Hellfest 2013

Review by Lily Randall and Siobhan Hogarty

Friday

For the last couple of years now, Hellfest has proven itself to be one of the best set ups you could find for a festival, with each of the six stages catering for every need. The weather was as indecisive as we were when our favourite bands clashed but the atmosphere was far from dampened as the array of rusty aesthetics around the arena glistened, rain or shine.

With bands starting at 10.30 in the morning, the heavy Thursday night feels like a silly idea but it isn’t long til Dr Living Dead! knocks the hangover out of you. The Swedish crossover is a perfect hair of the dog in music form, with ridiculous thrash worship fuelled with onstage energy. Tracks from their latest ‘Radioactive Intervention’ are packed with horror B movie themes and by the end of their snappy set, you’re back on the beer with a grin on your face. LR

When Sheffield’s second favourite sons of the weekend Black Spiders storm on to Mainstage 1 and the sun breaks through the clouds, the assembled mass don’t seem to have woken up yet.  They are soon banging their heads though, with new material like ‘Teenage Knife Gang’ and ‘Creatures’ being debuted.  The tracks have the perfect amount of grit and stomp, which is a pleasant addition to the Black Spiders arsenal, slotting in perfectly alongside ‘KISS Tried To Kill Me’ and ‘Stay Down’. Never has the Mainstage crowd chanted for ‘Balls!’ so early in the morning.  Beautiful sights for the first day of a festival. SH

Polish band Hate have been through a hell of a lot in the past year, so it’s an honour for them to step onto the Altar so last minute. Their blackened death may have been compared to Behemoth, but today’s presence certainly stands alone with every blastbeat sounding crisp and this year’s release ‘Solarflesh’ sounding particularly beefy. Although brutal, there is something somewhat beautiful about this afternoon’s set, as we see ex-bassist Mortifer (who passed away earlier this year) replaced by his own wife Varaska. Not only does she blend into the band with ease musically but also physically, as she takes on the stance and corpsepaint of her late husband.  LR

Over on the Temple tent, Hooded Menace are slowing down the tempo with crushing consequences. The Finnish four-piece may only have three full lengths under their belts but with several splits with doom death legends including Asphyx, the equally room-riddled band have picked up all the best habits. The stage is oozing with mystery as the band stay hooded in darkness and the guitars sound as terrifying as boys would hope for as the lyrics prove to be a horror fanboy’s idea of poetic perfection.  LR

Old school Gothenburg boys Hardcore Superstar roll on to Mainstage 1 with a bounce in their step.  They offer us thrash-tinged hard rock with a healthy amount of sleaze and they have the stage presence to boot after a fair few years in this game.  With ‘Last Call For Alcohol’ getting the crowd in fine voice, we see front man Jocke Berg pace the stage to get a bit more energy from them.  ‘Above The Law’ gives the band the reaction they have been craved and they give it back just as good, exuding power and energy.  A solid, successful effort from all involved. SH

Despite seeming slightly out of place on the doom central Valley stage, Black Breath still pull in quite a crowd and perhaps the impossibility of pigeon-holing this band is why they could not decide on a location. The band is as electrifying as they are on record, with last year’s ‘Sentenced to Life’ showcased heavily in all its glory. Their mix of thrash, death and hardcore causes for explosive scenes from the start with ’Feast Of The Damned’ chugging along in crusty style and although the music turns from breakdown to speedy riffage, the set is smooth with angst. LR

The aforementioned Asphyx rule the Temple proving exactly why doom and death may seem juxtaposed but work wonders when blended together into a bitter smoothie of sadism. The veterans are as pummelling when they tone it down as they are when the slightly quicker tracks kick in, with latest anthem ‘Deathhammer’ causing a serious frenzy. The Dutch destroyers manage to exhibit their rawness without being lost within the mix and in their own words; they certainly still kill “the brutal way”. LR

Terror on the new Warzone stage – last year we saw our hardcore bands slamming down in a tent but 2013 sees this baby go outdoors, with considerable effect.  Tracks such as ‘One With The Underdogs’ and ‘Keep Your Mouth Shut’ fire the crowd into one solid mass of flailing legs, arms & shirts as the pit rages.  The breakdowns reign supreme as Scott Vogel and his merry bunch of musicians dance and bounce their way around the stage.  Terror have slayed it with this high-energy anthem filled set.  Their energy is contagious, leaving a grin on each face in the crowd and that is how it should always be.  SH

