After yesterday’s heat I was hoping for a cooler start to the second day (first for the Friday arrivals), however, I had no such luck. Another blazing hot start to the day.
Today’s breakfast band for me consisted of some “Great British heavy fucking metal” in the form of Absolva. Surprisingly the Sophie tent was rather empty for the band’s performance in comparison with yesterday’s performances, which was a shame as the band were belting it out at full force. The audience that was there were in full appreciation mode, booing when the band announced that their set was coming to an end. I’d definitely recommend that any fans of British heavy metal go check this band out.
The opening act on the Ronnie James Dio stage at a very early 11am was Nottingham based Earthtone 9. Formed in 1998 but sadly split in 2002,they have played a handful of gigs since 2010 including a set to a full to bursting tent at Download festival earlier this year and they also drew a healthy crowd to Bloodstock. Playing a crushing half hour set from their 4 studio albums they could do no wrong. Led by the mighty roaring/soaring vocal from Karl Middleton they bathed Bloodstock with song after song of dynamic metal including a show stopping “Tat Twam Asi”. A sorely missed band and I hope to see them further up the bill next time. Welcome back!
After waiting 30 years to see San Francisco based thrash metallers Death Angel, it seemed surreal that I (Dennis) would finally get to see them midday in blazing sunshine. There were old school fans and curious younger metal fans awaiting their arrival. Only 2 original members remain,Mark Osegueda on vocals and Rob Cavestany on lead guitar and they turned back the clock leading the rest of Death Angel through 30 mins of raging thrash metal. The opening 2 tracks “Evil Priest” and “Voracious Souls” taken from their debut album The Ultra Violence whipped the crowd into an immediate frenzy starting the first pits of the day. They were followed by “I Chose The Sky”, “Truce”, “Lord Of Hate” and “Thrown To The Wolves” but surprisingly no tracks were aired from their 2nd album,the classic Frolic Through The Park. Death Angel gave following bands that day a hard act to follow!
Following Death Angel on the RJD Stage were Ex Deo, calling flocks of fans with an epic intro followed by an intense build up throughout the first song. Seeing Ex Deo today was personally a first time experience and I was not disappointed. The band was performing to the crowd like Roman warriors alike, as if rousing in preparation for battle. A great and fun experience for all death metal fans.
I unfortunately only managed to catch the last 10 minutes of the Municipal Waste set but during those last 10 minutes there was constant crowd surfing. There’s no other way of describing the crowd/band relationship than pure fucking madness! It was definitely by far the best interaction I’ve seen this weekend so far. For those that didn’t manage to catch the band, you totally missed out!
The first taster of the New Blood stage for me this weekend were recommended band, Fahran. Although not to my personal taste, Fahran took to the stage with confidence, had a good stage presence and knew how to work the crowd.
After watching my first New Blood stage band I had a taste for more. My next recommended New Blood band came in the form of some good old metal from Scotland – Mair! Having only ever heard Mair in a low quality fashion via the band’s Facebook page, I was expecting a mediocre performance. I must say justice is not done via social media outlets because these guys (and gal) played loud, proud and with high energy. I find that a band is much more enjoyable to watch when they’re having fun too and Mair’s bassist was doing exactly that, bouncing around as if eating blue M&M’s all afternoon. I can definitely see Mair returning to Bloodstock on a higher profile stage in the foreseeable future. I highly recommend going to see this band when the chance arises!
Accept took to the stage following a well received set from Voivod but it would take a miracle to upstage Accept given their experience onstage and a wealth of material to pick their set from. They started braveley with “Hung, Drawn And Quartered” and “Stalingrad” from the 2012 album of the same name as the latter but the perfect sound and well known choreographed stage moves soon won the huge crowd over. “Restless And Wild”, the title track from that 1982 ground breaking album was belted out next with current vocalist Mark Tornillo rasping out the chorus to prove he was the right man for the job when he replaced long standing vocalist Udo Dirkschneider in 2009. They then delved further back with the title track of the Breaker album from 1981,an old school thrash track. “Princess Of The Dawn” was a 7 minute chugging masterpiece which prompted 1000’s of fists in the air during Wolf Hoffmann’s guitar solo. The set progressed with more classics like “Losers And Winners”, “Pandemic”, “Metal Heart”, “Teutonic Terror” and an extended “Balls To The Wall” drew a deafening vocal from the crowd. Accept left the stage briefly but returned to thrash out their anthem and fan favourite “Fast As A Shark” which still sounds as menacing live as it did in 1983. A performance by Accept which could have easily given them headlining status.
Headlining the main stage tonight was King Diamond. Minutes before the band were due on stage the crowd remained sparse until the black curtain dropped revealing the elaborately designed stage set. The crowd suddenly thickened and King Diamond himself entered the church themed set complete with iron fence spanning the front of the stage. There’s one thing that can be guaranteed with old school bands and that’s a performance full of showmanship. Although not a band that I’d listen to in my free time, tonight’s performance was entertaining and enjoyable but since I personally only know a few songs from the entire back catalogue (thanks to Metallica) there was only so much I could endure before it started to feel a little samey. Plus the suspected miming towards the beginning of the show affected the way in which I was experiencing the performance.
Considering that I’m not a King Diamond fan, it would only be fair to offer an opinion of a fan too, here’s what my fellow team member Dennis had to say ….
“Even though Slayer were headlining the Sunday night, my expectations were running higher for the headliner on Friday night. The legend that is King Diamond! After leaving Mercyful Fate he formed the King Diamond band in 1985. The Bloodstock set was quite an event as it was his first outdoor headline gig and his first return to UK soil since a triple heart bypass in 2010. There was quite a lengthy wait following Accept’s set but this was justified as the stage lights went up and the sheer majesty of his stage set was lit up as 2 giant stairways flanked either side of what looked like a Victorian parlour. The band walked out and King Diamond appeared on the upper level, slowly walking down and hitting his trademark operatic high notes on set opener The Candle, taken from the 1986 debut album Self Portrait which led straight into Welcome Home from the 1988 release Them. All eyes were kept onstage as various characters came on and left, re-enacting the songs themes. The bulk of the set was taken up by 1980’s tracks including 2 Mercyful Fate covers, “Evil” from 1983 debut album Melissa and the crushing “Come To The Sabbath” from 1984 release Don’t Break The Oath. At times the crowd were strangely subdued due to the way the songs unfolded and I expect a lot had never seen or heard a vocalist with such a high range. After set closer Evil had finished, a short break saw the band come for a show stopping encore of “Black Horsemen” from the 1987 release Abigail. The band took their bows and left and as I looked around a lot of the crowd looked bewildered, trying to comprehend what they had just seen. In my opinion, it was the best Bloodstock headlining set I had ever seen!”
To sum up, it was the perfect Friday with a host of bands from very different genres giving it their all for the sake of heavy metal.
Thanks to PlanetMosh’s Dennis Jarman for his contributions in this article on Earthtone 9, Death Angel, Accept and The King