GMM - Graspop Metal Meeting 10th edition was meant to be one of the best metal festivals of 2005, with an impressive line-up featuring the biggest bands from the past, present and future metal scenes. It was also an opportunity to gather some of our fellow MetalStormers! Let us tell you how it went!
[font color=#CC0000]Note:[/font] You may have already browsed this page to see photos from the event, and have found none. The reason is simple: Webzines (among other media) weren't granted any press pass and were denied the right to publish any shots from the gigs. And we have chosen not to violate this rule, unlike some other Websites... To have some photos in this report, we would have had to pay for some shots taken by official photographers. You know we're working for free, and we earn no money so there's no way we can afford those photographs.
If you wish to view some pictures, please proceed to the official site: Graspop pictures
This review will present the festival as we lived it, and will deal with all the aspects of the event, starting from the camping site on to the festival stands, and then the concert reports. If you're interested only in reading about the bands' performances, scroll down!
So first of all, the road to Graspop wasn't easy. Some roads were closed, some trains were delayed… And the extremely hot weather added some more stress to the whole trip. But we all made it to the small city of Dessel and to the field that served as a parking for Graspop. Once you've parked the car, you have to drag all your luggage to the camping entrance, which was closer this year: What a relief under more than 30°C!
But that was just the beginning… Most of us hit the entrance by noon, and before our eyes was probably the hugest queue I've ever seen so far. We (the French Metalstormers, a.k.a. Jeff, wrathchild, Deadsoulman, ghost, PoloBulbe, XENDUR, shavo09 and some other friends) were lucky enough to find Dana, from Israel, out of this crowd!
People had to pass through two gates before getting in the camping. We first thought that luggage was under investigation but it wasn't. Some people were lucky enough to wait just 30 minutes, while others had to wait for 3 hours, drinking all the water they could find in addition to being watered by a fireman and a water nozzle. That was HELL!
Fortunately, some of us could skip this long wait to retrieve real tickets and press passes (VIP passes in fact). So we went to the entrance of the festival ground, and once in the ticket room we had to face not only the heat but also the lack of English speakers in the organisation. A guy from the crowd shouted "This organisation sucks!" or something like that, and many agreed on that even though we knew that officials were just trying their best but they seemed overwhelmed with such a crowd.
Back by the camping entrance, we (Jeff and wrathchild) ran into Arwen and her Estonian friends. Once in the camping ground, we all gathered and settled far from the main water spot and from the toilets, but closer to the exit, therefore closer to the festival entrance. The camping was very large but well set.
We had no real trouble finding our tents. However, the biggest problem was that dusty ground... There was hardly any grass or any plant still living on that deserted ground. Therefore, once you walked for a time to wash, and then walked back to the tent, you were still dirty!
There's something unforgettable about camping in Belgium: "HOER!!!"
Every now and then, a bunch of people would shout that as loud as they can, and others would repeat it over and over again. It means "whore" in Dutch, or something close to that. That's quite disturbing when you're exhausted and crave for sleep, but by the end of the week-end it was just funny to destroy the remnants of our voices screaming such things.
There were only a few minor incidents in the camping area, not around our little camp at least. Some crazy Dutch guys jumped on their tent on Monday morning before they leave the site, while some others burnt their small tent… Then, firemen came with their truck, and stopped the fire very easily, but their truck was blocked in the ground, like rally cars in sand. We tried to push it, and failed, then another truck came but it wasn't solved when we left the camp. We had a good laugh at them but of course we knew that it could have been a real trouble if some more dumb people were to set fire to their tents, instead of giving them to the Red Cross, as mentioned on www.graspop.com...
Now let's discover the festival area. Three marquees and the main stage are up to welcome the concerts, but we'll write more about them before starting to deal with bands.
The first thing we looked for was a food and drink tickets stand. You have to exchange money for tickets, valid in both the festival and the camping sites. That implies having some cash and therefore some of us went to the cash dispensers near the entrance: From half an hour to an hour and a half waiting to get by the machine, and thus missing at least one show...
For 20€ you could have 12 drink tickets, and 32 food tickets for another 20€. All drinks were available for 1 ticket, whether you asked for water, orange juice, beer (3 kind of beers) or cola. The price of drinks was fair enough, except for water, since it's hard to think a glass of water was the same price as a glass of beer… Especially on Friday, when everybody was craving for water in order not to faint after such a hard settlement and high temperature.
