Picking up  their pieces after some time has passed, Dimitris and Dimitra decided to write down a few words about the great French event, trying to describe the whole experience from the beginning.


The festival and what you need to know – tips and organizing your trip

Hellfest is the biggest extreme sound festival in France and it takes place in a small village called Clisson, a half an hour drive from Nantes. Nantes is where the closest airport is, so after you purchase your ticket you will have to book a flight to Nantes. If the days when you used to sleep in a tent and camp with 50-60.000 people are long gone, like us, it might be a good idea to look for accommodation in the city, since it’s almost impossible to find something Clisson. The ideal situation would be to share a place with a company of 4-5 people, including a car rental, so you can be completely independent in moving around.

After you have organized every minute detail you’ll be counting the days, constantly checking the schedule with the order of appearance to plan which bands to see, which to sacrifice and which to completely ignore. As a tip, don’t go crazy about the schedule, the festival provides an epic app that allows you to select the bands you want to see and it will remind you 15 minutes before they go on stage. At the merch section you can find a booklet with a map of the festival, the schedule for all days and whatever information you need, for free.

But, despite the convenience of not having to remember anything or keeping notes, you will have to alter the original plan several times. Sometimes a band you wanted to see might turn out disappointing, other times you’ll be exhausted or starving and sometimes you’ll hear the crowd roaring at a band you didn’t originally consider to be worth your time. So, many times you’ll face the dilemma of “now what?” It’s best to ignore any obsessive behaviors and be more flexible than getting stuck to your original plan. What really matters is to have a good time and enjoy yourself, it’s not about seeing everything. You will discover that time flies and the day will come where you find yourself driving to the airport without you even realizing


Arrival – At the Gates and Inside Hellfest

I don’t know if you’ll have our luck and right after you land you find a bunch of Greeks but it’s certain that there will be many from our country that visit the great event of France. Something that made the whole occasion warmer for us and gave us a sense of familiarity. After the usual business of picking up the car, checking in the hotel, preparations and so on, we made for the festival. When we got to the location, we were almost shocked by the sheer size of the crowd. But Hellfest respects its fans and has the right organization and facilities to manage such a crowd. We found a remote but easy parking space. About 15 minutes of walking now stood between us and the gates. On our way there the crowd that walked alongside was getting steadily bigger. All those people made you feel like a super hero that has lost their superpowers. You were no longer the different, odd one out that you were used to in your everyday life but part of a similar whole.

After some walking you’ll finally arrive and everything around you is built in a way to confirm that. Guitar-shaped monuments, guitar pedal-shaped stores, posters and flyers. Everything oozes metal. You get in quickly and easily and you are greeted by a small town that looks like the Wild West and has anything a fan of this music can imagine. Free old arcades, street food, merch shops, clothes and shoe shops, countless small events apart from those on the schedule and the first of the two characteristic trees of Hellfest, majestically standing as if welcoming you to the festival.

Here is also the entrance to the main grounds of the festival. After a small delay caused by the need to check everyone entering the space for safety reasons, you finally get in the place you will be living and breathing for the next three days. The place that will give you wonderful images to remember. The place that even if you took out the musical aspect would still have to offer you so many experiences.

Taking your first steps you will want to get familiar with the space, see where everything is. Six stages, a place to eat with cuisines from all over the world, horn-shaped forks and a flying-V shaped fountain. Toilets and places to chill, relax and get out of the sun. Hellfest merch stands, bands merch stands and of course bars. Yet the festival has thought about all beer lovers and there are walking salesmen all over the place. The crowd extends to every corner since there are events happening by the organizers or the people themselves. You observe that not only you are no longer the odd one out like in everyday life but on the contrary, you are very ordinary. You will see a lot of people dressed as goths, post-apocalyptic, cyberpunks, animals, pokemons, power rangers and the lists goes on as the days pass and every first beer feels like the fifth because last night’s influence still hasn’t passed. Every day is games and joy and every night is dressed in flames and creates the perfect atmosphere to watch the big names. Now, let’s see how things transpired on stage.

Day 1
Sonata Arctica: The first group we met getting in were the Finnish power metallers. Their melodic set seemed to lack in pulse and climaxes and combined with our sense of disorientation, they did not manage to hold our interest.