It’s no surprise that Kreator go down a storm over on the second Mainstage. With an impeccable live record and three decades of experience in their favour, we expect nothing less than a pure thrash attack from the Teutonic titans. As expected Mille and co raise the ‘Flag of Hate’, blast through ‘Phantom Antichrist’ and ‘Hordes Of Chaos’ and other classics with a mental circle pit to accessorize with. Off all the thrash bands on today, these guys show them how it’s done. LR

Hazy tent filled with thick pungent smoke and a slow continuous head nod en masse?  Check.  That’ll be Sleep crushing The Valley stage then.  ‘Holy Mountain’ is a slice of thundering beauty, with ‘Dragonaut’ flowing through flawlessly in response.  Bongs are held aloft as those gathered lap up the bass driven spectacle.  Sleep put on an intense show and this was a very special experience indeed.  SH

Def Leppard are legends, plain & simple.  We see them onstage tonight, with Viv Campbell proudly standing amongst his band mates, sporting what he described as an “aerodynamic” hairstyle after his monumental news recently regarding his current battling with Hodgkin’s lymphoma.  One thing tonight is evident for all to see, Def Leppard know how to put on an incredible rock show and they enjoy doing it.  Time has not altered Joe Elliott’s voice, belting it out in classic form with ‘Let’s Get Rocked’ and ‘Foolin’.  This scribe is dancing for the full Hysteria portion of the set, as the 1987 powerhouse of rock is alive and kicking in year of 2013.  Mainstage 1 has been hit by ‘Hysteria’, but the crowd just don’t seem to be all too interested, which is a shame.  A fantastic show as always, proving that the legends can still pull it off live.  SH

It is a tough act to follow a polished and pristine set like that of Def Leppard, but Tobias Sammet has all of the swagger and charm necessary to do just that.  Avantasia are the last band of the day to grace Mainstage 2, in their expectedly unique fashion.  Tobias commands the stage, with a plethora of musicians guesting to entice the crowd as epics such as ‘Twisted Mind’ and ‘The Seven Angels’ captivate.  Who doesn’t love a slab of over the top falsetto filled operatic metal?  Exactly, pretty perfect choice to close Mainstage on the first night.  If only ‘Chalice Of Agony’ had made an appearance, which would have truly made their set first class.  SH

 

 

Saturday

With vocal chords strained and heads pounding its off the the stereotypical breakfast bar for a chocolate crossaint and strong black coffee. There’s nu-metal nostalgia aplenty today, scattered in amongst extremities of all forms. With Immortal and KISS clashing tonight, black and white face paint clutters the campsite as you distinguish your sloppy Genes to the scruffy Abbaths. As Sleep proved last night, there isn’t much going on regarding weed restrictions, so we predict another foggy day over in the Valley. Round two, ding ding!

Dead Congregation have created quite a name for themselves when it comes to live rituals and the Greeks confirm why over on the Temple tent this afternoon. The Incantation-loving death metallers have a gritty approach that finds them attracting fans more likely to be found at the Altar line up, due to a slight inkling of black metal tendencies. The tent is small enough to keep DC’s underground stance, yet their music is bellowing enough to seep out of the openings, terrifying many who pass their set en route for a burger. LR

P.O.D start our nu-metal antics for the day over on Mainstage 2 as Sonny Sandoval bounces along with ‘Set It Off’ and ‘Youth Of The Nation’.  Whilst their set is energetic & entertaining enough for the duration, the song that most of the crowd are undoubtedly here to hear finally slams down, in the shape of ‘Alive’.  The audience instantly springs to life and finds a second wind, with the sing along soaring for all to hear.  Everyone loves a bit of the old school moshing; this set has just proved it. SH

Coal Chamber bring the ‘Big Truck’ to Mainstage 2 and park it firmly to continue the nu-metal moshing anthems.  They flash their attitude from the moment they walk on, with drumsticks, microphone stands and bottles of water being fired around the stage at band members and crew.  A nostalgia trip full of classics like ‘Loco’ fire the crowd up nicely and the band receive a warmer welcome than expected, is there a promising future for Coal Chamber action afterall? SH

