At this year's Eindhoven Metal Meeting I found both a metal festival which was the sum of best actual bands and projection of the state of contemporary art, witnesses the sonic ferocity of Triptykon and appreciate the truly psychedelic nature of Slaegt. With fans congregating across the globe, it comes as no surprise that the venue was quickly full and the fest was sold out with more than a month before. The venue was also packed with lots of records and metal releases, fresh material for the passionate listeners. The two days fest was every metal fan dream. I’ve been privileged enough to have attended a lot of different festivals in different places, but none are quite like EMM.
And I'm also happy to report the huge crowd of black dressed music lovers was over-passionate and totally open to metal in all its forms and mutations and very vocal in praise… The first day of the fest was marked by rather cold and cloudy weather, but soon, an inner-sun was shining brightly. Leading the discovery, for me, was with IXXI (because I couldn't arrive early and at the entrance was already a big queue) with their unrelenting black-metal. IXXI, or simply 9/11, was founded in 2006 by Acerbus (Ondskapt) and now deceased Nattdal (Lifelover, Dimhymn, Ondskapt). Together with vocalist Totalscorn (Zavorash), bassist Avsky (Ondskapt), and drummer Selin, they set out to perform violent acts of blackened thrash metal terror. Their self-titled debut was released in the middle of 2007, and despite being a decent piece of black-thrash, never saw much attention beyond a side-project of the better known Ondskapt. Half a year later they followed it up with ‘Assorted Armament’, seeing Selin replaced by Smoker, and showcasing a band transforming into a multifaceted chimaera. I saw IXXI for the first time live, and I could say the music and the atmosphere was increasingly good.
For me, Slægt was next; Danish newcomers Slægt are on the rise in the world of metal, something which was initiated with the EP ‘Beautiful and Damned’; now, at their third full-length, Slægt manages to impress live. The music was progressive, melancholic and dark. Wiegedood was about to take the second stage in full blast. Black metal comes in various shapes and forms, but what these guys manage to pull out of the bag really beats it all. They played with a ferocity not seen by many other bands. Their energy and passion dripped from every note they played, which made even the non-black metal fans watch in awe. They played songs from the last album, ‘De Doden Hebben Het Goed III’ Holding nothing back, it marches forward with big, solid riffs and rattling drums as the screams slowly fade in and echo across the speakers. Slowly, the small venue was overcrowding as on the stage, Possession made their last preparations.
The wolves addressed their Eindhoven congregation with a majestic sermon, creating an atmosphere difficult to translate in words. They can be regarded as a paragon among the bands who are reviving the legendary prototype of black/death metal. The band was adulated by the public. I must say the music made by the band was aggressive and fully on point.
Urfaust on the second stage, as well. This time, the venue was crowded, almost no way to breathe. The hall was really full and it seemed that a big part of all the visitors was there. The overcrowding was the only thing that could be reproached about the organisation.
Initially, I was drawn into Urfaust by the appearance and the depths of the visual artwork.
Operating as a duo in itself has set them apart from other bands one might compare them with; the absence of bass, VRDRBR's minimalistic and precise drumming and IX's crushing riffs and haunting chants doesn't make for music that sticks at first listen. But once you start walking down the path of appreciation for this eccentric black art, you're not coming back any time soon.
On the big stage, Solstafir and then Septicflesh were playing, another two great bands which I hope I see again soon.
The second day begins earlier with Offerblok on the District 19 stage, a nice stoner-death band from Utrecht. On the main stage was Izegrim and then Fleshcrawl. On the District 19 , Darvaza was expected with high interest; the band performed an absolutely glorious set. The show was a success considering that the band hasn't got any full-length material released since we speaking. Darvaza is one band who is perfecting the art phenomenon known as black metal - they have released a monumental black metal ritual.
I managed to see only two songs from Sweden's Valkyrja, because of the overlapping with Necrophobic. This was again one on the inconvenience of the fest: too many great bands and too little time. As little as I see it, Valkyrja is a band in full ascension. Their vibe is violent and forceful. I am just not able to identify a weak point. I’ll see them again soon in Bucharest and I hope I’ll be able to see the full set. I was waiting for Necrophobic for a long time. The band is well-known for their live acts and the great energy that enfolds the stage. The band was formed in 1989 by David Parland and Joakim Sterner to create a darker kind of death metal than what was being made at the time. The name was taken from a Slayer song. The enormous potential of the band has never been questioned and that was seen all through their set: the crowd was in an ultimate level of ferocity. It is a thrilling experience to see how Necrophobic combines two seemingly contradictory positions. On the one hand, the group explores the deepest abysses. It dives head over heels into the quintessence of extreme metal and the atmosphere of death and devastation is omnipresent. Shining was next on the main stage. I had seen Shining one month before EMM and I must say then I was not that much impressed by the show. Even the set-list seemed a little uninspired (altho now I think it was the same as EMM) So, I was waiting for something similar. But no! They totally worth the patience. This time a lot of energy took the stage and Niklas, the front member, was in a ‘good’ mood. The triumphant show started with an intro, then “Svart ostoppbar eld” begins. This music is suitable to undermine every religious community and all beliefs.
Triptykon needs no introduction. It's simply something else. They performed an absolutely glorious set, which was the most mesmerising set of EMM (to me at least). All the set-list was a Celtic Frost legacy. Celtic Frost is without a doubt one of the most historically important bands in all of extreme metal. Forming from the ashes of Hellhammer, Celtic Frost first formed in 1984, combining the sounds of thrash, and early death and black metal to create an unmistakable sound of chaos and blasphemy. Though, with albums like “Into the Pandemonium”, it was clear that Celtic Frost could include experimentation into their sound quite effectively. The triumphal entrance was lead by the song “Totengott”. That's for sure a definition of “art” in metal and I would appreciate this particularity in other metal bands. It would be impossible to accuse this band of employing too many riffs or filling the register with too many notes. Reverberations shake strings into nothingness as tones hang in the air, thickening an atmosphere with the cruelty of disaffection, desperation, and depression. On the main stage next was Marduk, the last band of the fest, for me. This band has the enormous capacity to transcend into everything enormous and approaches black metal that sounds like an exploding tank factory marches over you is a profoundly punishing experience in any state. Consistency is something I value highly and with Marduk, you can take any album between 1992 and 2000 and the chances are that if you liked one you’ll like the other.
This was what I call a first class metal festival; and I have the certainty that his year I’ll be there again.