In a run up to the annual festival season I'll be featuring some handpicked Metal/Rock festivals that grace the U.K & Europe which all true metal fans should make a pilgrimage to at least once.
This time I've chosen one of my favorite festivals and was a best kept secret until a couple of years ago, HELLFEST, set in the picturesque town of Clisson, in France.
The seeds were first sewn in 2002 with the start of a music festival that would attract fans of predominantly hardcore metal. FURYFEST was born and attracted and was a complete sell out with 400 people attending! The following year attendance grew to 7000, then in 2004 the festival moved to Le Mans where SLIPKNOT, MORBID ANGEL, MESSHUGAH, FEAR FACTORY, SOULFLY, HATEBREED, DEICIDE and TESTAMENT slammed the 21,000 attendees into submission. 2005 was to be a bitter sweet year, 30,000 attendees but the festival was still making a financial loss so sadly it came to an end.
However, out of the ashes came two devotees and organizers who would not lie down and see their hard work go to waste. Ben Barbaud and Yoann Le Neve came forward in 2006 and committed themselves to bring the best, most diverse metal festival to France... HELLFEST, and the rest they say is history.
Facing mounting opposition from local government and residents of Clisson with the belief that the festival was attracting 'Devil Worshipers' they carried on and reassured everyone all was going to be OK. Having to make certain compromises through the years with their lineups the festival has grow to an 80,000 strong attendance and attracted the biggest names in Metal & Rock. SLAYER, KISS, MANOWAR,
SLASH, OZZY OSBOURNE, JUDAS PRIEST, MEGADETH and HEAVEN & HELL have all appeared on the hallowed French stages. Together with attracting the big names HELLFEST has also been responsible for some of the big reunions in metal and exclusive appearances, encouraging many bands to play 'one off' shows or simply reuniting after thought long gone, CORONER & CARCASS as examples. With a passion for the music, it not only attracts the big names but also likes to promote up and coming metal bands, with a line up proving to be amazingly popular throughout the metal community. Mixing it up and taking the odd risk with bands has mostly proved to be a great success and gamble, IGGY POP, DEFTONES and KMFDM have all appeared through the years and been welcomed alongside the more extreme metal acts of the day.
I have been to HELLFEST the last 5 years and can honestly say it is by far one of the best organized line ups in the world. Comprising of 2 main stages side by side and 2 tents it ensures that catching your bands set requires minimum foot effort and maximum time soaking up your favorite bands set. Held slap bang in the middle of the town of Clisson it certainly attracts a lot of attention from the locals every year who have now come to embrace all that heavy music stands for and they realize we are not all Devil Worshiping goat fuckers.
2012 sees the biggest most ambitious line up to date, featuring the return of KING DIAMOND, MEGADETH, MACHINE HEAD, BEHEMOTH and some LYNYRD SKYNYRD for that all too important southern fried feel itâ€™s shaping up to be a monumental Parisian metal weekend. Moving across the road from its original site, this year sees an increased capacity with more bands, more stages, and a lot more metal for your Euro. If you only have the chance to attend one festival this year make it HELLFEST, take it from me it is one of the best metal festivals, period. With the escalating costs of festival attendance and a more abundant choice, HELLFEST makes a damn fine argument to go, don't speak French? Don't worry, for one weekend only the universal language is METAL and all who attend certainly speak it fluently. My bags are packed and I cannot wait for my 6th year at this festival, why not come join me? I'll be in the pit!!!
For more information - visit the HELLFEST Website.