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Graspop 2008 - Another Edition of Graspop
Every year at the beginning of june metalheads from all over Belgium, Netherlands and Germany are looking forward to the Graspop festival in Belgium. This festival that is traditionally been held at the last weekend of june is getting a headbanger-favorite. 
FRIDAY

Obituary
After Allen West being kicked out of Obituary it came to the best for the live-shows. What a dull fuck! Today on the first day of Graspop, there was one of the “faces” of Obituary missing. Namely Frank Watkins their bass-player. Some guitar-player filled in and Trevor Peres moved on to the bass-guitar.I’ve seen this band a couple of times before and they always did what they are supposed to be doing, playing some awesome groovy mid-tempo death metal! So I was looking forward to see them again. Today with a somehow little bit of a “crippled” band it didn’t came across as good as it could have been. John Tardy is still one of the best death metal singers with his own unique voice and the band did their utter best. It lacked a bit of suppleness and energy. Still…the people got what they wanted! A best off show with songs from every record they released! And the audience loved it. A huge oldschool pit arose in front of the stage. Absolute highlight for me was the end of the show. They finished their set with songs like ‘Chopped In Half’ and ‘Slowly We Rot’. This show could have been better, but it was still o.k.! (RoyBalowski)
 
Testament
It has been a while since I saw Testament live, to be honest I didn’t see them before with Alex Skolnick. So you could say I was indeed a bit excited. When the show started it was obvious that Chuck Billy was in a great mood which immediately led to a great performance. With a nice mixture of new and old material did Testament what they do best, entertaining a tent full of metalheads. (Niamen)
 
Whitesnake
Here I Go Again On My Own’ indeed Whitesnake was also present on Graspop. Another old band that was probably added to the bill to persuade all the older metalheads to buy a weekend ticket. Well David Coverdale and company didn’t convinced me for five minutes to even download a song from them. Not even their evergreen could grab my attention. I can’t help thinking about my graduation earlier that day that was even more exciting. (Niamen)
 
Ministry
After seeing them less than a week earlier at 013, I was anxious to see the industrial metal monster Ministry once more. This was the very last time I would be able to attend a concert by this legend, but how deeply that saddens me, I was fucking ready for it. Kicking of with ´Let’s Go!’ again, I got in the mood pretty easy. Beer and weed helped with that too, like usual. The set was about the same as the club show I’d seen earlier, only a couple of new songs were left out, as well as the cover of Louis Armstrong’s ‘It’s a Wonderful World’. Instead they pounded just a little bit harder. When they hit ‘Rio Grande Blood’ I couldn’t contain myself any longer and I moved towards the pit to join in on the action. As classics like ‘So What?’, ‘Just One Fix’ and the almighty ‘Thieves’ banged into the audience I enjoyed them for the last time possible. An utterly tight performance finished this night for me perfectly. I doubt there was anything at this festival I enjoyed more for sure.
Rot in peace lads! (Demondust)
 
 
SATURDAY
 
Novembers Doom
First band of the Saturday I was looking forward to was Novembers Doom. The good response I’ve heard from friends of mine made me curious. At probably the sunniest period of the day, this dark/doom metal band had to play. Luckily they where programmed in a marquee tent. It’s a bit too easy to say, that this band is a copy of My Dying Bride. A huge resemblance with the older My Dying Bride is surely there, but they have a bit more straight forward approach to it. I myself really enjoyed their show and looking at the peoples reactions I wasn’t the only one! A doom metal band, isn’t always the easiest choice for a festival. It sometimes tends to get dull. This band had enough diversity in their songs and set, so it never came to that point! The heavy as fuck doomy parts, came hand in hand with the more up-tempo headbang riffs. But most importantly for a doom band, the atmosphere came across in the huge marquee tent. This was the very first time for Novembers Doom, to attend on such a big European festival. That I wasn’t already familiar with this band is kind of strange, because they already released 6 full length albums! I’m surely gone check them out. (RoyBalowski)

