On day two of Eindhoven Metal Meeting, a surprising amount of energy has been drained by the inevitable afterparties that spread through Eindhoven, but also to the neighbouring town of Tilburg. Metalheads simply cannot stop a party once they get going, and so the next day starts up a little slower. Thinking I may be able to skip the long line for the pat downs if I arrive a bit later, I’ve decided to arrive between the first and second band. Nope. There is still a line as many more of the partying metalheads had a similar idea, as did many of the day ticket holders. Thankfully the line is a fair bit quicker today though than it was yesterday, and I manage to get the first band of the day.
Balfor makes a fast-paced kind of punchy melodic blackened death metal and after a prolonged atmospheric and sinister intro, the band doesn’t really take their foot off the gas. They’re really great band to shake you awake while not grating the system too much through their melodic angle. Low growled vocals accompany toms heavy drums feeling somewhat primal and driven forth. Even in the slower passages and songs, there’s a pacing and forward momentum to the band that makes it quite energetic.
Darkane left me a little confused. Again the band play well and do what they do quite well, but I just couldn’t shake the feeling that the vocalist sounds like a James Hetfield impersonator who occasionally does hardcore vocal breaks. The tight shifty modern metal band is generally impressive and incredibly tight, but any time the singer starts crooning something inside me rebels and goes “no.”
I knew Gaahl’s Wyrd would be impressive even though I had not seen them live yet. For me they were the band on the line up I looked forward to most and being someone who highly enjoys black-metal and it’s occult offshoots and darker folk projects like Wardruna I hoped I would not be disappointed. And boy wasn’t I. By far the show that moved me the most and pulled me in deepest. Gaahl is an incredible presence when on stage, his barking vocal style and slow deliberate movements, and intense stare provide a beautiful contrast next to the sharper, faster drums and guitar riffs, and while never losing the dark sharp edge the band manage to put in more melodic segments in the guitar lines that are incredibly catchy. The entire band is an impressively well-oiled machine with exceptionally creative drum parts. Then there’s the sincerity and feeling of surrender the band manages to invoke, something not many bands can do anymore.
After Gaahl’s Wyrd the prospect of more party oriented metal band Tankard did not really appeal to my senses, so instead I decided to hang out in the bar area. This is something that’s always forgotten in write-ups, but the bar and the parties are essential parts of the festival experience, and well, a body needs to eat as well. The EMM bar is known to be cheesy yet excellent.. While in the rooms the heavy violence pummels audience members the crowded bar area, with on one end merch vendors, and on the other end the “heavy vethal”(the heavy fathall) where you can get your burgers and other greasy delights to temper the effect of the beers, the place is filled with cheesy yet amazing 80’s pop hits. There’s always a lack of space to sit down, but plenty pho room for those wanting to wager a dance move or two.
Time, however, flies when you’re having fun in the bar, especially when you’re still a little party weathered from the day before, and before I realize it’s time for Venom. Venom was originally one of those bands in which everyone played with a shoddiness that made is awesome, but since their split into Venom and Venom Inc, Venom has been joined by a slew of young and excellently adept musicians as Chronos is still the same figure we all know and love. This has, occasionally, led to highlight the sloppiness of his bass play, however tonight the band seem to have conquered that. There’s hardly a note out of place as Chronos plays the crowd like only he can, pulling faces and pointing his bass at the. The band seems more of an interwoven whole than they had when I saw them in the past, which made this gig surprisingly enjoyable.
After Venom we hurry downstairs through the small, narrow, labyrinthine of the Effenaar venue to the small room. The Great Old Ones take, as the name suggests, great inspiration from HP Lovecraft. Playing behind a tentacled effigy the band bathe themselves in blue light and shroud themselves with hoodies. /the music itself is odd, off-kilter and definitely would fit the description “angles no mathematician has dreamt off” with djenty intervals, and off-kilter rhythms cutting through more regular black-metal tropes. You’re never quite sure what to expect with this band, which also makes it very hard to make up your mind about them. Technically excellent and complex, it’s also very hard to follow any structure or find any peace in the bewilderment they create.
Lastly, I’ve seen these guys play live a fair few times, from 2015 onwards, and boy have they grown. Audn are by far one of the bands with the steepest growth curve I’ve seen in a while, every time I see them they seem to have improved their stage presence, their audience participation, their songwriting or their playing. This time is no exception. The tour with Gaahl’s Wyrd and The great old ones has clearly done the band good, as for the half-full room that remains to see their 2 in the morning set, they are for many the discovery of the festival. Around me, doubtful hanger ons get pulled into a show so engaging it’s hard to even remember there is still a party going elsewhere in the city because the metal party never dies.
WORDS AND PHOTOS BY SUSANNE A MAATHUIS