Bloodstock ’16 | Review Compendium

Bloodstock Open Air is an event the Fake Geeks team attends on an annual basis. It is sort of our annual heavy metal holiday, and something we look forward every summer. This year looked like a pretty stellar line-up, and it didn’t disappoint.

At the bottom of the page, you will discover what Mike and I thought of the bands we saw.

Before that, though, we’d like to introduce to you all a friend of ours who offered to provide her own take (and scoring system) on the festival.

Please read on to discover how Guest Geek Rachael Hunter found BOA 2016:


Bands – scoring explanation

0-2 points for:
Technique
Sound quality
Entertainment value
Originality
Mise en scène (including costumes, lighting, staging and overall feel)


Evil Scarecrow
An almost biennial band since their debut on the New Blood stage, these bloodstock regulars pull a crowd size to rival and exceed those a lot higher up the bill. Their combination between witty lyrics and audience participation make for an excellent early afternoon physical and mental work out including having to remember complex move combinations like jump, hit, dodge, hit and figure out if the command to scuttle left refers to his left or your left, whichever side left may be. As usual they pulled out a crowd pleasing performance, to bring a smile to the face of even the most hardened doom metal fan.

Technique 1
Sound quality 2
Entertainment value 2
Originality 2
Mise en scène 2

9/10

The Hyena Kill
Part of the thrill of Bloodstock is not just seeing the same tired old headliners, who chances are you have seen a bazillion times, and if not there is a reason why, but instead the exciting new finds, usually courtesy of The New Blood Stage. Unfortunately, the only problem with the exceptional line up at Bloodstock this year was that it made it that much harder to find the time and energy to make it to the New Blood Stage. Instead the baby Jagermeister stage was a much easier place to go to discover new talent. Squeezed between Misery Loves Co. and Stuck Mojo, Hyena Kills were my pick of the new comers to this festival. A two piece band of the ilk of the White Stripes they provided a nice interlude to the massive multi piece arrangements that otherwise populate the festival. Lorna Blundell on drums moves at lightening speeds, with incredible gusto. Being the only female drummer (that I am aware of) at the festival, she drew the usual comments regarding both musical talent and looks (all favourable) and is arguably the highlight of the band. Vocalist and guitarist Steven Dobbs rounded out the band with a talent on the guitar that make it sound like a whole band are playing. His fluctuations between screams and more melodic singing are a pleasure to listen to. All in all a solid performance and one to check out again in the future.

Technique 2
Sound quality 2
Entertainment value 2
Originality 1
Mise en scène 1

8/10

Corrosion of Conformity
Old school metallers Corrosion of Conformity pulled out a solid set… except the last 10 minutes. I realise now that the reply to the front man Pepper Keenan’s query as to whether it was ok if they “spaced out for a bit” should have been answered with a resounding “NO!”. Their closing hit “Clean my wounds”, although enjoyable for the first 2 minutes, turned into an endurance session of funk that could have been cut instead to a couple of minutes, not the extra-long festival of self-love it turned into. Given the short 45 minute set and it’s not like they don’t have any kind of back catalogue, it was a bit strange to draw out a 3 minute song to be a quarter of the set. My favourite moment – when Keenan threw his guitar to a roadie standing stage right at the very end. Not sure if the look of horror on the roadie’s face was due to almost being impaled by the head of a massive Gibson – or that it could have gone even worse had he failed to catch it.

Technique 2
Sound quality 2
Entertainment value 1
Originality 1
Mise en scène 0

6/10

Behemoth
I was a bit skeptical of seeing Behemoth after listening to a few of their songs prior to Bloodstock and coming to the conclusion they were at the end of the death metal spectrum where I definitely struggle to pick up any melody amongst the aggressive drumming, heavy guitars and cookie monster vocals. I was told though that they put on a solid stage show. And that they did! These dudes from Gdańsk Poland are definitely dedicated to their costumes and ambience, with lighting that eerily picks up their chaos themed paraphernalia in the background, a smattering a pyromania throughout, burning of incense with accompanying smoke machines for effect, shooting of confetti of my favourite colour (black) and regular costume changes to make them look even more ghoul like, including white masks with just enough red to pick up some of the light and make them an eerie spectacle to behold. Towards the end I was totally sucked into their dark world of satanic metal. Only complaint – given their dedication to costumes and ambience, reminiscent of medieval-esc satanic rituals, I found the front man’s highly visible, bright green Bloodstock wrist band insanely distracting and a bit bizarre. It did break the verisimilitude just a little.

