FESTIVAL REVIEW: HELLFEST 2019 Live at Clisson, France – Day 2 (Saturday)
After the perfect start to the festival on Friday with Gojira, Power Trip, and many others, our bodies were truly destroyed even before the start of Day 2. But the 14th edition of Hellfest was just getting started and we slowly made our way back into the arena. While jokes about Manowar still got thrown around, Saturday promised to be a day of nostalgia for many.
While the sun was even brighter than on the last two days, Dool brought the Dutch darkness with them into the Temple arena. Formed from members of the legendary Devil’s Blood and Gold, the band’s occult rock had the audience in a state of hypnosis from the get-go. Ryanne van Dorst’s voice was both moving and powerful, as the band played through songs from their debut ‘Here Now, There Then’ and included the cover of “Love Like Blood” by Killing Joke (also found on Dool‘s new EP of the same name). A perfectly dark and energizing start to the day!
The American technical death metal Allegaeon has been building its fanbase in Europe with a tour earlier in the year following the release of ‘Apoptosis,’ and this is evident with the large crowd that gathered at the Altar. Despite a slightly rough sound at the start with “Dyson Sphere” (which we later learned was due to a voltage surge destroying their MIDI programs), the band soon found its groove. By the time the band had reached “Extremophiles (B)” of the new record, the crowd had found its own groove and was happily moving along, but the ending with “1.618” truly got the crowd to lose their s***!
While we missed most of the afternoon (doing interviews), we were back in the arena just in time to catch Whitesnake! The band wastes no time in giving everyone a taste of the classics by kicking off the set with “Bad Boys” and “Slide It In.” David Coverdale showed he still has the moves and charm of the 80s with “Love Ain’t no Stranger.” The band played a couple of songs from the new album ‘Flesh & Blood’ interspersed with guitar and drum solos that felt flamboyant and unnecessary at the same time. But to the joy of many, the band went back to the classics with a pitch-perfect delivery of “Is This Love,” before finishing with a bang in “Still of the Night.”
Darkness is starting to envelop Clisson as The Ocean take the stage in the Valley. A set built around the new record ‘Phanerozoic I: Palaeozoic,’ the band kicks thing off with the album opener “The Cambrian Explosion.” The song immediately manages to set the atmosphere for the rest of the set – progressive, aggressive, and somber at the same time. Front man Loïc Rossetti has an attractive stage presence, which when coupled with the monstrous sound on display becomes the foundation of a truly memorable performance. The impressive set ends as the band go back to the blockbuster ‘Pelagial,’ and pull out the two-part “Bathyalpelagic” and “Benthic: The Origin of Our Wishes.”
The second act in the nostalgic series (after Whitesnake) and sadly the set lacked the punch one expected from Def Leppard. While they started off well with “Rocket,” “Animal,” and “Let It Go,” the set quickly turned into a night of slow ballads and mid-tempo songs. Despite the sound being perfect on the Mainstage, the set leaves a lot to be desired. While the band picks up pace at the end with “Pour Some Sugar on Me,” “Rock of Ages,” and “Photograph,” it’s too little too late as most of the audience has wandered off.
The Swedish melodic death metal veterans Dark Tranquillity took the Altar stage late in the hot evening. Playing a festival-ish setlist, the band covered 12 songs from 7 (out of their 11) albums! While the band made their journey to Clisson, their instruments sadly did not make the journey thanks to being lost in transit in Brussels, the band played on with borrowed gear. While it did not hamper the performance, the sound did suffer a little. But with Mikael Stanne delivering growls and cleans with ease, and the frontline crowd singing along to classics in “Terminus,” “Lost to Apathy,” and “Misery’s Crown,” the audience clearly did not mind it, and neither did we.
Is this actually the last time we will see Kiss live? Only time will tell. But, as a part of the farewell tour, the band got a two-hour set at Hellfest this year! Pyrotechnics, lasers, a large amount of confetti, this set has it all. Right from the start with “Detroit Rock City” and “Shout It Out Loud,” the band’s over-the-top persona is ruling over Clissson, as Paul Stanley and Gene Simons remain true to their reputation. While it’s no surprise that Paul’s vocals have seen better days, his continuous banter with the crowd had the Kiss Army smiling, and zip-lining himself to a watchtower in the middle of the crowd only enhanced that.
This set was pure rock-and-roll, and irrespective of one’s love for the band’s music, it was easy to see what made the band tick with people the way they have done over the last 40+ years. The encore of “Crazy Crazy Nights” and “Rock and Roll All Nite” rounds up the night, a perfect goodbye to the fans.
CULT OF LUNA
As they say, the best is reserved for the last, and that was true for the second day of Hellfest. When the clock struck midnight, Cult of Luna got ready to take the stage on the Valley. Opening with the new epic ten-minute single “The Silent Man,” the band quickly capture the attention of the audience from the get-go. The post-metal music of the band sounded monstrous, yet extremely detailed, with each layer of the composition distinguishable from the one above it. The dual drum attack of Christian Augustin and Thomas Hedlund dictate the tempo as the band played songs from across their discography and premiered an unreleased “Nightwalkers.” The sonic and visual treat that of Cult of Luna, not only sent us back to the camp refilled with energy but also gave us a reason to look forward to their European tour later this year.