Road to Hellfest 2022: The Temple – Weekend Two
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 absolutely 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 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 this Road to Hellfest 2022 article series. In it, we will speak about seven bands from each stage, from each weekend, that we feel are absolutely worth seeing and that should not be missed by any living soul attending the festival. We continue our preview on The Temple, the stage for avid lovers of all things black, folk and experimental, this time focusing on seven bands that will perform there during the second weekend of Hellfest.
Groundbreaking. Iconic. Legendary. These are just three of a plethora of adjectives that you could place alongside the name Mercyful Fate. Founded in 1981 by charismatic vocalist King Diamond and immensely talented guitarists Hank Shermann and Michael Denner, Mercyful Fate are one of the most prominent metal groups of all time, often cited as a major influence to a lot of artists and bands to this very day. Employing a sound that is filled with insane falsetto vocals, ominously melodic guitar and bass riffs, and masterful drum work, Mercyful Fate use of occult and satanic imagery drew even the attention of the mainstream media, something that boosted their popularity in the years to come. But despite this increase in popularity, the group always maintained a certain level of enigma and wickedness around them, even during their hibernation.
Years passed since Mercyful Fate last step foot on a stage as a unit and, while it was initially set to take place in 2020, the return of Mercyful Fate will finally happen this year. Headlining The Temple stage on the very last day of Hellfest, Mercyful Fate will bring a repertoire of songs from their classic records Melissa and Don’t Break The Oath, as well as their self-titled EP and maybe some new material. Come to the Sabbath, witches and demons, and be ready for a theatrical celebration of horror and the occult arts.
Speaking of ceremonies, this next act is known for their visceral, wonderous and shamanic shows. Founded in 2014 by German tattoo artist Kai Uwe Faust and Danish producer Christpher Jull, Heilung are a neofolk group that employs the usage of instruments made of bones, teeth, animal skins, spears and more, to produce a one-of-a-kind sound that has no equal. With lyrics that are deeply rooted in texts and runic inscriptions, as well as dead languages such as proto-norse and proto-germanic, Heilung aim to transport the listener on a magical musical journey that is both beautiful and turbulent. Ethereal and compelling chants, and powerful yet soothing sonorities are expertly fused with an energetic and expressive live performance; an exceptional combination that described by the band as amplified history.
The audience of Hellfest have had the pleasure of witnessing the historical live ritual of Heilung before, when the group took to The Temple stage with their debut record, Ofnir. This year, the group returns to headline said stage with their sophomore record, Futha, a marvellous collection of songs that set the bar for the entire folk genre. Be sure not to miss another magnificent chapter of amplified history.
Sometimes, artists can be polarizing for going in a more different direction than tradition mandates. Myrkur is one such case. Created and led by Danish songstress Amalie Brunn, Myrkur dared to break black metal conventions by mixing the genre’s combative music with folk harmonies and angelic chants that transport the listener through icy landscapes and fjords, as well greener and dreamier pastures. Every Myrkur release is a testament to the creativity that surges from the mind of Amalie Bruun and, despite the constant clash with the most fanatic black metal fans, the group is eternally undeterred in its mission to immerse us with the most beautiful of compositions.
Hellfest is sometimes the center stage for special performances and Myrkur has prepared a particularly memorable one this time around. Focusing on her latest full-length release, Myrkur will perform songs from Folkesange in an entirely acoustic format. A unique occasion that will most certainly melt the hearts of those who already adore Myrkur’s music, as well as conquer a few more hearts in the interim.
The Ruins of Beverast
If some bands are more ardently scrutinized in their boundary-breaking endeavours, others are much more welcomed by the black metal community. Born from the visionary mind of one Alexander von Meilenwald, The Ruins of Beverast have been felling the barriers of black metal one by one ever since their inception back in 2003. Forever ambitious, Beverast’s sonic prowess is augmented with each release, with rich and monumental instrumental sections intertwined with harsh and ethereal vocals, a result of Meilenwald’s own progression as a musician and composer. Records such as Foulest Semen of a Sheltered Elite, Blood Vaults and the latest The Thule Grimoires showcase Meilenwald’s predilection for musical exploration, as he blends black metal with doom, gothic and even industrial metal.
In a live setting, The Ruins of Beverast’s performances are both atmospheric and hypnotic, as you will feel enthralled by Meilenwald’s commanding voice and the cascading guitars and drums that accompany it. Their last performance at Hellfest was eight years ago, and considering the band isn’t known for doing extensive tours, you will be doing yourself a favour to not miss a performance as breathtaking and oneiric as theirs.
Cult of Fire
Considered to be a group whose musical style is entirely their own, Cult of Fire are the masters behind an unconventional strand of black metal that is both epic, mesmerizing and unstoppable. Straying far from the blasphemous ideas of traditional black metal, the ceremoniously attired group instead channels profound esotericism and mysticism, specifically that of Hinduism and Vedic religion, to propel a sound that is brimming with mantra-like passages, massive soundscapes and inhuman vocal hymns. Each of their records are intricate and transcendental works of art and their latest twin releases, Moksha and Nirvana, are the finest definition of achieving the ultimate state of soteriological release.
In a live setting, Cult of Fire employ theatricality and elaborate stage adornments to enhance the whole experience, which serves their music in perfect fashion. As they are performing at Hellfest for the first time, do yourself a favour and absorb the mystical vapours provided by Cult of Fire, and ascend to a grander state of being.
Ever since the birth of a certain Australian death metal outfit, face-covered bands have been all the rage. But that doesn’t mean that the movement spawned from Portal’s abrasive mysterium is without great bands as well. One great example of such a sentiment is Portugal’s very own Gaerea. Blending the bleakness of black metal with the aggressiveness of hardcore and the intensity of sludge, the quintet forged a nihilistic sound that leaves only destruction and emptiness in its wake. With two full-length records under their belt, Unsettling Whispers and Limbo, as well as a eponymous EP, Gaerea are already hard at work on a third record, their creative juices never ceasing to flow and their hunger for reaching even greater heights never-ending.
Having never performed at Hellfest before, Gaerea are eager to prove why they are a force that will forever reshape the black metal genre. You can expect an over-the-top and sigil-clad performance, chockful of the best post-black metal that is out there today. The nihilistic vortex that is Gaerea awaits and none shall escape its gaze and pull.
Portrayal of Guilt
Despite their young age, Portrayal of Guilt are already a prolific entity that is in a league entirely their own. With just five years of existence, the group already has three full-length releases and plenty of EPs and splits under their belt, and the forge is still burning hot. Bone-crushing riffs, melancholic yet dissonant harmonies, monolithic soundscapes and screamo vocals that grind the black metal surface, Portrayal of Guilt have a lot of exceptional things going for them. Their lyrics are an amalgamation of nightmarish visions, including self-torture, suicide, sadomasochism and religious blasphemy. There is nothing safe about the sound of Portrayal of Guilt and you will feel punched in the gut repeatedly while listening to their incessant barrage of chaotic noise.
Another unmissable debut at Hellfest, the live performances of Portrayal of Guilt are as tumultuous as their music, with flying bodies and crazy mosh pitting abound. If you dare enter The Temple during their set, be wary that you will not leave unscathed. But isn’t that what it’s all about?