Editor’s Note: The massive 2022 edition of Hellfest took place in Clisson, France, over two weekends, with seven days of performances from many of the biggest metal and hard rock acts in the world. Heavy Consequence photojournalist Raymond Ahner was on hand for the second weekend (June 23rd-26th), where he captured pics of Metallica, Nine Inch Nails, Scorpions, Ministry, Alice Cooper, and many more acts. See his recap and photo gallery below.
After canceling the 2020 and 2021 installments due to the ongoing pandemic, Hellfest returned in 2022 in a big way, with not one, but two completely jam-packed weekends, featuring many of today’s biggest metal and hard rock bands on the planet. When the massive lineup was announced last year, it almost seemed impossible that something this big could be pulled off, but if there is one festival on the planet that could make it happen, it would definitely be Hellfest.
After Judas Priest, Deftones, Ghost, and Korn all headlined weekend one of the festival, where temperatures soared to well over 100 degrees, week 2 started off on Thursday (June 23rd) under much more mild weather. Phil Campbell and The Bastard Sons opened the main stage, playing many of Motorhead’s most well known songs, including “Iron Fist,” “Overkill,” and “Bomber.” From there, highlights included Tribulation over on the Altar stage, and Zeal & Ardor on the Temple stage. Other standouts during the day were Insomnium, UFO, Whitesnake, Helloween, and the headliners of the evening, Scorpions. Phil Campbell returned to the stage to join Scorpions for “Rock You Like a Hurricane,” and then he and his Motorhead bandmate and current Scorpion drummer Mikkey Dee took a minute to address the crowd and to pay tribute to the late Lemmy Kilmister. The pair invited the crowd to join them at the newly installed giant statue in Lemmy’s honor, and to join them in a toast.
Day two of week two was all about the industrial bands on the bill, and kicked off with Youth Code on the main stage. Up and coming Los Angeles act Health were up next, and from there Nitzer Ebb took over, bringing many of headliner Nine Inch Nails’ fans down to the front of the stage to dance along to their electro beats. Killing Joke brought out a huge crowd to witness their set, while Godflesh packed the Valley stage. The evening then went back and forth from industrial to metal as Ministry put on a blistering set of classics just as it started to pour down rain, followed by Alice Cooper, who drew a huge crowd to witness his legendary live show. Nine Inch Nails, making their Hellfest debut, closed out the mainstage, but not before Trent Reznor took a minute to thank the previous bands for influencing his music. Megadeth, who also played week one of the festival, closed out night two on the main stage with a setlist that included some of the bands most well known songs.
While many in attendance for day 3 were clearly fans of headliners Guns N’ Roses, there were still plenty of other bands for everyone. Gary Clark Jr., Myles Kennedy, and Epica all packed in the main stages while Fleshgod Apocalypse played to an overflowing sea of people at the Altar stage. Germany’s Kadavar put on one of the weekend’s best sets over at the Valley Stage, and GBH and The Exploited closed the Warzone stage. One of the most intriguing sets of the day came from Myrkur, whose quiet almost folkish set definitely won over the crowd. Guns N’ Roses ended the evening with a 24-song set that included covers of AC/DC’s “Back in Black” and The Stooges’ “I Wanna Be Your Dog.”
Of course, it was Metallica that most were buzzing about on day four, but there were more than a few bands playing before the metal giants to keep people occupied. Midnight put on a thrashing set of black metal at the Temple, while Italy’s Ufomammut offered up a great set of psychedelic doom over at the Valley. Blood Incantation and Vltimas both ruled the Altar stage, while Cult of Fire, hailing from the Czech Republic, played the Temple stage and put on a set that can only be described as bombastic. Bullet for My Valentine, Ugly Kid Joe, and Black Label Society all rocked the big stages, before recently reunited Mercyful Fate took over the Temple stage. Opening their set with “The Oath,” frontman King Diamond and company tore through a number of classics, including “A Corpse Without Soul,” “Black Funeral,” and “Come to the Sabbath.”
Addressing the massive sea of people that had filled the entire area in front of the two main stages with “Good evening, Hellfest, are you ready?” James Hefield and the rest of Metallica immediately launched into “Whiplash.” From there it was a setlist full of Metallica classics, including “Creeping Death,” “For Whom the Bell Tools,” and “Seek and Destroy.” Returning to the stage for a three song encore of “Damage Inc.,” “One,” and “Master of Puppets,” Hetfield ended the evening with “Metallica loves you, Hellfest,” just as a barrage of fireworks ignited from behind the stage lit up the sky.
By the time it was all said and done, Hellfest pulled off what was certainly one of the largest and most triumphant European festivals of all time. Good luck trying to top it next year!
See Heavy Consequence’s exclusive photos and fan-filmed video of Hellfest 2022 below. All photos by Raymond Ahner.
Photo Gallery – Hellfest 2022, Weekend Two (click to enlarge and scroll through):