By Adam Wills
This June marks a huge event of my life – my first European metal festival. Having heard how amazing the experience is, with friends attending them for years (mostly Wacken Open Air), I’ve been waiting for my chance to make it over and see what all of the commotion is all about.
Remembering how killer the lineups have been for France’s Hellfest over the last couple years, I’ve been keeping my eyes on this particular festival for awhile. Once the band announcements started coming out, I knew that this would be the one. Why, you ask? Check out this lineup… As with any large festival, there’s always a group of acts that you are most excited to witness. Whether it’s the first time seeing them, one of your favourites, or just being able to see a metal legend on stage, Hellfest has no shortage of them all. I’ll be covering the fest, both with text and photos, and here’s my most anticipated acts to see….
Black Label Society
Despite Zakk Wylde touring so often, I have yet to ever see him in person (neither with BLS nor with Ozzy). Heck, it wasn’t even until the recently, that I realized I actually enjoyed his music. Seeing the legendary guitarist play the main stage, just before the headlining Scorpions, will be a great venue to be introduced to his live show.
It’s really a crime that I haven’t seen these guys yet. They’ve been to Toronto enough, and everyone I know that has seen them have expressed how amazing they are. It will be interesting to see how the quartet (are there other members live?) perform on a large festival stage… although they’ve been doing it for years, so I’m sure they have it down to a science.
Upon recently saying “I’ve never seen In Flames before”, I got one of the most shocked looks I have received in awhile. Always touring North America, but never really piquing my interest enough (or perhaps the circumstances weren’t right?). Their music doesn’t interest me much nowadays, but I still want to check them out, just to avoid that reaction again.
I feel lucky that I’m getting the opportunity to see the British act, after having to cancel the rest of the North American tour with Blackfield (and those that did see them only received a two piece acoustic version). After seeing Neurosis, Anathema have moved to #1 on my “bands I must see” list, and thankfully, they won’t hold that ranking for very long. One of my most anticipated acts at the festival.
Ever since Sumerian Daemons came out in 2003, SepticFlesh have been on my radar. Playing a powerful blend of crushing, orchestral death metal, these Greeks will be touring North America in the summer (with the almighty Devin Townsend at that), but unfortunately, will not be coming to my part of town. Luckily, I’ll get to seem them on a festival stage this summer.
As a teenager growing up with Pantera, Phil Anselmo quickly became of my heavy metal idols. And when I heard Down for the first time, I immediately became a huge fan. 16 years later, this side-project has become Anselmo’s main band, and I’m as big of a fan as ever. Having seen them numerous times, I’m excited to see them in the festival setting.
I’ve probably seen Opeth more than any other band around thanks to a rigorous North American touring schedule over the last decade and an extra effort not to miss them whenever they come to town. However, the allure of getting to see them at my first European metal festival? It would almost seem incomplete without them.
Such a unique band as Orphaned Land don’t come around very often – both in their music and their philosophies. Mabool was one of my favourite releases of the last 10 years, and have been lucky enough to see them in Toronto twice now – although on small stages. I can’t wait to see them on a larger stage with a larger audience.
When the Irish black metallers played Toronto on one of the Paganfest tours that came around town, they were easily the best band on the bill. Nemtheanga’s vocals soared in a live venue, and I expect the same on a festival stage. Having just released a new album, Redemption at the Puritan’s Hand, I’m sure they’ll be trying out some of the new material this summer.
I don’t really listen to Bolt Thrower very often… but when I saw them at Maryland Death Fest two years ago, they were easily the most crushing band there. The energy they brought ignited the crowd into an utter frenzy and afterwards, after another band had to cancel their set after not being able to enter the country, Bolt Thrower were asked to play a second set – which was just as intense. I expect nothing less in France.
Iggy and The Stooges
Another band with a back catalogue that I’m not too familiar with (shame on me, I know), but Iggy continues to be one of the most energetic, and influential frontmen in punk rock history. While The Stooges aren’t exactly the most metal act on the bill, with the history they have, they can play wherever they want. I can’t wait.
These German classic metallers have been belting out killer guitar riffs for 40 years now. Klaus Meine’s unmistakable vocals have broken through to the mainstream numerous times, who still get regular playtime decades after their release. Having announced that this world tour will be the band’s last, I’m thankful for the opportunity to see them before they call it a career.
Does Ozzy really need an introduction? I’ve been hoping to shoot Ozzy for awhile now, and I’m excited for the opportunity to capture the face of heavy metal while he’s still able to perform headlining sets.
Another classic band that are currently in the midst of their farewell tour [not to be confused with the band retiring… Gibson.com -Adam], Judas Priest (hot off of their American Idol appearance…?!) have had an incredible career spanning four decades, and are as popular as ever. Despite legendary guitarist K.K. Downing sitting this one out (citing differences with management), Halford and company will be sure to put on a performance that will surely appease the Metal Gods.
Of course, this is just a small selection of bands on the bill, and am looking forward to seeing as much as I can. Who would you call a “must-see”?