Reviewed: Mastodon headline Bloodstock Open Air 2016

With a UK legacy of great shows already behind them and a fanbase that can be measured in the sheer number of their tshirts on display in the crowd today, Mastodon have stake their claim on Bloodstock’s Ronnie James Dio Stage as headliners.

Throwing down with moody opener ‘Tread Lightly’ Mastodon come out strong, unfortunately the sound does not. Luckily it’s quickly remedied and the melodic guitars of ‘Feast Your Eyes’, ‘Blasteroid’ and ‘Oblivion’ shine through. The crowd density of last night isn’t quite replicated tonight, you can pretty much wriggle to the front with relative ease, but Mastodon’s lighter sections seem to conjure a sort of sombre reverence where everyone is just appreciating the music.

Amusingly (albeit for those who are old enough to remember…. Sigh…) the five giant light panel installations behind the band, appear to be playing the entire Windows 98 screensaver catalogue. You know, the one with neon electricity or trippy tie-dye patterns that everyone thought they were super edgy and cool for having instead of the standard windows one your Dad used.

In a rare moment of crowd-interaction in Mastodon’s twenty-song onslaught, bassist Troy Sanders yells out “You guys are music hungry lovers, thank you” before the band swing into the harmonic vocals of ‘High Road’. However on a few of the others the words seem to be coming out so distorted you could almost swear the band are fluent in whale.

As the stage lights up in yellows and reds for ‘Ember City’ and the band call out “Are you fucking alive?” to the headbanging crowd, Mastodon seem to relax slightly into the show. Speaking of their first UK gig sixteen years ago at Camden Underworld, the band want us to know that they love us… “We knew we were going to have a special relationship with this country, you metalheads. When we’re home or on vacation… we talk about you guys! You nice British people”. Aww, isn’t that adorable?

Finishing up with ‘Megalodon’, ‘Colony of Birchmen’ and to an almighty roar of appreciation from the BOA arena, the huge ‘Blood and Thunder’ – Mastodon close the RJD stage for Saturday night with style. “Thank you for an unforgettable experience, we’re Mastodon, we love you”.

With their own unique brand of slowed down psychedelic sounds vs. hyper and heavy eardrum challenging metal, you could be forgiven for being on the fence about Mastodon, but tonight’s extremely tightly rehearsed set does everything to prove that above all else this band cares about music.

With a set that sounds almost identical to their album tracks (bar some vocal blurring from a production point of view) you almost with they’d break character a bit, interact in a less forced way. There’s a grittiness missing for sure, but Mastodon make up for it by being, well, precisely beautiful.

All photos © A. Hyams 2016. Do not use without permission.

All photos © A. Hyams 2016. Do not use without permission.

Bloodstock announces more bands

BLOODSTOCK festival is excited to announce another batch of bands for August’s event at Catton Park!

Regrouped Brit industrio-metallers, KILL II THIS join the main stage for a Saturday slot.  Frontman, Mark Mynett says “BLOODSTOCK is one of the finest metal festivals there is; this year’s stunning line up says it all!  So we are both delighted and honoured to be playing the Ronnie James Dio stage.”  Check out their video for ‘The Universe In A Nutshell’ here;

Stepping into Friday’s special guest slot on the Sophie Lancaster Stage are Norway’s black jazzsters, SHINING.  Singer Jørgen Munkeby comments, “Last time we played at BLOODSTOCK was one of the best and most exciting shows we’ve ever done. We’re so much looking forward to be back at the UK’s best metal festival again!”  Remind yourself of their sound with the video for ‘The Last Stand’;

Also landing Friday slots on the Sophie stage are Brit crust/grindcore monsters, FOETAL JUICE and British apocalyptic metal crew, ANTI CLONE. Tunisian symphonic prog metallers, MYRATH play the Sophie stage on Saturday, as do French avant-garde extremists, MISANTHROPE.  Lastly, stepping into a Sunday Sophie slot are US progressive thrash beasts, VEKTOR.

The second wave of BLOODSTOCK club nights kicks off in June.  Get along to one of the following local events for a chance to win BLOODSTOCK weekend tickets and BLOODSTOCK-related giveaways.  Check with your local club for further details in case of changes and expect the unexpected!  Events for June and July stack up as follows:

Wed 1st June – Nottingham – Bodega

Thu 2nd June – Bury – Blind Tiger

Sat 4th June – Stoke-on-Trent – Bunker 13

Thu 9th June – Manchester Rebellion Bar

Sat 18th June – Stoke-on-Trent – Bunker 13 (Rawkus)

Fri 24th June – Middlesbrough – SUMO

Fri 24th June – Reading – Face Bar

Fri 24th June – London Elektrowerkz

Fri 24th June – Glasgow – Cathouse

Fri 24th June – Ipswich – The Cock and Pye

Sat 25th June – Birmingham – Eddie’s Rock Club
Sat 25th June – Sheffield – Corporation

Thu 30th June – Exeter – Timepiece


Fri 1st July – Leicester – Firebug

Sat 2nd July – Doncaster – The Vintage Rock Bar

Sat 2nd July – Brighton – Envy

Sat 2nd July – Coventry – The Phoenix

Sat 2nd July – Stoke-on-Trent – Bunker 13

Fri 8th July – London – Electric Ballroom

Thu 14th July – Winsford – De Bees

Sat 16th July – Birmingham – The Asylum

Sat 23rd July – Burnley – Sanctuary Rock Bar

Thu 28th July – Sheffield Leadmill

Sat 30th July – Birmingham – Eddie’s Rock Club

Sat 30th July – Sheffield – Corporation

Already announced for 2016 are the three headliners, TWISTED SISTER (in their last ever UK show), MASTODON and SLAYER, plus special guests BEHEMOTH, GOJIRA and ANTHRAX.  Also on the bill are FEAR FACTORY, CORROSION OF CONFORMITY, SYMPHONY X, SATYRICON, PARADISE LOST, DRAGONFORCE, METAL ALLEGIANCE, STUCK MOJO, ROTTING CHRIST, MISERY LOVES CO, GHOST BATH, VENOM, UNEARTH, DIAMOND HEAD, GOATWHORE, ACID REIGN and many more.  Additional bands are still to be announced.