Edited by Mosh, words by [J]ames and [S]ean. Photos by Will Tudor.
[J] Day one officially, unofficially day two, of Bloodstock dawned upon the hungover crowds. Upon awakening, I noticed that the campsite was a little different than when I collapsed into bed. There were more beer cans and people were a little groggy and had sore throats. A sign that they had fun the previous night but are maybe regretting having that extra pint or six.
Upon arrival into the main arena and Press area, we were greeted by our lovely photographer who proceeded to show us round a bit. Given that both of us had never been in the vip/press area before it was all a little new to us. After a few brief introductions and a quick mosey around, we both decided to head to the arena.
[S] After the following evening’s opening festivities, the Friday was a bit of a slow start with many a mosher nursing a hangover when your faithful Moshville crew surfaced at around 9-10am. However the help of bacon rolls and coffee aplenty served from the campsite food vans made way for solving the problem in time for the heavy metal mania to start all over again…
[J] There was a lot of hype surrounding this band and as such I was expecting a lot of good tunes and a enjoyable set. To say I was disappointed would not be too far wrong. I felt as though the songs were quite samey and the band was under-rehearsed. Sean is going to kill me for this, but I feel as though they could have done a lot better (5/10)
[S] A legend I never thought I’d get the chance to see! Nuclear Assault opened the Ronnie James Dio stage at the sensitive hour of 11 and the arena was flooded with the thrashers of the festival. The sound was a little dodgy (maybe the tech crew were a little hungover too?), and there were a few issues with the guitars, but that didn’t stop the many fans and myself banging our heads and mosh-pitting to Nuclear Assault’s classic crossover thrash noise.
The pit and flailing heads were continuous throughout the set featuring classic numbers like “Rise From the Ashes”, “Brainwashed”, “Critical Mass”, “Sin” and “Butt Fuck (You Figure it Out)”. However for those not too familiar with the band, or those who weren’t quite free of the previous night’s party, it seemed to be a little too early for some high-speed punky thrash mania and a fair chunk of the crowd held back. However I’m personally glad I managed to see Nuclear Assault on this their “Final Assault” tour before they call it a day, and I certainly enjoyed their set. (7/10)
[S] Playing over lunchtime on the Sophie Lancaster stage was recently reformed UK thrash legends Re-Animator. The sound in the tent had vastly improved from the night before and made for a nice heavy, crunchy sound for them. The guys were on form, performed well and played tightly, especially with their new guitarist who had only joined the band 3 weeks prior to the festival (Bloodstock being his first gig with the band). The crowd reacted well to Re-Animator with plenty of heads banging from fans new and old (I’m certain the band earned a few new fans at BOA) to old-skool numbers like “Deny Reality” and “Room 101”.
Ending Re-Animator’s set featured a guest appearance from none other than Howard “H” Smith from another recently reformed UK thrash legend, Acid Reign, for a high-energy/crowd shout-along to a cover of the Dead Kennedys’ “Too Drunk to Fuck”. The return of Re-Animator has certainly been a success and set Bloodstock 2015 up nicely for the remaining showcase of UK thrash, old and new, at the festival. (8/10)
[S] After Emperor’s triumphant performance of In the Nightside Eclipse last year, I was really looking forward to what what frontman Ihsahn would bring to BOA with his solo project. However much I love what Ihsahn does, I must say I was pretty disappointed with what I saw of his set. It pains me to score him down but the performance came across very lacklustre to me. Ihsahn played a lot of material from his most recent effort Das Seelenbrechen which heavily features a lot of ambient ideas that for me, don’t come across well during the day at an open air festival. I feel I might have enjoyed the set more had it been later at night, or in a smaller indoor venue. There was a lot of sound problems as well which didn’t help (though the band handled the issues very well), and the lukewarm reaction from the crowd also made for Ihsahn’s set to be somewhat disappointing.
The energy picked up the pace with an airing of the fantastic “Frozen Lakes on Mars” from the After album, but unfortunately that was just a flash in the pan. Ihsahn ended his slot with a new version of the classic Emperor track “Thus Spake the Nightspirit” (from Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk) but played in a more progressive style in the vein of his solo efforts. The new arrangement was very schizophrenic in nature with noisy blasting one moment, then calm the next – it was completely unrecognisable until the end of the song which features one of the younger Ihsahn’s occasional forays into clean singing on the original recording.
