by Gee Anzalone – Photos courtesy of Hellfest Official Facebook Page
(Proofreading by Teresa Hopkins)
Metal Shock Finland‘s special envoy and co-operator, the new DRAGONFORCE drummer Gee Anzalone went to HELLFEST 2014 (which took place on 20-22 June in Clisson – France) for us and wrote down his experiences and thoughts about the festival.
And here we were again this June 18, 2014, with my camper and a couple of friends, on the way for the event that year by year is becoming the best European rock and metal festival: The Hellfest in Clisson, France. We met rain on the entire drive, which we feared would not be a good beginning for the festival, unaware that we would enjoy days of pure sunshine and Africa-like warmth. Collecting our tickets and passes at the Hell-office, we went into the festival area, and we noticed with surprise that there have been several changes, both at the organizational level and at the scenic level too: just past the entrance, rather than in the Metal Market, we were faced with a real city, comparable to Camden town in London, with lots of clothing shops, shoe shops, record stores and gadgets, food & drink shops, all around a giant square paved with a futuristic monument in the center. Immediately to the side of the square stood a large, very high and dangerous metal stair that separated the camping from the rest of the festival.
The remainder of Hellfest has not changed much from the past years. The two main stages are always side by side and are more or less in the same position as the past editions; the other stages as The Altar, The Temple, The Valley, and The Warzone are arranged over the entire festival area. I was not interested to find out what delights and drinks this year’s Hellfest could offers to us, since we came in a camper and I had all the food and drink necessary in my mobile home, parked just a few minutes walking from the main area. The press area remained the same as in the past years as well. They only changed the entrance, usually aside to the main stage 2, now central to the festival.
Because of the festival good vibes the day after our arrival (June 20), I woke up very late at around 14:00 and I rushed to experience the festival the best I could. Unfortunately I missed all the bands in the morning. The first band that I could see just for a short time were the HAIL OF BULLETS, and I was able to see only the last three songs. I can say that the quintet of Rotterdam had violence to sell on stage, thanks to the performance of Martin Van Drunen, as far as I could see. I spent the rest of the afternoon between a couple of TRIVIUM songs, which I found an amazing performance with a great Matt Heafy on vocals and the new drummer Mat Madiro, and a few songs of Rob Zombie. Regrettably, I did not see much of the concert since I had the chance to seen him live at Graspop in 2011.
After spending the day going back and forth from my motorhome to fill my liter cup of beer, the most anticipated moment of the day finally came: KATAKLYSM. It was the day when Italy played the World Cup match against Costa Rica, and I was informed by Maurizio Iacono (Kataklysm singer) that we had unfortunately lost the match. It didn’t matter at that moment; there were better things to do, like overturning the Altar Stage and showing what this Italian metalhead can do on stage! Kataklysm was epic: a Maurizio Iacono comparable to a rabid lion, they started with “Elevate”, one of my favorite songs of Waiting for the End to Come, their last album released in 2013. Once they ended to devastate the Altar Stage, Iron Maiden was next to perform. Since I’d already seen them in 2008 and 2010 in Wacken, I opted instead to go in the town drinking some good wine with my friends, and discovered that the town of Clisson is a tiny center full of things to visit. It is not just the metal city I once thought. There are tons of interesting things to see, like the castle in center city, the historic road and ruins dating back to the thirteenth century.
The morning after, my best intentions to watch the bands of the morning got lost in an endless queue for the shower. I was able only to be ready at 14:00, just after lunch. The first band that I saw was INCANTATION, and I happily saw that although John McEntee no longer wore dark hair, he was always bad and violent on stage. After 22 years, though he can change the color of his hair, the charisma remains the same.
Due to labor issues, I was able only to see the band EXTREME in the afternoon. This was the first opportunity I had to see Extreme live in my life. Having grown up with their songs and now seeing them play live for the first time in my life, I remembered the same feeling when I listened to their songs in the car during my first year of licensed driving. Remembering the words, the lyrics of those songs are very easy to sing, but very hard to play on the guitar from what I always knew. Gary Cherone was sadly down a halftone from the rest of the band. I think this was an error due to the volume of the sounds on stage, and certainly not because of his vocal skills. The rest of the performance was perfect, including their famous songs sung by Pat Badger and Nuno Bettencourt. They were perfect. The new drummer, Kevin Figueiredo, was very accurate and had a big heavy touch on drums, just like the good essential drumming of Paul Geary, first drummer and founder of the band. They performed a song list mainly devoted to their last album with the original lineup Three Sides To Every Story.
Once Extreme finished their show, I headed into the press area until the beginning of AEROSMITH. Once back to the main stage, I realized that I could only see Aerosmith from the big screen of the stage because the thousands of spectators were completely flooded in the whole area of the two main stages. The song list was a mix of new and old songs. In the end it seemed to me pretty useless to stand there watching their concert from the big screen, as I had already watched their memorable performance at the Download Festival in 2010, so I headed toward the exit to go in the caravan to change my t-shirt, completely soaked with sweat because of the extremely warm day.
In the meantime I stopped to buy a crate of Muscadet, a typical wine from the Clisson area, retailed by volunteers from the same town, owners of the wineries in the area. When Aerosmith ended, I headed in the Metal Corner next to the campsite and spent the night there, waiting impatiently for the third and final day.
I encountered the usual queue for the shower in the morning, then went to the festival area to devote the entire afternoon to shopping in the Metal Market. After walking all afternoon in the Metal Market, crossing with pleasure with my friends of Psycho Store, Punishment 18 Records, Kolony Records, MetalKids, Lucifire, Babashop, Horsnorm, Metalworks, and Goddess Of Desire, and after buying some pants, t-shirts, and gadgets, it was time for dinner. I headed in my caravan to prepare an amazing pasta with tuna and peas—what was left in the kitchen of the motor home.
Having spent the day in the Metal Market, I completely missed all of the bands that played in the afternoon. The first band that I could see were ANGRA, and only for few minutes, with a fantastic Fabio Lione on vocals. That made the difference on stage, thanks to his unmistakable style and his imposing presence on stage. After Angra, I headed to the bar in the Press area to get some water. I drank water constantly during the festival, because there was too much sun and too much dust everywhere we went. From the bar I listened to ALTERBRIDGE (whom I had already seen live at Download 2010), and I could hear them completing their set on the Mainstage 1.
I enjoyed spending a few hours relaxing in the Press area. In the meantime, I saw the show of the fire circus dancers and the show of wrestling (fake wrestling), as I sipped a mohito and ate horrible fries (the festival kitchen is never great, especially if to judge it is a good eater like me!). I ended the third day of the festival watching EMPEROR in the Mainstage 1, who performed just before BLACK SABBATH. Because my friends needed to be on time to catch a plane a few hours later in Paris and wanted to avoid any unexpected last-minute problems, we were unable to stay for Black Sabbath’s show.
Heading to Paris, my first thoughts went to the festival, which again this year won my personal award as best European festival of rock and metal music with an organization that is quickly rising in excellence in regard to the services offered to the customers, both in the price of the ticket and the level of the bands’ professionalism.
Check out all the HELLFEST 2014 photos HERE.
More information at http://www.hellfest.fr