Edited by Mosh, words by [J]ames and [S]ean, photos by Will Tudor.
[S] Sunday the 9th of August marked the last day of Bloodstock Open Air 2015. The sense that the metal mania was soon to end was looming but that didn’t stop everyone making the most of it and rocking out to some top notch metal, as well as partying the night away, before heading home the following day.
[J] *Yawn* The final day of bloodstock dawned and upon looking round the campsite, some of the folk were looking a little worse for wear. Too much booze and sunshine it seemed. Today was actually similar in terms of sunshine to the Saturday, but there was a nice breeze to help mitigate the extreme heat. This of course played havoc with my recorder as I stupidly forgot the wind-sock for it. Never mind, on with the review…
[J] Having seen Wolf before and being gutted that I would be missing their set due to interviews I was happily surprised when my interviews ran early and I was able to watch them. Playing mostly older songs from their earlier albums along with fan favourites such as “Speed On”, they delivered a classic ‘Meat and Potatoes’ style heavy metal set. You can read my post-set interview with Anders and Richard here. (10/10)
[S] Due to my interview schedule I unfortunately didn’t manage to catch any of the earlier bands but I managed to see the tail end of Orange Goblin’s set on the main stage. Often labeled one of the UK rock’s best kept secrets (though not so secret in recent years with critically acclaimed albums like Healing Through Fire, A Eulogy for the Damned and Back From the Abyss), Orange Goblin’s brand of heavy yet bluesy rock had plenty of heads banging and cheers aplenty from the crowd. I’m gutted I missed most of their set but that will certainly be rectified next month when my dad and I make a father/son night out to Orange Goblin’s gig in Glasgow in October. It’s fair to say Orange Goblin are an awesome live act and they rocked it at Bloodstock with their tight, heavy and energetic performance, and the crowd loved it. (8/10)
[S] I was really keen to see Ol Drake ever since he announced his solo project. I’ve been a fan of his guitar playing ever since I discovered his previous band Evile years ago and I was curious to see what his new stuff would be like. Needless to say Ol Drake is one of the best guitar talents to emerge from the UK metal scene in the past decade with his insane shred and great riffing. The musicianship is top notch as displayed in tracks like “Spaceship Janitor” and “Emperor” showcasing various ideas and styles in Drake’s creativity from the fast shred to the old-skool metal riffing to the more serene harmonic ideas. He included some nice jokey exchanges with the crowd between pieces and had two blokes in morph suits air guitaring on rakes as fun stage decoration to accompany his performance. However it was a bit gimmicky and the lack of songs did get a bit tedious eventually but I suppose that’s the nature of instrumental rock/metal. It’s great to get guitar geeky over and but overall I think I’d prefer to listen to the album, Old Rake, and try to jam along instead, or watch at a guitar masterclass of watching the performance at a gig. Don’t let my comments be detrimental to Ol Drake though – he is a phenomenal musician and definitely worth checking out if you like instrumental guitar music. (7/10)
[S] Next up on the Ronnie James Dio stage were Finnish folk metal warriors Ensiferum. Showcasing a varied set of bangers from throughout their career, Ensiferum continued the high energy that was present throughout the day and upped the fun factor. The set was tight and the band were having a ball onstage (particularly frontman Petri Lindroos, guitarist Markus Toivonen and bassist Sami Hinkka), rocking out to classic Ensiferum numbers like “Twilight Tavern”, ” Ahti” and “From Afar”. The crowd clearly felt the vibes with many a head flailing throughout the arena and voices shouting along to the songs in glorious folk metal fashion. Ending the set with the party atmosphere at its height via “Two of Spades”, Ensiferum brought a bevvy of scantily clad beauties throwing beach balls into the audience to maximise the fun. Overall the sound was a little dodgy for me (with the drums being somewhat overpowering over the rest of the band) but the great performance outweighed the issue and I’ll definitely be going to an Ensiferum gig in the future. (8/10)
[S] Tearing up the Ronnie James Dio stage in the middle of the afternoon was Brazilian thrash metal legends Sepultura. I was really keen to see what they could do as this was my first exposure to non-Cavalera Sepultura. The set was a good mix of older and newer stuff and the crowd reacted more or less the same to the set. The mosh was mental to classic numbers like “Refuse/Resist”, “Arise”, “Inner Self” and a rare airing of a proper oldie (and one of my personal favourites) “From the Past Comes the Storms”, however the reaction was rather lukewarm to more modern material like the new song “Sepultura Under My Skin”. The band had a great energy onstage, especially Sepultura veterans Andreas Kisser on guitar and bassist Paulo Pinto Jr. Drummer Eloy Casagrande also brought the thunder with his pounding tub-thumping to the thrashing and tribal rhythms. The performance was great besides the mixed crowd response and Sepultura are clearly still a force to be reckoned with.
