Metal Injection sent intrepid writer/photographer Aline Miladinovich to the 2nd annual Bloodstock UK fest. The lineup featured the likes of Motorhead, Morbid Angel, Immortal, WASP, At The Gates and many more. Aline came back with a giant set of phenomenal photos (check those out here) and this report…
Armed with a very special pair of submarine black, belted, spiked, extremely bad-ass rubber Wellies (pleased to announce such a thing exists!) I arrived on UK soil (not mud this year, but soil!) on August 11, 2011 to begin my second year in a row of covering the UK’s largest independent heavy metal festival, Bloodstock. Anticipating rain all weekend, but ultimately seeing only about three drops of it the entire time, my “sophomore year” at Bloodstock managed to surpass last year on the “awesome scale”, something which I didn’t think would ever be possible.
Boasting an even more efficient layout for the VIP, artist, and camping areas than in 2010, BOA demonstrated once again, that they actually DO heed feedback from prior years and put it into effect to make everyone’s festival experience a bit more rewarding with each passing year. The festival was a well-oiled machine last year, and only got, well…“oilier” in 2011.
Opening up the main stage on Friday the 12th was The UK’s own The Defiled. Described as “middle finger metal” from London, England, they offered an extremely energetic and colorful performance that was surprisingly aggressive and mighty effective at getting the “day one, early morning” crowd moving, shaking, and tearing shit up.
Following quickly on The Defiled’s boot heels were speed metallers Wolf from Sweden, and San Francisco’s Bay Area thrash veterans, Forbidden. Undergoing a “resurgence” in recent years, it’s noteworthy to mention that after many years of veritable silence, Forbidden have reemerged recently to quite literally take the world by storm, playing one festival after another, and generally touring like gangbusters…they seem to have picked up exactly where they left off, and are destroying everything in their path, with a screaming, arduous vengeance. Welcome back, guys!
Delivering a back to back dose of good old-fashioned straightforward, no frills metal, these two acts got the dust swirling and the pits circling while the sun was still high in the sky, and most metal heads worth their back patches and leather vests would still be “sleeping it off”. Not this crowd, they were more than ready to “bring the pain”, and how! It brings a tear to the eye to see such crowd participation at what’s considered an unholy hour to most in this genre.
Things took a turn for the rockin’ melodic when Finland’s Poisonblack appeared. Frontman Ville Laihiala, despite a very recent major knee operation, emerged on crutches and performed the set sitting down, explaining to the fans that he “wasn’t being lazy, but had just had an operation”. Many performers might have cancelled concert appearances due to medical leave, (and would be well within their right to do so) but not this guy. The show went on, despite him obviously wincing in discomfort during parts of the day. Kudos to you, Ville, and well wishes for a full and speedy recovery!
A palpable change of atmosphere descended at 13:25 when the legendary Tom G. Warrior and Triptykon appeared before the masses. The sky got a little grayer, the ambient temperature seemed to drop a few degrees and the sounds falling over that open field in Derbyshire, England became exponentially more ominous and foreboding as Triptykon charged full bore through a set so menacing, that it made the little downy hairs on the nape of your neck stand up. I’d expect nothing less from Tom and Co., and I wasn’t disappointed, nor was the crowd judging from their enthusiastic, and extremely respectful response.
Another veteran act from Switzerland, Coroner appeared next, bringing a healthy dose of progressive, jazz-tinged thrash to the crowd, who were showing no signs of slowing, as day one of the festival rolled on.
Essen Germany’s Kreator were up next, continuing the thrash metal onslaught, and precluding the return of good ol’ “Hevy Devy”. The Devin Townsend Project performed again this year, minus the technical difficulties experienced in 2010. They played a rollicking, energetic set, and Devin’s theatrical, comedic, over-the-top facial contortions and spastically outrageous body posturing were a huge hit with photographers and audience members alike.
The evening’s headliners, WASP, brought a nostalgic dose of filthy, raspy, rock-and-roll to the event, and rounded out day one of Bloodstock on a decidedly fun note. It was evident by now that Bloodstock was not failing to deliver a wide variety of metal styles, genres, and sounds, and proving once again, that year after year, they truly do offer “something for everyone”.
After a quick bite of food, and a brief catnap, day two was upon us, and it started with a resoundingly weighty, proverbial kick in the face!
At 11:00 sharp, the U.S.’s very own Skeletonwitch stormed the stage delivering a vicious payload of blackened thrash metal. By the end of their 40 minute “machine gun blast” of a set, there was a better than excellent chance you were either wide awake, or deceased.
Speedy German power metal act Grave Digger kept the spirit alive and the crowd moving, and prepared the masses for the upcoming Scandinavian surge that was about to ensue. Up next were Tarot, (Finland) Finntroll, (Finland) Ihsahn, (Norway) Wintersun, (Finland) and Therion (Sweden). The remainder of the afternoon passed in a blaze of melodic, colorful, yet heavily diverse musical offerings from the Northlands.
