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The opening words

Last fall I decided I would catch an early Friday morning flight with Brussels Airlines to Brussels International, just so I could be sure to get a chair on that particular flight and arrive at the festival area on the opening day around noon. So far, so good, as I had it all figured out with a ninety minute train ride and ten minutes by bus upon arrival in Belgium.

When arriving at Bromma airport in west central Stockholm, Sweden, me and my company are the two last to check in and we are told by the attendants that the flight is overbooked and all the seats are already taken. So what could we do? Start a brawl to no avail? We decided to keep it cool, as there was a flight at noon five hours later. The clerk at the Brussels Airlines desk paid us € 250 each in compensation for a ticket I paid € 85 for, so in the end I wasn't too unhappy or let down.

I missed a couple of bands I was planning to see, but honestly there were not one single band that afternoon I was really looking forward to, so getting paid € 165 for not seeing Godsmack, August Burns Red and Slash was a good deal and just fine.

With about 45000 visitors each day, this festival is pretty crowded, but most people stand on their spot, so there's not much pushing and shoving in front of the stages. Sure, a couple of circle pits are present, as well as occasional walls of death, but participation is not mandatory in those activities and hardly anything to take action against if you're not interested in moshing.

Stages: (Rough numbers)
Mainstage: Open air stage, capacity: 50000
Marquee I: Tent stage, capacity: 14000
Marquee II: Tent stage, capacity: 10000
Metal Dome: Tent stage, capacity: 6000


Reviews by Tobbe
Photos by Tobbe/various (courtesy of Graspop)

Friday June 22

Band: Paradise Lost
Marquee I 17:30-18:20

After recently playing the Draconian Times set, it seems like this quintet now chooses to leave out as many songs as possible from it and therefore only one single song are played off their most well known album. This however doesn't matter at all this late afternoon, as all their other ingredients are there. It's morose, depressive, Greg Mackintosh's patented guitar plays are phenomenal, Nick Holmes's humor and talk between the songs including a thank you after they fucked up the start of Fear Of Impending Hell, etc.

All songs go down well and much to my surprise I think As I Die is a song that don't reach its full potential on this gig. The new songs work just fine and crowd is on their feet, even if this hardly is a band you bang your head real hard to. A great start to my Graspop 2012 experience, bandwise.

Performance: 8 chalices of 10
Stage sound
: 8 chalices of 10
: The Enemy
: As I Die

Honesty In Death
As I Die
Tragic Idol
Forever Failure
One Second
Embers Fire
Fear Of Impending Hell
The Enemy
Say Just Words

Band: Sabaton
Mainstage 18:25-19:25

Sabaton is picking up a solid fanbase in Belgium these days and therefore there were no empty gaps in front of the Mainstage. With a light breeze in their faces they enter, as so many times before to Ghost Division. From that moment, this is one hour of pompous heavy metal with many visual special effects. Smoke, bombs and flames in almost all songs and even if the actual performance this early evening isn't all great, the show around them is.

We get a set based on The Art Of War with a total of five songs and almost half of the songs played comes from that album. Lead singer Joakim Brodén had some problems with his voice in a pair of songs, but nothing serious. All three new guys have found their place in the band and no one seems to miss the old lineup. With this type of heavy metal, they reach out to a broad public that probably will grow for each year. The know-hows however hate this band, as they think it's too easy, too childish or just too bad. You can choose side if you want, or just don't give a damn.

Performance: 6 chalices of 10
Stage sound
: 5 chalices of 10
: The pyrotechnics, Cliffs Of Gallipoli
: Why Metal Crüe again?

The March To War (Intro)
Ghost Division
Gott Mit Uns
The Price Of A Mile
Cliffs Of Gallipoli
Into The Fire
Carolus Rex
Attero Dominatus
The Art Of War
Primo Victoria
Metal Crüe
Dead Soldier's Waltz (Outro)

Band: Amon Amarth
Marquee I 19:30-20:30

Next Swedish band up is melodic death metallers Amon Amarth. A band that reaches new audiences with every record released. In Belgium however, they clearly haven't got that impact yet and therefore play in the huge tent named Marquee I. It wasn't even packed to the last square foot, but only to two thirds from what I could see when I was out buying beer.

