It is that time of the year when France becomes the meeting point for all European headbangers. After having celebrated its 10th birthday last year, the Hellfest Open Air began with a blast thanks to an outstanding and varied program, and gathered more than 150,000 fans for 3 days of rock and metal.
Day 1 saw the first morning riffs reserved for the Swedish band Monolord, who played a heavy-yet-efficient show consisting of stoner rock material. The French scene was already well-represented during this first Hellfest morning, with Moonreich, who, after the release of their third album ‘Pillar of Defect’ played an awesome show combining a solid stage performance as well as a high sound quality. Next up were another French band Cowards, who opened on the brand-new and amazing looking Warzone area, delivering a high-energy hardcore metal performance in front of an early crowd that was still a bit shy.
On the main stage, the symphonic metal band Delain started their set, carried by their charismatic singer Charlotte Wessels who put on a good show singing tracks like “We are the Others” and “Don’t Let Go”. At lunch time, the program gave way to Harms Way who came to present their latest album ‘Rust and Cruachan’, and they put on a dynamic performance with folk metal-infused death. The afternoon saw a series of interesting and various shows on the main Stage, with Nashville Pussy and Shinedown, who honoured Prince prior to putting up an outrageously energy-packed show in front of a receptive crowd. Brent Smith also asked the crowd to split and create a breach. He then went down the middle and asked everybody to jump around.
Next up on the main stage were Halestorm, playing an intense show and finishing with a funny drum solo played by Arejay Hale with gigantic drum sticks. The band played their most famous tracks like “Mz Hyde” and “I Like it Heavy”. Next up was the French collective Le Bal des enrages, who gave an outstanding show with a procession of artists covering different titles like “Ace of Spades” , “Rock’n’roll” by Led Zeppelin, “Killing In The Name”, ”Smells Like Teen Spirit”, “Refuse/Resist” and “Antisocial”. In a crazy atmosphere, they put on an incredibly energetic show during their 40 minutes, getting the crowd to sing along and jump.
The mainstage also saw Anthrax who gave an incredible show for their fans. Classic songs like “Caught In A Mosh”, “Antisocial” and “Indians” were in the set list –surely a positive live performance along with an incredible sound quality for these experienced rock stars. Back in the warzone area, Killswitch Engage were wreaking havoc, beginning with “A Bid Farewell”. The crowd immediately showed their support, jumping and singing along with Jesse Leach. The band played titles off their latest album, including “Alone I Stand”, “Hate by Design”, and “Strength of the Mind”. It was an amazing performance in addition to some funny speeches between songs.
At 7pm, it was impossible to set foot under the altar and the cause was pretty simple –the Polish Vader were in the house and they were unleashing hell! The riffs were precise and powerful and the drummer delivered some amazing blast beats. After a strong live performance, they got a big ovation from the crowd. After having seen Bullet for My Valentine, who gave a solid and professional performance with “Scream Aim Fire”, “Tears Don’t Fall”, “Walking The Demon” and more, it was indisputably Hatebreed who took the limelight.
With their well-known power and charisma, the band from New York performed an outstanding set list from the 1st song “Destroy Everything” to the last one “I Will Be Heard”. The crowd went insane, and Hatebreed showed, once again, their status in the Hardcore universe. Amazing! During the rest of the evening headliners like Volbeat, Magma and Overkill took to stage, but what really brought the house down was Rammstein, at midnight on the Mainstage.
Very spectacular as usual, with an impressive design scheme, incredible pyrotechnics, jets of flames and others fireworks, Rammstein played a musically-rigorous and thorough set with a majority of hits like “Du Hast”, “Links 2 3 4” and “Engel”. However, there was some lack of communication with the crowd, which brought a bit of coldness to the show. The evening on the main stage ended with the festive tones of The Offspring, who travelled through all their hits like “Have You Ever”, “Staring At The Sun”, the unforgettable “Why Don’t You Get a Job” and “Pretty Fly (for a White Guy)”.
The last performance of the day was Abbath. The Black Metal band put out a solid show despite some technical difficulties, and the show concluded with an air of excitement for all the upcoming bands on the next day.