Article+Photos by Luigi “Gee” Anzalone
Here I am, in my caravan, having just arrived at Hellfest – Clisson – France. I’m almost on the Atlantic Ocean … wind, clouds, storms, rubber boots, ponchos, beer and metal music. I Just had the time to go into the office to get my pass in the acceptance room and I then immediately started looking for the Main Stage 2. Once I was in the area I discovered that Hellfest this year has 6 stages, Main Stage 1, Main Stage 2, Altar, The Temple, Warzone, The Valley, and that the main organization expects to attract over 120,000 visitors from all around the world.
The gates opened at 10:30am on June 21 and I got right to work, just taking the time to stop in the Press area for recharging the batteries of my notebook & phone and then it was off to see the sets. The first group were VEKTOR in the Main Stage 02:
Excellent performance of the band of Tempe – Arizona, who despite his young age has the aggressiveness and experience comparable to bands with thirty years of experience, thanks to David Di Santo, incredibly energetic on stage.
Then it was the turn of Hardcore Superstar and I put myself in the queue to have the first sandwich of the day. Sandwich in the hand I then took a break until the beginning of Saxon, that I saw with pleasure for my tenth time.
At the end of Saxon‘s performance it was the turn of Hellyeah, they ignite the soul of the audience thanks to the kick and snare shots of a Vinnie Paul loaded more than ever, enhanced by the result of the devastating impact of the two albums on the publicviewer. Alongside Vinnie I found Chad Gray loaded more than ever ready to split the vocal cords on the tune of “Drink, Drink, Drunk” and “Matter of Time”. Unfortunately, Hellyeah were playing in parallel with Aura Noir, so I was forced to watch only half of the set and then run to see the band of Rune Eriksen “Blasphemer”, ex guitarist of Mayhem on the stage The Temple, which razed three quarters of his audience with the sound of his pounding riffs.
There came the time for Testament on the Main Stage 2 and I saw with pleasure a thinner Gene Hoglan on drums and Chuck Billy in shape, ready to leave no victims in France.
Then It was the time of Twister Sister to carry high the Rock’n'Roll flag, adrenalizing the public who do not stop to screaming at each of their songs. One of the most fantastic party band ever.
Twisted Sister gone I took a break for a beer and a sandwich, unfortunately losing Kreator, but I was not able to be in two places at the same time, so I was forced to opt for the food, because I was very hungry. Once I conquered my slice of pizza I watched from afar the great Whitesnake, with the return of Tommy Aldridge on drums and David Coverdale, always elegant on stage, with his songs unforgettable and eternally romantic.
Then I took another relaxing break chatting with David Vincent of Morbid Angel in the press area, he was arrived the same day and he was waiting to play the next day, the 22nd. I also had the pleasure to meet Jonas Bjorler of At The Gates, who revealed to me in advance the return of the great The Haunted, after the hard break suffered with the result of the abandonment of three of the band members. Finally the time comes for them to get on the stage and I didn’t miss even a second of a song, ready to scream my “GO!” with my outstretched arm at the beginning of “Slaughter Of The Soul”.
At the end of the set I had the pleasure to see Joey Severance, tour manager of Six Feet Under, as well as lead singer of the Tornado, and with him I spent the next hour, waiting for the same Six Feet Under as the last band of the night, with an almost completely renewed line-up, with the guitarist Ola Englund and with the new powerful drummer Marco Pitruzzella behind the drumheads, Jeff Hughell at bass and Chris Barnes devastating and brutal in his attitude as usual.
At the end of the set I went to the campsite and I stayed in the festival area until my body responded to me, then when I was dead tired I went to lie down in my trailer waiting for the second day.
A quick breakfast and then immediately to the press area to download the photos, to charge the batteries and to sketch the first memories for the report.
Back to the festival area to watch Coal Chamber, which realized a concert of scary impact, with Chela Rhea Harper on stage instead of Nadja Peulen, the last bassist, Meg Rascon, Michael Cox as always full of energy and an adrenalinic Dez Fafara hyperactive and energetic. After Coal Chamber finish I went to lunch, starving!
Instead of seeing Parkway Drive I prefered to spend my time visiting the Metal Market, where a river of people carried me until I was in front of my three favourite stores: the inevitable PSYCHO-STORE and the my two favourite labels PUNISHMENT 18 and KOLONY RECORDS and with whom I spent the rest of the time chatting with them about the new metal bands scene.
Looking at the clock I realized that they were going to begin Down so I went back into the fray of the crowd, this time in the direction of the Metal Market Exit. I could see Phil Anselmo, none too sober and being in the mood of Vulgar displays of power, which makes him bang the microphone numerous times on his skull, such as GG Allin teaches, Down gives a slap of energy and nastiness to the French public who respond with as much energy in front of their stage. The band’s performance is nothing short of fantastic, and at the end of the last song I was glad to see Jason Newsted on bass, and all the entourage of Down Techs ending the concert in a sort of circus that involves at least the 20 people who attended the set on the side of the stage jamming all together. Another feature is the memory of Phil to Dimebag Darrel raising his hand to the sky and screaming his name!
