And so the sun arose that Friday morning to see in the first full day of metal, moshing and aural bliss.
(GH) Opening the festival on Friday morning we had Hark. Playing to a small, blurry eyed crowd, they put on a spirited performance, playing quite sludgy metal. It was a good way to ease the masses into a day of metal without shaking them too much, too early!
Next, I caught the Scottish Power Metal bards Gloryhammer. What a performance they put on!
Gloryhammer has to be the ultimate nerd band. Take all the camp, slapstick violence of some 80s and 90s cartoons, mix in the chivalry and adventure of a good Dungeons & Dragons session and blend in some catchy as hell power chords and you’ll have the Scottish contingent.
They sing tracks about how unicorns were invading their hometown of Dundee or how some members were to become the next ruler of California and something about space marines in 1992.
In all, this was the best band to put on if your mates are live for the likes of Game of Thrones and Star Wars.
I certainly felt my inner nerd for Warhammer and Dune had been awoken so thank you Gloryhammer for one truly camp show of strength and agility in the field.
Infernus Ad Astra / Rise of the Chaos Wizards / Legend of the Astral Hammer / Hail to Crail / Questlords of Inverness, Ride to the Galactic Fortress / The Hollywood Hootsman / Universe on Fire / The Unicorn Invasion of Dundee / The National Anthem of Unst
Up next were one highly anticipated band who take a lot of pride in their stage shows, and that was Evil Scarecrow. But a bit too much of the performance was devoted to how the band appeared and not really the music.
Sure Evil Scarecrow are a show band with plenty of robots and cosplay accomplices that could rival Gwar on a good day, and they had the crowd doing a version of the robot dance in unison – but this band have become a little too ‘kid friendly’.
That’s not to say metal isn’t for kids, there were plenty there this year which is great, but Evil Scarecrow lost some of their sting by making the audience participation a little too important in their set.
Everyone else around me seemed to be having a good time but this wasn’t the sort of band I’d go see night after night if possible.
Nice show either way Evil Scarecrow.
Frankingstein’s Mirror / Robototron / Hurricanado / End Level Boss / Space Dementia / Crabulon
(GH) A throng of photographers then made their way over to the Sophie stage with the promise of a band with masks to photograph!
Anticlone did indeed live up to expectations with an array of strange visuals.
Musically they’re actually pretty good too, with riffs that are instantly hooks and a backing track adding some depth too. They are decent musicians as well – one to watch I think….
(GH) Misery loves Co will be familiar to anyone who’s been into metal for (quite) a few years.
They called it a day in 2000 and have just re-emerged following a 16 year silence! Playing sort of industrial metal it was good to see them blow out the cobwebs and hearing some of the old songs made me a little bit nostalgic.
Definitely a band to catch on a smaller stage though, I’m not sure they are at their best on a massive festival stage.
Spirits might have waned slightly, but they were certainly revitalised in all the right ways by what came next. On the Jagermeister stage, playing their first festival show were London based Folk Metal minstrels: Isarnos.
One thing many love about Folk Metal is its use of indigenous instruments and themes, and what a better band to bring such exquisite vibes to the fest than a seven-piece complete with a violinist, a hurdy-gurdy player and a bagpipe carrying vocalist.
Blown away would be an understatement for Isarnos. These guys rode forth onto the proverbial battlefield and scorched the earth of all evil several times; then they blew the place to kingdom come and back again.
A good rendition of many tales of adventure complete with images of battles and quests into the unknown came to mind as I and the crowd cheered and bellowed along to Isarnos’s sing-along melodies and rhythm changes.
If you like your Folk Metal to be something out of this world then please check out Isarnos.
Continuing the hunt for new blood and who could become a headliner in the near future, London Black Metal act Vehement were on the New Blood stage.
In the past they’d supported the likes of Hecate Enthroned and other UKBM veterans, and here they were once again on the stage to prove their interesting take on the genre was festival worthy.
Vehement have gone from strength to strength in the past few years and I enjoy their vicious deliveries of Black Metal which shuns the regular themes of Satanism and general terror and gives rise to a music full of everyday hardships and anxiety. This was a good band who almost tread into DSBM territory but still regain their individuality.
Vehement remained as tight and crisp as expected, even with a not so impressive sound engineer that day. A very good job.
(GH) Next, The Charm The Fury put in a fine performance on the Sophie stage, heavy on the fury, lighter on the charm.
This was nother interesting band, with aggressive female vocals in the shape of Caroline Westendorp with the odd bit of “charming” singing intersposed as well.
Overall it was pretty aggressive performance that is bound to have sparked some further interest in the metal masses watching and I’ll definitely be checking out the recorded material.
Something new was then followed by something slightly older, for Bloodstock took a trip down memory lane with the band who breached the gap between Punk and Stoner Metal.
Taking to the main stage were Deep South veterans Corrosion of Conformity – the band who made themes of society and politics something of a mainstay in the canon of Sludge and Stoner Rock music.
This is a band to check out if you love the blues in your metal. It was a nice back to roots venture which was nice and clear for the entire crowd. Corrosion had played once before at Bloodstock 2012 and they hadn’t been quite on point then, but here they seemed to have come back with a good new lineup of members and having tightened their output.
