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Hellfest in Heaven with Metallica

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Clisson (France) (AFP) – Hellfest in Paradise: Metallica sparked a metal fest on Sunday through Monday nights, and this leading group has named the French event a name among the genre’s major international gatherings.

“You made us good,” James Hetfield, leader of the Californian Quartet, saluted the audience (60,000 people on Sunday night, the majority of whom came to Metallica).

Après un final grandiose avec “Master of Puppets”, un des incontournables, le chanteur et guitariste s’est avancé sur scène, tout sourire, pour assister au feu d’artifice ponctuant le show et une à 15e exception éditionelle du Title.

First because the Clisson Festival – a small town in the middle of the vineyards in western France, not far from Nantes – took place this year over two extended weekends.

This is seven days in total, 350 scheduled groups, 420,000 total spectators, to make people forget two white seasons due to the health crisis associated with the COVID-19 epidemic. A new form that will not be renewed, confirms to the head of the event, Ben Barbou.

Then, because it’s the first time a Metallica juggernaut has performed at Hellfest. And that the group—more than forty years of existence, and its members roughly in their sixties—showed it was still above the fray. Showtime veteran Guns N’Roses, who played the night before at Hellfest, looked disjointed by comparison.

“So this is hell?”

Unlike Axl Rose, the leader of Guns N’ Roses, who is stingy with words with the audience, Hetfield, the charismatic, maintains an engagement with the audience.

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Ainsi, après la troisième chanson, “Enter Sandman”, bijou du “Black Album” de 1991 passé dans la postérité, le chanteur lance amusé: “Bon, on a joué toutes nos chansons les plus connues, qu’est-ce qu’ Shall we?”

But Metallica then rolls out other classic pieces, like “Nothing Else Matters,” which the audience took in chorus and is the only quiet piece, taking place in the middle of a two-hour show.

“Who’s seeing Metallica for the first time?” asked Hetfield. Facing the clamor in response, he said, “Welcome to the family, I hope you’ve done your homework and catch up on old albums.”

Guitarist James Hetfield of the American band Metallica, at the Helvest Festival in Clisson (western France) on June 26, 2022 Sebastian Salom Gomes, AFP

The chorus sung by the audience on “Seek & Destroy” from the debut album “Kill’em all” (1983), proves that Metallica’s songs stand the test of time.

“So this is hell?” Hetfield asks again into the microphone, indicating the name of the festival (“Hellfest”, “Festival of hell” in English). “It has nothing to do with hell there,” he adds, pointing with his index finger at his temple. The artist never hid his inner torments, nor sessions on the shrinking sofa.

Bo from Ennio Morricone

The Americans’ show turned out to be intense but with a wonderfully welcoming sobriety given the group that preceded them: the Swedes at Sabaton had a sandbag-rimmed tank as a backdrop.

Metallica doesn’t indulge in a single skill and stays on its basics: the solo and black-nail art of guitarist Kirk Hammett, the crouching of guitarist Robert Trujillo or Lars Ulrich, the drummer who gets up after a blow, like a boxer. After inflicting a KO with a heavy blow.

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And before the musicians arrive on the stage, the show always begins with images from the movie “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” against the background of the soundtrack composed by Ennio Morricone. In the documentary “Ennio” (which hits cinemas July 6), signed by Giuseppe Tornatore (“Cinema Paradiso”) and dedicated to this genius Italian composer, Hetfield explains that Morricone is an inspiration. Proof that Metallica has always seen beyond metal.

Drummer Lars Ulrich, of the American band Metallica, at the Helvest Festival in Clisson (Western France) on June 26, 2022
Drummer Lars Ulrich, of the American band Metallica, at the Helvest Festival in Clisson (Western France) on June 26, 2022 Sebastian Salom Gomes, AFP

This audio excerpt is preceded by an AC/DC title, selected and broadcast by the group: “It’s a Long Way to the Top”. ‘Long way to the top’: But Metallica is well established there.