Setlist: 1. Closer to an Animal, 2. Black Sheep, 3. The Day, 4. No Dream Can Heal a Broken Heart, 5. Full Moon, 6.Life

Godsmack: Next was a band we weren’t very familiar with. The Americans were capable of getting a rouse out of the audience despite the early hour. The sound and performance were very good and the result was very enjoyable even if you weren’t a fan.

Setlist: 1. When Legends Rise, 2.1000hp, 3. Awake, 4. Unforgettable, 5. Something Different, 6. Say My Name, 7. Batalla de los Tambores, 8. Bulletproof, 9. I Stand Alone

Power Trip: Finally, it was time to watch one of our choices. The Texan thrashers had the entire package: old-school thrash, great stage presence, intensity and attitude. Crowd-surfing and mosh-pits erupted and the covered stage that hosted their show seemed ideal to make us feel at home.

Setlist: 1. Soul Sacrifice, 2. Executioner’s Tax (Swing of the Axe), 3. Nightmare Logic, 4. Firing Squad, 5. Crucifixation, 6. Hornet’s Nest, 7. Murderer’s Row, 8. Waiting Around to Die, 9. Manifest Decimation

Demons and Wizards: The baton was passed to the American-German alliance. We got the impression that the first grand act has taken over the stage since the crowd got much bigger and participated more intensely. With every growl by Hansi and every triplet picking by Schaffer the crowd responded by roaring, dancing and horns up in the air. A fine show.

Setlist: 1. Rites of Passage, 2. Heaven Denies, 3. Poor Man’s Crusade, 4. Crimson King, 5. Burning Times, 6. Welcome to Dying, 7. The Gunslinger, 8. Terror Train, 9. Blood on my Hands, 10. Fiddler on the Green


Diamond Head: At the same time, on a smaller stage close by, the veterans from England unraveled their own history. Tatler’s sharp riffs, finely played and with a perfect sound, were capable of uniting the voices of 5000 people and make them heard all the way to the large scenes outside. AM I EVIL? YES I AM! The first glorious moment of the festival.

Setlist: 1. Borrowed Time, 2. Bones, 3. Death by Design, 4. Belly of the Beast, 5. The Messenger, 6. Helpless, 7. It’s Electric, 8. Am I Evil ?

Dream Theater: The big DT symbol showed up on the giant screens and the mob tries to push through the front rows to watch the quintet’s performing phenomenon. Portnoy might be one of those musicians who seem irreplaceable but Mangini is way more than just a good replacement. Four of them perform perfectly but Labrie’s difficulty to follow is substantial. Exhaustion or throat problems? The trouble is that they seem to realize it themselves and although playing-wise they are fine, there is no pulse or climax.

Setlist: 1. Untethered Angel, 2. As I Am, 3. Fall Into the Light, 4. Barstool Warrior, 5. Peruvian Skies, 6. The Dance of Eternity, 7. Lie, 8. Pale Blue Dot

Dropkick Murphys: Next in line were the Americans from Massachusetts, a band made for such festivals and they were the first to get a rise out of the crowd and make it jump to their rhythms during their entire set. Combined with the crowd reaction it was a most enjoyable show.

Setlist: 1. Cadence to Arms, 2. The Boys Are Back, 3. Going Out in Style, 4. Blood, 5. Prisoner’s Song, 6. Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ya, 7. Caught in a Jar, 8. The Walking Dead, 9. Don’t Tear Us Apart, 10. First Class Loser, 11. Out of Our Heads, 12. I Fought the Law, 13. Cruel, 14. The Irish Rover, 15. The State of Massachusetts, 16. You’ll Never Walk Alone, 17. Rose Tattoo, 18. Until the Next Time, 19. I’m Shipping Up to Boston

Pestilence: Returning to the smaller stages, in which we will remain until the end of the night with a string of burning hot gigs! First, Pestilence. The truth is we were a bit apprehensive of Mameli and how well he would perform live after a bad experience we had in their penultimate appearance in Athens a few years ago. But Mameli was in great form and if they weren’t let down by the rather poor sound, we would have been fully compensated.

