This year saw the strongest line up ever witnessed deep in the heart of the English countryside for Bloodstock Open Air. Really pushing the Long Boat out, the organizers still kept the feel and atmosphere Bloodstock is famous for but booked some killer bands to entertain the corpse painted, fake blood covered metal fans.
The sun is out and we are in fear of getting burned to a crisp, at last, a sundrenched British festival is a rare sight. Malefice have the unenviable task of opening proceedings and there is a decent crowd gathered to ensure the festivals first circle pit. The ever dependable Grand Magus are as solid as ever. Front man JB is sporting the new American Trucker look and they send waves of Scandinavian metal through the site. Iron Will, sees a crescendo of fists pumping the air, excellent set, still waiting for that full tour though!
Over in the Sophie Lancaster tent Primitai are making quite an impression. Sounding powerful and tighter than a Yorkshiremans wallet, they rip through a set that sees front man Guy Miller encouraging mass audience participation while flanked by some superb guitar work. Jon Schaffer brings his latest incarnation of Iced Earth to these shores who prove to be a mighty fine proposition. Latest front man Stu Block powers through proceedings on the main stage that certainly keep the faithful happy while converting new warriors to the Power metal of Iced Earth. Man mountain Derrick Greene has been with Sepultura (Full set:- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oNMS21w-Row) for some years now and this has to be one of the most impressive Sepultura performances I've ever witnessed. Electing to play a 'Greatest Hits' set proves fruitful. The appearance of Tim Ripper Owens for Territory sends Bloodstock into a frenzy. Newish drummer Eloy Casagrande is simply stunning with Andreas Kisser a mass of hair and thrash metal riffs….Max who?
More than just a cheesy tribute act Dio Disciples are worthy bearers of the Dio legacy and perform Rainbow In The Dark, Last In Line, Kill The King among many more with true enthusiasm. Little Angels man Toby Jepson, complemented by Tim Ripper Owens send shivers down the spine as certain Dio' isms ring out over the site. I cannot help but feel that I would love to see Jorn Lande be part of this one day though; RJD his memory is in safe hands. Someone obviously didn't receive the memo in the Absolva camp that the Jagermeister stage was an all acoustic affair as they proceed to plug in their SG's for a full on electric attack. Rising from the ashes of Fury Uk they rip through a short but brutal set of distorted brilliance, look forward to the forthcoming album.
Watain are becoming a bit of a Black Metal phenomena over on these shores but is it just style over substance? Delaying their set for the sun to go down to ensure their fiery set is well illuminated smacks of pre-Madonna, still, it's not a bad effort if a little self indulgent. Behemoth are welcomed back like victorious warriors and Nergal is looking fit and healthy, thank Satan! Their headline slot delivers all that was anticipated, the sun goes down and the fire erupts…Demigod, Slaves Shall Serve and an encore of Lucifer sees the Friday come to a climatic end.
The early morning slot seems to be the surprise slot of the festival and Benediction are continuing the tradition as the sun continues to grace the Bloodstock site. With vocalist Dave Hunt on crutches (suffering a flare up of Gout!) he can be forgiven for his limited movement, but the show goes on. A truly brutal offering greets the early risers ensuring maximum volume for the Friday hangovers, continuing from their triumphant Hellfest appearance Benediction leave a mass of pit weary bodies wanting more.
Ex -Dragonforce man ZP Theart's new vehicle I AM I keep the momentum flowing, which is no mean feat this early in the day. Performing tracks from their debut album Event Horizon, Bloodstock greet them with a respectable roar of appreciation. Covering every part of the stage while trying to keep hold of his falling belt ZP is a master frontman, solid set delivered, job done. Dripback are a stalwart of Bloodstock and their meld of hardcore/metalcore continue to impress. The tent is packed and the p.a is struggling to keep up with the ferocity of this band, we see pits erupt and the fat metal riffs flow out the entrance onto the field drawing curious punters in.
