#GMM18: A magical edition!
For four days in a row the XL edition of Graspop Metal Meeting 2018 served up the best of what the metal world has to offer. GMM2018 will go down in history as the most successful edition ever. Attendance records were shattered - the 'sold out' notice had been posted a few weeks before the start of the festival - and more than 100 bands rocked out on the Dessel plains.
Sunday is family day, even at Graspop Metal Meeting. The sun finally decided to put in an appearance and the day's schedule looked promising. Four days of metal mayhem will wear down even the staunchest metal fan but the lead up to the day's headliners was just the quiet before the storm. All hell broke loose when the loud-mouthed characters from Powerflo hit the stage. What followed was a happy reunion with former Biohazard guitarist Billy Graziadei and Belgian bassist Christian Olde Wolbers but - credit where credit's due - an unleashed Sen Dog from Cypress Hill took the cake. An enthusiastic Billy Talent kept the flame alive until Ice-T and most of his family took centre stage to do what they do best - even his two-year old daughter contributed on 'Talk Shit, Get Shot'. The guys from Powerflo raced on stage to scream the lyrics to 'Cop Killer', the ultimate Body Count anthem that rose from 50,000 hoarse throats. Limp Bizkit sent the young(er) metal fans into rapture and Sen Dog put in a guest appearance to join in on his own hit “Insane in the Brain”. Hollywood Vampires, Alice Cooper's all star band with Aerosmith guitarist Joe Perry and movie star Johnny Depp struck a chord with the metal crowd and Judas Priest, godfather Ozzy Osbourne and A Perfect Circle were the icing on the cake.
There were too many highlights to list every single one all so let's just share a few: the singer of Avenged Sevenfold who interrupted the gig so a fan who had fainted could be evacuated, Volbeat who paid a heart-rending tribute to Vinnie Paul who died yesterday and our very own Diablo Blvd. who got the festival arena singing at un ungodly hour. Powerwolf have also become a crowd favourite and the same goes for Rise Against and Shinedown, whose singer couldn't resist diving into the crowd. Belgian powerhouse and Megadeth drummer Dirk Verbeuren also earned top marks as the driving power behind a vintage performance by the thrash legends. The headliners confirmed their status with a number of exceptional gigs. Guns N’ Roses on Thursday, Iron Maiden and Parkway Drive – keep an eye on those guys! - on Friday, Volbeat and Marilyn Manson on Saturday and the ‘Prince of Darkness’, Ozzy, on Sunday: they all practiced what they preach.
Graspop Metal Meeting has been an internationally acclaimed festival for a number years but this edition topped everything. Dessel greeted fans from no fewer than 91 countries. Obviously the Belgian contingent still outnumbers the rest but the Dutch and the Germans are gaining ground. The UK and France were also well represented this year and Israel, Norway, Sweden, Ireland and Switzerland completed the top 10. In addition, hordes of metal fans flocked to Dessel from outside Europe.
Finally the organisers would like to express their heartfelt gratitude to the countless people who chose to sacrifice their time to keep things running smoothly and help make this festival a roaring success. Security and police personnel, bar and catering staff, the Red Cross and - most of all - the many selfless helpers. The fans in the festival arena do not get to see or hear them but without them organising a top metal event would be simply impossible.
A satisfied festival promotor Peter Van Geel looks back: “GMM2018 was magical. Top bands, a top crowd and - just as important - hardly any incidents worth mentioning. It was a fantastic weekend, worthy of an XL edition.”
See you all next year from 21 to 23 June for GMM2019!