setlist
The Mob Goes Wild
Earth Rocker
The Face
Gravel Road
Crucial Velocity
The Regulator
Mice and Gods
D.C. Sound Attack!
Electric Worry
One Eye Dollar
The Wolf Man Kindly Requests…

At the same time Hatebreed (4.5/5) continue to smash the main stage. Put this band on any time of the day and night, anywhere, and they’ll draw a pit. They’ll draw you a picture of a pit in a pit in a pit, and make it reality. “Just remember nobody gets hurt” reminds Jamey Jasta in a mini public service announcement before the band launch into another titanic-sized hardcore groove. At time the dust is so thick you can barely see the members on the stage, and it becomes all about the music, the spirit of which is completely captured in the poorly-lidded rage of “Destroy Everything”.

Hatebreed setlist
To The Threshold
Dead Man Breathing
Not One Truth
Everyone Bleeds Now
In Ashes They Shall Reap
The Language
Ghosts Of War (Slayer cover)
Last Breath
Tear It Down
Betrayed By Life
Honor Never Dies
Live For This
Empty Promises
Boundless (Time To Murder It)
I Will Be Heard
Destroy Everything

And once again The Temple is offering up Norwegian black metal, this time from Tsjuder.

View from the photo pit:

Out with the corpse paint, big pointy armbands and some nasty red lighting for Norways Tsjuder. Black metal with no frills tbh. OK if this is your bag but I think I’m off to see what else is going on round the site….


Tsjuder setlist
The Daemon Gate
The Daemon Throne
Kill for Satan (The King’s Birth)
Mouth of Madness
Unholy Paragon
Demonic Supremacy
Malignant Coronation
Sacrifice (Bathory cover)

Having had Sepultura yesterday, today we’ve got Soulfly (3.5/5) and that inevitably means that “Refuse/Resist” and “Roots Bloody Roots” make another appearance. Is it better with Max? Maybe if you’re worried about such things. These will always be his songs of course, but they’ll also always be Sepultura songs and as noted yesterday they’ve been doing them long enough without him. Soulfly’s own material should always be the biggest focus, and the tribal beats of “Back To The Primitive” and “Prophecy” are happily picked up by the crowd. And the drums are just immense – a wall of sound that ripples and makes the crowd bob up and down in its wake. A double closer of “Jumpdafuckup/Eye For An Eye” gets people doing just that, and with a final few bars of Iron Maiden they’re out of there leaving an already knackered crowd to scrape itself together.

Soulfly setlist
Cannibal Holocaust
Refuse/Resist (Sepultura cover)
Back To The Primitive
Seek ‘N’ Strike
Rise Of The Fallen
Roots Bloody Roots (Sepultura cover)
Jumpdafuckup / Eye For An Eye

Whilst the Cavalera treatment is going on, The Warzone is once again the site of some US hardcore antics – this time courtesy of Comeback Kid (3.5/5). It’s a bit tiresomely shouty by the end, with Andrew Neufeld just repeatedly yelling his heart out but there’s no denying the passion behind it.

Comeback Kid
Comeback Kid

And there’s some serious circle pits erupting out of the likes of bouncy “Wake The Dead” and “Broadcasting…” It’d have even more power in front of a completely committed crowd screaming every word back, as today some of that fire dissipates in the gaps between the already-fans and the checking-outers.

Comeback Kid
Comeback Kid

There’s also likely to be a lot of young faces just checking out Deep Purple (4/5) as one of those bands that you have to see, one of those rock pillars carved before you were even born. Sporting some neat purple-framed glasses, Ian Gillan’s voice sounds strong, even if he can’t quite reach those same heights these days. The band on the whole are tight as a new rubber band and finding it impossible to hide their smiles. Of course it’s the likes of “Strange Kind Of Woman” and “Space Truckin’” that get everyone singing. The danger with Deep Purple is that these songs are too familiar, that people can engage without really engaging. And then as the guitar riff opens “Smoke On The Water”, you aren’t just struck with the understanding of why everyone learns this one when they pick up a guitar, but because of the story it tells every time it’s played. They end with “Black Night” under a darkening sky and it is most definitely right.

Deep Purple setlist
Après Vous
Into The Fire
Hard Lovin’ Man
Strange Kind Of Woman
Uncommon Man
Perfect Strangers
Space Truckin’
Smoke On The Water
Green Onions (Booker T. & The MG’s cover)
Hush (Billy Joe Royal cover)
Black Night

Not only going up against Deep Purple, but also struggling a little to match Clutch’s sheer force of nature playing Monster Magnet (4/5) still pull out a healthy slice of stoner pie. With a bit more rock than some of The Valley’s previous players, they have the riffs to keep the unsure interested and when it all kicks in as on “Space Lord” you can hear the necks beside you crack.

Monster Magnet
Monster Magnet

Beautiful. If you’re looking for something to lose yourself to, loop your arms round your neighbours neck and jump and down to, and leave wearing a massive grin then you picked the right tent.

Monster Magnet
Monster Magnet

Monster Magnet setlist
Nod Scene
Dopes To Infinity
Twin Earth
Look to Your Orb for the Warning
Space Lord

And something different again is Eluveitie and their Swiss folk metal over at The Temple.

View from the photo pit:

Now this is more like it, Eluveitie combine some seriously heavy music with tunes that could floor an elephant. Combine this with a variety of instruments as eclectic as a hurdy gurdy, bagpipes, violin, tin whistles and you have a killer combination.


Chrigel Glanzmann is every bit the frontman as well as multi instrumentalist, and the whole band are squeaky tight. For me, probably the best band of the day….


