Sunday morning. Hungover and suffering from that nearing-the-end-of-the-festival fatigue, one is in dire need of a pick-me-up. Something loud and heavy to get the blood pumping as it were. Off to a galloping start then, are female-fronted Canucks, Kobra And The Lotus, who have received more than their share of hype of late, and from today it is clear none of it is justified. True metal by numbers, they are one of those bands that throw all the right shapes and dole out all the expected clichés but the music is dull, uninspiring and tiresomely generic. Sure, the front woman has quite a strong presence on stage and is clearly in it for the right reasons, but it would be patronising of me to say that her vocals were anything above woefully average and at times downright painful. After a few songs we wander off in search of coffee and blissful silence. (LH)
I arrived at Corrosion Of Conformity playing “Mad World” from their hardcore classic “Animosity” and it is well known the band has gone back to the older stuff apart from a few classic tunes in their repertoire. The bands self titled new album is a mix of crushing sludge moments and hardcore, demonstrating the ability to be a three piece on stage but still have a brutal and effective sound. Mike Dean’s bass playing was crushing at times and really tested the integrity of people’s rib cages. A trio of new tunes starting with “Psychic Vampire” were played, that showed the riffing technicality of Woody Weatherman on guitar. The link to “Your Tomorrow” was seamless as the songs flowed like oozing magma from one to another. I was surprised by the groove metal inclusion of “Vote With A Bullet” with its treacle thick riffing but I enjoyed it all the same like everyone else. For some reason Mike decided to climb on his bass amp and then regretted it, as it looked like it caused problems once “RatCity” was played. An audience chant of drum solo during the pause had Reed saying I don’t play drums very well; bloody liar. Once sorted out it was into “Holier Than Thou” from the hardcore days and even earlier the excellent “Positive Outlook” from “Eye For An Eye” released some 28 years ago. Closing the set was “Technocracy” as I anticipated and despite the sound problems self inflicted or not, C.O.C. were giving it their all. (MH)
The gods were obviously not happy as the sky went overcast, a wind whipped up and we were lashed with the rain stick as Nile came on stage and set about offering their ‘Sacrifice Unto Sebek.’ It has been a while since I have caught the band live and must admit I had after the first few times found them incredibly formulaic and not that exciting to watch. A couple of albums had left me feeling in need of something a bit more too but I found that in new one ‘At The Gates Of Sethu.’ Live here they were powerful and surprisingly in between songs quite full of banter, going as far as laughing at the great English summer weather. However they are still a pretty damn static band when it comes to any sort of onstage movement and remain quite rooted to the spot. Bassist Todd Ellis is new but the ever present Karl Sanders is the rock that has kept the band transcending the aeons and making them one of the most revered forces in death metal these days, something all here seem to appreciate. It’s an all too short (unlike some titles) seven song set with just seven songs cleaved out including one from the new album. ‘Black Seeds Of Vengeance’ is the one it seems most are waiting for and is a fitting denouement to the set. (PW)
The Black Dahlia Murder seem to get a bad rap by people claiming them to be metalcore or something. That is totally wrong as TBDM play homicidally technical death metal with considerable skill. Rumours of metalcore must have made people disappear as the crowd was much smaller than should have been there for such a formidable act (stop listening to rumours people and check yourself before making rush decisions). Having seen the band earlier this year I have to say this show was much better, the brutalising double kick and massive riff onslaught was a textbook demonstration in annihilating technical terrorizing. Granted the bands triggered drum sound is not to everyone’s taste, but watching Shannon on the big screen was astonishing. Trevor is not a shy front man as the set opened up with “A Shrine To Madness” and a guttural call to arms from the pit. TBDM focus their music on lightning riff explosions with matching double kick as “Moonlight Equilibrium” was next followed by a sea of people fist pumping on request during “What A Horrible Night To Have A Curse”. There was little audience banter apart from the usual thanks and so on until “Everything Went Black” from the “Nocturnal” album. It appears some guy was naked in the pit which made Trevor ask to get the guy in the air, and promptly announcing ‘It’s a boy!” to much laughter. I would not have liked to have been under that guy I can tell you. After the fun it was back to the brutal business of “I Will Return” and some vast brutish riffing before closing the set with “Funeral Thirst” and its seismic double kick blast that followed the intro. A damn fine set by TBDM and one that I, like many others, enjoyed tremendously. (MH)
Evile have become almost synonymous with the British festival and it is hard to miss them these days, although that said it is only the second time I’ve seen them with their most recent bassist Joel Graham. Opening the set with ‘Five Serpent’s Teeth’ they march us one by one through eight tracks of thrashing fury. The Yorkshire quartet stomp and headbang their way through the likes of ‘Cult’ and ‘Infected Nation’ and the atmospheric ‘We Who Are About To Die’, keeping it tight and constantly exuding an air of confidence and generally appearing to be enjoying themselves up on the stage. A brief jam to Dio’s ‘Holy Diver’ leads into ‘In Dreams Of Terror’, and a speech about the anti-swearing policy at BOA leading to the frontman shouting out ‘Let me see your flipping horns you plonkers’ raises a laugh (and a horns) or two from the crowd. ‘In Memoriam’ is a real highlight and it comes across so beautifully that it is hard not to get lost in it. As ever, Evile deliver a reliably storming set of quality British thrash that goes down a treat. (LH)
