Here we go, it’s that time of the year where all Metal enthusiasts from France and all over the world gathers in the beautiful Clisson, to visit their own version of Disney Land for a full weekend, HELLFEST.
The special bonus this year was a fourth day, the weekend kicked of on Thursday this year with Knotfest embracing the French meal world.
I personally stopped talking about how big Hellfest is each year, Ben and his team got enough creativity to surprise us each year.
Come Hellfest 2020, I can only guarantee you, it’ll be your best Metal experience.
The lineup this year was massive, maybe too massive.
This edition of Hellfest was probably the 1969 Woodstock of our time.
It had everything, legends bidding farewell to their fans, old school rock stars, new emerging bands, Tool after 13 years away from their fans.
So many highlights that would go down in the history,
Only this year there were stories to tell, on a positive notes and a negative one.
The opening day of Hellfest was busy, really busy, Hellfest dedicated a main stage just for French bands which was really awesome.
Imagine, in one day, you have the chance to see, Gojira, King Diamond, Mass Hysteria, Dagoba, SUM41, Godsmack, Demons & Wizards, and Dream Theater… etc.
And finally, to close out the day, the almighty Manowar was set to headline.
Remember our story from last year? Where after the last band on the third day, Hellfest came up with a huge surprise, Lights were out for few minutes, then Joey from MANOWAR was live on stage to announce the return of MANOWAR to Hellfest after 10 years, their last performance was back in 2009. I was there.
People were looking forward to this, but don’t get too attached, this story does not have a happy ending.
In the afternoon of Friday, around 80,000 people were notified that MANOWAR wouldn’t be playing tonight anymore, no further explanations.
Few hours later, the story started to go out, MANOWAR were on site the night before, as per Hellfest, they just decided to leave the site and not to play the show.
Then an official statement from MANOWAR blaming Hellfest for this cancelation, I mean it’s MANOWAR, of course they’re gonna blame Hellfest.
The fans were really disappointed and furious, a band like MANOWAR should care and respect their fans.
No matter the reason that led to an argument between the band and the organizer, your MANOWAR, you were on site and ready to play, you deliver to your fans, the show must go on, you perform, then you go to solve your issues with the promoter.
Let’s not give MANOWAR too much attention here, they let down their fans, Hellfest were proactive and on the spot, replaced them by Sabaton.
Long story short, it was a dramatic day, but nobody cared, Hellfest ruled and people had a blast.
Day tow was no less, it was the day where you go on a trip back in time, the real legends of rock and metal ruled, not MANOWAR!
The biggest act that everyone was waiting for was KISS, another legends bidding farewell to the world.
We also had, Whitesnake, Def Leppard, ZZ Top, Within Temptation and many others.
But for me, the highlight of this year was without a doubt KISS.
These guys, after all this years, they put on a show that bands in there twenties wouldn’t have the stamina to do.
They gave it all, a rock show on the highest level, they had raisers on the stage for each musician, at some point, Paul surfed over the crowd with a zip-line and plaid two songs in the middle of the ground, not to mention the flames, the smoke, the explosions and finally the fireworks.
KISS presents the real meaning of the term ROCK STARS.
Days three is usually sad, because you come to realize that it is almost the end for this year, but was way more emotional as SLAYER were also bidding farewell to the world, Tom said few touching words at the end and had tears in his eyes.
On the bill were also, Lamb Of God, Slash, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Anthrax, Trivium, Testament, Death Angel and Philip Anselmo who plaid so many Pantera hits and many other bands.
I will leave with our photo gallery so you can live or re-live some of the best moments of Hellfest 14
Keep an eye on our page and also Hellfest pages, as tickets will go out on sale very soon.
Next year Hellfest celebrates 15 years of greatness, be ready to get blasted as I guess something really extraordinary is in the works…
The Neal Morse Band were on for their second night in Europe, Paris, AlHambra, a beautiful venue in the city of lights, packed with prog enthusiasts.
Neal Morse was joined with a lineup of fine musicians, Mike Portnoy on Drums, Randy George on Bass Guitar, Bill Hubauer on Keys and Eric Gillette on Guitar.
The show was very entertaining and enchanted by the different costumes of Neal Morse and a brilliant video wall behind the band.
