Somewhere Far Beyond: Hellfest 2022 – Day Three (Weekend Two)
The rain and humidity made it a tad difficult to sleep through the night, and despite our bodies begging us to slow down, we perished the thought of stopping. In hindsight, we shouldn’t have foregone the much-needed rest, but there was simply nothing we could do – we had shows to see, we could rest when we were dead. We kicked the day of with a most exquisite performance by Nero di Marte over at the Altar, where they played an exceptionally technical set focused on their Derivae and Immoto records, as well as Humanity’s Last Breath, their fellow Italian countrymen that played right after on the same stage and also delivered a really technical and brutal performance focused on their latest record, Välde. In between both Italian giants, we were graced by the presence of Autarkh, the spiritual successors to Dodecahedron, who played an electronic and industrial-infused variant of death metal that feels like a breath of fresh air to a sometimes-stagnant genre. Aftwerwards, we headed to the Valley to watch Hällas, which was a complete bore fest, but the band that played after them saved the day. Coming in with an almost brand-new and meteoric record of epic proportions, Ummon, the French Slift delivered a profoundly brain-melting performance that we are sure hoping to repeat again in the near future.
We then returned back to the Temple to witness the return to Hellfest by the Norwegian space pirates known as Arcturus. Having crash landed nearby, as is usual for them, and straight out of a cosmic insane asylum, the intergalactic troupe played a rather pleasant set, full of lunatic shenanigans and tales of mad adventures through the cold and dark void, such as “Evacuation Code Deciphered”, “Master of Disguise”, “Painting My Horror”, “Alone” and “The Chaos Path”, the latter still being, as far as we recall, frontman ICS Vortex’s favourite Arcturus song. We remained in the Temple, waiting for the coming of Igorrr. And we waited. And waited a bit more. And then, waited some more. After a large amount of time had passed, the mad scientist of helter-skelter sonorities and his troupe decided to show up. Unfortunately, our patience had run thin and we didn’t really manage to enjoy ourselves as much as we wanted. Despite that, we did hear stuff like “Spaghetti Forever”, “Nervous Waltz” and “Downgrade Desert”, but had to leave not long after due to our heads spinning out of control.
When the confusion and haziness cleared, we were all separated. Some of us went on to enjoy the soothing folk vibes with Myrkur on an incredibly special set dedicated to her latest record, Folkesange. She was accompanied by a duo of vocalists, a violinist and cellist, which made for a radiant and profound performance. While that was transpiring, the rest of us demanded a bit more action and went on to destroy our bodies alongside Discharge at the Warzone. Peace and chaos, hand in hand. We reunited at the Kadavar gig at the Valley and enjoyed some neat stoner riffage, but quickly circled back to the Warzone, as it was time to celebrate over 40 years of GBH’s existence. And we sure did celebrate to the max and to the sound of cuts taken from their City Baby Attacked By Rats, Momentum and Leather, Bristles, Studs and Acne records. It was a massive set that included a very well-put “Fuck Guns n’ Roses” by guitarist Colin “Jock” Blyth”, with frontman Colin Abrahall warning about any potential suing coming from Axl Rose. Entertaining and glorious to the very end.
Going back to the Valley one last time, we were about to be treated by an incredibly unique performance by Converge, entitled Bloodmoon, after their recently released collaborative record with the same name, which counts with guests Chelsea Wolfe, Stephen Brodsky and Ben Chisholm. All of them were present for the show as well and, as much as we enjoyed their studio offering, the performance left a bit to be desired. Not only did it start stupidly loud, but the chemistry between everyone present felt off. Or rather, everyone else seemed to be having a great time, except for Chelsea Wolfe, who kept going to the back of the stage for unknown reasons, and seemed overall frustrated to be there. We don’t know exactly what prompted this or if we are misinterpreting, but she did feel out of place during the entire performance, which is a shame, really. Nevertheless, it was still fun to hear tunes such as “Viscera of Men”, “Coil” and “Flower Moon” being played on what was a surely rare occasion. For the last gig of the day, we got back to the Main Stage 2 for another fantastical and mythical set – it was the 30th Anniversary celebration of Somewhere Far Beyond, one of the best power metal records ever released. Yes, we are talking about the mighty Blind Guardian, the indomitable and inimitable standard-bearers of the genre. This was definitely one of our most anticipated performances of the whole festival and the German sextet did not disappoint, if anything, they made our love for them reach even greater heights. Starting off their set with an amazing tetralogy of songs consisting of “Into the Storm”, “Welcome to Dying”, “Nightfall” and “Time Stands Still (At the Iron Hill)”, the group led by the best vocalist in the game Hansi Kursch quickly introduced the aforementioned record to be celebrated, and played each and every song off of it. The audience responded with fervent enthusiasm, singing every lyric, playing every riff on air guitar, standing as a true community of bards. On “The Bard’s Song – In the Forest”, every single member of the audience was truly a bard, as Kursch let them sing the song of times past, friends gone and moments forever remembered. A truly emotional set through and through that was the concluded with “Mirror Mirror” and the monstrous “Valhalla”, the of which had the audience singing well after the show was over. In good spirits, Blind Guardian left after a remarkable performance that will forever be engraved in our hearts and minds. As for us, we kept singing the towering chorus of “Valhalla” on our way to the campsite, joined by fellow bards we found on the way. Rejoice, friends, may these times forever last and our memory never falter. For this truly was a moment that we will want to recall for all eternity.
Words by Filipe Silva
Photos by Alexandra Ramos