Hellfest 2013 is a wrap, aside from the cleanup job that must still be underway, andwas there to bring you coverage. Our correspondants in France zeroed in on three bands during Day One that they felt you needed to know about, whether these bands are new or old. Our correspondants also narrowed their reports down to three different sub-genres of . Sometimes it’s the underdogs that get the win.
It’s great to hear a band like this still going. For those unaware of their work it’s a fairly technical progressive strand of thrash. Think’s …And Justice For All, add something a bit more complicated and a higher vocal range and you’re pretty much there.
It’s not the type of music that lends itself particularly well to a live show: The guitarists are generally too busy trying to nail their riffs and leads to go too crazy. Plus fast, technical riffage often gets lost in the open airs of a festival. But these guys do it as well as it can be done.
Singer David White bounds around the stage, riling up the crowd, and all the musicians smash out their roles admirably. It’s the music that makes the show and that’s A-OK with me.
Their old songs were performed near perfectly (with the exception of some speaker blowing kick drum technical issues) and the guitar tones cut through surprisingly well for the amount going on. The newer songs from their 2010 recording really sounded good too, not just the kind of “its OK” you’ve come to expect from old thrashers attempting a comeback.
If you haven’t seen Heathen and you get the chance, see ’em. If you’re a thrash fan and they’ve slipped your radar up until now, check them out.
Heathen at Hellfest 2013 (PICS)
Saxon has always been such a real “live” band; the whole thing seems second nature. Bif walks on stage like it’s his home. He oozes confidence. The set list is a collection of the hits as you might expect, but they are pushing their new album more than you might think for an old band. They could easily just cash in on their legacy and be done with it. That’s not such a bad thing.
The new songs are, for the most part, cohesive with the classic Saxon feel: simple and tough. I don’t think the new material is going to be winning the band any awards though. It seems like they’re proud of their latest efforts.
There was very little to complain about from their set – only that they had such a short set for a band with such a wide catalogue of classics and maybe extending a second riff in an already long song like “Wheels of Steel” is kind of pointless, especially for one of those tired old “WOAH OE AHHH OE!!” type audience interaction things, but maybe that’s just me being a cynical bastard.
It was a great show if you like Saxon and they still deliver a class act.
Saxon at Hellfest 2013 (PICS)
Music is subjective, but music like Pallbearer’s is very subjective. The tunes are slow, crushing doom metal with tempos that you could probably sneak in a smoke break from one snare hit to the next. OK, so it’s not that slow, but it will split audiences who don’t know what to expect.
The sound in front of the stage was enormous. The bass was deep, heavy and very prominent. That was teamed with the drums, pounding down a powerful steady droning beat and guitars tuned down low enough that they could almost pass as the bass line on their own. The guitars and vocals have enough reverb to make you feel like they’re being played in an enormous church. It would be horrible for anything else, but here it suits the music well.
The somewhat haunting reverberating vocals, while almost indecipherable, conveyed a massive amount of emotion. He used quite a large and often high range in his delivery and it helped tie it all together nicely. With the guitars crushing lows and higher harmonies mixed with that gut vibrating bass and huge powerful drums, it really delivered something special live.
If you’re a fan of the slow and heavy, Pallbearer should be on your list.
Pallbearer at Hellfest 2013 (PICS)
All Photos Credit: Eden Meure