Blowing the cobwebs away after Twisted Sister’s dominating performance, Black Ink Sun are Saturday’s opening band on the New Blood stage. They bring a massive sound loaded with grooves and it reminds me of Lamb of God to the point you could imagine Randy Blythe strutting across the stage. A band of that quality is a great way to kick proceedings off and while not high on the list of bands I need to delve into, I’ll definitely be listening to them again at some point.
Cambion bring the technical metal and is stark contrast to Black Ink Sun. There’s a lot of love here for these guys but sadly, it’s not quite for me. However, the level of skill going into the instrumentation can’t be ignored and the band do it very well but it fails to hold my attention.
Over on the Sophie Lancaster stage, The Heretic Order are showing the festival their own brand of horror metal. With drawling vocals almost like Vincent Price, the lighting and banter between songs helps to build an ominous atmosphere. However, it falls a little flat, feeling out of place and pretty uninspired.
Bearfist suffers the same – and only – problem I had with bands over the weekend. Musically, they sounded great but their vocalist came over a touch weak. Heading for the down-tuned guitars and putting harsh vocals over it route, it makes for a bland and generic sound and once I had a taster of it, whilst the music was good, I wasn’t inclined to stay any longer than necessary.
Mage are one of the tightest bands of the weekend with their energetic performance. Their thrash metal, loaded with wah, is polished to a sheen and is once again proof of concept with regards to how many great bands have been booked for the weekend.
Ten Ton Slug draw in one of the biggest crowds to the New Blood stage, the busiest the place has been since Witch Tripper. It’s not particularly my thing but their skill is undeniable. Mixing sludge with grooves, they keep the crowd entertained.
Over on the Ronnie James Dio stage, Kill II This definitely aim for the radio-friendly, teeny-bopper sound. For something like this on the main stage at Bloodstock, I would have expected further down the bill and over the course of the weekend, feels a bit out of place given the demographic. That said, what the band do, they do very well, just maybe in a different setting and would be more suited to a Reading/Leeds crowd or Warped.
The Raven Age are a band I’ve heard of, having toured with Tremonti last year (I missed them as it took an hour to get into the venue) so I was interested to catch these guys. With a radio-friendly intro, it feels very bubblegum and a horrible sinking feeling creeps over me. Then, as the first song kicks in, the feeling is thrown out of the Sophie stage as they bring the heaviness. Yes, it’s more melodic in parts than a lot of bands this weekend but it’s done well. Sadly, I didn’t see much of their set as we were endeavouring to see a bit of everything but if I could have stayed, I would have gladly.
Taking a more instrumental approach, Heriot class themselves as doom and hardcore and whilst I wouldn’t class them as that, I can’t argue with the people who know them best. There are vocals involved but as I said, it’s more on the back-burner compared to most bands, almost taking on an essence of prog.
Cybernetic Witch Cult have a turn on the Jaegermeister stage and once again, space is sparse. I struggle to get a view of them but I like what they’re offering. Veering more into the hard rock spectrum, there’s a few grooves added in for hooks with drawling and snarling vocals from vocalist Alex. With song titles like “Velocirapture” and “High Wizard (King of the Horsehead Nebula)”, there’s a trippy psychedelic germ added into it.
Opting for a bass-heavy sound, Akercocke are the definition of having the perfect slot. Early afternoon on the RJD stage is perfect for these guys. As they’re on the comeback trail, you’d be forgiven for thinking they last played a show the week before (their first show in five years), such is the level of professionalism from the Londoners. There’s a sense of excitement in the air to see them but with the prog being heavy-handed with the metal, it lands in the middle of the road for myself.
Ramage Inc play on the boundaries of metalcore. They play a polished set and another band the Moshville crew kept coming back to when we thought of the bands who most impressed us. There’s great instrumentation on show from the band and lead vocalist Ramage has a voice more suited for sleaze rock or hair metal. Yet somehow it works, sonically creating a great sound and given they’re Edinburgh based, I’m sure I’ll be able to catch them soon.
Playing without a bass guitar, Vôdûn makes for an experience unto itself. The only bass we hear is from the drums and during one song, I’m certain The Marassa’s guitar was down-tuned to give a meatier, bassy tone. Providing a melodic yet gritty sound, the vocals are hard to make out and with their soul and West African injected metal, it brings something new to the table.
Famyne kick their set off with a bluesy, lounge style song before kicking things up a notch. Yet there’s still an undercurrent of blues in amongst their doom metal. It strikes me when I hear their tame opener that they would actually make a great blues band as the guitar work is dripping with the necessary skill and deftness.
