Impending Epileptic Discharges: Hellfest 2022 – Day Two (Weekend Two)
We woke up on the second day of the second weekend of Hellfest with a warning of rain. Shit, today was going to be difficult, it seemed. But the threat of heavy rain was not going to be enough to deter us from enjoying some cool gigs. So, onwards we went, with coats and hoodies in hand, ready to make the best out of a wet situation. And speaking of wetness, imagine how we felt when the first band on our viewing list was Portrayal of Guilt. Absolutely gushing. We are of the opinion that the blackened hardcore served by these fine Texan trio is much like wine; it just keeps getting better with age and is also a nice recipe to wake up. There is something about Portrayal of Guilt’s music that makes one feel empowered and ready to punch greedy landlords and shitty bosses. While their set was manly focused on their two latest records, We Are Always Alone and Christfucker, we did hear a couple of new songs, so maybe another release is coming very soon? We eagerly await for it to melt our eardrums. Next on the list was the extraordinary blend of black metal, sludge and hardcore punk by a certain group of individuals known as Okkultokrati. While nothing really out of the extraordinary, we did have a good time frontman Black Qvisling give deranged looks to the audience while intense riffs from La Ilden Lyse were being flung left and right.
We remained on the Valley to witness the new superground found by ex-Kyuss members Brank Bjork and Nick Oliveri. Simply and unironically called Stöner, this promised to be a masterclass on desert rock. But what we got was an insipid collection of riffs that could be inserted in any B-side from either Bjork or Oliveri’s own solo records. Having world-class players in your team doesn’t make it immediately great, it seems. And while we are on the subject of bad performances, we’ll get ahead of ourselves a little bit and mention Human Impact, a noise rock supergroup formed by current and former members of Unsane, Swans and Cop Shoot Cop that also performed in the Valley. One would assume that, with such a veteran roster, this band would be like a really well-oiled machine on a live setting, right? Absolutely not. We didn’t know what went wrong along the way, but it was like watching a newbie band perform for the first time – a lot of playing mistakes, a lack of real presence on stage and technical errors that, while not the band’s own fault, just didn’t help much either. But returning to the good side of things, in between those two disasters, we did catch HEALTH on the Main Stage 1. Despite the continuous threat of rain by an increasingly cloudy sky, this was a delight to watch, as the Californian trio absolutely slayed with their wonderful mix of industrial, noise and experimental rock. It was like a warmup rave for a much bigger one that would come later.
We returned to the Temple for two excellent performances – one of them by the Swedish blackened speed metal supergroup Witchery, who ruthlessly assaulted the audience with songs such as “Nosferatu”, “Witchkrieg”, “Lavey-athan”, “Restless and Dead” and “Awaiting the Exorcist”. The second one was the infamous black metal progenitor Ihsahn, who is a frequent attendee at Hellfest. This time around coming as a solo performer, but always backed up by an incredible array of musicians, the hyperborean virtuoso played a set almost exclusively focused on Arktis and Telemark, from which he played songs such as “Until I Too Dissolve”, “Nord” and “Stridig”, without forgetting some of past material and even finding space for two covers – “Rock and Roll Is Dead” by Lenny Kravitz and “Wrathchild” by Iron Maiden. Always nice to see such a renowned musician on stage. We remained on the Main Stages for the rest of the day, as we wanted to end the day in grandeur. It started with Kreator, who were armed with pyrotechnics and were ready to kill it on stage. And absolutely kill it they did, playing songs from almost their entire discography – no Endorama, sadly. Next up was Ministry, whose set we didn’t catch in its entirety due to the heavily pouring rain. We did hear some fine tunes as we were shelter in the merch area close by. We did manage to come out in time for “So What?”, which was damn perfect. We know we mentioned earlier that we remained on the Main Stages for the rest of the day and that was the intention, but not the exact truth as before Ministry finished their set, we snuck into the Valley to watch the finale of Earth – we caught exactly ten notes of “The Bees Made Honey on the Lion’s Skull” and the entirety of “Ouroboros is Broken”, which was just a snippet, really. Well worth it, though.
We then made our way back to the Main Stages and watched from afar as the shock rock maestro Alice Cooper having his head chopped off on stage after threatening to kill a baby. We realize that, to the outside viewer, this may seem a little strange and a tad illegal. But if you know Alice Cooper, you know that this is just another day in the office for the shock rocker. Theatrics and shock play a big part in each of his performances and it’s great to see that old age hasn’t caught up with Uncle Alice yet. An astonishing and highly amusing performance as always, that was chock-full of classics such as “No More Mr. Nice Guy”, “Hey Stoopid”, “I’m Eighteen”, “Poison” and “School’s Out”. For the grand finale, we had the colossal, epilepsy-inducing rave of the world-famous Nine Inch Nails. That feeling of wetness came right back and it wasn’t due to the rain that was still somewhat pouring. As far as headliners go, the Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross-led group set the bar incredibly high with their larger-than-life performance. As we were being bombarded by a truly apocalyptic onslaught of black and white strobe lights, Nine Inch Nails were unleashing a barrage of hits like “Mr. Self Destruct”, “Wish”, “Piggy”, “Less Than”, “The Frail”, “Closer”, “Head Like a Hole”, and so many others. On the screens, the frenetic camera angles melded well with the schizophrenic riffs and beats that were heard, thanks in due part to the band’s current artistic director John Crawford. A few songs before the end, Nine Inch Nails were joined on stage by the members of HEALTH for a very special debut performance of their magnificent collab track, “ISN’T EVERYONE”, and for the end of the show, the inevitable “Hurt” made an appearance. Ravenous, incendiary and on top of their motherfucking game, there are no bands quite like Nine Inch Nails and they prove that every time they play live. A fantastic way to close the second day of the marvelous second weekend.
Words by Filipe Silva
Photos by Alexandra Ramos