It’s coming the time of A day to remember, band for the young people that I watch with all my respect sipping a iced beer in front of the big screen sitting on the sofa in the press area. After this band it was time for the masters of heavy metal Accept. I took a break, waiting for my long performance of the night, seeing all the last four sets without a break.
It began with ZZ Top. Now I understand why the rumours stating that the Hellfest has sold 120,000 tickets are true, I have never seen here in the past years such a large crowd of people watching a band here at Hellfest, ZZ Top is definitely the band that has so far attracted more people at Hellfest during the years.
Although I fought to get to the front, after a while I gave up, finding, however, a great place on a slope of a hill and from there I have never taken down until the end of the concert.. I cannot describe the emotion to listen to the most famous songs in the world, and the great pleasure to see the legendary trio all together on stage after 43 years of music. It was exciting to see them dancing on time between each other with their memorable little steps and see them in the classic atmosphere of Texan festival county that only ZZ Top can create. Lights, giant screens, the smell of gasoline and hot rods, bikes, choppers, hot girls, lost highways in the desert, cactus and rattlesnakes. This is the ZZ TOP scenery on stage.
It was then time for Bullet for my Valentine, who gave me the opportunity to reach the stage easily, next to that pretty soon where the rock’n'roll show with excellence will be played by KISS in a while.
After waiting impatiently for the end of the set of Bullet For My Valentine finally it raised the Kiss flag on stage, and people burst into delirium beginning to scream the name of the Los Angeles band KISS. And it is here that the band enters the stage, proving to all generations of spectators who has always taught the rock’n'roll on the planet earth, that all new myths and modern bands decay in front of a KISS show. A flying Gene Simmons and a gliding Paul Stanley on stage will ensure to the crowd that touch of class that only big rock-stars such as KISS can always give. Tommy Thayer and Eric Singer in perfect shape, not missing a beat and delighting the audience with a perfect and impeccable drum performance, unfortunately without any drum solo. They ended the show with fireworks on and off stage.
Shocked by the experience that I had just experienced I then changed the stage to see KORN, and was pleased to see a fantastic Ray Luzier on drums and Jonathan Davis visibly satisfied with his band, with the ex guitarist Brian Welch again with them and with the old devastating nu-metal attitude that has always characterizes them on stage.
I ended the night watching Morbid Angel and having my third beer of the day, once in front of the stage I had the pleasure to see a devastating Tim Yeung on stage, and a phenomenal David Vincent.
I got to bed tired humming “I wanna rock and roll all night, and party every day” but for me there’s no party tonight, tomorrow will be the last day and I don’t want to miss it, so I go to bed!
I heard in the morning that CLUTCH had cancelled their tour completely due to family problems of a member of the band, and they were replaced by Down that recreate the same show of the day before on the Stage, The Valley.
I watched Danko Jones and once it was finished I waited to see for my first time Mass Hysteria, a French band that I looked out for curiously … and that made me stand open-mouthed for their performance on stage, which I found amazing! You know the French language is not the language best suited to metal music, but Mass Hysteria made everything so destructive that it left me amazed and enthusiastic. Nice to see the singer Mouss enter into the crowd and start a circle pit with himself inside.
It’s the time of Newsted and finally with a certain nostalgia I saw that Jason Newsted was in great shape too . I had not heard his new project before, and I was amazed at the impact that Jason and his band has on the crowd. Obviously Metallica are among his main music influences, and I found Jason a front-man that I would never have expected to find, electric and engaging on stage!
I missed Gojira because I run to eat lunch, but I could watch the Voivod directly from their stage, and it was a pleasure seeing the concert with the same Phil Anselmo and Jason Newsted next to me, watching the fathers of Thrash Metal on the same place. Obviously the intervention of Phil and Jason on stage during the Pink Floyd cover of “Astronomy Domine”, give it yet another incitement to the crowd already full of joy and delighted by the memorable performance of the Canadian band.
I left the Main Stage 2 and I met Rob Caggiano which i gladly spent my next few minutes talking about his new entry with Volbeat and his career as their producer.
And so even though I had missed Stone Sour I had the opportunity to watch Volbeat directly on stage so I didn’t move from that place until the end of the night. So I was pleased to see Rob Caggiano more energetic than ever and a stylish Michael Poulsen on stage, he is the “Johnny Cash” of 2013 if I may say so, even if coming from Denmark.
After the concert with a certain amount of adrenaline in me I went to the parking lot where I left my caravan, ready for the long return trip of the next day. Behind me, the flames of Hellfest,… a festival that after this year made it into my personal top 3 of the best metal festivals in Europe.
(Proofread by Diana Parkers)