EMM: Brutal metal, mosh pits, and one big loving family reunionWritten by Roeline Machiels | 15 dec 2022
After two long years of waiting, Eindhoven Metal Meeting finally took place. Last week, during the sold-out, twelfth edition of the festival, the waiting was made-up for in tenfold. First with a sick warm-up party, followed by two festival days filled with awesome black-, death- and thrash metal. Reminiscing or crying that you missed it: you're in the right place!
In 2009 Eindhoven Metal Meeting started as a one-day festival and over the years it has grown into a two-day festival including a pre-party that really lives up to its name. These days Eindhoven Metal Meeting is known as an annual reunion for metal lovers from all over the world. This year a record of 42 different nationalities is stomping around through the venue. The cherry on top of the work of Roman Hödl, the mastermind behind this fest.
A line-up for the enthousiast
Organizer Roman can be found in just about every facet of the festival. Bookings, promotion, planning, production; there is nothing he can't do. "Except the technics, because I have two left hands", says the self-proclaimed control freak. From his office in Vienna, he puts together a line-up each year. "This is my baby, a prestige project. I want to show that it is possible to host a cool festival without having to become too commercial. It's an independent festival, there is no one interfering with our line-up", he continues.
This year a few bands are exclusively flown in for the festival, including headliner My Dying Bride and the German metalband Chapel of Disease. This means that the bands are not on tour and swing by purely for the festival. Roman elaborates: "I do my best to book bands that are not playing everywhere already. When I see the line-ups for the summer festivals, I might have to cross a few bands off my list."
Friday's headliner was the eye-catcher that convinced guests Marcus and Pamela from the United States to get on a plane. "The main attraction was My Dying Bride, as it is one of Pamela's favourite bands and they do not often tour where we live", says Marcus. Roman himself is slightly proud to have managed to book My Dying Bride. "It's a very unique band that does not perform much and hasn't performed outside of England in the past five years", he explains.
In addition to this big name and others, such as Rotting Christ, Suffocation and Mgła, Roman also wants to give more unknown bands a chance to play at the festival. "I look out for bands that deserve extra attention and I can offer a slot to play for a larger audience. There is a lot of international media present, so it can be a kick-starter to their career", Roman says.
Roman's approach to booking the bands is appreciated, which is not only evident by the completely sold-out festival. "Roman manages to put together a special line-up each year", according to EMM-visitor Herman. To him, Eindhoven Metal Meeting is known for its mix of both underground and well-known bands.
The bill was the biggest reason to pay a visit to Eindhoven for Kaddi from Germany. She has been holding onto her tickets for two years. "I bought tickets because of the line-up, it is amazing. And fortunately, it's still almost the same as announced before corona", she says. And now it's about time to finally dive in and eagerly enjoy the festival.
Colourful in black
After Thursday's warm-up, the party really kicks off on Friday. The Dutch band Bloodphemy has the honor to open Eindhoven Metal Meeting. While their death metal tracks are thumping through the building, a queue of metal lovers forms outside, far into the Dommelstraat where Effenaar is located. By the time Chapel Of Disease breaks down the mainstage, the venue is packed.
Since drinking on an empty stomach is never a good idea, many head over to the restaurant for a bite and to meet up with their international friends. Also, a large chunk of the crowd races directly to the merch to score some cool new shirts. In the back of the restaurant Daniel is enjoying his vegan sausage. The bicycle repairman from Argentina has been living in the Netherlands for just over a year. "I love the Netherlands, especially the weather", he declares as he gets up to show off his shorts.
It is his first time attending Eindhoven Metal Meeting and he is already having a great time. Daniel argues that the black band shirts, long hairstyles and tattoos may look intimidating to people from outside the scene, but the metal audience is anything but 'dangerous'. "People who love this genre, they are all friends. It's like a neighbourhood", he explains. "Hugs and kisses for everyone", he shouts in perfect Dutch before he takes off to continue his evening.
At the D19 Stage it is now Stallion's turn. An outspoken band from Germany, not only in terms of show, but also about societal issues. In support of Purple Friday and the lhbtqia+ community, the frontman holds up the Progress Pride Flag during one of their songs. Martin and Mika, band members of Beaten To Death, appreciated the outspoken character of Stallion. And only halfway through the evening they already name the band their favourite of Friday's line-up. The Norwegian band Beaten To Death is set to take the stage on Saturday, but the musicians arrived early to enjoy some bands themselves. Mika says: "The music has to feel like a punch to the face." For them, playing metal is the same kind of emotional outlet as for the listener. "If you have troubles, you play metal music and let it out. Afterwards you are calm for the rest of the day. You don't need a therapist", explains guitarist Martin.
The guys agree with each other that the metal scene is a healthy scene. Mika states that most metal is still underground, and it feels more like a bunch of 'music nerds coming together to discuss metal and the meaning of life'. "We are the most non-violent group of people you can find. We only play aggressive music, that's all", Martin adds.