Overall Ihsahn’s set didn’t really do it for me and I’m gutted I’m marking him down, but given the opportunity to see Ihsahn perfom his solo material in a more intimate venue, I’m confident it’d go down a storm. (6/10)
[J] Whilst I was only able to watch the last 3 songs of their set, I thoroughly enjoyed what I catch. Not playing on their own gear (due to transport issues, they had to borrow some kit from the nice Gibson people on-site) seemed not to faze them in the slightest as they powered through their songs in masterful fashion. I highly look forward to watching them in London next month. You can read my post-set interview with Ivar here. (9/10)
[S] Another band I was really looking forward to seeing – NY thrash legends Overkill! I’d missed them their previous two times in Glasgow so seeing them at Bloodstock made up for some serious lost time. The set was high-energy, fast and heavy with a varied setlist covering a variety of Overkill’s best tunes from throughout their career including “Armorist”, “Hammerhead”, “Electric Rattlesnake”, “Ironbound” and “Elimination”. The mosh pit was one of the biggest, if not the biggest, ones of the weekend with the crowd going wild. It was proper old-skool thrash metal mania with these legends. There was plenty of crowd interaction with singalongs to tracks like “Hello From the Gutter” and “In Union We Stand”, as well as shout-alongs (and raised middle fingers) to the closing number “Fuck You”.
It’s fair to say that Overkill played a great set at Bloodstock with top notch performances from all of the band, and a notably stellar showcase of frontman Bobby “Blitz” Ellsworth’s pipes – arguably screaming better than he ever has done before. Next time Overkill come to town, I definitely won’t be missing them again (and hopefully get the chance to rage to some of my favourite tracks like “Electro-Violence”, “I Hate” and “Horrorscope” in the longer setlist). (9/10)
[J] To say that Sabaton aren’t one of the best bands on the planet would be an insult. Delivering a superb set compromised of songs from Heroes along with other classic hits, they show no signs of slowing down. If you’ve not seen Sabaton before and they are playing near you, go and watch them. You will not be disappointed. Don’t forget they’re touring with Alestorm in the new year and – staggeringly – tickets are still available. You can read my pre-show interview with Joakim here. (10/10)
[S] Can the Swedish warriors ever get it wrong? After Sabaton’s storming set in Glasgow last year, I was really looking forward to seeing them again. This time however, given a bigger open air stage (as opposed to a smaller university hall), Sabaton could go the whole hog with their stage performance. They’re known for taking their drum riser disguised as a tank on tour with them but being on an open air stage, they could this time unleash it’s full pyrotechnic glory with fireworks and fire blasts galore to accompany their bombastic set.
If you’ve seen Sabaton before you know there’s only one way their set begins, and that’s with the always brilliant “To March to War” intro tape followed by an explosive rendition of “Ghost Division”. The setlist was varied featuring numbers from across Sabaton’s back catalogue including “Panzerkampf”, “To Hell and Back”, “The Art of War” and “Primo Victoria”. Singing along and jumping is always mandatory yet fun pastime at a Sabaton gig and the whole crowd enjoyed the action throughout some of the aforementioned songs. The band weren’t of course shy of a joke or two with the crowd, such as the recurring theme of playing the melody of “Swedish Pagans” at the wrong points in the setlist with fan singalongs to annoy the ever effervescent frontman Joakím Broden (we were eventually appeased later in the set), as well as a guitar rock off between Broden and actual Sabaton guitarists Thobbe Englund and Chris Rorland where Broden received rapturous applause for his “beginner’s” attempt at the riff from Deep Purple’s “Smoke on the Water” before being blown away by the others’ more polished lead chops. The joke then led into an awesome performance of “Resist and Bite” where Broden seems to have been playing rhythm guitar on the song live since the release of its parent album Heroes.
