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Graspop Metal Meeting 2015: Day Three

Photo of Motorhead

Band Photo: Motorhead (?)

The final day of a festival always seems to be the most subdued and relaxed, most likely a result of tiredness, but with such a solid lineup to look forward to, who has time to take it easy? Graspop Metal Meeting still had plenty to offer the head bangers on this Sunday, with things getting off to a great start at the second main stage, where New Zealand hard rockers, Like A Storm got things underway. This was another case of checking out a band I had never heard of and they proved well worth a gamble, as their brand of hard rock with a tinge of alternative metal was the perfect way to wake up the sleepy unwashed and accentuate a few hang overs. Like The Dead Daisies two days before, Like A Storm are all about having a good time. It's rock the way it was designed to be, a lot of fun and high energy, though they put their own, native stamp on things by utilising the didgeridoo, which believe it or not, actually works really well with their music. The instrument was first used in a solo performance, before being brought out again for their song, "Love the Way You Hate Me," and there were other surprises in store too, most notably a cover of the Coolio hit, "Gangsta's Paradise." A great way to start the day.

A little bit of Pop Evil followed, which continued the theme of enjoyable hard rock, before the day's first trip to the Marquee came, this time to check out Winterfylleth. This was another band I was unfamiliar with, despite seeing the name in passing a number of times. I assumed from the name that they were a black metal group, but there's a lot more to them than that. They display an amazing musical talent which goes beyond the simple goal of making music just to be extreme, which some bands are guilty of, and don't conform to the uniform of corpse paint and spikes out of a mistaken sense of obligation, something else young black metal groups have done from time to time. Winterfylleth are another outfit that let the music do most of the talking, which is guaranteed to win over newcomers and please fans who turned up to see these metal Mancunians.

Once again, hard rock was the order over at the first main stage, as Tremonti, the eponymous group from Creed and Alter Bridge guitarist, Mark Tremonti, took to the stage. Those familiar with his previous bands will have a pretty good idea of what to expect here, with the music leaning more towards the heavier side of Alter Bridge than the fist pumping anthems of Creed. Mark Tremonti shows that he's a solid vocalist himself and can front his own project just fine, helped along the way by a solid collective of musicians. The songs themselves are enjoyable, but perhaps not as fun as some of the other hard rock/alternative metal bands of the weekend and while they're certainly a good live act, it seemed a bit of a struggle to get the majority of the crowd moving.

After some meandering, checking out a little bit of Parkway Drive with a ride on a ferris wheel inbetween (the true symbol of a great metal festival,) it was time for yet another hard rock display on Main Stage 1, this time from Black Stone Cherry. They might not be the most metal artists booked to play, but they're solid song writers with some great tunes like, "Rain Wizard" and "Blind Man," which kicked off their set perfectly, getting many of the crowd off their feet and grooving. Black Stone Cherry are the perfect band for a sunny afternoon such as this one (the one day I decided to bring a jacket, naturally,) which seems to be the best place for them. Plenty of other solid tunes were aired too, such as the frantic, "Maybe Someday" and anthemic, "Lonely Train," which basically capped off a very good set. They may not have stood out this weekend, but as always Black Stone Cherry are a lot of fun live.

Remember when Papa Roach claimed that they stopped rapping because they were becoming more mature? I'm yet to see any evidence of that. Jacobi Shaddix has the same attitude and frontman etiquette that he had when I saw the group at Download ten years ago, only this time with more tattoos and a haircut that earned him frequent comparisons to Irish hate figures, Jedward. Papa Roach were another case of a band that pleased their fan base and could at least be tolerated by neutrals, but the baggage of teenage angst anthems being performed in the style that the band have cut out for themselves just seems a little embarassing at times. Like Godsmack the day before, it was kind of nice for people my age to hear songs they grew up with like, "Last Resort" and "Between Angels and Insects," but some of these songs don't seem to hold up as well as other bands from the era and those who were fans back in the day seemed a little disappointed with what they witnessed, while I'm still recovering from the whiplash I suffered when cringing at the cry, "Say, 'P Roach!'"