Full throttle from the very first chords until the last. With Hegg's voice and all the riffs this band produces, I must say that they are one of the best live acts on the entire metal scene. All this with different kinds of pyros, such as sparks, bombs and flames and with this the Viking theme is complete.

The set has a mix between new songs and their so called hits. No surprises in the set and perhaps that's for the best with limited playing time? I'm not too satisfied with their decision to close the set yet again with Guardians Of Asgaard though, as it loses its awesomeness when played as the last song. It just don't match there.

Performance: 9 chalices of 10
Stage sound
: 7 chalices of 10
: War Of The Gods, Runes To My Memory
: Guardians Of Asgaard as the closer

War Of The Gods
Runes To My Memory
Destroyer Of The Universe
Death In Fire
Cry Of The Black Birds
The Fate Of Norns
The Pursuit Of Vikings
For Victory Or Death
Victorious March
Twilight Of The Thunder God
Guardians Of Asgaard

Band: Slayer
Mainstage 20:35-21:50

I'm sure most of you already heard the story. If you however have been living under a rock, here it is: One of the guitarplayers, Jeff Hanneman, was presumably bit by a spider early last year and since then Exodus' axeman Gary Holt have replaced him on stage.

As the time gap between bands on Graspop is 0-5 minutes, conflicts are inevitable and I entered the field to Slayer a couple of minutes into their opener World Painted Blood. Slayer of 2012 offers almost what they always have. Thrash metal without one single ounce of change.

Due to bassplayer and vocalist Tom Araya's neckpains and guitarist Kerry King's inability to move proper, Gary Holt instead picks up the pace and it's tough to say, but Hanneman has to do one hell of a comeback if they want to survive as a stunning live act even without Holt.

Just by taking a quick view at the setlist below, you can easily figure out that their show is based on their older and great stuff. Four songs from their latest album are played as well, but the festival goers are there for their older material and it seems like most of the crowd haven't even heard these new songs before.

Performance: 6 chalices of 10
Stage sound
: 5 chalices of 10
: Hell Awaits, Die By The Sword, Gary Holt
: Dead Skin Mask, Psychopathy Red

World Painted Blood
Psychopathy Red
War Ensemble
Die By The Sword
Chemical Warfare
Hate Worldwide
Mandatory Suicide
Altar Of Sacrifice
Jesus Saves
Seasons In The Abyss
Hell Awaits
Dead Skin Mask
Angel Of Death
South Of Heaven
Raining Blood

Band: Lamb Of God
Marquee I 21:55-22:55

I can't say that I'm too familiar with this band, but I decided to witness their show anyway, since my friend is a fan of them.

What strikes me first is that the singer is their weakest link. The riffs and the thrashing are good, but the vocalist have a voice that takes over too much and unfortunately not in a good way. He's a great frontman though, as he runs across the stage in a wild manner and keeps the audience in his hands.

It was a decent set, but I will probably not check these guys out anymore, even if I liked the song The Undertow and a couple of cool riffs and beats.

Performance: 5 chalices of 10
Stage sound
: 6 chalices of 10
: The Undertow
: The vocalist

Ghost Walking
Walk With Me In Hell
Set To Fail
Now You've Got Something To Die For
The Undertow
Laid To Rest
Black Label

Band: Ozzy Osbourne & Friends
Mainstage 23:00-00:30

Friday's headliner was none other than Ozzy Osbourne and three guest artists. A magnificent start with Bark At The Moon, a couple of songs from Blizzard Of Ozz and eighties hit Shot In The Dark turns into something dreadful when Ozzy needs a rest for his torn apart body and lets his band play solos and jams.

Iron Man is starting the Black Sabbath-set. Geezer Butler and Slash enter the stage. Slash somehow manage to totally ruin the solo of Iron Man and I just shake my head and wondering what the hell he's doing. War Pigs and N.I.B. continues this part and it's cool to hear that the bass volume is louder when Geezer is on stage, than when ordinary bassist Blasko plays. Zach Wylde enters to Fairies Wear Boots and I think he played this song better than when I saw him perform it about a month ago. His guitarplay didn't scream just as loud as last time.