Technique 1
Sound quality 2
Entertainment value 2
Originality 2
Mise en scène 1 ½ (losing half a point for being able to see the lead singers Bloodstock band)

8 ½ /10

Beyond the Black
Anyone concerned about the gender differential reporting of the Olympics should think long and hard before attending a metal festival, and particularly hard about seeing a band with a female band member at a metal festival. Regardless of her exceptional vocal ability the main critique of lead singer Jennifer Haben was of her bed-ability, which was widely scored as a 10/10 or “yes”. I have nothing really negative to say about Beyond the Black, other to note than the exceptionally wooden band supporting Haben, Haben being the only consistent band member since July this year. How they differ from other female fronted symphonic metal bands also isn’t clear. If metal has a boyband equivalent it has to be female fronted symphonic metal bands, as they can sometimes feel like they are manufactured to draw in a wider audience. The female vocalists though are generally exceptionally talented, and based on hand movements and leg squats definitely classically trained, with the only difference between the lead singer of a metal symphonic band and a successful X Factor contestant being the artistic talent and decent sound of the metal band accompanying them. All in all though Beyond the Black were inoffensive and quite listenable, if somewhat forgettable and unoriginal.

Technique 1
Sound quality 2
Entertainment value 1
Originality 0
Mise en scène 1

5/10

Twisted Sister
By Friday evening I was totally exhausted, so Twisted Sister was mostly experienced from the seats at the Bloodstock Arms. Apparently it’s their last tour, as front man Dee Snider told us, repeatedly. And they have been around for 40 years as, again, were told repeatedly. Twisted Sister did feel a little bit like stand up care of Dee Snider at some points, with occasional musical interludes. It even included a story teaser at the start about how the UK saved Twisted Sister in the 80s with the full story only to follow at the end (the fan base here was large enough to guarantee Twisted Sister’s ongoing existence). There were plenty of digs at most other notable bands on the planet, making sure that almost everyone in the audience felt alienated at some point including a massive dig at Download, which Snider was honest to attribute to Andy Copping’s lack of interest in booking them (making some us feel like Bloodstock is nothing more than a place for Download rejects…. which it most definitely is not!). As much as their fans would love Twisted Sister to do more tours, they better not due to the amount of flack Snider gave other bands who do such things. Given the amount of talking I was amazed that Twisted Sister made it through 14 songs and 3 more for encore, all of which musically were the anticipated high quality, if predictable performance, pulling out the expected classics such as “I Wanna Rock” and “We’re Not Going to Take It” . It was good to see Dream Theatre drummer, Mike Portnoy, joining the troupe following the tragic death of drummer A.J. Pero last year. Mike Portnoy again pulled out a predictably awesome performance, Portnoy having now drummed for more bands than Foo Fighter’s Dave Grohl. The lack of pyrotechnics throughout the performance was noted, all to come out in the last 10 seconds to the extent that I was wondering if this would be their last ever performance due to being given a Viking burial on stage.

Technique 2
Sound quality 2
Entertainment value 1
Originality 1
Mise en scène 1

7/10

Vallenfyre
My Saturday started with the incredibly heavy Vallenfyre, which as noted by their front-man Greg Macintosh, the sunny morning did not quite befit their timbre. These guys though pulled out a solid performance. It was nice to finally put a voice to someone I had only really known as the smiley guitarist for Paradise Lost, his sarcastic quips definitely putting a smile on my face. The request for the world’s slowest death circle to an incredibly mournful song about Macintosh’s father’s death was kindly acquiesced by the crowd. The juxtaposition of amusingly slow death circling and mournful lyrics resulted in a number of self-conscious chuckles. Special mention goes to Vallenfyre’s step in live drummer, 22 year old Waltteri Väyrynen, also drumming for Paradise Lost latter in the day.

