Review by Emily Castles
Photos by Sean Larkin, Rob Stanley & Tony Gaskin
As Bloodstocker’s descended upon the green and mystical land of Catton Park for the final day of one of Europe’s finest metal festivals, the sky was slightly greyer but the air still warm and the crowds still in minimal amounts of clothing. After all, what is a festival without goosebumps, right? Another beer sorts you out anyway!
Early on in the day, Heart of a Coward took to the Ronnie James Dio stage. Attracting one of the biggest crowds of the early morning performers, Heart of a Coward are a quintet who always provide a brutally chaotic performance which was an instant draw for many. Since their formation in 2007, and now with ex-Sylosis member Jamie Granham as their frontman, the groove-metal Milton Keynes boys have built up a huge and dedicated following.
Following them onto the main stage was Metal Allegiance, a band founded upon the connection and indeed allegiance of all types of heavy metal. A unique mix-match of genres, with almost anyone who is anyone in the metal world at some point making an appearance in the band, Metal Allegiance are more than just a band but a tribute to metal history. Indeed, many songs were dedicated to deceased metal heroes – the band, a band of the people.
Meanwhile, over at the New Blood Stage, I Saw the World Burn absolutely killed it with frontwoman Katie Cairns prowling the stage in a cape like a metal wonder woman, her ferocious vocals marking the Midlanders out as a band to watch.
Over at the Sophie Lancaster stage, the much anticipated doom trio Witchsorrow stepped out to a large crowd. With doom bands being slightly lacking at this year’s Bloodstock, Necroskull and Emily Witch’s daunting creation was a must watch for many. Deadly slow, deafeningly brutal, and with continual nods to the imminent decline of the human populace (Donald Trump inevitably got a mention!). Doom at its best.
Another Sophie showstealer were Krysthla whose pounding set was as heavy as some of the barbells being lifted a hundred yards away at Bloodstock’s very own strong man contest.
One of the biggest draws was inevitably the Norwegian Black Metal giants Satyricon. Positioned behind a pitch fork as decadent as his name, one of black metal’s original God’s positioned himself in front of the crowd of fallen angels. Satyr, and fellow member Frost, have been the band’s core members since their formation in 1993 in the heyday of Norwegian black metal controversy and rebellion.
Eight studio albums later, the last released in 2013, the band ,have gained almost mythical status. Performing songs such as ‘K.I.N.G’ and ‘Black Crow on a Tombstone’, music now archived as some of the most important and influential in the genre, Satyricon have certainly earned their place in the metal hall of fame. Their performance certainly reflected this, with many songs so famed that they were performed dually with the ruthlessly dedicated crowd.
Continuing on the Ronnie James Dio stage, one of metal’s ‘Big 4’, Anthrax, surfaced to the delight of a heaving throng of nostalgic metalheads. With classics such as ‘Cry for the Indians’ their set was undeniably fun and fast paced, Joey Belladonna bouncing around in a manner which was undeniably impressive for a fifty-five year old. His connection with the crowd was captivating; sweet-talking a camera-man to pass him the camera so that he could film the audience, projected on to the two large screens either side of the stage.
Curtain closers hardly come any bigger than Slayer and even in the post-Hanneman years they remain a potent force. Refreshingly the new material is still up to scratch, opening with ‘Delusions of Saviour’ from latest album Repentless and then scarcely taking breath for the next 45 minutes until the slovenly killer ‘Mandatory Suicide’.
The only surprise on the final day of Bloodstock 2016 was the absence of the traditional unveiling of a stella name for the following year’s festival. We’re still waiting. If it surpasses the quality served up this year then we’ll all be happy Bloodstockers for sure.
A View From The Pit – Tony Gaskin
So onto the Sabbath day and first up for me was a foray into the Sophie tent to see a band I first saw on my first festival assignment for Midlands Rocks. I saw Desert Storm play on the Area 81 stage at the Bulldog Bash many moons ago and was suitably impressed then.
The intervening years have seen them grow in reputation and stature as one of the premier bands on the UK Doom/Stoner circuit. Their sound is uncomprimising and ferocious, just what was needed to get this tired and battered body going for one more day.
Stuck around the Sophie tent for a bit to catch the much talked about Sanguine, and to be honest wasn’t that enamoured with them, abit tame for my taste. I kept finding myself comparing them to Fire Red Empress whos singer is much more dynamic and has the ability to scream/growl along with the clean vocals.
Anyway, next up on the Sophie stage was Krysthla. One of the bands of the last 12 months to emerge from the underground scene as real heavy weight contenders for blazing a trail for British Metal. I can’t help thinking that if bands like Krysthla had a shot at American audiences then they would be huge, they are that good. Brutal Death Metal that would sit comfortably alongside the likes of LoG in big arenas. We get to see them up close and personal though and today was an intense experience.
But the New Blood Stage was calling and I was eager to catch the much touted I Saw The World Burn. So it seemed did a lot of other people, the tent was heaving, and even the photo pit was full!! Maybe down to the fact that bass player Don is a well known and liked ‘tog and is usually in the pit with us!!
Straight away I find myself comparing them with Sanguine. But front woman Katie Cairns is worlds apart from Sanguine’s Tarin Kerrey. Her stunning looks and glamourous oufit hide a ferociously brutal vocal style which counter acts the almost funky groovesof the music. Again this band is relatively new but have been creating waves within the scene with their tight sets and professionalism. Another one of my ones to watch for 2017
After nipping back to the Sophie tent to catch Witchsorrow I was back in the NBS to see veteran rockers Firebomb. A band that’s been knocking around for a few years now, these guys are all experienced rockers with various other projects and it shows. At ease on a big stage, they play simple no thrills rock and roll that gets the tent into a real festival party mood, great Sunday afternoon’s entertainment.
From the experienced to the not so experienced and one of the overseas contingent The John Doe’s Burial. Hailing from Poland they play a style of blackened Death Metal which felt a bit weak to me. We’re terribly spoilt at the moment with some brutal Black and Death Metal bands in this country and although it was musically tight, and they looked good visually, there wasn’t enough technicality or variety in there to keep me interested, I mean when you’ve seen bands like Gehtika and Old Corpse Road the bar is set very high!
The New Blood Stage is a bit of a misnomer. There are always a few bands thrown in that have been around a while and the next two bands up easily fit into that catergory.
First up were Chronicles from the East Midlands. The unmistakable figure of Bane Holland (A Thousand Enemies) and Leigh Dickens provide a two pronged vocal assault. The songs are fast and frenetic, heavy but melodic and the crowd are bouncing.
Follow that then Valous! Yep, next bunch of vets on the stage were Brummie rockers Valous. Re-vitalised with some new members and good reviews for their recent album, Valous were granted a special guest slot and they grabbed it by the horns and it seemed like half of Birmingham had turned up to watch them. As always it was a full on energetic set from front man Mat Shutt and that energy was lapped up by the crowd, one of the best atmospheres in that tent all weekend!
Unfortunately I missed Footprints in the Custard as they clashed with Memoriam and Gutlocker had the bad luck of playing whilst Anthrax were on, so that was my Bloodstock. Most of it speny on the New Blood Stage in the photo pit and once again it proves that a major festival can devote time, money and space to the emerging unsigned scene.
Check out all our band photos from Saturday below, or CLICK HERE to view all our photos from across the weekend