Setlist:  1.Non Physical Existent, 2. Suspended Animation, 3. Dehydrated,  4.The Secrecies of Horror, 5. Twisted Truth,  6. The Process of Suffocation, 7. Chronic Infection, 8. The Trauma, 9. Reduced to Ashes, 10. Out of the Body, 11. Land of Tears


Venom Inc: Venom Inc. is a guaranteed quality performance and there’s crazy headbanging going on during their set. Mantas and co. transport everyone on the left hand path. A rabid appearance that grabbed you by the throat from the first minute to the last and we are now certain that the small stages with the names and the oozing atmosphere are the place we belong.  

Setlist: 1. Ave Satanas, 2. Rip Ride, 3. Forged in Hell, 4. War, 5. Lady Lust, 6. Witching Hour, 7. Bloodlust, 8. Black Metal, 9. Countess Bathory, 10. Live Like an Angel (Die Like a Devil), 11. Don’t Burn the Witch, 12. Metal We Bleed

Possessed: Possessed returned with a massive album, worthy of its predecessors and showed how to play righteous, manic death metal. The crowd crams to enjoy them and they do not disappoint for a second. Jeff is incredible and performs perfectly, honoring the stage.

Setlist: 1. No More Room in Hell, 2. Pentagram, 3. Tribulation, 4. Demon, 5. Evil Warriors, 6. The Heretic, 7. Abandoned, 8. Storm in My Mind, 9. The Eyes of Horror, 10. Graven, 11. The Exorcist, 12. Fallen Angel, 13. Death Metal


Tom Warrior’s Triumph of Death performs Hellhammer: The idea to incarnate live Hellhammer’s music was shared by Tom Warrior and Martin Eric Ain. With the latter no longer with us, Warrior perhaps as a tribute too, took the project on himself, to bring on stage the music of one of the most historical and influential bands in extreme sound. The songs, although executed a bit slower, were performed as imposingly and seriously as was proper. The deathly presence of Tom completed the show.
Setlist: 1. The Third of the Storms (Evoked Damnation), 2. Massacra, 3. Maniac, 4. Blood Insanity, 5. Decapitator, 6. Crucifixion, 7. Reaper, 8. Buried and Forgotten, 9. Aggressor, 10. Revelations of Doom, 11. Messiah, 12. Visions of Mortality, 13. Triumph of Death

Carcass:  One of the bands we really wanted to see in the fest and we were absolutely right! Jeff Walker, Bill Steer and co. executed the songs with …surgical precision and despite the fatigue visiting us, they gave us a great boost for the band that followed.

Setlist:  1. 316L Grade Surgical Steel, 2. Buried Dreams, 3. Exhume to Consume, 4. Reek of Putrefaction, 5. Incarnated Solvent Abuse, 6. Unfit for Human Consumption, 7. Cadaver Pouch Conveyor System, 8. Captive Bolt Pistol, 9. Genital Grinder, 10. This Mortal Coil, 11. Death Certifiicate, 12. Black Star/Keep on Rotting in the Free World, 13. Corporal Jigsore Quandary, 14. Heartwork, 15. Carneous Cacoffiny    

King Diamond: The reason we decided to make the trip to Nantes had finally arrived! The time is 01:05, exhaustion and agony are fighting each other to see who’s gonna prevail. We’re at the front of the stage and we’re waiting… the lights go down… intro, the King comes on stage on his wheelchair. The first notes of The Candle are heard and the show begins… GOOSEBUMPS! We’re left with our jaws dropped. 15 years old again. We think we’re dreaming. We tear up and smile at the same time and sincerely cannot believe that we are witnessing this moment. Whatever we write is not going to do the show justice. King for life!

P.S. There were a couple of little extras in the setlist that gives us younger people the right to brag that we’ve seen something the old brigade has never seen: the very rarely played The Lake and for the first time live: Behine These Walls.

Setlist: 1. The Candle, 2. Voodoo, 3. Arrival, 4. A Mansion in Darkness, 5. Masquerade of madness, 6. Halloween, 7. Welcome Home, 8.The Invisible Guests, 9. Tea, 10. Sleepless Nights, 11.Behind These Walls, 12. The Lake, 13. Burn, 14. Black Horsemen


Day 2:

Moonspell: The second day begun late for us because we didn’t care much for the first names. Moonspell gave a nice show and someone could perhaps call them lightly the Portuguese Rotting Christ. They got a rise out of the audience and it was the kickoff for the second day.

