Edited by Mosh, words by [J]ames and [S]ean, photos by Will Tudor. Again, apologies for the late posting but it’s better to have something done properly than rushed off! We appreciate quality here at Moshville Times!
[S] The Saturday of Bloodstock this year was one I was really looking forward to, especially given two of my all-time favourite bands were playing. It was going to be a crazy day that would eventually result in a somewhat broken body, but it was some of the most fun I’ve ever had at a gig and I loved it.
[J] Day two, day three actually, dawned upon the fields of Catton Park in the similar sunny fashion as it had done the previous days. Having not had the most amazing sleep, I was content to get some more kip. The weather however had other ideas. It’s safe to say that this day was the hottest of them all with temperatures hovering around the low to mid 20’s. This might seem insignificant, but when there’s hardly a cloud in the sky and no breeze, it get’s warm quick. Thankfully, there was a stock of cold water bottles in the press tent. Anyway, enough rambling. Onto day two…
[S] Opening the Ronnie James Dio stage was modern British thrashers Savage Messiah. Riding on the success of their critically acclaimed album The Fateful Dark, Savage Messiah channelled their energetic melodic thrash performance into waking up the crowd, and they did it well. There was headbanging throughout the set and plenty of crowd engagement via tracks like the scorching “Hellblazer” to shake off many a hungover mosher and get them moving. The performance was tight, the sound was great, and the energy was flowing – a great set from Savage Messiah. (8/10)
[J] 1349 are a band that I’ve always heard about but never listened to. I’m not sure why, but they keep slipping under my radar. Playing to a decent sized crowd on the main stage, they delivered a good set and had a good number of crowd members nodding along. (6/10)
[S] A band I’ve been supporting for some time now, I was really looking forward to seeing UK thrash legends Anihilated. After finally getting to seem them perform a smashing set for the first time at Wildfire, I was confident they’d tear up a larger audience at Bloodstock. It’s fair to say they did with ease. They managed to pretty much fill out the Sophie Lancaster tent to capacity at the tender hour of 11:50 and they rocked it. It’s great to finally see some kind of pay off for Anihilated after all these years – it’s been a steady rise since their return with 2010’s Scorched Earth Policy and Anihilated are getting better and better with each new album. The crowd seem to have shared my sentiments with heads banging constantly throughout their short but very sweet set. There wasn’t a still body in the tent with rising fists, flailing heads and shouting voices to tracks from throughout Anihilated’s history from their debut Created in Hate to their most recent rager Anti-Social Engineering – including numbers like “They Lie, We Die”, “Seas of Red”, “Blood of the Martyr” and “Chase the Dragon”.
After an awesome performance at Bloodstock, I can only see things getting bigger and better for Anihilated. Ending their set with the anthemic “We Are Legion” (from iDeviant), I’m confident that Anihilated have gained plenty of new fans in addition to us existing members of the “Thrashing Crew” raging hard. Here’s looking forward to the future for one of the UK’s best original thrash bands, and you can bet I will be following Anihilated through more thrashing albums and shows. (8/10)
[J] Kopiklaani are one of those bands that almost everyone can enjoy. Party style anthems such as “Vodka” and “Juodaan Vinaa” always cause the crowd to either sing or dance along. For one of the songs there was a conga going round most the crowd in the middle. It’s safe to say that everyone watching enjoyed them and the band seemed to be thoroughly involved as well. Speaking with a couple of the guys from the band after the set, they had a really good time as well! You can read my post-set interview with Tuomas here. (9/10)
[J] One of the bands that was playing the Jager stage during the changeover from Korpiklaani to Napalm Death caught my ear and I decided to go and have a listen. I quite enjoyed them and they proved to be a nice interlude whilst waiting for Napalm Death. (8/10)
[J] This was one of the bands I was most looking forward to seeing. Having spoken with Will, our photographer, earlier that day he said that Napalm always deliver a good show. Playing songs from their latest album, Apex Predator, they delivered a blinding set with huge mosh pits occurring for most of their songs. Given they just recently got announced for Lords of the Land in Glasgow, I look forward to watching them again. (10/10)
[S] Now admittedly, I’m not a fan of Napalm Death when I probably should be. I’ve just never really got into the legends of grindcore (even the genre in general, with the exception of parts of Carcass’ second album)’s sound. However I was really keen to see them as I live act and they certainly were something else. Napalm Death hit the stage with no nonsense or pretence and burst straight into their set. It was loud, it was fast, it was angry and it was noisy.
