The festival kicks off at 100mph at the Ronnie James Dio stage with thrash legends Nuclear Assault (3.5/5). With a nightmare start to their weekend (their airline lost most of their equipment that morning), their sound suffered, but they sallied forth and gave a great performance all things considered. Opening with Rise From the Ashes, the Nuke’s sound tight as hell as they push through the set with blistering force. Brainwashed, Critical Mass, Game Over and Butt Fuck get an airing much to the delight of the large arena crowd before we are presented with some new tracks from the bands recently released Pounder EP (Dry Heave Records) with Died in Your Arms and the catchy Analogue Man in a Digital World. Although, they claim that this is the ‘Final Assault’ tour, something tells me that by the response they received today, we will be seeing the New Yorker’s in the not too distant future!
Raging Speedhorn (4/5) up the ante and pump out the gut wrenching vocals and get the blood pumping bang on time. They acknowledge their old school listeners and “Thumper” is their crowning tune of the set.
Up next we find ourselves planted firmly in the center of the main arena with refreshments and giddy smiles in anticipation of the iconic and truly awesome, Armored Saint 4.5/5, who’s performance today marks their first with the Bloodstock family. Opening up with Win Hands Down, the title track off their much anticipated recent release. John Bush’s vocals sound crystal clear and punchy as ever. March of The Saint, Reign of Fire rip across the Derbyshire countryside before they end with Madhouse and an appearance from a John Bushes son who is dressed like a mini Jimmy Page . The band sound on point, but are slightly overshadowed by a rather loud mix of the drums which drowns out Phil Sandoval’s solo’s from time to time. Otherwise, a fantastic set from a legendary band.
As the sun reaches its blinding peak, the crowd gathering in the main arena battle with the heat with some punters corpse paint beginning to resemble melted ice cream. If ever there was a time to run back to the tent and change out of the black leather pants, this was it. However, as the sound of a dull chime of a church bell rings out across the Bloodstock masses, it can only mean one thing. Belphegor 4/5 take to the stage looking as evil as one can possibly be on a beautiful summers day in the picturesque English countryside. As they launch into Feast Upon The Dead, a sea of banging heads blots out the sun and takes you all the way to the frosty gates of hell. A crystal clear sound, pounds across the arena and when they finish on Bondage Goat Zombie, it leaves the crowd chanting for more.
With a quick walk around the arena and a browse through the metal market, it’s suddenly time for the mighty Enslaved (5), who open in all their glory with Thurisaz Dreaming, which nearly shakes the very foundations of the Catton Hall estate. With the bar set, Enslaved drop brutal audio pleasing bombs in the form of The Fusion of Sense and Earth and Building With Fire. Driving snare beats accompany snarling guitar melodies that nearly chase away the unforgiving scorching heat that is baking the arena. The differing vocal lines of both Larsen and Kjellson help to break up the genius instrumentals. The crowd cannot get enough. As they finish with Ehtica Odini and the mesmerizing Alfablot, Enslaved have delivered one hell of a blow to the days performance. Superb!
From the daunting repetitive bass beats, to their atmospheric keys and complex arrangements, Ihsahn (4) steal the hearts of the Bloodstock audience immediately, with Hiber. Those who were here in 2012, will know what Ihsahn can do to a Bloodstock audience, not to mention Emperor’s spectacular headlining appearance last year. Technical difficulties do not phase them as they power through both old and new tracks fluidly including the epic, Frozen Lakes on Mars and A Grave Inversed. As they finish with a debut performance of My Heart is of the North, which will be gracing the forthcoming new album, Ishahn win the Bloodstock crowd over yet again with a captivating performance.
