26.6.2022 Hellfest – Day 7 @ Clisson, France

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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 second part took place over June 23rd through 26th in Clisson, France.

Check out the galleries from part 1 and part 2, and read the reports from day 1, day 2, day 3, day 4, day 5, and day 6.

Not going to lie, it was a relief that it was the last day. We were terribly out of festival shape and Hellfest was a viciously harsh opening of the season after 3 years.

We arrived to learn that all of the bands I had hoped to shoot on mainstage – BULLET FOR MY VALENTINE, AVATAR, BRING ME THE HORIZON, BLACK LABEL SOCIETY, and SABATON – didn’t allow regular photographers in the pit, only the ones with priority photopasses. As mentioned on another day, I was a Hellfest newbie and had no idea these even existed. We’d been told that the reason was supposedly because of METALLICA‘s stage setup. Many other photographers must have gotten really upset because of that, as one could see that queues to other stages were way shorter than normal. This meant that they left for home, which was absolutely understandable. 

I was initially bummed out about it, but then realized that when I’m not waiting for the main stage bands, I have plenty of time to go to smaller stages and shoot way more interesting bands. So at the end of the day, I had way more freedom than usual. Aww, thanks METALLICA! I don’t really think I would have been able to get through to the side of the stage to enter the pit at the mainstages. There was a literal wall of people who waited from early morning hours to have the best spot for METALLICA. Maybe I’d crowdsurf, but there’s no way I’m doing that with my gear.

As such, I started my day with CULT OF FIRE, who were recommended to me as “Batushka but on steroids and esoteric.” Sign me up, I want candles and incense on stage! Despite my initial struggle to capture their stage setup (the damn thing was wide!), I really enjoyed their gig. 

Cult of Fire

Then I went with one of the other photographers to see THOU, an American sludge metal project. After, I then decided to shoot at least one band on the Warzone stage and it fell upon LIONHEART, a hardcore band from California. I really dig shooting hardcore bands, as they are really energetic and have a fantastic vibe with the audience, who reciprocate that instantly. These Californians were no exception.

Lionheart

After that, we headed back to the black metal Temple Stage to shoot ARCHGOAT and shortly after that, DESTRUCTION. Ah, how I missed the classic Schmier shriek © and the fact that I always end up happy alongside a lot of good pictures. The conclusion is: thrash metal is proven to make a photographer as delighted as can be.

Destruction

My country of Poles has been well known for some time to export loads of fantastic black metal bands, among which is obviously my beloved MGŁA. I always go to their shows if I have the chance, even if I end up with only four or five pictures, as I always do (as you cannot tell the guys apart in those hoodies). 

Mgła

I went to shoot NAPALM DEATH after MGŁA, and since I knew that it would be a rather brief shoot, we hopped back to the Valley Stage to shoot doom metal PENTAGRAM. It was kind of a pity that they landed on a smaller stage, being such legends. It didn’t discourage them, however, to put on a damn great show.

Pentagram

We did our last stroll over to Hellcity Square (an area right after entering the festival gates), which reminded me of a post-apocalyptic version of London’s own Camden Town, before going to see MERCYFUL FATE, another band that I would absolutely love to see on the main stage. It was what it was, however, and the public didn’t seem to mind, nor did Kind Diamond. I was actually curious about their stage setup (I remember it used to be quite hefty in 2019), but they limited themselves to stairs and a podium still worthy of a King.

Mercyful Fate

We went to hear a few SABATON songs with a friend and then we headed back to see CARCASS. I seem to finish up festivals with CARCASS quite often, if I recall correctly. Not that I mind, as I really like their gigs. They’re nothing complex, but that’s the way I love it. 

Carcass

Our last gig of the festival was actually ORANGE GOBLIN. I don’t know how, but they managed to grab the audience and effortlessly capture them to enjoy this very late and one of the very last concerts of Hellfest.

Orange Goblin

That’s all, we’d decided to evacuate before the METALLICA crowd got to the trains. To sum up, was this festival worth going to? Absolutely. Were we tired? Oh holy Jesus on a bike, yes. Sick and tired. Will we go again? Well, they already announced that they’ll make a 3-day festival in 2023. So yes, most likely. Anything but this 7-day massacre will be a walk in the park. Alors, au-revoir Hellfest, jusqu’à la prochaine fois!

Carcass

Text & photos by Maria Sawicka