A couple of Ozzy classics are played before the grand finale with Paranoid. All the participating musicians join the show and it's pretty massive to hear this song performed by four guitarists and two bassplayers. Ozzy's voice worked okay, but he also has a ridiculous amount of help and technique to support him. In between the songs he sometimes sounds like a crow, so it's kind of strange that most of the songs are clean. Whatever, he's Ozzy. He gets away with it.

Performance: 6 chalices of 10
Stage sound
: 7 chalices of 10
: Bark At The Moon
: Slash's solo in Iron Man

Bark At The Moon
Mr. Crowley
Suicide Solution
I Don't Know
Shot In The Dark
Guitar Solo / Rat Salad / Jam / Drum Solo
Iron Man
War Pigs
Fairies Wear Boots
I Don't Want To Change The World
Crazy Train
Mama, I'm Coming Home

With only a few hours of sleep the night before, I decided to go straight to the tent after the show. I woke up at 6 the following morning and felt like I had a good night's sleep. I knew I had five hours to kill and it was too early for drinking beer, so I went for breakfast instead and took it cool until they opened the festival grounds an hour prior to the first show of the day.

Saturday June 23

Band: Powerwolf
Mainstage 11:15-11:55

Since I had never seen Powerwolf before, I decided to catch their set. They are all in for it with their make-up and the performance was decent to good. The music however isn't what I prefer. The people in front of the stage looked rather satisfied though, so they must have done something right.

Performance: 5 chalices of 10
Stage sound
: 6 chalices of 10
: Their energy
: A gig before noon is hardly something you hope for

(sorry, no setlist)

Band: Adrenaline Mob
Mainstage 12:15-12:55

A changeover in twenty minutes on the Mainstage? Good luck! Like that would happen. Every single person on the festival area could have figured out that there were going to be instant delays, especially since there was this dude trying to get all the instruments in perfect tune. It's a festival, damn it. If there's not enough time, the sound quality doesn't have to be close to perfection.

I want to, but I can't call this a project anymore, because the man behind the mic, Russell Allen, told us that this is a real band and not a project. With limited playing time they played six songs from their debut album Omertà and for me it didn't matter much which songs they picked, as long as Undaunted was included.

They did it well. Skilled musicians that don't complain about playing at noon. I'm so eager to hear new material from this group anytime soon. They closed the show with Black Sabbath's The Mob Rules, but I left during the first chords to check out Alestorm, whose set already should have started.

Performance: 6 chalices of 10
Stage sound
: 5 chalices of 10
: Undaunted
: Two long intros when only playing for forty minutes

Feelin' Me
Hit The Wall
All On The Line
The Mob Rules

Band: Alestorm
Marquee I 12:55-13:35

When entering the huge tent, the first thing I hear is lead singer Christopher Bowes saying: Sorry for the technical difficulties, this is Shipwrecked. Apparently all I missed was the intro and a powercut, so the delays and conflicts smiled in my favor this time.

From what I could see, Alestorm's set was the most crowded of all in Marquee I during the whole weekend. This is remarkable when taking a look at their starting time. People were probably going there to hear all the party songs and to just have a good time.

It's not perfectly played and all songs aren't great, but most of them have good beats and striking rhythms, making you want to move to the music. The vocalist had his birthday today, so the crowd pushed their vocal chords, singing Happy Birthday to him as a nice gesture. He was well worth it, as he is a great frontman.

Performance: 6 chalices of 10
Stage sound
: 6 chalices of 10
: Nancy The Tavern Wench, Keelhauled, The Sunk'n Norwegian
: Too many songs from their latest album

Midget Saw
Nancy The Tavern Wench
Death Throes Of The Terrorsquid
The Sunk'n Norwegian
Captain Morgan's Revenge

Band: Primal Fear
Mainstage 13:40-14:25

A band I totally dig when listening to their albums, but somehow they never reach all through when I see them live. With this gig, it's just the same. Ralf Scheepers sings good us usual, even if he nowadays tend to shout a bit more. The guys with the strings are near flawless, Randy Black does a good job behind the drums and most songs are totally awesome.

