Saturday 14th: After a fitful night of sleep and a late brunch we’re back in Eindhoven at two in the afternoon. Today’s program is a little more light hearted, mixing folk metal, some more experimental death metal, and symphonic metal. We start the day with The Monolith Deathcult, who gets to wake up the sparse and bleary eyed crowd with their a little more highbrow and complex death metal. The music and the show feel bigger than their slot suggests. The intros get a bit cheesy after the first few songs but the sound mix is excellent, though a little heavy on the double bass drums.
After a short respite we get treated to the old school trash-metallers of Destroyer 666. Sadly, their playing is a little sloppy and messy, possibly due to the inhumanly fast pace they keep it. The vocals seem pretty decent, but drown a little in the pummeling heavy base mix that plagues the venue yesterday as well. They do give a good an energetic show and the room quickly fills up with happy metal heads finally woken up.
We travel shortly to the cold regions of Russia with Arkona taking the stage. Their folk infused metal is less happy and energetic than most folk metal, and a little more somber. The whole music feels Russian, even if the singing wasn’t in Russian. Sound-wise, the guitars are very, very low in the mix and the vocals very high, which means the drums and bass overpower the vocals quite often. Interestingly enough the folky whistles and the bagpipes are very well audible in the mix, while usually they’re the first things to die. The folk influences are a little more subtle and apparently with their newer music the band is moving more towards the back metal side, though their folk roots stay important to them.
We return to death metal with Hail of Bullets. Normally death metal isn’t my cup of tea, but these guys are great and I find myself nodding along to the beat. With a great songs and a nice little party vibe going on throughout, even for the non-death crowd that’s was there was into it. That it’s a great show however shouldn’t be surprising as this band shares a front man, Martin van Drunen, with the incredible Asphyx, and the rest of the all star line-up of the band. This may also be the reason the sound mix is very well balanced and crisp. All in all a great show.
In metal it’s not rare for a band to form a completely new band simply by addition of a different, usually more prominent, vocalist. The best known example probably is Ihsahn with Leprous. Elvenking and Martin Walkyier’s Skyclad are a similar story. Elvenking played for forty minutes before being joined by Walkyier, and turning into Skyclad and playing another forty minutes. The music doesn’t change much between the vocalist addition (Elvenking’s somewhat emo styled vocalist stays on for the full eighty minutes, running around the stage behind Walkyier). It stays a sort of emo-folk inspired metal. They have a pretty good sound mix and a good performance, but Davide “Damna” Moras’s vocals get on my nerves a little. The switch in the feeling of the music when Walkyier joins the band is amazing. The music, feeling a little more emo oriented at first suddenly gets a darker and more power metal feel when Walkyier’s vocals join in. Sadly, Walkyier’s grand entrance fell a little flat with the crowd, where he clearly expected a grand recognition only confusion shone on the crowds faces when Walkyier walked up, arms spread like a messiah.
It’s now time for one of my personal highlights of the day, Arcturus. I had no idea what to expect but the avant-garde metal troupe of masked entertainers is incredibly good. Their music has so many influences it’s hard to really describe, but the vocals have a certain power metal/prog type feel and the music contains traces of black metal, but also power and symphonic. Simen Hestnæs’ vocals often drowned in the drum and bass parts, unless he belted, and the guitars ate the, quite atmospheric, keyboard additions. Still the show was incredibly good, and I hope to see them sometime with a better mix.
Coroner is described as the Rush of thrash metal. Now I like thrash, especially the hyperactive, aggressive party vibe it seems to share with punk. The more progressive and technical approach coroner has, while they do what they do very well, somehow just doesn’t connect with me. I have the feeling I’m not the only one, since the room is surprisingly empty for what basically is a headlining band. The feeling that if they were programmed in Tiamat’s slot yesterday and Tiamat switched to this slot, both bands would have been in front of a better crowd crept up on me. Again, in the back of the room, Coroners music got lost in the thundering low regions. The band does an energetic attempt to move the crowd, but people seem paralyzed in the sheer amount of sound coming their way. A real pity.
Finally we get to Therion, the proper headliner of the day. Being the symphonic-metal giant that they are, the stage feels a little small for them. With three vocalists (who are also the main crowd entertainers) guitars, bass, drums, keys and a huge amount of razzle dazzle (including a belly dance act.) Very nice. This show cannot disappoint. It’s magnificent to watch and, while softer than certain bands on today’s line-up, they certainly pack a pretty metal punch. The sound-mix is really well balanced, which is needed when you have such subtle vocal harmonies to balance against raging guitars. The soprano vocalist sometimes sound a little harsh and sharp in her high notes, but this is forgiven for the sheer amount of show this band puts out. Even is symphonic metal isn’t your thing remotely, you have to admire the enormity of the show. This was definitely the best band of the day, and rightful headliner.
Since this show cannot be topped by Gothminister and last train needed to be caught, we left Eindhoven Metal Meeting’s party awestruck, exhausted and satisfied. Though the venue was plagued by less than supreme sound, certain bands shone through, and especially the ambiance was magnificent. Eindhoven, thank you for the party! Until next year.
Official Festival Website: http://www.eindhovenmetalmeeting.com
Written and photographed by Susanne A. Maathuis