Every year at the end of June thousands of metalheads travel through Belgium to a little town called Dessel. As for most three day festivals, campsite opened the day before. I traveled by train and we met up with many more metalheads headed that way. The whole train was filled with people with black tees and denim jackets with patches. It all went smooth, there were many shuttle busses waiting for us and after a 15 minute walk we arrived. Well.. nearly. We still had to wait in line for our wristbands for about half an hour and then some extra 20 minutes to get our bags checked. Which isn’t too long when you think about it and it wasn’t raining, all good!
Setting up tents wasn’t hard, no hills to consider and when you were all the way in the back it was still only a 20 minute slowwalk to the festival entrance. Only downside were the 2 toilet buildings. Both on the same side of the campsite and not too far away from each other, that being said, they were clean, toilet paper was always there, and only a few of them smelled bad after 3 days.
The first night was celebrated in the so called Metal Dome. A big tent with a bar in it. The Metal Dome is located on the festivalarena itself, but they divided in 2 parts so we couldn’t reach the other stages yet. First a few bands and then they had a DJ with the metal top 50. After that the party went on till 5:00. People on the campsite were also partying, but they seemed to keep it to themselves. You heard people yelling and some music playing, but nothing too extreme and after 5 you hardly heard anyone.
The first day already started at 11:15. The girlpower band Crucified Barbara hit the stage with a rock attitude and guys staring. Not a bad band, I wasn’t a big fan of her voice though. One of the better bands that day was Helloween. The stage was nicely decorated with pumpkins and leadvocalist Andi Deris interacted with the crowd very well. Wanting a moment out of the rain, I ran to the Metaldome. Thrash metalband Entombed was rocking out on stage and their music is a perfect warming up for your neck. On my way to seeing Soulfly, I noticed Coal Chamber playing instead. Apparently they switched places because of traffic problems. Coal Chamber is not a bad band, but it can be described as a rather.. peculiar band. They started out with a living eagle on stage, god knows why, their drummer was drooling buckets full and kept their roadies busy, the female bass player was twirling around and the guitarist was in his own little world. They play some solid Nu-metal. At night it was time for Kreator. One of the Teutonic Thrash three, along with Sodom and Destruction. The band has earned the name with pride. Their set was powerful, the stage nicely decorated with skulls and more. A band for headbanging, shouting and awesomeness. When we left the tent to go see the last act of the day, we were greeted by the pouring rain. Twisted Sisters vocalist Dee Snider apologized for the bad weather, since he had called mother nature a ‘fucking bitch’. Luckily he was talking to the sky and he said he didn’t mean to call her that, he meant ‘cuntly whore’. So with our middle fingers raised to the sky they started the next and one of the best known songs “We’re not gonna take it“. After about 35 years of performing, Twisted Sister is an oiled machine. A lot of crowd interaction, very good songs and humour. They also asked a guy on stage, that had contacted them before, who asked his girlfriend to marry him on stage! How romantic, though he didn’t kneel, booh! It shows that Twisted Sister is well connected with their fans. Their other major hit, ‘I wanna rock‘, was performed with a band that also played on GMM that day. Asking Alexandria wouldn’t have been one of my first choices, but vocalist Andy Worsnop didn’t do too bad at the glam metal genre. Maybe he should stop metalcore and start a glam metal band! At 01:00 the act was over and the after party in the Metaldome started, which would go on till 05:00.
Day 2 again started early at 11:15. This time a dutch hard rock band opened on mainstage. Vanderbuyst wasn’t as energetic as I’d hoped, they aren’t outstanding, but not bad. There performance made me think of Airbourne. Just good old hard rock, nothing wrong with it, nothing special about it. Next I saw a bit of Sylosis, a pretty alright progressive metalband, but the screens with their band names on it gave me epilepsy without having it. The continuously flickering screen was really annoying, like a stroboscope that’s turned on for half an hour. A little later another golden oldie hit the stage: Saxon. They play a lot with their backdrops, light and fire. They may be old, but they still know how to rock. Last but not least to end the day, Slipknot. I don’t really like listening to their music when I’m at home, but the energy they gave the songs.. The performance was incredible, the mystery and creepiness of the masks adds another cool element. There were always interesting things to see, if you weren’t busy pushing yourself around in the on going moshpits that is. And so another day ended, well the bands did, the fans just started!
Day 3 already. The schedule started 11:30 today. Voodoo Six kicked off. They were touring with Iron Maiden, which should be enough reason to check them out. A band that isn’t well known just yet, a hard rock sound though I was a bit too tired to pay close attention. Next up one of the names I’ve been come across a lot lately: Heaven’s Basement. Another British hard rock wonder with a lot of energy and charisma. Even though it is still early, the tent is filling up quite nicely. Maybe it is a bit soft for a metal festival, but all bandmembers are running around as if they had batteries for breakfast. A band I wasn’t planning on seeing was Parkway Drive, yet their enthusiasm and gratefulness is pretty addictive. A lot of crowdsurfing, moshing and jumping going on and the singer was just just as exhausted as his audience. After that Corey Taylor came with his second performance of the weekend. Stone Sour played a good but short set and they left out the usual ballad Through The Glass, which is a pity, but now it was just full out rocking. The amount of ‘fucks’ said by Corey was a bit too high though, he could’ve fucking done without a fucking few less. Headliner of the day started early. Iron Maiden brought a nice decorated stage and energetic old dudes. After seeing them on Download Festival a few weeks ago, the show seemed a bit off and not as complete as it was back then. But Maiden is still Maiden. Their songs are awesome and their shows fit. The backdrops changed multiple times, they had a few different puppets and statues and also fireworks and Bruce had multiple outfits.When they finished there were still 2 bands on the other stages. Not the most unknown bands, a tough choice even. King Diamond and Testament. The first is worth everything for their show, although I still wonder how he can sing so damn high. The second one is some very very good thrash metal that got big in the golden age (or decennia..) of thrash metal, eighties.
And so the third day ends. When I wrote this, I was sitting in my chair letting my feet rest. Watching the first few tent-fires light the sky, the fireworks give a nice sight and the Graspop Crew is racing around to stop the fires. It’s gonna be a good last night ending a good edition of Graspop.
It is a nice festival for metalheads all around the world, more relaxing than the big ones, but still as brutal.
– Panda \m/