This could be a huge article due to the wealth of incredible talent on display on the New Blood Stage this year and the length of time I spent in there enjoying it. I’ll try not to rattle on about how great the bands were so you’re not still reading this when Bloodstock 2018 comes around!
For the bands not featured here, it doesn’t mean I didn’t like you. I saw almost every single band that played this stage, but due to trying to catch other acts on the Sophie, Jager and main stages as well sometimes it was only for a song or two. A couple of acts were OK, a couple nothing new, a few almost had me staying a little longer than I wanted… and a handful grabbed me by the metallic danglies and wouldn’t let me go. This article’s for those ones. In no particular order… actually, forget that. My picks of the weekend were the following three:
Lebanon’s Blaakyum blew me away. Partly it’s the fact that they come from a country where they’re referred to as an abomination (a fact that they worked into a song title in a typical “fuck you” response), partly it’s their blackened death metal with a mild Middle-Eastern edge. Either way, I tell not one word of a lie when I say that I headbanged my way through their set in a way I’ve not done for any band in a long time.
It was a shame they were plopped on stage alongside Arch Enemy who were obviously a huge draw as these guys deserved the undivided attention of far more people. That’s not to say they didn’t play to a big crowd because they did – it just should have been bigger!
Also up there amongst the cream were a surprise entrant for me, Seething Akira. Fusing dance with metal, they produced a near-unique yet mind-buggeringly heavy sound that just begged the body to move to the beat. These guys need to check out Rave The Reqviem and organise a tour with them – they’re the only band offhand who I can think of with anything remotely resembling a compatible sound.
Despite having been home for a week or so, I still haven’t checked out Seething Akira’s studio material. In honesty, I’m a little worried I’ll be disappointed. But would I pony up the cash to go and see them live again if they played near me? No hesitation – damn right I would. One of my highlight sets of the weekend not just on the New Blood.
A band with a less original sound, but who still managed to stir the right emotions in me were Reaper from Liverpool. Despite being barely able to shave (even the ones with beards), they threw out some great metal/thrash tracks in the old style. They also received a huge ovation for dedicating their final track to a fallen comrade, Chris Lillie, who sadly took his own life. His picture was displayed prominently on the drums for the duration of the set so he was with everyone in spirit. A few more words about Chris from Reaper themselves:
Chris passed at 19 years of age by cause of suicide. He was a bass player for his friend, and ours, Anthony Gibbons in a group called Phenomena. He was a terrific player and a wonderful soul. Anthony asked us if we would remember him somehow on stage at BOA, hence the dedication and the picture on stage.
Anthony started a small charity campaign called Standstrong, named after the showcases Phenomena had planned to keep going. We were on both the first Standstrong bill and the memorial Standstrong bill. The campaign was widely spread and people of high stature in the metal scene, including Corey Taylor, helped spread the love.
If you could mention our friend Anthony Gibbons and his work for his mental health campaign during the time of Chris’ death. He’s an extraordinary human being and we’d love to see him be gratified properly for his efforts.
Guys, it’s my pleasure do just that for you. Anthony – I tip my hat to you.
OK, despite those being the top three, there are some incredible bubbling-under…
Raised By Owls feature cover art by facebook phenomenon Jim’ll Paint It, and they get it on the cheap as he’s a member of the band. “I’m not sure which one he is,” the person I was with admitted. “Probably the one called Jim,” I guessed. Time-wise they were on opposite King-810 on the main stage (who were, sorry, dreadful and I know several people who disagree with me on that, but hey) but I think Owls would have pulled in a monster crowd regardless of who was playing the RJD stage. Before they played a note, the audience was 10-deep outside the tent, by far the biggest draw of the weekend.
Essentially, they’re a death/grind version of Lawnmower Deth. They’re silly, basically, but can still bang out a tune. They know how to get an audience to join in as well, dividing the crowd not simply “up the middle” but by preference in pronouncing the word “scone”. It’s “scone”, by the way. Not “scone”. It’s amazing how this split a British crowd pretty much in two before they charged into each other with cries of “SCONE!” and the other, incorrect, pronunciation.
I was lucky enough to be front and centre for the opening of their set, and regret leaving early to continue the day job of checking out other bands. Especially as one of them was King-810. Who were awful.
I was impressed by Titan Breed who preceded them, too. I’d caught them before (at the final of the M2tM Glasgow competition) and at least once more in the past, and each time they get that little bit better as I get more familiar with their material and they get a little more practiced. Dakesis, also on the Saturday were as good as I’d hoped they’d be. Ending the day on the New Blood stage with flags waving and thankfully not a crying infant being introduced to the world (bassist Amie was 8 1/2 months pregnant on the day and may well have dropped by now!), their set was nothing short of a triumph. And as an added bonus I found out I’ve been saying their name wrong for ages – it’s “Da-kee-sis”.
Who else springs to mind? Oh, yes – Ward XVI with their Alice Cooper-esque schlock horror (with dresses in black and white stripes), and great crowd participation with the “Circus Pit”. K-Lacura with their occasional rap-y breakdowns and great overal sound. BloodThread and Torqued bringing brutally heavy sounds. Ashen Crown making the blackest of blacks look a little more like a pale grey.
Hundred Year Old Man lived up to the press, too, with an original take on the post-metal sound which went down well with the late morning crowd. Battalion weren’t as bad as the folk from Hold Tight said they’d be. Don’t worry, they know each other. It was banter. Probably. I feel bad for leaving Na Cruithne to near the end as they were one of only a tiny number of folk metal bands on over the weekend and they were great, definitely banging the drum (and stroking the fiddle and… whatever you do with a bouzouki) for the folk brigade. Even if I still can’t remember how to pronounce their name. “Scone” is so much easier.
Deserving a mention, also, are Switchblade City, who admitted on stage that they felt a little out of place at a metal festival being more of a rock act. You know what, guys? Nobody cared. You rocked with the best of them and were a great way to start my Sunday as well as that of everyone else in the tent with us.
Again, there was not a bad act on in the New Blood tent this year, at least of the ones I saw… and I saw most of them. In fact, I think I spent overall at least as much, if not more, time watching bands there than I did the main stage over the three days. That wouldn’t have been the case if the line-up hadn’t been so strong.
I just hope they don’t extend M2tM any further or I won’t catch any main stage acts next year!
Photos by Will Tudor Photography