Bill is a very skilled keys player but also provides vocal parts in a few songs, while Eric wowed the crowd every time with his guitar techniques.
A terrific show by all means, long and proggy with an epic performance by all members, Portnoy’s groovy drumming was no strange to the prog nation, it’s easy to say that two hours and a half passed really fast, with a small break half way through the show, the band took a breath to come back and continue an epic play list of the entire catalog of Neal Morse.
The ending was a surprise, the band took us on a great and proggy adventure playing a terrific encore from the finest moments of Neal Morse’s career since he began his journey as a solo artist, they started with The Land Of Beginning Again, Reunion, The Temple Of The Living God and all the way to close the curtains with The Call followed by Broken Sky and Long Day (reprise).
Dream Theater, Def Leppard, Lamb of God, Stone Temple Pilots, Gojira, Slayer, King Diamond, ZZ Top, and Whitesnake among other notable acts.
Hellfest has earned the reputation of being the biggest metal festival in the past few years, and believe me it is for many good reasons.
The French festival introduces a massive lineup each year, spanning over six stages, each one is dedicated to a specific subgenre.
On Monday 26th of November, Hellfest announced the lineup for its 14th edition, headlining the three days are Manowar, KISS, and Tool with many co-headlining acts such as ZZ Top, Def Leppard, Dream Theater, Slayer (Final show in France), Slash, Mass Hysteria, King Diamond, and many many more.
Hellfest 2K19 will take place as usual in Clisson, France on the 21st, 22nd, and 23rd of June.
Tickets for the festival are sold out, this is the second year that tickets are out way before announcing the lineup, this only shows how blind faith the metal world has for Hellfest, it also shows a great confidence from the founder Ben Barbaud and his team.
Just like any other musical events, it is possible to find tickets but we advise you not to buy anywhere un-trusted, here is a link to the official website for re-selling the tickets, keep an eye on a regular basis
Three hours from Paris in my car, it’s probably the longest ride as I drive, I can’t wait to be on site, I count every minute while my car player is shuffling a playlist that I create each year based on the bands playing Hellfest.
During Hellfest, we had the chance to sit down and talk to Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal from Sons Of Apollo about the current tour, the new album, and so many other things, you can read the whole conversation below and view the photos from their performance.
Metal Bell: Thank you so much for this opportunity to chat during the first show in Europe, it was a great show, congratulations.
Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal: Thank you so much.
Metal Bell: So how does it feel to play your first show at Hellfest?
Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal: Oh it is a great way to start a European tour, that’s for sure, no better way to start so we are very happy, to start a tour in front of 30,000 people I guess it’s ok (laughs).
Metal Bell: Have you ever played Hellfest before?
Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal: Yeah six years ago with Guns, we headlined it, it is nice to be here doing it with people that are close to you, friends with whom we wrote together, we recorded together, and it’s great.
Metal Bell: Your tour started in February, how is the reception so far?
Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal: Oh it is wonderful, this is our 42nd show I believe, it’s been great. We started off on the cruise to the edge, and then from there we went to the east coast and did like a week and a half of shows. And then April and May we did a big US tour, actually, we did South America, Mexico, Canada, and all around in the US. Nothing beats getting on the road, that’s what every band used to do to become who they are, being together every night and do it.
Metal Bell: How do I put this question, tell me how did
you come up or assemble The Avengers of Prog?
Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal: (laughs) That was very easy, we all knew each other and played together over the years.
Me and Billy were playing for years doing these jams with Ray Luzier from KORN and with Mike. Me, Mike, and Billy would be this core band and we’d play like big events in New York, with guys from Anthrax and Kiss joining us. I laid guest solos on Metal Allegiance’s first album with Mike and another album that Billy produced for Madame Mayhem, a great artist that I laid 4 guitar solos for her album.
Me, Mike, Derek, and Billy played together at Prog Nation 4 years ago, so we all have this background and we’ve done things together, so it was a no-brainer. When Mike wanted to do this band, he sent me an email, it was January 2017, he said: hey, how we always talked about putting a band together! Well me and Derek have this idea and we want to go into the studio in March and just write on the spot, record on the spot, we all play together and mark it, record it the way bands used to do it, the right way, it’s the real thing. And we’ve written spontaneously, we did that, we spent 10 days at the studio, we wrote, recorded and made the album in 10 days.
