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Graspop Metal Meeting 2017: Day Two

Photo of Ministry

Band Photo: Ministry (?)

After one hell of an opening day and a second night of camping, those attending this year's edition of the Graspop Metal Meeting festival had by now settled into the routine and were ready for another day. Once again, the day promised a mix of legendary names, young blood and cult favourites (or perhaps in the case of one Norwegian act, that should be "kvlt" favourites.)

Following a delay and miscomunication, I was unfortunately unable to catch Axel Rudi Pell and so my second full day at Graspop opened with a trip to Main Stage 2, which was being graced by Devildriver. Though they're not the biggest metal band of recent memory, performing at ten past one in the afternoon was something of a surprise. This did not deter the group from playing with full force and intensity and getting so many rockers' Saturday off to a great start. Frontman Dez Fafara was able to interact very well with the crowd and the high energy the group displayed at the very least impressed those in the audience who are not fans of Devildriver and delighted those who came to see them intentionally.

Already, it was time to make the first trip to one of the smaller areas of the grounds, this time the Metal Dome, a tent with a decent size space for both the stage and a few thousand people, to see Georgia based Baroness. The quartet perform a fascinating blend of sludge, progressive and stoner metal, which when combined with the excellent musicianship of the members and the psychedelic backgrounds make for a wonderful live setting. The crowd ate up every minute of their set and the response was thunderous throughout, making a great performance that much more special.

Up next was perhaps the surprise hit of the day, Seattle's own, Sanctuary. These veterans, who were gone for quite some time while vocalist Warrel Dane focused on Nevermore, were of the ilk of Armored Saint in that they were a classic heavy metal group that were linked to the thrash metal scene, while never really being a thrash band, but those thrashers who came to the Marquee to check them out were in for a treat. Warrel Dane is a fantastic frontman, who steered the ship with a wonderful sense of sarcasm and humour throughout the show and was even making the security staff laugh, particularly when encouraging crowd surfers, "These guys down here love it. It gives them something to do." The music itself sounds just as fresh today and new material from "The Year the Sun Died" sits perfectly with their old music, including the songs brought back for their latest record, "Inception." Staples such as "Future Tense" and "Die For My Sins" went down a storm and one must be thankful that such an underrated band are back, writing new music and putting on exhilarating performances.

On a day that has so many different styles of metal, a little bit of rock and roll has its place on the bill too, which was brought to us today by Canadian rocker Danko Jones. Jones comes from the North American tradition of good time rock and party tunes, designed to make as many feet move as heads bang, which they accomplished. The music goes down well and a lot, though not all people seem to enjoy it, while there also some in the audience who are a little unsure if the ego Jones seems to have is a likable and tongue in cheek trait or a grating display of arrogance, but he makes people pay attention. From start to finish, Danko Jones refuses to slow down for anybody and songs from new album, "Wildcat" such as "Little R&R" are right up their with old material. While there will be some who want their festivals heavier, Danko Jones put on an electrifying show and is born to perform on big stages like these.

A pattern could be spotted at this year's festival, that of albums being performed in full. Emperor had done it the night before and now it was the turn of Cavalera Conspiracy, under the moniker Max and Iggor - Return to the Roots, to perform Sepultura's 1996 album, "Roots" from start to finish. While my last time watching Cavalera Conspiracy led me to think they were just going through the motions, the Brazilian brothers, along with guitarist Marc Rizzo and bassist Tony Campos, seemed to have got their groove back so to speak, breathing new life into an album which is widely regarded as both overrated and highly influential, particularly on the nu metal scene. Songs which haven't been heard live for a while such as "Spit" and "Dictatorshit" sounded great and fans all seemed to thoroughly enjoy themselves hearing the album live, which was concluded with a cover of the Motorhead classic, "Ace of Spades" in tribute to Lemmy. There's life in the Cavalera brothers yet, let's hope this dive into their past can translate into exciting new music.

Speaking of albums being played in their entirety, it was then time to go back to the Marquee and witness Mayhem, one of the most controversial bands in the history of metal, perform their landmark album, "De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas" in full. Those who love gore may have been a little disappointed that the group weren't performing behind a wall of severed animal heads as they have been known to, but nonetheless, Mayhem displayed the theatrics that they have been putting on since the early days, taking to the stage completely clad in robes in a haze of smoke. Mayhem appeared to be the loudest band of the whole event and provided a sonic assault as well as a visual one, with the cold look of hatred never leaving bassist Necrobutcher's face throughout the set, while frontman Attila Csihar in his mask of a thousand faces was genuinely frightening, though not always audible. As with Emperor the night before, Mayhem are a band that any self-respecting fan of black metal needs to see at least once, both for their place in black metal history, although while it's the musical prowess of Emperor that will stick with you, it's the imagery and macabre of Mayhem that will stay in your mind. Forever.

