Honey, I’m home! Going to Graspop Metal Meeting always feels like coming home. Every year I’m looking forward to seeing those heavy metal crosses on the festival grounds and hearing the muffled drums of the first soundchecks. After obtaining my wristband and helping out my friends set up their tents on the Camping Boneyard, we left as soon as possible to check out the first performance we could catch.
First up, we’ve got the German beatdown hardcore lads from Nasty. Some of you know I’m not particularly a fan of genre. Mostly due to the ridiculous gangster and want-to-be-hated attitude that goes along with it. And while Nasty does partly draw that type of crowd, the members themselves are a fun bunch and they show it off on stage. This is heavy shit paired with ridiculous fun. Add a still fresh-smelling crowd that’s ready to party to it and you’ve got yourself one hell of a show. The band members had tons of energy to spare as they moved about on stage frantically, taunting the crowd and daring them to crowd the pit. The audience of course was more than happy to oblige and even threw some crowd surfers at them, giving security plenty of work. Not bad for such an early show.
Concealed Reality (****)
Graspop has seen its fair share of newcomers but not all of them have been as explosive as our fellow countrymen from Concealed Reality. I’ve been following these guys for a while now, and I’m happy to say they have improved immensely since I first saw them play. This Brussels-based groovy metalcore quintet meets every requirement of a first gig among the great ones. You could tell this performance was the culmination of hard work, faithful investment and pure passion from each and every member. Vocalist James steals the show as he screams out his lyrics like a mad man, jumps into the crowd, and requests mosh pits, crowd jumps and circle pits. He demands the maximum of his crowd and bloody gets it too. The audience goes nuts at every move he makes. The other members also give it all they’ve got despite the thermometer reaching volcanic temperatures in the Red Bull Metal Dome, swinging their instruments in well-executed chorographies and utilizing every inch of that stage. Although Concealed Reality take their game very seriously, they’re not shy to a bit of inside jokes. Indeed, the title of their next to last song ‘Hakai‘ for example is a quick wink to their favorite TV-cartoon ‘Dragon Ball Z’.
After too expensive a pasta dish, it’s time for Beartooth who, in a daring move, open up their set by playing a sample from Queen. This is a move that I’ve been seeing a lot these days. Play an intro by Queen to excite the crowd, and you’ve already done fifty percent of the job. Beartooth‘s opening track is groovy, as is the rest of their set, but it doesn’t keep me invested all that much. I always enjoy melodic hardcore but this time the harsh vocals weren’t to my liking. The cleans were tight, but overall it’s just not for me.
Was it just me or was everyone else here for Aborted as well? Because the crowd’s behavior sure made me wonder why there were other bands playing at all today. Even before the intro started the crowd split in two for a wall of death, in a show of utter pride from loyal countrymen and women who welcomed Aborted like heroes. Now that’s impressive stuff. A testimony to what a legendary band they have become, despite the many line-up changes (and Svencho being the only original Belgian member left) and a few shifts in sound. This is a band that, to me, only got better and better with each change. The Marquee would be hosting its share of pummeling death metal the whole festival long with the likes of Immolation, Fleshgod Apocalypse and Carcass, but Aborted were the ones to demolish it first. Band of the day? Most definitely.
Philip H. Anselmo and the Illegals perform A Vulgar Display of 101 Proof (***)
The day ends with the legendary Pantera vocalist and The Illegals performing something extra special: a night of Pantera covers only. Apparently Phil Anselmo is also into fan service, whenever he’s not doing nazi salutes or fooling about with his other projects. The show drew a huge crowd who sang along boisterously to nearly every track. I thought the headliner could have been a little better than what I saw. When I talked to a couple of friends of mine who are die hard Pantera fans, they also said they were happy to know the songs by heart or else they would not have been able to enjoy the show that much. Even the set list was kind of weird. While the Pantera repertoire is always fun to hear, I have to say I wasn’t more invested than that.
Mouth for War
Yesterday Don’t Mean Shit
Use My Third Arm
Domination / Hollow
A New Level
Killer Queen (closing sample)
The Graspop team had their share of fun with the ex-Pantera vocalist. Watch Phil Anselmo spin the Graspop Wheel of Death below:
All pictures by Graspop Metal Meeting.