Bloodstock Festival 2016 – Sophie Stage – Saturday

8. Vodun3

The Heretic Order

Opening the Sophie stage seemed like a bit of a cop out for Heretic Order; their grandeur, tongue and cheek black metal style was far more suited for the Ronnie Dio stage but hey ho, they have improved from the last time they were at Bloodstock and that is only a good thing; maybe next time they will gain the prestige of the main stage. The high tempo groovy black metal style really hit it off with the gathering throng; their usual get up of silly gimmicky plastic skulls over the stage and daft robes really added to the atmosphere of their intent. It’s sometimes hard to say if they are being serious or not but then you hear the lyrics and think “nope, they really don’t take it seriously”; this was made all the more clear with the “satanic brides” dripping false blood on themselves is the most piss take way possible. They were incredible and it shows that they were enjoying every minute of their set by how seamless they were throughout. The music was full of everything you wanted too; great riffs, powerful bass lines and stupendous vocals all brought together in a stunning set that heated up the crowd wonderfully. They were good on the Jager stage two years ago and they were outstanding here on a stage that allowed them to express themselves better. They need the main stage to truly express themselves to the fullest of their ability and they would easily belong on it too. AE

Mage

Blending desert/stoner rock with classic rock and even thrashier elements at times, Mage are moving on following the tragic loss 12 months ago of their guitarist, Ben.  They’ve always had riffs that won’t quit but now there was a new, bright energy that was clearly evident throughout their set.  The original sound was still apparent, but based on the new material and the crowd reaction, this is a band that is going from strength to strength.  Such a positive sign to see, and such a great slot for them to showcase what they had. EB

The Raven Age

Things could not have got off to a worst start for The Raven Age as their intro tape didn’t work, but they more than made up for it by actually singing it instead. They looked tired and it’s not surprising; they have been relentlessly touring for the past year and it showed a little in the performance. It was slick and polished and the solid aspects of their melodic metal were greeted with raptures from the crowd. The set was very short and to some degree that had not done well for them; the time restraints meant they were able to produce four tracks and no band can make the most of this without some kind of performance lag, but The Raven Age managed to produce a very solid set that deserves serious credit; making matters all the more delightful was the announcement of the new album being produced ready for the end of the year with the incredible ‘Angels Descend’ being on that album from their EP. This has been a long time coming so finally The Raven Age will have enough material to break out of the support slot and start headlining their own tours like they deserve; bring on December and the new album. AE

This is Turin

Cheshire based technical metallers returned to Bloodstock after coming through Metal to the Masses in 2014. They put on a fantastic show and were really animated throughout the performance. Musically their sound was made even more intense by the size of the PA on the Sophie stage; it was enough to make your teeth rattle, especially with the powerhouse drumming. Their performance was passionate and also emotive with the hardcore style vocals adding that extra level of intensity with the crowd shouting back the choruses with enthusiasm. The stand out point for me was mid set when they got everyone in the crowd to put their arm around the person next to them.  They then read out a list of friends and family -not the usual personalities or well know figures – that the metal community had lost over the years ending with Sophie Lancaster, and dedicated the next song to them which was a wonderful touch and highlighted the sense of community within Metal and Bloodstock in particular: there were quite a few watery eyes in the tent. This was a fantastic set both musically and emotionally. RP

Vodun

When I first saw Vodun at a tiny venue in 2014, I was blown away by their intensity and was intrigued to see how this would translate to a larger stage in a festival environment.  I was not disappointed.  The large, enthusiastic crowd who’d gathered at the Sophie stage was only partly responsible for the incredible energy in the tent.  It was extraordinary how a three piece (vocalist/percussionist, drummer, guitarist) can be so heavy.  Vodun have a real 70s sound thanks to the crunchy guitar licks, the drumming is so heavy it’s practically seismic and the soaring vocals lift the whole tone above the usual doom/psych material, creating a euphoric vibe that was resonant throughout their set. EB

