The first day had been a true adventure into the fantasy realm only a field full of metal bands can muster. And it was from there the excursion took a turn for only the best.
Opening the Saturday were London Thrashers, Savage Messiah. This year really was a good one for thrash, having witnessed the excellence of Overkill and Reign of Fury already.
And Savage Messiah’s performance can be summed up in one word: wonderful.
I’ve always felt that a good opening foretells of a good time ahead, and this band was nothing short of the truth.
The energy pouring forth through the guitars and bass and machine gun drumming simply put me into that blissfulness needed for a long day of music.
Savage Messiah played their way through track after track chronicling their three studio albums and had the crowd cheering happily. For a band whose subject matters aren’t the happiest, they really gave a happy vibe to everyone around me. Excellent job. [4.5/5]
Cross of Babylon
The Fateful Dark
Scavengers of Mercy
In Thought Alone
Minority of One
Taking to the stage afterwards were Norwegian Black Metal veterans, 1349.
This band are a personal favourite of mine and my peers so we had our standards set high for the Norwegian outfit, who had played the festival a few years back and hadn’t given their greatest performance.
But even though the group had undergone several line up changes in recent years, their performance was pleasing.
It was nowhere as strong as Belphegor – this is another band who would have suited the Sophie stage better.
Belphegor impressed me for bringing good black metal into the open air but 1349 fall back into the cliché of black metal being ideal for indoor gigs.
Apart from that they delivered a crunching performance with drums no short of a barrage of heavy machine gun fire and vocals screamed at the finest only the Norwegian scene can offer.
The only problem was they would have fared better with a longer set time, but still a good time all round. [3.5/5]
Sculptor of Flesh
I Am Abomination
So far it had been a very entertaining and energetic day and I was all fired up for the next act, folk metal legends, Korpiklaani.
I’d seen the Finnish minstrels all the way back at my first bloodstock visit where everyone had been singing and dancing along arm in arm and ripping their shirts off.
But this time, I’m afraid the Finns failed to deliver a memorable performance. It wasn’t so much their choice of songs, but it didn’t look as though they were having a good time playing.
I think we caught Korpiklaani on an off day, I can only assume the tour they were on was taking its toll.
It was fun hearing crowd pleasing tracks like ‘Vodka’ but their setlist really wasn’t the kind the crowd were hoping for.
I’d expected a lot more from this band and they played a lot of their more forgettable tracks in a bid to promote their most recent material.
Not an awful performance, but Korpiklaani weren’t at their best. I thank them for coming all the way from Finland to play, but we didn’t catch them at their peak. [2/5]
Sumussa hämärän aamun
I rarely make such statements like: ‘this band just keeps getting better and better,’ but for the veterans of extreme music who arrived next – such a proclamation is a pure understatement.
Napalm Death, the forefathers of Grindcore and British Death Metal arrived to celebrate and promote their fifteenth studio album: Apex Predator – Easy Meat.
I’ve been a keen fan of this band for the best part of my life, and this performance solidified my appreciation for them to the core. Their performance at BOA 2011 was the first I’d seen of them and here they provided enough evidence to say time on the road for over 30 years can be good for you.
The songs were as tight and brutish and angry and political as every one of their records I own. I was particularly pleased that they played ‘Suffer the Children’ from the album: Harmony Corruption, the zeitgeist album for 90s British death in my opinion.
It was at this performance I realised that Barney Greenway has no frontman persona that would make people think of him as a rock icon – but it’s when he opens his mouth and tells the world about what’s really going on that you know this guy means business.
Using extreme music to make people respect one another is the best thing going in today’s society, especially when you’re pushing for social justice. Well done Napalm Death – good to hear you play ‘Nazi Punks Fuck Off’ once again. [5/5]
Multinational Corporations, Part II
When All Is Said and Done
Smash a Single Digit
Metaphorically Screw You
Dear Slum Landlord…
How the Years Condemn
Suffer the Children
Silence Is Deafening
Nazi Punks Fuck Off
Saturday took a death metal turn as the next band arrived as fast as one of their tracks. The best tribute band around at the moment: Death (To All).
Celebrating the works of the late Chuck Shuldiner, Death (To All) pulled no punches in giving us a truly sweet showcase of the band who started the most extreme genre of metal music.