The riffing, the beats and the groove is nothing but extraordinary in my ears. The fierce opener Strike, the catchy songs Nuclear Fire and Bad Guys Wear Black, the wonderful ballad Seven Seals, followed by four heavier and faster tracks. What can go wrong? I guess nothing, but somehow I want to be able to rate this gig even higher, but I can't, because that wouldn't be fair. I mean, the performance is damn good, but it don't reach all the way to greatness, even if the potential is there.

Performance: 7 chalices of 10
Stage sound
: 7 chalices of 10
: Seven Seals
: More people should have shown up

Unbreakable Part 1 (Intro)
Nuclear Fire
Bad Guys Wear Black
Seven Seals
Metal Nation
Final Embrace
Metal Is Forever

Band: Death Angel
Marquee I 14:25-15:20

On this tour, Death Angel has decided to play their debut album The Ultra-Violence in its entirety. A cool thing to do of course, but since the album isn't even their best (my vote goes to Relentless Retribution), the actual gig experiences dips, which hadn't been the case if they had played a best of-set instead.

The five men upon stage rock their asses off as they always do. They interact with the crowd and seems to have a great time. Rob Cavestany unfortunately has problems with his guitar during Kill As One, which is such a shame, because I love that song. A couple of Exodus members suddenly enters the stage, much to the band's surprise, and helps out with the chorus and my wounds heal a bit.

A cover version of Black Sabbath's Heaven And Hell closes the set and I'm glad I got to one of these special gigs, even if the songs on a Death Angel gig usually have higher standards.

Performance: 5 chalices of 10
Stage sound
: 5 chalices of 10
: Voracious Souls
: Thrashers

Evil Priest
Voracious Souls
Kill As One
The Ultra-Violence
Mistress Of Pain
Final Death
Heaven And Hell

Band: Suicidal Angels
Metal Dome 15:25-16:05

I can't speak for the first ten minutes, since there were all those compulsory conflicts between the bands, but is anyone else also tired of a vocalist demanding either a circle pit or a wall of death in every song? Okay, one or two in each set is fine, but when the floor is in constant movement and the music stops, it's hard to focus on what they do up there.

Am I boring? Perhaps, but I'm also there for listening to the music the bands perform and not only to clash heads with other metal fans. This gig had good parts when the Greeks decided to play their thrash, but when the music is constantly interrupted by talking, the gig loses consistency and momentum.

Performance: 3 chalices of 10
Stage sound
: 6 chalices of 10
: When they shut up and thrash
: All this talk about circle pits and walls of death

(sorry, no setlist)

Band: Trivium
Mainstage 17:10-18:00

Five songs from Ascendancy, three from latest release In Waves and as closer, one song from Shogun. The Florida based thrashers still promote their second and fifth release, one might think. The truth is rather that they have only created two really solid albums and therefore their setlist looks like this.

Last time I saw this band I was complaining that there were evident lack of movement from the vocalists. With this show they however prove me wrong. Actually all three guys with strings do a good job trying to tear this place down with riffs, screams and headbanging, as well as good interacting with the crowd.

All their most well known songs are played and the crowd seem to love this band, even if most of them wouldn't admit it when asked straight up. Trivium has just started their claim to fame and I believe that this band will be with us for a long time.

Performance: 7 chalices of 10
Stage sound
: 7 chalices of 10
: In Waves, Throes Of Perdition
: Black

Capsizing The Sea (Intro)
In Waves
Pull Harder On The Strings Of Your Martyr
The Deceived
Dusk Dismantled
Drowned And Torn Asunder
A Gunshot To The Head Of Trepidation
Throes Of Perdition

Band: Exodus
Marquee I 18:05-18:55

With Gary Holt back in the lineup for his only gig this summer with his main band Exodus, nothing can go wrong. Three guitarists in a thrash band is massive and the band is focused to perform one stunning gig when they get this chance.

With five songs from their debut album, Bonded By Blood, this is a cavalcade of hits. It's full throttle from the very first second to the last. Lead singer Rob Dukes aggressiveness is contagious and the crowd enjoys every riff. A very good gig and I left satisfied.

