Bloodstock is one of those staple landmarks in the calendar of any fans of extreme metal. As August descends upon us, the hordes of battle jacketed, beered-up metal heads flock to the grounds of Catton Hall for a weekend of non stop metal madness. So what does the now 15,000 capacity Bloodstock Open Air 2014 have in store for us…
Kicking off proceedings on the main stage this weekend are Metal to the Masses success story Bloodshot Dawn. In keeping with the Bloodstock theme of putting death metal on at a ridiculously early hour, Bloodshot’s furious fretwork and powerful riffing succeed in waking up the Bloodstock diehards, and getting some impressive pits up and running. With their former drummer and backing vocalist Doug Anderson joining the band on stage and taking things up a notch on the brutality scale, Bloodshot Dawn are a cracking first choice for this weekend’s main stage mayhem.
Up next are Swedish death metal veterans Entombed A.D. With a surprisingly early slot of 12:00pm, the Swedish Death ’n’ Rollers draw in an impressive crowd and play an almost water tight set consisting of material from their prestigious back catalogue and from their recent (and technically first) release Back To The Front. Despite it being an honour to watch one of the pioneers of Swedish Death Metal perform, their set today does lack a certain energy and level of enthusiasm that a main stage band really ought to possess.
Jumping forward a few hours now and Bloodstocks wild card of the year, Hatebreed are up on the main stage. Although not an obvious favourite among the elitists, Jamey Jasta and co. do not give a damn and belt out hit after hit with unfathomable vigour. Hatebreed’s positive anthems whip the crowd up into a frenzy as the mosh pit is replaced with a mud pit in true Bloodstock style. Complete with bringing kids up onto the stage and commanding the die hards to open up monstrous pits as the opening bars of I Will Be Heard kick in, Hatebreed make their 45 minute set the most entertaining of the day so far.
From relentless pitting to relentless pyrotechnics now as Dimmu Borgir take to the stage. In spite of substantial technical difficulties at the start of Progenies of the Great Apocalypse Dimmu’s performance, packed with dry ice, fireballs and plenty of explosions is undoubtedly entertaining, despite being musically average. With a somewhat unconventional choice of songs and enough flames and fireworks to bring down several small churches, Dimmu’s performance makes delightful viewing for the many fans in this evenings ever increasing crowd.
Headlining the main stage tonight are New Orleans super group Down. As the thunderous opening riff to Eyes Of The South rumbles onto the stage, Philip H. Anselmo has everyone in tonight’s packed arena captivated. As the band, and a slightly tipsy Philip tear through those classic Down anthems WitchTripper, Lifer and Stone The Crows, the band prove to Catton Hall this evening exactly why they’re the biggest super group in extreme metal. As they stereotypically draw their set to a close with an elongated version of Bury Me In Smoke, complete with some rather famous stage crashers, it’s safe to say that Down have delivered nothing short of an absolutely stellar show tonight.
Skipping forward now to Saturday afternoon, infamous Polish tech-deathers Decapitated are bringing some much needed, no frills attached death metal to the main stage. Decapitated pack plenty of energy and enthusiasm into today’s performance, however their desire to add peculiar, atmospheric fillers in between each track is simply not necessary for a band like Decapitated. The band need to stick to doing what they do best, crafting intense, technical death metal, not flirting with atmospheric, metalcore-esque nonsense.
Returning to New Orleans now, Crowbar succeed in creating a sound so monumentally heavy that you can almost feel the bowels of everyone in the arena twerk uncontrollably. With mighty, contagious riffs and Windstein’s beautifully harsh, gravelly vocals, Crowbar bring a much needed dose of gnarly, traditional sludge to the days events and send the hangovers of the masses packing. Anyone who has had the privilege of seeing Crowbar live know that they’re a band who categorically never disappoint and this afternoon’s set is no exception.
As the evening approaches, the traditional Bloodstock party is kicked into action as BOA favourites Children of Bodom take to the stage. Bodom have decided to play the wild card this evening and opt for a less traditional set list, leaving out hits such as Blood drunk and Six Pounder for an older Bodom set list, opting for the likes of Hate Crew Deathroll and Are You Dead Yet? This decision to go old school this evening is a wise one as it appears to have gone down a storm with those watching.
Taking the penultimate slot this evening are death metal pioneers Carcass and after this evenings fantastic show, it could easily be argued that the four piece should be headlining tonight. Playing a perfect cocktail of songs from their early goregrind days with Incarnated Solvent Abuse and Corporal Jigsaw Quandary, their first dabblings at melo-death with Buried Dreams and Heartwork and last years brilliant return to form with Cadaver Pouch Conveyor System, Carcass not only play faultlessly, but entertain this evening’s crowd to a very high standard too.
As controversial Saturday head liners Emperor take to the stage, the rain and niche-ness of Kvlt black metal dissipates the crowd quite substantially. Putting aside the fact that Faust should categorically NOT be playing here this weekend, the quality of Emperors set this evening is astronomically high, spoiling tonight’s waterlogged fans with a first class performance of In The Nightside Eclipse in it’s entirety. Topped with a crafty little encore of Ancient Queen, Wrath of the Tyrant and A Fine Day To Die, Emperor deliver an set full of unending extremity this evening.
As Sunday dawns, those choosing violent and aggressive methods to shake their monsterous hangovers have chosen wisely as Flemish funsters Aborted take to the stage. With enough lung punching blast beats, intense, guttural vocals and infectious riffs, Aborted are easily winning the contest for the most brutal band on the main stage this weekend. With front man Sven’s trademark sense of humour working wonders on the soggy, early morning crowd, Aborted have made it well worth dragging yourself out of your tent into the howling wind and torrential rain for.
Fast forwarding now to the last decent band on the main stage, Floridian death metal juggernauts Obituary deliver a set so old school and thunderous the speakers at the side of the stage are even attempting to windmill. Unfortunately, due to the rather beastly wind, the sound during Obituary’s set is somewhat obscured, however despite this, John Tardy and co. still deliver a glorious set, packed full of old school classics yet manage to tease the fans enough for their October release Inked In Blood, their first studio release in five years.
Now Obituary may have been the last decent band on the main stage, but they sure as hell are not the last decent band of the weekend. The future of Scottish death metal, Glaswegians Scordatura are working up a brutal, bludgeoning storm enough to rival Hurricane Bertha over on the New Blood Stage. With furious pits and fierce, guttural vocals, Scordatura prove that the UK Death Metal scene is going from strength to strength, especially with bands of this calibre getting the credit they deserve and playing one of the top UK open air festivals.