Raving Blasphemy: Hellfest 2022 – Day Three (Weekend One)
On day three, we didn’t sleep much better as the sweltering heat was coursing through our bodies like tiny needles pricing at the skin. But we did manage to get some much-needed refreshments and had some nice Hellfest hats to protect our gorgeous scalps. Onwards we went to the last day of the first weekend, which started a heavy as fuck performance at the Valley by Vile Creature. Playing for the very first time at Hellfest, the duo of Vik and KW, accompanied by drummer Adam McGillivray, served a caustic set consisting of four songs from their latest record, Glory, Glory! Apathy Took Helm!. In the midst of it, KW delivering a rousing and beautiful speech, thanking all the queer and trans fans watching their performance so early in the day. “Stay safe, stay vigilant, stay vengeful” was the motto unleashed, and the fact that we were in the middle of celebrating Pride Month made the occasion even more special. Anti-oppressive, anti-conformist, anti-capitalist and patriarchy-destroying sludge/doom was served in the best possible manner.
Pénitence Onirique and Cân Bardd followed at the Temple, each of them with their own unique take on the black metal genre, but none really out of the extraordinary, with the same sentiment going for Hour of Penance, who played afterwards at the Altar, with the latter at least having much more movement and excitement about them. And then, it was time for Jesus Piece at the Warzone. God damn, this was an extremely potent gig. As one of the newest and most promising names of the entire hardcore punk scene, the Philadelphia outfit didn’t come to play; they came to devastate and beat the the audience to a miserable pulp. Not having more than fifty minutes to play isn’t really a problem when the intent is to go as fast as possible, leaving nothing in the pit but broken bodies. As soon as the first chords of “Curse of the Serpent” were heard, nobody was left indifferent, everybody just started to fucking move in a frenetic manner. The crowdkills, the moshing and the circle pits came back in style during this gig, and Jesus Piece obliged by amping up and playing stuff like “Greed”, “Neuroprison” and “Conjure Life, as well as a couple of yet-to-be-named new songs. We barely survived this. At the same time that was happening, half of our troupe was Regarde Les Hommes Tomber and can confirm that the band truly is impressive on a live setting. We remained separated during the next slot as some of us wished to see the legendary Metal Queen Doro perform some Warlock classics, while others decided to hex the patriarchy alongside the satanic doo-wop outfit Twin Temple. In hindsight, the latter might have been a much better choice as it truly was a decadent show of sexual inclinations, a blood feast for the senses. Sex, love and inclusion were the central themes of a performance almost entirely dedicated to Twin Temple’s debut record. Another great performance strongly enhanced by the fact of it happening during Pride Month.
We reconvened at the Temple for the Hellfest debut of Gaahls Wyrd, the brand-new entity founded by one of black metal’s most exemplary personas, Kristian “Gaahl” Espedal. This was a truly terrifying show and we mean that in the most positive of ways. During the entirety of the band’s performance, Gaahl was looking at the audience like a phantom, his bloodthirsty eyes gleaming, his gloomy howls echoing all around us. With a special focus on their debut record, GastiR – Ghosts Invited, the group took some time to also play some gems from projects that Gaahl was a part of or formed, including Gorgoroth, Trelldom and God Seed. Not long after, we revisited the Valley to watch Red Fang give a performance worthy of a headliner, with the audience numbers to match. Playing songs from all their records to date, the Portland stoners gave a highly entertaining performance that was chock-full of crowd surfing and moshing. Business as usual for this wonderful quartet, as one would expect. Borknagar were up next on the Temple, and despite being a band that some of us had been waiting so long to catch live, their performance was a tad bit subpar to what was expected. After that sliver of disappointment, we watched the first four songs from Korn’s set and then went straight back to the Valley to prepare for the coming of one of France’s greatest musical exports. Ever wondered how the Valley would look like if it were a massive dance floor, full of ravers? Well, we don’t need to wonder that any longer as that is exactly the scenario that was witnessed during Perturbator’s set. Armed with a massive, pentagrammic structure that exuded light of various colours like some foul portal to Hell, Perturbator caused everyone to move their tired skeletons and rave away to the beat of songs such as “Neo Tokyo”, “She Moves Like a Knife”, “Diabolus Ex Machina”, “Messalina, Messalina” and the absolutely colossal “Humans Are Such Easy Prey”. If Suicidal Tendencies and Envy were the kings of their respective days, Perturbator was without a shadow of a doubt the emperor of the entire first weekend of Hellfest. Maybe even both weekends. Perhaps that is pushing it a little bit, but Perturbator live is truly an insane experience.
And speaking of insanity, not in a million years did we ever imagine that there was the slightest possibility of witnessing Killing Joke play live. Not that the band has called it quits; quite the contrary, in fact. But Jaz Coleman and company, have a habit of cancelling gigs out of nowhere and for no apparent reason – more so Jaz Coleman than anyone else, really. And they did cancel one show on the same weekend as Hellfest, so everything was all up in the air until the very last moment, at least for us. We didn’t hold our breath and expected the worse, as usual. Nonetheless, we watched the stage with anticipation, waiting for the band to come in. And they did, they fucking did. They came, they played our favourite classics and they fucking conquered our hearts, like the motherfucking legends that they are. And finally, at long last, Watain. Just the name sends shivers down one’s spine, instantly recalling images of flaming tridents and infernal blasphemy, and for good reason. Presenting the latest entry of a hellish discography, the aptly named The Agony and Ecstasy of Watain, the Swedes opened their show by lighting on fire the tridents that sat ominously on the stage, with frontman Erik Danielsson then throwing a fully lit torch onto the crowd that grabbed it and displayed it enthusiastically high up in the air. Without any delay, Watain started charging forward with the absolutely crushing “Death’s Cold Dark” and “Malfeitor”, both from Lawless Darkness, delving afterwards into the aforementioned latest record with “The Howling” and “Leper’s Grace”. All throughout their performance, the scenery was something out of Dante’s Inferno – fire spewing from tridents, blood coursing through the bodies of band members, a sense of impending doom as Danielsson yelled to the audience if they “ready to die”, invoking the spirits of the night to join us. At the very end, after an explosive trio of “Stellarvore”, “Towards the Sanctuary” and “The Serpent’s Chalice”, the band exits stage right, leaving Danielsson alone as he performs one last ritual with a sacrificial dagger in front of Watain’s altar. As the fireworks of Hellfest start illuminating the night, we wonder if there is a better way to end a great weekend than what we just witnessed. The answer is probably not. And so, we wandered back to our tents, as we were leaving the day after to spend some days in Nantes. But we would be back for more, our metal cravings were not yet fully satisfied.
Words by Filipe Silva
Photos by Alexandra Ramos
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