Performance: 7 chalices of 10
Stage sound
: 5 chalices of 10
: War Is My Shepherd, Blacklist
: The Toxic Waltz

The Last Act Of Defiance
A Lesson In Violence
And Then There Were None
Bonded By Blood
War Is My Shepherd
The Toxic Waltz
Strike Of The Beast

Band: Megadeth
Mainstage 19:00-20:00

I might sound like an old bitter hag or just a whining bitch, still I'm a man in my best years. All this because I will declare Megadeth's new songs close to crap, or perhaps it's just me that don't see the greatness in them? Just take a look at the setlist below and give me one reason why so many newer songs are played, even if there are only four of them. By the way, isn't it time to ditch Trust too?

Dave Mustaine have been the subject on many forums the last decade. His performances have been torn to shreds by the reviewers and the audiences, mainly for not interacting with the people on the ground for one single ounce and for poor singing. Tonight however I see a somewhat reborn mainman, as his voice works kind of good and he makes occasional contact with the crowd.

When they play the classics, it's feels like a totally different show. The crowd is on their feet with loud singing, fists in the air and headbanging. I for sure realize that it would be boring until death for the band to only play the hits, but this is a festival and many people have no idea what Megadeth's new music sounds like. On the positive side, their long time mascot, Vic Rattlehead entered the stage on Peace Sells and when the hits are played, it's damn good entertainment.

Performance: 6 chalices of 10
Stage sound
: 7 chalices of 10
: Sweating Bullets
: The songs from Th1rt3en

Never Dead
Head Crusher
Hangar 18
Poison Was The Cure
Sweating Bullets
A Tout Le Monde
Whose Life (Is It Anyways?)
Public Enemy No. 1
Symphony Of Destruction
Peace Sells
Holy Wars…The Punishment Due

Band: Fear Factory
Marquee II 20:05-21:00

After some technical problems, Fear Factory opens up with ferocious Shock and then silence. More difficulties, as Burton's mic is dead and probably some other shit too. Five minutes later they're back on track again with "can't stand still-song", Edgecrusher.

Dino's riffs rip right through my body, as they go through many of their best songs. When seeing this band, I'm always a bit concerned how Burton's voice is going to work. On this show he did okay and so did the two new members in the band as well.

New songs, The Industrialist and Recharger, goes down perfectly well and with the last three songs, all from Demanufacture, this turns out to something extraordinary. Even if the drums echoed against the back wall of Marquee II and those problems in the start, this was one of the best gigs on the entire weekend.

Performance: 8 chalices of 10
Stage sound
: 3 chalices of 10
: Self Bias Resistor
: Echoing bass drums

Fear Campaign
The Industrialist
Self Bias Resistor

Band: Twisted Sister
Mainstage 21:05-22:20

Walking out of Marquee II just to hear the first chords of What You Don't Know. I see a 250 yard walk and five minutes wading through the crowd, just to get a good spot to see Dee Snider and his crew from.

Almost all their hits are played and has been ever since their comeback. Twisted Sister know what to play on festivals, known as the material the crowd wants to hear. Sure, I wouldn't mind We're Not Gonna Take It to be cut from the list, since it's no where near their best songs. The video however made it famous and most of the crowd totally enjoy it. I'm also thrilled by them playing Wake Up from their Love Is For Suckers album, since they hardly haven't played anything from that album when I've seen them.

The frontman is great as always and the rest of the band most of the time look like bystanders. With Dee on stage, there's no need for anyone else to try to take some space, because the lead singer would soon claim that area as his again. I see no problems there and with a personality like his, they must use it.

On the negative side and a huge disappointment for me. When hitting the stage again for the encores, they play a taped version of the Come Out And Play intro and just when the actual song is going to start, they are changing into S.M.F. instead. A good song, but comparing to their best… what can I say?

Performance: 7 chalices of 10
Stage sound
: 7 chalices of 10
: Wake Up (The Sleeping Giant), Burn In Hell
: Not playing Come Out And Play when we're being teased by the intro

What You Don't Know (Sure Can Hurt You)
The Kids Are Back
Stay Hungry
Wake Up (The Sleeping Giant)
You Can't Stop Rock 'N' Roll
Shoot 'Em Down
We're Not Gonna Take It
The Price
Burn In Hell
Under The Blade
I Wanna Rock
Come Out And Play Intro

I headed over to Marquee I to catch Dimmu Borgir's set, but one of my old festival friends I met on site was constantly trying to convince me to leave, so we could get our asses to the mobile BrixenBoys pub, located outside the actual festival area. I got to see somewhere around twenty minutes from outside the tent, so no review will come from that. After this show, my plans were to see some of Limp Bizkit as well. I have never seen them live and in fact hardly ever heard them either, so I was going to check them out, but we all know what happened with my plans.