Setlist: 1. Em Nome Do Medo, 2. 1755, 3. In Tremor Dei, 4. Opium, 5. Breathe (Until We Are No More), 6. Ruinas, 7. Todos Os Santos, 8. Alma Mater, 9. Full Moon Madness

Whitesnake: One of the most historical hard rock bands, you would think they got on stage relatively early, if you only considered their size and not their live performances the past few years. But as soon as they started playing you realized that despite their efforts to get the crowd going, despite their good and tight playing, the band’s main attraction, Coverdale, is no longer capable of moving you.

Setlist: 1. Bad Boys, 2. Slide it In, 3. Love Ain’t No Stranger, 4. Hey You (You Make Me Rock), 5. Slow an’ Easy, 6. Guitar Solo, 7. Shut Up & Kiss Me, 8. Drum Solo, 9. Is This Love, 11. Here I Go Again, 12. Still of the Night

Candlemass: this time around they did not cancel, thankfully. With Leif and Langquist returning to their positions and where we want them to stay. A flawless show, both lineup-wise and performance-wise.

Setlist: 1. The Well of Souls, 2. Dark Reflections, 3. Mirror Mirror, 4. Astorolus – The Great Octopus, 5. Bewitched, 6. Dark Are the Veils of Death, 7. A Sorcerer’s Pledge, 8. Black Trinity, 9. Solitude

Def Leppard: Return to the main stages for a bit more hard rock. Very good show by the English, with great atmosphere and an uplifting setlist but for some reason we felt that the crowd wasn’t responding to the band’s call and was rather sluggish.

Setlist: 1. Rocket, 2. Animal, 3. Let it Go, 4. When Love and Hate Collide, 5. Let’s Get Rocked, 6. Armageddon It, 7. Two Steps Behind, 8. Love Bites, 9. Bringin’ on the Heartbreak, 10. Switch 625, 11. Hysteria, 12. Pour Some Sugar on Me, 13. Rock of Ages, 14. Photograph

ZZ Top: A very pleasant break before the headliners of the day. ZZ Top hold firmly the baron of the American South (yee haw!) and transport us briefly to the shores of the Mississippi. Witgh a mix of their most famous songs and playing really well they kept us company for quite some time.

Setlist: 1. Got Me Under Pressure, 2. I Thank You, 3. Waitin’ for the Bus, 4. Jesus Just Left Chicago, 5. Gimme All Your Lovin’, 6. Pearl Necklace, 7. I’m Bad, I’m Nationwide, 8. O Gotsa Get Paid, 9. My Head’s in Mississippi, 10. Sixteen Tons, 11. Beer Drinkers & Hell Raisers, 12. Just Got Paid, 13. Sharp Dressed Man, 14. Legs, 15. La Grange, 16. Tush


KISS: Final tour for the hottest band in the world and of course we’re ready for an amazing partyyy! From the moment they hit the stage you realize that it’s no luck that some bands are so big and have influenced so many people. Paul Stanly is uncontainable, he dances and performs on his 15cm boots like time hasn’t touched him! What moves! Honestly, we’re not sure if there is anyone who can pull that off at his age. Star Child indeed! Gene, Tommy and Eric follow suit, offering a spectacular show. Confetti, fireworks, images, videos and in short, the eye and ear have a feast! As they’ve said themselves “after KISS, just going onstage is not enough”. Well, that’s exactly what they did until their last tour.

Setlist: 1. Detroit Rock City, 2. Shout It Out Loud, 3. Deuce, 4. Say Yeah, 5. I Love It Loud, 6. Heaven’s on Fire, 7. War Machine, 8. Lick It Up, 9. Calling Dr. Love, 10. 100,000 Years, 11. Cold Gin, 12. God of Thunder, 13. Psycho Circus, 14. Let Me Go, Rock ‘N’ Roll, 15. Love Gun, 16. I Was Made for Lovin’ You, 17. Black Diamond, 18. Beth, 19. Crazy Crazy Nights, 20. Rock and Roll All Nite


Day 3.

