With action on the New Blood Stage already well and truly underway (see our separate review), Babylon Fire kicked off proceedings on the Sophie Lancaster Stage with their classic-inspired metal, delivered with grunt, grit and fist-pumping angst – but, it was over on the main Ronnie James Dio Stage that the real fun was happening, as the comic book freakshow that is Evil Scarecrow was perhaps the most entertaining way possible to get the second day proper underway!
The local heroes haven’t had too far to travel, and they immediately got nearly everyone in the huge crowd of earlycomers (those in the know reckon there were more people enjoying the ‘Crows than had watched Down the previous evening!) smiling and dancing along to their infectious humour and tongue-in-cheek songs: they even managed to get a heavy metal-style ballroom going where the moshpit normally would be during ‘Dance Of The Cyclops’.[Sidebar: if even half those who enjoyed the Scarecrow’s set bought their new album, ‘Galactic Hunt’, when it is released in October, the pathetic Top Ten charts would suddenly be a lot more interesting… just a thought!]
The avant-garde blackened punk’n’jazz brawl of Shining – who just 12 hours earlier had been playing the Brutal Assault fest in the Czech Republic and arrived in Derbyshire with half their stuff still stuck in transit – was a complete contrast, equally compelling and distracting, yet dynamic in its difference and as refreshing as the breeze now dissipating the effects of the midday sun.
Shining set list: I Won’t Forget / The One Inside / Fisheye / My Dying Drive / The Madness And The Damage Done / 21st Century Schizoid Man
Old Corpse Road were the first band of the day to pack out the Sophie tent, where their darkly melodic and forbidding death metal weaved dense, hypnotic soundscapes which swirled and soared with majesty and pathos in equal measures. Back at the main stage, Poland’s Decapitated lived up to their name, ripping the heads off anyone with 100 metres of the stage with their full-frontal full-throttle aural assault on the smouldering arena, before Orphaned Land brought a suitably exotic Middle Eastern touch to their progressive metal sound and proceedings as whole in a set which was, for many, one of the highlights of the day if not the weekend.
Decapitated set list: Lying And Week / 404 / Post(?) Organic / A View From A Hole / Carnival Is Forever / Spheres Of Madness / Homo Sum
As The Amorettes kicked off proceedings on the tiny Jagermeister Stage in typically fiesty fashion, ensuring that things were indeed ‘Hot N Heavy’ in the middle of the afternoon, Finland’s Profane Omen brought their high energy traditional thrash-infused classic metal to the Sophie stage to a suitably and well-deserved rapturous reception, before Conquest Of Steel, playing their last ever gig, bowed out in style with their fast-paced if somewhat generic but enthusiastic NWOBHM-influenced set.
Crowbar‘s dark, dank and dirty blooze groove seemed somewhat appropriate for the mild (?) state of late afternoon inebriation many present were now entering into, as Windstein and co. ground, grunted and stomped their way through their allotted slot. Keeping up the contrasts of the Saturday bill, the sombre clouds gathering over head matched Lacuna Coil‘s sweeping moodiness and enrapturing harmonies: if Cristina Scabbia was Irish instead of Italian, she would be a banshee, luring her victims into her dark embrace – as it is, her sultry manner and easy interaction with the crowd resulted in a suitably pleasing performance.
Crowbar set list: Conquering / High Rate Extinction / Walk With Knowledge Wisely / Cemetery Angels / Sever The Wicked Hand / The Lasting Dose / All I Had (I Gave) / Planets Collide
Lacuna Coil set list: Trip The Darkness / Kill The Light / Die & Rise / Fire / Fragments Of Faith / Zombies / Heaven’s A Lie / Upsidedown / Nothing Stands In Our Way / Our Truth
Talking of crowd pleasing, Children Of Bodom‘s set was just that: delivered in a very workmanlike manner (Alex Laiho had very little interaction with the crowd), it was unadventurous in the context of a festival, but nonetheless well delivered and equally well received.
Children Of Bodom setlist: Hate Me! / Needled 24/7 / Bodom Beach Terror / Halo Of Blood / Scream For Silence / Hate Crew Deathroll / Lake Bodom / Angels Don’t Kill / Are You Dead Yet? / Silent Night, Bodom Night / Bodom After Midnight / Downfall / In Your Face
By contrast, back in the Sophie tent, near neighbours Blood Red Throne‘s laconic death metal was effective, precise and punishing in equal measure… Resurgent NWOBHM legends Battleaxe proved that the old school is the best one to have attended, as they rode roughshod over all the young pretenders with one of the sets of the weekend, drawing from both their 30 plus-year old back catalogue, from 1983’s ‘Burn This Town’ (“the one with the awful cover” as vocalist Dave King quips) and ’84’s ‘Power From The Universe’ to this year’s comeback opus ‘Heavy Metal Sanctuary’: the guys were having fun, playing the gig thay had waited 30 years to play and delivering no nonsense metal by ‘Dirty Fucking Rockers’ for the same…
Talking of old school, minutes later the godfathers of UK death metal, Carcass, took to the main stage – but, early on they were in trouble! As they launched into ‘Cadaver Pouch Conveyor System’, the power was suddenly switched off, due to a medical emergency at the front of the stage. Frontman Jeff Walker initally looked perplexed – and his bile was soon rising as they got a message from backstage to cut their set short as a result: “It always happens to us… fuck it, we’re not fucking doing it!” he defiantly responded, adding later, when the message was repeated, “this is what happens when you sell a million albums – you get treated like shit!” While the quartet seemed pleased to be back on home soil, the distractions did likewise to both the delivery and the overall impact of what should have been one of the highlights of the weekend.
Carcass set list: 1985 (intro) / Buried Dreams / Incarnated Solvent Abuse / Cadaver Pouch Conveyor System / This Mortal Coil / Reek Of Putrefaction / The Granulating Dark Satanic Mills / Unfit For Human Consumption / Genital Grinder / Pyosisified (Rotten To The Gore) / Exhume To Consume / Captive Bolt Pistol / Corporal Jigsaw Quandary / The Sanguine Article / Heartwork / 1985 (outro)
Headliners Emperor were playing the last date of the touring cycle to mark the 20th anniversary of their iconic debut ‘In The Nightshade Eclipse’ album, and thus their set – despite the mizzle which had now made its appearance – promised to be something that little bit special… and so it proved, with a mesmerising, pulsating recreation of a set of songs not aired in such a context for many years. Having long ago eschewed all the needless black metal trappings, Ihsahn was calm and relaxed, yet played with a understated intensity and a genuine relish for what he is doing as he and Samoth paid suitable homage to a moment in metal history. Appropriately, the encore saw the band plunge even further into their back catalogue and relive the ‘Wrath Of The Tyrants’ demo, before bringing a tear to the eye of even the most black-hearted soul with an epic and soulful rendition of Bathory’s ‘A Fine Day To Die’. It was magical.
Emperor set list: In The Nightshade Eclipse (intro) / Into The Infinity Of Thoughts / The Burning Shadows Of Silence / Cosmic Keys To My Creations And Times / Beyond The Great Vast Forest / Towards The Pantheon / The Majesty Of The Night Sky / I Am The Black Wizards / Inn A Satana. Encore: Ancient Queen / Wrath Of The Tyrant / A Fine Day To Die
Photographs by Anthony May.
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=”72157646117729840″ size=”z” count=”100″]