Saturday 22nd June
Whether you call it dragging or coaxing, Skindred (5/5) are the band to get people out of their tents come early morning. Perhaps that was the organiser’s cunning plan when they stuck the band in this slot, because the place is jumping. Skindred’s unique ragga/rock mix is heavier than it should be and groovier than most, whilst Benji woo’s the crowd effortlessly. There’s a lot of love in here. Particularly when ‘Pressure’ drops. Get that band a later billing cause 10.30am is just embarrassing.
So yeah we can tell why Black Sabbath chose Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats (3.5/5) as their UK support.
Their psychedelic doom pervades the mind, casting its spell as the band pick away at their vintage instruments. Unfortunately there’s just a bit too much of a dreamy quality to it, so that under its warm canvas, the tent seems full of almost-drowsers. Hey they’re probably still appreciating it, but it’s a shame when a band of this quality find their fuzz lost in a mental fug.
Whilst today features a heavy prevalence of nu-metal unseen since the early 90s, with P.O.D, Papa Roach and Coal Chamber all down the main stages, Down (4/5) just don’t give a fuck about following form. Their set also provides the first sighting in a weekend that quickly becomes ‘Where’s Phil?’ Speaking of – he seems as though he’s been partaking pre-set but it’s not wrecked his voice yet. Dedicating ‘Lifer’ to Dime, he croons his way through ‘Stone The Crow’, smokes ‘Bury Me In Smoke’, and screeches the chorus of ‘Losing All’. There’s no such thing as back-up in Down either as Pepper Keenan and Kirk Windstein play a blinder – nothing flashy, but a performance that’ll you’re glad to have seen.
Another change in schedule sees an early Red Fang (3.5/5) set.
It’s packed enough to suggest everyone got the memo, or are just lucky enough to be here. We’re feeling short set syndrome again, but what we get is damn fine including ‘Good To Die’, which is almost as much solo as anything else, and ‘Malverde’ which demands you bang your head. Sometimes there’s nothing better than a dose of heavy rock and if it can get the stoners jumping it’s something a little special.
“Balls To The Wall!” – Accept (4/5) have got yours in a vice and they’re giving them the gentlest of squeezes. You could come and watch Accept on the basis of their contribution to metal, in a kind of schooling learn-your-history way, but that’s no fun. You need to lose yourself to them, suck in that metal, and then you might understand the reason for that legacy. Oh and there’s Phil Anselmo cropping up again adding guest vocals on the last track ‘Fast As A Shark’. These are the kind of performances that are only born out of festivals when bands meet their heroes and make fantasies come true in one fell swoop.
It only seems right that My Dying Bride (3.5/5) are performing undercover where they can ramp up the atmosphere to full effect.
The choice of tent though must have been difficult but their gothic traits have seen them at the Altar rather than the Valley where the other doom kids play.
The instrumentation is fantastic here, but the anguished singing gets a bit constrictive after a while. A bit like being buried alive – air is needed.
Outside conditions are about as perfect as they could get (well aside from another nope on the photo front) – the end of the sunshine, open spaces, big crowds – so how come ZZ Top (3/5) are lagging like a car running near empty? They’ve never been the most active on-stage but there’s no hint of spark with the crowd, you could be listening to the CD for all the interaction there is. ‘Gimme All Your Lovin’, ‘Sharp Dressed Man’, ‘La Grange’ and ‘Tush’ – the crowd clearly love them, but there’s an air of social awkwardness stifling that enjoyment. In what appears to be an attempt to inject some visuals into the mix, old ZZ Top videos play in the background but their repetitive themes of cars, girls, the same girl, means they don’t so much for anyone.
Their battlecry rolls over the crowd, taken up and added to by the voices of those it passes above. With an atmosphere built out of folky-melody Finntroll (4/5) take up the Temple. Whistles and cheers add to the noise of clapping hands. If you haven’t got it, Finntroll are warmly received with people not sure whether to reel or mosh. Both at once seems preferable. The harsh vocals are initially odd set to those folk tunes, but don’t doubt that it works. I would say that you can bet on this being some of the most jolly melodies of the weekend but then NOFX are playing. Ripping on Kiss, who are playing at the same time over on the main stages, perhaps they feel a little jealous being way off at the Warzone. Still for a lot of people here, where they are the party is, and then guys clearly revel in their good time reputation.
When one does it, they all do. I guess that’s why they call it the band wagon. As such the rest of the main stage bands have laid down their own no photo rules. Which seems particularly cruel because Kiss (4.5/5) are a band of visuals. You hear Kiss, you see Kiss. Even your mum recognises that make up. Their stage shows are legendary, and Hellfest only adds a further layer to that legend. An underlining of the awesomeness. Confetti cannons, bazookas, Gene squirting fake blood and giving evils most black metal bands would recoil from, drums that rise and fall, and Paul Stanley taking a zip wire ride over the crowd – it bears a lot of the hallmarks of their past Download performances, but it’s everything you would expect from a spectacle such as Kiss.
With a set front-loaded with oldies Korn continues the nu-metal romance for many over at the main stage, whilst Bad Religion seem slightly uncomfortable with their surroundings, this being a metal fest and all, but ever the pros rise above. But it’s Morbid Angel (4/5) who truly bring this evening to an end. They don’t need the dark of the Altar, seeing as even in summer night comes by 1am, but those additional confines helps. Fast and furious doesn’t cut the mustard with this, those solos seem faster than any brain could process them, and the drums are getting carried away with themselves. The only negative thing is the crowd itself, which for the most part seems happier to stand and watch. Sure it’s late, but it’s Hellfest – find those spare reserves and get circling.