Sabaton
As I hit the festival grounds on Saturday morning I was already too late to see Swedish powermetallers Sabaton. At least, that is what I thought first. Volbeat had to cancel so Sabaton played on their spot. Anybody who just couldn’t get out of their tents in time was lucky I guess. The previous night was quite exhausting with top performances by Ministry and Judas Priest.
Sabaton has been around since 1999 and released 5 albums so far. The main lyrical theme is about historical wars and anybody who hasn’t paid attention during their history lessons, now it is time to catch up. The songs are well introduced by teacher, I mean singer Joakim Brodén so it feels like you’re back in school. Oh yes, they played very well and they have great songs. I must admit that after a few songs they tend to bore me a bit. It is pretty much of the same war anthems again and again. Time for an armistice? (Angel)
 
Agent Steel
Masters of metal, agents of steeeeaaaaal!!! It is the classic sing-along song of Agent Steel and a song virtually every metalhead in their late twenties, early thirties somehow grew up with. And it is exactly this age category that makes up the audience at the marquee 2. It seems like everybody is enjoying this ancient trash metal, I’ve got the feeling that everybody is waiting for that one song. This is really vintage stuff with a high level of nostalgia. Meaning that the performance was good, but they hardly gained new fans.

Forbidden
On the main stage yet another reunion of an old trash metal band. Now that the bay area trash metal scene is going through a revival it has spawned the release of excellent albums from Testament, Exodus and Death Angel. I can’t really add Forbidden to this formidable trash rat pack. It isn’t that they are a bad band; today’s performance just makes clear why they weren’t part of the big four in the eighties. Their material is really dated, just like Agent Steel. Metallica’s, Megadeth’s and Testament’s material withstood the test of time as they continue to harvest new fans among new generations. Forbidden is just a nostalgic trip down metal lane for old school fans.

36 Crazyfists
Although I’m not completely convinced by 36 Crazyfist's latest effort The Tide And It’s Takers I couldn’t resist not to skip their show. Especially since the band always gives two hundred percent during their shows. The grin upon the face of vocalist Brock is again present when he’s walking onstage and ready to kick ass. That’s exactly what they did during the time they had. With both new and old material they threw a great party. Backed by a great sound and a tight live performance of the rest of the band they close their European tour and trust me they did gained some fans today. (Niamen)
 
 
Valient Thorr
After surviving the first brutal day of Graspop and seeing some crappy traditional metal-bands on the early Saturday afternoon… I convinced some friends of mine to come along and witness a new rock ‘n roll sensation from America.
Around 5 o’clock in the afternoon the American rockers of Valient Thorr hit the stage of the small metal-dome stage. From the first second on this band set the place on fire! A really energetic stage-show with the guitar-players throwing the guitars high in the air! A singer that looks like a Viking with a real terrible taste for clothing. He was wearing bright red wrestling shoes and spandex shorts. But this band rocked! This was the first band for me on the festival, which really did it for me. Their mix of 70’s hardrock like Thin Lizzy, mixed with punkrock like Zeke/old TurboNegro and old metal like Iron Maiden was really refreshing. They served this highly energetic brew on a hot plate to the public…and they ate it all! I was only familiar with their name, but I’m surely going to check out their records. One of my absolute highlights on this year Graspop. (RoyBalowski)

 
Iced Earth
The return of lost son Matthew Barlow to the ranks of Iced Earth is warmly welcomed by the fans. With his hair cut short, Barlow demonstrates he is the ultimate frontman for Jon Schaffer’s outfit. No album is overlooked; even songs from the Tim Owens era are performed. It is remarkable how well a song like ‘Declaration Day’ is sung by Barlow. At the time of the recording of The Glorious Burden, Schaffer didn’t feel that Barlow’s vocals were good enough. Being less motivated for the band, Barlow left the band. Today it is clear that the aforementioned album could have been better if Barlow would have done the vocals. He just has that little extra emotion in his voice that makes him top the other singers Iced Earth ever had. Iced Earth is truly back after this great performance.
 
