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Tuesday, 20 August 2013

View From The Sunny Field: Bloodstock Day 1

Bloodstock Festival, Catton Hall, Burton On Trent Day 1

This should usually start on Thursday however I missed much of Thursday due to a tin related accident that meant I had to spend two hours in a nearby hospital having stitches: See Paul's bonus review at the end of this post.

So we start at the beginning of Friday with fresh bandages and an 11am start on the main stage in good weather (at last): 

Earthtone 9

Earthtone 9 reformed in 2010 and they opened Bloodstock with a bang showing their brand of alternative metal would fit with the more underground style of Bloodstock, they drew quite a large crowd who all seemed to be into the band meaning that their set went by in flash. 7/10

Absolva

Over to the Sophie Tent (Stage 2) for the second band of the day. Absolva are a classic-style British metal band that formed from the ashes of Fury UK after bassist Luke Appleton left to join Iced Earth. This trio (although they are only a trio recently) play riff heavy metal with lots of solo's that's sits somewhere between Judas Priest and Megadeth and different to the more progressive Fury UK. Frontman Chris Appleton has a great voice and can play a mean guitar, although I think he has watched a bit too much Michael Angelo Batio with his lightning fast solo's and his fleet fingered fretting. The rhythm section of Martin McNee (drums) and Dan Bate (bass) provided the heavy metal backing to Appleton's fret wankery. With songs like Code Red, Flames Of Justice, Frome Beyond The Light Absolva entertain the small partisan crowd, and draw a bigger one by the end of their set with their impressive display. 8/10

Death Angel (Paul)

Second on the main stage on Friday afternoon came Californian thrashers Death Angel. Now I for some reason have never managed to see these guys and I was looking forward with much anticipation. I loved these guys in the 80s and their early albums Frolic Through The Park and The Ultra Violence were played relentlessly. The Ultra Violence would sit comfortably in the top 10 thrash albums of all time in my view. Kicking off with Evil Priest from The UV, the band signalled their intent with a brutal assault on the eardrums. Clearly stoked by their first ever UK festival appearance, the band made sure that the very healthy crowd got stuck in to some early pitting, vocalist Mark Osegueda clearly enjoying himself immensely. Either side of him guitarists Rob Cavestany (the other old school member) and Ted Aguilar laid down the riffs, whilst a relatively new rhythm section of Damien Sission and Will Carroll kept the band driving forward. Time flew by, the band quickly getting through some classics with Voracious Souls, I Chose The Sky and Truce before a blistering Lord Of Hate from the quite stunning Killing Season album.  It’s such a shame this band aren’t bigger than they are, 12 years since they reformed. Wrapping up with Thrown To The Wolves the band clearly looked happy to be at BOA. I for one was pleased to have finally been able to catch the band and was not disappointed. I’m hoping that they will return to somewhere accessible in the near future where I can get a couple of my favourites from Frolic included in the set. 8/10

Bloodbound

Forgoing Ex Deo on the main stage I went back to tent catch Bloodbound who I had heard of but I have never listened to. I'm glad I did as they were possibly the most entertaining band of the day, much like Freedom Call last year. Bloodbound were an outright riot from start to finish, they play OTT power metal that reeked of 20 year old Stilton. Yes this was pure cheese but the large crowd lapped it up, these Swedes tend to have a particular lyrical fixation on metal, every song they played seemed to be about our collective religion with Metalheads Unite and Metal Monster. The songs were all similar and this meant that they did tend to blend into one but with the huge keyboard hooks, dual guitar delivery, galloping bass and drums and helium vocals from frontman Patrik, no one seemed to care  and they jovially sang along with every huge chorus, myself included, meaning that this was a massive metal party that showed that everyone was there In The Name Of Metal. A great band that do what they do very well, they need to support Sabaton next time they tour I think my face my split from smiling. 9/10

A brief rest-bite for me but Paul stayed to watch Shrapnel

Shrapnel (Paul)

