Often seen as a throwaway word, community is something that is felt throughout each genre of music. However none is more in a sense of unity than that of Metal. Beginning as a small family run festival Bloodstock has fast become one of the premier Metal festivals in the UK. Showcasing band’s from all different genre specifics, from the moody Norwegian stylings of Black Metal to the bloodsoaked entrails of Death Metal. Banding together once again this August for three more days of Metal bliss we were kindly enough invited back to the UK’s premier extreme Metal festival. Complete with good ol Bloodstock Jesus, crowd favourite Darth Vader and enough fire to ignite hell itself, this is our account of Bloodstock 2016.
Contrary to the sodden fields earlier in the summer season we’re greeted with blistering heat as we arrive at the hallowed ground of Catton Park. Free flowing ale, luke warm cider and as we would later find out delicious Kraken cocktails abound we headed into the arena to catch none other than British tongue in cheek genius Evil Scarecrow. Arriving disguised last year to aid friend Ol Drake this time it was their turn to take the stage. Arriving just in time to be greeted with the corpse paint donned Brits as they launched into “Twelve Robots” seeing the biggest robotic circle pit the world had seen it would only get weirder. Combining the brilliant elements of classic British humour the band rolled out brand new ripper “Hurricanado” met with much approval before bringing out both a costumed Link and Xiao Liu of Street Fighter to aid the crowd in getting the hang of the moves for “End of Level Boss“. Gimmicks aside the band are conscious of their look and both sound and deliver an air tight set that wakes the crowd up to no end. Particularly with the arrival of “Crabulon” where I bore witness to my first mass scuttling. Not taking themselves seriously Evil Scarecrow are the perfect opening band and with their huge crowd roaring in approval almost everyone at the festival would agree.
Misery Loves Co. however are very much chalk and cheese compared to the predominantly cheese oriented predecessors. Bringing the kind of unnecessary bravado swagger that simply doesn’t fit the bill at Bloodstock the band have an incredibly small crowd after the mammoth set previous. Seeing many walk away it’s a shame as there seems there could be potential yet owing to its execution the band simply fall flat. Performing an average set that no one will truly take home with them the band are just that, average.
Taking a brief break we went to explore some of the attractions at this year’s festival, complete with their own jousting stage where many a knight fell to the shame, quickly gambling with some of the local festival food came back to check out Stuck Mojo. Worlds apart from the previous act the band brought the crowd together. Formed of members who work with Fozzy, fronted by wrestling man Chris Jericho the band have been in somewhat of a situation recently however recording their new album and releasing it earlier this year it seems that the sky is the limit for the band as they seem to garnering more and more attention as time passes. Before sampling some of the delightful Hobgoblin brews from the Serpents Lair VIP bar we collectively waited with baited breath for the arrival of Pepper and his cohorts.
Photo by Katja Ogrin
The wiseblood rifffers Corrosion Of Conformity began with a slightly sleepy set no doubt owing to thei hazy tempos, not aided by the kind of beautiful weather we were having. Nevertheless the band performed classic tracks the likes of “Seven Days” seeing Keenan firing on all cylinders manipulating the crowd to his every whim. When rhetorically asking if we would mind if they spaced out a bit during “Clean My Wounds” making for an incredibly beautiful psychedelic trip the band also drop the small announcement that they will be working over the coming months for a new album in 2017 cheering fans on to no end and with that the band gracefully exit after having made their doom laden buzz driven mark in Bloodstock.
Photo by Katja Ogrin
Having not performed at Bloodstock ever before in a UK exclusive Venom made an appearance this Friday night to ignite the weekends proceedings into a fierce frenzy of Black Metal with frontman Cronos ensuring the crowd was feeling all the blistering Black Metal fury exhibited from this archetypal of bands as they lead the charge into the tail end of our Friday’s proceedings. Proving that despite being old dogs Venom can more than hold their own against the younger generation.
At the closing of the previous year’s Bloodstock it was announced that Behemoth would be attending this year’s festival to perform their magnum opus that is The Satanist. Transporting the group from the leagues of amateur to truly incendiary act Behemoth have become what they had always threatened to. Manifesting their grim feeling towards religion in an eloquent, articulate chapter in their career. Taking to the stage with the now classic “Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel” the imperious introduction signals the arrival of the unholy trinity.