A fifteen minute walk and we were there and what do we do at the pub? That's right, we drink beer. I was hanging out with some locals, who didn't care much about metal and find themselves having a better time at the pub. Some stories could be told, but I choose just to say that I woke up Sunday morning around 8.

Sunday June 24

Band: Sebastian Bach
Mainstage 13:05-13:55

It felt like the monsoon came sweeping in over the festival grounds. Many people were spending time somewhere else, than in the open air in front of Sebastian Bach and his band. I can't blame them. I for sure was rather soaked after the show, even if I wore a plastic bag for some cover.

With this amount of water falling from the sky, the band had to stand in the back to not be electrocuted. Guitarist Nick Sterling was even wearing a raincoat under his sweater. There were puddles of water on the stage floor and Sebastian constantly complained about them and their early afternoon spot, stating that he had never played this early before.

Without the rain, this show would have totally ruled probably. My company, who hardly ever heard Skid Row or Bach before, told me that this was way better than he had expected. Against all odds, I would say that they performed a decent set. I would have preferred a little more solo stuff though, instead of all these Skid Row songs. The old songs are of course state of the art, but his new material is also of highest interest.

Performance: 5 chalices of 10
Stage sound
: 5 chalices of 10
: American Metalhead, Slave To The Grind
: The heavy rain

Slave To The Grind
Kicking & Screaming
Dirty Power
Here I Am
Big Guns
18 & Life
American Metalhead
Monkey Business
I Remember You
Youth Gone Wild

Band: Europe
Mainstage 14:50-15:40

Europe have stated that they don't feel like playing stuff from the eighties anymore. Ten songs were played this afternoon and it takes some guts to perform six newer songs out of those ten, when most of the crowd probably came for the classics only. It's funny how some bands get away with playing a lot of new material when other bands don't. On a festival however, perhaps this is taking it one step too far?

Naturally, Rock The Night and The Final Countdown were the crowd's favorite songs on this gig, even if I personally think that The Beast, Scream Of Anger and Last Look At Eden were equally good. Joey Tempest is a great bandleader and also a first class frontman and singer. He's a professional in every move, so I can't honestly tell you if he is as glad as he looks, or if it's just an act.

The light rain didn't significantly affect the gig, but I think many people, just like me, looked to the sky every five minutes or so, to see if the bad weather would return. Luckily the drops that fell during this gig were the last to fall at Graspop Metal Meeting 2012.

Performance: 7 chalices of 10
Stage sound
: 6 chalices of 10
: Scream Of Anger
: Light rain

Riches To Rags
Not Supposed To Sing The Blues
Scream Of Anger
Demon Head
The Beast
Rock The Night
Prelude (recorded)
Last Look At Eden
The Final Countdown

Band: Gotthard
Marquee I 15:45-16:30

With deceased lead vocalist Steve Lee, Gotthard made themselves a name in the hard rock community years ago. Just like many others, I was very interested to see what his replacement, Nic Maeder, could achieve on stage, and after seeing the gig, I can say that I'm not disappointed at all.

With the amplifiers set on 11, they played a set of new songs and their hits. What a surprise, huh? Gotthard of 2012 is a solid unit, even if the vocalist is still trying to find his place in the band and I'm very glad that they decided to continue with Nic. Many fans say Steve can't be replaced. Well, maybe not, but with this lineup, it's damn close.

Songs like Lift U Up, Dream On, and Anytime Anywhere are uplifting and I can't stand still. Unfortunately the tent wasn't packed to its full capacity, which the band deeply deserved when performing like this.

