FESTIVAL REVIEW: KNOTFEST MEETS HELLFEST 2019 Live at Clisson, France
A day before Hellfest kicked off its 14th edition on June 21, 2019, the traveling festival of Knotfest arrived across the Atlantic for the first time ever on June 20. This provided not only for an additional fourth day of concert festivities for many but also providing a glimpse into Hellfest for those still on the fence about attending the 3-day event.
Given the power-packed line-up for the day, the Hell-City Square was packed to capacity as the gates to the grounds opened for public. Making our way slowly into the arena, we arrived at the green lawns in front of the mainstages.
A few minutes later, Ministry was ready to unleash their industrial metal violence. The band stuck to their 1990’s material for their entire set, kicking things off with “The Missing” and finishing with “Thieves.” Even 27 years after its release ‘Psalm 69’ remains a crowd favorite, this was evident as the crowd fed off the bands energy in the performance of “Just One Fix” and “N.W.O.”
Next up, the only black metal act for the day takes the stage. Every time Behemoth play, they bring the complete atmosphere along with them and this evening is no exception. Their stage presence speaks for itself, be it with or without the masks. On “Bartzabel” Nergal brings out the headdress seen in the official clip and encourages the crowd to sing along and point the triangle of Illuminati (?) to conjure the spirit of Mars in the land of hell. Going back in time, Behemoth end their set with a perfect bang in “Chant for Eschaton 2000” (off the album ‘Satanica’).
If there was one band that would divide audience opinions most for the night, it was Papa Roach. While kicking off with old classics in “Last Resort” and “Blood Brothers,” they got the younger crowd singing along in sheer nostalgia. As the band brings tracks from their latest album ‘Who Do You Trust?’ the crowd starts to separate. Too pop-driven for few, they make their way to bar counters, while others see this as an opportunity to break a few dance moves. As the enthusiastic remain in the pit, the band revives some tracks off ‘Getting Away With Murder,’ before paying tribute to Keith Flint of Prodigy with an emotionally charged cover of “Firestarter.”
Aghast from the intensity of the music on display, we slowly realize our bodies call for rest. With some food in the stomach and the local Muscadet wine to revive our souls, we return to raise our (metal) horns to Amon Amarth. They attack the lands of Knotfest, with the powerful opening duo of “The Pursuit of Vikings” and “Deceiver of the Gods.” Playing a mix of classics and tracks off the new album ‘Berserker,’ drummer Jocke Wallgren keeps the drums pounding from atop the large Viking helmet that dominates the stage, while frontman Johan Hegg keeps the crowd thoroughly engaged. The band end their set in a cinematic fashion, as the large sea serpent Jörmungand takes over the stage, lightning strikes the land, and Amon Amarth break into “Twilight of the Thunder God.” The lightning left the crowd truly charged and ready for…
Slipknot! It should come as no surprise to most that at Knotfest, this was the band was truly waiting to devour. The moment the curtain fell, the crowd went into a state of complete madness, the whole arena turning into one giant pit. Opening with a non-stop triple-attack of “People=Shit,” “(sic)” and “Get This,” Slipknot‘s set had destruction return all over it. The crowd thoroughly engaged with chanting ‘If you are 555, then I’m 666’ for “The Heretic Anthem” to ‘ta ta ta’ for “Custer.” Even the new songs in “All Out Life” and “Unsainted” fit perfectly into the set (that was mostly composed of their early works). Slipknot is one band that truly feeds off the energy of the crowd, to conjure even bigger chaotic madness on stage, with each and every member bringing their wildest persona.
While battered and bruised (literally for many) after that Slipknot set, the night was not done yet, and the crowd put stayed as Sabaton launched their assault! With a larger than life (great shadow-play there!) intro to “Ghost Division,” the band had a great stage setting with tanks, sandbag trenches, and a choir in military uniform. As Joakim sang his lungs out (literally!), the band punched through classics “Carolus Rex” and “Primo Victoria,” while introducing the one-off single “Bismarck” and “Fields of Verdun” from the upcoming album ‘The Great War’. The band wrapped up the first European edition of Knotfest meets Hellfest with a cleverly placed “To Hell and Back.” As the crowd made its way back to the camping grounds, little did they know that events in the next few hours would conspire to make Sabaton‘s biggest moment actually come 24 hours later, more on that in our coverage of Hellfest!
Knotfest meets Hellfest set a high bar – almost li challenge to the coming 3 days – to match the intensity and sheer exuberance the festival had brought to the grounds of Clisson.