The King is Blind

In a festival which was to see so many fantastic sets The King is Blind put on, in my opinion, one of the very best sets of the festival. Currently riding high on the wave of their fantastic latest album Allfather they seem to keep getting better and better. Even a few sound issues didn’t cause them to break their stride. Their rhythm section was simply immense with breakneck blasting working together with the some of the best rattling basslines, producing a high energy performance that whipped the set along. Vocalist Steve Tovey was particularly imposing on stage and his intense delivery gave the crowd no real choice other than to be up for this. When the opening riffs hit for songs such as ‘Genesis Refracted’ and recent single ‘Fragility Becomes Wrath’ it was easy to see exactly why they are becoming such a big name on the UK metal scene; this was some really quite potent stuff. RP

Misanthrope

Bringing aggression and speed into one whole package Misanthrope brought to the Bloodstock Festival a breath of fresh air with their style of extremity. With Misanthrope we saw a band that has certainly perfected their sonic assault with a twist. So what makes this band different from your garden variety extreme metal band? They are capable of mixing together a sense of melody which blends in perfectly with the guitars and bass to such a level that it is almost art instead of it being music as it stands by its own force. This is music that prepared itself as a blend of aggression mixed with the subtle beauty of instrumental harmonies that are so well done and so perfectly executed. These were by far a favourite of the weekend and honestly a band certainly worth watching. MC

One Machine

Slotting in around midway through the proceedings, One Machine brought to the fore their power metal meets traditional metal style; it was good, nothing really stood out from the crowd but the riffs were solid enough and there were some bites of catchy leads that peaked interest. The vocals appears a little off which was a shame- it was as if they were over tuned and therefore some weird white noise kept interrupting making it sound tinny and not great for the ears. The power metal aspects were decent enough but it just didn’t seem to pick up much momentum as the set continued, nonetheless their stage presence was exceptional and the crowd that were gathering seemed to be have a good time; they were decent enough, but not awe inspiring. AE

Bull-Riff Stampede

Once again a New Blood powerhouse made their mark and managed to impress enough to move up the bill to the Sophie Stage and no wonder; Bull-Riff Stampede were one hell of a band and their brutal style mixed with the thrash shred made for some seriously good moshing. They were superb, the crowd were going insane and the Sophie Stage had filled up nicely for them too and they deserved it. Nothing feels better than a band who has slogged their guts out to get where they are and gets the perfect reception here at Bloodstock 2016. They looked proud and held their own brilliantly on the Sophie Stage which can be intimidating for some bands but not Bull-Riff, they took it in their stride and produced one of the best shows they have done, it showed that they had grown since last time out and the rasping vocals really worked for the whole sound. This was good stuff and they were at home up there. AE

Shining

There are few things better in life than watching Shining live; in fairness there’s also probably no more sure fire test for photosensitive epilepsy either. The Blackjazz masters provided a lesson in how to put on an intense gig with the kind of excessive strobelight abuse rarely seen outside of a Dragged Into Sunlight gig. Their convoluted riffs, chaotic drumming and screeching saxophone all wrapped up in a package which is both extreme and yet thoroughly danceable was genuinely spectacular to watch. There was also that wonderful first bit of any Shining gig whereby those audience members who haven’t witnessed them before are left somewhat frozen as their brains try to comprehend just what they were witnessing onstage. It usually doesn’t take long at all before the same audience members find themselves dancing along with a smile on their face, and the concert invariably turns into a giant party.  Honestly it was almost as good to watch as the band themselves. There really isn’t anything quite like Shining for putting on a truly phenomenal gig. RP

Acid Reign

Since returning, Acid Reign have been on the move constantly bringing to the younger generation a taste of the British old school thrash sound that has been able to continue to grow all thanks to their influence within the scene. It is well deserved that Acid Reign would be given the headline spot on the Sophie Lancaster stage as it shows the respect that the metal community has for this band, and with a new record ready to go it’s sure that we will see more of these titans. The band brought with them a set list of classic songs raring to be unleashed upon the Bloodstock crowd with a full frontal assault of energy the likes you won’t see again. With Acid Reign you’ll always get the full package deal and then some. What we were given with this set was the very best of a band that has for many years brought the best of the British thrash tone that has remained true and wild to the very end. MC

Reviews: Aaron Emerson, Rich Price, Emma Billingham + Mike Coyle

Photos: Heather Mc + Rich Price


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