Review by Chop and photos by Sean Larkin
Breaking a personal Bloodstock record by remaining hangover free, the cloudy start to the day resulted in a somewhat more subdued emergence from under canvas (ok nylon let’s not get too carried away!) perhaps more akin to a sloth with a slightly gammy back. Sleep deprivation catching up already clearly….
Returning to music quickly, Birmingham death metal stalwarts Benediction had the honour of rousing the Saturday faithful into life, which they did with apparently consummate ease. Vocalist Dave took to the stage on crutches due to a particularly painful bout of gout, but with foot perched on monitor they were dispensed with almost immediately and it was very much a case of business as usual. His opening crowd address of “thank you very much and welcome to the Benediction breakfast club” was greeted warmly, and led to an increased frenzy in the pit. Old and new were spliced together seamlessly, and they delivered a near as damn it faultless opening set, in terms of impact on a par with those from Hell, Skeletonwitch and Suffocation in recent years.
Sophie tent next to get pummelled for half an hour by Dripback. My heart sank with the somewhat sludgy sound they had, but with Russ Russell at the helm on the mixing desk this was sorted rapidly to the clear delight of the heaving crowd. If hardcore laden with groove and laced with enormous beatdowns sounds like your bag, then they were most definitely the band for you. Vocalist Wes orchestrated the mayhem on the floor expertly, and conducted their finale from the photo pit, marauding around like a caged panther. Check them out on tour with Nasum and Black Breath if you get a chance!
Back on the main stage, sludge legends Crowbar sounded massive. Although the sun was threatening to break through, fittingly it held off. Crowbar in bright sunshine? About as criminal as crusts on a cucumber sandwich. ‘Conquering’ set the tone, ‘Sever The Wicked Hand’ was immense mid-set, and ‘The Cemetery Angels’ concluded their fine performance.
If Crowbar were fortunate with the cloud cover not breaking, Mayhem were on a hiding to nothing attempting to convey their old school black metal grimness at 3.20pm. A similar fate befell 1349 and Gorgoroth over the last couple of years. None of these bands did anything wrong, but trying to deliver the music’s true atmosphere at this time of day – outdoors – is nigh on impossible. Attila’s vocals were stunning though, especially the control, duration, and pitch of several of the screams. And at least he’d decided not to appear as a tree (again)…
A lone excursion for the day to the New Blood stage followed to compare how Bull-Riff Stampede’s efforts stacked up against their recent appearance at Scruffy Murphy’s. Surprisingly well is the succinct answer, and surprisingly good was the turnout for them considering they clashed with Mayhem. They were tight as a band, received a good sound, and delivered their take on classic rock meets thrash with aplomb. Kyrbgrinder were also impressive on the Jager stage and had attracted a sizeable crowd. They were enjoyable as a semi acoustic outfit; quite how good they’d sound through a full PA sent shivers down my spine….
Hatebreed had their fair share of detractors in the run up to the festival, but anyone who wasn’t impressed with their performance must be very hard to please. From the air raid siren (how apt) intro, through to the predictable – but still massively pleasing – closing onslaught, Hatebreed showed why they’ve been around for so long, and what an utterly dependable live force they are. Even with several lengthy crowd addresses, they still managed to pack 16 songs into an hour long set. One of the largest circle pits witnessed at Bloodstock opened up almost instantly and the chaos levels increased as their stint progressed. Personal highlights were ‘As Diehard As They Come’, ‘Everyone Bleeds Now’ (especially the beatdown which was nothing short of enormous), ‘Perseverance’, and of course ‘Destroy Everything’ to round things off. Any doubters as to their validity to be on the BOA 2012 bill after that? Nope. Breathtaking.
And so to my last reviewing duties (obligation? Never!) of the day, Orange Goblin anchoring the Sophie stage. Considering their set overlapped with Testament, the tent was packed, and they delivered a set which in many ways echoed Viking Skull’s on Thursday evening. With the beer flowing well all day, but fans still game to give it their all, the scene was set for a band to grab the crowd by the scruff of the neck and offer them no let up for an hour. Not saying there weren’t changes of tempo or mood – the slower, lengthier workout of ‘Time Travelling Blues’ was as well received as their more upbeat numbers for instance. The main similarity was the mood of unity and well being, a sea of hands responding to the band’s efforts throughout. Grins all round as the fans left happy to drift back to the main stage for today’s headliners…
…over to Lucy to give you the full low down, but being very brief Machine Head were as solid as ever, and closed the day with an assured and powerful display. Two days gone in a blur, and so far a very impressive festival indeed. Could Sunday’s bands possibly match, or even exceed, the first two days? Tough acts to follow, but there were plenty of big names still to come…
View more photos from Saturday below: