Due to holiday shifts being changed, I had to work the Thursday night which meant catching the first train I could get to Tamworth, early hotel check in, then mad dash to the Bloodstock Open Air Festival arena to catch Witch Tripper, first band of the day on the New Blood stage. They played a blistering set last year on the Jagermeister stage and they impressed yet again. Thoughts of whether it was too early for the Thursday night hangovers or the late Friday morning arrivals to watch them were proven wrong by a full tent as they tore into the High On Fire like dynamics of opening number ‘You Get What You Pay For’. Other set highlights were the full on delivery of new song ‘Shout’, crashing out like On Parole era Motorhead. The midway jam in ‘Chills To The Bone’ highlighted the calibre of musicianship between lead guitarist/vocalist Richie Barlow, bassist Chris Stoff Daughton and the showboating drumming of Jimmy Collins. Set closer ‘Attitude’ came all too soon, pounded out like ‘Enter Sandman’ should have sounded if Cliff Burton had recorded it. The band took their bows with Chris taking a photo of the crowd and saying “That’s one for the wank bank!”
Next up were Leeds based thrashers RedEye Revival to blast away the early morning cobwebs. They hit the ground running with the SOD like aggression of opener ‘Lawyers vs Journalists’. Their eight song set flew by in a blur of proto thrash and windmilling, point proven by the quirky heaviness of ‘Ruthless Rampage’, the melodic thrash shout a long of ‘Human Pollution’ and my set highlight, the drum driven headbanger ‘Party Food’.
First visit of the weekend to the Ronnie James Dio stage saw Dundee power metallers Gloryhammer bring the noise and a lot of fun with it! Looking like they had got dressed in the dark in a fancy dress outfitters, set opener ‘Rise Of The Chaos Wizards’ was a lesson in lunacy as frontman Thomas Winkler had the crowd in his hands from the off. A tongue in cheek shout of “We are Gloryhammer from outer space and we sing about hammers!” led to every cliche in the book shown during ‘Legend Of The Astral Hammer’ and got the crowd in fine voice. ‘Hail To Crail’ was sheer powerchord heaven and the rollicking folk metal pomp of ‘The Hollywood Hootsman’ was hilarious. ‘Universe On Fire’ was like an entry for the Eurovision song contest on steroids and their all too brief set was the glorious power metal pounding of ‘The Unicorn Invasion Of Dundee’.
Evil Scarecrow, everyone’s favourite pantomime dames, proved what sheer determination gets you. A chance to get thousands of metal fans joining in on some comedy gold routines during their thrashtastic songs. ‘Robototron’ was dished out early with a huge crowd joining in on the robot dance and on the video screens, was a sight to behold. Latest single ‘Hurricanado’ was dispensed after front man Dr.Hell (Matt Burton) had organised two friendly circle pits, one called hurricane and the other a tornado, thus forming a hurricanado. ‘End Level Boss’ was cranked up to the max and was easily the heaviest song of the set. Set closer ‘Crabulon’ saw the crowd en masse scuttling side to side on the command of Dr. Hell once again. A crushing delivery gained deafening cheers at its climax.
Its hard to believe that its twenty years since I’ve seen Swedish industrialists Misery Loves Co. and the current line up features the bands two founding members Patrick Wiren on lead vocals and Orjan Ornklou on guitar and programming. Pockets of old fans were going bat shit crazy as they pounded out a one, two sucker punch of ‘Them Nails’ and ‘I Wanna Kiss Your Boots’. The latter still sounded as powerful as ever. ‘On Top Of The World’ was a suffocating heavy ballad followed by the industrial grind of ‘Sonic Attack’ but set closer ‘My Mind Still Speaks’ showed how potent the band still are.
A quick uphill dash to the Jagermeister stage proved to be a wise choice as Manchester based duo The Hyena Kill were thrashing out their second song ‘Crosses’. The first thing I thought was how can two people make so much noise? It was like a punk version of ‘Let There Be Rock’ and I was hooked immediately. Steven Dobb on lead vocals/guitar and Lorna Blundell on drums kicked out the jams on ‘Tongue Tied’, full of Quicksand like angst with inventive drum patterns. The highlight of their all too brief appearance was ‘Erase You’. A breakneck intro followed by jazzy passages led into a guitar overload finish. Impressive!
Amsterdam based The Charm The Fury delivered a high energy set on the Sophie Lancaster stage. Fronted by the ball of energy that is Caroline Westendorp, they cranked up the noise levels to the max. My first impression after opener ‘Down On The Ropes’ was of a heavier Hole musically with the vocal aggression of Angela Gossow. The mid set coupling of ‘Dirty South’ and ‘Virtue Of Leadership’ got the headbangers going and by the time the final notes of ‘Carte Blanche’ had rung out, Caroline had covered every inch of the stage.
