Eindhoven Metal Meeting is quite the event in the southern Netherlands and even most of metal loving Europe by now. This year the festivities were three nights starting Thursday 12th through Saturday 14th of December. Billing 40+ bands in various genres and a very restricted press list, Ghost Cult was more than happy to be their press partner this year. Being solo, our reporter and photographer decided to only follow the main stage, excepting the Thursday when the running order was a little more forgiving.
Day one: Thursday 12th the party begins. Sadly we missed the apparently brilliant set by Death Angel due to travel issues. Apparently these classic thrashers played a great deal of their newer work with verve and gave one hell of a show. Sadly, they didn’t play much of their older work in this set. Arriving just when Sabaton started playing the main stage, the power metal party was starting. Sabaton know how to engage an audience. They may be a bit over the top, although compared to the rest of the power metal genre, they’re pretty timid. Their show was bombastic and everyone in the room enjoyed them very much. There was a smaller crowd than you’d expect with a name like Sabaton, but maybe the variety of the line-up accounted for this. It seemed that the core of the audience came more for the thrash and death related acts. Sabaton decide to play a somewhat different set than they usually do, citing they know many fans at this gig have seen them many times before. The vocals and mix are a little off, but the solos and general mood were awesome. It’s clear though they were playing for a “home crowd.”
Next up in the small room downstairs was Izegrim, a local up and comer in death metal. These guys have been playing all over NL of late and personally I hadn’t caught them yet. Their female vocalist promises to add a slightly different touch to a genre that is usually pretty conservative in its taste. When they started playing, inexperience, and possibly nerves showed. There are some good show elements (stepping forward to the edge of the stage to solo and such), but they last only a fraction of a second, giving their show a nervous feeling. The guitar solos sound a little patchy and the music in general is straight forward death metal as we know it. It’s well constructed though and while inexperience shows in the lie show, these guys could definitely grow bigger after they relax due to some more stage experience.
Finishing on the main stage is Accept. These hard rockers have been around for years, and experience showed. Their show is big and well executed, but carefree and relaxed at the same time. The best thing to see was that they really enjoy themselves. This infected the crowd who, even if it’s not their cup of tea musically, seemed to enjoy them. The sound too was exceptionally good too. Props to these guys for pulling off flawless solos and vocals, thundering drums and even slight improvisations while giving a great show, building a real party. Since I hadn’t seen Death Angel, they were my highlight of the night, but I heard Death Angel could rival them in excellence.
Friday 13th: The next day we return to Eindhoven Effenaar for a second day of loud. This day had a distinctly less party feel with mostly death and black metal bands playing the main stage. No power metal, thrash, or hard rock today, but bleak, dark, aggressive metal. Because of the denser programming today we could only cover the main stage. When we arrived we found out Fleshgod Apocalypse sadly had cancelled due to travel problems. The fans who came especially for this band (and there was a few of them) milled about the main room and in front of the venue aimlessly.
Now opening on the main stage is Morgoth. This German death metal outfit’s name is so common as a metal band, it’s a bit of a search to know who you have in front of you. They make a very quick solo filled type of death metal, with a very tight drum base. Sadly, many of the songs sound very similar, with growling vocals, and loads and loads of shredded solos. They’re very good at what they do (even though the sound is a little off, with the bass drum being overly represented.), but not very special. Good, more traditional and solid death metal.
At the same time Dues Mortem are playing in the smaller room downstairs. Since Morgoth couldn’t keep my attention I decide to have a look there. The room is decently full, but it seems most of the crowd prefers Morgoth to Deus Mortems somewhat slower, more song structured and listenable black metal. The Polish outfit is less black than some of the other billed bands, and doesn’t really use the more complex chord schemes and high vocals that normally characterize the genre, but pull off a good show.
After this we go to catch Belphegor. A quick discussion over genre-types with a clear black metal connoisseur in the press pit leads to the label of “Blackened Death”, who, while starting out as a black metal outfit, is moving more and more towards death metal. They still work with the wall of sound approach, but the vocals are lower and more growling, there are less dissonant in the guitar work and the song structure is simpler than most black metal. These guys also definitely know how to give a show, adorning the stage with some interesting bone sculptures. Melodies that almost float over the wall of noise created by blast beats, and quick guitar strokes are actually quite good and catchy. Definitely a very enjoyable band.
Napalm Death takes the stage next, and definitely show the punk roots in their hyperactive, aggressive grindcore and death metal. Running around the stage, vocalist Barney Greenway never leaves a dull moment in their 2-3 minute elapsing songs. They get 50 minutes to completely annihilate the crowd. Sadly, the sound is poorer than usual with these guys, and it kind of muddles and confuses the more crisp sound they normally have. Everything was very loud, which is good for Napalm Death in general, but now gets a bit over the top, especially with the sloppiness in both the playing and the mix. Definitely not a bad gig, but I’ve seen them do better.
The next band is one I’ve been looking forward to for some time; Carpathian Forest is, according to my black metal connoisseur, the only real black metal band on the bill. Being one of the relics from the old Norwegian scene, they should be exceptional. Sadly, the mix is terrible, laying emphasis on the bass drum and low sounds, vocals strangely mixed, where‘s vocals drowned out whenever the second set came in. It almost felt like a death metal mix, and even then was very poor. A fan mentioned, flabbergasted, that he hardly recognized the songs they played. Definite disappointment, while from an engagement and visual point of view the show was exceptionally good.
Then it’s time for odd duck on today’s billing; Tiamat. The new wave/Goth metal band would have been in front of a better crowd had they been billed the next day, when there is more melodic metal booked. This means that the rather dull song structures and lethargic deliverance which works wonderfully for goth fans does nothing at all for the more death and black oriented crowd today. Many trickle out or silently abide, waiting for whom they really came for to get on stage next, Watain.
Playing on Friday the 13th of the 13th year of their existence, the show doesn’t seem to hold much special value for Watain themselves. Having heard horror stories of the bands stage props and blood chucking habits, I was prepared for the worst, but didn’t get anything too bad. They left home their rotting sheep’s heads, only tossed one goblet of old blood into the awaiting crowd (which hit a very excited young man and his much less thrilled girlfriend), and had their fire rig set up flanking the drummer, accompanied by two huge screens made up of skin and bone panels. The band still has their own particular funk, but nothing too bad, and the sound was actually the best of the whole day in the much plagued room. I think the band has toned down the gore for a festival gig, where the next day the same room still has to be used for a full day. The show was excellent and really engaging, even though the band is mostly interested in their own ritual performance, and not much in the ecstatic crowd. Definitely worth waiting for the witching hour for them to start.
See our review of Part II here:
Official Festival Website: http://www.eindhovenmetalmeeting.com
Written and photographed by Susanne A. Maathuis