A number of years ago, before a certain film came out, a drinking companion and rather good metal writer said to me “you’re not a real metal fan if you don’t know the riff to Metal on Metal.” At the time, far too few people around the world would have been able to hum those oh so influential chords, whilst old gits like me would dust off old vinyl and tapes to relive our youth. All I can say is forget trends, forget what the scene may say, just revel in the power of Anvil! After decades of playing pubs and bars, by simple force of enthusiasm and will, Anvil are now main-staging Bloodstock 2012, the only true sizeable UK metal festival of 2012. Forget the no show of Sonsisphere and ignore the commercial bombast of Download; BOA is the real deal. So, after two days of blasting metal of a host of sub genres, what did Anvil bring to the well stirred cauldron of BOA? In simplicity, fun and enthusiasm!
With a positively hangover jarring start time, rather then try and draw in new converts and scene fans, Anvil eschewed pomp and ceremony for an hour plus of brainless fun metal. Old classic ‘March of the Crabs’ stomped through to ‘666’ and ‘Juggernaut of Justice.’ Like any band looking to shift units, there was an emphasis on recent tracks like ‘On Fire’ and ‘This is Thirteen’, but at no time was the very respectable crowd convinced of anything but the fact that this was a classic band. Even the cheesy dildo powered guitar solo of ‘Mothra’ had the crowd entertained, and Robb Reiner’s jazz stylings of ‘Swing Thing’, dominated by latest bassist Sal Italiano managed to keep the crowd clapping, before sliding into the “national anthem of rock”, ‘Metal on Metal.” Despite being a fan, it is that point the set should have ended, on an iconic set, rather then squeezing in recent, but still fun, track ‘Running’. Despite, or maybe because of, Lips’ asides to the crowd, and again, despite, or even because of the fun affirming indulgence, Anvil were pure entertainment, simply delivering unadulterated fun. Can you ask for more? (SB)
Demonic Resurrection have come all the way from India, they were meant to make it over before if memory serves well but things went tits up, no doubt due to Visa related problems. It would have been rude not to pop over to the Sophie stage and watch them and many were commenting later that they were the surprise of the festival. Being already well versed in last album ‘A return To Darkness’ I was intrigued to see what they were like in the live arena and was not alone as many came in to watch the band. With symphonic black and death elements their music is quite varied and their ‘Unrelenting Surge Of Vengeance’ certainly goes down well. The band are obviously overjoyed to be playing in the UK and want the audience to make some noise as the show will be watched by many fans back home in India. I feel a bit guilty that I won’t be able to make their follow up performance at the Unicorn inLondon after this even if I was again surprised at the inclusion of clean vocals in their songs. Somehow it all works well within their sound though and hopefully this will not be the last time they are able to make the trip over to play inEngland.
Appear in the bright sunshine on the Sunday afternoon, when all but the most hardy of festival goers are feeling their spirits and bodies cracking under the pressure of non-stop metal, terrible food and warm beer. For Paradise Lost we see that Nick Holmes, ever the stereotypical Yorkshireman, is in dry mood. Every time he mentions “Bloodstock”, there’s a slight wry smile on his face, as if he is revelling in the silliness of it all. Over the last few days, we’ve all experienced various bands with their own shticks – make up, costumes, themes. Paradise Lost have strode onto the stage in simple black attire, the very epitome of self confidence and effortless style. Sure, some may complain at the relative weight of songs taken from their latest (great) album, Tragic Idol, and it’s also telling that while the tracks from Draconian Times get the biggest cheer. Each song is played flawlessly of course – though Nick Holmes appears to put on a very strange higher pitched voice for the most recent tracks, and it’s always a joy to watch such a solid rhythm guitarist in Aaron and a solo guitarist with such a distinctive tone as Gregor. Still, there are no tracks from before Shades of God, and none at all from Icon, which seems completely bizarre in the same year that they have released a “best of” compilation. Still, Paradise Lost came to amuse, and this they did. As Holmes himself dryly intones, “one wouldn’t want to be a cunt, would one?” (CD)
Spreading out three big name black metal bands over the three days on the main stage was a good move and today it was Kings Of Pantomime Creation Dimmu Borgir’s turn. Yes as much as they try and tell us how true their style of Norwegian Black Metal is compared to the likes of Mayhem are you ever going to take a band with such silly costumes, pompous songs and sense of trials and tribulations within their line up that seriously? I admit that I have not gone and bothered with last album Abrahadabra, the name itself had me saying no but I hoped I was still going to be able to enjoy them live. Yes, well it is rather impossible not to, especially as they look so crazily resplendent and today seem to capture the shots like no other bands have managed, despite billowing clouds of dry ice. Shagrath is the loon at the front with enough tassels hanging off him to whip a nunnery to death and then there is Galder the Old Man’s Child and Silenoz both on guitars. As for the others on the stage, well we don’t mention them OK.
