Road to Hellfest 2022: The Temple – Weekend One
The return to the normalcy of everyday life is drawing near and with it, the return of live shows and festivals in full force. One such festival is Hellfest, the biggest rock and metal festival in the world that has featured some of the most unquestionably brilliant lineups ever since its inception back in 2006, where it originated from the ashes of Fury Fest. Over the years, the festival has grown exponentially and now features six different stages, each of them offering unique facets and subgenres of rock and metal. From hard rock, heavy metal and folk to black metal, death metal and hardcore punk, there is something for everyone at Hellfest.
For its 15th Anniversary, the lineup got even crazier with the addition of a second weekend. This is, without a doubt, the biggest festival lineup the world has ever seen, and to help you figure out what bands cannot be missed, we are unleashing a Road to Hellfest 2022 article series. In it, we will speak about seven bands from each stage and from each weekend that we feel are absolutely worth seeing and that should not be missed by any living soul attending the festival. We shall kick things off with The Temple, the stage for avid lovers of all things black, folk and experimental. Allow us to introduce you to seven bands that will perform there during the first weekend of Hellfest.
Before speaking of Vreid, one needs to start on the band that preceded it: Windir. Formed in 1994 by late vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Terje “Valfar” Bakken, Windir were a Norwegian group that melded black metal with Scandinavian folk music, as well as its mythology and folklore. Their lyrics often written in sognamål, a Western Norwegian dialect spoken in the area of Sogn, Windir forged four unique and magnificent records during their ten-year-long tenure. Following the unfortunate death of its leader, the remaining band members went on to form Vreid, a spiritual successor to Windir, which not only honours Valfar’s life and artistic vision, but also continues to champion the majesty and tradition of black metal in new and exciting ways. Their latest release, Wild North West is the- truest representation of these sentiments yet, showcasing what Vreid do best.
Last and only time they visited Hellfest, the group performed a Sognametal special set comprised of both Windir and Ulcus songs, as well as their own material in between, and were even joined on stage by Valfar’s towering brother, Vegard Bakken. Eight years later, Vreid return for an equally special Windir set centered around the iconic record 1184, which completed 20 years last year. This will certainly be a unique opportunity to witness live such classics as “Dance of Mortal Lust”, “The Spiritlord”, “Heidra” and “Journey to the End”, so we urge everyone to be present at this once in a lifetime performance.
There aren’t many bands quite like Borknagar. Hailing from Bergen, Borknagar was founded by Øystein G. Brun after he grew tired of the simplistic brutality that often characterized extreme metal and wanted to push the boundaries on the traditional aspects of black metal. And in this, he succeeded. Blending black, viking and progressive metal, Borknagar’s epic soundscapes quickly put them in a realm entirely their own, with their nature, cosmos and mythology-inspired lyrics further distancing the band from the usual blasphemic content associated with the genre. Having always featured a luxurious assortment of musicians in its lineup, which ranged from current and former members of Arcturus, Ulver, Enslaved, Cronian, Solefald and Viper Solfa, Borknagar are consistently releasing amazing records after amazing records, their latest being the absolutely wondrous True North.
But as impressive as the band is, there is still one thing left for them to conquer: Hellfest. Being as this is their very first performance at the grandest rock and metal festival of them all, we couldn’t be more excited. The four elements of Nature will be summoned when Borknagar step on stage to deliver a beautiful performance for us all.
For those who follow the black metal scene, the name Gaahl is very well-known. A highly creative human being that tirelessly contributed and collaborated with many high-profile bands such as Wardruna and Gorgoroth, and even helmed a few projects of his own, such as Trelldom, Gaahlskagg and God Seed, Gaahl is a prolific artist that keeps is creative juices ever-flowing and is never deterred to venture himself into new realms of sound. When the aforementioned God Seed terminated their journey, Gaahl immediately surrounded himself with like-minded and exceptional musicians to form Gaahls Wyrd. Three years ago, the group released a monumental debut record, GastiR – Ghosts Invited, and just last year, they continued their philosophical journey with a brilliant EP, The Humming Mountain. What awaits next is something that still remains to be seen but will most likely be equally as exciting.