Technique 2
Sound quality 2
Entertainment value 2
Originality 1
Mise en scène 1

8/10

Fear Factory
Fear Factory’s second studio album Demanfacture, played in full as part of the album’s 20th anniversary celebration tour, is not an easy album to perform. I know this from my own personal experience of spending many a hung over morning attempting to warble through the lyrics of this industrial metal classic. Only Ah-Ha’s take on me presents a trickier vocal range to sing along to. Front man Burton definitely demonstrated how difficult this album is to sing, performing not his worst rendition of the album that I’ve heard, but also not his best, and definitely a long way off the original. The more open nature of an outdoor festival may be to blamed for this, as smaller indoor settings mean that some of his more off notes can be somewhat hidden with original vocals from the album. I’m not sure how many more years we’ll see Fear Factory touring as Burton appears to be the victim of a lack of professional vocal training meaning years singing from the throat and interchanging between larynx mangling roars and melodic singing has totally destroyed his vocal chords. Lead guitarist, Dino, will never cease to be a pleasure to watch though, his happy face regularly egging on the audience to keep on moshing. Fear Factory are still legendary greats but probably better suited to a small room than an open air festival.

Technique 1
Sound quality 1
Entertainment value 1
Originality 1
Mise en scène 1

5/10

Paradise Lost
I was a little concerned that Yorkshire based Paradise Lost would bore the hell out of me, potentially playing the same set list I have seen over and over again. Instead though I was pleasantly surprised as they pulled out the heaviest set list I have ever heard them play live, perfectly suited to the Bloodstock crowd. Almost nothing they played was from their 90s electro industrial phase, weirdly the “The Last Time” being one of the few exceptions. Although musically they performed a prefect set, as they do every time I see them, front man Nick Holmes seemed a little more distracted than usual, maybe as a result of the setting sun being in his eyes, or potentially due to a broken microphone stand. He also appeared to be having some struggles with the sound mixing, regularly having to gesture to the sound crew to fix the mix. He received a few chuckles for his “bad boy” antics, walking on the speakers at the front which apparently had a massive “do not walk here” sign on them. What a rebel!

Technique 2
Sound quality 1 ½ (a few problems during the set)
Entertainment value 2
Originality 1
Mise en scène 1

7 ½ /10

Gojira
If I was to give a band a number one place for the weekend it would be Gojira. Their set was tighter than a virgin’s vagina and their new album translates perfectly live. The only thing to say about this band is they are perfectly heavy, with base so heavy my shirt was literally lifting off my shoulders under the air coming from the speakers. I could just see this band over and over again! Although my neck may never, ever function again…

Technique 2
Sound quality 2
Entertainment value 2
Originality 2
Mise en scène 1

9/10

Shining
This band is incredible and was the highest energy and most intense set I saw all weekend! Although described as Black Jazz, with their nine inch nails-esc sound plus sax, industrial jazz might be a better way to describe them. It’s like listening to what would happen if Trent Reznor and Angelo Badalamenti (David Lynch’s go to composer) had musical babies and they all took acid. The Shining’s feverish industrial sound is perfectly supplemented with high pitched, wild and chaotic jazz. This was definitely the most moshable band of the weekend and totally broke me for the evening. A few people struggled with the hard core strobe in their closing number “the madness and the damage done”. My personal feeling though was that their fit inducing visuals perfectly complemented their frenetic sound. These guys are the band I never knew I was missing in my life until now. Live they deliver an outstanding performance performance perfectly conveying their hectic, incredicble sound.

Technique 2
Sound quality 2
Entertainment value 2
Originality 2
Mise en scène 1 ½

9 ½ /10

Mastodon
Mastodon felt like light hearted metal following the two intensely heavy acts of Gojira and Shining. Never ones to disappoint though, Mastodon kept my energy up and put on their usual excellent show with some trippy visuals to boot. I feel as though their drummer, Brann Dailor, stole the show both with his heavy drumming and amazing vocals that are like sliding between silk sheets and sipping a hot chocolate with marshmallows while cuddling your favourite teddy bear. It really makes the songs from the new album “Once Around the Sun” stand out. I felt the first hour was a little light, again maybe because of the heavy acts Mastodon had followed, but the last half hour was a heavy one to go out on. Definitely a perfect end to an amazing Saturday.

