Volbeat, who proved that third time was the charm in Belfast recently, cemented their status as one of Europe’s favourite bands, as they ripped though their well-received late night set on Friday. With a loud production fit to compete with Hellfest’s myriad explosive distractions (from the fire pit to the incendiary rooftops of the festival’s bars), they went down a storm.
Coming on the back of Deftones’s mainstage headliner, it was no mean feat, as was Suicidal Tendencies’ short, sharp War Zone set, which ended in a full on stage invasion.
Saturday (18th June) saw the warm weather peak and attendees clamour to avail of the shade, the cool jets of Hellfresh, and the dousing water fountains. On hand to further soothe the baking audience, the hose that was in operation during The Darkness’s set (and all throughout the weekend) proved almost as refreshing as the music. Mixing things up from their Download Festival appearance, Justin Hawkins and co delivered a frenetic cover of Radiohead’s ‘Street Spirit (Fade Out)’, along with tracks from across their catalogue.
In a role reversal of what had transpired at Download, Steel Panther’s Michael Starr joined the Lowestoft act for set closer ‘I Believe in a Thing Called Love’, hilariously praising his own performance by exclaiming; "Give it up for me!" as the track reached its climax.
While Rival Sons, Deep Purple, and Megadeth all playing to capacity crowds on Mainstage one and two, Sepultura’s set proved one of the weekend’s most popular, with the crowd from their Alter Stage performance spilling out into the main arena and congesting the site’s walkways.
Friday for many however, was all about Ghost. Led by the enigmatic Papa Emeritus IV, the night featured the debut of ‘Impera’ track ‘Griftwood’, and the Sisters of Sin choir. The band's appearance was cut short however when Emeritus (front man Tobais Forge) lost his voice. “My voice is completely fucked”, he confessed; “I cannot take one other song”, he continued, regrettably taking his bow, prematurely.
Sunday (19th June) proved that even under the scorching heat and most extreme of conditions, the legions of metalheads were ready for more. One of the most respected singers in the genre, Doro’s afternoon performance delighted fans of “old school metal!” from early days classic ‘Burning the Witches’ to anthem ‘All for Metal’.
Summing up the event, the metal queen signed off saying; “it's awesome here! This is the best festival! Hellfest we love you. Stay metal, stay heavy, keep on rocking!”
Ahead of their sets, Lacuna Coil, Devin Townsend – “it is heavenly to be here!” – and Korn appeared at press conferences, with the Bakersfield numetal linchpins confessing that they miss playing in Russia, taking time to praise their Russian fans.
Down meanwhile, received a hero’s welcome, and in particular, front man Philip Anselmo, who dedicated ‘Lifer’ to late Pantera band mates Dimebag Darrell and Vinnie Paul.
Korn, who followed, relished being back in front of the French audience, with main man Jonathan Davis telling the audience; “it's been five fuckin' years since we've been able to play for you all, and it feels so good for be back!”
Aping the famous Birmingham Bull that later formed part of their stage set, Judas Priest frontman Rob Halford showed off a new nose piecing during their career-spanning set.”Hellfest maniacs, the Priest is back!”, he declared ahead of a set that featured a storming ‘You’ve Got Another Thing Coming’, a brutal ‘Painkiller’, and a triumphant ‘Living After Midnight’.
With a crowning appearance from homeland heroes Gojira on the main stage, and British post-punks Killing Joke performing into the small hours, the curtain fell on part one of the world’s greatest ever metal event.
Hellfest 2022 continues on 23rd – 26th June, with Helloween, Steve Vai, Alice Cooper and more all set to appear alongside the headline a