Today I decided to check out Sacred Mother Tongue whose name seems to be haunting me. To be honest I was quite underwhelmed by them and felt that they would pack more of a punch with a more aggressive approach especially in their vocals. I personally thought that the performance was slow moving and on the mediocre side and didn’t really offer any excitement. I didn’t seem to be the only person that wasn’t really entertained by this band as the audience seemed to be full of dead beats waiting to be blown away by something stimulating.
Following Sacred Mother Tongue on the main stage was Fozzy. After a rather boring set by the previous band, Fozzy managed to bring the crowd to life with their animated stage presence. At one point during the band’s set, singer Chris Jericho joined the crowd and later climbed the stage rigging. I’d hate to think how many health and safety rules were broken during this performance! Despite being unfamiliar with Fozzy’s songs, I found the show highly enjoyable to watch as Chris Jericho is a real performer and really knows how to put on a good show and work the crowd. With energy flooding throughout, the only way Fozzy could top their performance was to add something extra. During their final song “Blood Happens” two Nympherno girls joined the stage dancing and breathing fire, ending the set in an appropriately hellish manner.
Over at the New Blood Stage, Fury hit the stage blowing the crowd away from the minute they stepped on to the minute they left. Their performance was solid, gushing with enthusiasm from all members accompanied by an equally as enthusiastic audience. The already captivated crowd were given a delightful treat when front man Julian Jenkins threw 7” vinyl copies of “Warrior’s Prayer” into the sea of clawing hands. I recommend that fans of Thrash and NWOBHM check Fury out as they will leave your taste buds tingling for more.
After a short food break I was compelled to check out what was going on at the Sophie Stage as I’d never seen a crowd so big at this stage before. Earlier in the festival I thought that Tragedy had pulled the biggest crowd the Sophie tent was going to see this year but Evil Scarecrow redefined the boundaries of this stage, with the crowd spilling well beyond the tent walls. I’ve never seen an audience so big fully participating in a hilarious dance shortly followed by a comical cover of Europe’s “The Final Countdown” with the crowd perfectly filling in for the synthesizer intro. I expect this band to return on a stage big enough to handle their performance.
The last time I saw Exodus was back in 2009 at Graspop Metal Meeting in Belgium so I was looking forward to seeing them on the main stage at this year’s Bloodstock. Although the bands on today’s line up had been entertaining, I felt that Exodus really brought the old school fun to the festival, encouraging the crowd to partake in huge circle pits spanning the width of the stage during “The Toxic Waltz” and of course an Exodus set isn’t complete without a spectacular wall of death. As tribute to the late Jeff Hanneman (Slayer) and Paul Baloff (Exodus) the band belted out the apt 1985 debut album title track “Bonded by Blood” with guest guitarist Kragen Lum (Heathen), resulting in the biggest circle pit of the weekend.
Following Exodus, Bloodstock debutants, DevilDriver burst onto stage, immediately breaking out the classic “End of the Line”, building the crowd’s anticipation. Unfortunately, their set was quite anticlimactic including too many newer songs and not enough fan favourites. The set focused on songs mainly from their third studio album “The Last Kind Words” and included “The Appetite” and “Ruthless” from their yet to be released album “Winter Kills”. During “Not All Who Wander Are Lost” the crowd exploded into an intense circle pit. Later in the set the song “Head on to Heartbreak” was blasted out with ferocity by front man Dez Fafara dedicating it to all the women that cheat in relationships. With the band announcing that they don’t do encores, the crowd knew that “Meet the Wretched” was their last chance to give it their all.
Following 2 blistering sets from Exodus and Devildriver and playing before headliners Slayer on the closing night of Bloodstock, there was pressure on Anthrax to deliver and they certainly did with an unstoppable set of precision thrash metal. There was no Charlie Benante on drums but his replacement Jon Dette (ex Testament/Slayer) battered his kit into submission with super human display and ex lead guitarist Rob Caggiano was ably replaced by Shadows Fall shredder Jon Donais. The set was a crowd pleasing choice of 1980’s material along with Fight Em Till You Can’t and In The End,2 songs from latest release Worship Music. In The End was dedicated to Ronnie James Dio and Dimebag Darrell and a banner of each artist was unfurled over the onstage monitors. Anthrax went straight for the throat as they opened with Caught In A Mosh and Efilnikufesin (NFL) from the 1987 album Among The Living with Scott Ian and Frank Bello running around the stage like Peter Pans of thrash metal and special mention must be made to the vocals of Joey Belladonna who still hits the high notes without pausing for breath! Got The Time (Joe Jackson cover) was next with some thundering bass lines from Frank Bello. After In The End,Anthrax turned the clock back to 1984 with a lightning speed run through of Deathrider from their debut album Fistful Of Metal. A surprising cover of TNT by AC/DC followed prompting a mass vocal backing from the huge crowd. The bar was raised even higher when it was time for Indians with Joey wearing an Indian head dress thrown from the front row. After Fight Em Till You Cant, my highlight of the set was next. As the opening chords of I Am The Law rang out, Judge Dredd walked onto the stage whereupon he was hassled by Joey throughout and even gave him a piggy back ride! It was encore time which meant Antisocial (Trust cover) which again cued mass crowd participation. A triumphant return to the UK and like Accept did 2 days previously, played a set worthy of headline status!
While the popular Anthrax were playing on the main stage, I went to check out Wolfsbane on the Sophie stage. Although clashing with one of the thrash giants, Wolfsbane’s humorous charms and old school roots were enough to lure a crowd big enough to fill up the Sophie tent. The band was thriving considering the main stage clash and they revelled in the challenge before them. Songs like “I Like it Hot” drew the fans from the arena into the Sophie tent for some old school British metal. Getting the crowd to scream “Manhunt” as loud as humanly possible, (so loud the main stage crowd probably heard) convinced the drummer to play the song, ultimately pleasing the crowd and raising the roof off the tent.
In what has been the most difficult year in their long career, Slayer took to the stage to close this year’s Bloodstock Festival, opening with “World Painted Blood”. After a couple of songs the audience was greeted with a contemplative silence from Tom before exploding into “War Ensemble”. As the set pressed on the crowd were ignited, unleashing all craziness for “Mandatory Suicide”. Later in the set the mood was changed when Tom went philosophical asking the crowd if they want to die. In true Slayer nature the temperament was switched back to brutality with “Post-mortem”. A moment I’d personally been waiting for was “Dead Skin Mask” with full audience participation on the chorus, merging straight into “Raining Blood”. Before marching on for the last two songs of the night the legendary Hanneman, “Angel of Death – Still Reigning” banner was revealed, accompanied by the crowd chanting the into to “South of Heaven”. A real heart-in-throat moment for any Slayer fan. “Angel of Death” saw the end of the set, closing the festival perfectly for another year.
Thanks to PlanetMosh’s Dennis Jarman for his contribution on Anthrax.