Bloodstock Open Air 2016 @ Catton Hall, Derbyshire

Saturday

After one very satisfying Friday in the serene Derbyshire field, the Saturday dawned brightly after a light shower, which had to be a foretelling of how good a day was in store for  the thousands of metal heads waking up from many a good slumber.

BOA2016
BOA2016

(GH) For those metalheads needing a bit of respite for their ears, Bloodstock has the usual Festival Fayre, lots of stalls selling everything from jewellery to silly hats to band stuff to stuff made out of recycled skateboards. Definitely good for a bit of a browse.

BOA2016
BOA2016

With the usual fun fair, and sickening looking rides  for those that want to get an aerial view of the site as well as speed freaks.

BOA2016
BOA2016

There are also numerous cos play people walking around, Judges (from Judge Dredd), robots and all manner of other photo ops!

BOA2016
BOA2016

There is also some theatre in the form of a Strongest Man at Bloodstock competition and also “The Battle of the Nations”. The latter is one of the most bizarre things I’ve seen in a long while.

BOA2016
BOA2016

Basically a couple of teams of blokes (I think they were all men!) covered head to toe in medieval armour batter the living daylights out of one another with blunt weapons.

BOA2016
BOA2016

The point be to get your opponent onto the ground. This, while it should have been most disturbing was actually difficult to tear yourself away from and pretty amusing in a sick kind of way too!

BOA2016
BOA2016

(GH) I’ve been looking forward to seeing the reformed Kill II This for quite a while – when they were originally doing the rounds many years ago I always thought they were sadly overlooked and really one of the most under-rated bands on the circuit.

Kill II This
Kill II This

They still sound really good, and Mark Mynett looks overjoyed to be playing live with the band again. The old songs still resonate and, I’m sure, take many folks back in time.

Kill II This
Kill II This

They certainly draw a decent crowd. I’d definitely like to catch them in a smaller, more intimate venue. Highlight of the set is closer “The Flood”, a piece of songwriting genius!

Kill II This
Kill II This

It did take a while to find sustenance and gather the right crowd to go into the arena with but eventually I made in on time to catch British Death/Doom supergroup Vallenfyre.

Vallenfyre
Vallenfyre

Consisting of band members from classic acts like Paradise Lost and At The Gates, this was one band who pulled no punches in their performance.

Vallenfyre
Vallenfyre

I’ve been getting more and more into Doom Metal this past year and I must say I love it most with plenty of Death and Black Metal fusions. Vallenfyre brought home some of the finest Doom riffs and Death Metal vocals that only the North of England can create.

Vallenfyre
Vallenfyre

Death/Doom is a fusion that a lot haven’t heard much of in recent years so it was fun to hear the age old area kept alive by those who know it best. And the stage presence was fantastic too. All these guys were professionals in many an area of extreme metal so we had one hell of a performance.

Vallenfyre
Vallenfyre

It was gloomy, Death ridden, putrefying and catchy as hell. Good start to the day from Vallenfyre.

Setlist:

Scabs / Odious Bliss / Cathedrals of Dread / Bereft / Instinct Slaughter / Savage Arise / Splinters / Desecration

(GH) The Raven Age play melodic metal with panache.

The Raven Age
The Raven Age

The vocals of Michael Burrough really do raise the bar on their sound and there is much interest because one of the guitarists (George Harris) is the son of Iron Maiden bassist Steve Harris.

The Raven Age
The Raven Age

I’m happy to report that there is more substance to The Raven Age than just hype around this fact and that they’re definitely not relying on dads impressive pedigree! Good band to catch for sure.

The Raven Age
The Raven Age

Then it was time for something a long way away from the Death/Doom gods. In fact, several worlds away to be precise. On the Jager stage, giving a good rendition of Blues and Psychedelia laden traditional metal were the band Cybernetic Witch Cult.

This group are best described as something out-of-this-world – that is if Cornwall is a whole other world to you and a local band obsessed with 1950s science fiction movies sounds quite alien.

Here were a band who loved the use of sound bites and they introduced almost every song with a blast from the past – getting us fired up to survive whatever impending doom lay from beyond the atmosphere.

An excellent performance that was lovingly camp, heartwarming and upbeat. It was great these guys had the right sense of humour to take on any anxiety inducing problems in recent history and tell us that science fiction is a useful tool oh human survival.

Wonderful job and a great delivery of fine Bluesy musicianship.

By now all were in very high spirits. Many a palate had been freshly wet with a good range of metal. And things only went from better to something in the realms of perfection, for up next were the band of the whole weekend.