Somewhere amidst all the Scandinavian metal madness, I moseyed on over to the Sophie Lancaster stage to check out London’s own Dripback. A tempestuous blend of death/grind and other punishing forms of fury, this five-man band featuring Adam Sagir (one of Bloodstock’s very own) on bass, blew the roof off of that tent and absolutely put every raw nerve they had between the lot of them into it. It was a tense, fiendish performance, and heavy as all get out.
A touch of Italy soon arrived back on the Ronnie James Dio stage by way of Rhapsody of Fire, a symphonic metal act who put on a great show, then announced their break-up immediately after Bloodstock. Vocalist Fabio Lione is currently touring the U.S. with Kamelot.
The evening’s headliners appeared in a triumphant blaze of pyrotechnics, hair, leather, spiked gauntlets, and corpse paint. Announced as one of the 2011 headliners on the last day of BOA 2010, it was ear-splittingly obvious by the explosion of bat-shit insanity erupting from the seething crowd that they had been counting down every second of the prior 356 days for the moment when Immortal would appear.
Norway’s favorite “feel good black metal band” put on one hell of a spectacular performance, and whether or not you’re either too “troo/kvlt/grim” (or mainstream, or anything in between) to appreciate Immortal’s schtick, they most certainly succeeded in putting every ounce of blood, sweat, tears, (and pelvic thrust) into their insanely entertaining 90 minute set, and left the crowd screaming for more.
Day two of Bloodstock was a smashingly barbaric good time.
Day three was by far the heaviest day of the festival, and fortunately, despite rumors of impending rain, the weather held up for 99% of the day, and we even saw a good deal of sun.
Right out of the starting gate were England’s own cult-hero veterans Hell. They put on what was hailed by many of the festival goers to be one of the most epic performances of the entire weekend. Re-emerging strong after a long hiatus, and a series of unfortunate events that plagued the band in their earlier years, they came out like champs, and let loose a plague of fire and brimstone that left the crowd slack-jawed and wide-eyed. Day three was off to a very intense start!
At 12:00 sharp, the blackest of the black, Norway’s 1349 made their first Bloodstock appearance and absolutely ripped the place to shreds. The ONLY undesirable thing about their set was that it was only 40 minutes in duration, which is a mere appetizer when the metal is that delicious. They made due with what they were given, and succeeded in tearing the town of Derbyshire a new corn chute, but in a very pleasing way. 1349 was another act that had the crowd buzzing that they’d put on one of the best performances of the weekend.
A little UK based madness followed shortly thereafter with Ireland’s Primordial, and England’s Napalm Death. Unfortunately, Primordial’s vocalist Alan Averill developed a crippling case of laryngitis right in the middle of the set, but still kept the spirit alive by encouraging the crowd to sing along on his behalf. Napalm Death were fast, furious, and all over the map, and displayed incredible intensity and power from opening to closing note, as always.
Sweden’s Hammerfall rocked the place next, delivering a robust and harmonious set, followed by another veteran thrash act from the San Francisco Bay Area, Exodus – and the circle pits and dust storms erupted yet again! The crowd response was massive, and Exodus’s delivery was viciously on point.
At The Gates soon followed with a more prog/melodic sound than in their earlier years. They still tore it up, and did so with great enthusiasm, and smiled the entire time.
The two final acts of the weekend were Morbid Angel and Motorhead. Having seen Morbid Angel more times than I can count over the course of their long career, I was reminded yet again WHY I’ve chosen to see them so many times. Performing mostly “vintage” material from their earlier albums, they brought the heaviness and thunder that they have always been so well known for, and did so with seasoned aplomb. They were as tight and brisk as ever, and and despite much “controversy” over their most recent album, they delivered nothing but their signature, classic form of brutality to this crowd, and no complaints were heard, from anyone.
The festival came screaming to a close accompanied by none other than merry old England’s native sons, Motorhead. What better way to finish off a three-day weekend of beer, filth, greasy food, blistering metal, and utter debauchery than with a gritty round of sullied rock-and-roll made trademark by the “rusty chain being dragged through a dirty ashtray” vocal stylings of the king of debauchery himself, Lemmy? Good, begrimed times were had by all.
Once again, Bloodstock delivered the goods, and left the crowd wishing we could all carry on for another month or two – at least. It’s a damn good thing that liver cells rejuvenate rapidly, because before you know it, eleven months will have passed, and it will be time to open the beer tent, and welcome Bloodstock 2012 with open arms, bleeding ears, and a pint glass in each hand!
Don't forget to check out the gigantic photo gallery that accompanies this writeup for tons of sexy shots of all these bands and others.