By now, some of you may be wondering where the "true" heavy metal is today, with most of Sunday's reviewed bands falling under the hard rock and alternative category, so let me put your mind to rest by telling you that next on the agenda was Greek extreme metal veterans, Septicflesh in the Marquee. As a fairly recent fan of the band, it was exciting to witness them without too much of an idea what they would be like in a live setting. Whilst long time fans may have been a little disappointed that the bulk of their set seemed to focus on the recent albums, "Titan" and "Communion," these songs came across excellently and I dare to say that because of the weight of newer material, Septicflesh were the surprise hit of the day. Their stage presence is perfect for a death metal band that takes things up a notch with their image and themes and the songs work excellently. That they sold out of most of their merchandise within two hours of their set should say it all. Frontman, Sotiris Anunnaki V works the crowd wonderfully, constantly demanding to see the metal horns while bellowing out the music with both clarity and brutality, while the entire band are a solid, cohesive unit. Fans old and new will be happy with what they witnessed and the knowledge that after twenty five years, these Athenians are as extreme and simply as good as they ever were.

I've been told so many times by so many people how great Lamb of God are live, but after watching the first few songs of the set, it was decided to head back to the Marquee and wait for Finnish stalwarts, Amorphis to take to the stage. Like Korn, the band were also playing an album in full, this time celebrating the twentieth anniversary of their album, "Tales From the Thousand Lakes." Like Septicflesh, it's only recently that I've come around to this group so knowing that the set was going to mostly consist of one album seemed like a strange way to see the band for the first time, as a career spanning setlist would presumably be a better live introduction. However, I didn't have worried, because the album itself is outstanding and the whole thing still holds up perfectly, including live. Also like Septicflesh, Amorphis are great at creating an atmosphere with their music, whilst keeping the concert experience alive, rather than the otherworldly vibe from other bands on the bill such as Primordial and God Seed. After finishing the "Tales From the Thousand Lakes" set, they performed the Abhorrence song, "Vulgar Necrolatry," before finishing up with, "My Kantele" and "Folk of the North." Amorphis are able to strike that perfect balance of very heavy metal with a fun time, making them ideal for a festival such as this and great for newcomers, as well as long time fans.

"Hard rock" is a term that's been used numerous times throughout this article, but it certainly applies to the next group, because no one rocks harder than Motorhead. Much has been made in the past few years of the health of iconic frontman, Lemmy, resulting in Motorhead having to cancel several shows along the way but the man lives for rock and roll and if he can make a show, he will. Motorhead were still enjoyable, but it was sad to hear that the songs seemed to have been slowed down quite a bit, presumably to compensate the singer, who at times came across a little confused, though still a striking presence. Thankfully, we're watching Motorhead themselves, who despite what some people may treat them as, is not Lemmy's side project, nor could anything ever be when you have a phenomenal guitarist such as Phil Campbell and a beast of a drummer like, Mikkey Dee, both of which are a huge part of what makes Motorhead a great band to see live. Plenty of Motorhead classics were on display this afternoon, such as the groovy "Doctor Rock," "Going To Brazil," which is debatedly the best outright rock and roll song of the nineties and of course, "Ace of Spades," before finishing up, as per usual, with the song that never seems to end, "Overkill." All in all, Motorhead are still worth watching. They define legendary and personify rock and roll, but it's painful to say that it's best to catch them as soon as you can.

Changing styles quite a bit, Dutch symphonic metal act, Within Temptation were up next on the second main stage. Throughout their career, the group has featured numerous guests, some of whom appeared with them today, albeit on screen, with Tarja Turunen, Mina Caputo and Xzibit all being heard, if not seen in person. Within Temptation were quite reminiscent of Nightwish's 2009 Graspop performance, in that while they were good and their fans certainly seemed to enjoy it, as the second from headliners of a main stage on a Sunday evening, many people didn't seem to have the energy to get too excited and while there were plenty in the audience stood up enjoying their set, there was also a large number of people sitting around, eating and even catching up on some sleep. The band were solid no doubt, but perhaps an earlier slot or a different day may have helped their cause better.

