BLOODSTOCK REVIEW: Aug 12-14 2011
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When it comes to a British Metal or Rock festival most people think of Download, Sonisphere or Reading. These big teutonic mainstream festivals take whatever Kerrang, Metal Hammer and NME are telling you to listen to, mix it with a bit of classic dad rock and then charge you almost 200 quid a ticket, on top of that they sponsor it by some 'filthy cup o piss' lager like Tuborg.
And then you have Bloodstock…
Started in 2001 as an indoor festival at the Derby Assembly Rooms, then moved five years later to the outdoor fields of Catton Hall, For many years it was aimed at fans of Classic, Power, Folk and Progressive rock.
Slowly as it's gained a reputation, it has gained in size now boasting an array of Metal bands from the spectrum of sub-genre's that are mostly requested by the fans. And still only around 100 quid a ticket you get a lot more for that value than you would at Download including a decent beer sponsor like, Hob Goblin!
It is an underground nerds dream at times. Last year would have seen the Ronnie James Dio line-up of Black Sabbath, but Cancer tragically got the better of Dio and last year Bloodstock instead named the main-stage after him.
The Second Stage which is tented is called the Sophie Lancaster in tribute to a woman who was attacked- along with her boyfriend- by ASBO wielding thugs because her and boyfriend looked “different”. (A foundation has been set up in her name called Stamp Out Prejudice, Hatred and Intolerance Everywhere)
Sophie Lancaster. Copyright: Raising Awareness for S.O.P.H.I.E facebook Group
Day one (Friday) is already kicking into gear as I reach the main stage for Forbidden with Wolf already getting people into the mood for Metal. Forbidden really get stuck in and listening to them I wonder why they're still one of more underrated bands of the scene. Beer is consumed as the returned Coroner also thrash it out, and it's good to see them on the main stage as they've always been more of a band of legendary status.
As Tom G. Warrior's Tryptikon take to the stage the sky grows ominously darker with the (perpetual) threat of rain. They open with Procreation of the Wicked and from there they play mainly Celtic Frost songs with only one (maybe two, I might have miss counted) actual Trypticon tracks from Eparistera Daimones. Word rumbles through the pit of the immense sound and of course, the hotness of Vanja Slajh, the female bass player whose bass sound is the centre of this rumble. The heavens at one point open up but only to add atmosphere to this already dark and gritty set from the influential master of Doomy Blackened 80's Thrash.
Tryptikon. Copyright: Asya Derbush
Sticking to Thrash, Germany's Kreator have been kicking up a storm for almost 30 years and this is not their first year here. They greet the awaiting mosh pit like family they haven't seen for a while and set about orchestrating the biggest circle pit they can muster. Playing as much as they can, their 45 minute set doesn't seem long enough but, they end up being the most talked about band of the weekend though. Clearly a band that need to come back and headline.
Much has been anticipated for the return of Devin Townsend after last year’s equipment cock up that meant he could only play a fraction of his set. This year the marble headed goon has pulled it together to bring us an unstoppable marathon of Sonic Heavy Metal and interactive comedy from Ziltoid, a hand puppet talking to us from the (stupidly small) screen above the left hand side of the stage.
Devin Townsend. Copyright: Asya Derbush
As fans of Devin know, he bought out the final two albums for his Devin Townsend Project in the shapes of Ghost and Deconstruction just a few months ago. What we get here are mere tasters for when he tours them here later in the year. This guy doesn’t know how to play a crap show. He hulks around the stage looking like Voldemort chucked on a snazzy suit and devoured an 8 ball. His facial expressions will always have me in stitches.
We don't get treated to a live rendition of Hyperdrive (Anneke Van Giersbergen apparently can't jump on a plane to old Blighty) but we do get a Devin 'first time live ever' in the prancing shape of Vampira which closes the set to the biggest applause I heard all weekend if not ever.
Quickly run off to the Sophie Lancaster stage for last half an hour of Lawnmower Death before taking in some W.A.S.P from the comfort of a beer table. They seem on top form and provide the perfect closing soundtrack to a perfect first day.
Copyright: Thrash Hits
Saturday is met with the groaning of a hangover. And it's just not me. It travels across the Midgard camp-site like a mating call of weary Metal heads who have been kept awake all fucking night by some tosspots, wheelie bin jousting.
It's all fun and games at first but you know it's going to end in tears. Fuck them!
Skeletonwitch are first to take to the main stage. And even though before they start I can hear Bludvera throttling an early risen mosh pit on the New Blood stage, they do much to clear a hangover and get things moving.
Drip Back on the Sophie Lancaster stage provided a much needed slap in the face with their familiar breed of Extreme Metal thuggery.
