Eindhoven Metal Meeting, 15 December 2017, Effenaar, Eindhoven

I think I have been to the annual 2-day metal festival only once before. Usually the number of interesting bands is quite low, so that doesn’t warrant the hour and a half drive and ticket price. This years Friday had no interesting bands after the cancellation of My Dying Bride. Hell, I hardly know any of the bands. The Saturday proved more interesting with 3 or so bands I would want to see. So as a bit of a last minute decision I went after all.

As I entered the venue, the Austrian black metal band Anomalie was about to start. I watched a few songs and thought they sounded okay, but it couldn’t really interest me much.

Tankard was playing in the large hall. I haven’t ever seen them before, since I never was much interested in their beer-infused German thrash metal. The big three all make excellent thrash, but Tankard were never even close being as good. The songs are too simple and the playing skills too limited. All the songs are basically in the same tempo. Gerre may be a good front man, but his vocals are mediocre at best. Maybe a sort of legendary band, but I guess that is more persistence than quality.

The next band was one of the two I definitively wanted too see. Merciless is a fast-paced Swedish death trash band. They said that this was the last gig abroad. And as far as I know they played live very infrequently. They brought most of the original line-up, with an other bass and Peter Stjarnvind who drummed on the latest album, was playing second guitar. They raced through their set with fury, the songs even sounded a bit faster than on the albums. The music itself is sounding a bit chaotic, yet they kept it all together The focus was mostly on their first two albums, but they squeezed in two songs from Unbound as well, including the title track. Excellent gig.

Then there was Coroner, thrash metal from Switzerland. Their first three albums are quite good technical thrash, with less focus on speed as many of their peers. They went more experimental with later albums, especially Grin. They seemed to focus mostly on the later albums. These songs didn’t seem to come across all that well, with limited crowd response. This is probably in part due to them being only a three piece on a large stage with little going on visually, and the mostly laid-back metal. Later in the set they played some older songs like Masked Jackal and Reborn through Hate and it improved a bit. Even though they played very solid, and especially the drummer was playing very enthusiastically.

Then we got Venom. I had seen Venom Inc. before, and never being much of a fan of them I got bored after a song or three. This was the version with Cronos instead. My expectations were quite low. And that proved quite right. They mostly played newer songs and these are terrible, the older songs well they were better but still bore me quite rapidly. Cronos came across quite frustrated at times.

The last band I really wanted to see was another band that hadn’t played live much before either: Master’s Hammer. They took quite some time to set-up it was not before 1.15 that they started to play. But there still was quite a crowd to watch them play. These guys have always been a bit weird and that shows in their music but also their appearance. Their outfits were uncommon for metal bands with Storm wearing frivolous cowboy boots, and hat with a bright red shirt. Silenthell, the timpani player wore a suit, that didn’t seem to fit well. And the bass player wore a large cape, covering most of is face is a hood. Below the drumkit they set up a huge smoke machine which filled the stage entirely with smoke, so much that the band was at times hard to see at all. Nevertheless the most important part is the music. And they played that very tightly. Most songs came of the debut album Ritual with a few other songs thrown in from The Jilumnist Occultist and one of the later albums. Well their first two albums are by far their best. Storm was having a blast on stage, so much was obvious. His vocals were a lot lower than on the album but otherwise sounded still great. So that was an excellent gig as well.

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