The Dutch have never had any particular legacy regarding death metal but if they did it would be Sinister who take the crown. Since the late eighties, the band has spewed out album after album of simple yet effective DM so it was only a matter of time until the band released a compilation. Their set is evidence as to why it was named ‘Years of Massacre’, with every song sounding as pounding and raw as the next, without the drums flooding the sound. From start to finish the crowd are headbanging furiously and it’s hard not to join in. LR

Kata ton Daimona Eaytoy’ could be one of the most hypnotic albums released this year and it would appear many are keen to hear it over on the Altar. Rotting Christ’s mystical, blackened metal loses none of its atmosphere live with every harrowing chant and haunting guitar creating an epic haze of smoke. The Tolis brothers and their live additions may not move around the stage much but then again neither do you, as you’re whisked up in every sing-along chant despite not actually knowing any Greek. LR

They’ve got ‘Legs’ and they are not afraid to use them.  ZZ Top may be older than most of the bands here but they still put on a hell of a show, including breaking out some groovy dance steps.  They treat all of us gathered at Mainstage 1 to an extensive catalogue of songs old, new and not even their own.  Classics like ‘LA Grange’, ‘Sharp Dressed Man’ & ‘Tush’ weld perfectly with newer material, such as the very suitable ‘Chartreuse’.  To make the occasion even more special than usual, we see the suave Texans storm through a slinky cover of Hendrix’s ‘Foxy Lady’.  This set is just laden with style and swagger, whilst the trio look completely at ease and loving every moment of this show.  SH

Unlike last year, the Warzone stage isn’t covered and is tucked away within the woody area of the arena. If you’re lucky, you witness NOFX playing to a rammed area, with people peering through wire fencing just to catch a glimpse. As expected, the band is desperate to hold onto the youthful looks to accompany their youthful anthems of silliness (and some political seriousness) which sound as great as they always have done at festivals. The punk angst is still there and there is something joyful about seeing some forty odd guys with blue hair moaning such immature lyrics. Who likes growing up anyway? LR

KISS are now on the road to becoming a festival staple, but that doesn’t mean we don’t love every minute spent watching them.  With new additions to their flamboyant stage show (platforms which elevate Thayer & Simmons out above the crowd, no less!), KISS show why they are rock legends.  Sadly, it seems to fall a bit flat on a large portion of the crowd who seemingly don’t want to party.  Hearing a classic tune like ‘Love Gun’ get little to no crowd response is fairly heart-breaking, but perhaps their own volume is not enough to elevate fans.  KISS soldier on unaffected by the lack of crowd participation, laying down hits like ‘War Machine’ and ‘Lick It Up’, alongside ‘Hell Or Hellelujah’ from their newest record ‘Monster’.  Mainstage 1 has been rocked and left dazed, covered in glitter confetti and making quite the spectacle.  SH

The Valley tent is absolutely rammed as Cult of Luna immerse themselves in bright lights and fog, ready to mesmerise. The sound is so intense it’s a surprise the tent stays erect, as atmospheric sludge and post-hardcore swirls and plunges into the depths of everyone’s minds. This year’s ‘Vertikal’ is exhibited quite prominently as the early hours of the morning creep in and normally this would be a disappointment but the new material sounds a tenfold more crushing than on record. The Swedes mysterious presence is all that’s required as the music doing the business and it’s likely that after classics such as ‘Owlwood’, most won’t have eardrums left to see the final acts of the night. LR

More nu-metal classics are being blasted this weekend with Korn closing Mainstage 2 in the wee hours of the morning.  The crowd absolutely explode as the band fire straight into ‘Blind’, bodies slam around and arms fly high in the air.  Newer tracks like ‘Narcissistic Cannibal’ fit well with their slick lighting set up, mixing perfectly into a set littered with hits such as ‘Did My Time’ & ‘Here To Stay’.  Something seems different about Korn live and not necessarily in a bad way as Head is back stomping with the troops.  Their set is polished and tight, almost too tight, as if it is missing some of the raw emotion of the tours gone by.  It’s an enjoyable set to bounce around to all the same.  SH