So it was me, Mike, and Derek in the studio, and then Billy cut off his Mr. Big’s tour halfway through and joined us, then we all just recorded. Jeff finished his touring, then he recorded his vocals at my studio where I laid my
guitar solos on everything, and that was it. And then we just waited for the right moment to go out and announce the band and put out the album. The label is wonderful (Inside Out), they’ve been a fantastic record label, so supportive and really a good team.
Metal Bell: So basically You, Mike, and Derek wrote the majority of the album?
Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal: Yeah it started with us and then Billy joined, then Jeff wrote everything you hear sung, that’s Jeff, he was really the key ingredient to turn it from a cold prog album to songs, things you can sing along you know, melodies that stick, that’s what Jeff does, he’s the guy.
Metal Bell: Today the band is less than a year old, considering all of your projects and involvements, will Sons Of Apollo be a long-term project?
Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal: That’s the question everyone has, is this another quick project or is it a band that’s gonna be around.
Our intentions are for it to be a band that’s gonna be around, but at the same time, we can’t completely neglect everything else we have, we can’t do that. It is also not fair for the other people in our life that are waiting for us so we still have to do other things. This year we’ll do a lot of Sons Of Apollo, next year we’re gonna have to do some other things, but you know we are already writing for the second album, it really goes down to business, not amongst each other, but we can’t just afford to be in a start-up band, put everything else aside, and get this off the ground. We are not 20-year old kids in a van you know, so it’s tough, but we are giving it our best and our intentions are to be a band that puts out a lot of albums and keeps on going and going. So as long as everyone on our team does the right thing, you know we are depending on managers, the label and on each other, all it takes is one person to fuck it all up and then we are all screwed, it could be anybody that we are depending on if they don’t do the right thing.
What we want for this band is to continue and we are doing everything possible to keep that going even when odds are against us, we want to keep going, we do.
Metal Bell: We do hope so too, you know how prog fans are so attached.
Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal: Sure yeah, and we made a pact with them, we said this is a band, we are obligated to keep our words to them and to ourselves.
Metal Bell: The history between Derek, Mike, and Dream Theater, would you ever consider a tour with them?
Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal: I would love to do it, I have such tremendous respect for Dream Theater as a band and individuals. I love John Petrucci, we’ve met before, we’ve chatted, he’s a wonderful guy. I also played on Jordan’s solo record in 2009, he was just incredible. That would be a wonderful thing.
And honestly I feel like there would be no Sons Of Apollo if there was no Dream Theater, you know you have to respect where this came from and everything that leads up to it, the influences and the history, and I do, I tremendously do.
It’d be wonderful to play together, I doubt it would ever happen, that would be really something interesting to the fans to see that. I would love it to be taken not as a competition in any way, we are all branches of Dream Theater’s tree and I’m grateful to them, I respect and admire them.
Metal Bell: Your second album is called Sophomore, is there already a date in mind?
Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal: Well I mean Derek has written things, he sends me videos and things like hey check out this riff I came up with, and we’ve talked to the label about it but nothing is definite yet. Right now, it’s just let us finish up what we have here and once it’s all clear and done, everything goes ok, we will then think about the next step. Even though now is the time to think about it, we are just staying focused and looking ahead, so we are thinking about this leg of the tour, then the next leg, and the leg after that so there’s no definitive time. We’ve talked about November going into the studio but I know Mike has something to do in November so it might be January, but hopefully not too far too long.
Metal Bell: Well thank you very much for the chat, it’s been wonderful talking to you and the best of luck for the rest of the tour.
Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal: Thank you very much. It was an absolute pleasure.
DIRKSCHNEIDER is a group led by UDO Dirkschneider, the former lead singer of ACCEPT.
He formed the band and started touring the world with one aim, bidding farewell to his former band ACCEPT. He plans to play his material from his time with ACCEPT one last time. Continue reading
“A once in a life time event” – that is how Mike described this tour once it all started to become a reality. This is a fantasy to every Dream Theater fan since 2010, and it was indeed an incredible gift to us all. Mike Portnoy Shattered Fortress Paris show reviewed below.