However, I must say there was something lacking and that was original frontman Max Cavalera. No disrespect to current frontman Derrick Green – he’s been in the band longer than Max was – but the songs just weren’t the same for me. The Sepultura songs I’ve been loving since I was 13-14 just didn’t give me the same feeling they do when I hear the originals, and I think the crowd might have felt the same. Call me close-minded, but Sepultura today just isn’t right to me without Max as its voice. Still, as a live act its clear that the current incarnation of Sepultura knows how to thrash with the best of them like they have for the past 30 years or so and as proven by their raging performance at Bloodstock they’re showing no sign of slowing down any time soon. (8/10)
[J] When Cannibal Corpse first got announced for the festival, it made me want to go and get tickets immediately. Having never seen them live before I was suitably looking forward to watching them. Taking no prisoners and launching straight into their set, they delivered a stellar performance. 455 crowdsurfers can’t be wrong. (9/10)
[S] Providing the teatime soundtrack at Bloodstock was death metal legends Cannibal Corpse. Arguably they were the heaviest sounding band of the weekend (a deathmatch with Death DTA would decide who had the heaviest sound) with their bone-crunching guitars and gut-busting drums (especially the kick sound). I only managed to catch the first half of the set where Cannibal Corpse showcased material from throughout their career with crushing numbers like ” Disposal of the Body”, “Sentenced to Burn” and “Demented Aggression” which sent the crowd wild in an insane mosh.
There was a point where frontman George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher made some comments as part of his stage act (having seen Cannibal Corpse live before) which were generally aggressive but there was one which he deemed the crowd reaction as “not acceptable” and his follow up comment about continuing the show came across as if he was fed up, wanted to finish the show and didn’t really care much for entertaining his fans. Maybe its just me, but my perception of these comments made Corpsegrinder come across as pretty disagreeable.
I only managed to catch the first half of the set and l’d like to have heard songs like “Fucked With a Knife” , “Stripped, Raped and Strangled” and of course “Hammer Smashed Face” (which I was later informed by James that more classics were playeds after I left), but from what I did see – unsavoury comments aside – Cannibal Corpse delivered a tight and super heavy performance with a crowd going crazy to their brand of high aggression, gore-drenched death metal mania. You can’t get much better than that. (8/10)
Black Label Society
[J] Black Label are a band that I always hear about but have never actually listened to. Whether that’s due to me forgetting to after a friend mentions them or simply due to the fact that I’ve never got round to it, I was suitably intrigued as to what all the hype was about. Having one of the best sounds of the entire festival, the band delivered a flawless performance without once introducing themselves. Just a little less guitar solo and more music next time, Zak. (8/10)
[S] Returning to the main stage I managed to catch a brief amount of Black Label Society’s set. What I saw was mostly composed of an extensive guitar solo from frontman Zakk Wylde. Now I do appreciate a good guitar solo, and its undeniable that Wylde is a phenomenal guitarist ripping through awesome bluesy licks, legato phrases and more. However, I think the whole audience can agree that it was far too long and pretty self-indulgent.