Its 1am and many of us are struggling to stay upright. Despite the travesty that was ‘Illud Divinum Insanus’ it would appear many try to remain upbeat about the chance to see death metal legends Morbid Angel live, as the Temple swells. Thankfully the band opens with legendary ‘Immortal Rites’ and the set continues to please with ‘Rapture’, ‘Maze of Torment’ and other nineties’ favourites. Ideally, David Vincent and co are used to a larger setting and although seeing bands of this status playing a tent should be life changing, it seems Morbid Angel struggle to create an intimate setting. Just as you think you’ve been spared, the infamous ‘Existo Vulgoré kicks in and a unanimous roll of the eyes is felt in the air. Luckily, the un-deathly torture of this and ‘Nevermore’ is short lived and everyone sticks around for the obvious encore of ‘Chapel of Ghouls’, bringing the second night to a brilliant, yet shattering conclusion. LR

Sunday

Irritatingly enough, Hellfest  decided to put Europe on the Friday, ruining any chances of ‘Final Countdown’ puns. The end however is indeed nigh and suddenly everyone goes into panic mode over returning to reality tomorrow. Due to some line-up changes and set moves the evening turns into quite a magical spectacle, as we soon find out whilst rushing around to gorge on as much musical mayhem as possible.

When Nachtmystium pulled out from playing the Altar, many were saddened but it opened up a slot for French underdogs Svart Crown to show their worth. Their blackened death live onslaught has clearly improved since their last appearance in 2011, as the tent is far fuller despite another early start for the boys. Not only that but this year’s record ‘Profane’ shows a progression of brutality and unlike many bands the several layers of monstrous sound are complimented by a live show. The band windmill in unison with grins on their faces throughout and despite saying it two years ago, we hope the band finally get the recognition they deserve this year. LR

Danko Jones enjoy a bit of action and they want everyone gathered at Mainstage 1 to know that.  They bound through an energetic, face-paced set as ‘Had Enough’ starts the proceedings off in style.  Their sound is slick, with just a touch of beautifully raw vocals as front man Danko Jones shows his skill in fine form.  ‘First Date’ is an absolutely storming tune, dripping with sleaze, leaving the crowd screaming for more.  As ‘Just A Beautiful Day’ roars out, with the sun scorching, everyone has fallen in love with the Canadian rock ‘n’ roll trio.  SH

Ihsahn makes a very welcome return to The Temple stage.  There is a buzz in the air as ‘On The Shores’ absolutely soars; the crowd are feeding off the energy inside the tent.  The beautiful experimental cacophony we have grown accustomed to during Ihsahn set’s falls upon us once again with ‘The Paranoid’, a frantic whirlwind of sound.  Each track sounds mammoth, filling every inch of the tent perfectly as the bass lines rattle your very bones.  Reaching back through his catalogue of epics, Ihsahn flattens all with the crushing ‘Frozen Lakes On Mars’, that signature guitar tone rings through the air with precision.  The soaring chorus’ of the collective body of work sends shivers down the spine, as it does every time this scribe is lucky enough to see these musicians at work.  It all gets a little gloomier as ‘The Grave’ opens & we delve into the murky riff laden territory.  The only improvement that could be suggested would be a live saxophonist, to really expand the overall effect of this unique sound.  As the last few calls ring out, it has been another astonishing set… like we expect any less.  SH

The Temple has taken quite the battering this weekend with stellar death metal and grind and it doesn’t end now, as Krisiun take to the stage to continue the attack. Throughout the set there are the expected blistering blastbeats and horrible growls but there is nothing particularly special about their performance. ‘Blood of Lions’ and ‘Vicious Wrath’ slaughter with ease but compared to some of the surprises that have appeared in the last three days, it’s nothing memorable.  LR