Performance: 8 chalices of 10
Stage sound
: 7 chalices of 10
: Dream On
: Hush

Dream On
Gone Too Far
Remember It's Me
One Life, One Soul (Piano Version)
Mountain Mama
Right On
Lift U Up
Anytime Anywhere

Band: Killswitch Engage
Mainstage 16:35-17:35

Lead vocalist Howard Jones announced his departure in early January and Jesse Leach rejoined the band about one month later. Comparing the two vocalists is rather easy. Howard is the better singer, but Jesse is the better frontman, as he moves more and really is one with the music. He also interacts with the crowd in a cool way, so in the end I'll go for Jesse. Guitarist Adam Dutkiewicz always have to be mentioned. He's running around and fooling around all through the set in his rather small shorts. It's hard not to focus on him with his size and all.

Somewhat of a best of-set was played and that usually means good songs and not so diverse when speaking of Killswitch Engage. Many songs sound alike, but with this band it's not something bad. It's full speed ahead through one hour of aggressive verses and clean sung choruses. I'm a little surprised that they didn't play one single song off their latest and self titled album. As always they closed the set with Dio's Holy Diver. Can someone please tell them not to, because it's not working.

Performance: 6 chalices of 10
Stage sound
: 6 chalices of 10
: The Arms Of Sorrow, Numbered Days
: Holy Diver

Fixation On The Darkness
Rose Of Sharyn
Numbered Days
This Is Absolution
Self Revolution
Take This Oath
The Arms Of Sorrow
A Bid Farewell
Life To Lifeless
My Curse
The End Of Heartache
My Last Serenade
Holy Diver

Band: Machine Head
Mainstage 18:45-19:45

What a performance! My company said to me after the show that he was impressed with people still standing up and that they all should have fainted by now, due to the massive amount of energy that was sent out from the stage.

One hour with one of the coolest and best drummers in the world, Dave McClain. A sound so sharp and clean from both guitars that I'm stunned. Mix these things with Robb Flynn's aggressive and angry singing style and Adam Duce's bass and this equals the best gig this weekend tied with Amon Amarth. The songs are so good that my tears are never far away. New songs, old songs. It doesn't matter. They all rule. Period.

Performance: 9 chalices of 10
Stage sound
: 7 chalices of 10
: Almost everything
: Aesthetics Of Hate, if I necessarily have to find something

I Am Hell (Sonata in C#)
Beautiful Mourning
Aesthetics Of Hate

Band: Motörhead
Mainstage 20:45-21:45

Like many other bands, Motörhead rely on their old classics. When Bomber, Ace Of Spades, Overkill, Killed By Death are played, this show is killer. Even if I'm exaggerating a bit, it feels like most other songs are there just so the crowd can long for the best parts and recharge their batteries. Two newer songs are played and at least this band knows what festival goers want to hear. One huge letdown for me was that Iron Fist wasn't in the set, since it's my all time favorite Motörhead song.

During Killed By Death, Whitfield Crane of Ugly Kid Joe joins in, but Lemmy doesn't look interested by his appearance for some reason. Lemmy is however who he is and that means always cool. Phil is a good sidekick and they function as good complements to each other. Mikkey Dee is an awesome drummer, but I can't say I fancy his solo. This is however not enough and I don't know what Motörhead should do to get their act together again. They used to be a great festival band, but nowadays it doesn't get better than decent.

Performance: 5 chalices of 10
Stage sound
: 6 chalices of 10
: Overkill
: Metropolis sucked tonight.

Damage Case
I Know How To Die
Stay Clean
Over The Top
One Night Stand
The Chase Is Better Than The Catch
The One To Sing The Blues
Drum Solo
Going To Brazil
Killed By Death
Ace Of Spades

Band: Children Of Bodom
Marquee I 21:50-22:45

Finland's own death metallers with loud keyboards were up next. In fact the keyboard was tuned down a bit tonight, as its volume sometimes drench the sound of all other instruments. Diversity is nothing you get when seeing a Children Of Bodom show, as many of the songs sound quite the same. Despite these facts, usually their shows are good.

Tonight was no exception. Lead singer and guitarist Alexi along with keyboardist Janne are the main characters and it's good enough to satisfy the audience. Songs from all albums are played and even if I would have preferred a slightly different setlist, I must say that this show was as good as expected.

