Bloodstock is thankfully here with us once again with another 4 days of true metal but before the 3 main days the Sophie Lancaster stage hosts 5 bands on Thursday night, highlighting the wealth of UK metal. Opening act Stoke On Trent based Balls Deep wasted no time in stamping their authority to a packed out tent. I had seen them lay waste to the Rigger in Stoke a few months ago but on the Sophie stage playing through a big p.a system, their 7 song set was nothing short of overkill. With the imposing stage presence of vocalist Bez, they launched into opener ‘Bitch’, a short, sharp burst of Pantera type hardcore. Other standouts were ‘A Thousand Nights’, it’s lumbering main riff backed an unhinged vocal as if Bez was exorcising inner demons and temporary drummer Charlie Cooper seemed hell bent on destroying his kit. ‘Pool Dam’ lurched along on a Black Sabbath groove, inciting a huge circle pit. ‘Dead Badger’ switched between stoner riffs and adrenaline rush break downs and set closer ‘Epic’ lived up to it’s title as it’s dizzying dynamics including more powerhouse drumming saw them leave to big cheers.
Next band Gehtika had a hard act to follow but their 5 song set of mostly controlled lunacy set them on their way to a well up for it crowd, once again packing the tent out. Their stage image is a sight to behold looking like extras from the Wrong Turn films dressed in Victorian attire which explains the use of their catchphrase “spiffing” from lead vocalist Anthony Knight. The intro tape music was taken on by the band leading to 100mph riffs, pounding drums and demented vocals on set opener ‘Stack The Pyres’. Following number ‘Bedlam’, an early Entombed like slab of crunching dark metal saw the band throwing themselves around the stage. The angular riffing of ‘The Price Of Serenity’ brought to mind a much heavier early Will Haven and there was a brief respite while Anthony dedicated following number ‘Black Rose’ to Sophie Lancaster before a crushing wall of heavy grooves rolled from the stage. Gehtika’s final number came too soon before which the crowd was encouraged to shout “spiffing” as loud as possible. ‘The Impossible Question’ was the fastest/heaviest song here with the most psychotic vocal as the song speeded up into Berzerker territory.
Nottingham based Incinery were more traditional heavy metal than what had gone before as they plugged in and hammered out opener ‘Death May Die’ battering the crowd with technical Slayer like speed metal riffs from guitarists Chris Kenny and Jason Chaikeawrung as vocalist James Rawlings belted the vocals out in a Paul Baloff like screech. Heavy duty bass and drums on ‘Life Of Hate’ were backed by clinical riffing and raging solos midway to raise the temperature even more. ‘Dead, Bound And Buried’ was a bottom heavy chugger like a slower paced ‘Domination’ by Pantera. It’s double bass driven drum assault was almost drowned out by a speed metal section midway. ‘Destroy The Gods’ with it’s ‘Sad But True’ like intro went into thrash metal territory, only allowing a let up for the chorus. Another all to brief set came to an end with ‘Dawn Of War’, the title track of their debut E.P, it’s thrashing but catchy main riff coming over like a faster ‘Blackened’.
London metallers Monument, featuring the multi ranged vocals of Peter Ellis stepped up to deliver 5 songs of pure, no frills metal plus a rollicking cover of Deep Purple’s ‘Black Night’. Peter interacted with the crowd immediately, engaging us as “Brothers and Sisters” during opener ‘Renegades’ as he yelped and screamed the lyrics over driving power metal. Other choice cuts were ‘Midnight Queen’, the main riff brought to mind ‘Dark Lady’ by the Scorpions. It’s 5 minute duration featured some furious twin leads by guitarists Lewis Stephens and Dan Baune. ‘The Crusaders’ was a lengthy battle metal type opus with Peter hitting some long, high pitched notes. ‘Black Night’ was a highly charged emotional cover, recorded by Monument for inclusion on a Jon Lord tribute album. Final number ‘Rock The Night’, another number from the Renegades album did what the title said in a highly charged dose of frantic power metal.
East Sussex based final act of the night Jaldaboath are almost impossible to pigeonhole. The nearest I could get was the musical clout of Manowar, the image of the knights of the round table from Monty Python topped off with the ludicrously funnily lyrical style of Half Man Half Biscuit with song titles like ‘Roland The Farter’, ‘Bash The Bishop’, ‘Black Metal Beauty’ and ‘Axe Wielding Nuns’. After the band played the intro to opener ‘Roland The Farter’, lead vocalist Grand Master Jaldaboath (AKA James Fogarty) arrived onstage with a helmet the size of a dustbin lid which was soon dispensed with. The rest of the band are sensibly known as Sir Broderick Of Hornsey, Turk The Saracen and Pete The Dragon. James had an almost spoken word dramatic vocal for each song that had as many of the crowd I could see, were laughing as well as headbanging. ‘Bash The Bishop’ with the hilarious refrain of ” Bash the bishop in his head. Bash bash until he’s dead” was made up of period music keyboards over a huge riff. Other moments of comedy gold were ‘Hark The Herald’, built on melodic death metal over a keyboard jig. During the set James with tongue firmly set in cheek announced that the band have “Waited 757 years to play Bloodstock”. Heaviest number was ‘Seek The Grail’ with the quirky keyboards offsetting the early Sodom like backing. ‘Black Metal Beauty’ was a heavy take on the theme tune from the 1970’s TV show Black Beauty with James encouraging the crowd to do some air horse riding and their 8 song set ended with a riotous, over the top ‘Axe Wielding Nuns’.