The Main Stage 2 is absolutely rammed before the band comes on to the stage but the backdrop explains the hype in big letters: GOJIRA. Back on home turf, the international favourites come out to a proud roar before rupturing into ‘Explosia’ and as always the French four piece swirl and chug their way through the blistering heat. Although the playing is flawless, with the likes of ‘Flying Whales’ ‘Backbone’ and ‘Remembrance’ glistening in groove, the breeze seems to take away from the usual monolithic sound usually experienced and Joe Duplantier’s snarls are slightly lost by the time it reaches the crowd. ‘Where Dragons Dwell’ concludes the set and although some favourite trackes are removed, there’s no denying how powerful Gojira are as a live entity. LR

Very sadly, Clutch had to pull out of Hellfest for personal reasons.  But never fear, because Down are still here! The Valley is hit by a superset to baffle and amaze those lucky to grab a spot.  The great man himself Phil Anselmo begins the set by saying ‘It may be a one time, it may be an only time, but it is a unique time’ and that it definitely is.  A fully loaded bong is smoked onstage before they launch into ‘Rehab’ & ‘Swan Song’, which absolutely slay.  We are then treated to a series of Eyehategod, Crowbar & Corrosion of Conformity covers.  We see Phil on guitar and Jason Newstead popping onstage to play ‘Clean My Wounds’.  It’s like the coolest jamming session ever witnessed and those there are fully aware of how lucky they are.

When the beautiful Danish men in Volbeat arrive, they are ready to destroy with their personal blend of metal and rockabilly with rock ‘n’ roll.  It kicks off with a bang as they slam straight into ‘Hallelujah Goat’, sounding absolutely flawless.  Poulson and co are on top form, a precision gelled through their extensive schedule no doubt.  Hellfest are treated to a range of tracks old and new, before Barney from Napalm Death makes a very welcome appearance to rock the shit out of ‘Evelyn’.  This wonder is followed by a medley of ‘Breaking The Law’ & ‘Raining Blood’, which is just glorious.  It feels like the party could continue when Volbeat finish up their magnificent set with ‘Pool Of Booze, Booza, Booza’. Sadly, all good things must come to an end.  A more than worthy headliner, let’s do this again soon Volbeat. SH

Ghost have been moved to Mainstage 2, to face their congregation in the dark of the night, after Danzig moved to fill their tent slot earlier in the evening.  It was a magnificent decision, as we see Ghost make their triumphant return to Hellfest in a manner only they can.  Grandeur and grace is on constant display from Papa Emeritus II, as he floats across the stage carrying out his musical service.  The beautiful harmony-filled ‘Stand By Him’ flows perfectly through the night air, as Papa’s voice simply rattles to the bone.  After a strange double desk failure & a resulting power cut on stage, the crowd are conducted through the remaining hymns by the slightest movement of the leather-clad hands of that enigmatic front man.  As the haunting refrain of the beautiful ‘Monstrance Clock’ rings out & the cloaked figures exit, there is a buzz in the air, as we are left questioning why Ghost weren’t on the Mainstage in the first place after that outstanding set. SH

 

Review by Lily Randall and Siobhan Hogarty

Published on soundshock.com

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King Parrot – ‘Bite Your Head Off’

On first listen, Aussies King Parrot are like an annoying younger sibling running around, causing havoc and making an unnecessary amount of noise. But eventually you see the charm, embrace the madness and give them a big loving hug. The thrashing grind of ‘Bite Your Head Off’ only lasts around twenty minutes but it leaves a more than lasting impression. Opener ‘Bozo’ is an ideal example of the intense grind coated in death thrash riffs and your first experience of the bizarre vocals of Youngy, who we assume caused the name King Parrot with his nasty, punk-tinged squawks.

There isn’t likely to be many albums that combine these scummy styles in a serious manner and King Parrot pursue this with tongue-in-cheek titles such as ‘Silly Ol’ Mate’ and ‘Shit on the Liver’. Don’t let this cause an avoidance though, as every single track is a short, sharp blast of intensity and great musicianship. The power of ‘Bite Your Head Off’ is stronger than the largest wingspan frantically flapping and one can only assume their live shows would be absolutely mental. Invite please.

