Back Down or Die
Aaron: It may have been deathly early but Back Down or Die certainly helped us wake up with their post punk style of metal. The extremely catchy chorus riffs rip out and it was truly something to catch your attention; when a band catches your attention like this, you know there is something special there and with the blistering riffs and fantastic pullback bass lines you know you’re in for a treat. The skin blast blended brilliantly with the well-rounded punk sounds created a vibrant sound that deserved recognition. There were great lyrics with a mix of life and politics creating perfect punk songs; this is how it’s done. The crowd love it and the band absorbed the energy. Back Down and Die is definitely a band to look out for.
David: Second band of the day on the New Blood Stage were Surrey based Reprisal who describe themselves as ‘brutal thrash’ and fittingly blew away any remaining cobwebs with their cranked up brand of super- fast metal. There was certainly no shortage of power and aggression as they ripped into their set list with all the gusto of a band possessed and in spite of the still early hour. They took their half an hour by the scruff of the neck, bit its head off and spat it out gleefully into the crowd. They admirably also managed to attract more people into the tent to swell an already relatively large gathering despite the best efforts of Evil Scarecrow as that band brought their set to a close on the main stage. Reprisal undoubtedly won over a few admirers judging by the very good reception they received upon completing their final, breathless number.
David: Up next on the New Blood stage were four piece South London band Darkeye and they began nicely with some riff heavy Sabbath style leanings and a vocalist sounding a little like James Hetfield would if he gargled rocks and smoked 60 a day. They produced a thoroughly entertaining set full of songs that included slower, chugging pieces as well as faster, heavier elements that raced along in fine style. The tracks were consequently quite long, complex and extremely well crafted and I found myself enjoying their slot immensely. The reaction from the crowd seemed to indicate that they liked it too and Darkeye can therefore be justifiably pleased with their early afternoon’s work.
Jagermeister Promotion Team
Aaron: When you’re just regrouping and considering your next move, this happened, the Jagermeister Promotion Team. Now Bloodstock has its surprises and generally the Jager stage produced them, and with no exception a brass quartet is another of those surprises. The chilled out brass sounds of trombone, trumpet, acoustic drum and French horn of classic rock tunes. It was just what you wanted at mid-day in the lovely sun, sipping an iced cold beer to simply relax, waiting for the next barrage of assaulting riffs.
Aaron: The Amorettes were next up and it has to be said, you just can’t get enough of that sweet, sweet nectar that is the classic eighties pop rock riff accompanied by the siren calls of dual vocals serenading you; the rock chug-chug-chug riffs played by a trio of nymphs really gave them that extra pizazz. Its eighties hair pop metal at its finest, The Amorettes really have something special, blending the influences of Pat Benatar and Warlock with modern technical know how. It’s a rare thing to see, three females taking Bloodstock by storm, rarer still is that all female bands are hard to find, and it’s a shame. It’s a great time for female rockers out there in bands as they are finally being treated with the respect they truly deserve; there are many of them smashing that glass ceiling with impunity as their talent speaks in volumes of 11 and higher.
David: A somewhat smaller crowd greeted the arrival of The Threat to the New Blood Stage. The first thing that struck me was just how technically proficient these young lads from Manchester were and the complicated, jarring rhythms that they pounded out were startlingly tight and precise; in fact as tight as any band I witnessed on this particular stage over the whole weekend. Despite this, I found their music, with its denseness punctuated by some truly guttural vocals, somewhat difficult to warm to. Although a festival is a great opportunity for a band, The Threat’s music is challenging to say the least and not exactly prime festival material. They seemed to divide the audience with some people lapping it up and others shuffling out of the tent after just a few minutes. A gifted but extremely challenging band.
David: Continuing the pattern for the New Blood stage, a smallish crowd had gathered to view Norwich band Synaptik. These guys are much more of a ‘classic’ metal band and at times reminded me of Prog Metal titans Queensryche and Watchtower if those bands were ever to incorporate elements of thrash into their music. Synaptik were another band that came up against a popular act on the main stage (this time Decapitated) but nonetheless they soldiered on and produced a solid set that I found hugely enjoyable although the myriad time changes in their music did seem to alienate a very small section of the audience who had come to hopefully view a band that would allow them to ‘rock out’ a bit more.