My Dying Bride
The English doomsters called My Dying Bride were the headliners of the marquee I tent on the Saturday. My Dying Bride being one of my all-time favorite doom metal bands. I was anxious to see them.
The last couple of times I’ve seen this band it was always way above average. A couple of line-up changes took place the last time I’ve seen them. They now have a female keyboard/violin-player again and also a female bass-player. They started off with a song from their last “studio” album A Line Of Deathless Kings. I don’t know whether it was the festival mood I was in, or the fact I was drinking beer all day. Somehow this show was a huge disappointment for me. The melancholic, dark, depressed mood this band normally gives you, didn’t came across this time to me at all. People around me were banging their heads off and telling me how good this show was. Even a classic song from Turn Loose The Swans didn’t totally came across that night. I left halfway their set, with a huge disappointed feeling to check out the rest of the set from Helmet. Hopefully I will be in the mood next September, when they are over to headline a doom-fest in Tilburg. (RoyBalowski)

Helmet
After leaving halfway through the My Dying Bride set with pain in my heart, I attended the show from Helmet in the marquee tent II. This band is to my opinion way overlooked for their huge influence on nowadays metal, what we call nu-metal. At their prime of their career around 1993/1994, I never had the chance to see them. So I was thrilled to see them now.
Entering halfway their set, I came at the right time. They were just starting to play all the old classic songs from albums like Meantime and Betty. So we entered the tent with a huge pogo/mosh pit going on and people shouting along to those songs. That’s the beauty of festivals. One minute you are in a dark, doomy atmosphere and the next minute you are in a huge energetic mosh pit. Page Hamilton played the crowd with an easiness that you don’t see that often anymore. It was great to feel the energy from songs like ‘In The Meantime’ and ‘Unsung’. They are still that unstoppable groove-machine they always were. Great show ! (RoyBalowski)

Cavalera Conspiracy
With two original members performing and most of the set comprising of Sepultura classics, why not simply call it.. Sepultura? Starting off with a song from the Inflikted album from Cavalera Conspiracy, we are just spoiled with excellent renditions from ‘Arise’, ‘Dead Embryonic Cells’, ‘Refuse/Resist’ and ‘Territory’. Even Motörhead’s ‘Orgasmatron’ is played which really makes the performance were Sepultura left of at London's Brixton Academy at the end of 1996. Couldn’t you really make friends with Andreas and Paolo?

Kiss
Graspop witnessed on Saturday the hottest band in the world on the main stage: Kiss
It is remarkable that after 35 years they still manage to attract so many people world wide to their gigs. Perhaps it has got to do something with the incredible amount of fireworks used. Or just simply the show which leaves completely no room for improvisation: Every second of the show is planned; even the jokes are virtually the same everywhere. I witnessed them two weeks earlier at Arrow and I’m pretty sure they're the first band where you can sing-along with the jokes.
The show being the same everywhere makes them like a fast-food chain. Yes, Kiss is a globally recognised brand with a lot of trademarks. Like when the enormous flag with the Kiss logo printed, drops and the band are lowered on a platform whilst playing the opening tune ‘Deuce’. Or Gene Simmons spitting blood during his bass ‘solo’. Yes, I deliberately put solo in brackets because it was really more noise than anything else. Or take the Paul Stanley circus act: he flies on a wire over the crowd and lands on the soundstage in the middle of the field and tears into ‘Love Gun’. Of course ‘I Was Made for Loving You’ wasn’t left out of the set. Anybody who still hadn’t got enough of this Psycho Circus could get a CD of the live show they just witnessed. They really know how to market themselves
 
