After a solid “Day 0” warm up with bands like Concealed Reality and Aborted, and a well-deserved good night’s sleep after a party in the Red Bull Metal Dome with Goe Vur In Den Otto, we kick off the first official metal-laden day at Graspop Metal Meeting 2019. Oh, how I have been looking forward to this.
Like A Storm (***1/2)
It’s still early but a fairly large crowd is already gathering in front of the Main Stage 1 to check out the Aussies from Like A Storm. These lads from down under can sure blow some pipes with their didgeridoo-infused hard rock/metal. It was my first time checking them out even though it was their third time playing. Didn’t want to miss them this time. I got a bit of a nu-metal vibe from the early 2000’s, especially from their look and vocals. The music is different. If you enjoy modern heavy metal, this is a band you should definitely check out. Their very convincing performance was a lot to my liking. Indeed, the Brooks brothers boast a friendly stage presence and clearly enjoy their time on stage, however brief it may have been this morning. Toward the end of their set they paid tribute to Linkin Park‘s late Chester Bennington by playing a balad version of ‘Crawling‘, as a throwback to the time they toured together.
Death Angel (****)
The thrash metal granddaddies from Death Angel still got it and probably always will. These legendary oldies but goldies were set to demolish the Main Stage 2 at noon. A tad too early if you ask me. I like my thrash metal with a couple of beers in my belly, and I’ll admit 12 pm is still a little early for me to go and pay a visit to the bar. If not that it’s the band’s status that should have moved them up on the line-up. No matter. Death Angel didn’t care. From the moment they started until the last note of the very last song they let the fire in their hearts and eyes burn the stage and the crowd. Their set list was as varied as the generations of fans headbanging in the front stage. While they did play a couple of new ones (‘Humanicide‘, ‘The Pack‘) they did go all the way back to 1987 to grace the fans with the classic ‘Voracious Souls‘. A good set, despite the limited time slot.
The Hu (***1/2)
The performance everyone was looking forward to the most today (save of course Slayer). The Mongolian folk-hard rock powerhouse The Hu drew one of the largest crowds I’ve seen in the Red Bull Metal Dome since The Darkness. The place was packed like you wouldn’t believe with the crowd warmly welcoming the band by chanting ‘HU HU HU’ repeatedly and on multiple occasions. It’s not everyday (try ‘never ever’) we get to enjoy a hard rock set from a band hailing from one of the most remote countries in the world. Their blend of heavy music, traditional instruments and throat singing is truly a sight to behold. Unfortunately the overall sound was not optimal and took me out of the entrancing experience on multiple occasions. This kind of music is always a welcome variation on an almost all-metal line-up.
It’s no secret I’m in love with this band. There was no heavier act today than the sludge pioneers from Crowbar. And I’m talking music, presence, emotional impact… the whole shebang. What you’ve got here are stellar musicians who love playing their instruments. Just look at their body language. Seriously, I want someone to look at me the way Kirk Windstein (vocals, rhythm guitar) looks at his guitar. I always enjoy their no nonsense sludge set filled to the brim with one heavy tearjerker after another. My heart bleeds with a kind of sorrowful happiness every time I hear ‘Planets Collide‘. While Kirk sometimes indulges into a bit of self-praise, when he’s chanting the band’s name so we would chant along for example, Crowbar deliver a sound that always has a serious tone to it. It’s fun, but it’s the type of fun that makes you think.