With a quick pit stop for some food and an ice cold beverage, it’s time for the mighty Overkill (5/5), who put on a masterclass in thrash. From the second the gutter punks hit the stage with Armorist, the pit opens up and a frenzy of beer cups, windmilling hair and upturned bodies that litter the front of the stage. Overkill are on fire and are sharper as a stanley knife at at murder scene. Bobby and Vern tease the lip of the stage like prize heavy weight fighters, as they rip through Hammerhead, Electric Rattlesnake and Rotten To the Core. As the sun baked arena devour every second of the bands set, Overkill have set the bar for the day in terms of audience reaction. They finish with Elimination and Fuck You, to a sea of horns that fill the afternoon sky with roars of approval! Overkill are about as metal as you can get and today was no exception. They came, they destroyed! Long live Overkill!
As the burning sun begins to sink over the Derbyshire landscape, the hazy summer sky bleeds an orange glow and offers a gentle wind to the thirsty revelers. A glimpse of a tank on the main stage can only mean one thing. Sabaton!
If you look up the word “awesome” in the dictionary, you’ll see a picture of Sabaton (5/5). Incredible sound, jaw-dropping pyrotechnical effects and a tank!!! Frontman Joachim is animated as ever, as the band open with Ghost Division. The foot is on the pedal for the full setlist and doesn’t let up, despite chants of ‘IKEA! IKEA!’. But ever the fun-filled showmen, they play along. Resist and Bite is awaited amongst other nerve-touching jewels like Carolus Rex and the immortal Swedish Pagans. Their closing numbers of Primo Victoria is eagerly swallowed up amongst a overwhelming display of pyrotechnics, confetti guns and dry ice, and as they finally depart with Metal Crüe, they bid us farewell and soldier on. At this point, the talk around the arena is more focused on how headliners, Trivium are expected to follow Sabaton’s victorious performance.
With out a doubt one of the biggest gigs of the bands career, Trivium (3/5) have a tall order to match and with the display that Sabaton put on, only raises the level of pressure for the Floridan four piece. As the intro tape blasts out Maiden’s, Run To The Hills, the Ronnie James Dio stage is masked with a silk curtain, which suddenly drops to revel two red-eyed demonic heads that are perched either side of the stage. A thunderous reaction from the audience see’s Matt, Cory and Paulo bound on stage, before launching into new track Silence in the Snow. It’s seems somewhat of an anticlimax as the slow, sluggish tempo does nothing else but dampen the crowd, who until now have never heard the new material before. Technical difficulties plague Down From The Sky, Becoming The Dragon and Strife which sets the tone for the rest of the bands set.
As the band try to rescue the set with the likes of Anthem (We Are The Fire), In Waves and Pull Harder on the Strings of Your Martyr, it’s a case of a day late and a dollar short. Technical difficult aside, this was the wrong set list for a headlining slot of this magnitude. Why nobody stepped in to dispute opening with new material on a headlining slot, is bewildering to say the least. Trivium might just have bitten off more than they can chew with this gig, but hopefully they will lick their wounds and learn from the experience.
With the opening nights carnage now a distant memory, the Sophie Lancaster tent has had a spring clean and is ready for a full day of spectacular metal! First up is Silas (3/5), the London based four piece waste no time in taking the bull by the horns and blasting out a rather impressive set that blows the cobwebs off the early morning campers. With a quick stage change over and a rumbling bass line check. Oaf (4/5) take to the stage and proceed to blast out their bastard Frankenstein punk, prog ditties! Fronted by the bearded, cynical and persistently bitter, Dom Lawson. Oaf are captivating, funny and know how to put on a no frills, show, packed with bullshit witty banter which is just the ticket for the Friday morning Bloodstock punters. Stand out tracks include No More Tickets For the Time Machine and the somewhat ridicules classic that is Fuck Off Seagull, which included the vocal talents of Dr. Hell of Evil Scarecrow.
Next up is Bast (3/5), who descend upon the Sophie stage with their form of progressive sludge induced black metal. The London trio, sound heavy as fuck and plummet the punters into oblivion with tracks taken from their forthcoming album Spectres. A quick mooch around the arena and a little bit of the full contact medieval battling, sets the mood for Messiah’s Kiss (3/5), whose appearance here marks only their second in the UK. The New Yorkers seem to be enjoying their Bloodstock experience and as they start with just a small crowd, their power metal anthems draw in a sizable gathering that clearly blows the band away, who respond with a tight and powerful set.
It’s been a long time coming, but as Overdrive stands front and center for a thwarting from old-school thrashers Re-Animator (4.5),the band take to the Sophie stage and blow the roof off from the get go. Welcoming new guitarist Dan Murray to the band, the guys enjoy banter amongst themselves and the crowd, with periodic breakdowns causing the audience to slow dance for Fatal Reality. Old school hit Room 101, gets the crowd into a sweaty blur of middle-aged nonsense from the older contingency. A guest appearance from Acid Reign’s lead singer Howard Smith during a cover of The Dead Kennedy’s, Too Drunk to fuck almost incites a riot in the pit. Finally as the band blast out the final track Re-animator, the ecstatic disperse out into the sunlight ready for more!
Ne Obliviscaris (4/5), all the way from Australia, are on directly after and blow us all that stands before them away, with some instrumental and orchestral metal, blended together to give a slow but viciously dark atmosphere for the duration of the set.
Both front-men are in top form as polar opposites of growling and soaring vocals combined with immense guitar work and drums to deliver the goods.The Melbourne sextet are hungry for a taste of European and UK audiences and judging from today’s performance, it won’t be long before they are filling venues and becoming a regular feature in the metal press in this part of the world.
If stoner rock is your thing, then I’m sure you were standing front and center for Red Fire Empress (4/5), who have a knack of delivering some damn fine stoner-riffage, twinned with mammoth anthems. The band have no trouble in winning over the sizable crowd that have taken refuge from the punishing heat of the main arena and proceed to melt faces with a set list that draws from their debut E.P Paint Me The Devil. We can only wait patiently for the bands album to finally drop in the near future. Fantastic stuff!
All hail the mighty Hang The Bastard (3/5)! Having been bothering the press and latching on to some reputable gigs (Black Sabbath in Hyde Park last year), Hang The Bastard are no strangers to laying waste to large crowds and today they make not a single exception in doing so. Opening up with Keeping Vigil, the band are totally in their element and engage with the now packed tent. The band clearly have a stage presence much older than themselves, as they engage with the mass of hair and fists at the front of the stage. There are a few holes in the their performance as they try to strike a balance between performing and playing, but overall pull off one hell of a show. Beyond The Pale and Sex in the Seventh Circle waft through the crowd dripping with all the right ingredients to make this one of the days highlights! As they finish with The Gathering of Goetia, Hang The Bastard, look ecstatic as the Sophie tent responds with defining approval. More of this please!
Former Dargonforce vocalist ZP Theart’s new project IAMI (2/5), take to the stage, as the Friday sun begins to slowly drop into the lush Derbyshire countryside. Casting golden shadows through the opening of the Sophie Lancaster tent, the band who’s last appearance here in 2012 goes down well with the punters with particular highlight being Goodbye to Innocence. With a few vocal pitch problems here and there, IAMI, come across well but lack the punch of the previous bands before them.
Hailing all the way from Merseyside, the doom laden Conan (4/5), set their guitars to stun. Donning their black hooded attire, Conan take to the stage opening with a slab of heavy-as-fuck, down tuned brilliance. The crowd are hooked immediately and surge forward opening up small, but busy pits, when the tempo increased. The twin vocals of both Davis and Fielding strikes straight to the core, cutting through the smoke filled evening air. In true doom fashion, the crowd choose to stay quiet during songs not even clapping to the beat, completely enthralled by the looming presence of the band. Standout track Foehammer, just smashes through the barricades of perception and taking the listener to other galaxies and beyond. If you listen closely you can still hear the fuzz of the Chris Fielding’s bass.
The demented duo Pritchard vs Dainton (0/5), were disappointingly late on stage by about 15-20 minutes. They raced through their madcap set, but smashing light bulbs/beer cans over their heads, spraying CO2 in their faces and whipping each other in the head with plastic rods, pale in comparison to shoving drumsticks where the sun don’t shine. An utterly pointless waste of time that could have been giving to a band. Pritchard vs Dainton were beyond terrible and about as entertaining as food poisoning.
As main stage headliners Trivium, lash out their performance across the arena, a rather huge crowd of revelers are making their way to the Sophie Lancaster stage to get their fix of Dutch symphonic metallers Delain (4/5). A very prominent and meaningful band to be playing this stage, as the band wrote We Are The Others song about the late Sophie Lancaster and will tonight get to fulfill a dream, in playing it on the hallowed ground of Bloodstock. As the band work through a thirteen strong set list accompanied with an impressive light show, we are treated to gems like Get The Devil Out Of Me, Milk and Honey, Stay Forever, Not Enough and The Gathering. Finishing on the emotionally charged We Are The Others, vocalist Charlotte Wessels dedicates the song to the memory of Sophie Lancaster and asks for the crowd to sing along whether they know the words of not. A truly emotional end to the day and one that was enjoyed by all in attendance.
HOBGOBLIN NEW BLOOD STAGE HIGHLIGHTS – FRIDAY AUGUST 7TH
Opening up the New Blood stage are Mortishead (3/5), who smash through their short set with a filthy sound of catchy metal. The Bristol based lads know exactly how to get things going and do so with enough energy to power a rocket! Next up is Loft (3/5) who draw a decent enough crowd of about 70 people to entertain and equipment problems the band soldier on and show how just how they won their place in the Bloodstock Metal 2 The Masses campaign. With roots in grunge and a heavy progressive sound the set sways between Soundgarden in the 90’s and Mad Season.
Liverpool based Kryocell (3/5), punish the New Blood tent with a display of brutality. The hectic death metal riffs come fast and thick from the stage as vocalist Tomm McCullough, unleashes hell. Sick and dirty breakdowns come from the depths of hell and sound ridiculously heavy.
King Leviathan (4/5), have the death / thrash combo happening with moments of clean, powerful Opeth style vocals and display a strong performance from start to finish. Forgotten Remains (3.5/5) hit the mark with their mix of Death / Thrash metal and take no prisoners in doing so. Vocalist Sam Marshall can summon demons with his guttural growls.
We Are The Catalyst (4.5/5) who hail from Gothenburg have a captivation sound that wanders between alternative and symphonic metal. Vocalist Cat Fay, has an outstanding vocal ability and controls the stage with ease. A band well worth checking out. Following We Are The Catalyst, areDiatessaron (3.5/4), who must be the fist band in the history of the New Blood stage, to hail from Canada. With a subtle pop / prog sound that is laced with catchy choruses and unpredictable twists and turns, it makes for a refreshing change and goes down well with the punters that are taking cover from the sun.
Up next is Blackened Ritual (3/5) who proceed to unleash an armory of thrash metal to the unsuspecting punters who like me, expected a brutal, black metal band as per their name. However, the lads did not disappoint and slammed a killer set that would have their native Perth proud. How can you go wrong with a name like Piss Viper (4.5/5) who drop a fucking lethal set on the New Blood stage. Packed with Yorkie sized riffs marinated in delicious groove, Piss Viper sound enormous. Get in front of this band the next time you are in a situation to, you won’t be disappointed.
Closing the New Blood stage today are Hexis (3.5/4) who originate from Copenhagen in Denmark. Their relentless chaotic arsenal of hardcore infused with black metal, is most definitely intense and at times a little overwhelming. The New Blood punters seem to be in two minds about it all but eventually settle into the blast beat groove. Filthy, dark and not a million miles away from a jet engine being decimated in a hurricane.
Words – Oran O’Beirne, Karyn Corrigan & Shaun Martin – Overdrive© 2015
Photography – Steve Dempsey – Down The Barrel Photography – Overdrive © 2015
BLOODSTOCK FRIDAY AUGUST 7TH PHOTO GALLERY © 2015