HELLFEST 2024 (Day 2)

in Clisson, France, June 28, 2024

Hellfest Open Air Festival, Clisson, France. June 28, 2024.
Photo: Séverine Peraldino

In seventeen years, the Hellfest Open Air Festival has become the dream place of every metalhead. It’s hell and paradise all in one, where everything “Metal” can truly be embodied, performed and acclaimed. It’s an ambitious dream, that every year finds a way of becoming reality in Clisson, France, with 6 stages, about 200 bands and 60000 metalheads rushing every day of this long weekend. It is also a dream that sells, Hellfest is for many a yearly pilgrimage and is sold out before a single band name is announced. This year, reviewer Séverine Peraldino went to this now legendary festival to check if the Metal dream was still as alive there as it was rumoured to be.

Good Morning Hellfest!

Compared to some previous summers, the sun was not as scorching as it could have been. Still, at 10:30 am, not many festival-goers had risen from their tents. It was the right time to discover the vastness of the festival grounds without anyone to block the view: greenfields where a mix of Mad Max post-apocalyptic architecture and mechanical outposts of Sauron’s army had been set.

The crowd was sparse in front of Mainstage 02 where Saint Agnes started. The day before, the record for the biggest wall of death had been set, so it was only justice that the dedicated metalheads got to sleep in. Saint Agnes is fronted by a young Joan Jett look-alike, with all the influences of the early ‘2000s. Add to the mix a very punk rendition of songs and you get a rather efficient cocktail to wake everyone up. With their songs “Get in the Line” and “Bloodsucker” they were more efficient than a good cup of coffee and their performance was truly appreciated by those already there.

While the first circle pits were fading, Houle was starting an early Atmospheric Metal mass at the Temple. The band channelled in their music all the might of a roaring sea and the serenity of the deeps. The French band is a growing name in the local extreme scene, a discovery for fans of Alcest or While Heaven Wept.

Girl Power!

Circling back to the main stages, two female-fronted bands got the early afternoon spotlight. First with Ankor: a Spanish band, stars on YouTube. They delivered their Modern Metalcore with conviction despite perhaps a bit of uneasiness.

In a completely different style, the women of Lovebites, received a warm welcome once the moment of surprise passed: In terms of vocals, it’s a feminine version of Dickinson’s air-raid siren. Dressed all in white, with a ’90s puffy dress for the singer, Lovebites play the truest of Classic Heavy Power Metal. They are certainly the kind of women who raise their middle finger when told ‘’ you can’t be both a princess and a rock star’’ and they’re pretty damn good at doing both.

After this, Orden Ogan‘s performance seemed rather weak, except perhaps for their hit “Gunman” which managed to liven up the mood.

Through the woods and into the Valley

The grounds of Hellfest are a strange place. While the fields in front of the main stages are what they need to be (wide enough to welcome huge crowds), the rest of the festival is an odd pile-up of different vibes and atmospheres.

For instance, when looking for shade, you can wander through the Kingdom of Muscadet, a sort of disenchanted forest that will allow you to cross to the Valley and the Warzone, where fans of Sludge and Stoner cohabit happily with Punk and Hardcore Rebels. There, the gigantic statue of Lemmy will lead you out of the woods. Some might say, this is where the fans of the first hour of the festival choose to dwell. Black Rainbows played on the Valley as well that afternoon, and despite some sound issues (the singer was inaudible at first), they gathered a crowd of dedicated fans.

Striving for Diversity and Commitment

With about 200 bands playing during the weekend, it is simply impossible to see them all, so sometimes, you just have to walk around and see what catches your ear. Crossing back to another part of the festival for some discovery, the next thing to catch your ear would have certainly come from the Mainstage 01 with Karnivool. They were a bold choice to rock the audience with their meandering melodies, plaintive vocals and convoluted rhythms, even with their latest single “New Day.” However, the charm worked and for the first time here, they showcased all the great things about Prog Metal.

The gap between Karnivool and the next band could not have been wider. Lofofora was political and outspoken as usual but even more given the context. Their set was a big fuck-off to the far-right party. They reminded everyone of the origins of Rock’n Roll Music as an African-American tradition and that racism is not an opinion. They also invited feminist activists on stage and addressed the issue of sexual harassment in the music scene with no tolerance for aggressors of any kind. Strong defendants of local scenes, Lofofora asked the audience not to be metalheads four days a year and to support metal by other means than simply paying the high price of Hellfest tickets.

Moments of Grace and Disgrace

The Altar and the Temple are the perfect places to take some respite out of the sun, but mostly you could catch the breathtaking performances of artists such as Klone, Einar Solberg and Ne Obliviscaris.

With a voice reaching impossible heights, Einar Solberg offered the lullaby moment of the day. The Altar stage was too small for him and the audience was overflowing outside of the tent. Still, there are some negative aspects to point out about the Altar of the Temple: unless you are right in the middle of the tent, sounds from the main stages still parasite the performances. It was such a shame to have Ne Obliviscaris set marred by the jokes of Steel Panther.

While Ne Obliviscaris delivered intricate melodies, Steel Panther was playing one song in fifteen minutes and spending the rest of the time making jokes that were already old before they were funny. The second degree is appreciable but gets boring pretty fast when not backed up by interesting music.


Luckily Tom Morello‘s performance raised the bar again for the main stages. With new songs like “Gossip” (originally with Måneskin) and tributes to Chris Cornell, he introduced the paradigm shift that would happen next with Shaka Ponk.

Shaka Ponk is not a Metal band and their appearance at Hellfest was both eagerly awaited and criticized by purists. It seems those critics were pointless as the explosive cocktail of their Rock, Punk, Elektro and Gospel set the crowd in a frenzy. The audience got to sing along to old classics such as “Wanna Get Free” and “Twisted Mind” but also on their emotional cover of “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” Frah, the singer, is also no stranger to circle pits and crowd surfing, even if the most reckless days of the band when he would climb the railings above the stage are behind him.

Head in the Clouds

When night falls on Hellfest, there is one place you should go to appreciate the view from above: the Ferris wheel. From there you will be able to see the whole grounds and beyond. It is a strange experience to see the crowds moving slowly or to witness the whirlpool of a circle pit forming. From the air, the sheer size of the festival does not appear as daunting as it could be when you are just one person lost in the crowd, craning your neck to see the stages.

From there the division lines between the music genres displayed here evaporate. The rift between the Altar and Valley is sealed and all these planes of Metal existences and audiences are reconciled. You will be able to see the towers of Sauron ignite and the flames lighting up all your surroundings. From up there, truly it looks like Hell!

From this high point of view, Robb Flynn of Machine Head is just a silhouette far below, but the swarm of “Locust” cannot reach you and there’s no better feeling than soaring in the sky listening to “Now We Die.” It makes you wish the night was not nearly over.


  • 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.

    View all posts

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.