Performing the album in its entirety from the blistering speed of “Ben Sahar” to the rolling riffs of “Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer” seeing the pitch perfect sound resonate out through the speakers creating the atmospheric shroud of title track “The Satanist” to truly envelop the audience. However as per usual it was the truly ethereal “O Father, O Satan, O Sun” that stole the show. Donning ominous faceless masks the band perform their final section. Emotionless, characterless embodying the entire ideology of the album itself. One of the true examples of an album where structure has been looked over with military precision performing the no second is lost, leading to the climactic finish to be just as poingnant as it will ever be. Returning to their Evangelion era in their encore with “Ov Fire And The Void” living up to its title with the inclusion of pyrotechnics before a truly earth shattering rendition of “Chant Of Ezkaton” seeing Nergal’s sign off to Bloodstock hurling out the words “Hail Satan” with such venom to which the fire happily retorts I front of the man creating one of the most iconic moments of the weekend. Transfixed by the sheer performance let alone the flawless musicianship exhibited here tonight the entire crowd at Bloodstock are in awe of this absolutely unstoppable vehicle of self realisation that makes a Behemoth show, not that they needed to, just how devastatingly accurate their live performance is.
Reaching the ripe old age of forty in life itself is an achievement in itself, carrying on a legacy for forty years of total madness is somewhat unheard of. Owing to the news last year of the passing of AJ Pero, Twisted Sister would no longer ever be the same to the point where it’s stops being the band you fell in love with. Commemorating the drummer the band opted instead to do a final farewell tour of the UK. Performing one and one date only the band say their adieu from Bloodstock tonight. Possessing the kind agility that seems totally farcical Dee Snider is on absolutely top form today belting through “The Kids Are Back” before the far more intimidating introduction temporarily transporting us into those most Metal of locations of helol. Not to mention the rest of the band including our DI Sleet lookalike for the fans of Successville amongst us in the groups bass player. “Burn In Hell” sees the bursts of pyro ignite the crowd into a frenzy. Followed swiftly by “Destroyer” seeing our instrumentalists do what they do best, despite it being so late in their career tonight Twisted Sister absolutely own Bloodstock and it could be argued the band steal the weekend entirely.
Rolling out the big guns the band temporarily open the vault with “I Wanna Rock” seeing the crowds roar of approval reach an ear shattering volume, though it’s not all smiles all night. Commemorating fallen heroes of Lemmy, Glenn Frey and of course AJ Pero the band dedicate “The Price” to their fallen comrades making for a suitably emotional midsection of the show. Regaling tales of their past “We’re Not Gonna Take It” makes an appearance after a brief anecdote detailing their gratitude to the UK after their label’s thought nothing of the song and were rightfully proven wrong by us, the song itself sounds like a football anthem, of course we would love it! In keeping with good spirits our eagle eyed Snider spots a stalls of Mexican and Donuts and brings the two together to create and amusing talking point requesting a Mexican Doughnut.
Photo by Katja Ogrin
Finishing their main set with the classic Rolling Stone riffer “It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll (But I Like It) simply shows just how archetypal frontman Snider is. Mixing this up a bit with the church of Twisted Sister that Bloodstock has newly been welcomed into as Snider teases the crowd to hurl his words back to him. The band switch to a more extreme demographic demanding the crowd to say “I Like It” in a Death Metal growl proving to be one of the funniest moments I’ve had yet at a festival. Nevertheless things did get a little emotional, introducing the band themselves complete with an AJ Pero approved Mike Portnoy the group were truly humbled by the amount of support shown not only tonight but over the forty years together. Coming back on for an encore of “Come Out And Play” and a particularly poignant “Shoot Em Down” it’s grand finale of “SMF” that truly gives Twisted Sister the best possible send off they could ask for. Poingnant yet tongue in cheek with a dash of total madness Twisted Sister, we’re going to miss you. Putting on one of the best performances by a headline band at a festival people will be talking about you for a long time you sick motherfuckers.