When I last visited Dessel in 2011, the Scorpions were performing what was billed as their farewell tour. Four years later, they're headlining the first main stage and promoting a new album, quite heavily in fact. A number of songs from their latest album, "Return to Forever" were performed, including opening song, "Going Out With a Bang," which got things off to a great start. There was no shortage of classic songs either, with songs like "The Zoo," "Wind of Change" and "Big City Nights" all being performed with full passion. It's bizarre to think that a band that can still rock so hard are celebrating their fiftieth anniversary, certainly making them the longest running group on the bill and perhaps in the current climate of heavy metal altogether. Part of what has kept the Scorpions such a great live act is drummer, James Kottak, who lives and breathes rock and roll, a true personifcation of Animal from The Muppets whose drum solos are one of the few I always enjoy. Perhaps as expected, the band finished up with the rousing, "Rock You Like a Hurricane," which sounds as good today as it ever did. They're still rocking, they're still fun and they'll always be great. Let's hope that their retirement has been put off for a long time to come.

And so, we come to the final band of the festival and one which were vital in many people's decision to buy a ticket for the festival, Faith No More. Because of their lengthy hiatus and mostly performing at festivals since their 2009 return, many in the crowd were experiencing this one of a kind group live for the first time and there was a wonderful sense of excitement in the air before and during their set. Faith No More is a band that have and will always do things on their own terms and so in that sense, it was no surprise to hear several songs from their long awaited new album, "Sol Invictus," including opener, "Motherfucker" and latest single, "Superhero," amongst others, as well as some songs that the casual fan might not recognise such as, "Caffeine" and set closer, "Just a Man." All adorned in white on a stage covered in flowers, it was clear from the get go that this was to be a set unlike any other this weekend, certainly since no other band would dare perform a faithful cover of The Commodore's, "Easy" at a metal festival, or indeed the beautiful dream soundtrack that is, "Evidence," which was followed by perhaps their most popular song, "Epic." It's fantastic to be able to see such a unique band in person and they put on a show to remember, whilst staying true to their own sense of artistry and the feeling that they're performing what they want, rather than thinking too hard about what a crowd of sixty thousand would demand.

With the alternative heroes set over, so was Graspop Metal Meeting for another year. Twenty years of keeping hard rock and heavy metal alive in Belgium, and indeed Europe, with no sign of stopping. As I said in the first report, Graspop has become a highlight of the festival calander, constantly delivering an amazing lineup and experience year after year. For those of you who have never attended a metal festival, or have always wanted to attend one in Europe, I can't praise this event enough. People come from all over the world for this and always leave with a smile on their face and a neck sore from head banging. See you next year, Belgium!

Diamond Oz's avatar

Ollie Hynes has been a writer for Metal Underground.com for four years and has been a metal fan for ten years, going so far as to travel abroad for metal shows.

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4 Comments on "Graspop Metal Meeting: Day Three"

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Anonymous Reader
1. Ginnie Moon writes:

Thanks so much for your dispatches from the front lines. 'Really a bummer to read that Lamb of God weren't bringing it, as is their usual. However, being able to see Amorphis peform that particular album is pretty freakin' special. I'll probably never get to go to a metalfest across the pond, so it's always great to read passionate reports from stateside metal fans who attend!

# Jun 26, 2015 @ 3:27 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Diamond Oz's avatar

Senior News Correspondent

2. Diamond Oz writes:

Thank you for your comments, Ginnie! Hugely appreciated!

# Jun 28, 2015 @ 5:52 AM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Blindgreed1's avatar

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3. Blindgreed1 writes:

You should have stayed for LOG. That wall of death looked pretty epic. Great read though.

# Jul 9, 2015 @ 5:20 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Diamond Oz's avatar

Senior News Correspondent

4. Diamond Oz writes:

Thanks, BG. Much appreciated! Lamb of God just aren't my thing. I've tried them countless times and watched their full set at Graspop 2009 but I just don't like them. I was much happier watching Amorphis.

# Jul 10, 2015 @ 2:16 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address

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