Death Angel: The Californian thrashers were the first band we saw on the third day. Great start, once again. Imposing, powerful thrash, well-played, with a perfect performance that got the crowed going from the early hours of the festival. It was thus marked that this day belongs to thrash.

Setlist: 1. Thrown to the Wolves, 2. Voracious Soouls, 3. Father of Lies, 4. The Dream Calls for Blood, 5. The Pack, 6. Humanicide

Yob: A very special band. They did not speak much, they let their music speak for them. Their setlist was flawlessly performed, with the appropriate atmosphere.

Setlist: 1. Quantum Mystic, 2. Unmask the Spectre, 3. The Screen, 4. Breathing From the Shallows, 5. Atma

Lucifer’s Child: Next, it was time for one of the up and coming and most hopeful bands of the Greek scene, one that serves ritualistic black metal, as it’s defined by bands like Watain and Rotting Christ. The space under the covered stage almost immediately filled up and the crowd welcomed Lucifer’s Child very warmly. Their show was great and meticulous, down to the last detail. Performance, stage presence, atmosphere and sound were all major band level and that was evident by the crowd reactions.

Setlist: 1. Black Heart, 2. Haraya, 3. Fall of the Rebel Angels, 4. Through Fire We Burn, 5. He, Who Punishes and Slays, 6. El Dragon, 7. The Order, 8. Viva Morte


Clutch: Another band suited for the wide and open space that gives you a great time. From the first notes already you could see bodies moving. The beer flows and Clutch’s party begins.

Setlist: 1. Ghoul Wrangler, H.B. Is In Control, 3. The Mob Goes Wild, 4. Vision Quest, 5. Gimme the Keys,  6. Noble Savage, 7. The Face, 8. Evil, 9. A Quick Death in Texas, 10. Electric Worry, 11. X-Ray Visions, 12. Firebirds!  

Testament: Chuck Billy and More than meets the eye. The imposing presence of the very tall frontman, the attitude they had when they came out on the stage and the gigantic reaction by the crowd, were the perfect combination for the second thrash part of the day. Some minor problems with Chuck’s voice were lost under the fierce performance.

Setlist: 1. Brotherhood of the Snake, 2. The Pale King, 3. More than Meets the Eye, 4. Practice What You Preach, 5. The New Order, 6. Electric Crown, 7. Into the Pit, 8. Over the Wall, 9. Disciples of the Watch, 10. The Formation of Damnation

Stone Temple Pilots: There wasn’t anything we really wanted to see after Testament, so since we found a place to crash near the big stage, we happened to watch the Americans. They weren’t really our thing in the 90s when grunge was king, now without Scott Weiland too we saw a band that played simple radio rock, without anything special to write home about.

Setlist: 1. Wicked Garden, 2. Crackerman, 3. Vasoline, 4. Big Bang Baby, 5. Big Empty, 6. Plush, 7. Interstate Love Song, 8. Roll Me Under, 9. Dead & Bloated, 10. Sex Type Thing

Anthrax: Thrash metal part three for the day and Hellfest is on fire. A crazed Belladonna scours the stage, plays with the cameras, teases the camera-men and doesn’t let the crowd let up.  They give a performance with the mania of a band that has started a couple of years ago, their sound and playing are those of a great band. Their set started and ended with the Cowboys from Hell riff, since one day before their show was a year since Vinnie Paul left us. Just like they did in Athens with the Big 4, when they covered Heaven and Hell to honor the great Dio. Forever fans in their hearts.

Setlist: 1. Caught in a Mosh, 2. Got the Time, 3. Efilnikufesin (N.F.L.), 4. I Am the Law, 5. Now It’ss Dark, 6. In the End, 7. Antisocial, 8. Indians



Lynyrd Skynyrd: Moving on with the Americans from Florida and the South is still going strong with its music tradition. In a bluesy rock combination and with flawless playing, Lynyrd Skynyrd give the Skynyrd Nation that they’ve created exactly what it wants.

