It’s off to the third day of Hellfest. From the outset, we expected Saturday to be one of the biggest days of the festival. And let’s face it, it’s probably the one that convinced us most about this 2023 edition of Hellfest.
Get ready, because you’re in for an earful today. Note that Saturday was the black day in terms of the number of people on site, inevitably due to the presence of Iron Maiden’s only date in France on their Future Past Tour.
We started at dawn under the temple to see Nature Morte on stage again with great pleasure. The Parisian blackgaze trio had come to play a set based on their previous album, Messe Basse. But that’s not all, as Oddity, their next album, also seemed to be in the offing.
And inevitably, as we already noted in 2020, Nature Morte is for us one of the best formations of the genre in France. There’s a real atmosphere that’s created right from the start, an energy that also blends with the sensitivity of the musicians, working from A to Z as a trio, observing each other all the time. The whole set was further enhanced by the excellent work of the lighting engineer, and you couldn’t see the half-hour go by.
For the record, we had the opportunity to do an interview with the band, which will appear shortly to coincide with the release of Oddity.
After a tour to see part of Bloodywood’s set, which only half convinced us due to the excessive presence of the extra soundtrack, we headed into the Warzone to see the Americans from Zulu. On paper, an American hardcore band committed to the issues of civil rights and the black American community is a subject that speaks to us.
And what energy. Enormously efficient, with a relentless flow. The quartet had 30 minutes to convince, and they turned everything on its head. A band to follow, without a doubt.
After a well-deserved break and some interviews, it was time to meet up again at the Valley to see Grandma’s Ashes. The trio, whom we had seen in 2021, arrived with a real sense of anger and rage. Edith, on drums, wore a T-shirt that read: No abusers on stage. The word is out.
With a set lasting around 45 minutes, they based their setlist around their debut album, This Too Shall Pass. We talked about its conception in our interview with Myriam, the band’s guitarist.
As you’d expect, Grandma’s Ashes delivered a very powerful set, heavy on ultra-efficient riffs, winning over a crowd that was more curious than familiar with the band’s universe.
As the set drew to a close, the girls waved their guitars and basses upside down, inscribed: No Abusers on Stage, No Abusers Backstage. Of all the bands programmed at Hellfest, only they, Vulves assassines and Poésie Zéro were the only ones to really take a stand against some of the programming (which we boycotted) and the festival’s actions.
Given what was in store for the rest of the day, we rushed to the mainstage, with Puscifer set to kick things off. For those unfamiliar with the band, this is the third and probably most personal project of singer Maynard James Keenan, who also provides vocals for Tool and A Perfect Circle. Naturally, we were eager to see the band live on stage.
And the result was very convincing. Of course, during the day, and in a festival context, these are not the best times to fully enjoy Puscifer’s music, but their ambient post-indus rock’n’roll took us to the outer reaches of space, and kept us spellbound for the whole set. We can’t help but convince you to go and listen to them, but above all to see them live, as the experience is truly different.
A 180° change of genre on Mainstage 2 with the Arch Enemy concert. The melodic death metal band were back, much to the delight of their fans, but not only. The last time we left the band was in 2014, when they released War Eternal and Alyssa joined them on vocals.
So it’s hard to deny yourself the pleasure of seeing the band back together again, in an ultra-efficient show, with a bit of pyro despite the fact that the band was on stage at this time of day. The concert focused on Deceivers, the band’s latest album, without forgetting a few hits. For the record, we had the opportunity to shoot the band’s photo during War Eternal. We’ve come full circle here.
Another complete change of style, this time with England’s Porcupine Tree. Clearly in a weakened position, the band, who lean more towards progressive rock than true metal, arrive on stage. Steven Wilson makes this clear from the start of the concert, warning the audience that they’re going to have to open up their horizons.
As the first date of the summer tour, we had every right to wonder what the setlist would be like. Especially since the fall tour in support of their latest album, Closure/Continuation, featured a 3-hour concert.
And logically enough, it’s a reworked setlist, combining tracks from both sets of the autumn tour. Incidentally, this is the only date on the tour to feature such a short set from the band. We’ll be back with the classics Blackest Eyes and Trains from In Absentia. On a more original note, the band will do us the honor of playing Open Cars from the Deadwing album. But of course, the pièce de résistance was the band’s excellent, lengthy progressive track Anesthetize.
This Saturday’s headliner was Iron Maiden‘s one-off date in France in 2023. One year after concluding their Legacy of the Beast tour, the English band was already back, to defend their latest album, Senjutsu. But that’s not all! Maiden also took advantage of the opportunity to do a 2-in-1 tour, offering not only the new album, but also a return in time centered around the album Somewhere in Time. As a result, only 4-5 songs have been retained from the band’s previous tour, which may appeal to fans of the band who have followed them from tour to tour…but much less to those who are finally able to see the band for the first time.
Indeed, the setlist is certainly the biggest debate of the Iron Maiden concert. As usual, the show was perfectly oiled, the musicians in top form, Bruce Disckinson nickel, nothing to complain about. But for Iron Maiden fans, missing Number of the Beast, Aces High, Run to the Hills and Hallowed By Thy Name is bound to disappoint. But on our side, since we’re part of that category of people who see the band on every tour, it’s always great to discover new songs live on stage. And inevitably, the highlight of Iron Maiden’s performance at Hellfest was Alexander the Great, served up to us on a silver platter.
As soon as Iron Maiden had finished, it was all over for Mainstage 2. Yes, it’s another big name in metal who’s about to take to the Hellfest stage: Within Temptation. Representing symphonic metal for almost 30 years, the band, led by the voice of Sharon Den Adel, was there to do battle, and offer an ultra-complete setlist, giving pride of place to Resist, their latest effort, but also to older titles.
The opening track, Our Solemn Hour from The Heart of Everything, kicked off the hostilities. As for the show itself, the band pulled out all the stops, from the platforms set up in different parts of the stage to the heavy presence of pyro and smoke. A very good time, and we can say: we’ve seen them!
And to close the day on Saturday, Hellfest once again opted for a radical change of style, with electronic outfit Carpenter Brut. Still the darling of the metal scene, it was a real challenge to bring such a day to a close. And, without stealing the evening’s spotlight, it’s fair to say that the result was worthy of the occasion. A set that never stops, with the arrival of almost all the guests featured on the various albums, we had the impression of having experienced a truly unique concert that has only taken place and will only take place once. And for that alone, it’s a great thing.
We missed them at Hellfest : Myrath
If there was one band we really wanted to see again on Saturday, it was Myrath. Playing at the same time as Arch Enemy, the choice was difficult. Especially as both are bands we’ve seen in the past, and it was interesting to see how their music has evolved on stage after so much time.
The good news is that the concert was filmed by Arte concert all the same.
And that’s all for our report on the third day of Hellfest 2023. Tiredness is really starting to set in, but Sunday is the closing day of this edition of Hellfest, and it’s going to be hard to sulk from our pleasure once again.