To exist in ten years, must Hellfest avoid remaining a Malefest?

All media (even the Figaro! Christine Boutin, what have become of your friends?) echo the 10 years of Hellfest, annual high mass of metal and third French musical festival in terms of attendance. Gigantism (150,000 festival-goers over 3 days), financial success, recognition, all the compliments go there. The only one to my knowledge to have asked a relevant question is Le Monde with this editorial: the hard rock is it old man’s music? Take a look at the headliners: Judas Priest, ZZ Top, Scorpions, Alice Cooper, Motörhead, Billy Idol, it breathes damn ruddy.

Hellfest 2015 headliners

Music from old people or music from guys?

Last February, the English press seized on a controversy born from an original exercise : What would the poster for the Leeds / Reading festival (which is one of the biggest English festivals) look like if we removed all the groups that did not include women.


The exercise was rolled out at other English / American festivals, for a similar result: 90% of the posters are held by men. The prize certainly went to the Download Festival, which we could nickname the “English Hellfest”.

It was on seeing this Friday on the Hellfest stage (yes yes I was there) the guitarist Nita Strauss investigating the devastating solos during the Alice Cooper concert that I remembered these “posters without the men” of the month of february.


Nina Strauss and Alice Cooper

So I wanted to do the exercise for Hellfest, knowing very well what it was going to be. But an image is better than 36 blog posts, here is the result. Excuse me, I only worked on the 2 main stages, but you see the story.


The headliners of Hellfest, without the exclusively male groups

Don’t miss the (crazy) train


Simone, the singer of Epica

Hypothesis: what if the aging of the headliners had to do with the overwhelming masculinity of its members? However, when we walk through the alleys of Hellfest, we see that there are more women in the audience than on the stage. An extensive and scientifically advanced statistical study (I counted the percentage of women around me in 2 minutes flat) puts the Hellfest audience at around 20% women.

But is metal missing the train of the feminization of society? Even in women’s football, an eminently masculine theme in French society, we can perceive a background of change. The matches of the France team or the final of the European Women’s Cup are broadcast, certainly not yet on TF1, but in front of hearings far from confidential.

The few groups that entrust the microphone to women make it a central marketing argument. They are very often lyrical singers whose necklines are very prominent: Epica, Nightwish, Within Temptation,…

As for screaming singers, take the example of Arch Enemy. This Swedish group had the particularity of having in its midst a first-rate screamer, Angela Gossow. One of those voices from beyond the grave whose saturation makes the timbre quite impossible to recognize.

Imagine Angela recently dropped the mic. Who did these Arch Enemy gentlemen replace her with? By Alissa White-Gluz, new singer-screamer whose timbre I challenge you to distinguish from all other metal screamers. Arch Enemy has therefore preserved its marketing positioning as a metal-to-singer-songwriter.

Perhaps one day the tag “singer metal” will no longer be a curious sub-genre, as “orgy with dwarfs” can be on a porn tube. And maybe the metal music industry would do well not to miss the bandwagon. In 5 years, half of the current headliners of metal festivals will be retired. In order to grow, even to stay alive, labels and turners have a wasteland to work on: women. What football has understood, must metal understand for its survival? This is a real question that I ask myself.

We can say that metal festivals have already become somewhat feminized: in the 80s and 90s, the posters of the Monsters of Rock were 100% male. But there is still some way to go. So, is the metal in danger? I’ll let you think, in the meantime I’ll go see Life of Agony and try to interview Mina Caputo, the singer MTF tranny of this unique group in the metallic landscape.

We wish to say thanks to the author of this article for this amazing content

To exist in ten years, must Hellfest avoid remaining a Malefest?

Discover our social media accounts as well as other pages that are related to them.

Catherine Coaches