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 3 – June 19th
Blessed be the thunderstorm for giving us acceptable weather! 25॰C is just perfect for a festival! The bad thing is, most festival-goers got collectively sick from the massive drop in the temperature, including myself.
I started my day with LACUNA COIL and as much as I’m not into gothic metal as I used to be, my younger self was squeeing with joy inside. I have no idea how the hell I didn’t listen to them as a kid. I’d love their stuff to death. Well, I have a lot to catch up on.
We stuck mostly to the main stages on the 19th, with the next band we were interested in checking out being Finnish BATTLE BEAST. We have photographed them plenty of times and when they are in town I like to see their shows. This was no exception.
A friend persuaded me to see REGARDE LES HOMMES TOMBER, a local black metal band. Their vocalist was prancing around the festival grounds, a very nice chap, so we were curious to see and hear how he’d perform. Well, the short story is that he transforms into a stage demon! Definitely will be following them from now on.
After black metal beating I went to see DORO, the one and only heavy metal queen. A friend made a remark that she is so darn adorable that hadn’t we been melting from direct sun while waiting we’d be melting from how sweet she is. Darn right, I just wanted to “aww” every time she popped up near the edge of the stage doing horns and blowing kisses.
You could see from the early days of the morning plenty of blue-yellow flags and other merch which could only mean that a Ukrainian band was to play. JINJER gathered a substantial crowd who also wanted to show support for war-ridden Ukraine. I usually never say “no” to Jinjer so I gladly attended.
The next one for me was BORKNAGAR. I always remembered liking them so gladly went to their show. I technically didn’t go for the next show, but I have to make an honourable mention. MAXIMUM THE HORMONE didn’t allow anyone to shoot from the pit. Little strange especially since most people had zero idea who they were. Which turned out to be quite sad as they had the most bonkers, wild energy on stage that only Japan can deliver. Most of the time I had no idea what I was looking at but I weirdly enjoyed it. Especially when they tried to teach the audience a party move/greeting/battle cue in broken French and English and then switched to their native Japanese anyway. Pity, I would love to take their photos!
Subsequently, DOWN. We don’t mind ourselves a little taste of stoner/southern metal every once in a while, so it was an obvious choice, considering we have never seen them live before.
Sadly, we weren’t allowed to shoot KORN, JUDAS PRIEST, or GOJIRA, so we cried a bit in the corner with a mediocre beer (we were finally able to grab a beer when the heat went down, but guess what… France is not the best when it comes to brewing). 1349 had cancelled, so we were quadruple sad. Thus, the next show we headed over to was ALCEST. To say that we were dazzled by them is like saying that day one of Hellfest was a tad warm. I was absolutely swept off my feet by the sheer beauty of what I heard. My quadruple sadness sailed away into nothingness. I don’t often say that I am enchanted by any performer – perhaps it has happened once or twice over the years. You don’t expect something this exquisite in the metal scene. And thus – merci beaucoup, ALCEST.
My last band on weekend number one was WATAIN, whom I’ve been hunting to shoot for a hot minute. Look, after the lovely blackgaze performed by ALCEST, I need to say that I’m a basic woman… I do like blood and fire on stage. These guys were an excellent wrap-up of three hellish days, in a literal and metaphorical sense.
And thus we were off to have some rest before the next extended weekend. Much needed, might I add, from heat and people mainly. See you in the next posts, where we will complain about the weather some more, shoot a couple of bands, and be thus released from the curse of queues, all thanks to METALLICA!
Text & photos by Maria Sawicka