The price of food was a bit tricky: Most of the meals required 4 to 6 food tickets. For example, French fries were 4 tickets, hot-dogs and hamburgers 5, spaghettis and pizza 6. I think I saw kebabs for 10 tickets…
A good thing is to eat watermelons: For 4 food tickets, you can eat and drink!
Drinks were good, food average, though it was acceptable. You could also buy some cigarettes.
Two other stands were related to drinks: The Coca Cola gaming stand (you know, with some toys to grab or something like that), and the Maes stand: Maes being the official brand of beer of Graspop, you can guess that a lot of plastic glasses were filling the ground. This stand allowed you to exchange 50 Maes glasses for an inflatable bed. That can be useful, especially regarding the cleaning of the site, but that's also a bit boring to see those people with their new toy trying to get into the moshpit…
Then there were also many clothes stands. Most of them were located just after the entrance, while the official merchandising stand was in front of the main stage. You could find everything from gothic dresses to dragon figurines, and of course lots of T-shirts.
Next to it was a reserved area that allowed people in wheelchair to see the shows on the main stage.
On Saturday and Sunday, the Metal Market was opened. That was not only the place to buy CDs, DVDs or vynils but also to discover some music instruments thanks to Key Music, a music store from Belgium. You could go on and play the guitar or the drums (there were also a few basses), test many pedal effects, etc. Greatly appreciated by many!
For real fans, the signing stand was the place to reach… Well, you had to be a real fan to wait for half an hour in the queue just for having an official GMM paper signed by the artists of your choice. Of course it's a fantastic thing, but you couldn't have them sign any personal document, or have a personal note (such as "For XY, blabla").
Just by the signing area were also 4 or 5 stands dedicated to some media that supported the event, like metal magazines. Just for you to know.
Every morning the festival ground was perfectly cleaned. In the evening, it's filled with plastic glasses and plates but that's not really a problem. The toilets are also sufficiently clean compared to what you would usually expect to find at a festival.
Now that we've covered the life at Graspop, let's go on with what matters the most: the shows!
There was a special marquee near the entrance, dedicated to upcoming bands: The Metal Dome on Friday. That was also the place to go in the night if you weren't dead tired of the shows you had seen before. DJs and stuff were blasting you with songs and videos from various bands, mostly heavy metal bands that most people were supposed to know.
The Marquee I. It was a bit more filled with dust than the other marquees but it was fine and all the shows had very good light effects and sound… Except for the last band to play on this stage: The sound was always set way too loud for the last performance whether it was for Nevermore on Friday, In Flames on Saturday or Lacuna Coil and Sunday. Strange...
When a band was playing in the Marquee I, another band was playing in the Marquee II.
This marquee welcomed many hardcore bands and that's why many of us skipped a lot of the bands performing.
Finally, there was the Main stage. Great stage but that's so obvious that it's no need to tell.
Here are the bands that were playing in The Metal Dome: Chimaera, Judasville, Sengir, Cowboys & Aliens, Axamenta, In-Quest, Autumn.
But the only but our MS crowd really got to see was Autumn. This band can be easily compared to bands like Epica or After Forever, mostly because of their female singer. But Autumn sounded a bit softer than those bands and yet succeeded in surprising us all.
The first band to step on the Main stage was... The*Ga*Ga*s. It was too early for us to attend the show so just for you to know, they're something like a sleazy hard rock'n'roll band.
It seems we all missed Immolation and 80's Matchbox B-Line Disaster, the first bands to play in the Marquees. With a name like that, the latter must be some kind of old school punk. Oh yes, it seems it is. Well, no one saw their show anyway.
After that came Alter Bridge, and from what we've heard from the few people that could attend the show, it was great.
Most of us arrived just when Enslaved were performing. Their show was nothing special but still it was great… The only real Black metal band to perform at Graspop did well enough to attract people to their music.
When Enslaved was playing in the other marquee, Caliban apparently played a good show in the Marquee II. Nothing special though.
Then we saw Helmet on the Main stage, not nu, not heavy, not hard rock, but a mix of that all. Nevertheless, it was pleasant and "relaxing".
After that came Grave Digger in the Marquee I. Their heavy metal satisfied our need for headbanging! Even if the singer's voice may be disturbing when listening to their albums, that didn't matter at all while they were on stage. In a few words: They rocked!!!
They had the keyboard player dressed as Death, or the Reaper, standing behind the drummer making no movement and that was as impressive as it was simple.
In the meanwhile, H2O was performing in the other marquee, playing hardcore.
