at Parc de Villeroy, Mennecy, France, September 8, 2023

Sortilège (Live at Mennecy Metal Fest, France, September 8, 2023)
Photo: Séverine Peraldino

No one would blame you if you’ve never heard of Mennecy before. The 16,000 souls of the city live about 40 km south of Paris intra muros, but it could very well be light-years away if you were to measure the distance in public transport minutes.

Disgruntled by the difficult access to Metal events from this area, 11 years ago, the mayor of the town revealed his secret passion to his electorate and charged his cultural department with the difficult task of creating a local Metal Festival. No association of event company at the root of the project, but the public service. 11 years later, the festival is still here, bigger than ever with prestigious bands from all over the world gracing its stages: Kreator, Loudblast, Mass Hysteria, Septicflesh, Dark Tranquillity, Moonspell, Masterplan, Nightmare, Finntroll, The Darkness…

The nine bands playing on the 8th of September offered a vast array of Metal genres, with a rather classical and melodic orientation to begin with… the growls and heaviest bands were planned for the 2nd and 3rd days…as if to placate the last few inhabitants still averse to this Metal celebration.

Rock N’ Roll in the Parc

Starting at the roots of Metal Music, a couple of bands represented Rock N’ Roll on the two stages of the Mennecy Metal Fest. The seconds on the Menn’Stage, Sleazy Town and their Southern Hard Rock were not out of place in this heat. The band delivered an energetic set, proving that the stage is the band’s stronger suit. The vocals were much cleaner and solid than on their recorded EPs.

Later in the evening, it was Howard’s turn to honour the Rock N’ Roll legacy. Howard is a power trio from Paris, who like The Doors, has no need for a bass player. Channeling the soul of Jon Lord, the layers of Hammond Organ diffused a delicious carefree vibe of the 70s for a moment amongst the trees. Alternating between choruses to make you tap your foot and trippy soli, Howard successfully resurrected a bygone musical era.  For anyone with a liking for this vintage vibe, you need to add Howard to your vinyl collection.

House Of Doom

Slowing down these catchy riffs and tuning onto minor scales, Mennecy Metal Fest also opened its door to Doom Metal. Moonskin were the first to grace the Menn’Stage with their chilly presence. Introducing their new bass player, they performed their dark ceremony under a scorching sun. With convincing feminine vocals in the vein of Avatarium, they only had the time to play a few songs from their album Farewell and earned bonus points for their stage props. Here’s to hoping next time, they’ll get to play at the witching hour…

If you missed Paradise Lost in France this summer, you were still able to catch their show at Mennecy Metal Fest. Back to the top, they enjoyed an excellent turnout at the close of this first night. With a very clean sound, their set exploring their complex discography enormously pleased the crowd. It was only a bit of a pity that they did not vary even a little their setlist from one French festival to the next over the summer. Still the fairly recent “No Hope In Sight” and “Faith Divides Us” were highlights of the show, just as well as older songs.

Unidentifiable Musical Objects

The Eye Stage, this year also offered the opportunity to discover a couple of unidentified musical objects: projects that can’t fall into a few clearly labelled categories. To a metalhead audience, CHAOS E.T. SEXUAL might be an acquired taste. The Parisian trio plays a mix of Dub, and Doom, all drowned under electronic layers, abolishing the sense of melody and structure.

On the contrary L’Araignée Au Plafond (Spider On The Ceiling) relies on catchy melodies and aims at making you dance. Accompanied by a saxophone, the band delivers a mix of punk, rock and electro sprinkled with a jazzy vibe. The duet of singers (and their little choreographies) set up a lasting good mood for the festival and the audience.

French Revolution

On this first day, the programme favoured the titans of Classic French Heavy Metal with both Satan Jokers and Sortilège who reformed recently after some chaotic years. While Sortilège put up a great Heavy Metal show, Satan Jokers were more disappointing.  As if they did not take the audience seriously: two covers, a couple of classics, and endless ramblings by the singer Renaud Hantson. The band simply was not up to the task.

Back to the front in 2022 with a new album Apocalypso, Sortilège, only had hits to play. If you have never experienced it before, you cannot be ready for the dedication of the Sortilège fans. French might not be the best at learning English lyrics, but when it’s in their tongue like Sortilège, they know every word by heart. It drew the largest and noisiest audience of the evening. From the good old 86 classic “chasser le dragon” (hunting the dragon, before Dio killed it) and “Messager” to the new powerful songs “Poseidon” or “Attila” with Stéphane Buriez of Loudblast as a guest singer. A lesson of Classic Heavy Metal!

If the number of t-shirts ornated with the artwork of Château-Chimère was any indication, Malemort was one of the main attractions of this first day of the festival. Starting their set with “Carnaval Cannibale” and ‘Madame” from their 2017 album Ball-Trap, Malemort brought a sense of spirited and reckless energy, an invitation to the Roaring ‘20s a hundred years later. They articulated their setlist around the fastest and most aggressive titles of their third album with “Maldoror” and “Les Grands Ducs” but did not forget the melodic breaks of “Sémaphores” and “Je M’en Irai.” Arno Strobl from Carnival In Coal was also invited to perform “Mill Regards” with them. As always “Cabaret Voltaire” ended this dishevelled set that felt way too short!


  • Séverine Peraldino

    Reviewer, interviewer and apprentice photographer for Metal Express Radio, Séverine comes from a small place in the Southern French Alps, near Grenoble. Her taste for classic Heavy Metal is a family heritage and after growing up listening to Iron Maiden, Dio, Metallica and Angra she expanded her horizons with almost every subgenre of Metal, from Power, to Prog, a little bit of Death and Black Metal. She mostly enjoys albums telling stories with originality. When she is not travelling around for concerts and festivals, you can find her reading a good book, or playing board games with friends.

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1 Comment

  1. Love Sortilège! I have 3 of their records on vinyl even without understanding the lyrics I still love ’em!

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