Besides the long guitar solo, when the band returned, Black Label Society played a good show with plenty of tightly played heavy riffing. The crowd clearly enjoyed the set with a good reaction to the band given their cheering and chanting. Generally a good solid set from Black Label Society. (7/10)
[S] Taking over the Sophie Lancaster stage over teatime was punky thrash loons Lawnmower Deth. It’s really difficult not to be biased with these nutters but their shows are seriously awesome. Bringing plenty of classic LD daft smashers like “Flying Killer Cobs From the Planet Bob”, “Cobwoman of Death Meets Mr Smellymop”, “Sheep Dip”, and “Satan’s Trampoline”, the band accompanied them with what was potentially their biggest ever production value (and guest appearances) including green “Cob” beach balls flying around the audience, the frontman of Evil Scarecrow dressed as a demon bouncing on a mini trampoline, and a member of Agalloch dressed as a sheep being chased around the stage by a demented shepherd before being gunged in the all new “Deth Shed”.
There was moshing and dancing aplenty and wall to wall cheers from throughout the crowd as Lawnmower Deth played their daft punky thrash with high energy and cracked their jokey stage banter. Frontman Pete “Qualcast Mutilator” Lee even invoked a Hokey Cokey amongst the audience from what appeared to be a Wall of Death. I can honestly say going to a rare Lawnmower Deth gig is always one of the most fun experiences of my life and I’d recommend absolutely everyone, whether they like metal of not, to go and see them. It’s heavy, its silly but ultimately it’s immensely fun. Go and check out Lawnmower Deth. (10/10)
[S] The final band I was really excited to see! UK thrash legends Onslaught were second from the top of the Sophie Lancaster stage and their performance at Bloodstock would be the first time I had seen Onslaught since 2009 – a long overdue gig for me!
The band took to the stage amid rapturous applause from the audience and blasted through Onslaught ragers from throughout their career. Through newer numbers like “Killing Peace”, “The Sound of Violence”, “Destroyer of Worlds” and “66 Fucking 6” to classics like “Let There Be Death”, ” Fight With the Beast”, “Onslaught (Power From Hell)” and “Metal Forces”, Onslaught were on top form. They delivered an awesome heavy performance and the crowd went wild, producing one of the biggest pits I witnessed at the Sophie stage. Saving the best for last, Onslaught truly are the cream of the UK thrash scene and are leading the charge of the UK thrash metal forces in its current resurgence. The wait was definitely worth it for me and I would encourage any thrasher worth their salt to be there with me next time Onslaught come to town. (9/10)
[J] Like Black Label, I’ve never actually checked out Rob Zombie or any of his material before. That is going to change after he put on an excellent performance. He was also the only headliner on the main stage who did not suffer sound issues. Bonus points for that. (9/10)
[S] Back on the Ronnie James Dio stage, and headlining the last night of Bloodstock was Rob Zombie. I only managed to catch the end of his set but what I saw was awesome. I’m not really a fan but the man and his band certainly put on a brilliant show, making great use of lighting and pyros to accompany the industrial-tinged heavy sound. Guitarist John 5 took some of the limelight to showcase his awesome ability fusing country ideas with pure shred with ease. The solo was meaty enough to show off and entertain, but wasn’t overlong and self-indulgent.
Zombie and co also tore through a great cover of the Ramones’ classic punk hit “Blitzkrieg Bop” which had the whole crowd shouting along to its famous “Hey! Ho! Let’s go!” refrain. The man certainly knows how to work an audience and got the crowd fired up throughout the duration of his set. Ending on “Dragula” it was difficult not to let one’s hair down and indulge in a bit of a jive to its catchy and bouncing riffing and drums. The song brings back some good memories for me as it was a staple at a particular underage rock evening in Glasgow I occasionally attended many moons ago.
