Earect Festival : Torhout, Belgium Festivalsite

Slipknot, Mudvayne, Papa Roach and more warm up for Ozzfest in Belgium...

Grunt. Chuggachuggachug. Grunt grunt. That’s how it sounds like for about twelve hours on end today, until Slipknot force the gathered crowd of 10,000 on their knees. But more about that later. For most, a whole day watching 16 unnervingly loud metal and skate-punk bands without protection against the blistering sun would look like downright torture, but the kids here love every second of it. On this holy day – Belgian’s Roman Catholic majority celebrates Ascension Day – they have come to worship at the altar of Satan (or at least the corporately-endorsed, thoroughly business-planned nu-metal equivalent of the horned chap).

Disturbed have cancelled their appearance today, and are replaced by local heroes Mindset. This means that Casey Chaos and his maniacal clique move up one place on the bill. Amen are being held down by a truly dire sound, but still they give it all they’ve got. Musically stale and ideologically cliched they may be, but their unholy racket provides enough visceral thrills and carnal kicks to incite a massive moshpit. One cannot but wonder how the kids moshing this early in the day will feel at around midnight.

Next up are>Mudvayne, looking for all the world like the poor man’s Slipknot in their daft face-paint and comedy hair. They sound not unlike it too, with standard-fare car-crash riffs and ultra-speedy drumming. The real deal this is not, however, although the singer gets bonus points for repeatedly slapping his mic on his fore-head. The dry thumps this produces, needless to say, are hilarious.

By the time >Mudvayne finish it’s well past afternoon, so the hunt for some half-decent festival food is on. You’d suspect this crowd to relish a greasy hamburger or two, but it’s actually the quite nice veggie sandwich that has most success. The problem is that the kids have to digest it to the sound of the crappy nu-metal-by-numbers of Static?X and Hed(pe).

Seven o’clock, so this must be Sepultura. In comparison to the other bands on the main stage, Sepultura are positively olde metal. A firm festival favourite here in Belgium, they don’t fail to excite the audience. Sadly, this involves large portions of the crowd playing air guitar, and, worse, air drums.

After this, the pop sensibilities of Papa Roach are a very welcome refreshment. Their three hit singles to date, ‘Last Resort’, ‘Broken Home’ and ‘Between Angels And Insects’ effortlessly pack the place in, and new song ‘Walking Through Barbed Wire’ takes the Papa Roach formula – Faith No More riffs combined with anthemic vocals – to its logical, quite wonderful conclusion. Over on the Deconstruction tour stage, a whole day of bad skate-punk culminates in a heroically one-dimensional set by Pennywise. They cover the Ramones ‘Blitzkrieg Bop’. Joey deserves better than this.

It’s left to Slipknot to fuck with the crowd’s head one final time. Anyone who has seen them before will testify that fucking with one’s head is what they do best. Unfortunately, anyone who has seen them before will also find it hard to be as utterly impressed with them as the first time around. New songs ‘Disasterpiece’, ‘Heretic Song’ and one that is possibly called ‘The New Abortions’ lend their set extra relevance, but don’t detract attention from the fact that it’s basically the same old show.

Having said that, tonight’s performance once again demonstrates that Slipknot are still the sole contenders to the circus metal throne long ago vacated by Kiss. Their sheer showmanship becomes most evident when they urge everyone in the crowd to get down on their knees and jump up at their command during ‘Wait And Bleed’. Nearly everyone does, safe in the knowledge that the headache from too much decibels, sun and bad booze will be all over in the morning.

Manu Lammens