They ended the set as usual with a rousing rendition of “Metal Crue” where everyone in attendance of the Ronnie James Dio stage naturally rocked out. It’s truly difficult to find fault with a Sabaton gig – the sound was great, the musical performance was spot on, the stage antics and crowd involvement is always great fun, and the stage production with the tank and pyros was a spectacular bonus. Though nowhere near my favourite band, it’s undeniable that Sabaton are one of the best live bands I’ve ever seen and their set at Bloodstock was no different. (10/10)
[J] The headliners of the night, with a hard act to follow after Sabaton blew everyone that played that day out of the water. Opening with the worldwide premier of “Silence in the Snow” the band delivered a good set despite being plagued by sound difficulties at the start. There was something missing though. They seemed to lack the spark of bands like Rob Zombie and Within Temptation. That’s not to say that it wasn’t a good performance. It was excellent. But there was something missing. Having had some time to think upon their set again, I’m actually raising their score slightly. This is merely due to their performance being one of the ones which I can still remember vividly. (9/10)
[S] Closing the Ronnie James Dio stage on the Friday was Trivium. It was nice to see the band again after a while – they were my first ever gig (playing with Machine Head)! A band I used to idolise when I was first getting into metal many moons ago, I gradually drifted away from Trivium but their set at Bloodstock was a great nostalgia trip. I haven’t heard any of their releases since 2008’s Shogun so opening number “Silence in the Snow” (the title of their upcoming new album) was fresh to everyone’s ears. The set overall was a pretty mixed bag with songs from throughout Trivium’s career, with many adding to my nostalgia trip, like “Becoming the Dragon”, “Like Light to Flies”, “Into the Mouth of Hell We March” and “Throes of Perdition”. Others included the live debut of another new song, “Blind Leading the Blind”, in addition to fan favourites like “Pull Harder On the Strings of Your Martyr” and “In Waves”. It’s fair to say that Trivium’s performance and musicianship is still there on point, making for a great show. Their rather lavish gothic stage set (skulls, stone pillars, pyros) also added to the atmosphere.
The crowd reaction from where I was standing was somewhat mixed. There was clearly Trivium superfans all around the BOA arena rocking out to every song however, at the other end of the spectrum, everyone else seemed rather lukewarm – showing appreciation with more of a polite clap instead of rapturous applause. The exception being the mass shout-along and crowd-sing “whoa-oh”s to “Anthem (We Are the Fire)”. It’s a shame really. I won’t say that after their set at Bloodstock I’ve rediscovered a burning passion for Trivium like I had when I was 15, but they do what they do well and some of those songs I loved as a teenager got me moving and I’m definitely going to seek a few of them out online. Still, Trivium played a great set at Bloodstock and it was fun to see them on top form. (8/10)
[J] Headlining the Sophie stage were the people who wrote the song “We are the Others”. Whilst they too had a few sound issues, it’s safe to say that they delivered a very good set with the crowd suitably enjoying it. Whilst I’m not a fan of their music, there is no denying that they are a very good live band who know how to get their target audience bouncing. You can read my pre-set interview with Martijn here. (8/10)
[S] The last band to perform on the Friday night on the Sophie Lancaster stage was symphonic metallers Delain. Admittedly I didn’t stay long (I called it a night fairly early to be in good shape for the following day) so my review of their set will be somewhat limited, but I did enjoy what I saw and heard. Their sound was much more, dare I say, “poppy” with simpler chord structures and lush keys underneath singer Charlotte Wessels’ beautiful voice. Delain were a nice ending to the night with their more anthemic and catchy songs (such as “We are the Others”, especially dedicated to Sophie Lancaster R.I.P) which they performed well, in addition to sounding great. The crowd were loving it and despite my short stop in the Sophie tent for their set, I enjoyed what Delain had to offer. I’ll definitely be checking out more from them in the future. (7/10)
[J] Ending the evening, I decided to head back to camp and have a nice chat with one of our neighbours over a few beers. Upon finishing the beers, I decided it was best to get some kip before the next day of Bloodstock dawned upon us.
[S] The Friday at Bloodstock was great with lots of top quality bands and after a much-needed good night’s sleep (well, the most one can get surrounded by late night party-ers in the main campsite), the Moshville Times crew and I were raring to go for the following day’s plethora of raging metal, including some of my all-time favourites…
Photos (c) Moshville Times and courtesy of the lovely Will Tudor.