With up to 17,000 diehard metallians once again descending on the heart of south Debyshire, opening the main stage of biggest heavy metal fest in the British Isles can be a somewhat onerous and daunting task – and especially when you are ‘blooding’ (sic) a new line-up… However, it is one to which Bloodshot Dawn rose more than capably, as they see off the first morning with a blistering set – one which belies the fact that this was their first ‘official’ gig with new drummer, Janne Jalouma: the band added a nice touch to the set by inviting the former incumbent of the percussive stool, Doug Anderson, to lead them in the rousing finale of ‘The Quantum Apocalypse’. [MA]
Over the other side of the arena, the first band on the Sophie Lancaster stage which your PM reviewer managed to catch was the competent technical death metal of Cambion, while Aghast!‘s hardcore-edged DM was technically tight and the heavy southern groove of Krokodil was suitably appreciated by the growing numbers of fans streaming into the arena as the first afternoon progresses. [MA]
Back on the main stage, Entombed AD kicked off the afternoon with an intense ferocity that belied their early start. Following an acrimonious split between founding Entombed guitarist Alex Hellid and vocalist L.G.Petrov, neither party can use the Entombed name so L.G, with a new backing band calling themselves Entombed AD hit Bloodstock’s Ronnie James Dio main stage with a set full of crunching death metal featuring Entombed classics and numbers from their debut album, ‘Back To The Front’ – which should have been Entombed’s 10th studio album. Set opener ‘Pandemic Rage’ came from said album showed that L.G still has his guttural bellow after all these years. Other highlights were a bruising ‘I For An Eye’ preceding a hellish run through of ‘Revel In Flesh’ from Entombed’s ground breaking 1990 debut ‘Left Hand Path’. A devilishly speedy ‘Living Dead’ from the Clandestine album showed how influential they have been on many newer death metal bands. There could be only one way to end their set and that was a lengthy blast of ‘Left Hand Path’ as L.G left the stage to the band to play the instrumental finish with the keyboard parts handled on guitar by Nico Elgstrand. L.G returned at it’s climax to finish off the crowd with a show-stopping ‘Supposed To Rot’. [MA&DJ]
Dublin based Primordial have been playing for over 20 years but this was the first time our paths have crossed. Their 45 minute set consisted of just five songs as they write long songs to say the least. Each number seemed to be telling a story and not just the usual verse, chorus, guitar solo, verse, chorus. First impressions as they launched into set opener ‘No Grave Deep Enough’ was of Satyricon with vocalist Alan Averill (pictured right) having the stage presence of Satyr. The melodic intro gave way to hook laden death metal riffing backed up by some thundering double bass drumming from Simon O’ Laoghaire. The snarling clean vocals from Alan added to the intense sound scapes as the song came to a punishing end at the seven minute mark, the shortest song of the set. The epic sounding intro to ‘As Rome Burns’, all crashing riffs segued into intense symphonic metal with a dramatic, emotional vocal befitting the song subject. The song builds into an almost suffocating finish, the huge riffs seeming at odds with the blazing sunshine at Bloodstock early afternoon. The doom-like intro to ‘Bloodied Yet Unbowed’ gave way to an almost ‘Emerald’ sounding main riff raging through the song’s eight minute entirety. The bleak 10 minute marathon of ‘The Coffin Ships’ was probably the lightest song today, but still crushingly heavy as it’s slow build up of jarring chords backed by sparse drumming was joined by a melancholy vocal as an avalanche of jarring chords ended the song. Final number ‘Empire Falls’ was all striding death metal riffing containing the most stirring vocal by far, to the point of Alan seeming to be completely lost in the song as if he was performing to himself and not to the thousands watching him. A fitting end to one of my sets of the day. [DJ]
Primordial set list: No Grave Deep Enough / As Rome Burns / Bloodied Yet Unbowed / The Coffin Ships / Empire Falls
The return to the UK by thrash metal legends Flotsam And Jetsam – for the first time since 1987 – was easily one of the most anticipated of the weekend. A point that long standing vocalist Eric ‘AK’ Knutson apologised for during their set and promised to return to the UK soon. Their set was split between their first two classic studio albums, the 1986 release of debut ‘Doomsday For The Deceiver’ and ‘No Place For Disgrace’ from 1988. Flotsam And Jetsam went straight for the throat with set opener ‘Hammerhead’, a proto-thrash metal number with Eric still hitting the high notes – and he went even higher as they went straight into ‘Iron Tears’, both from the debut album. The pace was kept up with a storming version of ‘Dreams Of Death’ and a foot to the floor ‘Desecrator’ before the pace slowed down a touch with a crushing ‘Escape From Within’. The hard rock chords of the first part of the song gave way to a full thrash assault to close the song with some furious riffing from original guitarist Michael Gilbert and new guitarist Steve Conley. Steve was the only new member as the rest of the band was also made up of original members Kelly Smith on drums and Michael Spencer on bass guitar. Their hour long set was unfortunately coming to a close but we had time for my highlight, a spinetingling run through of ‘I Live, You Die’, with some furious double bass drumming in the second part of the song. Set closer was ‘No Place For Disgrace’, yet again another classic that had the Bloodstock field shouting for more.[DJ]
