Bloodstock Open Air 2012 @ Catton Hall, Derbyshire – Thursday 9th August


Review by Chop and photos by Sean Larkin

With much of Britain wrapped up in the feelgood factor of Team GB’s record breaking gold medal haul, fans of extreme metal made their annual pilgrimage to Bloodstock to revel in its own special sense of bonhomie. Tent pitched and stage times checked in earnest, it was time to earn our keep, open the notepad, check the camera settings, and witness the first bands of the weekend….

After the time honoured operatic/neo-classical intro Saturnian emerged, impressively bedecked in stage costumes complete with capes, to whip the sizeable gathering into something akin to a frenzy. Returning to reality, they did a more than passable job, but their set left an impression of confident yet predictable, albeit that the crowd warmed to them. Straight from the Dimmu Borgir or Satyricon school of symphonic black metal the contrasting styles of the two vocalists was an interesting feature (male black metal versus female operatic), otherwise it was difficult to put your finger on their USP.

For differing reasons, the evening then became the reviewer’s equivalent of the fisherman’s ‘the one that got away’. Marionette were unable to appear due to a vehicle malfunction en route to the festival, whilst the Midlands Rocks’ team who reviews whom band divvy up accounted for the vast majority of Bloodshot Dawn’s performance, although reports from trusted sources suggested that their set was suitably pleasing on the ear.

Scene set then for a crowd uniting, fist-pumping, beer drinking, classic rock performance to round off the day, which Viking Skull comprehensively delivered. Whoever booked them to anchor things made an inspired choice, a perfect example of right band, right place, right time. With a new lineup that sounded both well rehearsed and polished, whilst still retaining an energy and aggression of a band just setting out, their set flew by. Personally ‘Born In Hell’ and ‘Skull Heaven’ were the highlights, although ‘Beers, Drugs And Bitches’ probably summed things up far more adequately.

Live music performances completed for day one, it was time for different forms of entertainment to send fans back to their tents happy. Aussie comedian Steve Hughes had been invited back for his second successive year, prior to the 4 DJs Of The Apocalypse playing a mix of old and new to loosen up vocal chords and air guitar techniques for the rest of the weekend.

An early night seemed to be the most sensible approach with the first full day looming nearer. Quite how this disintegrated into collapsing in a (sober!!) heap at 4am is anybody’s guess, but when in Rome eh? Festival mode fully activated one could only grin at the prospect of what was to follow over the next three days…