Nailed to Obscurity
Nailed to Obscurity have the heavy lifting part of the Saturday times on the RJDS. Their 10.45am start has a shaky reception due to the outstanding work by Judas Priest last night. Atmospheric doom metal is a slow but reliable way to wake up, and NtO are putting on a serious show. Free from the constraints of bad weather, the sound is great, here is a large volume is coming from the audience in appreciation, and the spirits are high on this balmy Saturday morning. With an environment like this on a Saturday morning, who needs cartoons?
Dallas thrash outfit Power Trip are next, and if we weren’t fully awake after NtO, we bloody well are now! The arena has an admirable amount of people here and they’re giving it socks, one and all. Power Trip have never had a wall of death before, but they have now. The power behind the solos, the fury of the vocal delivery, and the brutality of the drums are kicking this band up the ranks as a fast riser.
They’re a young band full of the rebellious energy that propelled many of their idols to global stardom, so they are next in line for a slice of that juicy pie. Not quite meteoric, but you’ll be hearing from Power Trip again. And if you aren’t, then you are doing something wrong.
Over at the Sophie Lancaster tent, Ireland’s Dead Label are gearing up for the march to war. The Kildare trio are no strangers to this environment having played back in 2015 and are indeed very happy to help with the body harvest.
The band don’t get half enough time on stage to exercise their full potential, but my good Christ, they bring the blades of Hades itself with them. ‘Salvation in Sacrifice‘ and ‘Are You Ready to Kill‘ tear the hide of the tent wide open, and the smile on the band’s faces prove that their hard work is paying for the relentless work they put into their sound.
The final fray ‘Pure Chaos‘ was toured for a record-breaking wall of death, entitled ‘Wall of Chaos‘, and the crowd splits open like the Red Sea. That’s not an exaggeration – the entire tent area is now split in two, from the stage to the sound desk, which is about 100 feet apart. The hammer drops at the right time, and this is single-handedly the biggest wall that has happened in this arena. An absolutely mind-blowing setlist and stage show from the Celbridge natives, and it is only a matter of WHEN they return to Bloodstock for a mainstage slot. Imagine the CHAOS in a full arena? Stunning!
Meanwhile over on the Sophie Lancaster Stage, Limb invite the audience on a laid-back ride of fat dripping, fuzzy and pulsing stoner metal. The doom stained guitar tone echoed over cruising bass and drums. Their set navigates securely through sudden tempo and rhythm changes, going from fist pumping fast to weighed down walks.
Limb allowed their songs to fade out, taking a breather before attacking the next song. It seemed like the guitarist of this three-piece was tuning his guitar to another tuning, leading the singer to be acting nervous about the dead air. The air was only filled with effect-laden feedback, while the singer anxiously addressed the crowd while glancing at the guitarist, which made this band look unprepared. Nevertheless, their closing Rock’n’roll heavy songs inspired the Bloodstockers to shake their hips. It is always good to see metalheads not taking themselves and the music too seriously.
Weight of the Tide
The air surrounding Weight of the Tide seemed humble and grateful as they presented a set of proggy polyrhythms interspersed with simpled sections of melodic guitar harmonies and blocks of minimal drumming. It was almost weird how the two singers sounded like echoes of another, having a very similar tone and attack. A
At times the raspy edge of the vocals was borderline overdone, seeming more forced than pushing the limits. Weight of the Tide does not repeatedly punch people in the kidneys with hard and heavy music but understand that sometimes less is just as, if not even more powerful. These are the times when music can crawl under your skin. Weight of the Tide’s first time to the UK was well received.
The young men of Conjurer created a vortex of sound, which dragged a packed Sophie Stage into a pit of flailing limbs. Conjurer master their play with dynamics, melodies versus harshness, draggingly slow versus skull splittingly fast.