Next band on the Main stage was Papa Roach and well you know that wasn't really what most of us were looking for. Still, a lot of kids enjoyed trying to mosh in the pit.
Let's not forget Metal Church's performance. They were really present on stage, and the overall show was excellent. But not everyone knew their songs so the response from the audience was limited to their fans. Those fans did enjoy a good show for sure. It's great to see such an old band being so active.
Then came Madball, another hardcore act who are used to play at Graspop. Their show was enjoyed by lovers of the genre.
So far, the bands on the Main stage were kinda disappointing from a metalhead's point of view, but we were more satisfied with Within Temptation's performance.
That was a big show, with a screen in the back displaying images of nature, like forests, lakes, seas and volcanoes. The light show was very nice and so was the sound… And so was Sharon!
The band played as many songs from each of their last 2 albums, ending the show with two great songs from Mother Earth… That many were forced to skip to attend Megadeth's show.
Now, the BIG show, one of the most expected performance of all Graspop... MEGADETH!
Many people skipped Within Temptation's performance on the main stage to be there. The Marquee I was overcrowded... How can Megadeth play on another stage than the Main stage??
There were as many people outside the marquee as there were inside, listening to Mustaine & Co playing some of their best songs to perfection. Dave said he wouldn't make any speech cause the time was limited and that only the music mattered. If they could, they would probably have played a bit longer… From "Blackmail The Universe" to "A Tout Le Monde", "Symphony Of Destruction" and many more, the show was just super.
The Dillinger Escape Plan. Hum… you either like it or hate it, but one thing is sure: They weren't lucky… Playing when Megadeth is performing on the other stage is quite hard. How to attract people?? I (wrathchild) went to see 5 minutes of their show for I couldn't enter the overcrowded Marquee I, and I can tell that what I saw was boring. Probably the least motivated band of the whole event. Not the worst though, but still far from the best.
The headliners for Friday were System Of A Down. They had a sort of panel with light spots in the back but nothing special apart from this. The sound was quite good though not perfect, and some said that they did better shows than this one… Still everyone agrees: It was good and fun (especially when they sang "Cigaro", I guess we were all laughing!).
To close the festival on Friday, Nevermore was a hell of a choice. They sure kicked our tired asses! And our exhausted ears… cause yeah, as I said earlier, the sound was set way too loud. But the songs could still be recognized and they gave us the energy we lacked. "I… WANT… CHAOS!!!" How can we ever forget those words!
They played a final song from their upcoming album, "This Godless Endeavior", that they recommended to buy and not to download.
Friday ended with Kreator in the Marquee II. There were a bit less people in the Marquee I but the sound was way better than Nevermore's settings. They played some classics (like "Pleasure To Kill": Are you ready to kill?!) with some speeches by Mille between the songs. They played a bit longer than expected, like Nevermore did in the other marquee.
Skitsoy, a local metalcore band, was chosen to open this Saturday on the Main Stage. For fans only.
Then Soilwork stepped on the same stage but even though their performance wasn't bad, it wasn't that good. They lacked something to activate the crowd. Nothing special.
Hell began with Behemoth performing in Marquee I. Impressive is the word that best describe their show. Especially their music.
Peter Pan Speedrock was cool, spreading good vibes but honestly, few people (especially among us) sacrificed much time watching them when Behemoth was ruling the other stage...
A lot of people were strangely drawn towards the Main stage before Epica stepped on it... Oh yeah, there are a lot of perverts in such crowds and they couldn't help but waiting for Simone Simmons to appear. And I know for sure that they were highly satisfied! And not only by Simone's look but also by the band's music. Many of us had listened to their albums, and found it good but not great, especially regarding the vocals. Well, the show was great, and the vocals were great.
So great that many people skipped the next two bands in the Marquees. That's why it's hard to tell you about Gorefest and Pro-Pain... We ate and relaxed before Kamelot takes on the Main stage.
And Kamelot didn't disappoint us. The played their catchiest songs and many new hit songs from their new album The Black Halo like "The Haunting" and "March Of Mephisto". Of course, we were pleased to see Miss Simone Simmons back on stage, as well as Mark Jansen and another girl to perform the guest vocal parts of the new songs. Another good show this Sunday (even though some people would argue saying that Roy Khan knees too much!).
