Hellfest promoters did not mess around in 2022. After a 2-year break for obvious reasons, they wanted to make this edition special, not only because it was the return after the pandemic hit, but also because it was the fifteenth edition. They decided to invite most of the biggest names in the business and their mothers, who all said, “yes, I will absolutely Hellfest this year.” We wanted to Hellfest too! The first part took place over June 17th through 19th in Clisson, France.
The event was promoted with the “Beyond this World” slogan and beyond it was! As a first-time Hellfest attendee, I was extremely overwhelmed. I’m more used to smaller, cozier festivals, not 6-stage behemoths with an area big enough to be a small wildlife reserve. We were also very unprepared that Hellfest took the “hell” part literally for 2 first days, so everyone in attendance was frying in close to 40॰C heat like eggs on the sidewalk.
Due to the way the festival rules are for the photogs, my recap will be rather plain and simple. We had only one song to shoot, not being allowed for most of the headliners (unless you had a priority pass, which I had no idea existed as a first-time goer) and running from one pit to another to stand in an actual queue to the photo-pit (legends are true!), I couldn’t enjoy the shows as much as I would have liked to. But on the other hand, that’s not that bad, considering that you’ll have to stick with me for another massive recap for weekend number two! You’re welcome.
Day 1 – June 17th
I started my first day with NECROPHOBIC, as I have an extremely soft spot for them in my little black heart. Big respect for them for coming out in full black metal gear, leather, and spikes, despite the hellish aura outside. Well, nobody said black metal is a walk in the park.
For a change, I opted to check out the main stage and risked visiting THE OFFSPRING playing on the main stage, mainly because I was into a couple of their songs as a young’un, much like anyone else alive in the ’90s, and probably would never show up to one of their headlining shows. Despite their age, the punk rock energy was still there and the audience had a blast at their performance.
Next in line for me was the Californian trio from HIGH ON FIRE, who delivered a very energetic show comprised of a lovely blend of doom and heavy metal – definitely a band to keep an eye on! What followed, was us stumbling upon an all-star group of LORDS OF FLESH, which included musicians from, for example, GRAVE, LOUDBLAST,NECROPHOBIC, NECROWRETCH, and more.
Subsequently, we felt brave enough to take a stroll in the immense heat to find the sixth stage, Warzone, which we straight-up couldn’t find. On the search, we also spotted a rather impressive monument of Lemmy, himself, with a cigarette that would periodically light up! The devil’s in the details, as always.
After that, I paid a visit to the PRIMORDIAL show. A.A. Nemtheanga and co. always guarantee a top-notch performance, especially if you are as biased as we are and love Celtic folk metal with a very dark edge.
BARONESS followed, which was exciting, as I haven’t shot them in close to 10 years. Oh how I missed the absolute joy of them having fun performing and since their bliss is more contagious than the infamous virus that locked us up for 2 years, the audience was having an equal blast. Then, I decided to see ABBATH for a moment, hoping to be frozen by Norwegian black metal (anything to get some sweet relief).
We finished the first day with MAYHEM, as I promised that I would not leave the festival without shooting them. Well, being stubborn is a double-edged sword. I can’t say that I saw the band due to the intense red lights, but I did my best to capture absolute legend on black metal scene.
Shortly after that, I headed home, enjoying the chill of the night. But no worries, we were sure to endure more heat on day 2!
Text & photos by Maria Sawicka