With the mouth watering selection of bands to choose from today with the likes of the New Blood talent and acts on the main stage [Ronnie James Dio] and Sophie Lancaster stage. With the inspirational troupe of artists waiting back stage to perform it’s both exciting and important to understand that this is a metal community with lots of talent in every band.
The prevalent performances of the future headlines from the New Blood and the calibre of the Sophie and Jägermeister Truck stage are just as important as the main stage.
New Blood Stage
Walking to the arena this morning there are a few misplaced bins, a few used beer cans and of course plenty of bits of silly string, ready to wash the hang over off the early bird crowd made their way to the New blood Stage for Goat Leaf [3.5/5] a four piece from Rotherham.
Opening with a concoction of chunky bass lines, sludge-doom tactics and a comparable tuning to that of doom legends Sleep, working and winning the crowd over is a keen objective for the band and successful they are. Playing tracks from two albums worth of material it’s not too surprising that this band are going to keep striving ever upwards.
Having to dip in and out of seeing the bands over the various stages the additional highlight of the New Blood Stage includes South East London’s Darkeye [3/5] who are as corrosive as they are easy to enjoy, using a classic combination of riffs that are more downtrodden than the grass underfoot. From the pure stomps of heavy metal slices that are powerful, ridiculously catchy and overall delivered with a ferocious passion that lingered about the canvas performance area.
With a mix of heavy metal/death vibes and triplet beats meeting with catastrophic moments of Fear Factory with the pro-drilling punches of Burton C Bell’s harsh tones, they play to a good sized crowd, packed with lots of local faces to the band. Overall the band bring the crowd a showcase of really violent tenacity that gains and creates an audio punishment that is totally worth it!
Over at the Sophie Stage the riff masters of London are ready to attack, Gurt [3.5/5] hit straight away with a wrist hammering of pure clunking rhythms and a cool blend of influence and individuality making the sound bake somewhere between liquid nitrogen lyrics and hardening tarmac musical endeavors.
A set inclusive of seven vicious slices from the band’s back catalogue including numbers such as “Horrendosaurus” from the new album of the same title. Along with greatly named tracks “Soapfest” with none other than the bombastic vocal talents of Diesel King fame. The vocal talents are comparable to each other being the perfect high and low versions of each other. Concluding the set with “Dudes with Beards with Cats” makes for a perfect mess of finely ground gallops of crunch. Nice!
Jägermeister Truck Stage
The small canvas covered stage is set up with concoctions of ginger beer, red bull and Jägermeister whose fumes plume around like a fine summers day. While on the stage a different liquor is fueling the ideas behind Ten foot Wizard [3.5/5] the band whose sound of Heavy stoner rock with funk tributes instantly rumbles the foundations to the area. With intro music of Ski Sunday the banter begins, with no time to waste.
The Jägermeister stage needs to be bigger as the small stage/tent packed out to hear the obligatory wax lyrical about sunshine, women and booze. Overall the bands set was fun, funky and a solid performance. Notably the stage’s offerings this year are of a greater doom calibre, not complaining, it’s nice to see some variety.
Oxford based Undersmile [4.5/5] are up next, the beautiful banshees whom come clad in red bearing a viper look in their eyes. Armed with guitars ready to vibrate the amps to the lowest setting and cause ear drum havoc,and their blend of classic doom drenched tar styled slowness. These temptresses are the perfect summoner of the Hurricane Bertha whose clouds drew ever closer throughout the set, with each chugging chord change another cloud arrived.
The bands performance is the polar opposite to their acoustic counterpart Coma Wall [4.5/5], with high tones and nice chunky riffs that explode across the ears sound ability. After a pure indulgence of excellence that is as refreshing to find as it is tingly to the reverb loving , they have carved out a truly unique sound that is bloody brilliant.
Over on the V.I.P stage South East London’s fabulously groovy rockers Zocalo [4/5] turn a head or two with their powerfully infectious rock driven tunes from latest album “Sunrise”. The band bring with them a collection of beautiful re-imagined versions of unique classics, making them sound even more like they need a warm day and a barbecue.
