Festival Review: Hellfest 2024 – Day 1 (Eduinaluca’s View)

Hellfest 2024 was the second edition I ever attended, this time as press. It’s been a privilege to have been granted an accreditation for the four days and I intended to honour my commitments from the day I received this e-mail. I then checked out the bands that would talk to me the most and I already knew that the Temple stage was the place to be for me.

Morne (c) Conor Andres (Riff D’Enfer/Unda Inficere)

When I listened to Morne, I knew they were precisely who I wanted to start the festival with and I did. I was looking for something gloomy with soaring guitars, I could not picture any other introduction than this one and Morne was a prime choice. Their dark aura had nothing superficial, they would not let themselves just wander without some strong structure and perfectly balanced dynamism. They were here to defend their last album Engraved with Pain and their single “Wretched Empire” was their strongest moment to me. This was when the lead singer Miłosz Gassan displayed his forceful and aggressive vocals the best, with an impeccable and unshakeable pace. It was too early for me to know most of their compositions and the good old setlist.fm was unfortunately not of any help. They finished their set with a superb instrumental, kicking-off with a rush of adrenaline. It was an impactful track, the most of them all that day. I did not expect them to be chatty, especially not with a 40 minutes slot, but I enjoyed their addresses as they thanked the crowd before and after their show.

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The concerts at the Temple alternate with the ones at the Altar stage, that are less of my type. I found myself with time in my hands and a lovely weather so I went for a walk and sat down at the small forest to refresh a bit. I decided to venture to the Valley stage and I admit it is not quite my favourite. It is wider than it is long which makes it hard to find a good spot. I stayed for a couple of songs by Green Lung but it was not my best bet, their music didn’t speak to me as much as I thought it would. I went back to the Temple and saw the end of Brujeria set. It’s a Mexican descent death/grindcore band based in California. Visually, they look like mafia uncles on a political rant. They sounded mighty aggressive and were highly communicative with their crowd who returned the sentiment. I can’t quite say they were there to display any technical feats or be of good taste but they were fun to watch.

Sylvaine (c) Conor Andres (Riff D’Enfer/Unda Inficere)

Do not go by her dark feminine style and her immaculate curls, Sylvaine‘s scream is just as spotless. I was thinking of reviewing her new EP Daksen Auga Sloknar Ut so I went through her previous tracks but I found myself struggling to listen to them fully, no matter how pleasant they were, without loosing focus. I was curious to see how it would sound live. Sylvaine does draw the crowd and she got to make herself understood so her ethereal side could breathe and prosper. She communicated in a cute and discreet way, we could barely hear her. She has a Disney princess style in each gesture. This means that the rhythm will accelerate but not too much. She will headbang but not too hard. Everything was polite and measured. It works out and it works out well but I prefer some frankness. The atmosphere could settle down but it would never really take off. I had the feeling I had quickly discerned her signature and already saw it all in the first half of her set. I was hungry for more but I found what I deduced from her compositions in concert. It was not boring, but it was not impressive or remarkable to me.

I returned to the Valley, this time at a better spot to see All Them Witches. The first and only time I saw them is a little hazy in my mind as it was quite some time ago. It seems to me it was in Dublin, Ireland, but I’m not sure. All I remember is that it was something intimist, they were playing sat down in a crowded out venue and people there were  much too eager to match the aura of the band. This was better respected at the Hellfest. Unlike the other bands, I did not checked their recent work more than the few I already knew. I just decided to just go and trust the process. I was right to do so. The only song I knew this evening came up and it was “The Marriage of Coyote Woman”. It was a slightly slower version yet more impactful. The atmosphere was comfortable and cozy, it was a fine evening. It was really nice to feel like we were in a small room to witness their jams, melodic wanders and cresendo. This epicness came at the end of the set with a particularly intense track. Setlist.fm did not let me down this time so I found out it was “Diamond”. I digged a bit more about them while I was at it and I was surprised All Them Witches was founded only in 2012. It’s both recent and not so recent. I don’t know how to feel about it. And no, I’m not confused because I’m geeting old.
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