Review by Emily Castles, Pictures by Vivien Varga
The rain has largely bypassed Catton Park so far today, minus a few summer showers which left us briefly huddling together under the Sophie tent like soggy penguins. But today is a day plagued by weather concerns, with Zeus playing havoc from above. But Bloodstock is a metal festival after all, and we are made of tough stuff.
Swallow The Sun take to the main Ronnie James Dio Stage early on in the day with a unique blend of doom-death devastation. Having released their latest album When a Shadow Is Forced into the Light at the start of this year, the Finns have now been producing desolate soundtracks for almost two decades. Unfortunately, today the atmosphere fails to pack a punch, falling victim to the high gales. The delicate guitar work and gentle clean vocals are somewhat lost to the wind.
There’s a different vibe over on the Hobgoblin New Blood Stage where Scars of Remembrance seem to have taken over the whole tent, not just the stage. Frontman Mike falls somewhere between Slim Shady and a member of The Offspring, his bleached hair poking out from beneath his cap roguishly. He leaps around uncontrollably for the entire set; climbing amp stacks, ascending poles, and weaving his way in and around the crowd followed (rather humorously) by a security guard. The Welsh outfit have experienced a few hiatuses and a few line-up changes, with Mike only joining last year – but based on this full-bloodied Bloodstock bow they now seem destined for bigger and better things.
Over on the Sophie Lancaster Stage, Dust Bolt are causing quite a stir. This is hard, fast thrash with Hetfield-style vocals which really gets the mosh pit going. The Germans released their latest album Trapped in Chaos earlier this year. Their sound sometimes edges into bluesy ballad territory making this particular strand of thrash undeniably catchy and memorable.
Birmingham Metal 2 The Masses winners, Voidlurker, haunt the New Blood Stage next in another dramatic change in tempo. The young trio bring a welcome dose of doomy destruction with gut-wrenching breakdowns and so much distortion you can feel it rumbling through your bones; if you’re looking for an upbeat wall of death, this probably isn’t the one for you. Formed just a few years ago, Voidlurker are currently working on their first EP with Conan’s Chris Fielding.
Another notable Brummie crew today is Master’s Call, fronted this evening (as they were at Incineration Fest) by Trivax singer Shayan Omrani. They close the New Blood Stage with some much-needed black metal. As we enter the ritual-ready teepee, we are greeted by the unmistakable scent of burning incense. Let the sacrifice begin. ‘The Spire Cranes’ is particularly catchy (as far as black metal goes).
With Dimmu Borgir forced to pull out of Bloodstock only days before, the Saturday line-up has taken a bit of a hit. Enter the wind. Due to the biblical levels of these unseasonal gales, Cradle of Filth are then duly postponed until tomorrow.
Northern Ireland’s Lock Horns take to the New Blood Stage where away from the gales they unleash a healthy dose of progressive metal complete with groovy riffage and melodic vocals.
Over on the main stage, Anthrax prove that just because you’re in your 50s doesn’t mean you can’t party hard. Opening with the intro to Pantera’s ‘Cowboys From Hell’ and delving into legendary classics such as ‘I Am The Law’ and ‘A.I.R.’ with their ‘80s era-defining riffs which have stood the test of time.
They are followed by Saturday headliner’s Parkway Drive. Their distinct metalcore brew may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but with a high-energy performance with plenty of crowd interaction and flaming pyro, they put on a worthy show to round off the main stage for the day.
But of course, the evening doesn’t end there.
Sophie Lancaster headliners, and the final band for the night, are the almighty Black Metal legends Taake. Formed in Bergen in 1993, and part of the original ‘True Norwegian Black Metal’ scene the band is predominantly the magnificent brainchild of the devil himself, Hoest.
Taake are everything that you’d expect from one of the founding fathers of the most extreme sub-genre of metal. Shrouded in controversies, they are relentlessly belligerent and intensely provoking in their music.
Their sound is bleak and hopeless – we have boarded Charon’s boat and are speeding down the river towards the icy depths of hell. ‘Nordbundet’ has the most eerie, most spine-chilling intro whilst ‘Huset I Havet’ plays with bluesy string bends and slides. Hoest himself is a captivating force, disappearing and reemerging from clouds of smoke. With a shaved head and corpse paint, he looks like an alien skeleton in knee-high military boots. His voice is strong and evil, pacing the stage whilst glaring at the crowd, as though deciding who to sacrifice next. Hail the master!