Gaahl himself is no stranger to the Hellfest stages, having performed there twice in the past with God Seed. It is, then, only natural that one would feel excited about the prospect of his return to the festival, especially considering the fresh and incredible repertoire of songs that he now brings with him. Get ready for some otherworldly and formidable black metal unlike anything you have ever seen.
The Great Old Ones
The French metal scene is becoming increasingly impressive the more years pass and one of the great driving forces behind that are The Great Old Ones. Well, not the malignant and incomprehensible deities present in the works of H.P. Lovecraft, but rather, their passionate and cloaked followers. Channeling the energy and literary legacy of the aforementioned author, the quintet employs dark cosmicism to take the listener on a journey deep into the mountains of madness. Dissonant and tortured, yet beautifully crafted melodies explode and erupt, as the howlings of the unsound envelop the listener and crack their mind into a million pieces, over and over again; something that is evidenced in records such as Al Azif, Tekeli-li or the latest one to date, Cosmicism.
The cloaked cultists of The Great Old Ones have performed twice at Hellfest in the past, but the festival goers can’t seem to have enough of the maddening sonorities and we fully understand why. If you haven’t had the chance to witness the insane brilliance that is The Great Old Ones, then now is the perfect time to do just that.
Regarde Les Hommes Tomber
Speaking of the French metal scene, this next act has been growing rapidly in popularity ever since their inception back in 2011. Mixing the abrasive harshness of sludge metal with the density and tonality of post-black metal, Regarde Les Hommes Tomber have crafted for themselves a sound that can only be described as being entirely their own. Powerful and melodic riffs, pulsating blast beats and grim, evocative vocals create a dynamic, yet suffocating atmosphere that mercilessly cuts through the air like a knife. Their three records to date – Exile, Ascension and the self-titled debut -, possess a potent and dramatic sense of narration, offering the listener a retelling of divine punishments and inescapable fates as seen in the holiest of writings and adding to the already massive dimension of the group’s prodigious sound.
In a live setting, Regarde Les Hommes Tomber are as extraordinary as they are ritualistic, and no one will feel indifferent after receiving the sonorous barrage they have to offer. They have performed twice at Hellfest before and this year, they are coming back for a twofer. On weekend one, they will perform material of their own catalogue, and on weekend two, they will perform a special collaborative set with Hangman’s Chair. Both of these performances are definitely unmissable, so make sure you reserve some time on the intense and varied schedule of Hellfest to witness them.
Named after the warriors who, according to Norse mythology, died in battle and were brought to Valhalla by the valkyries to feast and battle with each other until the coming of Ragnarök, Einherjer are perhaps one of the most consistent bands to come out of the Norwegian metal scene. With lyrics that retell Norse legends, the group employs the typically diverse musical style that is viking metal in a manner that is unseen anywhere else. Uncompromising and thundering drums, ravenously harsh growls and energetic riffage create an epic atmosphere filled to the brim with awesome soundscapes and grandiose synths. Records such as Dragons of the North, Odin Owns Ye All, Norwegian Native Art and Av oss, for oss have become instant classics in the genre, and their latest release to date, North Star, continues that very tradition.
This will be the group’s very first ever performance at Hellfest and the sense of excitment and conquest is already floating in the air. The time has come to pick up one’s sword and run into the battlefield that awaits all: Einherjer are coming and no one will be left at mercy’s hands.
Last but by no means least, and also an increasingly important act in the French metal scene, we have the alchemical black metal outfit Pénitence Onirique. With shrouds adorned with otherworldly golden masks, this marvellous sextet was formed back in 2015 by Bellovesos and Diviciaos, who had the idea to create atmospheric and intricate music that featured lyrics that would be open to individual analysis. Despite being a relatively new band, Pénitence Onirique have already conquered a spot in the black metal scene as a whole with their portentous wall of riffs, intense and precise drums, and primal, death-rattling vocals. Their two records to date, V.I.T.R.I.O.L and Vestige, are absolute bangers filled with rich and textured atmospheres, as well as somber and fierce sonorities, true to their fondness for all things mystical and esoteric.
Despite being fellow countrymen with the festival at hand, Pénitence Onirique will be performing there for the first time this year. With a ritualistic vibe surrounding every single one of their shows, this will be the perfect opportunity to witness just how much the band is a force to be reckoned with.