However therein lies the rub for me, with “noisy” being the key word. The vast majority of the tracks passed by in a distorted blur of fuzzy guitars, blastbeats and screaming vocals. I know Napalm Death, and grindcore in general, are known for their short songs (which they even joked about with a double-rendition of their well-known Guiness Book of World Record’s holding for the world’s shortest song in “You Suffer”) but it just didn’t do it for me. However, it’s undeniable that Napalm Death are a great live act with the energy, politically-charged aggression and frontman Barney Greenway’s possessed dancing, and the fans loved every minute of it, judging by their insane reaction. It’s just a shame for me personally that I didn’t really enjoy their music, the exception being the brilliant “Suffer the Children” with it’s varying riffs and tempos. I’m by no means a Napalm Death convert but they did what they do well at Bloodstock and their loyal fanbase loved it. (7/10)
[J] This band was one of those that I was looking forward to seeing but Sean was super-excited about. Having listened to Dark Angel albums in the past, I knew what to expect. Fast thrashing drums and guitars and the shrieks of Ron Rhinehart. The band delivered an awesome set with multiple mosh pits for the songs and a lot of headbanging along from the crowd. There were a few initial sound issues, but these were all rectified by the time “Merciless Death” came on.(8/10)
[S] Now the time came to see one of, if not my most anticipated band of the weekend – the LA Caffeine Machine, Dark Angel. Was it possible for Dark Angel to disappoint? Definitely not. There were a lot of people there to see them play and they smashed it. The set for me could only have been better if they played for a longer time. Opening with “Time Does Not Heal”, Dark Angel ripped through tracks from their four classic albums (soon to be five whenever they’re ready to drop the new stuff) from “We Have Arrived” through “No One Answers” to “Darkness Descends” and of course “Merciless Death”. The pit was massive (maybe bigger than the pit for Overkill – I couldn’t tell when I was in it smashing into people) and the crowd were insane, with several crowd surfers (including myself) throughout almost every song. The energy was unbelievably high and the performance was tight and on point – it was as if Dark Angel never went away. It’s difficult for me to say more without being really biased and kissing Dark Angel’s arses since I’m a massive fan of the band, but you seriously had to have been there – truly one of my favourite gigs out of every one I’ve ever been to.
I’m hoping Dark Angel will do a full UK tour when they have their new material together as I’d love to see them play in a smaller indoor venue (Audio, Classic Grand – try and sort it out for Scotland!) – the intensity would be at the maximum and the gig would simply be beyond awesome. Dark Fucking Angel have returned! (9/10)
[S] Another one of my favourite bands (well the original Death of course) that I was really looking forward to seeing at Bloodstock. Death DTA are the official Death tribute band featuring all ex-Death members (minus frontman Max Phelps) and they truly do the songs justice. Bassist from the mid 90s (featured on the Human, Individual Thought Patterns and Symbolic albums) Steve DiGiorgio did all of the talking and expressed the band’s purpose for the continuation of the legacy of original Death mastermind Chuck Schuldiner who passed away in 2001 (R.I.P).
The set was brilliant, with a variety of classic Death tunes from all of the albums such as “Leprosy”, “The Philosopher”, “Crystal Mountain”, “Spiritual Healing”, “Bite the Pain” and “Suicide Machine”. The sound was unbelievably heavy and everything came across clear, from the crushing riffs, to the ripping solos, the bass wizardry and the pounding drums. The musicianship was awesome too, especially given the lineup of top class musicians – Steve DioGiorgio on the bass, Gene Hoglan (featured on Individual Thought Patterns and Symbolic), Bobby Koelble (featured on Symbolic) and of course Max Phelps (is the spitting image of Chuck, and sounds remarkably like him too).
The crowd loved Death DTA with plenty of moshing and chanting Chuck’s name throughout the entirety of the set. Ending triumphantly with “Pull the Plug”, it’s clear that the game-changing and legendary music of Chuck Schuldiner and Death has made a lasting impression on the world of extreme metal and is here to stay via his friends and colleagues. Their set at Bloodstock was amazing and long may Death DTA and Chuck’s legacy continue! (10/10)
[J] It takes a lot to appreciate a band that changed direction so late in their career. Playing a mixture of songs with not a lot of in-between chatter, they delivered an enjoyable set with some excellent playing. Just try and hold off on the dry humour next time! (8.5/10)
[S] Next up on the Ronnie James Dio stage was prog/death metallers Opeth. Playing more of their progressive material over their heavier stuff, Opeth showcased their immense musicianship with influences from classic 70s prog bands like Camel and Emerson, Lake and Palmer shining through. However for me it didn’t really come across well live. I’m not happy to say it, but I actually found aspects of some of the lengthy musical passages rather boring.