While the men discuss the shows further, the Greek band Rotting Christ start their brutal set on the mainstage. With solid riffs they ecstasize the packed crowd and here and there the boots of crowdsurfers appear. Their black metal buzzes through the walls, when Jean-Paul from Belgium takes a little break on the seats by the lockers. His friends go off to see the band, but the older man wants to save some energy to fully enjoy his favourite; Mgła.
It is already his tenth time attending Eindhoven Metal Meeting. "There is only one festival that I visit abroad, which is this one is Eindhoven", says Jean-Paul. The metal scene is a mix of young and older people, and that is something he loves about it. "At metal festivals I feel young again", he says with a smile.
The last few acts, among which are the beloved headliner My Dying Bride and Mgła, are ready to end the night with a bang. So it's time to get up again. From the mainstage the bands overlook a sea of metal horns, while they treat the revellers to a fierce set. Though, the party is far from over. "The guest don't come all the way to Eindhoven to sleep", says organizer Roman. They dive deep into the nightlife of Eindhoven, while some dive into their beds to sleep as hard as they partied.
One big international family
On the cold Saturday afternoon, it's up to Slaughterday and Carnation to warm up the audience by pouring a fresh dose of death metal over them. Not long after, the Norwegian guys from Beaten To Death also step onto the stage, to throw their grindcore into Eindhoven. Not many visitors have lost the battle with their hangover, because after a few acts it's packed again.
The foyer towards the D19 Stage seems to be the spot to chat during the festival, also for Herman and his group of friends. They are all dressed in denim vests decorated with countless patches from their favourite bands and acts they have seen live. He has not missed one day of the festival since its start in 2009. "Maybe a warm-up party here and there", he admits.
To Herman, metal means 'fraternization'. "We've always been an outcast and are now coming together in these kinds of places. Three days of partying, chatting and listening to bands. We are here with all our friends from all countries. This is the moment we meet up with our German, Swiss, and Norwegian friends", he explains. But he has not only made friends through metal, Herman also met the love of his life in the scene. "It happened at the Rock Hard festival in Germany", he continues. Now they travel to shows and festivals together.
Metal also brought Sylvia and Silke together in a special bond. "Sisters by heart, but not by blood", they state. Back in 2014 the Belgian Sylvia and German Silke met each other at a metal festival. They visit each other regularly ever since. Sylvia's entire underarm is covered in wristbands from the events she has attended over the last seven years. The duo has travelled to many festivals, including Eindhoven Metal Meeting.
Sylvia still remembers her phone call with her parents when she attended her very first metal festival back in the day. "I was only eighteen years old and went to the event all by myself. After I arrived, I called my parents and told them 'don't worry, nothing will happen to me here'. I felt completely safe", she says. Ever since then, her metal family keeps getting bigger. "We know people from all over the world", Silke adds. This is reflected by the many nationalities that attend Eindhoven Metal Meeting; from various European countries, to Australia, Canada, Comoros and the United States.
A pit without throwing a fit
When the evening comes around, it's up to the British Benediction to blaze at the mainstage. Ten minutes later the silence is also broken in the smaller venue, when Wolvennest fills the room with incense and their dark sound. A show that many enthusiasts want to witness, because it is jam-packed. There are people crammed into the doorway, on the stairs and the balcony.
Besides Jean-Paul, more Belgians stop by to check out their fellow countrymen, including Flemish Tom. After the set he says that the band pulled his heartstrings. "The waves of their music touched me. I got emotional during the set", he shares openly. "For some people metal sounds too intense or even aggressive, but when you listen to the waves of the music, it makes you calm", he explains.
However, the serenity the sound of Wolvennest leaves behind does not last long. Gutalax is waiting backstage to break loose and shake things up. During the set an inflatable poop-emoji is passed around, along with some crowdsurfers, circle pits arise, and the audience even participates in a small wall of death. These customs often sound a bit scary to people who are not familiar with them, but everything is carried out with most respect towards each other.
Roman reminisces that the metal scene used to have a bad rep. "During the late 80s, early 90s, fireworks were sometimes set off in the venue or people were throwing bottles. It could get quite dangerous back then. The scene has become more loving. It's a community and there is a great feeling of togetherness. We watch each other's back", says the booker. However, the old metal spirit is still 'doing whatever you feel like doing'. "And many of those who come here do so", Roman continues.
There are still a few hours of partying left, but the fatigue is starting to set in. However, headliner Suffocation does not settle for a timid audience and wakes them up vigorously. A little later the Scottish band Saor has the honor to close this twelfth edition with a worthy and powerful show. The place is still pleasantly packed by the time they start their first song. But then, at 1:30 AM, the festival has to come to an end. This was Eindhoven Metal Meeting 2022.
The line-up and quality of the bands are the framework, but the atmosphere of the festival is a group project; of the organization, the bands and all metal lovers. Luckily, they have all been able to find their way to Eindhoven.