They picked the best tracks from across the ages as the band went from strength to strength with many from ‘Scream Bloody Gore’, ‘Symbolic’ and ending with the fan favourite: Crystal Mountain.
I’d seen Death (To All) on tour earlier this year and I feel very happy to have seen the group paying tribute to their fallen brother twice.
I was once again blown away by Gene Hoglin’s drumming – that man is the Keith Moon of extreme metal – a true inspiration to any aspiring drummer who wants to learn the ways of death metal.
Wonderful work Death (To All). [5/5]
Leprosy / Left to Die
Spiritual Healing / Within the Mind
Bite the Pain
Zombie Ritual / Baptized in Blood
Pull the Plug
Then, prog metal wonderboys Opeth could not have taken to the main stage at a better time that evening.
With the setting sun creating, utterly majestic imagery on the big screens when captured by the cameraman positioned behind drummer Martin Axenrot (AKA Legolas), coupled with an at times hyperactive yet well timed light show, Opeth‘s set was a deliciously, multi-sensory experience.
Their set may have featured tracks such as Devil’s Orchard, taken from less popular record of theirs, 2011’s Heritage (and Mikael Ackerfeldt ensures the audience knows that he is aware of said unpopularity relating to this album by dropping in a comment amongst his usual attempts at Swedish- style banter), but they made up for it by finishing on well-loved classics: Heir Apparent and Deliverance.
They may have headlined BOA this year but, as usual they absolutely did not fail to impress and left the audience in a state of admiration for the musical geniuses.
Very pleasant start to the evening. [4/5]
Eternal Rains Will Come
Cusp of Eternity
The Drapery Falls
The Devil’s Orchard
As the set up began for the evening’s headliner, I checked out Hanowar who were playing at the Jagermeister Stage. I’m not a big Manowar fan but this was a pretty decent tribute act. The few songs I heard were just as heroic and fist clenching and uplifting as the Manowar tunes I’ve heard before, so it was admirable to see a tribute band putting some real effort into being like their idols. [3/5]
So there we all were, once again. The day dying fast and the stage set for another headline performance capable of blowing your socks off. That was if your socks could be blown off by a Dutch act capable of singing Rock Opera with a metallic twist.
Yes, Dutch symphonic veterans Within Temptation took to the stage in all their glory. This band had garnered some controversy in the months leading up to the fest, but I must remind bloodstock newbies that Within Temptation played the festival in 2005. So here they were, back for the first time in 10 years to give a stellar performance.
And stellar might not be appropriate a term. Yes, I did enjoy Within Temptation and am pleased I’ve seen them now as I enjoy the odd bit of Symphonic Metal, but I felt their tides of sound weren’t quite up to scratch.
I’ve regarded symphonic metal as being likeable to opera, but this show didn’t quite hit that spot.
Every now and again I noticed Sharon den Adel touching her diaphragm which said she was having trouble hitting the high note. That didn’t make the songs awful; it just felt we’d caught the band on an off day.
Plus, I have to say that I hate video tapes being played at live gigs. Music videos are something I’ve come to loathe and the ones being played behind the band were nothing more than a distraction from the actual performance.
I really did not like it when they played the video featuring rapper Xzibit. It would have been better if they’d brought him along as a special guest, but no, they had to settle for another cheap performance that would’ve been more appropriate for a kid watching Scuzz.
But this act’s flaws weren’t all doom and gloom, when it came to playing track: Ice Queen – a personal favourite – the song cut out as the band reached crescendo; three times in a row.
This cut out was delivered with inadvertently perfect comic timing. My friends and I were laughing as the cut made a sound similar to a needle scratching vinyl. And we did enjoy the band improvising, especially the drummer playing an almost inaudible solo which prompted several jokes involving the band Quiet Riot.
And even though they missed my favourite of their songs, Within Temptation closed their set with a brilliant finale. They were up and down at most, but still had that stage presence European symphonic acts are famous for. Good job nonetheless. [3.5/5]
In the Middle of the Night
Our Solemn Hour
Fire and Ice
Stand My Ground
And We Run
What Have You Done
Edge of the World
The Heart of Everything
Covered By Roses
So that was it, the Saturday was over and the partying took to another level as we drank and gossiped late into the night awaiting the final day of audible bliss.
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