Review by Demitri Levantis
Photography by Billy Edmunds
Britain’s biggest and most prominent Metal festival, Bloodstock Open Air opened its doors to thousands upon thousands of metalheads this weekend. Having expanded in size and playing host to several new campsites to showcase its rise in popularity.
Last year the festival had sold out of tickets and so the weekend was all set and prepared for four nights of partying, drinking, happiness and above all: Metal.
The weekend began on the calm, warm Thursday afternoon with people flooding in to pitch tent and wait for their all-time favourite musicians to take to the stage. Midgard, Valhalla and Asgard filled up quickly, with new blood sites like Ironwood taking a fair share of the crowd.
Thursday 9th August
By 6pm the festival was swarming and the arena was opened for the first band of the weekend to appear on the Sophie Lancaster stage.
Hundred Year Old Man (HYOM) a post Sludge group from Leeds came on to open the festival in the only way Sludge Metal can do so.
The songs were drawn out, slow, energetic yet psychedelic as Sludge marries two opposites together to give an extreme form of Stoner music to the listener who might be more acquainted with thrash or death genres.
Whilst the band appeared to be having a good time, the sound of the group did not appear to jump out for this critic, in fact, it felt like a drone, and not a particularly good one. Granted, the fans around seemed to enjoy it so it felt as though the band were doing their job, so a fun opening act.
Next up, after taking a walk around the arena and several camps to locate many groups of friends, it was time for a band who make good usage of bagpipes: an ancient yet stable instrument in the worlds of folk metal.
Skilltron, all the way from Buenos Aires took to the stage and blasted us nicely and lovingly with a deep and heroic concoction of bagpipe themed Celtic Metal.
South America would seem like the last place you’d find folk metal, or even Celtic themed bands, but no, Skilltron had it in them to appear and sound like a band all the way from our noble and proud neighbour to the north.
Many a fine tale of Scottish history or myths and legends of the emerald isle bounced around the tent with the piper sounding like he was leading a highlander regiment into battle.
The hype was up and Skilltron had given Bloodstock its first dose of battle-hardened agility. Ready to brave the rest of the party.
Lashings of folk metal and tales of mythical creatures didn’t stop there, for up a little later in the Sophie tent was a band all the way from Russia.
Arkona, armed with many indigenous instruments and a fiery attitude to tell the world some of the best tales of their native land were giving the festival what it needed.
Vocalist Masha “Scream” had the small but devoted crowd in the palm of her hand and was belting note after note to hype everyone into a bawdy but happy frenzy of drinking and good moves.
The thing about Folk Metal is it’s an excellent genre of party music. Drinking songs, tales of adventure and campfire-style musicianship make up some of the best folk bands in the metal lexicon. And now Arkona have solidified themselves as the ones here to stay.
Mantra/Shtom/Tseluya Zhizn/Khram/V Pogonye Za Beloy Tenyu/Mantra/Goi Rode Goi/ Zakliatie/Skvoz Tuman Vekov/Stenka na Stenku/Yarilo
An excellent mix of bands to open up the first evening and by now the arena was packed full of happy metalheads sampling the foods, fine ales, wines and non-alcoholic beverages which carried on deep into the night.
Much fun and frolicks and good music lay ahead. Continued on page 2 (link below)