After yesterday’s crazy warm-up I am ready for the first official festival day. Additional reviews by Grimm Gent. All pictures belong to Graspop Metal Meeting and the respective photographers. Click on a band’s name to see their setlist.

Although I saw already a lot of tiny eyes after yesterday’s crazy warm-up party, I managed to collect myself and head out to watch the first band of the festival. THE TREATMENT kicked off in the Metaldome. The UK-based hard rockers gave an entertaining show and managed to get the first hands in the air already before the hour of noon.

I usually prefer to check out bands I never saw live before, therefore I ignored the party going on at Mainstage 2 with ALESTORM (admitted, with pain in my heart) and submerged myself again in the darkness of the Marquee tent to watch NOVEMBERS DOOM. The singer was good at voice, both in cleans and growls. Highlight of the show was a guest appearance by Anneke Van Giersbergen (Ex-THE GATHERING and guest appearances with MOONSPELL, ANATHEMA, AYREON,…). What an amazing voice does that woman have!! During the show the biggest problem of the Marquee became clear: at quiet moments the sound was overshadowed by the noise coming from the Mainstages… A problem a lot of people would complain about for the remainder of the weekend.

(Grimm Gent) With the first band, ALESTORMwe get to know the new Mainstage 2. It strikes us that the sound is really loud, what will also become apparent when watching other bands in the Marquee. Our earplugs came in handy and the bass was so loud we nearly trembled away. But what a party these guys threw again! They also played the new song ‘Drink’ which was released earlier from the new album Sunset on the Golden Age, at which point they cheerfully announced they were here to drink our beer (the singer Christopher proved this backstage by loudly supporting Mexico drunk surrounded by a lot of Dutchmen during the game Mexico – Netherlands; Phoenix). As always with Alestorm we had the chance to dance, sing and drink. As it should be according to these pirates! One more drink!

(Phoenix) The festival’s first highlight for me was the show of SOLSTAFIR. I looked forward to the Icelandic heathens’ performance as I never saw them live before and I was not disappointed. The show gradually improved as the people who showed up started realizing there was not gonna be a lot of crazy action going on, but that they rather just had to immerse themselves in SOLSTAFIR’s captivating melodies. The band treated us with two new songs of the upcoming album and it sounded nothing less than very promising.

Grunge inspired metal, all the way from South-Africa. That’s what SEETHER delivers. Gaining popularity with their monster hit ‘Broken’ featuring Amy Lee of EVANESCENCE, the band managed to draw quite some people to Mainstage 1. Personally I’m not a big fan of the newer material, but their old songs like ‘Gasoline’ or ‘Fake It’ definitely bring up nostalgic memories.

Around the hour of 3pm and in full daylight guitar legend Jeff Waters and his ANNIHILATOR climb Mainstage 2 for my first up tempo metal experience of the day. I was ready to stretch my legs and bang my head. Unbelievable but true, it was only the first time this classic band played Graspop and a lot of fans were happy it finally happened. We get a good mix of both old and new songs and the setlist was way too short to treat us with pearls from all 14(!) full length albums.

annihilator

(Grimm Gent) With an extravagant show and accompanying paint and outfits GHOST managed to make many hearts pound faster with an impressive set. Although many metalheads don’t regard them as metal, some describe them as one of the hardest bands in the genre. With songs as “Year Zero” and “Monstrance Clock” they have a perfect opener and closer of a show to convince the audience.

ghost

(Phoenix) Enough with all the happiness! It is time for the mighty TRIPTYKON… GHOST and TRIPTYKON were playing simultaneous and since I believe you can experience both only optimally in a darker environment I let GHOST on the open air Mainstage behind me and shuffled into the sheltering darkness of the Marquee tent. It was thundering, booming and heavy like a ton. I felt my energy draining by the sheer melancholy in the music. The fearsome looking Tom Warrior almost managed a smile at the end of the setlist and after four lengthy songs the audience was left in awe.

    triptykon

Excuse me that my memory of WALKING PAPERS is rather vague, but I was mostly recovering from the TRIPTYKON-experience. Nevertheless, the bluesy hard rock of the band featuring Duff McKagan (ex-Guns ‘n’ Roses) brought entertaining and catchy tunes. Be it rather for a small audience since they were playing at the same time as SEPULTURA. Anyway, I will definitely check out more of these guys at home.

(Grimm Gent) We saw SEPULTURA from Mainstage 1 since we were already waiting for STEEL PANTHER. Because the two mainstages are positioned next to each other we had a perfect view and we didn’t miss a thing. Not only the Brazilian World Cup can interest the people, also Sepultura from Brazil is an export product to be proud of. This iconic band, popular mainly in the 90s, has lost some of its status since then, but remains a top act through songs as Refuse/Resist and Roots.

