Bloodstock has come back for another year to bring the best in Metal and its extreme natured brothers! The headliners range from the Blackened Death evil sounds of Behemoth, to the Groove/Thrash Metal giants Machine Head onto Metals most creative live show with Alice Cooper. This year the organisers had a fright with the PA system on the Sophie Lancaster and New Blood stage never arriving 48 hours before festival start so the Roadie crew had to pull out all the stops to get together the sound system being in use today! Bloodstock has also managed to pull off being the only sunny outdoor festival this year in the UK, it threw some band off who were expecting rain and cool.
Thursday opened up the festivities with a few bands playing on the Sophie Lancaster Stage, arriving there for Bloodshot Dawn, a techy minded Death Metal band plenty of brutal sounds and heaviness! They whipped up the crowd into circle pits, getting themselves plenty of cheers, horns and headbanging being thrown by the crowd on a consistent level. With the band playing at a fantastic level of proficiency as well as being able to have a good stage presence too, excellent! For today’s headliner, we have Doomy Heavy Metallers Viking Skull, local to the area their name is known by many of the metal fans awaiting them tonight. The band themselves have plenty of energy on stage, making for excellent watching! The bands main ethos is to sing about girls, drugs and booze, a sentiment shared by a lot of the crowd here as well. The crowd took to this and spent most of the night fist pumping, head banging and generally enjoying the music in the most metal way possible! This with added crowd surfing and mosh pits without the need of encouragement from the band showed how Metal should be done. The band topped all this off with excellent playing of riffs, solos and general big sounds from the band. All this kicked off the Thursday with a bang!
On Friday the continuation of hot sunny weather hadn’t put off even the kriegest off attenders, with the crowds already amassing for Death Metal/Metalcore band Malefice. These guys had a heavy focus on playing meaty breakdowns with faster Death Metal parts. With a small portion of the crowd getting into the mosh spirit to them it stayed a fairly calm affair, They did however get some horns thrown and managed to get the odd circle pit going which is a talent at 11am! With a fairly decent sound the set went down alright however lacked with minimum amount of movement from most of the bands. Following on from these are Freedom Call, whose main area of expertise is Power Metal with speed involved! These guys had come from sunny Germany to the UK expecting some cool weather and rain as break, unfortunately the Summer weather had followed them this time. Their style of Power metal was of the usual nature, soaring guitars with fast drums with songs ranging from wanting to be a rock star to having Anthem tracks about themselves. This went down well with the crowd leading to cheers and horns being thrown on a regular basis. With the heavy metal stylings being broken up from time to time with disco esque beats made for an all-around fun set. Next up were Grand Magus, doomy rockers with huge riffs to boot! Getting the crowd revved up very quickly with making them cheer on command, their huge riffs and bass sounds going down brilliantly with the crowd. For a first in a long time JB has gone for a full metal beard instead of his bald head and tach! The change seemed to be taken well as there was a huge cheer as he walked out with this look. JB also made some excellent quips to make everyone laugh, asking if there were any Vikings in the crowd, then preceding to tell them that he didn’t believe that! Grand Magus also played a new song today, which will be coming on their next album, so watch out for that in the works! The set went down brilliantly for those in attendance, and has given people something to look forward too as well. Going from the doom to the Folky Black Metallers Moosorrow, their progressive mix of sounding ranging from heavier beats to furious Black Metal blast beats makes for an interesting and diverse mixture of sounds. Their symphonic led backing track adds a rich texture to their set. Their vocals mixed between growls and clean singing giving a nice contract of tones. With the crowd flocking over in droves to watch them, the fans were clearly out in their masses today. Everyone was fist pumping along to their songs and the band encouraging the roars out of them the set seemed to go down with the crowd nicely. Iced Earth took the crowd up a notch with their tactic of starting as loud as possible. This inspired plenty of horns and roars throughout the set.
