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 2 – June 18th
I couldn’t believe that it could be any hotter than the day before, but alas, here we were overheated and sweaty, and ready for metal and rock ‘n’ roll.
I started off with THE DARKNESS as I typically don’t go to festivals where they’d perform. So I didn’t know if I’d ever photograph them. Justin and co. seemed not to be affected by the heat and delivered a bloody lovely show to paraphrase another British lad. I just love how campy and unapologetically over the top they are.
To change my mood a bit I went to KAMPFAR show to hide a bit from the sun under a roofed stage. I’ve been a fan of them since the ice age and couldn’t miss them; also because the Norwegians always deliver a first-class spectacle. Dolk’s charisma on stage is exceptional each and every time.
After a short break to find a bit of shade and replenish fluids, we opted again for a roofed stage gig and chose TAAKE because I have never somehow managed to shoot them. Well, I’m glad that I did, as Hoest is equally charismatic as KAMPFAR’s own Dolk. I need nothing more than a magnetizing vocalist to make my day.
Not many bands could lure us out of our roofed stages, but STEEL PANTHER is definitely one that I would cry myself to sleep if I’d miss. Glam rock is not my cup of tea and the stage antics are borderline cheesy, but it’d be a lie to say I didn’t enjoy the hell out of my short moment with them in the photo-pit. I just can’t help but grin when I see them.
Subsequently, I popped up for a moment in the ENSIFERUM photo-pit, before I dashed to the main stage again to – what I thought was a DEEP PURPLE queue, but I must have messed up the hours – the MEGADETH photopit, to witness Kiko Loureiro‘s solo on stage. After that, we quickly returned so I could take my place in the actual DEEP PURPLE queue.
It’s hard to suggest that we could say anything about DEEP PURPLE that hasn’t already been said about these gentlemen. We just enjoyed them on stage and I was lucky enough to get to shoot them.
We finished day number two with the French Vikings from SKÁLD, whom I’ve been listening to plenty of times and wondered how they’d do live. The verdict is… good enough to shoot them a few more times, maybe in a smaller club. As I have this incurable affinity to folk/Viking bands, I will keep my eye on their shows and try to land myself in one of their gigs again.
After SKÁLD, we were forced to give up on life in general, completely exhausted. However, we were really looking forward to day three as, the weather forecast was more optimistic.
Text & photos by Maria Sawicka