The band’s stunningly precise musicianship was a real powerful factor in their set, although John Knight’s vocals, impressive as they were, did occasionally get a little lost in the mix. The final track, ‘Allies’ was a superb number to close events, containing as it did an excellent thrashy break with the band going full pelt towards the song’s thrilling conclusion. Synaptik are due to release their debut album before the end of the year and if this performance is anything to go by, metal fans are in for a treat!
Born of the Jackal
Aaron: Still the New Blood poured out the best of unsigned with Born of the Jackal, ready to devour us all. The quintet were full of talent, their form of Hardcore meets Screamo style of metal were welcomed by the accompanying crowd as the young lads dominated the small stage; some of their tracks were extremely catchy and border that popular Metalcore style but there is no doubt their affiliation to Screamo is loud and clear. Guitar shreds and riffs slaughtered the livestock as their gnashing bass lines sunk in deep. They certainly knew how to rouse the crowd and have plenty of raw ability; it will be interesting to see where they go from this new rise.
David: With the Jagermeister Stage being very close to the main stage, it was just a few steps across the arena to view Darkhorse, a four piece band from Northamptonshire. This is a band full of attitude and more importantly, infectious and ferocious riffs that tore up the tiny stage and caused mayhem in the small but violent mosh pit that formed as the audience threw themselves (in some cases literally) into the performance. With a sound a little like early but faster Black Sabbath mixed with Anselmo style roars, they went down a storm and I will definitely be checking this band out again in the future as they were very impressive throughout their brief but memorable set.
Aaron: If there is something about Bloodstock 2013 that stuck in the mind and made you look forward to the next band it was the Jager Stage and the acoustic rendition of Resin; this time round, Resin took the Metal to the Masses route and bossed their district to get perform once more. There was a funky beat to the riffs that just want to make you move to the beat. It was just gorgeous, stunning melodic, punchy riffs absolutely engulfed the massive congregation as the worshipped Simon and all the splendour of what Resin had to offer. It’s a rock dream in the shape of five blokes from Leicester; the diamonds in the rough are finally exposed as Bloodstock brings them to light for a proper no holds barred set of pure hard rock melodies.
Aaron: Whoa! Where the hell have these guys been hiding? Metaprism just zinged; Metalcore riffs mashed together with symphonic connotations created a stunning harmony of sweet nectar, it’s the ambrosia of symphonic metal. The Bournemouth sextet had the recipe for perfection as they masterminded a stunning set of beautiful tracks, huge vocal harmonies and that ever so needed extra punch with the male growls. The dominant stage presence and alluring personalities created the perfect blend of metal, looks, and style; absolutely loved every minute of this glowing talent that had been hiding in the bowels of the UK.
Michael: As soon as the established Crowbar finished their set it was off to the Jagermeister Stage to check out one of the weekend’s future headliners. Having already released one of the most impressive albums of 2014 it was now time for Massive Wagons to make their mark on one of the country’s biggest festivals and boy were they up for the challenge. Letting loose their exceptional brand of rock and roll to what was quite the sizeable audience, the Lancaster lads performed one of the best sets of the whole weekend.
‘Red Dress’ and album title track ‘Fight the System’ were among the highlights of this riotously raucous performance, and it was damn good to hear ‘Black Witch’ as well. Really this stage was far too small for these guys, indeed that was literally the case as front man Barry Mills at one point fell off it, don’t worry he was all right. The manner of this set and the reaction of those watching only cemented the tremendous reputation these guys have built up for themselves; this was a ridiculously good performance. Seriously, they may as well rename it the Massive Wagons Stage after that.
David: All the way from Ontario, Canada was Phantom, a power trio that took to the New Blood stage late on Saturday afternoon. Canada seems to have a habit of producing notable rock trios and Phantom may well be the next in line judging by this performance. It was again frustrating to see so few people in attendance, but this hardly seem to bother Phantom as they produced a really powerful set full of pacey, exuberant rock and metal.
The songs even had occasional punk overtones and onstage the band was full of energy and vigour. Think a young Geddy Lee singing over tracks akin to Motorhead’s ‘Overkill’ and you won’t be too far off the mark. The spectators that did witness Phantom were really appreciative of the band’s high octane stagecraft and at this rate I don’t think it’ll be too long before Phantom start playing to a much larger audience. With a promise to return soon and the distribution of a few guitar picks into the crowd, they were gone, but the applause they heard as they left must have been very encouraging to this exciting band.