A short break followed before seeing another band, the Maryland based veterans Clutch in the Metal Dome. The best way to describe Clutch for those who are unfamiliar with them is, they're the greatest working man's band in America, looking like a stereotypical bar band but delivering some outstanding, high voltage rock that have endeared them to listeners the world over. On what was a hot day to begin with, the Metal Dome was jam packed with people clamouring to see Clutch, who did not disappoint. Causing even more dancing than Danko Jones had on the Main Stage area earlier and plenty of singing from the crowd, this no frills quartet delighted all in attendance without the need for pyro, costumes or special effects, letting songs like, "Profits of Doom" and "Escape From Prison Planet" do the talking, in a set which also featured a new song, "about smoking weed and listening to Black Sabbath" and closing songs, "Electric Worry" and "X-Ray Visions" all sounding perfect. In a weekend of highlights, Clutch were one of the brightest.

Though this year's Graspop saw many great sets and energetic performances, one of the few poor ones I witnessed came over at Main Stage 1, where Alter Bridge were performing. Having been pleasantly surprised by them at Download 2005, as I was with Tremonti two years ago, I was expecting an enjoyable time. This was not the case. Alter Bridge came across as self-indulgent, boring and frankly, sloppy, often coming through as clear as mud with even old favourites like "Metalingus" sounding weak and uneven. Alter Bridge are all talented musicians, with singer Myles Kennedy being cited by many as one of the best vocalists in modern rock, but his constant wailing became very grating, very fast, while the three behind him offered nothing to distract from it. A disappointment, a mess and a waste of time.

Those of us who lost the will to live during Alter Bridge, were quickly given it back by Saturday's Marquee headliners, Ministry, who brought their insane live shows, complete with video packages, back to Belgium in a simulation of what it must be like to be driven insane by the current world. Post-reunion songs "Permawar" and "Punch in the Face," the latter's video took aim at President Trump, as well as the brand new song, "Antifa," all went down well, as did Ministry's own "Bush era" songs (the albums "Houses of the Molé," "Rio Grande Blood" and "The Last Sucker" all took aim at the former American leader,) but of course, like all bands, it's the old favourites that got the best reactions. They opened with "Psalm 69," the dark look at Christianity and title track of their most successful album, from which the classics, "N.W.O." and "Just One Fix" were also brought out, before they finished with "Thieves" and "So What" from "The Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Taste." With a setlist of brilliant music, aggressive social commentary and an incredible live show, Ministry may well have been the best band at Graspop this year, entertaining fans from beginning to end while also serving as the stained mirror of the filthy world we live in.

Opting for an early night, we stayed to watch the headliners of Main Stage 1, Deep Purple, one of the most legendary names in the history of rock music and one of the three bands alongside Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin, that are credited with creating heavy music as we know it (yes, this is debatable, feel free to tell me how wrong I am.) The band started way back in 1968 and have been influencing people ever since and with the repotoire they have, it's easy to see why. After the insanity of Ministry, Deep Purple were something of a welcome come down. Such classics as "Fireball" and "Strange Kind of Woman" don't necessarily have the greatest energy about them, at least not anymore, but they still go down well, as do songs from their latest album, "Infinite," which don't match up to the old material but sit well in the same company.

Singer Ian Gillan is still in good voice and Deep Purple has always prided itself on including brilliant musicians such as Roger Glover and Ian Paice, who are also both still with the group after all this time, as well as veterans Steve Morse and Don Airey, who altogether make the band still worth watching after nearly fifty years. This tour has been dubbed "the long goodbye" by the band and if it is to be a farewell from the British icons, it's still well worth your time checking them out and hearing such staples as "Perfect Strangers" and "Space Truckin'" one last time, while of course, "Smoke on the Water" will still light up any venue on the planet from karaoke bar to one of Europe's most prominent rock and metal festivals. Surprisingly, this was not the last song from the veterans, who returned to the stage to perform their forever excellent cover of "Hush" before finishing with "Black Night," drawing a close to the evening for myself and friends, as we opted against seeing In Flames again and we headed back to the campsite, ready for one more day of metal.

Diamond Oz's avatar

Ollie Hynes has been a writer for Metal Underground.com since 2007 and a metal fan since 2001, going as far as to travel to other countries and continents for metal gigs.

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3 Comments on "Graspop Metal Meeting 2017: Day Two"

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1. beyondtheradio writes:

I saw Deep Purple at Hellfest waiting for another and found them to absolutely boring.

# Jun 24, 2017 @ 9:54 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
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2. Drum_Junkie writes:

Hoping to hear about day three...

# Jul 14, 2017 @ 11:03 AM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
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3. brandedcfh420 writes:

I'll be seeing CLUTCH for the 5th time Monday night with PRIMUS headlining.....excellent review of Clutch there OZ!!

# Jul 14, 2017 @ 4:07 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address

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