Another year, another Hellfest DVD. The first time I picked up one of these, it was on VHS and the sound quality was terrible. Although it wasn’t the highest quality video ever and I knew that it would’ve sounded a hell of a lot better in person, but I still enjoyed it. It also had some nice interviews that allowed the fans to see what the bands were thinking as they were playing the fest. Well, even though we’re only on Volume 3 of the series, it seems as though we’re on Volume 20, and every year the video seems to get more professional.
The concept behind this is rather simple: bands play fest, bands get recorded, best songs are chosen, songs are put on DVDs and sold to fans who either couldn’t go or want to see if their awkward looking stage dive made the video. So how did Further Seems Forever end up on here? Your guess is as good as mine.
The Red Chord starts the party off right with “Dreaming In Dog Years” off of their brilliant release Fused Between Revolving Doors. The sound quality is better than last time around and the intricacies of most of the songs on here aren’t buried as they sometimes were in the past. Although Hellfest is primarily a hardcore and metalcore event, every year a few bands that really don’t “fit” show up with varying levels of success. The Bouncing Souls might not play metalcore or have big breakdowns, but they definitely get the crowd moving with “East Coast! Fuck You!” The Locust might not be as out of place as the Souls, but they're certainly met with some confusion. But hey, the kids covered in duct tape sure seemed to dig it. No Warning, who showed no indications of their future career as a Linkin Park cover band flies through a sped up version of their song “Short Fuse.” The song had been my favorite track off of their final Bridge 9 effort Ill Blood, but the live version simply slays the original.
The Dillinger Escape Plan is also strong playing “The Mullet Burden” complete with fire breathing. Other highlights include With Honor, Stretch Arm Strong, and Ed Gein. But not every band was lucky enough to be met with an enthusiastic reaction from the crowd. Murder By Death seemed misunderstood, and Found Dead Hanging was received with about as much excitement as a jury duty notice. I guess this is to be expected considering the diversity of the roster.
The commentary, highlight reels, and wacky hijinks you’ve come to expect are here as well. The interviews are largely worthless this time around, as they’re short and essentially pointless, with a few exceptions.
If you’ve ever seen any of the previous installments, you’ve got a pretty good idea of what to expect, and you know if you’re going to like this. If you’ve liked what you’ve seen in the past, this is worth picking up, as the sound and video quality are improved. If you’ve been waiting to check one of these out, this is a fine place to start. While I might disagree with some of bands that get picked, or be disappointed by which song shows up, I always enjoy watching these, and I’ll be looking forward to this year's edition.