The Canyon Observer
Emma: The Canyon Observer might have a name that sounds like a free newspaper, but their music is far from mundane. There was no messing about – the band went straight into playing their heavy psychedelia, and there was no banter between the songs. I have no idea what the frontman was singing about – I couldn’t discern any lyrics – but the eerie vocals over the top of the heavy, doomy music brought to mind a strange, sonic landscape which was enhanced by the insular, slightly oppressive, atmosphere in the New Blood tent. However, The Canyon Observer were not all doomy introspection, but really brought the heaviness, and the groove, with fast, thrashy riffs in places. This was, perhaps a strange choice for a Saturday lunchtime (the music would be perfect after-hours fodder) – the crowd emerging into the sunshine after their set seemed a little dazed and confused and I wondered if they, like me, had a slightly different perspective on the outside world as a result of The Canyon Observer’s extraordinary and dazzling performance.
Orphaned Land (acoustic)
Aaron: The Jager hosted Orphaned Land (acoustic); being the second time they’ve played today, you would have expected them to have some burn out but no. Crammed around the tiny stage, the crowd waited patiently as they tuned in; the crowd interaction was breathtaking, they loved Orphaned Land, it was clear. They completely absorbed the magical sound of Israeli metal unplugged as the acoustic set shone like a beacon in the glorious sunshine. The incredible interaction was profound and with the mention of the war at the Gaza Strip, it made it even more poignant when playing ‘Brother’ as tribute to the crowd and to those fighting on both sides in Gaza.
Maddo: There’s a lot to be said of a band that can take a crowd of people unfamiliar with their music and convert them in the space of a few songs. Sadly, it’s was not to be so for WarCrab, as their fairly by-the-numbers old-school death metal fails to excite any further than those already fans. Musically, the band don’t offer much besides straightforward, hard-hitting death metal, and it feels like the crowd are mostly drawn by the band’s unusual name and honestly brilliant logo. WarCrab themselves are talented and give a good show, but only being able to rustle up a mosh pit for one song speaks volumes about the band’s stage presence, and you have to feel for them that they’re not playing to a crowd more inclined to really get stuck in.
Maddo: It takes a while for the crowd to warm to Nottingham-based Cacodaemonic, with most of the fans of the band apparently turning up late, but the tech-death five-piece are undeterred by a slow start and rip through a set with blistering guitars and deeply guttural roars. Not even the now festival-standard quiet guitar mix can quell the band’s fire, and they soon conjure up enthusiasm from the crowd, proving exactly why they beat out so many great bands in this year’s Metal 2 the Masses. On paper, the band might seem like just another tech-death band, but it’s the absolute onslaught the band delivers that hooks you in and refuses to let go. It’s a shame that a lot of the technicality of the guitarists is lost by the sound, but this is a band that you’re left wanting to see again and again.
Emma: Hampshire band Alzir are a power trio – with the emphasis on “power”! They might not have been the tightest band in the world, but they were possibly one of the most passionate bands of the weekend, and they played out of their boots. Fortunately the sound issues which had plagued the Jager stage on Friday seemed to have been resolved and perfectly enhanced Alzir’s performance – particularly the gritty vocals as performed by the seemingly leather-lunged frontman. The drummer also deserves a mention – during the last song I was convinced Thor had descended from Asgard and was playing the drums with Mjolnir! The crowd was very obviously swept along by their magic and there may well have been a few cases of whiplash as a result.
David: Closing proceedings for Saturday on the New Blood Stage was Preston’s All Consumed. Over on the main stage Carcass was drawing a huge crowd for their set and frustratingly once again we were left with the disappointing sight of All Consumed having to play for just a handful of people. Not that you would have noticed as they produced another astonishingly proficient display of down tuned, angry metal accompanied by savage growling from vocalist Rob. This was a fine performance, full of power and a hint of melody in amongst the brutality. I can only hope that they will draw a few more people in on future gigs as judging by this set, they could well attract a lot more interest given the right circumstances.
Reviews: Aaron Emerson, David Lack, Andy Maddo, Emma Billingham & Michael Dodd
Photos: Heather Mc & Rich Price