Hellfest 2011: the horrible, horrible Coroner and Triptykon scheduling clash

Hi, remember me? I used to blog here before my stupid life got too ridiculous. But don’t worry, I fixed it – my partner and I sold our house, our business and most of our possessions and moved to Poland where the vodka is cheap and plentiful, the metal is brutal, and we divide our time between doing things we like and uh… doing other things we like. Semi-retirement rocks.

This post was inspired by the lovely Steff Metal. She posted about the Wacken 2011 lineup and asked her readers what their worst festival scheduling clash was. I tend to get a bit ranty about these kinds of things and the comment box was way too short, so here’s an expanded version of my response.

Hellfest 2011 will be remembered for a number of things, but in my mind, the worst scheduling balls-up of all time will be number one.

When the original schedule was announced, it looked like Swiss thrash legends Coroner – reforming for their first show in 15 years – would be clashing with Bolt Thrower, another legendary thrash band rarely seen live by fans. There was much outrage and in response, the organisers did what should have been a good thing: they changed the schedule.

Unfortunately the change they made was much, much worse: swapping Bolt Thrower with Triptykon meant that the two Swiss bands, both with huge legacies and many, many crossover fans, were on at the same time. Anyone who read this blog last year would know that I’m a tiny bit obsessed with Triptykon. Hence the dilemma.

I was definitely not the only one. On the first day of the festival, wearing my Triptykon hoodie, I was accosted by a drunken man who pointed at my chest and let loose a torrent of French, the only two words I could recognise being the two band names in question. I cut him off with “I know. It’s fucking terrible”. Haltingly he tried to repeat his original statement in English but there was no need: his anguish echoed my own and transcended language barriers.

My new French friend, apologising to the obviously-not-present Tom Warrior, revealed that he had decided he would have to choose Coroner, and that’s when I realised that much was quite obvious. With Triptykon being an active band with a full touring schedule and a stated commitment to record more albums, there would be plenty of opportunities to experience their live show in the future. Coroner, on the other hand, were an unknown quantity, and let’s not forget this was their first performance in 15 years.

Given that Tom Warrior had himself recorded demos with Coroner early on in their career, I figured that he would understand this decision. When I explained this to a friend he joked “what are you going to do, write him a letter of apology?”. Good idea. That’s what this is: my letter of apology. Sorry, Tom.

This story doesn’t end here. I did go to see Coroner. I managed to get reasonably close to the front so I would have a good view. Immediately beforehand, a fireworks show to AC/DC’s For Those About To Rock, We Salute You honoured late French politician and heavy metal supporter Patrick Roy, as well as Ronnie James Dio and Peter Steele. Then there were more fireworks, and then Coroner themselves appeared.

Technically, Coroner looked and sounded great. The guitars and drumming were tight and precise – almost like listening to a recording, only a better quality recording than the Coroner material I’m used to listening to. Given the complexity of the music, the crazy timings and changes, that’s no mean feat to pull off live. The lighting was moody and epic and… I started to get bored.

These were songs I loved. It should have been a momentous experience. That’s when I started to realise that maybe this kind of music wasn’t all that suited to a large festival stage. Or maybe my expectations were overly high. Or maybe they were just not very interesting live. I started wondering about what was going on in the Rock Hard Tent. About halfway through the set I decided to go and find out.

What I found was Triptykon, destroying. I had seen them live the previous year at Summer Breeze, but this was different. The atmosphere in the tent seemed incredibly heavy, oppressively hot even, yet the sound was cold, hollow and bleak – far more raw and “black metal” than their recordings. The pace seemed slowed – although I was there for nearly half the set I think I only heard two, maybe three songs, and Triptykon songs, not the Celtic Frost favourites that I had assumed would close the set, yet despite being intimately acquainted with the two records I could not tell you what the titles of the songs played were. There was inhuman rage in Tom’s voice, and it was mesmerizing. Even the ending of the set seemed serious and ominous – there was no “thank you very much”, only a growl of “Triptykon bows to you” as the band came forward and did just that.

So what was the difference? Was it the stage size, the crowd, my own expectations? Coroner were technically brilliant but lifeless. Triptykon chilled me to the bone, and the half set I saw was unforgettable.

Did I make the right decision? Probably I did. It’s the kind of thing you have to experience for yourself.

~ by goat_admin on June 29, 2011.

4 Responses to “Hellfest 2011: the horrible, horrible Coroner and Triptykon scheduling clash”

  1. You’re not the only one, which is interesting. A mate of mine, BIG Coroner fan, found them lacklustre at MDF too. It’s a bit sad really.

  2. cool story would have been front row for TGF and company tho without a doubt great descript of the atmosphere we’ve all had at least one oppressively hot concert experience wish to hell Triptykon would come back to the U.S. wait,.. where does this blog eminate from? Not the USA huh? Cuz we don’t have cool ass Metal festivals like they do in fucking Europe! More Metal tidbits here… http://monoblogist.blogspot.com (COME SEE ME GOATLADY!)

  3. I really need to write a clarification post, because I have since seen Coroner play a club show in Krakow and then twice on 70,000 Tons of Metal and they really, really redeemed themselves. In fact I interviewed them as well (gotta finish writing that up!) and mentioned Hellfest, and from their comments I think we can definitely put any performance issues down to nerves because they were like a different band the times I’ve seen them subsequently. Truly great.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *