Festival Review: Hellfest 2024 – Day 2 (Eduinaluca’s View)

The Temple stage was the place to be once again and this second day at the Hellfest started early as I showed up a little before 11 a.m. Many other were there as well and were all het up for the young French black metal band Houle. They were signed on the French label Les Acteurs de l’Ombre and they sing in French.

Houle (c) Conor Andres

The first ship’s boy arrived, drank his flask and threw it in the pit to a thunderous applause. The concert kicked-off at top speed and the band maintained this intensity all along. Adsagsona stormed the stage, she was hard to follow. Yet, all by being over the place and regardless of this frenzy, she alternated clean singing, growl and scream with ease. Her screeches were great as well. The stage set-up was nice, there were ropes and many marine stuff I could not name. Houle had an advanced thinking of their visual performance. They not only had a stage outfit of ungroomed mariners, they also used props such as a bottle of wine on “Sur les Braises du Foyer” or a whaler harpoon which was fun to watch given the presence of Sea Shepherds on the festival. Speaking of compositions, I recognised most but I could not list them with precision. They generally sounds muddled to me, in a way that, in my opinion, it could be clearer or certain elements enlightened but it remains an excellent beginning. They could lend themselves to pogos but it was still a little early for us. They nevertheless finished their performance under the metal equivalent of the standing ovation: the crowd raised their horns up until the very end of their outro music. I was really happy for this band and moved by the success they met. I heard people queued for an hour at their signing session and I saw many Houle t-shirts over the festival afterwards.

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Imperial Crystalline Entombment (c) Conor Andres

Then arrived Imperial Crystalline Entombment. It is a young formation just like their predecessor but unlike them, they could not enjoy any local support. It made the crowd’s welcome somewhat colder but people showed up anyways. They made quite an impression with their exhaustive stage outfits. They were entirely dressed in white and wore opaque face masks. White gloves and white microphone for the singer and only white guitars and bass for the rest of the band. It created a really strong visual matching their concept and drastically contrasted with their black surroundings. Great idea, but it showed limits. It prevented them to put on a show and bring their compositions to life. It blocked all dynamism, at best there were coordinated head movements at some points but that was that. The singer’s stick was not enough to maintain the crowd’s interactions. It was a pity because I.C.E are beasts technically wise and they could not display it properly. It was a nice show nevertheless and I hope they could adjust their concept and stage outfit for the best in the future. They ended on a high note with “Into a Frigid Bleak Infinity” as “[they] are still fucking ice”!

It was then the turn for more seasoned band to take on the Temple Stage: Ereb Altor. They opened beautifully with “I have the sky”. They are a rich and diverse band sining-wise and they delivered an efficient performance. They had all the crowd’s attention, telling a little about themselves and their songs. A good part of their set was extracted from their last album Vargtimman and they alternated with older compositions. I was delighted to see them play “Fenris” as songs in native languages are always my favourite from an artist. I think this is when they get to be the most sincere. As they announced another one in swedish, they “asked” if we didn’t mind – quite the opposite for me, even if I didn’t know it. What would have made the set perfect was playing their last single “Midvinter” but I guess we just have to wait a little more.

Mork (c) Conor Andres

We went further into Scandinavian black metal as Norwegian Mork followed. They had incredible corpse paint, especially the guitarist. The leader Thomas Eriksen was really productive as he released three full lenght albums and two EPs in the span of five five years so I think there were pretty low chances they played old songs. As the last album Dypet was a shift in the discography, I instantly recognised they opened the set with this one. They were pretty talkative for a black metal band, it was nice. Mork started as solo project and is a live formation only since 2015 yet they delivered an impeccable performance and played a very regular set. The highlight to me was when Thomas sang “På Tvers Av Tidene” without choir, echo effect or sample. Not only I like this song a lot but I found it really was a honest and humble move, I appreciated it. They then finished with a very rough track before thanking the crowd again. It was their first time playing at the Hellfest and they absolutely nailed it.

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Friday really was a nice day. Not only figured last year this was more or less the “black metal day” so I knew I would find my happiness, but it was also perfect for the weather. I could enjoy the sun without boiling between concerts, the installations of the festival were great and well laid out. I even went on the big wheel, I had great views and I got my money’s worth.

I also ventured in the VIP area, the bar had a nice Giger inspiration to it but it was overcrowded most of the time. As for the press area, it was well-thought but it was hard to find a spot to work as some were here only to charge their phones and others let all their stuff here while they were away. And it was not allowed to sit in the conference room when nothing was going on.

My all-time favourite attraction is the brand new Gardienne des Ténèbres (Guardian of Darkness), a beautiful animated statue as they do in the Nantes area. I could see it was a colossal work to assemble it, it required formidable mechanical engineering and good team work to make it come to life. Our lady would move her spider legs, watch us and spit fire. The fire bursts on the top of bars was usual but still as nice. This is part of the charm of the Hellfest to me.

Photos by Conor Andres (Riff D’Enfer/Unda Inficere)

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