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We head out to the gates of hell for a second journey plenty of party. Though the place was packed, we perceived fewer people than the day before; that made it easier to move around.

We opt to have a French Metal breakfast at Valley. Monarch, a doom quintet from Bayonne, is not a suitable band for fast metal lovers, but they would be the best soundtrack for an old school horror movie. They dazzled us with a dark and thick trance made up by two saturated guitars, a knackered bass often banged on the floor and mournful drums. The singer anchored her female voice in samplers to extend spine-chilling cries in Blood Seeress and Pentagrammes. All string instruments were beaten against the amps to get more vibration and weight. After Cherry Bomb (Runnaways cover), they got all of us dinamited. Great show indeed!

It was a proper morning to walk around the festival and buy some candy at the merch spots. Morning time is recommended to find suitable sizes, Sunday will be the merch apocalypse! We also go to the so known supermarket LeClerk outside the festival to get some supplies. Everything happens at the same time in Hellfest. One can see bands, get drunk at the camping site, take a nap in a roundabout or having a coffee at the supermarket’s bar; anywhere you go you’ll find crowd doing their own thing and having a blast!

Then, a long time expected band, pioneers of Nautic Funeral Doom metal Ahab. We could join them previous to the gig and talk with the brains of the band: Daniel Droste and Christian Hector. In honour to Captain Ahab from Herman Melville’s Moby Dick, the Germans base their lyrics on nautical literature and documented shipwreck stories, therefore creating a marine universe of solitude and desperation. They created a suffocating, beautiful atmosphere with powerful lyrics and overwhelming riffs. Not a band appealing to everybody, but if you had swung their waves you would have levitated; it was like listening to Death metal with a shoot of morphine! Bizarre and emotive.

Time to see another big one: former drummer of Kyuss Brant Bjork, who strikes Hellfest with a renewed army of musicians. The Californians blew us away with a creative jam which reviewed songs from Bjork’s solo career, as well as throws of their new album Black Power Flower. Too Many Chiefs, Low Desert Punk, Inside of You or Stud were all stoner anthems with a Palm Desert taste. One could feel the groove with jazzy and soul influences, together with a punk skeleton only Bjork knows how to blend in. After Kyuss and Fu Manchu, and legal troubles which lead to create Vista Chino, Brant Bjork states his interest for music is beyond creating a band. Any stage is good to wander his eclectic inspiration. If you get into his vibe and close eyes he’ll take you to the desert and it’s hypnotic cadence.

We were thirsty of some oldies, so head out to ZZ Top. The Texans made a top of the notch show with impressive vitality, one could see a wide range of generations among the audience! With their particular blues- hard rock style, the guys from Houston made a time to remember. Their setlist reviewed a 40 year old career with points like Got me Under Pressure, Waiting for the Bus, Jesus just left Chicago, Gimme all your lovin’, La Grange or Sharp Dressed Man. While performing Texan ball steps in unison, Billy Gibbons and Dusty Hill coordinated perfectly and changed to custom instruments made of cattle fur, pure Fort Worth redneck style! Foxy Lady’s cover moved many in the audience and showed ZZ Top are in great shape, rise your drinks to them!

We keep the night for the final hit with three memorable bands. Mayhem jumps onstage at sunset with a sinister staging (wish it was closed night), and hit us with Silvester Anfant, Deathcrush, Symbols of Bloodswords, to Daimonion, Carnage and Psywar, the latest being part of their last work Esoteric Warfare. The mournful story surrounding them sometimes blinds their true talent, but the iconic Nowregians made a great gig with their actual formation and stated their greatness in the Scandinavian Black Metal scenery. Something nobody expected was the final song, I put a Spell on You, of Sceamin’Jay Hawkins.

After Mayhem’s charge we refill tankards and enjoy the beautiful, 15 minute fireworks to commemorate Hellfest’s decade. With Queen and AC/DC sounding backgrounds, the crowd stopped for some minutes and enjoyed the wonderful display. Take me to hell if it is as beautiful as this!

Another great gig was awaiting: Obituary banged us all with another great staging and intimidating energy that stepped all over the place. Redneck Stomp, Centuries of Lies, Infected, ‘Till Death, Infected or Violence were some of the night hits. The arena was crowded, not a soul could enter there once it had started. John Tardy’s voice was in impeccable shape, the guys from Tampa brought a setlist remembering the early days and some songs of their last album Inked in Blood. They farewell with the hymn Slowly we Rot of 1989. Obituary set the bar high with a great show commented by many. Drunk and happy, the night had to be closed with British poison!

Venom came in with brutality; after all this is why they are the main influence of many extreme metal bands nowadays. With a fast bass intro, Cronos set us into darkness with Rise. Despite many changes in the band, it seems the actual line up, established between 2007 and 2009, gets along pretty well. Danté on drums and Rage on guitars showed quality and a clean technique with Bloodlust, which Cronos made shine with his raw, excellent voice. Together with Long Haired Punks, some in the audience moved back to 1982. Then it was time for Die Hard, Buried Alive, Welcome to Hell, 1000 Days in Sodom or Countess Bathory. The Brithish hadn’t played Hellfest since 2008, after so long they nailed it from beginning to end. One might not find them as scary as in the old times, but Venom stands up and still shine with a dark, unique force.

We go back to the camping and enjoy some more beers to prepare our bodies for the last day. We can’t believe there’s only one day left, we don’t want it to end!

Writer: Beatriz Yoldi
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