Here are some of my reviews from Bloodstock, which will be slotted in with a full feature for Soundshock.com.
When Watain enter the stage in broad daylight, Erik is defiant the Swedes will “bring the sun down” and with an aptly timed set and an utterly grim show, he sticks to his word. As expected, black metal’s latest kings bring an array of arsenal to the stage whilst they blaze through a classic set; tunes such as ‘Waters of Ain’ and ‘Reaping Death’ sounding particularly grim to summon the night sky. Despite previous black metal acts having difficulty with the main stage sound, Watain create a flawless darkness (pun intended) and the front row is covered in blood like they hoped for. LR
The pyrotechnics continue to conquer the main stage with Behemoth finally returning to their throne after having to pull out back in 2010. The band look as thrilled as one would imagine and Nergal looks stronger than ever, as he thunders through the hammering riffs of tracks like ‘Slaves Shall Serve’ and ‘Demigod’. The rest of the Poles make the stage look small in comparison, with each blastbeat being fuelled with precision and aggression. When the vocalist roars “It’s great to be alive” everyone can officially say they were a part of something historic here tonight and the worthy headliners are most definitely back where they belong. LR
Being the first band on the main stage is always going to be a tough feat but imagine the challenge with the addition of a frontman on crutches. Benediction manage to crush any doubts of being up to said challenge by whipping up a circle pit as soon as they begin. Despite the early morning hangovers the crowd are strong and lively and its apparent Dave Hunt, who is on crutches with a leg injury, is overwhelmed by such a response. The Brummie veterans only have a short set but manage to tire us out with a varied collection of thrash/death belters, many spanning back as far as classic album ‘Transcend the Rubicon’ and with Dave’s added humour (mostly at himself), everyone is pumped up for the day ahead. LR
The opening bands have managed to kick everyone out of their slumber and now the crowd are ready to neck the whiskey back with some seriously Southern grooves. With a discography as long as some of their riffs, Crowbar are going to be able to play this set with their eyes shut and thus the sludge oozes tightly. Each breakdown is received with a serious banging of heads including last year’s beast ‘Sever The Wicked Hand’ however movement over on the stage is severely lacking. LR
The denims and drunkards suddenly appear from their boozy pits for a more energetic pit as Chuck Billy and his legendary lot grace the stage with huge grins on their faces. Testament are one of the main thrash acts of the weekend and with that in mind, it doesn’t take long for the chaos to commence. The band certainly haven’t lost their touch with the recently released ‘Dark Roots Of The Earth’ already being sung back to them and slotting with ease into the standard setlist, however its blatant many are waiting for ‘Into The Pit’ to erupt. Chuck Billy shows true frontmanship as he stomps around the stage air guitaring to every shred on his mike stand and as soon as the show comes to a close, the thrashers are keen for their return to our shores in November. LR
With Deicide pulling out, Evile are pushed up from the Sophie stage to a decent afternoon slot on the RJD stage, however the pressure certainly doesn’t get to them, especially seeing as this is their fourth Bloodstock. Once the thrash ensues, the crowd is bulging with madness and bodies flailing and one can imagine the festival organisers breathing a sigh of relief as the Sophie stage avoids total devastation. For many the Northerner’s latest instalment, ‘Five Serpents’ Teeth’ was mediocre, however it translates to the live atmosphere with ease and ballad ‘In Memoriam’ opens when the skies do, causing everyone to feel like they’re a part of an insanely emotional music video. LR
Its always great when you see that a New Blood band of previous years has evolved and returned on the Sophie stage. Flayed Disciple won their regional heats back in 2010 and this year their debut ‘Deathhammer’ was released, proving their worth with death/thrash fury. This afternoon sees the country boys continue to prove themselves live with an energetic set and some of the audience already knowing the latest songs. This sound is dodgy at points but once you find a top spot in the tent, the head banging is subconscious as the grooves take over.
For many death metal fans at the festival, the news of Deicide dropping out was disappointing, albeit predictable, however Sunday’s afternoon is still full of brutality from US titans Nile. It would appear they have beckoned down the Egyptian rain god as the skies begin to open, however this doesn’t dampen any spirits as they showcase new riffing rituals from their latest. As is slightly the case on open stages such as Bloodstock, the dangerously deep Karl Sanders’ vocals are slightly muffled, however his shredding is far from ignored with ‘Lashed to the Slave Stick’ sounding as terrifying as ever. LR
It’s time for Dave Hunt to hobble into the spotlight for the second time this weekend, however this time he’s leaving the thrash from some truly grim blackened grind, if you wish to label as band such as Anaal Nathrakh. The tent is rammed and despite a slightly sloppy start, the necro-butchers of metal have got everyone into a frenzy with their grinding speed and shrill evil. With a preview off the new album being sneaked as well, the fans who have come over to the Sophie Lancaster tent have no regret missing Dimmu Borgir and with the addition of Dave trying to start a fight with a pit member its fair to say this band will continue serving the British scene proud. LR