Back to the Marquees where Amon Amarth and Rose Tattoo played some good shows. Despite of a bad sound, the vikings did well enough even though their performance was nothing special to remember. As for Rose Tattoo, they rocked! As we're not really familiar with their material, we couldn't enjoy all of their show but it was surprisingly good to see them rocking Graspop (despite of... the aesthetics).
Ok, so after those good shows, let's go back to the Main stage to continue our hardcore treatment with Hatebreed. Not a bad show at all, provided you like hardcore. Non-fans could eat some more and rest a bit: 3 days standing on your feet is tiring so we had to calm down if we wanted to make it to Iron Maiden!
After that it was time for us to see the band that won our Best Alternative Metal Album award 2004, Mastodon. They ruled the stage despite of a bad sound and many hold their performance as one of the best out of Graspop 2005.
Samael was playing on the other stage. Their show was good and they placed a camera next to the keyboard player - drummer so that we could actually understand what was going on (we're not used to see a band playing drums without any drumkit, are we?). Nice idea and nice show.
Now on to a big show: Accept! Oldie but goodie! Their performance was excellent, they know how to present heavy metal, with leather and guitar duets, etc. Of course, they played some classics ("Balls To The Walls" among others) and you just had to love it... Except if you cannot stand Udo's voice (and look).
On the other hand, Sirenia's perfomance in the Marquee I was average. Not the best sound, no special light effect and above all they failed to captivate the audience. I'm not saying it was a bad show, just that it probably didn't reach our expectations.
There's nothing much to write about Sick Of It All's show either. Just that nobody around commented about that show.
After Accept came the mighty Slayer on the Main stage. Ready to mosh? Of course many fans were and really did their job: That was probably the biggest moshpit at Graspop this year. But the band wasn't that brutal on stage. Their sound was softer than every other band up until now, it wasn't that loud. Also, they weren't excessively active. Nevertheless we had some great songs, including "Seasons In The Abyss", "Dead Skin Mask", "Postmortem", "Raining Blood", "Angel Of Death"... Too bad they appeared too static on stage, or else it would have been a killer show.
Alas, after this great band we had to make a difficult choice: Attending either In Flames or Anthrax' show... They were a bit more people in the Marquee II waiting for Anthrax who gave the audience an awesome slap in the face. As reported on all the reviews about their reunion tour, they just play everything right and with a great enthusiasm. The crowd was shouting "Antisocial" the loudest they could, but there was one difference between this Graspop show and what can be read about other shows: They were no real moshing there. Yet that was a great show, one of the greatest this week end.
As for In Flames, they once again set the audience on fire. The high moment of their show was when Anders picked a guy from the crowd and let him sing the next song. They did that on many shows on this Summer, but that's always pleasant to think one guy is given such an opportunity.The sound was a bit too loud and the lights were a bit too thick but that didn't prevent the audience to go crazy.
Finally, the second headliner was the either ignored or adored Slipknot. They sure attracted a lot of people and most of them were very satisfied by the band's show. Note that the clown wasn't here. Those who weren't interested went back to the camping to prepare for the last day, that great Sunday!
It took some time for the Main stage to be ready to welcome Dragonforce, probably cause they were still setting things up for Iron Maiden's performance later in the night.
After their introduction tape on which they claim to be the fastest band in the land, Dragonforce began running and jumping everywhere as if a dragon had actually set their ass on fire. While running endlessly, they kept smiling and soloing (that must be the "force"). Entertaining yet boring if you're not into this kind of metal. A good band to start the day with.
Right after Dragonforce there was no show scheduled on the other stages, and Axel Rudi Pell was supposed to take on the Main stage... Unfortunately, Axel couldn't fill his slot as he was (apparently) stuck in the traffic. Therefore, Primal Fear was called to replace them, which they eventually did but after a long stage setting period.
That wasn't the best Primal Fear show ever, but they still managed to stand out by playing all their hit songs, including many old ones from their first album like "Chainbreaker".
After the mess in the hours, we didn't really know what to expect and where to go. Too bad hardly one of us went to ese Ocens Of Sadness but some people attended Hatesphere in the Marquee II and thought it was good.
And now, finally, Axel Rudi Pell was on stage. Everyone agrees that they rocked! It would have been a shame if this show was cancelled because they really gave out everything on stage, in front of an unfamiliar audience that was blown away by the attitude of those guys. They are not only very talented but also great showmen. And it kept getting better and better with time, reaching its peak when the keyboard player carried his instrument from one corner of the stage to another, playing a duet solo with Axel Rudi Pell! Crazy!