It seemed like the band was exorcising their own demons on stage, and they were merely letting us take part. There was no need to motivate the crowd, as alone the lilt in the opening song ‘Choke‘ was infectious, inspiring the crowd to tilt their bodies and swish their hair through the air.
Bassist, Conor Marshall seemed to be taking off and climbing into the air as he was twirling on stage, both Dan Nightingale (vocals/guitar) and Brady Deeprose (vocals/guitar), who were also both singing, grimaced heavily as they were summoning the vocals from the depth of their guts. Heaviness in a live setting is so much more effective when they are balanced with tender moments – Conjurer understands this and kept the crowd on the tip of their toes, ready to smash into another.
Dust is in the air as peoples feet continuously trample and stomp. An inferno of fury and rage clawed with hot fingers into our guts and dragged the bodies of the audience up and down.
It must be tricky becoming a roadie for Combichrist – perhaps the job interview involves testing their catching skills by filling a tennis ball cannon with drumsticks and dean guitars. With the two drummers on stage becoming wilder than the Animal of the Muppet Show, drumsticks were flying through the air like confetti.
A beautiful black Cadillac became airborne as well, as it soared through the air into the hands of a roadie. Combichrist energy was contagious, spreading through the crowd like a virus until every last body was throbbing to their vile industrial beats. A chant “FUCK YOU, COMBICHRIST” became charming into to ‘This Shit will Fuck You Up‘. The keyboardist Elliott Berlin attacked the instrument as if it owed him money, using the knuckles of his fist to “play” it.
Combichrist’s costume on stage mirrored the lunacy of their music, for the drummer Joe Letz had a serious case of cock-shirt going on, a stuffed bra and a rubber dam, holding back his lips and exposing his teeth. The show closed with the grace of lightly dressed fire-spitting ladies, who were wearing flaming horns. A little more choreography of the fire-spitters would have been lovely. After Combichrist finished the last chord, Elliott Berlin proceeded to smash his keyboard on stage. As you do.
White snakes and a portrait of an alien-like creature with an embryo in its head are haunting the backdrops of Septic Flesh. It looks like the artist has been heavily inspired by H.R. Giger and Beksinski. The stained leather armour of the frontman Spiros “Seth” Antoniou matches the monstrosity’s displayed in the back. Septicflesh claims that they “don’t care if they play in the light” and that they “take the darkness“. Indeed, the sunshine does not dim the impact of their atmospherical and emotional music, their music sounded at times like the orchestra of an apocalypse predicting floods and plagues. Seth reminded us that we are “the fucking same dark architects and artists” as their profound melodies carried their brand of symphonic death metal into the void above.
Venom Inc. bound onto the RJDS amidst a huge array of applause and painted faces. Standing proudly after a few very concerned weeks of medical issues concerning Jeff ‘Mantas’ Dunn’s recent heart attack, the band get stuck in and delivery a high-octane show.
First and foremost, the splinter group of the original Venom group have lost none of the fire that held them in high regard in the death/thrash metal genre. You really can’t tell that there was a member recently at death’s door (literally), because the energy is on the same level as any other band this weekend. That story is told in grave and gory detail, and the admiration is apparent, judging by the reaction to it by the audience. Venom Inc. steadily and professionally mince their way through their awesomely violent setlist and leave the crowd in rapturous harmony.
After a stumbling start, VOLA began their intrinsic set full of details in the musical layers. Their sound is remarkably crystal clear with extremely well-balanced levels. VOLA managed to connect the beautiful with the contorted.
The highly skilled musicians of this band swift in and out of epicness and distort it with dented rhythms, the singer of this band, who could be Akerfedlts little brother laid dreamy vocal melodies on top. Dorky in between chatter eases the tension, for the singer asked the crowd at one point to name the best band they have seen all day by the count of three – after their own name was yelled back at them, he replied “you cheap bastards“. During the course of their set, more and more people were lured into the tent to lean back and enjoy the ride. Blissfully epic.