With the Stu Block giving plenty of stage banter to make the crowd laugh and get more involved. These were balanced well against such songs as Watching Over Me, a song about guitarist Jon’s friend dying. This set had an intense mixture of serious moments as well as some laughs, all topped off the ever amazing playing of the band with the exceptionable stage performances makes them one of the strongest sets today! Sepultura followed this their unrelenting mix of Death and Thrash Metal. The crowd exploded into headbanging, mosh pits and lots and lots of horns. The whole band filled the stage up with an amazing presence and playing. With some great playing and finishing on their most iconic songs Roots they stormed through into a belting cheer. Going from the heavy to as soft as this festival will get with Dave Mcphearson; playing acoustic renditions of InMe tracks as well as his own solo material. Using the sound checks from the main stage to make some quick jokes asking them to play in the same key or soundcheck slower made everyone in attendance have a good laugh. Mixing it up with some new songs in with the set as well a cover of Boom, Shake The room it was a funny set with great playing too. Back on Main Stage the sound checking band Dio Disciples had hit the stage. Opening with the most popular Dio track Holy Diver was met with a decent reaction, however the tracks were played quite slow so they dragged a bit. The playing of them was good but it felt like the set could have been a lot better than it was. With guest musicians and other popular Dio tracks from Rainbow like Kill The King being played meant the Dio fans would have lapped it up, but everyone else it came over a bit lacklustre. After being chopped and changed around on the bill with the above band, Watain finally get to go on and play their brand of evil Black Metal. Issuing statements such as “We have come to bring the Sun down” puts in the mentality of the band on stage. Bringing with them more fire, fire jets and pyrotechnics than all the bands playing today combined made for an impressive sight. The crowds flooded in to see this band play, bringing with them and want and need to headbang, horn throw and on the odd occasion cover themselves in animal blood! Dressing in full corpse paint with rusted nails attached to clothing made for a formidable sight to those watching. This all added in with an amazing stage presence, brilliant sound and excellent playing made it clear why people were here.
From the formidable to a land of dreams with Alcest, one of the most avant garde acts playing this festival it might make some people question their presence, but their packed out tent on the Sophie Lancaster stage said all that was needed. They played a sublime mix of Post Metal, Black Metal and shoegazing to give a set that was both beautiful and thoroughly intense. For the small bits of words said to the crowd only helped but reinforce the experience they were creating. The crowds reactions ranged from dancing, to crying, to headbanging showing how widely interpreted this band can be. Playing a cracking set of both old and new material gave for a brilliant mix between their different evolutions of their sound. The crowd without need of direction clapped and chanted to the music together, needing no encouragement to be fully engrossed on what they were hearing. Finishing off main stage today are Behemoth, the Blackened Death Metal giants from Poland who have finally been able to play after Nergal’s battle with leukaemia. Pulling out the stops for their pyro, stage props, performance and execution of the music all being at top form. Finishing with a glitter cannon to represent a swarm of locusts attacking the crowd was the cherry on top to this spectacular set and the end of the day!
After a full day already, people were already awaiting the evil from Benediction, who were surprised yet honoured to have people up and out this early to come and watch/mosh to them! Coming from the hometown of Heavy Metal and Grindcore it is no surprise that these have adopted something the very heavy Death metal for their sound. Vocalist Dave Hunt managed to command the stage spectacularly even without being able to move due to an injured leg! Mixing humour and talking to the crowd excellently to keep people entertained. With plenty of pits, horns and roars from the crowd they were an obvious favourite for most people down! Over on the Sophie Lancaster stage Savage Messiah drew themselves an impressive crowd for their Thrash sounds. The band laid down some of the tracks off their latest album Plague Of Conscience which went down well with the awaiting crowd. With an excellent presence and a crushing sound from excellent playing made for a great set. Back on main stage I Am I have taken to the stage to dish out their form of Power Metal, set up by former vocalist of DragonForce ZP Theart his new band is just setting itself up in their stride. This being their first festival appearance since forming its understandable the initial nerves of the set but once they had warmed into it they flourished in an explosion of presence, excellent playing and confidence. The crowd warmed into them over the set and by the final track Silent Genocide where ZP went and greeted the fans at the barrier whilst still playing! Following from the Power Metal to the Taiwanese powerhouse that is Chthonic, laying down complex layers of Black Metal mixed into traditional music from their home country made for an original sound. With vocalist Freddy Lim using his signature Erhu on stage cemented their sound in a very visual way. This set also had help from My Dying Bride in the way of their drummer, who was filling in for Chthonic’s laying down their beat for them. The set went down well with the awaiting crowd, getting plenty of cheers and horns. From the fast of above to the slow sludgey feedback of Crowbar; who made some crushing atmosphere with their heavy music. The crowd chanted for more during their great set, with many people taking to headbanging and horn throwing throughout. Back on the Black Metal with the ultra-bizarre Mayhem; Attila for this set taking a positively normal look compared to his usual dressing! Their sound pushed all forms of vocal styles to their max as well as their often complex and unusual use of time signatures. This garnered the cheers, horns and general approval of the crowd they played for. From the Trve Norwegian to the British interpretation of Black Metal with Winterfylleth, garnering a huge crowd who were changing both their name and their home town Manchester showed they were surrounded by fans! They played new track Parade of Light off the forthcoming Threnody of Triumph which went down well with the crowd. American Hardcore heavyweights Hatebreed tore up mainstage with their Metal influenced Hardcore. With the whole crowd joining in, from horns to screaming along they will have made an excellent impression with their brilliant playing and getting the crowd fully involved in their set, these guys will be a hard lot to beat! Next up on mainstage are Testament, bringing a furious mix of Death and Thrash Metal to the table to get everyone moshing to. With the sound and playing being excellent mix of riffs, speed and solos, as well as the band revving up the crowd wherever possible made for an excellent set that the crowd appreciated via headbanging, mosh, horns and chanting! Tonight’s headliner on the Sophie Lancaster stage Orange Goblin got a brilliant reception as they managed to pack the tent full to the brim! Their doomy, bluesy riffs filled the place with an amazing atmosphere of a crowd roaring and headbanging along to their sounds. This response was so unexpected that Ben Ward felt very humbled by it! This then added to amazingly executed music as well as a killer stage presence made this one of the best sets of the day! Finishing off main stage tonight are Machine Head, slowly heading up the ranks of metal legends they made sure tonight went off with a bang! With pyros a plenty and additional lights brought to the set they had an excellent atmosphere. Playing such favourites as Davidian and Locust as well as the return of the track Death Church the crowd went wild for them. This added to an excellently played set made for a good end to Saturday’s festivities.
