“When one can see the vineyards of the Muscadet, it is a good sign!” The prelude to the Hellfest takes place often in the car. On the way (punctuated by the metal of course), we remember the good memories of previous editions. “You’re in your how much? Do you remember the battle of mud?”. Hellfest resonates for some as an annual pilgrimage. As areas of highway, appear to be the hallmarks of any good “hellfestoyeur”: black t-shirt, jean jacket with the gothic cross festival, tattoos… We will greet him with the traditional sign of the index and little finger. During a weekend, the entire metal community migrates to the same place: Clisson, south of Nantes.

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a few kilometers of the destination, little by little, bloom along the vines a few tents. One, two, ten… the Hellfest is not any more very far. Every year they are thousands of people coming from all over France but also from more than 70 countries to live to the rhythm of the Hellfest. Despite the high price, more than 200 euros, the 55,000 “pass three days” have been passed in less than two hours. And the festival is expected to beat the record of 200,000 entries from the previous edition.

Clisson, the capital of metal

death’s-Heads and logo of the Hellfest in the windows of the shops, “Hellbaguettes” sesame “and ” hellcake” dark chocolate in the bakery… For the past 14 years, Clisson sees this horde of cars, motorbikes and caravans to land. The town of 7000 souls, to the architecture inspired by tuscany, starts in the colours of the festival. “The people who are not accustomed to ask, who are these weird people dressed all in black. When in fact, they are very nice”, assures us the baker installed next to the centre Leclerc.Each year, the same ritual. In the early hours of Friday, hundreds of festival-goers arrived in the supermarket to stock up with food, but especially beer. “Drink!” is chanted at checkout. “Welcome to the Hellfest,” can it be read on huge posters displayed in the shelves.

“For three days it makes the color of the festival,” explains a woman in charge of the security, decked out with a black t-shirt with the logo of the festival “off” organized by the supermarket, which turns parking in the concert area. It is necessary to say that the weekend is big, with a turnover multiplied by three. On the side of the residents, one does not complain of those famous metalheads. “They are very nice, respectful. They have the right to have fun. It just takes more time to do the shopping”, joke two retirees on the parking lot. “But this year, it is very quiet,” remarked our baker. “Usually at Leclerc it is the madness with the scene in the parking lot but they have removed it on Friday. They have also put in place a lot of shuttles, so people spend less here, ” laments she. It is too quiet!” But just walk a few hundred metres on the road to become pedestrian to hear the first vibration of the guitar. The letters tortured the Hellfest appear. Welcome to hell.

“This is a culture of its own”

Guitar giant on the rond-point of entry, post-apocalyptic setting, the space of an area of 20 hectares has become a veritable Disneyland of the metal. All of you will say, “this is the best festival that I know of.” 11am, the sun is already hard on the rear pulldowns. Guillaume and Nicolas, a pitcher of beer and started to make a break in the “Hellfresh”, an area equipped with misters. “We come every year for the last 6 years and each time we forget the sun cream”, despair-they, face already reddened. At Hellfest, we gauge the attendance to the color of the skin, and quickly some reach the complexion of the grilled lobster.

Pause freshness also under the trees of the “Kingdom of Muscadet wine”, a managed forest for naps digestive and mornings difficult. Rangers to toe and dress to flowers, Kathy has done all the Hellfest since 2006. It is coming from Tarbes with his 6 years old daughter, Elia. “Last year she cried when her father went there without it,” says his grandmother. Scarf of the Hellfest on the head and fingers waved in the horn, the kid already has his favourite bands: “I love Kiss and Iron Maiden!”. It is far from the sweet song, but for Kathy, the metal is also a state of mind: “there are real values in the metal. A lot of solidarity and a genuine communion. The metal is a culture of its own”, she says. A culture that Hellfest has perfectly. When night falls, the scenery ignites a pyrotechnic show entering. Cathedral, sculptures of scrap metal, trash in the form of a death’s head… the whole scenery is set on fire. And each year holds its share of surprises. “I come from the beginning and every time there is something new. Everything is done for our comfort”, greet Olivier, the mask of the horror film Friday the 13th on the face.

Two party at the Hellfest 2019. degemer-photos.com

If the Hellfest is the feast of the metal, it is also a real costume ball. Crete disproportionate to the fluorescent colors, piercings, tattoos, all leather… The dress classic to any good metalhead who respects himself. But some are a blend of imagination: ram heads, a creature of the Lord of the Rings, pompom girls, Manga characters, Elvis Presley, pirates… We see everything. Nuns, priests and even a cardinal. Dressed all in red, Thiloun wears over his cassock the seven crests of the festival for as many entries. These disguises, a message anti-clerical? “I it is especially that in red I am a point of reference for my friends”, we he says.

If the jokes anti-clerical part of the folklore, a number of festival-goers believe that the religion and the metal are not incompatible. Since its inception, the festival has often been described as a satanist and anti-christian. “They don’t understand that this is a imaging. It is of the second degree”, attests Denis, a veteran of the festival, heads of death to the fingers. “There are many groups of metal christian,” adds Jean-Michel. Young evangelical christians, a fan of metal, are present and offer a “Metal Bible” to festival-goers.

Two fans at the Hellfest 2019 degemer-photos.com festival-goers in Dalton at Hellfest 2019. degemer-photos.com Big posters and French flair

All are gathered before any to commune with the music. In total, six scenes distribute the decibels. Everyone does his or her small program. Inevitably there are the essential contributors to the growing success of the festival: Kiss, Slayer, Dropkick murphys, ZZ Top… All the generations are mixed, one goes to the Hellfest friends, family (and stroller), lovers. To enjoy the bewitching solos of John Petrucci, guitarist emblematic of the band Dream Theater, admire the masks black and white Kiss or beard of ZZ Top… Number of foreigners have come to see the bands mythical gathered the time of a weekend. The flags Finnish, swiss, south african, australian float here and there. “This is our third time at Hellfest. This festival is unique in Europe, that’s why we come back every time!”, admire the two Germans. The French scene is also well represented: Dagoba, Gojira, or Mass Hysteria have kept their promise of reference metal “frenchie”, which is exported.

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as Soon as the first notes of the heavy metal has a tendency to live intensely in his concerts. His cell phone stays in the pocket. Several of choices available to him: to turn in circles and go in to shots of pogos, these movements of the crowd swirling. Give in to the headbang or the art of shaking the head in a circular fashion. Or slamer, in other words to be carried by the crowd, hoping to get a hold on big arms. Even the fans in wheelchairs are hoisted above the heads! So naturally, accidents can happen. William is head of the SNSM, which takes care of the first aid: “This year it is pretty quiet for the moment. It has a few ankles stride as usual, and of sunstroke, but otherwise nothing serious.” “It was still a lot of work,” says Solène, a volunteer first-aider for which this is the first Hellfest. The accident is the most widespread? “The cap anti-noise stuck to the inside of the ear.”

also ensure the smooth running of the weekend, the military of the plan vigipirate patrol around the entrance. “There’s worse like atmosphere,” says one of them, the smile on his lips after receiving a kiss with a mustache in the disguise of Pamela Anderson in baywatch . Day or night, the atmosphere remains good-natured. At the campsite, the heat has softened the agencies, we relax over a beer. We rest the eardrums on Aziza of Balavoine, or I am come to tell you that I’m going of Gainsbourg. We are looking for a quiet corner before heading into the arena. If silence is golden, at Hellfest noise is of metal.

A visitor to the Hellfest 2019. degemer-photos.com