Eluveitie setlist
Inis Mona
Gray Sublime Archon
A Rose For Epona
The Siege
Meet The Enemy
Quoth The Raven

Forget the other dimension intro footage, or the band’s sedate stroll on stage – Aerosmith (4/5) arrive with the screech of “I’m back” from Steven Tyler. Sporting a huge floppy black hat and new facial hair (which is not entirely uncreepy) he almost appears to be trying to channel a touch of Johnny Depp. “Back In The Saddle” to “Love In An Elevator”, “Cryin’” straight into “Livin’ On The Edge”… the band are magicians pulling not one hit out of their sleeve, but a whole string knotted together like Tyler’s flamboyant scarves.

The single crumb in the sheets is that the sound isn’t loud enough. Tyler himself wanders over to the Marshall stacks at the start, perhaps thinking the same. It means that sometimes the punches glance off instead of connecting, that the drums are receding thunder instead of full on storm and the guitar is fighting to assert itself. The biggest frustration about it all is that they sound great, and you wish everyone way in the back could get the full experience. By all rights Tyler’s voice should be buggered after all these years and his antics, but for reasons unexplained it just gets better. Bastard.

No photos of Aerosmith so you get Hellfests rather nice night time illuminations instead...
No photos of Aerosmith so you get Hellfests rather nice night time illuminations instead…

“I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing” begins the rundown of second half classics, culminating in a trilogy of “Dude (Looks Like A Lady)”, “Walk This Way”, and “Mama Kin” – three money’s-worth rock songs that you have to be dead not to want to move to. They’re also a fine end to a set that thumbs its nose at anyone who think Aerosmith are all one thing or another.

“You didn’t fucking think we were going anywhere did you” announces Tyler as the band return for the encore. “Sorry I don’t speak French, but I do speak music” he adds as he fires up “Dream On” on the piano right at the end of the ramp. And judging by the crowd screams they understand that language. Bit of a bass solo from Tom Hamilton and “Sweet Emotion” says an extended goodbye, before the confetti guns go off, and everyone leaves a bit more shiny – inside and out.

Aerosmith setlist
Back In The Saddle
Train Kept A-Rollin’
Eat The Rich
Love In An Elevator
Oh Yeah
Livin’ On The Edge
Last Child
Freedom Fighter
Same Old Song And Dance
Rats In The Cellar
I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing
No More No More
Come Together
Dude (Looks Like A Lady)
Walk This Way
Mama Kin
Dream On
Sweet Emotion

Although it’s dark out Florida punk rockers Against Me! are bringing a touch of sunshine to The Warzone.

View from the photo pit:

Some angry punky metal makes it to the mainstage and while Against Me! are never going to be the most popular band you’ll see at Hellfest, you can’t deny that there is something very honest about what they do. They certainly get my attention for a few minutes….

Against Me!
Against Me!

Old Phil can’t stay away from Hellfest after popping up every-bloody-where last year. Not that we’re anything but pleased to see him again. Starting with a gentle pop at the organisers for sticking his new outfit, Philip H, Anselmo & The Illegals (4.5/5), on so late because “don’t they know how drunk I’ll be”, the set is a mix of classic Phil banter and snarling tracks.

Phil Anselmo and the Illegals
Phil Anselmo and the Illegals

With people lining the side of the stage, “like the old times” according to Phil, the guys not only rip their new material, such as “Betrayed” and title track “Walk Through Exits Only”, apart but also treat us to Superjoint Ritual cuts. And of course there is the inevitable Pantera tracks, which so many still crave, including the indomitable “A New Level” and personal fave “Dom/Hollow”, but also “Death Rattle Shake” which “Pantera never played live before or if we did I forgot”.

Phil Anselmo and the Illegals
Phil Anselmo and the Illegals

What really struck home though was Phil’s comment about how “these songs aren’t just mine, they’re all of yours” – never a truer word was spoken about music and if this weekend has confirmed anything so far it is just that.

Phil Anselmo and the Illegals
Phil Anselmo and the Illegals

Philip H. Anselmo & The Illegals setlist
Hellbound (Pantera cover)
Battalion Of Zero
Usurper Bastard’s Rant
Death Rattle (Pantera cover)
Fuck Your Enemy (Superjoint Ritual cover)
Waiting for the Turning Point (Superjoint Ritual cover)
Walk Through Exits Only
Irrelevant Walls and Computer Screens
Domination / Hollow (Pantera cover)
United & Strong (Agnostic Front cover)
A New Level (Pantera cover)

Going for double darkness with a midnight start and a space in The Temple tent Norwegian black metal legends Gorgoroth are painting it black.

View from the photo pit:

More Norwegian Black metal from Gorgoroth, lots of corpse paint and possibly the most dangerous armbands I’ve seen on a band! Where are the health and safety reps!! Competent and tight, lapped up by the crowd too….


Closing down the Main Stage 2 Avenged Sevenfold (3.5/5) start with a literal bang as fire blasts attempt to wake up any one dead on their feet. Which is probably quite a few at this time. M. Shadows’ stage chatter sounds a touch like a man who just turned up and scanned the programme as he arrived reeling off the two acts before him “Wow what a line up – Deep Purple, Aerosmith, we’re Avenged Sevenfold.” Those who have stuck around get a solid performance and those with the energy throw it about for hits like “Bat Country”. Marmite newbies such as “Hail To The King” don’t sound too bad out here in the dead of night, and of course there’s a dedication to The Rev, which reminds us that they still carry that loss heavily. There are worse ways to end a night than with hard rock-dash-metal, but Sevenfold can’t quite match up to the huge performances before them.

Avenged Sevenfold setlist
Shepherd Of Fire
Critical Acclaim
Bat Country
Hail To The King
Doing Time
Buried Alive
So Far Away
This Means War
Unholy Confessions



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