Pure Negative on the New Blood stage belt out an awesome noise boasting members of Ted Maul and Drip Back amongst their ranks. Ihsahn is treat to the ears and live, songs from his solo releases sound better than on record. His backing band are as great to watch as the maestro himself.
The Rotted (formerly Gorerotted) tear the Sophie Lancaster stage to pieces with their brutal Punk Death Metal. Their album has clearly helped them reach a whole new audience as well as keep a lot of us oldies. The Tent is packed. Guitarist Tim Carley is playing minus one finger because an 1800kg flight case fell on it but he's still pummelling out the hits.
Angel Witch headline the Sophie Lancaster stage, a well deserved position for this old school NWOBHM band. Having always had to live in Iron Maiden's shadow these guys are finally getting the recognition they deserve. Fists in the air from almost every person. A new song is premièred as well as classics Sweet Danger, White Witch and the closer, the self-titled Angel With which has become something of a crowd sing along.
Copyright: Thrash Hits
Immortal have been a long time coming to these shores since reforming two years ago and the wait is worth it.
My Kingdom Cold, Sons of Northern Darkness and Tyrants are among the classics torn apart by winter wolves and ravens alike. They're a band with showmanship not just some painted up loon staring dead into nothing. Both Abbath and Apollyon flank either side of the stage and provoke reactions from their baying disciples. Their set is too short and feels over as quickly as it began. A lesson is then learnt why you don't mix drinks and other substances at it's back to the camp-site for more wheelie bin jousting with added vomiting.
Immortal. Copyright: Asya Derbush
The groan of Saturdays hangover would be more welcoming than that of Sundays but, fuck that, Hell are about to open the days proceedings, we must eat toasties, quaff tea and be on our weary way.
If Angel Witch had to spend the past 30 years living someone’s shadow, Hell have had to live in many shadows and today, they come prancing out of it.
A band that formed waaaaay back in the 80's never got a chance to record their debut due to tragedy. But when you have Andy Sneap in the band well, an album you shall finally make.
This band are going to take off over the next year. The second you get over their initial cheesy pompousness you're clapping along with singer David Bower who, uses his stage, film and TV acting career to great effect with his Thespian like stances and hand gestures. This effect is made sans microphone in his hand or being stuck to a mike stand. It's on his face. Music wise these guys have refused to grow up until the world has heard them, sticking very much to an 80's NWOBHM sound which has been seeing a great revival lately.
There should be rules about putting a Black Metal band like 1349 on so early on a main stage. Granted they've been around long enough to have paid their dues but they just come off as boring. It could just be that I'm too hungover at this point for them or, that their sound would be better over on the tented Sophie Lancaster stage.
Primordial do nothing to release the boredom. There had been problems getting on the bill this year and what happens? Alan loses his voice merely two songs in. Credit is given though for the band who soldier on instrumentally and try get their audience to sing along.
Primordial. Copyright:Asya Derbush
Napalm Death deliver their usual brute force Grind along with Braney Greenway's rantings. Never seen them on an outdoor main-stage before and again would have been better suited to another stage. The band are fierce and heavy but just aren't carrying the weight I know they can.
Exodus brings us round to some much needed Thrash. After much coaxing I'm forced to start drinking quicker than one pint over three hours. And what a better band to drink to than Exodus? No one. Because no one else has songs like Toxic Waltz and Blacklist.
At The Gates made it here three years ago and because I missed it, they came back. Clearly a band who don't need to record a new album to go with their reunion.
At The Gates. Copyright: Asya Derbush
They belt out classic after classic with not a boring moment insight. And, when we thought it was over and started to make our way back to the beer tent, those opening sounds of Blinded By Fear screech into our ears like fingernails on a black board and then finish up with Kingdom 'fucking' Gone.
Morbid Angel have brought much fear with them. Not just in the form of the returned David Vincent but, there's a chance they might play Radikult from their recently, not well received album. Thankfully this is not the case and hardcore MA fans are treated to Rapture, Chapel Of Ghouls and Angel of Disease to name but a few. Their sound is as dark and grinding as it was 20 years ago.
Motorhead are widely respected among any metalhead but tonight fans feel let down due to a lack luster set. It's not that they're boring, just that there seems to be something missing. This later transpires to be down to a virus the band had contracted. They later apologise via online statement though why they couldn't just say on the night is anyone’s guess but at least they tried to give it their best. And only fell short of three songs.
Bloodstock is still quite a small festival in size and numbers. It feels less abrasive than Reading or Download where you have que for everything and people constantly get in your way.
Everything is, just take your time and enjoy yourself.