Technique 2
Sound quality 1
Entertainment value 2
Originality 2
Mise en scène 1

8/10

Ghost Bath
Still recovering from a heavy Saturday, Ghost Bath were not the opener we expected or needed. They were definitely the most talked about act of the weekend, the main comment being “Aaaaaaaaah”. People were still discussing them at the top of their lungs all the way through Sunday night and until the early hours of the morning. Most people’s impression though ended up sounding more like David Walliams’ Anne from Little Britain rather than the true angst ridden wail of the lead singer. I’m not sure if it was the bad mixing or that the sound that carried most was the singer, Dennis Mikula’s, vocals, but instead of being an atmospheric, depressive band with a few guys dressed in white playing melodic guitar and heavy double kick drums with complimentary vocals from Mikula dressed in black, it became almost a comedy act as we waited to hear the wail of the lead singer. Part of the problem may have been that Mikula’s vocals were not made for open air festivals, being the only component of the music that carried all the way to the campsite. His vocals were also exactly the right pitch to pass through toilet walls meaning that a trip to the port-a-loos during Ghost Bath felt like a trip to the pits of hell as described by my childhood Catholic school teacher, as the walls vibrated from the double kick and the wails of angst and pain pierced through the walls and into my hung over ears. That said, these guys are talented, have a fantastic sound and are definitely different. They are probably better suited to a dark, enclosed, nighttime club though, where the sound might mix and carry better and would better suite their depressive quality better than a sunny field in Derby on a Sunday morning while most of us were cradling hang overs. It definitely took me a few hours to brave the other bands again at Bloodstock after that performance.

Technique 2
Sound quality ½
Entertainment value 1 ½
Originality 2
Mise en scène 1 ½

7 ½ /10

Anthrax
The rest of Sunday was a bit of a mediocre blur, Metal Allegiance and Dragonforce being the only bands I really made it for, and also due to spending a bunch of time in queue at the singing tent of Sunday. Anthrax were the first and only band to really catch my attention all Sunday, and which I had the energy to enjoy all day. Giving their usual high energy performance with massive amounts of audience interaction to pull us out of our Sunday funk, Anthrax proved once again why it is they are still one of the metal greats. Their 1 hour set felt like it was cut short though and definitely ended way too early, with a late start and ending a few minutes early. It would be nice to see a longer set from them next time, maybe in a headliner spot.

Technique 2
Sound quality 2
Entertainment value 1 ½ (wish it was longer)
Originality 2
Mise en scène 1

8 ½ /10

Slayer
They stepped on stage, set fire to some impressive props, and played a flawless set. They were Slayer. You can’t question them. They do what they do and they do it well. What they are missing though is the energy and passion of the bands further down the bill, instead feeling like Slayer are just going through the motions. Not really what you want from any band.

Technique 2
Sound quality 2
Entertainment value 1
Originality 1
Mise en scène 1

7/10

Rest of the festival

Toilets
For us ladies, the toilets are one of the most important aspects of the festival going experience. Poor toilet planning and management at festivals can result in the decision to stop consuming liquids and eat only meat to try and lessen the risk of discovering horror beyond your wildest nightmares whilst relieving your bladder and/or bowels. Long queues can mean that you never see a whole set of a band. The she-wee has only helped in that now you can peer into the horror, instead of sitting on it and hoping that it doesn’t evolve a consciousness and try and pull you in. On this note Bloodstock have outdone themselves again this year with an immaculate toilet experience and limited queuing. Even on Saturday some port-a-loos were so pristine I imagined an attendant would be waiting for me outside to offer me a clean towel and spray of perfume. It was only by Sunday I was playing psychic toilet finder, trying to guess which toilet was likely to be least likely to hold an insult to all of my senses upon opening the door.

Food
Bloodstock again boasted a wide selection of food, most of which of pretty high quality. The old favourites were there; Breakfast Calzone from Joe’s Pizza Pockets is still the best value for food at the festival at £6 for a Calzone/pizza pocket and a drink and served between 10 and 12. Eaten strategically they can basically mean from here you only need to sort out your tea. My understanding is that Deli Kate’s continued to serve excellent grub, but my thorough dislike of queuing meant that I was unable to experience their deliciousness yet again for another year. My favourite Indian food store, usually located to the left of the main stage near Deli Kate’s, didn’t make it back this year which was sad. Instead it was replaced by an even more intense, stomach destroying experience curtesy of chilli filled bread, with the flavours available including “minimal taste” and “Oh my god what happened to my mouth”. Vege is also an option for the meatally challenged. I missed out on this save only for trying a very delicious sample, but I was assured that it was indeed delicious and did indeed cause a thorough clean of the digestive system and the inevitable ring of fire if you went for the insanely hot variety. Incredibly delicious Paella was the next best value meal of the festival, with £7 pounds getting you quite a decent portion that was far more filling than the burger and hot dog options that are available for a similar price.