Akercocke. The London Black Metal ensemble whom a lot of people had come to this festival just to see. Five years on hiatus meant the stakes were high for these guys to give a stellar performance.

Akercocke
Akercocke

And stellar would be an understatement worthy of nothing less than prosecution. For Akercocke lived up to everything the crowd had set forth.

Akercocke
Akercocke

Everything was tight, the guitars synced well with the blast beats and progressive drum patterns, the clean vocals echoed across the field and the guttural screams gave off as many spine tingles as any veteran Black Metal group can do.

Akercocke
Akercocke

 Akercocke are a band who know how to incorporate many deep ranges of influence and still maintain the Black Metal structure the scene is known for.

Akercocke
Akercocke

One extremely intelligent band worth recommending to anyone. And the most memorable of all the groups this day.

Akercocke
Akercocke

Take note , for Akercocke is where the true satanic mantras of UK Black Metal is at.

Setlist:

Leviathan / Scapegoat / Verdelet / Inner Sanctum / Son of the Morning / The Dark Inside / Zulieka / Becoming the Adversary

BOA2016
BOA2016

So the cream of UK Black Metal had showcased its talents that morning, then it was time for something just as evil from the faraway land of Greece but before that….

(GH) Time for something a little different on the Sophie stage in the shape of Vodun.

Vodun
Vodun

Billed as offering afro, metal, soul doom it wasn’t that clear what they were going to sound like to be honest. Basically, live they are a vocalist, drummer and guitarist.

Vodun
Vodun

While the guitar sound of Marassa is certainly not typical metal (and not really to my taste either) there is no denying that the three piece as a whole make an engaging diversion from the standard metal sound we’ll be listening to for the rest of the weekend.

Vodun
Vodun

The vocals of Oya are particualrly impressive, this is a woman who really knows how to sing. Strangley engaging…..

Rotting Christ, the band who put the ancient land on the Black Metal map arrived. Having released their twelfth album Rituals this year, they were in town to promote their take on the Dark Metal genre.

Rotting Christ
Rotting Christ

Their history is laden with plenty of direction changes, beginning as a humble Grindcore band and then pretty much inventing the Gothic Black Metal genre, Rotting Christ are now in the realms of bands like Amorphis and Paradise Lost while not forgetting their Black roots.

Rotting Christ
Rotting Christ

This band certainly know how to put on one hell of a show – complete with some of the meanest crowd surfing in ages. What a great way to showcase the passion and anger of a nation so in dire need of help at this moment in time.

Rotting Christ
Rotting Christ

However much Greece might be in trouble it was delighting to see its Metal has not waned too. Excellent job Christ – may you never rot the wrong way.

Rotting Christ
Rotting Christ

Setlist:

Ze Nigmar / Kata ton Demona Eautou / Athanati Este / Elthe Kyrie / Apage Satana / The Sign of Evil / Existence / The Forest of N’Gai / Societas Satanas / In Yumen-Xibalba / Noctis Era

Themes of darkness and the occult or the unknown are all very well at a Metal festival, but it’s good to have variety. And plenty of variety was on show net for American Industrial veterans Fear Factory arrived to play a nice rendition of Sci-Fi and technology themed anthems to suit anyone who loves video games or music with a technical bite.

Fear Factory
Fear Factory
Fear Factory
Fear Factory

This band meant business, though having not listened to any of their records before the festival they gave something stellar, even though the sound engineering didn’t seem as on point as earlier on.

Fear Factory
Fear Factory

Nevertheless they pleased many members of the crowd and the grooves coming from the speakers were memorable enough for all to know this band were here to stay.

Fear Factory
Fear Factory
Fear Factory
Fear Factory

Nice job Fear Factory, good riffs and keys to see in the afternoon.

Fear Factory
Fear Factory

Setlist:

Demanufacture / Self Bias Resistor / Zero Signal / Replica / New Breed / Dog Day Sunrise / Body Hammer / Flashpoint / H-K (Hunter Killer) / Pisschrist / A Therapy for Pain

(GH) A quick check on Misanthrope – these guys play melodic death metal. It’s proficient and sounds pretty good but they look a little staid compared to all of the younger bands on the Sophie stage (not wanting to be ageist…).

Misanthrope
Misanthrope

Vocalist Phillipe De L’Argiliere jokes that “we’re from France, but we’re not Gojira”. Sadly quite a true statement…..

Every year when I go to a festival, there’s always one band I anticipate more than any other, which might be because they’re the ones I’ve listened to most in the lead up to the performance.

Paradise Lost
Paradise Lost

This year it was the turn of Gothic Metal forefathers Paradise Lost, the guys who put Yorkshire on the global metal map.

