Bloodstock Festival – Catton Hall, Derbyshire – Sunday 11th August 2013


Review by Chop, photos by Sean Larkin

Much as the festival itself seems to approach by stealth each year, so it is with the final day. So many memories, so many memorable sets, more still to come of course, yet still tinged with sadness that reality beckons on the morrow. All good things have to come to an end. Snapping rapidly out of morose mode, the main stage line up alone hinted at an absolute humdinger of a day to conclude BOA 2013.

9541666082_95a15c0ddb_nGama Bomb had the honour of opening on the main stage and set the benchmark high for the remaining bands to follow and strive to surpass. If Tobias from Avantasia won the best crowd addresses award, then Philly Byrne certainly gave him a run for his money with a master class in captivating an audience. He undoubtedly won the best trousers of the weekend award though! Despite the hour the pit played along energetically, increasingly appreciative of the band’s relentless onslaught. ‘Backwards Bible’ and ‘Smoke The Blow With Willem Dafoe’ were early highlights, with the inevitable closer of ‘Hammer Slammer’ being as reliably destructive as ever, and rounding things off perfectly.

A quiet before the storm keyboard intro heralded the arrival of Whitechapel. Aided by an absolutely immaculate sound – especially the drums which were nothing short of concussive – they delivered a set of immense power, groove, and intricacy, all delivered at a velocity that at times defied belief. Eight songs in forty minutes of utter brutality and precision whipped the pit into a state of total frenzy. Hopefully an extensive headlining UK tour will occur sooner rather than later!

9539882528_4347bd90e4_nTime for a change of pace, with a set of high octane beefed up rock and roll delivered in fine fashion by Fozzy. Chris Jericho put in a fine frontman’s stint, in a particularly understated jacket, and got the crowd going well. Backed up by a drummer from the modern school, thankfully with a judicious utilisation of double kick drum work, and guitarists alternating being pounding out the riffs and shredding like mad, any detractors there may have been pre-performance were rapidly won over. A guest appearance from Phil Campbell on ‘She’s My Addiction’ didn’t harm their cause either…

9576492561_d3a25cbe06_nDespite being on at the same time as Amorphis, Evil Scarecrow attracted quite a following on the Sophie Lancaster stage. In fact, that could be a candidate for understatement of the weekend, as their crowd were spilling out several deep, all around the tent. The sight of several thousand metal heads doing a synchronised robot dance for set closer ‘Robototron’ was certainly a sight to behold. Evidently they’ve built up quite a following since their first appearance at BOA, as Metal To The Masses winners I believe, in 2008. The clamour to interview them in the press area later on spoke volumes too…

Merciless Terror were on at  the same time as DevilDriver, yet still attracted a reasonable crowd in the New Blood tent. Having seen them on several occasions before, this was a case of business as usual as they pummelled their way through their thrash/death metal repertoire with malicious intent. Let’s just say they went down a storm, and the ferocity of the pit activity was up there with the most frenetic witnessed in this particular location all weekend. Rumour has it there’s a début album in the pipeline in the not too distant future that should be well worth checking out… 9511154572_02aca45c3d_z

And so to the penultimate act on the main stage, thrash legends Anthrax. I have to admit to a certain degree of trepidation before their set as the last couple of times I’d seen them I left somewhat unimpressed. Clearly there’s something in the Derbyshire air as this was the best I’ve seen them play for many a year. For starters the set list was near as damn it flawless (ok you could argue about the inclusion of the cover of T.N.T.), essentially their greatest hits and exactly what any die-hard Anthrax fan would have wanted. ‘Caught In a Mosh’ and “N.F.L’ got the pit warmed up from the off, and the finale of ‘I Am The Law’ and ‘Antisocial’ was the perfect way to conclude. Stunning. 9500283345_24b59ac275_z

Which left but two bands, and for both Paul and myself the most heart breaking stage clash of the weekend – Dying Fetus and Slayer. Paul will report in depth about the former, but of the fifteen minutes or so I saw of their set it was a massive pity that I couldn’t be in two places at once. Explosive doesn’t come close. Back to the main stage, swiftly, clearly this was always going to be a highly charged and emotional set. Kerry King undertook the vast majority of the soloing, Tom kept his crowd addresses as minimal as ever, while the band as a whole played a set of such utter devastation that it’s hard to sum it up unless you were there. Influential is an oft used word, but genuinely Slayer’s influence on the extreme metal scene since their formation cannot be under-estimated. As with Anthrax before them, their choice of set-list was perfect, the closing trio of ‘Hell Awaits’, ‘Dead Skin Mask’, and ‘Raining Blood’ leading to the double whammy encore of ‘South Of Heaven’ and ‘Angel Of Death’. Wow. And again wow. A perfect way to bring Bloodstock 2013 to an end…

9500288241_bbac8e2d2a_nFinally it’s time for an overview of the festival as a whole. If BOA 2013 wasn’t the best Bloodstock I’ve attended, then it was mightily bloody close. Apart from the odd spot here and there it stayed dry throughout the weekend, which with the much derided inclement English climate is always a bonus.

The spirit throughout the weekend was fantastic, a knowledgeable crowd intent on partying like mad, yet still being respectful as a community. Perhaps the line up on the Sophie Lancaster stage could have been stronger, again black metal was witnessed on the main stage in broad daylight, and some of the stage clashes were an annoyance, but taking the weekend as a whole these have to be considered as quibbles rather than failings. The forums are bound to go into overdrive with suggestions for the 2014 bill. So far we’ve got Emperor confirmed as the first headliner. If that isn’t enough to convince you to return next year then you’re either not a fan of black metal, or especially hard to please! Bloodstock 2013 was a resounding success. All being well I’ll see you all again there next year. Are we nearly there yet? Can’t come quickly enough…


…sorry, a quick thank you to my Midlands Rocks partners in crime over the weekend – Paul Castles and Sean Larkin – for their dedication and hard work. Pleasure working with you fellas!!

Read Chop’s review of Bloodstock Friday here

Read Chop’s review of Bloodstock Saturday here

See all of our photos from Bloodstock here