Performance: 6 chalices of 10
Stage sound
: 6 chalices of 10
: Needled 24/7, Hate Crew Deathroll
: Blooddrunk

Hate Me!
Silent Night, Bodom Night
Shovel Knockout
Needled 24/7
Everytime I Die
Deadnight Warrior
Angels Don't Kill
In Your Face
Hate Crew Deathroll

Band: Guns N' Roses
Mainstage 22:50-01:30

I left immediately after Children Of Bodom's set and when I enter the field in front of Axl Rose's version of Guns N' Roses, I hear Rocket Queen, not knowing that it's the sixth song in their set. When realizing this afterwards, I do nothing but shake my head to all those conflicts again.

Facts: Axl chose to play seven songs each from Appetite For Destruction, The Use Your Illusion albums combined and from Chinese Democracy, as well as two songs from GN'R Lies. The show lasted for somewhere around 160 minutes. There were way too many jams and solos. Two of Axl's bandmembers got to perform their own songs. They totally ruined Used To Love Her. What the hell happened there?

I believe Axl is too great for his own ego and therefore decides to put on a show not worthy a rock band. I would prefer a 100 minute show where they play songs all the time, instead of all these breaks, who takes focus off the performance. Honestly, who wants five solos and six jams?

It's somewhat easy to always rate the headlining bands tougher than the rest. When the songs are played, especially those from Appetite For Destruction, it's a totally rad experience and a 9- or a 10-pointer. On the other hand the solos and shit are down on 1-2, so I end up somewhere in between with 6 chalices. A good performance, but still I believe that Axl could put up one of the greatest shows in the history of rock, if I could choose the setlist for him.

Performance: 6 chalices of 10
Stage sound
: 8 chalices of 10
: Nightrain, Shackler's Revenge
: Solos, Jams, Used To Love Her

Chinese Democracy
Welcome To The Jungle
It's So Easy
Mr. Brownstone
Rocket Queen
Shackler's Revenge
Guitar Solo (Fortus)/Jam
Live And Let Die
This I Love
Used To Love Her
Motivation (by Stinson)
Piano Solo (Reed)
Street Of Dreams
You Could Be Mine
Guitar Solo (Ashba)/Jam
Sweet Child O'Mine
Jam/Piano Solo (Rose)
November Rain
Glad To Be Here (by Thal)
Don't Cry
Civil War
Knockin' On Heaven's Door
Whole Lotta Rosie
Piano Intro/Patience
Paradise City

To the top

I left for our tent when the final riffs and beats of Paradise City still were echoing. My company left an hour earlier and when I reach our camp, he is there talking to some Dutch people. I join in for a couple of hours before heading for my tent. I had set the alarm earlier at 7.00, so when waking up at 8.30, I realize that we got to hurry up to catch our flight back home. All went smooth however, so we were just in time by the gate at Brussels International.

The closing words

What can be said about Graspop Metal Meeting 2012? A whole lot, I guess. Let's start with one important thing: The weather. Fairly good, somewhere around 17-21 °C (63-70 °F), partly cloudy and only a couple of hours with rainshowers. Some of the bands in the tents were lucky and actually gained on the situation when the weather was a bit colder.

The Marquees should have bars indoors, so whenever you want something to drink, you don't have to leave the show. The tents are rather soundproof, so it's almost impossible to hear the band when you're out buying drinks. Speaking about tents: They have somewhat of a poor stage lighting occasionally, but the sound quality is pretty good. Speaking about buying: I totally love the use of tokens instead of cash. The lines are short and you always know what to pay.

To a serious issue: The conflicts between the bands. C'mon, a five minute gap between the bands? Give it at least ten or perhaps even fifteen. I don't want to choose if I shall miss the first song or the last song by the bands, because those two are generally among their best ones.

The audiences at Graspop are often pretty lame, but they don't chicken out on the walls of death. They also like to throw away their beers for some reason. I, myself, prefer to drink it instead. Speaking of getting something in your stomach. The food must be the worst festival food around. It's oysters, fries and sauce, gross burgers and watery sausages. I know it's not the Belgian cuisine, but at least serve something edible, please.

I also want to thank Graspop and the photographers, where indicated, for their kind permission to use photos of some of the bands.

Festival food...

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