Having played previously on the New blood stage the band are this time back as with acoustic and jazzy tones which suit Sarah’s soaring bluesy vocals down to a tee; the troupe really showed how their mixture of heavy-blues, hard grooving could transcend and appeal to all. Fantastic job!
Ronnie James Stage
With a prime objective in mind to see most of the bands on the main stage, dedicated and named after the legendary Ronnie James Dio RIP, it is time for the bubbling crowd to get their teeth into the masterful Entomed AD [3/5]
Explaining the relevance and influence of Entombed is probably as superfluous as pointing out why Slayer rule, Lemmy is bigger than God and the passing of Dio was the greatest loss in metal history.
From the outset the troupe work their magic through a series of new and old tracks, which despite the name change; let the music speak for itself because at the end of the day, that’s what festivals are all about, right? Heavy music for heavy music fans.
Entombed A.D. has all its weapons polished and reloaded for this set and isn’t afraid to use them. As they treat the crowd to one monumental smattering recipe for slick adrenaline after another that all made you want to break your neck to over a blast beat.
The band are down a vital member but have bounced back on the live scene without founding guitarist Alex Hellid, they are sharp and they’re poised to begin the next phase of their careers. With a very simplistic and accepted traditional front man style the band is led by Petrov’s trademark half-growls/half-shouts.
You can hear the simmering resentment and hostility of what the band have going through tough times of late, and if anything that has made them play harder, faster and with more momentum to produce the quality music they are known for.
The choice to play older material through this set is a wise move as many fans are there too see the old band celebrated with a mosh riot through a fantastic set, closing with the incredible two songs in ‘Left Hand Path’ and ‘Supposed to Rot’. Sadly it’s not quite the same band they used to be but at least they made the effort to perform with precision and professional output.
The Irish mystical and mysterious tribe Primordial [3.5/5] are next the troupe step away from the shadow of their 2011 performance – during which front man AA Nemtheanga’s vocals were suddenly cut out, today however, they are stronger than ever!
Back today with a fantastic stage show that provoked an emphasis on their own brand of black metal. With a great sound embellishing a fondness for the use of high end treble and fuzz from just one guitar to create a bleak atmosphere.
The ferocious grey toned lion was back with the omen of playing the same song as the fatal incident hasn’t hindered the performance and in fact made for an attribute this time around. Dressed like a calmer version of Behemoth, the front man was ready to deliver tales of the Emerald Isle’s woodland.
Opening with “No Grave Deep Enough” whose dark growls into pure intensity are significantly part of the bands history lesson set, inclusive of tracks “Bloodied yet Unbowed” and “The Coffin Ships” that all go down a right treat.
Utilizing the powerful, epic sounding riffs with the animation of a stunning bass performance, crunching drums and whirl of guitars, Primordial gave a powerful sound.
Primordial’s sound hints at something far more timeless; the peal of their haunting pagan anthems echo like the Celtic kinsman of Bathory.
There is sadly only one problem with the set, and that is; that all of the bands songs were eight minutes plus in length and only had forty to showcase them all in, still they made the most of it and for a band spanning three decades, it’s not bad going.
Ending with “Empire Falls” opener to “To The Nameless Dead” it is a superb way to conclude what has been a journey through the darker ages within folk with a hybrid of cleanly sung darkened metal . Sounding like a cleaner version of Enslaved, it’s not all said and done until a crowd member or two gives them a bubble salute.
No Grave Deep Enough
As Rome Burns
Bloodied Yet Unbowed
The Coffin Ships
Back in 1987 when the Arizona thrash five piece Flotsam and Jetsom [4/5] last visited these shores [they began apologising a lot for this] it was on the eve of departure and switching of characters, but back this year they are geared up and ready to play a wide range of their classical fast paced madness.