4 out of 5 fists

Lecherous Nocturne – ‘Behold Almighty Doctrine’

The technical trail through the death metal plains continues to lengthen with bands desperate to out-widdle one another. Whilst many continue to amaze with obscure time patterns and fingers faster than a serial masturbator, Lecherous Nocturne are probably not a name you think of as leaders in the field. They should be though, as third full length ‘Behold Almighty Doctrine’ balances the brutal urges with technical intelligence without being plain silly. Further to add to the commendable traits is their obvious loyalty to the old school death scene that clearly influenced the band. Smatterings of Morbid Angel are aurally spotted, as well as the odd hint of blackened tremolos akin to Marduk. ‘Those Having Been Hidden Away’ is stellar proof of how underrated Lecherous Nocturne are and records like this are worthy of meeting the likes of Immolation in the highlights of 2013 for death metal.

4 out of 5 fists

Impiety – ‘Vengeance Hell Immemorial’

Sometimes a compilation may seem like a money-grabbing scheme but when the band in question’s tunes are as hard to hunt down as an endangered species, it can come as a blessing. Singapore’s black/death exports Impiety go out of print with ease and ‘Vengeance Hell Immemorial’ is the ideal portrayal of their evil reign over more than two decades. For those unfamiliar with Impeity, this record starts from the bestial beginning with exhibits from their ‘Salve the Goat’ EP and ‘Ceremonial Necrochrist Redesecration’ demo containing Blasphemy worship aplenty.

As the album progresses, so does the death metal flavours through ‘Funeralight’, into ‘ Kaos Kommand’ and into their split with Abhorrence, the most deadly yet. Despite their often elitist following and ridiculously raw speed, the interludes amongst the darkness shows the opposite, with renditions of “Eye of the Tiger” and people flushing the toilet. If an infographic were to be made of this album, it would be Darwin’s image of evolution smothered in corpsepaint, wedged firmly in any black metal fan’s shelf.

4 out of 5 fists.

Necronomicon – ‘The Rise of the Elder Ones’

After crossing the hurdles of second and third album releases, Canada’s Necronomicon have returned with an album likely to crush any of their predecessors. ‘The Rise of Elders’ is arguably one of their strongest moments, with a blackened death blast-fest that will undoubtedly result in tinnitus. Although there is an array of monstrous drumming that could give the likes of Behemoth’s Inferno a run for his money, and guitar parts delicately laced with technicality, the album as a whole is nothing particularly thought provoking. Unlike similar sounding artists like the aforementioned Behemoth or the beautifully brutal Nile, the Canadians lack a distinctive atmosphere despite divulging in majestic yet slightly cringey keyboard parts. Although competent, ‘The Rise of the Elder Ones’ slowly falls into a repetitive loop by the latter half of the album and it wouldn’t be surprising if this album was lost in the murky depths of extreme metal.

2 out of 5 fists.

All reviews by Lily Randall

autopsy-the_headless_ritual

After sixteen years of silence, Autopsy regained their corrupt crown of death metal in 2011 with ‘Macabre Eternal’ reaching many “top album” lists and rightly so. The pristine yet totally purge worthy death metal mixed mid-tempo anguish with doom riddled distress into a fine Bloody Mary of a cocktail. Fast forward two years and although the factors haven’t evolved much from before, the formula proves to be even more perfected on ‘The Headless Ritual’.

The title appears apt as the first couple of minutes into ‘Slaughter at Beast House’ decapitates you with a visceral riff attack, leaving your head rolling around in fear that it won’t get to hear the rest. The consistent variation of tempo continues the former doomy death hybrid and stops anyone from complaining about repetition; the sluggish, almost ballad mannerisms of ‘She Is Funeral’ are reminiscent to a zombie soundtrack and a definite stand out on the record, whilst ‘Mangled Far Below’ screams with crust-infected grooves.

Autopsy’s last attempt reeked with a horrifying atmosphere and ‘The Headless Ritual’ certainly doesn’t lose this charm, it actually further strengthens each song as its own. As always the Cutler/Reifert vocal team destroys any feeling of ease with rasps and growls most screamo kids would cry over attempting and although shorter than its predecessor, it’s enough to confirm that this vile corpse of an album is likely to resurrect itself in your collection for many years to come.

Review by Lily Randall

‘The Headless Ritual’ is out now on Peaceville.

You’ll like this if… you’re a dirty gore whore with an unfathomable need for amazing death metal.

Published on soundshock.com