Carlisle based Triverse Massacre lived up to their name as set opener ‘Hades’ sounded as though it had come from there with its warp speed Morbid Angel riffing and ridiculously fast drums from Mike Collins. The supercharged stomp of ‘Exhale Betrayal’ opened up a lively pit as the intense twin lead guitar intro to the apocalyptic ‘Turn From The Throne’ was breathtaking. The Tankard like punk thrash of ‘Bullets Kill Beast’ was their strongest song with my ears ringing from fast snare work throughout.
My first Venom gig was in 1985 and the only member from that line up now is lead vocalist/bassist Cronos but this latest incarnation played one of the heaviest sets of the weekend. Backed by Dante on drums and Rage on guitar, they tore into ‘The Death Of Rock N Roll’ on the main stage. A killer chorus contained “Line up the Marshall stacks, we’re killing Kid Creole, with devastating thrash, the death of rock n roll”.It comes from latest release From The Very Depths which made up almost half of their set. A brave move but those songs fitted in well with the early material. ‘Bloodlust‘ tore out of the p.a system, taking no prisoners. An earth shaking ‘Welcome To Hell’ preceded a mind blowing ‘Countess Bathory’. Cronos was in fine form with his dry wit and very appreciative for the reception they received as this was their first UK gig in ten years. The title track of From The Very Depths was total guitar overload. Totally old school but with one foot in the future. ‘Rip Ride’ did as the title said as the set ground to a colossal finish with the hellish grind of ‘Warhead’ and a full throttle encore of ‘Black Metal’.
Somehow in between his Bloodstock duties, Simon Hall found some time off to front his band Beholder on the Sophie Lancaster stage to a full tent. Stage clashes with Venom meant I missed the first three songs but they were just breaking into the slow build up into a guitar laden finish to ‘Killing Time’. The pace picked up with the gritty heavy metal of ‘My Revolution’, containing a huge chorus. An emotional song titled ‘Heal The Wounds’ followed a stirring speech from Simon, explaining the lyrical content highlighted persecution. It hit even harder considering what stage it was played on! Set highlight for me was the early Opeth like heaviness and time changes of ‘Speak To Me’.
Polish band Behemoth have come a long way since I saw them support and blow away Devildriver seven years ago. They have already headlined the Ronnie James Dio stage at Bloodstock and now they returned once again as special guests to play all of their latest album The Satanist from start to finish. It leaned away slightly from their usual caustic brand of black metal but it was a compelling performance on Friday with front man Nergal commanding the stage backed by some eyebrow singing pyrotechnics. The front of stage area seemed to be one huge swirling pit of bodies as they returned for an encore, and my favourite number of theirs, ‘Ov Fire And The Void’.
So, after being awake for almost thirty one hours, it was time for the last band of today on the Ronnie James Dio stage and the last ever UK performance from Twisted Sister. It was to be quite emotional for me as I saw their first UK gig in July 1982 at a festival in Wrexham headlined by Motorhead. Their retirement has been fuelled by the sad death of drummer A.J.Pero last year and 2016 is also their forty year anniversary. The front barrier was the only place to be and after the intro of ‘It’s A Long Way To The Top’ had faded out, the band strode onstage and tore into‘ What You Don’t Know’ with its teasing intro riff. Frontman Dee Snider at the ripe old age of 61 still covers every inch of the stage with hardly an ounce of fat on him, hamming it up to the photographers in the pit who the band allowed to stay there for the whole performance, not the usual few songs.
My notes were kept to a minimum as I could not keep my eyes off the stage as the fist pumping ‘The Kids Are Back’ was sung back to the band with the full force. The pace was brought down for a crushing ‘Destroyer’, followed by the rarely played ‘Like A Knife In The Back’. As ever, Dee’s between song raps were hilarious and at times touching when he paid tribute to A.J.Pero prior to an emotional ‘The Fire Still Burns’. ‘I Am (I’m Me)’ got the crowd jumping, one of my favourite songs of theirs and was getting a bit choked up singing along to it with them for the last time. ‘I Wanna Rock’ shook the ground as once again a full arena belted out the refrain towards the band and a gripping ‘The Price’ kept the energy levels high with Dee getting the stage lights switched off and asked the crowd to light up the sky for A.J.Pero with their cell phones and lighters, a sight I will never forget.
‘Under The Blade’, its main riff cutting through the night air saw some cheesy choreography from the band as the main set just got even better with more deafening crowd interaction for ‘We’re Not Gonna Take It’ and a heavied up cover of the Rolling Stones classic ‘Its Only Rock N Roll (But I Like It)’. Leaving the stage, I wondered how they could top that with the encores but the riff to ‘Come Out And Play’ proved me wrong. Another sing a long was provided by ‘Shoot Em Down‘ and the party ended with a lung busting ‘SMF‘. They took their bows and they were gone. As Dee sang in ‘What You Don’t Know’, “There’s nothing else quite like us, they all get up and go”. Forty years later, those words ring true![flickrapi user=”planet mosh” get=”photoset” id=”72157671564584790″ size=”z” count=”100″]