Bars
Especially on the first day, the wait times for a drink at the Bloodstock Arms, the main bar at the festival, were unacceptably long. For some reason they introduced the system of one cashier per 10 bar staff, with serving staff having to line up and get change from a single cashier after they served each customer. Granted they didn’t exactly need someone of Rachel Riley’s talent to be the cashier for this to work, someone with a basic grasp of addition would have been sufficient, but seemed to be lacking. The whole system resulted in long waits and variably priced beer. The beer and ale selection also left a lot to be desired. Not as much effort was put into the ale selection this year and Hobgoblin became rare after about 8pm. Luckily, being a Rock Society member, I was able to frequent the better stocked and staffed VIP Serpents’ Lair bar which was exceptional as always.

Security
Security were the usual balance between those that I’d occasionally remind in a friendly way that maybe they’d like to check my bag and the staff that will tackle you to the ground and strip search you if they think you’ve brought a beer can in. As usual it meant that in general most festival goers respected the rules with some general testing of the boundaries.

Cleanliness
Additional effort was made this year to keep the area clean with staff employed to pick up trash around the place. I am curious as to what the overall carbon footprint of the festival is and if there is any possibility of recycling and other schemes to make it a more environmentally friendly festival. Overall though improvement would only come with a re programming of the festival goers, potentially with extensive training programs on how to use a bin. Whether or not the green festival experience is value for money and makes a significant difference is also questionable, so it’s not clear if it is something that Bloodstock needs to embrace.

Weather
I would like to thank the troposphere for being particularly awesome this year with such acts as: sun; cool breeze; and rain one morning, just enough to cool us all down but not so much as to soak the festival through and create mud. Who would have thought that the best summer weather experience all year would happen in a field in Derby.

Other revelers
Everyone was awesome! I literally did not experience a single wanker all festival. It was exceptional! The number of kids that attend and appear to have an awesome time is testament to how easy going and friendly Bloodstock festival goers are. Metal people are the best people!

Overall Assessment
Well done Bloodstock for putting on yet another watertight festival this year. The line-up was exceptional, but the truly great bands to watch were not the headliners but those on the smaller stages or further down the bill. The drummers though deserve a special mention – especially the drummers for Hyena Kills, Gojira, Twisted Sister and Mastodon – as these were the people who delivered the exceptional performances for the weekend.


Our thanks to Rachael for her input!

The Fake Geeks Bloodstock ’16 Band Ratings

It is now time to reveal what the Fake Geeks thought of the bands that played Bloodstock Open Air 2016. Read on to discover what Mike and I thought of this year’s offering.

Thursday

Sumer
Gaz: A very talented band; a good start to the festival. [8]

Psykosis
Gaz: Not overly original, but good at what they did and were fun, which is all you can ask for. [7]

Phil Campbell’s All Starr Band
Gaz: Some cracking covers, and the Dee cameo was a nice touch. [8]

Friday

Witch Tripper
Gaz: A good, solid start to the festival proper. I’d have probably enjoyed them a little more if I wasn’t so hung over! [7]

Fury
Gaz: More of the same (in terms of quality), extra 0.5 for the lead singer’s brilliant voice, and the rousing rendition of ‘Britannia’. [7.5]

Gloryhammer
Gaz: Brilliant. A long requested band that comfortably justified the hype. Got a very good crowd for that time of day, so hopefully it won’t be hugely long before they are asked back. [9]

Evil Scarecrow
Mike:  Hugely entertaining live act as always. They always draw an immense crowd, surely if they’re back in 2-3 years time they need to be a couple of slots higher up. [8.5]

Gaz: Almost as good [as Gloryhammer]. Love the on stage antics, and they seem to come up with something new each time. Hopefully they will write another killer song or two before their next visit, when they will surely be elevated a few more spot (especially comfortably drawing more than the two bands directly above them). [8.5]