Famous for them holding former Metallica member Jason Newstead in their arsenal, the band carry a heavy chip on their shoulders and don’t let that stop them performing something monumental.
Variety is king at Bloodstock and this year there are some truly mouth watering bands to be getting a head band in tune for, but there is nothing quite like a bit of solid thrash to set the course for some real excitement. Especially after being trapped in a trance of folklore, it’s a stark punch that I think the crowd are ready for as it’s only a small matter of time before the middle of the floor space becomes a lot bruisier.
Bringing a fresh look on the past the band complete a set to new fans and old that have been dying to see them for the longest of stretches. Similar to the revival of Coroner, the band are strong willed and not afraid to start pumping their anthem worthy thrash into every audience member .
Indeed, singer Eric A.K. still possesses his impressive vocal abilities that put an abundance of younger bands to same. Catchy riffs and an insistence of speed appropriately spawn a flurried mosh pit. All combined with the heavy tuned triumphs of punk and the brash fullness of full headed tunes that mixed to make something resonating of the time era and a heavy advisory to modern music.
‘Desecrator’ is a particular highlight to the set as it’s rich blend of dazzling guitar work that demanded full focus. Hopefully, Flotsam and Jetsam will return to the UK soon for a full headlining show.
The set today was something of a pure, driven and frenetic thrash nature which despite a blistering rendition of ‘No Place For Disgrace’, the title track of the newest album, had an old school focus. Defiantly a brave and exciting set from the masters of the old school style. As well as teaching the audience something new about the genre’s problematicmrepetition and convolution that is a mix between the genius and the assembly line.
Dreams of Death
Escape from Within
I Live You Die
No Place for Disgrace
Up next are Prong [3/5] who are going to have a hard time topping those thrash legends.
Armed with their traditional sounds of industrial, metal, post hardcore blends that come with themes of hostility, personal detachment and seething with the urban paranoia at the ready.
It’s to this, that it is a bit sad to find it falling on deaf ears, after such a monumental performance of thrash before them. Personally they are a band that I was least looking forward too and sadly this bands mix of the not quite industrial tinkles and whizzes of sound are frankly not that enjoyable.
Still the sound is strong for them as they work their way through a predominant and exciting set that has the crowd getting more into after a little while of perhaps genre difference re-adjustment. With inspiration to bands such as Nine Inch Nails and the early days of Fear Factory it’s not too surprising that the sound is familiar.
For many crowd members this was like stepping back in time, with a mixture of songs from the band’s back catalog on offer, as the set goes on however most of it is washed away with the sound levels or the lack of them due to the impending storm from over seas, as if the weather wasn’t bad enough here already!
Still, unlike the wind, the band work through it and don’t seem to be dampened by the experience. Especially with a fine display of scissor kicks and catching some air.
Tommy’s stage repertoire is fresh and innovative, that encompasses the audience and really tried to get them involved, the band are also with a new drummer as of this year; Art Cruz who is also full of the energy and brings dynamics you need in a band like this.
Despite everything the band have tried to put into the show, I am still personally not sold on them. Unfortunately it’s been a bit disappointing, probably due to that fact that I didn’t manage to get into them when younger and took the bands who they’ve influenced on instead as teenage heroes.
Lost And Found
Carved Into Stone
Revenge…Best Served Cold
Whose Fist Is This Anyway?
Snap Your Fingers, Snap Your Neck
The dark lord of blackened doom metal Tom G warrior arrives with Triptykon [4/5] in tow, the mesmerizing H.R Giger inspired metal outfit brace the stage again here for the first time since their debut bloodstock appearance in 2011.
With the dark and savage horizon before them and the same attitude of storm pulling and cold winds its no wonder they are a timeless attribute to the extreme metal scene. The basking beauty on bass and the hollow looking demons around her makes the stage more entrancing as the black cast creatures low tones and excellence soon found their way into becoming masters indoctrinating the crowd.
Entering with the wailing intro of “Crucifixus” that spun every wayward head towards the rumbling tones of future ear ache, rolling smoothly into “Black Snow” a new track for the band which led the crowd to be carrying out one of two motions, slight sway and full on gawk.
For those malcontent metal heads that complained Triptykon was too much of a departure from Fischer’s previous works, a cover of Hellhammer’s ‘Messiah’ is aired out and die-hards are ecstatic with this inclusion.
By now the crowd are swept into such a trance that it seems there is no way they’d break free, so it’s a good job it starts to rain so they can move to put a rain coat or two on.
From the ashes of the past bands there is a certain skill and musical prowess that the master of darkness brings with him that makes the performance fantastic.
Altar of Deceit
Messiah (Hellhammer cover)
Winter (Celtic Frostsong) (Outro)
Hardcore veterans Hatebreed [3/5] return with a heavy sounding punch-to-the-face of ‘To the Threshold’.
The heavy bass slams and signature vocals rupture with a strong sense of urgency that sees fans head banging along and raising horns to the air.
As their set ploughs on, the band pull out the groove induced ‘Honour Never Dies’.
Next, the unrelenting prowess of ‘Live For This’ charges onward with solid guitars and deep throated shouts.
Even though most of their songs fell into similar patterns there is something about Hatebreed’s direct and no-nonsense approach to song writing that sinks in with the gathered crowds and they certainly stood out in their own way if nothing else. [Review by Ben Spencer]
Dimmu Borgir [3/5] have one advantage to them and that is a breathtaking visual power , they strive to be as majestic as they can within the confines of reason or budget- depending on how you look at it.
It’s sad to see a band that can excel within the live environment not get their full kit to the best it can be, but despite all of this the band still give it a go with a triumph that deserves some credit.
Working their way through a reduced set inclusive of classics “Progenies of the Great Apocalypse”, the incredibly popular “The Serpentine offering” and the beautifully chaotic “Puritania”. To be honest there was a sense of annoyance to the set that couldn’t get shaken off throughout due to the faults.
Still there was a lot of focus driven on what was salvageable and what there was still brought an impact of slick deep tones of the Satanically rich horrors all with a delicately polyphonic burst.
The crowd were still impressed by their symphonic brand of black metal which began to feel quite atmospheric as the light began to fade in the arena. The crowd responded with a wave of devil horns to signal their appreciation.
Progenies of the Great Apocalypse
Lepers Among Us
The Serpentine Offering
Down [3.5/5] arrive and it’s time for the southern sounding Bastille to arrive.
With the war worn vocal badges from the legendary Phil Anselmo in their arsenal, its not too surprising that all eyes are on them – bringing with the something far from theatrical and all out metal heavy.
After such a collection and variety of genre’s it was a wonder the crowd still had enough energy to think about rocking out some more, yet with bellies of beasts they are summoned as Pantera famed Phil gives them the order to get more pumped than ever- the crowd could only oblige.
The troupe waste little time with crowd politics and have a “We’re going to play, rock hard and leave!” kind of attitude, making efficient use of the time they have been given to work with, not a second of it is wasted.
Coming from a Veteran front man like him; you pay attention to stuff like that, “Thanks for having us this year, it’s so awesome, look at you!” and somewhat prematurely asks, “I wanna see a circle pit, right there, somewhere in the vicinity.” which is met with some half-hearted fisticuffs between a pirate and a clown and a lot of head-banging, rather than the raucous rift Anselmo requests.
With a full on assault of glazed foundations of groove metal the swinging muscular menace that is every part a front man works up the repertoire with the crowd and conducts the cool as fuck orchestra behind and in front of him.
Down are exactly the kind of chuggy heavy metal BOA deserves.The first half was far superior to the the later half of their set, but they redeemed it with “Bury Me In Smoke” to conclude.
Eyes of the South
We Knew Him Well
Lysergik Funeral Procession
Pillars of Eternity
Hail the Leaf
Ghosts Along the Mississippi
Stone the Crow
Walk (Pantera cover) (Snippet)
Bury Me in Smoke