(Phoenix) The number of people in the festival area dressed up in over the top 80s glam outfits can only mean one thing: STEEL PANTHER is playing today. Friends dragged me all the way in front of Mainstage 1 to witness the show. What I saw were big boobies, small boobies, tanned boobies, white boobies, ugly boobies, man boobs and two girls kissing on stage. Not shunning any controversy with their songs ‘Pussywhipped’, ‘Asian Hooker’ or ‘Gloryhole’ these guys definitely pulled off a show while playing some heavy metal. The fact that for the first time today it started to rain slightly didn’t seem to bother anybody. During ’17 Girls in a Row’ deeds were added to the words and we saw an assault of girls trying to get on stage to join the little perverts. Most comical show of the day!

boobies

(Grimm Gent) The masters of doom CANDLEMASS brought one of the highlights in the Marquee on Friday. The only thing we missed was “Black As Time”, but this is to be expected from a band with so many good songs. From experience we know they do not flinch to play totally different setlists on different shows and this variation is pleasant!

(Phoenix) Because I had to walk all the way from the front row of STEEL PANTHER I only managed to squeeze into a full Metaldome to hear ORANGE GOBLIN play their greasy stoner metal in the distance. Not the best position for good audio quality, but perfect background music to refresh with a cold beer in our hand and compare which boobies we liked most during STEEL PANTHER.

Unfortunately, by the time SLAYER started the light drizzle had turned into a downpour and since my poncho and rain jacket was lying safe and dry in my tent (useful!) this pussy fled in the Marquee where WATAIN was playing. Belgium is still Belgium, so if you ever visit Graspop, make sure to bring your rain protection just in case. Anyway, I let myself be surprised by the Swedes’ black metal. They had brought an impressive fire show with them on stage and they were playing a very tight set. I was standing mostly in between other people sheltering from the rain so WATAIN’s music was often drown in the chatter going on around me. Half an hour into SLAYER’s set the rain subdued a bit and I caught many classics such as ‘Disciple’, ‘Black Magic’, ‘Dead Skin Mask’, ‘Raining Blood’ and ‘Angel of Death’ (including huge flag behind the band in memory of Jeff Hanneman). SLAYER remains SLAYER, no matter how often you have seen them.

slayer

(Grimm Gent) BEHEMOTH is an impressive live band. We need to be honest though that the music didn’t fully come into its own on a Mainstage. The positive thing is that more people get to know their music and that they can show their worth as a Mainstage act, but we would have preferred seeing them as a closing act in the Marquee. Their set was well built and at times overwhelming. The confetti strings that were part of it where worth it! Until next time, Behemoth!

(Phoenix) The shared playing time of BEHEMOTH and OPETH was one of the hardest decision to make for me personally during this edition of Graspop. In the end I opted for the Swedes and was not disappointed. After almost 10 minutes of delay (dammit, that could have been an extra song!) I was treated on a diverse setlist covering all of Opeth’s geniality. People who are let down by the softer evolution of Opeth’s recent work would have shivered with goose bumps by the live performance of the classic ‘Deliverance’. Pure perfection. Another reason I chose Opeth is Mikael Akerfeldt’s Sahara-dry humor in between songs. Unfortunately, also he had to ask which other band was playing on the Mainstage and whose sound was clearly breaching in during OPETH’s softer parts…

opeth

While many of you will probably start drooling at the idea of seeing three bands of the caliber of Aerosmith, Judas Priest, Kiss, Iron Maiden, Ozzy Osbourne live in one weekend, during recent years some visitors started complaining that over the last years Iron Maiden was headlining again. So for the first time Graspop introduced a second Mainstage and gave the opportunity to younger bands to also fill a headliner slot. On this day a first headliner position was reserved for AVENGED SEVENFOLD, clearly aiming at the younger audience. I will not go into a discussion here about the progression of metal and top acts of the future, but I can simply say I skipped this show. Another younger band enjoying huge popularity in Belgium is SABATON. After their first passage in 2007 this band steadily grew thanks to their catchy power metal and memorable choruses. For that reason they were given the second headliner slot on Friday. We were treated with a balanced setlist of old and new material. The audience cooled down a little bit during newer songs, although many voices already knew how to chant along with full force. The additional playing time was used mainly by singer Joakim’s joking and babbling with the fans. He exchanged his vest with a fan in the first row and invited 6 fans on stage to enjoy some Swedish traditions of Midsummer (including eating rotten haring…). I had expected a little bit more show and canon fire of a band singing most of their songs about wars. So in conclusion I would say a great performance, but not exactly living up to the expectations of a headliner.

sabaton

This evening we enjoyed a rather quiet night at the tent as tomorrow was the busiest day for me with many highlights such as Gojira, Eluveitie, Dark Tranquillity and Carcass! Stay tuned for day 2!

(Other bands playing this day, but not reviewed were JEFF SCOTT SOTO, SUICIDAL ANGELS, PRIMAL FEAR, BATTLECROSS, MISS MAY I, NAPALM DEATH, HUNTRESS, OF MICE & MEN, BLESSTHEFALL, DORO, BUCKCHERRY, EMMURE, UNIDA, HIGH VOLTAGE, GRAVEYARD, AVENGED SEVENFOLD)