 
SUNDAY

Rose Tattoo
The sun was burning down our necks and the beers were being brought in, because it was time for the ultimate pubrock machine called Rose Tattoo! The ideal band to warm up this sunny Sunday.
This old Australian institute plays simple, but oh so effective oldschool rock ‘n roll. There entrance on the stage was as basic as their music. “Hello Graspop we are Rose Tattoo and we are rock ‘n roll.” They started off with some of the more bluesy songs from the albums Rose Tattoo and Scarred for Life. This band is not really a metal band (Hey, Def Leppard aint no metal band as well), but I think they deserved a place on the bill. Looking around me and seeing old rockers and youngsters singing along together to the songs… said enough! This time the sound from the mainstage was really good as well. It was really enjoyable to listen and sing-along to the classics like ‘Rock ‘n Roll Outlaw’ and ‘Nice Boys’. Great to see the guitar-duo Wells and Cocks playing together on such an old age. In fact this band still has more energy on stage, than most of the new bands around. As always the spotlights of the band, were the performance and throat of Angry Anderson. Through the years his whiskey and cigarette throat, became even more raw and raspy. The slide-guitar parts of Peter Wells were absolute bone-chilling. Great show from the ultimate feelgood band of the day ! (RoyBalowski)

Disfear
Probably most of the people were looking forward to the At the Gates show with frontman Tompa aka Thomas Lindberg. This day though, we had the chance to see him in action twice. On the early afternoon he had to play with his other band called Disfear. This crustcore band from Sweden is active from the early 90’s on. Tompa joined them in 2003 I think and brought out two records with them on relapse records. The ideal warming up for At the Gates later that day.
Through some line-up changes the show had been re-scheduled for a couple of hours later in the afternoon. I don’t know whether it was because of that… Or just because a lot of people didn’t know them, but it was quite empty in the huge marquee tent. To my opinion it’s not deserved, because what we got was a very energetic and tight show. This band has been around for a while and they always played d-beat crustcore with loads of Mötorhead and metal influences. That is what they play still to this day! It was great to see a return of a Swedish legend being back in a band. Uffe Cederlund (ex-Entombed) joined their band on their last album Live The Storm. They gave away a really energetic show, with Tompa running around like a madman on the stage. Musically it was tight as well with a dirty, raw guitar-sound. Most of the songs they played were from both of the relapse releases Misanthropic Generation and Live The Storm, filled up with a couple of older songs. I really enjoyed the show and the energy the band had on stage, but somehow it didn’t came across in a huge empty festival tent. Hope to see them next time in a small venue.
(RoyBalowski)
 
 
 
Soilwork
Although I don’t consider A Sworn To A Great Divide their greatest album I do love Soilwork onstage. Especially since their still one of the band that like to have party onstage and try to pull the audience along. Something they do succeed easily on Graspop where the tent is very well packed with people. Of course is their latest album the leading subject of the show but luckily for me there’s enough old material left for me to enjoy. Which is exactly what I did during this show. A great show with a great sound and probably one of the better performances on Graspop. (Niamen)
 
Comeback Kid.
Comeback kid from Canada is one of the few hardcore bands on the bill of Graspop which is probably one of the reasons that the tent is half empty at the start of their show and will remain half empty during their show. Although Comeback Kid tries very hard to grab to audience by the throat and pull them along. Although the sound is good and the band is running around on stage there are still a few people in front of the stage that are going berserk. As for the rest of the audience three days of beer and sun is paying off. (Niamen)
 
Avenged Sevenfold
Avenged Sevenfold was never my kind of band and it probably never will. Again I watched this band onstage during dinner and I still can’t understand why this band is so big. Everything they do has been done before a million times and above all it’s totally fake. But still they manage to entertain the audience with mediocre riffs, totally boring songs and metal poses a lot of metal poses. Next band please! (Niamen)
 
Iron Maiden.
One of the many reasons I wanted to go to Graspop was probably Iron Maiden and their Somewhere Back In Time world tour. When the beginning of the show neared I was getting more and more anxious. Of course there’s nothing to be anxious about because Iron Maiden always gives their best and this time wasn’t an exception. Every ingredient for a great Maiden show was present. Eddy entering the stage Bruce waving the union jack and even the devil came along during ´Number Of The Beast´. Sadly enough everything ends and this Maiden show isn’t an exception. Truly another great show of one of the greatest metal bands on the face of the earth. (Niamen)
 
Details Written on Friday Aug 1st, 2008
Writer @Niamen

Tags: #Graspop 2008