A Spañard Goes to Hellfest 2k15: Vol. I

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Greetings, toileteers. I last spake to thee before the real start of my adventures. Now, the sun rises over Northeastern France, brining with it the dawn of a three day marathon of metal, dust and general European-ness.

DAY 1

Around 9:30 AM we wake up to find the tent unbearably hot to be in any longer, so we eat a quick breakfast and get all our stuff together before heading out for the day. Bölzer don’t start until 12-ish, so I’ll have ample time to grab an official festival shirt and then walk around for a bit, right? WRONG. Between the lines at the main gate and at the merch booth I barely made it out in time, but the shirt I snagged sold out later that day so I think it was worth it. My brother decided not to wait around and took some pictures instead.

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Morning’s first impressions:

12:30 PM – Despise You are really good but their chick vocalist is one of the most annoying things I’ve ever heard. Their whole wigger aesthetic doesn’t really fit the music, I am confused [Editor’s Note: You are now on my shit list until the end of time]. Bölzer sounded massive for being just two dudes, good stuff indeed.

15:45 PM – The clouds are gone and the sun is out full blast. Truckfighters were super solid, as were Sylosis despite having pretty bad sound, Defeater were interesting and Armored Saint were good. John Bush‘s still got it. Leng T’che were pretty fun, what with the engaging breakdowns and all.

Looking at the schedule for the remainder of the day, it started to become clearer and clearer that my neck was going to be in bad shape on Saturday morning. Sometimes it seems like all the bands you really like pile up into one day, and this was pretty much the case this year. Not that the remaining two days were lacking, but the combination of being better rested and seeing a handful of my favorite bands ever in the span of a few hours made for the strongest day of the weekend. This is something that you don’t really notice until you’ve lived it, but fatigue plays a really important part in the festival experience, and getting plenty of rest (even if it’s just sitting down on the ground somewhere) is essential to be able to make it through the day in one piece. Anyway…

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19:15 PM – Oathbreaker absolutely killing it, their vocalist is really mesmerizing. Vallenfyre, Melechesh and Dying Fetus, and High on Fire were all a blast. Matt Pike still hasn’t found his shirt.

I feel like I need to elaborate here because WOW. Vallenfyre sounded remarkably close to how they do on record, and it was crushing. The Altar (Death/Grind stage) had really good sound this year and I’m really glad it did, other times it’s been a jumbled bunch of bass. Melechesh, on the other hand, didn’t sound as good, but were really entertaining.

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My third time seeing Dying Fetus = the third time my neck is hopelessly obliterated, surprisingly not beyond repair… yet. They usually play the same “classic” songs for festival sets, but I love them so much I can’t get enough of them. We showed up to Oathbreaker expecting to see Trap Them but apparently there was a last minute change and I think it was for the better, it was an extremely intense set and probably my favorite of the entire weekend. If you haven’t checked them out yet, do it now.

22:45 PM – Watching 5FDP RIP $H*T UP from afar and trying to forget about the fact that I am dead. Chilling out having dinner while watching Lamb of God bring the mosh was a good idea, but after seeing Bloodbath and Mastodon back to back we need a bit more rest.

Despite what anyone might tell you (ahem, Dubya), Bloodbath with Nick Holmes are really entertaining. Sure, he’s not the best “harsh” vocalist around (or the most active onstage), but that doesn’t really matter when you’re headbanging and screaming AND SO YOU DIE at the top of your lungs. Seeing Mastodon live was on my bucket list, so I forgive them for not playing anything from Remission of Crack the Skye. Their set was (forseeably) Once More ‘Round the Sun-centric, with two songs each from The Hunter, Blood Mountain and Leviathan. For some reason they played a smaller tent instead of one of the main stages, so anticipating an ungodly amount of people we saved ourselves a decent spot mid-front about an hour before they started. I don’t know if it was a good idea or not because I couldn’t see the SUCKAS outside from my FAIRLY DECENT SPOT.

2:15 AM – OOOOOOOOWWWWW, my everything. Meshuggah were appropriately groovy and Jørgen Munkeby thanked the way too sparse Shining crowd for being there instead of at Slipknot. The Norwegians cemented my neck breakage for good, and then we got to check out a bit of Slipknot’s set for a good old nostalgia trip. “Who wants to go back to 1999?”, Corey Taylor pondered. “Whoever makes J’NCOS!!!”, I shouted back. I don’t think he heard me.

Meshuggah sounded massive, but at a really reasonable overall level. Apparently they insist on letting their own guy run their sound and keep the volume where it should be, one more reason to love the Swedes. In all seriousness though, Shining got robbed. They were closing the Black/Folk stage on Friday night and they got less of a crowd than Melechesh. Not that it phased me personally: I saw a great performance and got to hear some of my favorite songs as well as a couple new ones (yes, they were the right amount of saxxxy). Jørgen said that the new Shining album will be out October 2nd on Spinefarm Records, you heard it here first!!

Aaaand that pretty much was day one in a nutshell. Thanks for reading!! Part deux coming soon.

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