Review by Lucy Gliddon and photos by Sean Larkin
There was more glorious sunshine over Bloodstock as the second day got underway, and I checked out a great set from Birmingham’s Benediction on the RJD Stage (check Chop’s review for more), before moving over to the second stage for a thrash fix.
London thrash newbies Savage Messiah drew a sizeable crowd over on the Sophie Lancaster Stage, but were quickly let down by poor sound quality in the tent. Frontman Dave Silver could be heard nailing the vocal passages, but unfortunately not much else was decipherable above the overly-trebly guitars in the mix. It’s a shame for the band, as their newest album Plague of Conscience has been a hit with metal fans, and has earned them a deservedly sizeable fan base.
Over on the main stage, Benediction’s huge crowd had dissolved into a noticeably smaller one, which had gathered to see ex-Dragonforce frontman ZP Theart’s new band I Am I. Theart sounds and appears much more at ease in his new melodic power metal outfit, and there’s no doubt that the guy’s got a great voice. As the set progressed the attendance grew, but overall the set was unfortunately forgettable.
Taiwanese symphonic black metallers Chthonic (today featuring My Dying Bride drummer Dan Mullins) treated a sizeable Bloodstock crowd to a good selection of tracks from albums old and new. Frontman Freddy Lim took a moment to tell the crowd about his country’s lack of an Olympic team as a result of political issues in his homeland, which is met by loud boos, and enthusiastic chants of “Taiwan!” The band made a great impression, and there’s no doubt that they left the stage with a larger fanbase than before.
Seattle-based Sanctuary (featuring Nevermore members Warrel Dane and Jim Sheppard) first formed in 1985, and were active until their split in 1992. The band recently reformed, with this year’s Bloodstock being their first UK appearance in many years, and bassist Jim Sheppard’s first UK show since undergoing surgery on a brain tumour early last year. Frontman Warrel Dane has one of metal’s most distinctive voices with a huge range spanning 5-6 octaves, and it sounded just as spectacular live as it does on recordings. As a fan, it’s great to hear him nail higher falsetto notes which didn’t feature as prominently in Nevermore’s material as they do in Sanctuary’s. Their tight set included classic tracks, along with new material which will feature on upcoming release, “The Year The Sun Died”. In an interview with Dane and Sheppard later on in the day, they expressed gratitude to fans for such a great reaction after so many years away, and seemed somewhat humbled by the experience.
Thrash titans Testament have been one of the most requested bands in the run up to the festival throughout the past few years, and so it is no wonder that they, along with Nile, were one of the most anticipated bands of the weekend. They didn’t disappoint, delivering a solid set including classic tracks “The Preacher”, “Over the Wall”, “Into the Pit”, and “Practice What You Preach”, and new material from their latest release “Dark Roots of Earth”. The band sounded absolutely huge, helped by drummer Gene Hoglan who recently re-joined the band, and topped off by fantastic guitarwork from virtuosos Alex Skolnick and Eric Peterson. Frontman Chuck Billy sealed the deal, roaring his way through a set which will leave fans hungry for the band’s UK tour in November.
Somewhat controversial headliners Machine Head were up next, and how the set would go down was anyone’s guess. Cradle of Filth’s performance in 2009 ended with a less-than-impressed festival-goer injuring guitarist Paul Allender with a gobstopper. Despite all the fuss that was caused on the forums, a more mature approach was taken by naysayers and the set ran smoothly. Personally, I’ve never been a Machine Head fan, but credit where credit’s due, the band can certainly deliver. It’s doubtful that they will have won over many new fans, but their solid performance will have definitely pleased their loyal following. Playing a special set including five fan-picked songs from debut album “Burn My Eyes”, the Californian foursome tied up a more than satisfactory second day.
See more photos from Saturday below: