Festival Review: Hellfest 2024 – Day 3 (Eduinaluca’s View)

My saturday started with a logisitical challenge that allowed me to test two things. First, the quality of the public transports in Nantes as well as the ones set up by the Hellfest and second, if all my hikes and performances were of any use in this situation. I managed to make it on time for the first band I wanted to see so I consider that the network of transportation is good and I am an absolute champion.

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

Wayfarer arrived on stage two minutes early and opened with “The Thousand Tombs of Western Promise” with this lovely acoustic introduction. They were dressed smart and the growls were perfect. They were here to defend their latest release, American Gothic, which is what I prefered amongst their other compositions and successes. I love its artwork, that they displayed in drop-out, it’s simple but has a classic yet unmatched elegance. Wayfarer kept on going strong by playing “The Cattle Thief” and “To Enter My house Justified”. Their set was proper and efficient, the crowd cheered them. Their sound was solid and regular but had nothing tiring or repetitive. They thanked us for coming this early and finished their set on high note with a rough and aggressive track that turned out to be “Animal Crown”. I liked it for the bells at the beginning and how balanced it is overall. I’m really happy I saw them and I hope they will be back in Europe soon.

Skálmöld had a promising start. A nice sample in introduction and an incredible welcome by the audience but it quickly became a disappointment. They seemed really sweet and not much else compared to their predecessors. Many things felt weird or out of place to me during their performance. The first thing that caught my attention was that they didn’t have much stage coherence. Only a couple of them had presence and outfits that made sense to the genre (viking/folk metal) and the aesthetics it would imply. It doesn’t take much to harmonise clothing, especially in metal. And well, the many bands before them actually set the bar pretty high in this matter.

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Still, I didn’t think this would have been a problem for a 15 years old band with international success. I neither thought they would wear a kind of ugly t-shirt of their own merchandising but here we were. Unfortunately, I realised quite quickly that I was not a fan of their signature as a band from the opening song “Miðgarðsormur”. I’m not fond of the dissonance between the light-hearted music, the warm clean vocals and choirs coming with it and the screams that rather sounded like core. So I didn’t stay until the end of the set and while their audience was there and I’m sure they did a nice performance, I don’t think it was good for them to have played after such great black metal acts. I should have checked them before seeing them but I think it messed many other festival goers’ expectations as well.

The Valley stage was again complicated to access as this day was more crowded with Metallica fans so I struggled to see Kvelertak. Just like when I was listening to them before the festival, it flows easily while it does not really speak to me. I was curious to see the rendition of their rock’n’roll black metal. Unfortunately the branding only seemed to be carried by the singer and one of the guitarists, both visually and musically. They did it well, the singer was a good entertainer and he even crowdsurfed at one point. But I didn’t find they could carry the whole concept, no matter how great, only on their shoulders. The black metal side lacked darkness and the rock’n’roll side lacked frenzy. And boy was that wind cold over the Valley. I hope I’ll see them again in better conditions.

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

I got back to the Temple stage to see the long awaited Corvus Corax. As expected, they played their Era Metallum set, a metal version of their biggest success Sverker but it seemed I misunderstood again. I thought it would be their acoustic set plus electric guitars, bass and regular drums but it turns out that the musicians playing the acoustic instruments dropped them to play these electric ones. And by adapting their offer to metal festivals, they lost a dramatical amount of power. The metal version did not bring anything, they even spoiled some songs like “Gjallarhorni” and it overall was much less impactful as there was only one singer. The crowd was all het up, fans of viking series were crowdsurfing in masses but the performance was honestly weak. But all the efforts the band made to get maximum interactions with the audience eventually backfired because when they finished with a slower track, “Yggdrasil”, nobody was ready to listen and to enjoy for what it is. My only comfort is that the moron with absolutely no metal etiquette who pushed everyone to get in the front and started a pogo over “Sverker” (the rhythm for which was much too slow for this) finished the show with a bloodied nose and t-shirt.

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After this overall underwhelming afternoon, I went to interview the great Eivør and I could then ease off the pressure with my golden band, Korpiklaani, who never fail to cheer me up. And I now I’m writing these lines at home and listening their old albums, I just want to run to the forest and dance to their sound. But back to this live report! They’re one of the greatest band of folk metal, the ones who you don’t introduce anymore. They ones who made so much, be it albums or tours… And yet the ones who aged the best. If they aged at all, apart from composing lighter opuses. It was good to see Jonne back at playing instruments during the show, the first time ever for me. First with a shaman drum at the beginning of the concert, then on the guitar for “Tuli Kokko”, a song that soothed me so much. He also took part to the usual instrumental of their set which is always a great moment to me, even it is the thousandth time I’m seeing them. And this time they picked “Pixies Dance” from Spirit of the Forest, released in… 2003. I love the relation they have with their old songs, it’s as if the spirit they had back then was never gone and everyone can still enjoy it again someday.

I finished my day by attending the concert by the mystical Eivør. This show was special, maybe just as special as for her as she started playing in metal festivals only last year. Hellfest, from what she told me, is different from the others. So she seemed kind of shy and some songs she played seemed a bit shorter but it might be me. She was soft and cute, as always, even during here most rock song “Upp Úr Øskuni”. Who wouldn’t be shy in her place? The audience from a festival is unlike to another so it’s not easy to see how the land lies every time and to know what its response will be like. The one from the Hellfest was warm and encouraging. I felt she was grateful for it and I hope to see her again in a different setting.

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