Paradise Lost
Paradise Lost

Paradise Lost released their fourteenth album, The Plague Within last year and came to play many a number from the very impressive symphony.

Paradise Lost
Paradise Lost

And said performance came back as nothing short of magnificent.

Paradise Lost
Paradise Lost

Everything was on point, the riffs of their recent album No Hope In Sight filled many a heart with all the warmth and tenderness and outright rage only Gothic Metal can deliver.

Paradise Lost
Paradise Lost

Nick Holmes’s vocals struck as something out of this world, even as he joked about how irritating it was to have the sun in his eyes as the band ploughed through track after track.

Paradise Lost
Paradise Lost

And it wasn’t just the recent stuff they had on show, several old school favourites from albums like Draconian Times made a guest appearance before ending on the fan favourite: Say Just Words from the band’s Goth Rock days.

Paradise Lost
Paradise Lost

Paradise Lost have led a fruitful and quirky career having experimented with electronic music in the last few decades and have gone back to their Gothic roots and even brought up some of their Doom beginnings here and there so all were very pleased with this appearance.

Imagine Metallica meets Sisters of Mercy, and that’s Paradise Lost for you. Marvellous time.

Paradise Lost
Paradise Lost

Setlist:

No Hope In Sight / Pity the Sadness / Hallowed Land / Rapture / Flesh from Bone / Eternal / Beneath Broken Earth / The Enemy / The Last Time / Embers Fire / Say Just Words

BOA2016
BOA2016

(GH) Bull Riff Stampede up the anti on the Sophie stage with some ultra heavy riffing and some supersonic speed. Nice and technical too with just about the right balance without sounding too widdly!

Bull Riff Stampede
Bull Riff Stampede

There are many a band who make the many different subgenres of Metal nothing more than mind blowing to the happy punters who consume their work. And the group who made Progressive Death Metal nothing short of incredible were Gojira.

Gojira
Gojira

All the way from France, Gojira delighted Bloodstock twice before.

Gojira
Gojira

And once again, the band were full of rage and ecological passion as they had been in recent years.

Gojira
Gojira

This was one stellar performance, many a spark of anxiety to warm the hearts of those concerned about the world around them.

Gojira
Gojira

Even in the past they’d put on one hell of a show despite having lost most of their equipment on the way to the festival, and the anger that comes with such an escapade gave rise to excellence and this was nothing short of that.

Gojira
Gojira

Gojira simply came on stage and gave it all they had. All they could offer in a way that progression in one truly extreme medium can give.

Gojira
Gojira

This band are more than a band, they are artists who’ll amaze you eternally for you never know what they’re going to do next.

Gojira
Gojira

Setlist:

Toxic Garbage Island / L’Enfant Sauvage / The Heaviest Matter of the Universe / Silvera / Stranded / Flying Whales / Wisdom Comes / Backbone / Terra Inc / Only Pain / Oroborus / Vacuity

BOA2016
BOA2016

The progressives of Metal music seemed to dominate a lot of this day, for the headliners then rounded off the Saturday, consisting of the Prog band, all the way from Atlanta: Mastodon.

Mastodon
Mastodon

.

Mastodon
Mastodon

This was a band with a very surreal appearance. Behind the Atlantans were projections of kaleidoscope style colours which would remind any film buff of 2001: A Space Odyssey et al.

Mastodon
Mastodon

Said colours blended nicely with the pristine delivery of chord progressions and impressive vocals. Personally, this is the first band I’ve seen where the main vocals are delivered predominantly by the drummer so a nice move there.

Mastodon
Mastodon

It was now clear why the band are so popular, their live shows feel like something out of a Stanley Kubrick film or anything remotely arthouse.

Mastodon
Mastodon

That’s something a lot of people into Prog music and themes of other worlds and science fiction would love to listen to, so that was one worthwhile ending to one good day of metal.

Mastodon
Mastodon

Setlist:

Tread Lightly / Feast Your Eyes / Blasteroid / Oblivion / The Motherload / Iron Tusk / Mother Puncher / Chimes at Midnight / High Road / Aqua Dementia / The Czar /Bladecatcher /Black Tongue /Ember City /The Wolf is Loose / Crystal Skull /Divinations / Megalodon / Colony of Birchmen / Blood and Thunder

The weekend now felt it had reached its peak, for the Saturday was now at a close and all celebrated well by staying up until the early hours of the morning.

BOA2016
BOA2016

The festival spirit had not been dampened by any kind of bad performance or whatever the UK weather tried to throw at us, so many were very pleased in deciding to attend the festival this year.

Could the final day top all I had seen this beautiful Saturday? Only one good night’s sleep was left before the truth was unleashed.

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