Isarnos
Gaz: Couldn’t really get in the tent, and the sound didn’t carry that great, but I enjoyed them decently enough. [6.5]

The Hyena Kill
Gaz:  Cracking set from a talented duo. They should probably have been on the 3rd stage.[8.5]

Stuck Mojo
Mike: A couple of good tracks, but too many forgettable ones. A nice ‘alternative’ booking though, Bloodstock correctly booking bands across all of metal’s sub-genre’s. [7]

Gaz: Unoffensive, but lacked many great tunes. I did like ‘Rising’ though. I don’t think the singer was a great frontman. [6]

Chasing Dragons
Mike: I know I saw them. I know I didn’t dislike them. I can’t remember a thing about them. [n/a]

Gaz: Great frontwoman, and a really good performance. With a few more killer tracks, they’ll be a tip top group. [8]

Corrosion of Conformity
Gaz: In comparison to the majority of bands I’d seen up to this point, they seemed dreadfully bland. Clean My Wounds was good, but these were one of my biggest disappointments. [5.5]

Beyond the Black
Mike: Excellent stuff. Maybe lack as many great tracks as say, a Delain, but they have a great front-woman, and their cover of “Whole Lotta Love” was outstanding. [8]

Gaz: Fantastic. I agree on the Led Zeppelin cover too. [9]

Twisted Sister
Mike: A hugely entertaining headlining act, and a hell of a way to go out on a (U.K) high. You will be missed, Twisted Sister! [9]

Gaz: That’s how you go out on a high. The only shame was that they weren’t available to close the Sunday night, as that would have been perfect. [10]

Diamond Head
Gaz: I was absolutely shattered after Twisted Sister, so probably didn’t enjoy them as much as I would have done. However, they were still good and Am I Evil? is a belter of a closing track. [7]

Saturday

The Heretic Order
Mike: Started off slowly, but picked up mid-set and overall were an entertaining enough way to kick off the second stage on Saturday. [7]

Gaz: Wasn’t too fussed with the opening couple of tracks, but from the very good ‘Snake’ onwards they improved markedly. The frontman was humorous too. [7]

Mage
Mike: Pretty decent. An Orange-Goblin-lite [7]

Gaz: Didn’t check them out as much as I should have done beforehand, but am glad I watched them. Sounded a bit like Orange Goblin with a sprinkling of Down. [7]

The Raven Age
Mike: A little too generic, but certainly not a bad band. [6.5]

Gaz: Pleasant, clean riffs. Angels in Disgrace was good, though I’d struggle to pick out the band (aurally) from a line-up. [6]

Cybernetic Witch Cult
Mike: One of the single greatest sets I’ve ever seen from a band at Bloodstock; a full on mixture of groove-tastic riffs, pop culture and B-Movie inspired lyrics which completely blew me away. [10]

Gaz: BAND OF THE WEEKEND. Totally blew me away, even with such a short set. High Wizard was the song of the festival. Loved the use of the projector and the syncing of the videos to their performance too. [10.1]

Vodun
Mike: I almost can’t begin to describe this bizarre and captivating band from London. A cocktail of heavy metal drumming, Pink Floyd-esque guitar work, and soulful funk vocals with Afro drum beats. I can’t even say why I enjoyed them so much, but I did, and Vodun were a wholly original experience. [8.5]

Gaz: Sound mix almost ruined their set, but they pulled through. Truly unique, and I’m looking forward to seeing them against at HRH Doom vs Stoner. [8]

Famyne
Gaz: Good performance, and the band showed a lot of potential. I may have enjoyed them more if they hadn’t have been directly following the bands they were. Definitely one I’m keeping an eye on though.  [7]

Fear Factory
Gaz: Well, I think it is official – the vocals have gone. Also, while I know Demanufacture is well regarded in certain circles, I think they would have been better served simply using it as the spine of the set rather than play it in its entirety, and saved a couple of belters for the end. Alongside CoC for most disappointing, I think. [5.5]

Regulus
Mike: Terrific, as always. [8]

Gaz: A great set, though I expected nothing less from one of my favourite local bands. [8]

Gojira
Gaz: as like sex for the ears. So tight, so heavy, so good. Surely a future headliner with that show and the large crowd. [9.5]

