Hellfest 2024 - Day 2 @ Clisson - 28 june 2024

Hellfest 2024 - Day 2 @ Clisson - 28 june 2024

Pierre Sopor 9 juillet 2024 Pierre Sopor

Hellfest, day two: like over-excited kids jumping up and down trying to squeeze out a few precious minutes before bedtime, we're here, early in the morning, repeating that no, we're not even tired. We'll need all the energy we can muster for the day we've planned, with its many acrobatic swings between high-energy young people's stuff, sulky black metal and sun-drenched depression.

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Our breakfast friend's name is Saint Agnes and there are plenty of swear words to be found there. Singer Kitty A. Austen launches the "fuck" contest every second, and the band's raging rock, which draws on grunge, rap, industrial and punk, is brimming with convincing energy. You don't hear it often from us, but this is the kind of angry, outrageous solar stuff, both visceral and fun, that can be enjoyed in broad daylight and makes you want to party and fart. Fortunately, Houle's black metal from the seas refreshes us immediately with its sea spray. The band have just caused a sensation with their debut album, Ciel Cendre et Misère Noire, and their live show is sure to leave a lasting impression. Singer Adèle 'Adsagsona' Adsa, a limping figure at the start of the concert wandering around the audience with a lantern in her hand, is unstoppable and embodies all the adventurous rage of the songs, striding tirelessly across the stage. Wearing oilskins, boots and striped T-shirts, you can smell the tide, the ocean, its strength and its mysteries too. The music of Houle, powerful, dark but also melodic and atmospheric, carries us out to sea and overwhelms us with its personality. We particularly appreciate the contrasts between the lulls and the clear-voiced passages, between despair and dementia.

Despair is too good. You can't resist the overwhelming melancholy of The Devil's Trade, whose melodies envelop the Valley audience. It's breathtakingly beautiful. The minimalist folk doom of the early days has mutated, Dávid Makó now has a friend on drums and another on keyboards, and the result evokes a heavy, dark and poetic rock à la Antimatter or A.A. Williams: both crushing and ethereal. There are two drawbacks, however: the effect isn't the same in direct sunlight (but what drunken trainee could have been so mistaken as to stick the Valley in the open air?) and, more seriously, by growing a beard Makó doesn't look that much like Tom Hardy in Bronson anymore. In any case, he makes us melt with his benevolent smiles, introducing his songs of infinite sadness with a laugh-out-loud good humour... before better tying our guts in knots.

We said there will be big gaps. We said "tonight's the night of Prodigy, so today we're being silly". So to shake off any previous worries, head to the Main Stage to see Wargasm, the neo-electro-metal duo praised by Jonathan Davis. It's flashy, exuberant, with an elegance approaching nothingness. But it packs a punch, that's for sure. The duo formed by Sam Matlock and Milkie Way hog the limelight, clamouring for moshpits ("we know you're French, but can you still do that? And size matters: the bigger, the better!") A bit like on album, you die of exhaustion after three tracks and the postures seem a bit too forced, but you have to admit that it's unstoppably effective. Back to the fuck contest, but both Wargasm and Saint Agnes have embarked on a dangerous game: trying to compete with Dropout Kings.

Rest assured: our instinct was to go and see Shores of Null instead. But we said "Prodigy's on tonight, so let's get silly", right? So let's go to the Warzone. What the hell is this circus? A bunch of guys with buoys jumping around, trying to throw a beach ball into the audience and missing every time. Two singers: Adam Ramey, hidden under a beanie and glasses, spends half the concert in the crowd while Eddie Wellz is a spectacle in his own right. Mimicry, XXL smiles, explosive energy: they scream like people possessed, they throw kamehamehas during Toriyama, their tribute to DBZ's dad, heavyweight riffs shake up the trap influences and, above all, they shoot fuck out of them like nobody's business. While it's fun and totally insane, the performance suffers from one major flaw: what was that sound? Give us some more bass so we can go all caveman on PitUp and GlitchGang!

The clock is ticking and we're still not even tired! The bands playing are starting to get more serious: we take a deep breath in front of Klone, the progressive band is still insanely classy and, although over the years their music has calmed down, they still deliver a few well-felt jolts under the Altar. More intense than on their last studio efforts, could Klone, who played a new track entitled Interlaced, give us a clue as to the direction of their forthcoming new album? We'll see, but in the meantime we were delighted to see the return of the saxophone on stage, a rarity! Over on the Main Stage, we're treated to some big, rough and heavy industrial metal with Fear Factory, Hellfest's 2024 line-up having left very little room for the genre. We discover their new singer Milo Silvestro, who does the job with enthusiasm in the midst of stalwarts Tony Campos and Dino Cazares, and it works better than we expected... Still not tired? Not really. Or maybe just a little bit. So we return to the shadow of the Altar to see Einar Solberg, the singer of Leprous, "solo" (but well surrounded all the same). His high-pitched voice, the violins, the touches of jazz, pop and prog: it all works very well, providing a calm, poetic oasis that's as surprising as it is welcome. Solberg teases his audience, who respond with something like "yeaaaaah !" to the question "how are you?", regretting that the exchange can't end with a "we're doing tremendously good": we're being sensitive, but we're not forgetting to laugh.