Setlist: 1. Workin’ for MCA, 2. Skynyrd Nation, 3. What’s Your Name, 4. That Smell, 5. Gimme Back My Bullets, 6. The Needle and the Spoon, 7. Saturday Niight Special, 8. Simple Man, 9. Gimme Three Steps, 10. Call Me the Breeze, 11. Sweet Home Alabama, 12. Free Bird

Lamb of God: Immediately after, only seconds apart, the uncontainable LOG waited for the last note by Lynyrd to begin the demolition of Hellfest. After paying their respects to Lynyrd Skynyrd, saying how important their music is for the Americans and after saying their goodbyes respectfully and succinctly with the best words to Slayer, it was time for their music to speak. Without any embellishment, taking heads. Randy was unstoppable, running up and down the stage throughout their set, he had the whole festival going, which never stopped headbanging. A flawless performance of a high-class band that suits this festival perfectly.

Setlist: 1. Omerta, 2. Ruin, 3. Walk With Me in Hell, 4. Now You’ve Got Something to Die For, 5. 512, 6. Engage the Fear Machine, 7. Blacken the Cursed Sun, 8. Hourglass, 9. Descending, 10. Laid to Rest, 11. Redneck

Cannibal Corpse: We leave running to catch a good seat in one of the covered stages so we can see another beast on stage. Every now and then Corpsegrinder smiles widely and you can see how much he loves the mayhem taking place in the filled-to-the-brim space. The pit has opened, the band does not stop headbanging for a second and the crowd praises one of the finest bands of its genre.

Setlist: 1. Evisceration Plague, 2. Scourge of Iron, 3. Code of the Slashers, 4. Red Before Black, 5. Devoured by Vermin, 6. Unleashing the Bloodthirsty, 7. A Skull Full of Maggots, 8. Kill or Become, 9. I Cum Blood, 10. Make Them Suffer, 11. Stripped, Raped and Strangled, 12. Hammer Smashed Face

Slayer: FUCKIN’ SLAYER!! Enough said! Last thrash chapter for the day and YES, the day belongs to thrash. Taking into account that this was part of their farewell tour, their show is emotionally very charged, both from the side of the audience and the band. Two huge Slayer symbols in flames stood imposingly on stage and looked like they had set the whole festival on fire, which was dressed in flames every night anyway but at this moment you forgot that and had the feeling that this happened just because of Slayer. What to talk about first? The playing? The performance? The feeling? Time goes by and you want it to freeze. The farewell by the enormous Araya is too heavy to handle. Luck comforts us a bit when we leave with one of Bostaph’s drumsticks, won amidst more than 60,000+ people but after a while you think to yourself that it can’t be that I will never experience this again…

Setlist: 1. Repentless, 2. Evil Has No Boundaries, 3. World Painted Blood, 4. Postmortem, 5. Hate Worldwide, 6. War Ensemble, 7. Gemini, 8. Disciple, 9. Mandatory Suicide, 10. Chemical Warfare, 11. Payback, 12. Born of Fire, 13. Seasons in the Abyss, 14. Hell Awaits, 15. South of Heaven, 16. Raining Blood, 17. Black Magic, 18. Dead Skin Mask, 19. Angel of Death

Tool: Tool was the ideal ending for the day, after so much intensity a trippy atmospheric ban was just what we needed. The giant screens did not show close ups of the band as they did with most but rather a full show of the creepy cosmos they have created. Perfect sound and lights, emotion and performance. Hellfest closes its curtains, we have lived the experience, felt its pulst and the big long days now seem small and you wonder when did they go so quickly.  

Setlist: 1. Ænema, 2. The Pot, 3. Parabol, 4. Parabola, 5. Descending, 6. Schism, 7. Invincible, 8. Intolerance, 9. Jambi, 10. Forty Six & 2, 11. Part of Me, 12. Vicarious, 13. Stinkfist


For three days Hellfest offered more than 140 bands. We managed to see about 30, we drank with friends, we ate and tasted from exotic cuisines, we wandered among events, we saw guaranteed quality bands, saw bands we wanted to since forever and lived a complete experience that only an even such as this can offer. We recommend this to any friend of this music as something that must be experienced at least once in their lifetime.

Dimitris Katraloglou, Dimitra Soumpaka