Eindhoven is pretty big as far as Dutch cities go, but if you’re used to the mewling filthpits of London, Paris, Berlin or Northampton, it’s awesomely sleepy, clean, friendly and walkable. It’s also not in Holland, that’s like referring to the entirety of the United Kingdom as being England – ie something only stupid Yanks do. But unlike the highly strung British, forever keen to patronise someone cursed without the good fortune of being born on a council estate in Wigan, the easygoing Dutch have just come to terms with it, so even though Holland is a completely separate part of the country from Noord Brabant, the province in which Eindhoven sits, they happily refer to it as Holland and cheer whenever any of the main stage’s confused North Americans refer (reefer moar likeolol) to it as such. Still, it offends me, mainly because a lot of festivals happen in Noord Brabant and magazines – actual magazines with access to braincells, common sense and Wikipedia – still insist on referring to the location of Roadburn, Neurotic Deathfest, Bloodshed and Eindhoven Metal Meeting as being Holland.
Fuck off to Amsterdam and buy a bong in the shape of a windmill you horrendous fucking tourist.
South coast (of England) deathsters Dyscarnate go by in a haze of robust, serviceable chug, outstanding only for the guest appearance by one of Italian brutalists Hour Of Penance who puts in the single most awkward musical performance by an Italian outside of the invasion of Greece in 1940. Done croaking out his chorus or whatever, he tries to lead some hand claps and manages about one and half before releasing he’s going nowhere and abruptly bolts stageleft like a kid suffering stagefright in a school panto.
Downstairs Inevitable End are a total surprise, on record they’re kinda unremarkable and the phrase ‘Swedish death metal’ has lost a lot of currency since 1988 being as it’s a genre featuring, for example, tedious c-list plodders Deranged and ghastly warbling shitcakes Soilwork. Inevitable End are more Dillinger than Deranged, flying off into the crowd and scattering pint glasses over juddering, jazzy leads.
Back to the cavernous mainstage and Hour Of Penance are do their thing, their more Hate Eternal than Hate Eternal thing, but they’ve been doing their thing rather a lot recently and I’ve stopped caring, though not nearly as much as I don’t care about soulless noodlers Psycroptic who I didn’t even watch. The mainstage is certainly a bit of a cold and lonely place, possibly because this is a grindcore festival and they’re all extremely polished death metal bands groggy with tour fatigue.
The weirdest thing about ‘razorgrind’ crew Leng Tch’e is how Americanised their stage banter is. We’re in the Netherlands watching a band from neighbouring Belgium go “HOW DA FUCK ARE YOUS GUYS DOING TAH-NIGHT?” When you’ve got such a rich shared history of cheese and not being French you sort of expect something special. They’re awesome groove-laden rocketfuel though, and vocalist Serge Kasongo is the king of the slam hands.
As the clock slowly ticks towards Cephalic Carnage o’clock, the people who aren’t really here for the festival but are treating it as a Cephalic show all start to arrive in time for discordant not-quite-metalcore genrebenders Ion Dissonance who of all the bands on that tour package seem the most confused about where they are. Crushingly heavy and hella tight, there’s no real relationship between them and the people watching them alas, but you can’t really blame them – they’ve probably got a million hour flight in the morning.
Cephalic Carnage do know where they are, obviously, they’re such a single-issue band only moderately more challenging than the Kottonmouth Kings that it’s fair to wonder if a band exclusively grinding about getting high will have about as much appeal in a country where it’s totally not a big thing as Winterfylleth at a real ale festival – a whole lot of bemused shrugging. It turns out they’re great and everybody loves them. They’re so effortlessly charismatic and likeable that it borders on the offensive, Cephalic Carnage that is, I’ve obviously stopped talking about Winterfylleth – try and keep up.
Tottering around with a blank expression that suggests he was anally intruded upon by German police on the way here, Bilos from Czech grind’n’roll party squad Malignant Tumour doesn’t look at all capable of bringing throaty joy, but come their graveyard shift on the second stage and he springs into action as a packed room jostle and thrash around, their bellies full of flavourful Dommelsch. How unusual is it to have a house beer be slightly dark as opposed to some generic, tasteless pilsner? Not overwhelming to drink, still very light but with enough of syrupy dark beer tang to lure in the ale virgins like a lubed pinky around the rim.
Part II tomorrow, listen to the new Atrocity Exhibit record and start a fire. A big fire.