Just before Fear Factory, we still caught Reuno's show. Sorry, mate: Lofofora is a bit far from our musical shores, but you gave us a treat. This tall man with a look that's both tender and mad fired off a series of missiles between songs: racism, misogyny ("if you can't control your cock, put a lock on it" before launching into Macho Blues in the company of two Femen and their slogan "l'Enfer c'est vous, nous, c'est MeToo!" - "You are Hell, we are MeToo"), ecology and the festival's programme ("so Hellfest, are you happy you paid 350 quid to see Shaka Ponk and his eco-tour with eight semi-trailers?" - We're not sure of the exact number of trucks, but you get the idea). The gentleman punk, as upright and subtle as ever, and always a little itchy, trolled to his heart's content, and fans of Steel Panther and Shaka Ponk had a field day. As for the organisers, who'd pulled out all the stops in terms of communication with a host of posters and their Hellcare stand (while we wait to see whether these measures are sincere or just smoke screens), must have been sulking. We had a good laugh.

ENOUGH SENTIMENTALITY! NOW THERE ARE EXPLOSIONS, FIRE, WAR! We're writing big so you can read it screaming in your head. Because Kanonenfieber deafened us from the start with their fireworks of sparks. The German black metal band takes us back to the First World War to denounce all the atrocities of war. The musicians hide their faces in homage to the Unknown Soldier. It's spectacular and martial, with pyrotechnics underlining the unpredictable variations in rhythm, and the band attack with the recent and furious Menschenmühle, the first single from a new album that will follow on from the first, also called Menschenmühle (do you follow?). The concept is solid and we've got something in military dress with EXPLOSIONS that's less embarrassing than Sabaton, in a genre that's more palatable to grumpy souls like us.

Planning shock: Satyricon or Clawfinger? Once again, we went against our instincts ("we're not even tired, let's be silly!") to indulge our nostalgia for Clawfinger. Here again, no regrets. The Swedes put on one of the nicest shows we've seen this year. No album since 2007 (but a few singles here and there), a project born thirty-five years ago: the band is well aware of its own limitations and plays with them. The very, very old gentlemen on stage thank us for not going to see Tom Morello ("he can't sing shit" jokes Jocke Skog, to which singer Zak Tell replies "neither can I!"). Above all, Clawfinger deliver a heavyweight rap-industrial-metal mix that smacks of the 90s, and their videos are full of hair gel and saturated colours. Hold Your Head Up, Biggest & the Best, Do What I Say: a bit like Body Count who played later on the same stage, Clawfinger have understood that just because it's dated doesn't mean it's old-fashioned. It's unifying, fun and enjoyable. Skog's Powder for Pigeons T-shirt, however, has sparked a debate: is Hellfest a festival for pigeons? Judging by the presence of several of these friendly Columbidae on the site's decorations, the answer would seem to be yes.

This year at Hellfest, the guy from Iron Maiden went solo. The guy from Slipknot went solo. The guy from Leprous went solo. A guy from Rage Against the Machine went solo, etc, etc. But as night fell, it was time to pay tribute to the boss, because Ihsahn was there, and with his band. Samoth's worrying facial features, Jørgen Munkeby from Shining as involved as ever on keyboards... and the always delectable detachment of the Ihsahn, shirt and sunglasses, sober and elegant, the antithesis of the genre's codes. The sound is Dantesque, and the tracks are no exception to the madness of their brilliant creator, who takes flight with a few surprising progressive flashes. After I Am The Black Wizards, which always has an effect, he gets the crowd chanting along to Inno A Santana: it's a blast, and reconciles those who were a little lost after Ihsahn's strange set in 2022, full of covers.

As the second day drew to a close, the worst dilemma of the line-up loomed on the horizon. The photo restrictions on The Prodigy leave us with the choice between Body Count and Anaal Nathrakh. Why choose when you can run between stages ("we're not even tired!"). On the Body Count side, we're obviously greeted by the legendary Body Count's in the House, which allows Ice-T to introduce his eternal comrades Ernie C all in red on guitar, Vincent Price on bass... but also his son, Little Ice, who has been part of the line-up since 2016 and provides some backing as well as setting the mood. Body Count, like Clawfinger earlier, takes us back a few decades (half the tracks played are at least thirty years old) and although Ice T, at 66, isn't totally explosive (his son is in charge of stirring things up), his phlegm is impressive. On the Temple side, Anaal Nathrakh, in front of a sparse audience (the competition is tough), are imperial. Their extreme metal, which takes in black, industrial and grind, shrivels up the audience. The singer jokes: "If you want hits, there's The Prodigy. We don't have any hits". But that doesn't stop tracks like the theatrical and massive Forward and Obscene As Cancer from serving vaguely as hits. It's massive and crazy. For the uninitiated: no, Anaal has nothing to do with butts and comes from the Irish anál nathrach, the serpent's breath. If you wanted butt stuff, there was Steel Panther...

And what about Prodigy? Well, there was a crazy crowd, lasers and a rave atmosphere at Hellfest at 1am, which was a pleasure, immortals like Breathe and Poison kicked ass, Maxim was screaming at the top of his lungs and we've rarely seen a band that unites so many generations or musical genres at Hellfest, a symbol of openness that made a few teeth cringe. We're delighted, even if we watched the whole thing from a bit of a distance. We were getting a bit tired, after all.

Our top 3 (in alphabetical order) :
Pierre: Anaal Nathrakh, Dropout Kings, Emperor
Erick: Clawfiner, Emperor, Wargasm