They said they had a new album coming out soon so it’ll be worth checking out. They are a band who’ve been on the road long enough to find their own sound and they’re exploiting it to the Nth degree.
Bottom Feeder / Broken Man / Seven Days / Seor Limpio / Vote with a Bullet / Who’s Got the Fire / Albatross / Clean My Wounds
Now for another classic. We had the band credited with inventing what I like to call the greatest music genre of all time: Black Metal.
Yes, all the way from Newcastle we had Geordie veterans Venom, playing their first UK gig in over 10 years.
Venom are a band many have come to see as one who gained a following and reputation for their gigs being stupendously bad. They’re like watching a really bad B-Movie that is so dreadful you can’t take your eyes off it.
So-bad-it’s-good was the best way to describe the performance given by the Geordies. They raged on throughout the classics with many a good tune about Satan and hell and all things that would make a church warden reach for their emergency vial of holy water.
But as said the whole thing was a joke and even though the sound engineering was quite good, this band didn’t care for how high or low their fidelity was, they just got on with the show.
It was good of frontman Cronos to say that any good festivals should be at night as that’s the best time to listen to some metal. Besides that he cracked the odd joke and everyone around me seemed to be having a good time no matter how bad it might have been.
For a group who pride themselves on their shambles of a performance, this was actually pretty good. Nice to see Venom still on the road after 30 years and having not changed one bit.
Long Haired Punks / The Death of Rock N Roll / Bloodlust / Welcome to Hell / Countess Bathory / Fallen Angels / From the Very Depths / Rip Ride / Hammerhead / The Evil One / Resurrection / Pedal to the Metal / Grinding Teeth / Warhead / Rise / Black Metal
A great day so far, and as the sun began to set, things only got better.
Now it was time for the 2012’s headliners to swarm forth and give us the best renditions of their world famous vibes.
Polish legends Behemoth took to the main stage and within minutes they had the crowd under the thumb with a lively and brutal rendition of 2014 release ‘The Satanist’ in its entirety.
Frontman Nergal has certainly not let his spirits and talents be dampened by his personal hardships over the years, and in its short history, ‘The Satanist’ seems to have aged well both in terms of themes and in instrumentation.
Here was a band who has mastered the ability to sound tight and steadfast in their stage performances which boded well with the use of a confetti cannon and pyrotechnics.
This was the sixth time I’d seen the band and I have to say they haven’t mellowed in the slightest.
This was a wonderful way to see in the evening, as the sun set into a shade of crimson brilliance as foretold by the amber flashes of the fire and flames that Nergal sent up into the crowd.
Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel / Furor Divinus / Messe Noire / Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer / Amen / The Satanist / Ben Sahar / In The Absence ov Light / O Father O Satan O Sun! / Ov Fire and the Void / Chant for Ezkaton
(GH) Appearing as they were over on the Sophie Lancaster Stage, Beyond the Black are another band with a female vocalist although a very different sound from The Charm The Fury who played earlier in the day.
Definitely shifting to the symphonic metal end of the spectrum with nice clean vocals and some nice backing track elements, the band is really a vehicle for Jennifer Habens fine voice.
Just before Bloodstock, it looks like the rest of the band split from her so the fact that I was even able to watch the band now was pretty impressive. Even more impressive is that they actually sound well rehearsed and tight.
Not bad for a set of musicians that’s been together for just a few weeks!
Excitement and bliss fuelled by whatever everyone had consumed that day was now rife among the crowd as the heavily anticipated headliners arrived to play, unfortunately, their last ever UK show.
Twisted Sister pull no punches and vocalist Dee Snider was quick to remind the crowd that this was the last ever Sister gig and they won’t be making a sudden comeback in years to come like Judas Priest or Kiss.
So without further ado they got on with the show playing many a great Glam Metal classic which propelled the five piece to fame in the 1980s.
These included all the classics of ‘It’s Only Rock N Roll (But I Like It)’ and ‘Like a Knife in the Back’.
The entire lineup was out in full force with the exception of drummer A.J. Pero who died last year. But their touring drummer Mike Portnoy (Dream Theatre) did a fantastic job of blasting through all these classics and making everyone feel like they were watching Sister in their heyday.
Dee Snider certainly is one heck of a vocalist and hype man by how he cracked jokes and told the crowd about how great the UK has been to the band over the years. Plus guitarist Jay Jay French thanked the crowd numerously for all their support.
It all came to an end on one of the most energetic renditions of Sister’s signature anthem ‘We’re Not Gonna Take It’, which made many pleased to know they’d seen the band before they’d called it quits.
A fun end to a truly exciting day. Twisted Sister are a classic band who brought metal the global awareness it has today. Great fun for all the family.
What You Don’t Know (Sure Can Hurt You) / The Kids are Back / Burn in Hell / Destroyer / Like a Knife in the Back / You Can’t Stop Rock N Roll / The Fire Still Burns / I Am (I’m Me) / I Wanna Rock / The Price / I Believe in Rock N Roll / Under the Blade / We’re Not Gonna Take It / It’s Only Rock N Roll (But I Like It) / Come Out and Play / Shoot Em Down / S.M.F.
And so that was the end of the first day and I felt good knowing this festival had delivered another impressive lineup after so many years. I then went back to camp eagerly awaiting the next day’s shenanigans.