Hailing from Norwich Shrapnel play melodic folk songs based entirely on themes of knitting and flower arranging. DO THEY FUCK! Although they do hail from Norwich they basically rip your face off with total thrash metal in an old school style. Influences are clear; Slayer, Testament, Exodus, Megadeth etc. You get the picture. I only stopped for 20 minutes of their set, as the Sophie Tent is strategically placed between the main stage and our tent full of booze, but was left banging my head as they tore through some tracks from their debut EPs and debut album The Virus. Subtly ain’t these boys thang, oh no. However, if you want to have half an hour of full on thrash metal delivered with enthusiasm and no little skill then these guys are worth a watch. Expect them on a support slot with some thrash icons at some point soon. 7/10  

Firewind

So Firewind (from Greece) once again return to the Catton Hall however this time they did seem to be at a bit of a loss, yes Gus G still showed off his fretboard fireworks, Bob worked his fingers to the bone on the guitar and keyboard but it was in the vocal department is where they had their weakness, gone is Apollo, who since 2006 has been the voice of the power metallers slowly getting stronger with every show. However he has gone leaving stand in vocalist Kelly Sundown Carpenter to fill his sizeable shoes and while he is a good vocalist he is just not suited to the band, he has a higher register than Apollo but he hasn't got the strength behind it. The band played a fan favourite set opening with Wall Of Sound and Head Up High Carpenter was struggling to match Apollo on these tracks and it did seem the band were at their best on the instrumental The Fire And The Fury (coincidence?) However after the instrumental the vocals did get better and the band left a better impression after the one-two punch of Till The End Of Time and the anthemic Falling To Pieces on which Carpenter sounded his best. Firewind will always be a strong live act but I do hope that Carpenter is a stand in and not permanent as he is not a good fit for Firewind. 7/10

Skiltron (Paul)

Wandering into the Sophie Lancaster tent on Friday afternoon to avoid the last rites of Firewind I was confronted folk metallers Skiltron. Now, I’ve heard of them, but knew nothing about them and I can’t list a song they played. Well, that’s a lie. They use bagpipes, bizarre considering they are apparently based in Argentina, and so of course they played It’s A Long Way To The Shop (If You Want A Sausage Roll) (AC/DC). A quick bit of research at home had me even more confused though. Their album titles are extremely Scottish. The Clans Have United and The Highland Way suggesting they have roots far North of the border. A new album is due out soon, entitled Into The Battleground. If you can’t work out what they sound like by now, then they probably aren’t your cuppa. However, I really enjoyed them in the way that you sometimes do when not expecting anything. Tight guitars, a bit of groove and bagpipes that didn’t sound like someone was strangling a cat! What’s not to like? A reasonable crowd in the tent provided enthusiastic encouragement throughout. One to check out at a later date …and to hunt down for a few more tunes. Good fun. 7/10

Xerath

As Muncipal Waste kicked the living crap out of the hard-core thrashers on the main stage we opted for the orchestral technical metal of Xerath. They quickly ran through their set of groove infected orchestral metal, unfortunately the band didn't do it for me live as the symphonic elements were barely audible over the too heavy guitars and the unintelligible grunts of singer Richard Thompson who was irritating with his constant goading of the crowd throughout the set. Xerath are a band that defiantly sounds better on record than they do live. 5/10

Xentrix

Xentrix are a thrash band from Preston that can be considered to be one of the founding fathers of thrash even though they are a fair few miles away from the hallowed Bay Area. Xentrix split in the 90's but have recently reformed again to support Evile and Kreator on their recent tour. What came after their intro was a very strong set of Metallica style thrash that had both the lightning fast fretwork on a few songs along with some mid-paced stompers. The band are all excellent musicians with the twin guitars of Chris Astley and Kristian Harvard were the mirror of Hammet and Hetfield although Astley's vocals were not as booming preferring the more ragged vocal delivery. The band delivered their set in powerful style to a packed tent who threw the horns and fists throughout the set. With tracks like Balance Of Power and Questions the band were rattling through a great set. For a band that have had so many hiatus's they are tight as hell and have back catalogue of great songs, including a cover of Ghostbusters! Truly a band to check out live purely because of how bloody good they actually are and the crowd agreed with the band receiving a fantastic ovation from the crowd. Awesome showing! 8/10