The start of Sunday hails in Kobra & The Lotus, a Power Metal coming all the way over from Canada! Their songs sounded brilliant across the speakers here at Bloodstock, though only playing to a small crowd in comparison the big crowd drawn on other days. Still this didn’t put them off and they warmed the crowd up for the start of the last day. The crowd numbers picked up for Corrosion of Conformity, laying down some doomy/sludgey riffage this morning. With some excellent playing and a top notch stage presence they made for a good set, even with bass amp problems you could not stop them putting out their best! Over on the New Blood Stage Sa-Da-Ko hit the place up with a style of Groove Metal along the lines of Lamb Of God. Bouncing around the stage they seemed to enjoy what they played and stuck in their very metal cover of Boom, Shake The Room made for some interesting listening! From the small to the very high profile metal with Nile, Egyptian loving death metallers drew in a huge crowd for their mix of crushing speed and aggression! With a slight hold up bring an almost instant “we want Nile” chant it was not surprising the crowd went wild with mosh, crowd surfing, roaring and headbanging! All this packaged with great playing and a brilliant presence on stage made for one of the most memorable sets of the day! Following on with slightly less speed but still a fast band with Evile, the Huddersfield thrashers got bumped up to main stage fairly late on in the game. This turned out to be a good thing as they managed to draw a huge crowd! The boys played a brilliant set, full of energy and some of the best playing the have done so far. With some jokes made about the live stream and the swearing ban made for a fun and relaxed set to them! Going from the serious side of things to the very much fun side of metal with Anvil, Heavy Metal with the addition of comedy is a fairly popular thing to do, however Anvil do it best by also being absolutely fantastic musicians with a great slab of on stage presence. With the set ranging from all playing normal to what seemed like a 10 minute solo of what different sounds they could make on a guitar made for interesting and entertaining listening! Following on on main stage are the doomy goth vibes of Paradise Lost, lead vocalist Nick Holmes made lots of jokes during the set, keeping the light vibes of the previous set! The whole crowd got behind the set with lots of chanting, clapping and plenty of laughs from his jokes making for a musically excellent and a fun set to boot, winner! Featuring in today’s special guest set are one of the most prolific bands from the Norwegian Black metal scene Dimmu Borgir. Their outfits have incredible attention to detail, being a very rock n roll esque take on the corpse paint traditional of their scene. Shagrath got the crowd going with ease, creating plenty of roars, headbanging and lots of crowd surfers going. This packed up in a package of the evil Symphonic style Black Metal being executed brilliantly made for an incredible set. The final headliners of the Sophie Lancaster Stage are Brummie based Death Metallers Anaal Nathratk hit the stage with an incredibly ferious, brutal and evil sounding set. Featuring members from other Birmingham based bands like Benediction and Fukpig the set makes itself a promotion of the extreme metal from there. Vocalist Dave Hunt, even still suffering from leg injuries went mental on stage moshing about and commanding the highest amount of presence possible. The crowd went wild with intense moshing, wall of deaths, crowd surfing along with lots of fist pumping and headbanging. It was an intense and amazing way to end the events over on that stage. Now to close the live performances of this weekend is the man who has invested everything in performance; Alice Cooper. With stage props ahoy, more costumes for himself than most bands had for their entire line up and a precision led show where nothing was left to chance made for the most perfect performance of the festival! Such big hits as I’ll Bite Your Face Off, School’s Out and Poison all being played ensured everyone was singing along at least once. This enjded the festival perfectly with the best playing and showmanship yet!
Overall Bloodstock 2012 was an amazing experience, the top calibre of Metal acts both big and small made their way into the line-up to play their hearts out and every band seemed to go all out to make sure their set would be the most memorable, with next year is anything like this year, it’ll be another non-stop party and excellent music!