Next were Aborted - the last band to be announced after Arch Enemy cancelled their European appearences for the Summer - and Murphy's Law. You guessed it: Most of us went to see Aborted and were satisfied by their performance, though there was nothing special worth mentioning.
Curiosity had us back in front of the Main stage to see the beast: Mr Fucking Yingwie Malmsteen! The guy was like in the tales we all heard about the legendary guitarist: Impressive. He took more than half of the stage for his own use, not because he's fat, but because he's Mr Fucking Yingwie Malmsteen and that the rest of the band is not Mr Fucking Yingwie Malmsteen. Yet he rules... He's definitely worth the title of guitar hero, no doubt on that, but many non musician people were probably bored by all his soloing and his promotion work for red sport cars...
In the marquees, Nuclear Assault and Walls Of Jericho suffered from the necessary rest people had to take in order to prepare for the evening, starting with another legend in the metal scene: Dio.
With a background image taken from the well-known album "Holy Diver", Dio started their honest performance. Honest yet not excellent. Some put the blame on guitarist Craig Goldy, saying he was not as good as Doug Aldritch and others were pissed to see Yingwie chatting and having a drink in the background. A good show anyway.
After that, the choce was quite easy to make: Dark Tranquillity or Amen. As far as I know, nobody chose to see Amen and those who didn't went to the Marquee I to see Dark Tranquillity probably ate something.
Though it seems that Dark Tranquillity's performances around the world aren't always the same: Some thought their show at Graspop was the best they saw of them, while others were disappointed cause they already saw better Dark Tranquillity shows.
Nevertheless, they managed to get the crowd insane and attentive to their music. Many people just didn't know them before and fell in love with their music. Also, they played "Therein" from the album "Projector", which they rarely play live.
Judging by the t-shirts people had chosen to wear throughout the festival, one can affirm that Dream Theater was highly awaited. They offered a nice performance, with many songs from either their first albums and the newest ones. From "Pull Me Under" to "Panic Attack", the setlist was quite heavy but we had the typical progressive metal show: The guys were excellent musicwise but they hardly moved (in fact, John Myung was probably the one to move the most!) and there was like no interaction at all with the audience, except for a few attempts of Mike Portnoy behind his impressive drumkit. If only James LaBrie could stay a bit more on stage to play with the crowd when the others are performing their instrumental passages... Well, with less than one hour on stage it's hard to judge such a band anyway, so in the end it was still a good show.
Now another easy choice between Terror and Lacuna Coil. As for Amen, I cannot write much about Terror since people were either gethered in the Marquee I once again to see Lacuna Coil or eating/relaxing before Iron Maiden attacks.
So about Lacuna Coil, they suffered from a bad sound, way too loud. And they also were playing very loudly, and at first Cristina's voice couldn't be heard very well, so it was like seeing In Flames! They were all headbanging on stage, and so did the moshpit. All the people who expected a soft show with relaxing songs were fooled cause it was damn heavy! Cristina is a real metalhead and not a model or a princess, that's for sure!
And now, after 3 days of intense metal pleasure, Graspop had to close its doors after the very last show: Iron Maiden.
There's no better headliner to celebrate the 10th anniversary of an European metal festival.
The show was incredible. Belonging to their Early Days tour, we enjoyed this revival of their first four albums, with hit songs like "The Trooper", "Running Free", "Hallowed Be Thy Name", "Run To The Hills", "Phantom Of The Opera" (and "Wrathchild"!!!), etc.
The different backgrounds were alltaken from the albums artwork and they even had the same light set as they had on their first tours (you know, the triangle behind Nico's drumkit). The sound was perfect, Bruce's speeches were interesting, the crowd was receptive, we saw big Eddies walking through the stage... What more? Just more?! Yes, that was the only "bad" point of their show: It was a little bit too short (something like one hour and a half).
After that, some people went crazy and began jumping off some stands, then they played with the trashcans they could find while the security where trying to take those to avoid any accident.
Others went to The Metal Dome to party some more while the remaining souls had their party in the camping in order to empty the last bottles and to set down their (new) friendship. A great night... For those who could afford leaving the site late in the next morning!
Thanks to the Graspop crew for the passes, and thanks to the following MetalStormers for their contribution: Arwen, Jeff, Arch Enemy, Eddie, PoloBulbe, Dana.
Thanks to ghost, shavo09, Ivor, Deadsoulman, XENDUR, and all the friends we made there!
MSers & friends, taken by Deadsoulman