Gothic folksters Cadence Noir kicked off the action on the Jagermeister stage, mystifying and intriguing in equal measure, followed by the heavy stoner vibe of Ten Foot Wizard, with both bands attracting a fair degree of interest, while, back over at the second stage, De Profundis‘ blackened death metal was filled with evil intent and delivered with a tight and highly technical ability that was equally impressive. [MA]
The audience didn’t need much encouragement from Prong to snap their necks (and fingers and every other bone in their collective bodies) as the LA trio pummelled them into sumbission with a tight and impressive set. However, even this intensity was only an appetizer for the highlight of the first day… Triptykon‘s dark, hypnotic rhythms pulsated into the late afternoon sunshine – although, fittingly, dark clouds were starting form overhead as Thomas Gabriel Fischer, with his mix of growling and chanting, led his congregation into the depths of darkness. However, the dark overlord proved that even he has a sense of humour as he introduced Hellhammer’s ‘Messiah’ – “I actually met him this afternoon” he quips, in a reference to a bloke dressed as Jesus wandering around the back stage area. Appropriately, as the set pummelled its way towards its tumultuous, feedback filled finale, the weather finally broke into the threatened downpour… [MA]
Triptykon set list: Black Snow / Altar Of Deceit / Messiah / Tyhe Prolonging
Walking towards the Sophie Lancaster stage, I came across a band on the Jagermeister stage sounding like a heavier version of Alter Bridge so I went over and checked out their set. The song was opening number ‘In Hell’ and the band was King Creature from Par in Cornwall. That song had a Pepper Keenan type vocal from Dave Kellaway who also handles bass duties. There was a big twin guitar sound courtesy of Matt K Vincent and Dave Evans with a solid back bone from Jack Bassett on the drums. Other highlights from their 8 song set were ‘March Of The Creature’, sounding like a bottom heavy doom version of ‘Damage Case’ by Motorhead. ‘Beaten Up, Broken Down’ ran on a ‘Children Of The Grave’ groove with catchy guitar flourishes. ‘Wasted Life’ was a thumping Rob Zombie type stomp with soaring guitar solos midway but standout song for me was ‘Power’. It’s Kyuss like dynamics threatened to drive the pouring rain back to the skies. [DJ]
The ensuing torrential rain ensured that Winterfylleth played to a Sophie tent crammed to overflowing (just like the awnings above it): however, where Fischer and co were portentous, the Mancunians are pretentious and, while they got a good reception from the hardcore grouped at the front of the stage, the vast majority of the crowd were standing with their back to the quartet, watching for any sign of the monsoon outside abating in time for Hatebreed‘s main stage appearance… which it miraculously did just as the opening strains of the ‘Rocky’ theme flowed from the speakers! The set was everything you would expect, with Jamey Jasta constantly encouraging the crowd to greater and greater degrees of intensity, and the steam rising from thousands of drying-out T-shirts was testament to the ferocity of a set which rewarded the audience’s ‘Perseverance’ and proved that both the band and their rabid fans are ‘As Diehard As They Come’. [MA]
While in the backstage bar, a dark-suited Kerry King lookalike was reciting poetry – well, extreme metal lyrics such as Cannibal Corpse’s ‘Rancid Amputation’ – Diabolical restored some sort of proper order to the second stage with their dark, brooding black metal, highlighted by their highly effective use of harmony vocals, which added depth and texture to their rich sound. [MA]
Dimmu Borgir took to the main stage almost 25 minutes late, due to severe technical problems with their keyboard set-up: they were problems which continued as the band are forced to quit the stage at the start of ‘Progenies Of The Great Apocalypse’ as Gerlioz struggled to rectify the ongoing issues, and ultimately leads the Norwegians to play a foreshortened but nevertheless competent 21st anniversary set. [MA]
Dimmu Borgir set list: Allegiance / Progenies Of The Great Apocalypse / Lepers Among Us / Vredesbyrd / The Serpentine Offering / Gateways / Puritania / Mourning Palace
Meanwhile, one of the progenitors of the UK pagan metal scene, Skyclad were holding court to a packed Sophie tent, and proving that, despite the many potential usurpers which have followed in their path, they are still much at the forefront of the genre and more than capable of simultaneously captivating and energising a crowd. Rotting Christ brought the second stage action to a close with their pulsating death metal beatdown, which was high on both production values and intensity. [MA]
Most eyes, however, were on Down, with many present eager to see which of his many personas frontman Philip H Anselmo would bring to the now darkened arena: as it was, we saw the somewhat less loquacious, more restrained side as both he and the band delivered a workmanlike, even somewhat mundane and subdued performance which nevertheless pleased a large percentage of those in front of the stage but sent many on the outskirts of the crowd heading in the direction of their tents and cars. [MA]
Down set list: Eyes Of The South / We Knew Him Well / Hogshead/Dogshead / Witchtripper / Lifer / Lysurik Funeral Procession / Pillars Of Eternity / Hail The Leaf / Ghosts Along The Mississippi / Conjuring / Losing All / Stone The Crow / Walk (reprise) / Bury Me In Smoke
Additional reviewing by Dennis Jarman.
Photographs by Anthony May.
NOTE: Our review of the New Blood Stage is being published separately.
Early bird tickets for Bloodstock 2015, which takes place from August 6-9, are now available, costing £120. To get yours, visit the Bloodstock website[flickrapi user=”planet mosh” get=”photoset” id=”72157646053507520″ size=”z” count=”100″] [flickrapi user=”planet mosh” get=”photoset” id=”72157646477033355″ size=”z” count=”100″]