Festival Review | Hellfest 2014 [Part 3]

[Part 3]


Missed Parts 1 & 2? You can read them here and here respectively.

[Note: Band scores are out of 5]

Despite staying up until the early hours rocking our socks off to renditions of I Don’t Wanna Miss a Thing, we somehow managed to get into the arena in time to catch the vast majority of Year of the Goat on Main Stage 2. The occult themed hard rockers reminded us a little of Ghost, except without the theatrical stage prescence. Musically, they were pretty decent without having any outright killer tunes. Still, a solid start. [3]

We didn’t have to move far for the next band, as Blues Pills opened up Main Stage 1. In a festival adorned with everything from extreme metal to pop punk, it was this soulful blues rock act that threatened to steal the entire weekend. My word, were we ever knocked for six! Frontwoman Elin Larsson’s powerful vocal delivery is rich with power and emotion, but also with the subtle fragility that a lot of singers in this genre overlook (or underestimate the importance of). Flabbergastingly good. [5]

If Scorpion Child can just find that one massive song, then they could be one of the next big things in rock and roll. As it is, Polygon of Eyes is a decent closer to a solid set. Also, it would be nice to see the band play at least one fast song – too often it felt like their mid-tempo jaunt was only at half or three-quarters pace. [3]

After the Main Stage gauntlet was over, we were off back to The Valley for some hard rock action. Similar to Scorpion Child, Zodiac just need that smash song to help them along the way. Unlike SC though, Zodiac have embraced variety in their set, with quick, mid-tempo and slow tracks liberally spread throughout. They also performed the best cover of the entire weekend – Neil Young would surely be proud of the guys’ monumental rendition of Cortez the Killer. [4]

The Bones were next up for us. When checking these out prior to the festival, we thought that they sounded like a punky brother to Motorhead, and it proved to be somewhat true. There were some catchy tunes, though they were pleasing rather than astonishing. [3.5]

There are some acts that simply cannot fail to entertain, and Powerwolf are certainly one of them. The German power metallers came out in the 30 plus degree heat in full costume and facepaint and proceeded to tear Main Stage 2 a new one. Their set mostly comprised of cuts from Bible of the Beast and Preachers of the Night, though they played a couple from Blood of the Saints and finished with the title track from Lupus Dei too. Despite the soaring temperatures, the crowd got their groove on. [4.5]

Next to toil in the mid-afternoon heat was Brazilian prog-power outfit Angra. Now fronted by Rhapsody of Fire’s Fabio Lione, the 20+ year veterans put on a really slick performance, much to the crowd’s pleasure. [4]

By the time Annihilator took to the stage we were all considering bailing on the rest of the afternoon as the heat and exposure had gone beyond a joke. We postponed the idea to run for our tents when some rather helpful chaps started spraying water on the crowd from the side railing, making the set at least bearable. This was a good thing, as the Canadian thrashers we really impressive – particularly when they were playing some of their proggier tunes.[4]

Despite being soaked during Annihilator’s set, we decided to take a short break to cool off properly and get refreshments. We made it back in time to catch Sólstafir at The Temple. It is a good job we did, because the post-metallers put on one of the most moving shows we have ever witnessed. Strictly playing songs from their two latest albums (plus the title track from their upcoming new LP) the Icelanders built up a tapestry of noise, so intricately woven, that all built to epic finales worthy of anyone. Astoundingly moving stuff. [5]

The moody, moving soundscapes from Iceland were swiftly replaced by our final Main Stage 1 headliner. In what was possibly their last ever appearance in France (due to Tony Iommi’s health), British rock legends Black Sabbath took to the stage. Since their latest comeback, this was the third time that the FG team has seen the band live and, whilst it was not quite the best (their own show last winter was incredible), this was almost as good. A performance well worthy of a headlining any festival. Yes, Ozzy was slightly off key on one or two tracks, and his between/during song banter is never anything to write home about, this was still a top quality show. New tracks from their latest album 13 blended seemlessly into a set otherwise flooded with hard rock classics. Maiden were the tightest headliner, Aerosmith were the flashiest, and Sabbath had the best setlist. You can’t really argue with that. [5]

That wasn’t quite all she wrote. Our festival finished at The Altar, where we witnessed Swedish progressive metallers Opeth put on a really good closing set. It was knackering to watch (it finished a little after 2am), but rounded off the whole festival nicely. I mean, what better way to finish things that a smashing rendition of Blackwater Park? [4]


Bands of the Day: Black Sabbath, Solstafir, Blues Pills
Honourable Mention: Powerwolf


Well, that’s it for our first ever Hellfest Open Air. Despite the excessive temperatures we’ll definitely be back sometime down the line, as this is one of the best festivals we have ever been to.

Overall best band: Blues Pills/Sólstafir (tie)
Best headliner: Iron Maiden (just! Though all three were excellent, and all three just behind the winners for Best Band too)
Best song: “Dream On” by Aerosmith, “The Usher” by SubRosa, or “Fjara” by Sólstafir
Best cover: “Cortez the Killer” (Neil Young) by Zodiac


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