Over on the Sophie Lancaster stage, atmospheric black metal troupe Voyager landmine the arena and mellow us out and set fire to our mood at the same time. A haunting clean female vocal section coupled with the dark and visceral vocalities that are also paired with melodic and downright dirty down-tuned riffs are swaying us left and right. It’s a tad drony, but that’s not a bad thing by any stretch. This is a very relaxed setlist, which (thankfully) gives everyone a chance to recharge the battery before the absolute carnage that lies in wait for us at the RJDS for the last three bands
We’re into the final strait of the Saturday night fun, with Alestorm kicking off the evening after Combichrist’s unmercifully batshit setlist. The big rubber ducky is taking up the biggest part of the stage and the guys pour onto the stage and get set for some pirate metal insanity.
Kicking off with ‘Keelhauled‘, the pirate metal show is in full effect with a full comedy show in tow. As per Alestorm’s modus operandi, they make fun of the crowd and themselves alike, but it’s all good clean fun. Throughout the setlist, there are the usual sexual innuendos and drinking jokes, all the while the audience are losing their shit completely.
Pirate costumes, inflatable rafts and the largest rowing pit ever witnessed (for ‘Nancy the Tavern Wench‘, which a few of us partook), spew all over the arena floor. There is a wall of death called for, but is stopped when it isn’t initiated on command by the band. We go back for a reset and go again, only to have security stop the show mid-set due to an injury.
But that all pales in comparison to Cannibal Corpse, who follow hot on their heels. The rain has come back with a vengeance, but the big guy George ‘Corpsegrinder’ Fisher doesn’t let it dull him one iota. Mashing his way through extreme gore metal hits like ‘I Cum Blood‘, Eaten Out Alive‘, and ‘Raped, Stripped, and Strangled‘, the ‘goremasters’ are still on top of their game. The Ace Ventura dance-offs are fully underway as an astonishingly large volume of people are sporting Hawaiian shirts and casually asking if ‘Rake’ is here, and replying “Thank you!”. Stil,l the rain pours, but it matters not. Gojira are inbound.
The pyrotechnical show is breathtaking. Fronted by Joe Duplantier, the French metal quartet make an absolute ho,y show of every other group here tonight with their stage show. Smashers like ‘Stranded‘ and the mind-bending ‘Flying Whales‘ litter their setlist, giving many other rocket-launchers from their collective album like ‘From Mars to Sirius‘.
Good God the effects are jaw-dropping! This is extremely prevalent given the show that they gave at BOA 2016 supporting Mastodon. The lighting is mesmeric, flashing strobes perforate the raindrops, giving an almost apocalyptic feel and insurmountable heavy metal vibe. The videos (of which there will be many) will reflect this in spades and if you were lucky enough to be there, you’ll probably see your own shit-eating grin on the screen. Everyone else had one. By far one of the performances of the entire weekend and possibly one of the best in recent memory.
The band thanked Bloodstock for inviting them for the second time, this time headlining the Sophie Lancaster Stage after Gojira’s jaw-dropping, invigorating set. Any band after Gojira might have appeared weaker than they really are – Orphaned Land seemed to be rather tame on this night.
The frontman Kobi Farhi was dressed in a gown reaching the bottom floor, his limbs were floatingly dancing to the middle eastern inspired music. Orphaned Land made it very easy for the crowd to drift on top of to our ears exotic music. Humility and kindness were radiated through the band’s stage presence, Farhi reminding the Bloodstockers that nations divided by heritage and religion find a way to come together through music. Joyful crowd involvement bridged the gaps between their songs and underlined the air of togetherness Orphaned Land were projecting.
As the arena prepares for a night of metal-infused debauchery, another day has come to a close on the hallowed grounds of Catton Hall. But fear not, Sunday’s impressive line up is looming and packs a serious punch. .
Photo – Exposing Shadows Photography, exclusively for www.overdrive.ie © 2018 All Rights Reserved.