The crowd might well have felt the same way based on their lukewarm reaction. Based on some of frontman Mikael Akerfeldt’s comments on stage, I also got the impression that he didn’t really care much about the performance. Especially with comments like “We are now going to play a song from the most hated Opeth album”, it came across self-indulgent and disrespectful to the fans. On the other hand, it’s undeniable that Opeth are great at what they do and they are phenomenal musicians that play fantastically. In a live setting however, especially at an open-air festival, they unfortunately just didn’t do it for me. (6/10)
[J] Within Temptation is one of those bands that I seem unable to get into. I’m not exactly sure why, but I find myself losing interest part way through their songs. It’s another story live though. Watching them live I found that I actually really enjoyed them. Despite having some by now well-publicised sound issues towards the end of their set, they delivered a superb show and are undeniably an excellent live band. (9/10)
[S] Headlining the Ronnie James Dio stage were symphonic superstars Within Temptation. Riding on the success of last year’s Hydra, Within Temptation showcased a lot of the newer material (many featuring some of the collaborations which took place on the album – these were shown live in the form of the collaborating artist shown in their performance on the singles’ videos on the LED screens onstage) such as “Paradise (What About Us)” (featuring Tarja Turunen) and “And We Run” (featuring Xzibit). Performing well to other material from throughout their career such as “Our Solemn Hour” and “What Have You Done”, Within Temptation brought a great sense of crowd engagement via the ever effervescent frontwoman Sharon Den Adel who exuded fun and happiness with a constant smile on her face – overall creating a great live atmosphere.
All went well until a triple whammy of technical issues leading up to a performance of “Ice Queen” which unfortunately didn’t end up getting the desired live airing. However during the extended period of dealing with the issues, Within Temptation handled the situation brilliantly with professionally delivered updates from Sharon as well as an extended drum solo throughout the interim period. There was no drama and, despite the lack of “Ice Queen” in the set (though it is a bit of a shame as I personally would have liked to have heard it live), the situation was not detrimental to Within Temptation’s performance at all. Sharon seemed to make light of the situation, jokingly demanding a much-deserved glass of wine before ending the set with a triumphant performance of “Mother Earth”.
Overall, despite the adverse technical issues, I think Within Temptation rocked it at Bloodstock with their bombastic and catchy symphonic heavy rock and I’d definitely like to see them again in the future. (8/10)
[J] A completely different style of performance, the Italians finished off the second day of Bloodstock in their usual style. Machine gun drums, super speed guitars and harsh vocals all coupled with the symphonic backing track. It was just a shame that they had severe sound issues resulting in not much being heard aside from drums, backing track and guitar solos. I do want to watch them again though. (7/10)
[S] Closing the Saturday of BOA 2015 on the Sophie Lancaster stage was Italian maestros Fleshgod Apocalypse. I arrived at the tent after watching Within Temptation to see it completely packed with fans spilling out of the sides. From the few songs I managed to catch before calling it a night, the fans were loving Fleshgod Apocalypse’s epic symphonic death metal sound with cheers and chants ringing throughout the night.
For me however, enjoyment of the band’s set was somewhat marred by a pretty messy sound. The faster moments on the guitars flew by in a blur of distorted madness and the lead aggressive vocals were sitting rather faint in the mix, almost inaudible. In stark contrast, the synths/orchestrations and female vocals were sitting high in the mix clouding the rest of the band’s unique, dark and heavy sound. I’ve heard a lot about Fleshgod Apocalypse and I was really keen to see what they had to offer – it’s a shame I didn’t really enjoy their performance due to the sound. However based on the immense fan reaction, Fleshgod Apocalypse are definitely a much-loved band worth checking out. I’d like to see them again some time and I’m sure I’ll enjoy their set a lot more. (7/10)
[J] After having a particularly exhausting day and not getting much sleep the previous night, I decided to turn in early due to having a slew of interview on the next day. Unlike the previous night, I actually slept ok.
[S] Saving ourselves for the last day of the UK’s best metal festival, the Moshville team and I hit the sack at a good time to be in good shape for another round of reviewing, interviewing and a little bit of moshing on the side. With another day’s worth of top-notch extreme metal talent awaiting, Sunday was sure to be a belter.
Photos (c) Moshville Times and courtesy of the lovely Will Tudor.