Shining
Mike: A fusion of metal and jazz (or as they prefer, “Blackjazz”) was one of the festival highlights. A terrifically tight and lively performance. A fantastic live experience, even if the constant flashing lights are likely to induce a seizure. [10]

Gaz: One of my favourite live bands, and they did not disappoint. I’m still a little miffed that the timings meant I had to either miss some of this or some of Gojira. Still, another brilliant set. [9]

Mastodon
Gaz: I was a little burnt out by this point, and I’d seen so much good stuff that I got a little impatient with them. I don’t rate the newest album that much either, though I did think the tracks sounded better live. Lost my shit to Black Tongue (one of my favourite riffs). They were really good at what they did, though, and I know I’d have enjoyed them more on another day. [7]

Sunday

Ghost Bath
Mike: Nowhere near as depressing as I was expecting! Some very impressive guitar work and the rather unique vocals made Ghost Bath one of the most talked about (and drunkenly imitated in the campsite) bands of the weekend. [9]

Gaz: Bonkers. I know they were described as depressing black metal, but I thought they were more Blackgazey than that. Fantastic musicians, and the vocal technique certainly added something to their set. Golden Number was bloody brilliant live too. I also feel no shame in admitting I was one of the guys attempting ‘Ghost Bath vocals’ in the campsite for half the evening. [9]

Heart of a Coward
Gaz: Not overly my thing, but I could appreciate how good they were. [7]

Metal Allegiance
Mike: One of the biggest let-downs of the whole festival. Muddy and botched covers of some classic acts and little stage presence. [5]

Gaz: A bit disappointing, but I liked the sentiment and was pleasantly surprised by the song choices. Wished they’d been tighter – Skolnik was all over the shop on the slower stuff. [6]

DragonForce
Gaz: A shame that the sound problems curtailed their set a bit, but I think they went some way to win over the doubters. Hopefully they’ll be back sooner rather than later. [8]

Whispered
Mike: A hard-hitting set from a Finnish act who mix heavy metal with influences from Japanese culture to create ‘Samurai Metal.’ They reminded quite a lot of Chthonic who went down a treat on Main Stage a couple of years ago. It was a pity they clashed with DragonForce as they could have found a much deserved larger audience. [8]

Symphony X
Gaz: The sound mix was rubbish, which took me out of it a bit (could only hear keyboards on two tracks, and the drums drowned out a lot of the other sounds). It’s probably a testament to them that I still enjoyed them enough to give them a 7. [7]

Footprints in the Custard
Mike: Absolutely, totally mad, in the best way. The parody band from Manchester might not be to the taste of everyone, nor the sort of band to listen to at home or on CD, but as a live act they come hugely recommended. Crowd pleasing fun from start to finish. [8.5]

Anthrax
Mike: Didn’t play I am the Law. [1] In all seriousness, they don’t disappoint. [7]

Gaz: Watched from near Deli Kate’s, as I was exhausted by this point. They didn’t disappoint in 2013 and they didn’t last night. [8]

Andrew O’Neill’s History of Metal
Gaz: Brilliant. Funny, informative and entertaining – I wished he’d had 2 hours instead of 1. [9]

Slayer
Mike: A tighter and overall better set than their headlining slot three years ago (understandable considering the circumstances surrounding that performance.) Their ‘big’ songs seemed well spread across their set to keep the casual fans interest and they built to a strong run of tunes to close. [8.5]

Gaz: Watched from between the sound stage and the jager stage to be able to make a hasty exit. Enjoyed them for what they were, and they were pretty tight. However, I’ve never been a ‘Slayer guy’ (I prefer the other three of the big four to them) so I struggled a bit towards the end. Well, until South of Heaven/Raining Blood/Angel of Death, which is always a cracking finale. [7]


Bands of the Festival
Mike: Cybernetic Witch Cult, Shining, Twisted Sister, Ghost Bath, Vodun

Gaz: Cybernetic Witch Cult, Twisted Sister, Gojira, Shining, Ghost Bath, Gloryhammer

Honourable Mentions
Mike: Footprints in the Custard, Evil Scarecrow, Slayer

Gaz: Evil Scarecrow, Vodun, Beyond the Black


Finally, a quick thank you to those that came up to use and said hello across the weekend – it means a lot!

Thank you all for reading. We hope you all enjoyed Bloodstock as much as we did. We’ll see you there again there next year!

 

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