The songs are as ever a good mixture from the albums. We start off old with ‘Spellbound’ and ‘In Death’s Embrace’ giving people like me the songs from our favourite era. Then we get reminded that the group honestly were not that shoddy later Gateways being a case in point. They throw in new one ‘Ritualist’ and have me stroking my 4 day facial fluff, determined not to sing along but thinking should I perhaps pick the album up. Then we get some prime slabs of darkness like the Star Wars cavalcade of ‘The Serpentine Offering’ and Hellraiser etched ‘Progenies’ and by the time they finish with favourite number ‘Mourning Place’ we are eating out their hands wondering why we ever dared forsake them. Dimmu Borgir the daftest best bastard band on the planet, well for 15 minutes they certainly were.
Well it is not often I get to review a band for the first time and by rights there is no excuse for not having caught Alice Cooper before. I was very pleased when he was announced as a headlining act and thought after all the years in the business it was well deserved and also at least it was not something like bloodyEurope again. I guessed that there would be a visual and flamboyant theatrical part to the performance and indeed there was as he descended down from the very gods spider like on an elevated platform to the austere voiceover that was unmistakable as being Vincent Price.
I was not sure that I was going to end up watching the whole hour and a half performance but from the moment Brutal Planet got us rocking out in style I knew I was there for the duration, often with a shit eating grin across my face. Alice Cooper is all about the horror but he does it in such a fun way there can be no complaints by the PC brigade, this is a world of cartoon etched fun and violence where nobody can truly get hurt and even the kiddies can enjoy numbers like ‘No More Mr Nice Guy’ and ‘Ill Bite Your Face Off.’ The rest of the band spread out and got through things in style, the odd solo gave them their moments too and it was not all about the vocalist although he was completely impossible to ignore as he waved a sword around and pulled various tricks with guillotines and big monsters out the bag. Highlights, well there were many. Feed My Frankenstein was one, ‘Coffee’ was unnecessary to wake us up and as for ‘Poison’ shit I really was not expecting to find myself singing along to it.
By the time we got to the encore he had given one hell of a crowd pleasing performance and unlike this slot last year had delivered the goods leaving everyone content and happy and possibly even wanting to go and pick up their tickets for 2013. I normally find myself walking out of anywhere playing pub classic ‘Schools Out’ but the real deal mixed cleverly with some Floyd was perfection. Finishing with a flourish and ticker tape bombs for ‘Elected’Alice had got our vote, each and every one of us. A consummate performer in every sense.
So that is it again, a successful Bloodstock in 2012. With the collapse of Sonisphere and the over commercialisation of in every sense of Download this is the ONLY UK metal fest of its size worth attending.
As I am left to finish off the review with just the one band Anthrax to announce as playing next year I have a think who I would like to see on the bill with them (bands I believe have never played before).
I have to go British and say that is high time Hawkwind got at least a main support slot as well as Fields Of The Nephilim. A bit of punk would liven things up as well and The Damned would fit that bill perfectly. Black metal on the main stage, Shining (Sweden) Marduk, Arcturus, Negura Bunget, Sigh? Death Metal, well Entombed, Asphyx, Hail Of Bullets, Autopsy. Trippy sunny afternoon stuff; Anathema, The Gathering, Madder Mortum. My Dying Bride, Novembers Doom, Solstafir, Ghost, The Devil’s Blood, Trollfest? Will Uncle Al still be about for Ministry to headline a night? Who could get on the reformation trail? Well the possibilities are endless and we await further announcements with expectation. Here is to the success of BOA and thanks to all involved (PW)
Reviews team: Spenny Bullen, Chris Davison, Martin Harris, Luci Herbert and Pete Woods.
Photos © Pete Woods