The King is Blind are self-described as monolithic metal. Given I’m not the best versed in metal, I thought this was a branch of its ever-extending tree I hadn’t heard of. It’s not. Yes, they’re metal. Monolithic, they are not. There’s some good breakdowns in songs, even when the songs themselves seem by the numbers and nothing I haven’t heard before on a larger scale.
Misanthrope get the rough end of the stick. Blending hair metal and thrash, there’s an undercurrent of danger and power projected from the band, enrapturing the small crowd gathered. However, both myself and James felt they deserved a bigger crowd, losing out from the massive crowd Fear Factory were playing to. Hopefully, if they’re ever invited back, they’ll get the chance to play to more people and not have to contend with a horrible clash.
Regulus are one of the various bands with stoner and psychedelic influences to appear over the weekend. With throaty vocals and a tamer sound, it makes for a nice change of pace in between all the metal. You could easily see these guys supporting Clutch in the future, if they haven’t already. The fuzzy guitar work has an eerily similar feel, the songs working in a similarly weaving fashion.
It’s not been too long since I last saw Vice, one of my highlights from Wildfire this year. However, it seems a lot of other people had the same idea as I crammed into a small cranny in the Jägermeister tent. The crowd and band were both more than up for it, feeding off each other’s energy and at times, the entire tent becoming one giant mosh pit. Throwing out sampler CDs, everyone was snatching for one of the souvenirs. Their grittier take on metal brings in a crowd of all shapes and sizes, keeping them entertained from the first to the last note.
Paradise Lost were a band I was interested in seeing but due to trying to catch other bands, I missed most of their set. I did, however, see bits and pieces as I tried to get between other stages. What I saw I liked. Dark and melodic, the chunky riffs from Greg Mackintosh interspersed with the rhythm guitar of Aaron Aedy and bassist Steve Edmondson keep me hooked, even if Nick Holmes’ vocals are lost in the mix.
Bull-Riff Stampede are a band I’ve heard a lot about, making its way into must-see territory. However, they don’t quite hit the mark they intend to, hitting a more generic sound. It could just be victim of hype but the atmosphere felt pretty flat at the stage too. You could see the band were giving it their all but it just wasn’t doing much to win the crowd over.
Watching Gojira made me an inarticulate wreck after their set. Why? It was that good. I was interested in seeing them since they’re on the Alter Bridge tour and whilst I made a lot of good discoveries during the weekend, this was the best. With a great late evening slot, there’s easily a chance for them to be at the top of the poster. Another band I watched the full set of, I was rooted to the spot with their tight performance, it’s easy to see these guys at the top of the poster in the next couple of years.
Shining had a tough job to follow Gojira but somehow, they manage to hold my interest whilst I watched in delirium. It’s not often you see saxophone included in metal but the Norwegians have managed to make it work. With the sizeable gap between Gojira and Mastodon, it’s easy for people to take a quick breather but they manage to fill the Sophie Lancaster stage. I definitely want to hear more from these guys.
Mastodon piqued my interest in attending Bloodstock this year as I’ve recently started to listen to them. However, they need a good set of bands to be playing with to justify it. And they got that. As they hammered through song after song, there was a sense they were determined to use every minute available to them, barely stopping for a breather, much less to interact with the crowd. A quick hello halfway through and then during their farewell, mentioning a new album in the works and hopefully returning to the UK next year. Managing to touch on all of their albums, with a solid half from Once More ‘Round the Sun, they delivered twenty songs on the night, hitting fan favourites and a couple of obscurities. There’s very little frills in their stage production which took me by surprise, some screens showing trippy visualisations and that was it but as they performed a tight set, nothing else was needed. Managing to touch on all of their albums, with a solid half from Once More ‘Round the Sun, they delivered twenty songs on the night, hitting fan favourites and a couple of obscurities.
One of the bands I was most looking forward to seeing on this day was Fear Factory(8). Having seen them last year in Glasgow playing Demanufacture in full, I was quite looking forward to seeing them again at the festival. Whilst Burton’s clean vocals were a little cringe worthy at points, his harsh vocals were on point and came across really well.
I’d been hearing good things about One Machine(9) for a while. Having missed their performance with Overkill in Glasgow a few months ago, I was keen to catch a bit of their set at Bloodstock. Exploding on stage in spectacular fashion, the crowd eagerly lapped up the energy that the band exuded and responded in rather impressive fashion. The highlight of their set has to be the frontman Chris’ hat. That was just hilarious and provided quite a bit of comedy for some of the other photographers and I.