The south has arrived in the form of Crowbar, delivering tracks from their latest album Sever The Wicked Hand. Kirk Windstein's southern deep vocals permeate through the site while the heavy riffs weigh down on the shoulders. Back in the tent it's time for some Goddamn hard rock in the form of Brighton rockers Furyon who continue to grow from strength to strength. A nice rest bite from all the full on metal, the tent has a healthy congregation appreciating some truly awesome Furyon twin guitar hard rock.
The reunion of Sanctuary has been greatly anticipated amongst many metal circles and they certainly deliver you back to their heyday, with a nostalgic trip of thrash metal mayhem. Warrel Dane looks like he needs some sun and a good meal but his vocals are superb complemented by a mighty fine guitar assault.
With one of the best Metal albums of the year just released Testament (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B28ECjVU_sw full set) can do no wrong. Chuck Billy storms out of the blocks straight into new track Rise Up and proves why Testament are the thrash titans many regard them to be. This is an outstanding performance by a veteran band at the top of their game as the place goes fucking nuts. Alex Skolnick & Eric Peterson tear bloodstock apart while Chuck rips out some classic air guitar. Gene Hoglan on the throne hammers out a thundering beat while the sun continues to blaze down on us all, catch them on their latest tour at any cost.
The internet trolls were up in arms complaining when Bloodstock announced Machine Head as the Saturday headline band, however; they deserve the slot and prove why tonight. We get airings of songs not played for quite some time as Rob Flynn and Co pummel us into the Bay Area bruising we've been waiting for. 'A Thousand Lies', 'Death Church', 'Block' all from debut album 'Burn My Eyes' are greeted like returning family members but Robs on stage prolonged banter brings the set to a stutter halfway through. Finishing with the mighty 'Davidian' Bloodstock just witnessed the best Saturday line up in years.
The day of God is upon us and Bloodstock has a swearing ban onstage as there is a ceremony at a nearby war memorial. This morning's early risers are greeted with the eye candy of Kobra & The Lotus who have some memorable tracks but not enough to see them through. Front woman Kobra Paige has a mighty set of lungs and plays to the scurrying photographers while belting out some damn powerful warbling.
Corrosion Of Conformity, now reduced to a three piece are sadly like a bland piece of steak, they need Pepper! Nile on the other hand brings some darkness to proceedings with their heavy thick sound threatening to push us all into the ground. When DEICIDE cancelled their appearance and Evile got promoted, again the internet trolls got their fat fingers mashing their keyboards complaining. Why did they bother? Having certainly earned their place Evile proceeds to truly stun the place into submission with the most powerful, thrash infused performance of their career. Almost the house band, with that many Bloodstock appearances under their belts, Evile has come of age and deserves every success.
There goes the swearing ban as Lips takes to the stage. The nostalgia trip of Anvil doesn't seem to be coming to an end any time soon, and so it shouldn't. OK, they are not the best musicians in the world but when Lips draws the Dildo from his pocket you can't but grin like a Cheshire cat as he slides it up and down the fret board. Let the nostalgia trip continue, Anvil bring some classic rock to a corpse painted few who embrace it for what it is.
Paradise Lost are on somewhat of a resurgence after their well received last album Tragic Idol. Nick Holmes is his dry humored self and Greg Mackintosh is throwing his hair around and emitting solo's skywards. Ending their short but never the less sweet set with 'Just Say Words' Paradise Lost once again proves triumphant. Dimmu Borgir in the bright sunshine seems somewhat odd; however they seem to pull it off with many of the Bloodstock hordes patiently awaiting their arrival. Shagrath is center stage reaching out to his Black Metal congregation on this glorious sun drenched Sunday, impressive once again.
What can be said about Alice Cooper, he truly is the epitome of shock rock and the consummate front man. With a career spanning decades, he comes out of the blocks with hit after glorious hit. Bloodstock, having embraced a 'Classic Rock' act to close things the last few years, Alice Cooper is a perfect choice. Playing a 21 song set we see him decapitated, the gorgeous Orianthi on guitar and numerous costume changes. As impressive show closer 'Elected' closes the show another very successful Bloodstock festival comes to an end.
Words & Pictures
(Thanks to the Noise Cartell for the accreditation)