Accept

So back to the main stage for the Teutonic Terror's Accept. A band that I've never seen live but I've always loved and here they were only a few feet away. So it was with great anticipation that we waited the storming German's attack on Bloodstock. So without warning the band stormed the stage and kicked off with Hung, Drawn And Quartered and Stalingrad both from their brilliant last album Stalingrad. The twin guitars of Wolf Hoffman and Herman Frank, cut like lasers throughout the set bringing the precision German metal to the masses, the riffs and solos of the thrashy songs ripped off the faces of the crowd who ate up every classic metal riff. The band had the bewitching stage craft with Wolf, Herman, bassist Peter Bates in perfect sync throwing clinical, robotic shapes with their axes. The band stomped through the classic Restless And Wild before going through Breaker, Princess Of The Dawn and Losers And Winners every song had the crowd throwing horns and air guitaring along. What I was impressed with was the vocals of Mark Tornillo who has his own style different from the mighty Udo Dirkschneider but he does a good job of mimicking the man on his classic songs. These kept coming with the final three killers of Metal HeartTeutonic Terror and the still brilliant Balls To The Wall which got the crowd singing along with its powerhouse chorus. This ended the main set with style and gave a short rest bite before the metal maelstrom resumed with the lightning speed riffage and full falsetto scream of Fast As A Shark which brought the house down leaving the crowd with huge grins on their faces. A great live set from the German metal legends who more than lived up to my expectations, a cracking set from a fantastic band! 10/10

King Diamond

So this was it the final band of the day, Danish metals premier vocalist King Diamond brought his full stage show to the UK. It was an impressive setup looking like a full church, the stage was flooded by dry ice and the King's band came on the opening chords of The Candle ringing out over Bloodstock. Then it was time for the King himself who unleashed his deadly scream for the first time which pierced the ears of the crowd. The King's show was part metal show, part Alice Cooper Schlock-horror and part vaudeville show. The King went through a set of his solo songs all of which told a bit of story full of smoke, fire and guest appearances from a female dancer/performer who worked the hardest of everyone. The guitarists ran the length of the stage interacting with the crowd through the large gate set that was at the front of the stage, the King himself prowled the stage bewitching the crowd with is shrieks that I must admit did get a bit wearing. Personally I found a lot of his solo stuff quite samey and it wasn't until Mercyful Fate song Come To The Sabbath that I found myself knowing the songs and it was during the two Mercyful Fate tracks (the other was Evil) that the King gave his shrieking a rest sticking to a normal voice. However it was after Evil that we left, the King is an acquired taste and I'm afraid although he is good he just didn't do it for me which is a shame as he is a legend but one that I can only take so much of. 7/10      

So it was after this we retired to the tents for a night of drinking and reminiscing about the bands that passed. The first day had been patchy but with two more days left we had plenty of metal moments to come!

*BONUS*

Burton Accident And Emergency (Paul)

And before a band had played, we had an opportunity of a bonus review. Yes, courtesy of old man Bladen and his fondness for Corn Beef (how old is he really to eat such shit?), we were treated to the most blood BOA had seen since Watain last year as the Corn Beef tin opened up with a massive salvo of skin shredding riffage and promptly cut Matt almost to the bone. Cue a sprint to the Jonnies (St John’s to you) who stared at the wound as if it had a cock growing out of it. Once we’d established that they didn’t even possess any steri-strips (unlike a certain very tall nurse who shall remain nameless…. HEWITT!!!)  it was the inevitable trip to A&E in Burton. However, this was preceded by some excellent comedic value from said Jonnie who firstly asked if anyone could drive Matt there (given that we’d been drinking solidly for five hours I was sorely tempted but thought I’d come off second best to a tree if I tried)  and was then observed to comment “I’ll give it a go” when asked if he could wash out Matt’s wound. Congratulations must be awarded to Matt at this stage, who promptly told said Jonnie in no uncertain terms that he wasn’t “having a fucking go on my hand”. Runner up for the whole weekend. (Winner by the way, Brett’s tears after Hell). Following an expensive cab ride (thank Slayer I grabbed Matt’s wallet!) we found ourselves in Burton A&E along with many of the patrons from The Cantina in Ep. 4. Luckily, being pissed and Welsh, we quickly pushed our way up the list and Matt duly received his three stitches in super quick time. This probably had something to do with me moaning about sobering up and grizzling about the lack of a toastie machine in the waiting area. Anyway, a big thanks to the efficiency of the staff there, and we were soon heading back to Catton Hall for a little more refreshment and the first round of bacon. Burton

A&E … we salute you. 10/10 (for service) 0/10 for the toastie machine though.  








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