It’s fair to say that Rob Zombie is an awesome live act who can rock a crowd with ease. I’d have certainly enjoyed seeing more of his set but of course being more of a thrash head (and a big fan of them), I spent more time head banging to the entirety of Onslaught’s performance. However should Rob Zombie and co. come to town in the future, I would gladly go along and rock out to his brand of heavy rock ‘n’ roll mania. (9/10)
[J] Having a completely different style of performance to Rob Zombie, the band set about doing what they do best. It’s safe to say that the crowd was going suitably wild for them and the band seemed to be enjoying themselves as well. (8/10)
[S] The last band of the festival I saw was Ozzbourne Again. An Ozzy Osbourne tribute band performing in the VIP bar, Ozzbourne Again certainly provided a great party soundtrack to the end-of-the-festival shenanigans that were about to unfold as band members, PR, record label representatives, photographers, journalists, VIP ticket-holders and more enjoyed some real ale-fuelled revelry. The band certainly had a tongue in cheek air to them with the singer donning an 80s Ozzy wig and wearing a top emblazoned with “NOT OZZY” on it, as well as the guitarist dressed as the spitting image of the late Randy Rhoads (R.I.P) – polka dot Flying V guitar included.
The band played some great renditions of Ozzy and Black Sabbath classics like “Mr Crowley”, ” Bark at the Moon”, “Crazy Train”, ” War Pigs “, and ” Paranoid” which provided the perfect backing to many an increasingly-drunk VIP and friends engaging in a spot of singing, air-guitaring and air-drumming. Albeit without paying much attention to the band (which was rather unfortunate since they were actually really good), those in the VIP area were all enjoying rocking out to the soundtrack chock full of heavy metal classics by Ozzbourne Again. (7/10)
[J] After the final bands finished playing, I decided to head into the vip area for a few drinks and ended up meeting the guys from Alunah for the umpteenth time that weekend. We had a few drinks and ending chatting about various musical projects and how a certain member of the band was having an awesome time.
A few personal thanks of mine now. Thanks to all the bands which I interviewed, I really enjoyed interviewing you guys. Thanks to all the PR people whom organised the interviews, you did a cracking job and it was a pleasure to meet you. Thanks to Kirsten and Michelle from Cosa Nostra for letting myself and Sean come down and do press at the festival. Thanks to Emma from Earache for being a lovely person and showing me the ropes a little. Thanks to Dan, Dave, Soph and Jake from Alunah; had a great time with you guys and look forward to meeting you again in the future. Thanks to Will Tudor our photographer for doing photo duties and introducing us to so many nice people. And finally, thanks to Sean for putting up with me over the weekend and being a general all-round great guy. Let’s hope we can go again next year and repeat the fun times once more!
[S] As an ending note, Bloodstock Open Air 2015 was an awesome experience. I popped my BOA cherry as a punter last year but this time was made all the more surreal having the immense privilege of having press accreditation. Both James and I met some incredibly nice, down to Earth, friendly and generally all-round cool people (be them from bands, record labels or otherwise). The bands of course were amazing and it was overall genuinely one of the best weekends of my life. Bring on BOA 2016 next year!
I would personally like to say a sincere and massive “Thank you” to the following people:
- Kirsten Sprinks and Michelle Kerr at Cosa Nostra PR for allowing The Moshville Times to have press accreditation this year – we really appreciate the opportunity you gave us and can’t thank you enough for it. Cheers.
- Our photographer Will Tudor and Emma Bardill from Earache records for their all of their help and guidance in the press area and beyond, as well as introducing us to many more cool people. We owe you two big time! A huge “cheers” guys!
- Finally of course, a big thanks to all of the bands and their PR/record label representatives we had the opportunity to work with (to be thanked individually in separate interview articles if not done so already). Cheers for your help and for your time. Really appreciate it folks, and we hope you all enjoy our coverage of the festival!
Until next year…
All photos by Will Tudor: