Bloodstock Festival 2016 – Main Stage – Friday

1. Hark1.jpgThe sun was out in force, the skies were crystal blue and BOA was back to rule; I mean it does not get more metal than clear skies and black metal outfits, right? It was going to be glorious today with Hark opening up the Ronnie Dio Stage, Fury the Sophie Stage and Witch Tripper opening the New Blood Stage – an epic start and the crowds were already gathering having filled their bellies on full English breakfasts served by several of the stalls around the arena. Let’s get the party started… right where’s that coffee? AE

Hark

I wasn’t originally down to review Hark, however a small break between catching Witchtripper and Redeye Revival on the New Blood Stage found me captivated by the sound being blown over from main stage. Swansea’s Hark were playing to a relatively smallish crowd, which was to be expected given the hour, but the size of crowd didn’t prevent them from drawing a decent response to their set.  They had a good sludgy stoner sound which packed bags of groove reminding me in a lot of respects of a groovier Orange Goblin but with the rhythm and pacing similar to the bass heavy vocal driven intensity of bands like KEN mode. They had a really nice sound to their enjoyable set which, despite the early hour, was drawing people in like bees to honey. They played a few tracks from their debut Crystalline which I’m definitely going to have to check out.  RP

Gloryhammer

This was power metal taken to a new league. Gloryhammer brought the likes of sci-fi wonders instead of the usual fantasy lyrics into their music, and they were amazing showmen from start to finish showing their incredible ability to make the huge stage feel small in comparison. The style was flamboyant and full of wonder; the crowd were eating it up and their ability to drag the crowd into the set was something to behold. There was an amazing sense of energy and upbeat attitude from the quintet and the crowd bounced along to the set perfectly well with grins on their faces. It was a great occasion for the Californians from outta space who did battle at Bloodstock. AE

Evil Scarecrow

Now, every so often there is a band in our lives that just manage to do everything right in the most ridiculous of ways; Evil Scarecrow are that band and they don’t deny it themselves either, declaring that their set is full of obvious gimmicks for the shits and giggles of it. Well once more the gimmicks came out, the fun and frolics went awry and the music was full of pungent cheese lyrics that you just can’t help but nibble. The site was heaving for the mighty Evil Scarecrow, it was near enough the entirety of the festival goers all out in force in the ‘Robototron’ cardboard boxes, getting their claws ready for the side shuffle of ‘Crabulon’ and the brand new song ‘Hurricanado’ which left the band in stitches as they had no idea how to gimmick that one up other than three circle pits that would combine into one large one… it worked, then the spin around on the spot of the entire Bloodstock arena was something that needed to be witnessed. Utterly amazing as per usual from the bonkers metal that is Evil Scarecrow, completely pulling it out of the bag again. AE

Misery Loves Company

Misery did indeed love company as the large gathering embraced the quartet’s low gothic metal that brought all the melancholy and pain with every stroke of the strings. They hit all the right notes which included the more upbeat ‘I Want to Kiss your Boots’ and the incredible ‘Sonic Attack’; this was their first outing back from a 16 year hiatus and wow did they make up for their absence. To make life better for the adoring fans was some new material with ‘Would You’ that went down a treat; it’s been far too long without Misery Loves Co. so thank god they are finally back. It was a great set from start to finish with crunching riffs and epic bass lines that dragged you into their world with ease. All that matters here is the Swedes are back and they are back with a vengeance. AE

 

Stuck Mojo

With new singer Robbie J and new bassist Len Sonnier Stuck Mojo still held their own, bringing rap metal to the uhhh… tweenies? Rap metal has not aged well and has moved on from the ghetto style rap that Stuck Mojo bring; they haven’t developed their style to the modern age of metal and as good as Robbie J is, he didn’t have the charismatic aspects of Bonz. However for all the watching crowds there was a feeling of nostalgia, which was a great feeling and that feeling was had all round the park; the crowd were loving the rambunctious sound of Stuck Mojo and it has to be said Robbie J was incredibly energetic and brought his own style to the older material. It may have been disappointing to see them not develop their sound but it was still a damned good performance. It would be interesting to see what kind of album work this band could bring as a whole, and see what unique stamp the new members put on it. AE

Corrosion of Conformity

The kings of stoner metal, the masters of sludge rock and the legends that are Corrosion of Conformity have influenced a huge swathe of today’s bands. They are giants in their own rights and it showed; the veterans were professional, slick and full of everything you would expect from the big boys of the eighties and nineties. Let’s just say that with a few issues afoot it was a miracle things went so well; the Bermuda triangle of band equipment that is Paris did its trick again by losing yet more guitars and thanks to Hark for loaning theirs, to Reed Mulin needing surgery on his knee and tech drummer Jon Green having to fill in. How they managed to put themselves together nobody knows, all we know is that they performed a kickass set and Jon Green felt like he was part of the family- he was immense on drums. This was certainly an interesting experience for the CoC gang and an incredible performance, and being met by an adoring, worshiping crowd put the icing on the cake. Word of warning to bands out there, for god sake, stop using Paris, things go horribly wrong! AE

Venom

When it comes to Venom, the veterans and legends can only do one thing: put on one of the most impressive shows of the whole day. New material for last year’s From the Very Depths sits incredibly well alongside fan favourites like ‘Welcome to Hell’ and ‘Black Metal’, and the show managed to incorporate as much music from the band’s vast back catalogue into the show as it could. I can honestly say that if Twisted Sister had not been playing a headline slot, then Venom would have made a great alternative headliner for this stage. Their performance illustrated that they have the music and onstage charisma to headline this festival. Hopefully it won’t be another decade before they grace a Bloodstock stage again. DS

Behemoth

Wearing cowls and a bit gimmicky to a point, Behemoth showed us why they were the undisputed kings of Black Metal; ok granted they weren’t quite to the standard of their previous time at Bloodstock thanks to the sound quality, but nobody can say black metal is still an underground scene with Behemoth and Dimmu Borgir and the likes and the magnitude these types of bands have. It may still be a niche market but it’s like marmite-  you either love it or hate it and there is little wiggle room in between those notions. Their performance was good, their riffs were thick with tar dripping darkness and the vocals held up incredibly well considering the mic problems. All in all a solid set from the black metal giants. AE

Twisted Sister

 It was that time, it was a great occasion and it was a very sad occasion too, this was the final ever show of Twisted Sister in the UK; 40 years strong they had been going and like their t-shirts said, “40 years and fuck it”. Dee Snider had already treated us the night before with Phil Campbell and again Dee was just on fire. It’s like the guy is a machine, for his age he was in the best shape you could imagine and he needed it too, bouncing around like an Duracell bunny for the entire set. He poked digs at Metal Hammer, Kerrang! and even Download Festival, classing Bloodstock as the only true metal festival in the UK and he’s not wrong. The songs came thick and fast and it was an amazing scene, seeing black metallers clad in black and white face paint singing along to every song by Twisted Sister; this was a truly united community with no divisions of genres or skin colour or disabilities or age, everyone was having a blast. Of course it wouldn’t be Twisted Sister without the magnificent ‘I Wanna Rock’ and the epic and middle fingers in the air at the establishment ‘We’re Not Gonna Take It’ but they were dwarfed by the scenes to ‘The Price’ that was dedicated to Lemmy Kilmister and Twisted drummer AJ Pero who passed away in 2015. To set a scene that when you see the lights of the stage switch off and all you see is the lighters and phones lit up by over ten thousand fans really made you choke and swallow back the tears that were welling up; it was haunting, and a beautiful tribute to the fallen heroes of heavy metal this past year. Twisted Sister were perfection in a glass, they couldn’t do anything wrong and the crowd reacted in kind. They were the perfect headliner and it was the perfect send off. AE

Review: Aaron Emerson, Rich Price + Danny Sanderson

Photos: Heather Mc

For all our coverage from the weekend, head over here.


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