(Our UK correspondent Andy Synn, who is a lucky devil, attended the mammoth BLOODSTOCK festival earlier this month and delivered a report on the performances. You can find his review of the festival’s Friday and Saturday shows at this location, and today we’ve got his write-up about what he saw and heard on BLOODSTOCK’s final day — plus a collection of videos (some of which are full sets) at the end.)
Unfortunately, the first band to assault my ears on the last day of Bloodstock were the generally uninspired Kobra & The Lotus, a band who the metal media have been trying desperately to ram down our throats for some time now, but who don’t have the songs or presence to justify it. Not the worst band in the world by a long shot, but memorable only for how forgettable they were, and for the singer’s often flat, often forced, vocals.
So it’s a good thing we had Nile! After some admittedly hilarious sound problems (where you could hear the sound guy shouting and swearing at everyone to ‘Fuck off! We’re not ready!” after Nile tried to start their intro a tad early), the quartet finally kicked into a sterling set of challenging death metal mechanics. The new songs are definitely finding their place in the complex algorithm of Nile’s set, while a run-in by members of The Black Dahlia Murder for the climactic chant-along of “Black Seeds of Vengeance” helped add to that special “festival-feeling”.
Speaking of The Black Dahlia Murder, they were up next and also faced the unappealing task of presenting their razor-sharp melodic death metal to a crowd that had seemingly greeted their announcement with either measured ambivalence or outright hostility. But with good natured aplomb, and some hilarious stage banter, the quintet were definitely up to the challenge, packing an impressive number of songs into a short time slot in an effort to win over as many with their music as possible. Kudos for the handling of the naked guy (“Raise him up, I want to see his penis… no wait, keep him away from security… oh no, they got him. Enjoy jail dude!”), and well done on ending the set with more people in the field than they started with.
Evile were up next, and for the life of me I can’t understand the sheer unbridled passion some people have for this band. They can write a good riff here or there, but the songs are largely workmanlike Metalli-thrash as churned out by so many other bands through the ages. I suppose there’s a sense of British-apologism at work, they’re “our” band, so we “have” to support them. Still, nothing they do clicks with me, though they have grown into their bigger boots over the years and at least now seem to have the confidence to back up their convictions on a larger stage. They’re a good band, just not all that special.
Whilst waiting around for more bands I was unfortunate enough to suffer through Anvil’s embarrassing attempts at music. Lovely guys I’m sure, but the thin veil of respectability the documentary gave them has long since worn through, and what is left is a band for whom the reasons they didn’t “make it” the first time round are abundantly clear, not least from the way each uninspired song splutters fitfully into life, wanders aimlessly for a few minutes, then stutters awkwardly to a stop with little fanfare or acclaim. Just a terrible band.My eardrums were saved though by the presence of Demonic Resurrection on the Sophie Stage (where, as a rarity, they received a pretty good sound), who ploughed through a lengthy and intricate 5-song set of their distinctive, blackened, deathly, melodic metal. Gracious and humble, the band were always keen to connect with their audience, both during and between songs, while the triple vocal attack and prominent (but never excessive) keyboard parts helped them stand head and shoulders above their competition.
Paradise Lost were just as divisive as last time I saw them; some of the songs were good, some felt a bit repetitive. Nick Holmes’ voice was at times strong and vibrant, at others weak and strained. The overall feeling was of a band held together by a strong sense of purpose and identity, but not quite sure at the minute where they were going with it.
Dimmu Borgir, who can often be a bit hit-or-miss live, actually looked to be having some fun today. Both Galder and Silenoz actually extemporised around their riffs, lengthening some parts, playing with the whammy bar, and just generally giving each riff a more “live” feel, while drummer Daray and live-keyboardist Gerlioz both hammered away at their instruments with a heartening energy. Overall, the set was a resounding success, with the band looking fully dedicated to their performace.
Two points though:
1. Please change up the set-list a bit. We know you have some classics that people will insist you play, but dropping even one or two of these more predictable songs in favour of something a bit rarer/more special would do a world of good.
2. You really need to replace Vortex. Playing with a backing track is fine to an extent, but the use of pre-recorded vocals is starting to get old, and our patience is wearing thin. Get a bassist who can sing, or get some backing singers, or something. Something to make each performance less “pre-recorded” and more of a live experience.
Still, a great set – but one with some issues that have continued to nag at me.
Finally I was able to catch a good half hour of Anaal Nathrakh before my time at the festival ended. And what can I say? Dave Hunt was his usual nihilistic, misanthropic self, not helped by his gammy leg, but his vocals are still as terrifying/powerful/glorious as ever. Playing with three guitars turned their sonic attack into a wall of obliterating noise at times, but even through that the scything lead parts and hammering industrial riffage still left their mark. Oh, and the new song they played was probably only one level below “extinction level” on the catastrophe scale. It bodes well.
So, when all is said and done, BLOODSTOCK was a resounding (and in many ways surprising) success. I stuck mainly to the main stage this year, mainly to see the fall-out of the many (supposedly) unpopular decisions in headliners/etc, or to check out if certain bands were really deserving of a main stage slot. I think my choice worked well. I got to check out a load of bands (though perhaps less than I would usually have done at a festival), and enjoyed some “festival moments” that added to that special feeling.
THE BLACK DAHLIA MURDER