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Bloodstock 2012 - Thursday & Friday | FESTIVALPHOTO

Bloodstock 2012 - Thursday & Friday



When the clock struck midday on Thursday 9th August, this was cause for celebration - not just because I wouldn't be back at work till Tuesday the next week, but for a far better reason - time to set off for Bloodstock, the highlight of many metalheads calendars. A quick drive to Catton Hall followed by picking up my press credentials and it was time to enter the arena once again.
I knew there were bands due to play on Thursday night but had no idea who - when the festival released the stage times they omitted the Thursday night lineup for some reason, but never mind, it would be a surprise.
In the end one band cancelled due to having broken down abroad and not being able to get to the site in time, leaving just three bands to play. Of those I watched two. First up were Saturnian, an extreme symphonic metal band. I have to say I was very impressed as they really got the festival off to a great start. They were visually interesting, put plenty of power and energy into their performance and above all sounded great.
Next up came Bloodshot Dawn, a melodic death metal/thrash band from Hampshire. Again they put in a great performance and showed why they deserved their appearance at the festival.
After that it was time to head to where I was staying for the duration of the festival to get sorted out ready for the hectic days ahead.

Doing photos means I got to see a lot of bands, but usually only for a part of their set (typically the first three songs) before I was dashing off to another stage to photograph another band. It can be frustrating not being able to watch the whole set of a great band, but on the other hand it meant I saw a lot more bands than I would normally and found some really impressive bands I'd have missed otherwise.

Friday started for me with Malefice on the main stage. Despite the early start there were plenty of hungover metalheads in front of the stage by the time they started, and their heavy sound really helped wake everyone up. After three songs of Malefice it was over to the New Blood stage where Control the storm were playing. Coming from parts West of London (Bristol, Oxford etc) these power metallers were putting on a really good show and I certainly liked what I was hearing. Really their performance was setting the expectations for the stage for the rest of the weekend - some really impressive young bands all putting in great sets.

Next up it was time to head over to the Sophie Lancaster stage for one of the acts I'd been looking forward to seeing - The Commander in Chief. A Norwegian guitarist known for being the first/only female seven string guitar player in metal, she had released a cover of Black Sabbath's Paranoid which caused a big impact with some very impressive guitar work. Her stage outfit did as at least one member of the audience shouted out, bear a definite resemblance to The Beatles Sergeant Pepper album cover outfits. Her performance was very good with some seriously impressive guitar playing, and some great sounding songs. The only bit I wasnt convinced by were the vocals which seemed quite quiet, but since the sound in the photo pit is never great then it could well have been the sound that was the problem. I certainly look forward to seeing her perform elsewhere in the future when I can enjoy the whole performance.

Next up was the oddly named band Gonoreas. Not having had time to check them out in advance I was expecting something punk-like with lots of shock value but in reality they were more of a traditional heavy metal/hard rock band. Hailing from Switzerland they were a really pleasant surprise - an excellent band but with a crap name. A change of name would probably help them.
Over on the main stage Grand Magus were putting on a typically solid performance. Their latest album, The Hunt was a great album and their performance today was as good as always.

Back on the Sophie Lancaster stage, Primitai were putting in a great energetic set and had drawn a good sized crowd. After a few songs it was time to head over to the first band on the Jaegermeister acoustic stage - Skarlett riot. They were another band I'd been looking forward to seeing, having missed them on their recent tour. Acoustic sets are a real challenge for bands as songs often need to be rearranged to work properly, and the results can range from awful to amazingly good. Happily Skarlett riot were at the good end of the scale and put in an extremely good set. How good? Good enough that they were one of four bands whose CD's I ordered as soon as I got home after the festival.

On the main stage, FInnish pagan metal band Moonsorrow put on a good performance, but sadly I didn't have time to watch as much of their set as I would have liked.

Over on the Sophie Lancaster stage, Sweet Savage, a NWOBHM band from Northern Ireland were on form and were a great band to watch - although I didnt manage to see their full set, I did manage to see most of it, and was thoroughly impressed.

Dakesis were another band I saw on the Jaegermeister acoustic and it was clear from what I saw that their great reputation is totally deserved - a great band and one I hope to see play a normal electric set at some point before too long.

My Wooden Pillow were a total contrast to the acoustic set from Dakesis. My Wooden Pillow are a hardcore band, so lots of power and scarily powerful growling vocals from their petite singer. An excellent performanace from an impressive band.

Over on the main stage next were Iced Earth, who have always been impressive whenever I've seen them, and today was no exception as they put in a great performance that went down well with the crowd.

Sepultura were next up. Without the Cavalera brothers some would argue they aren't really Sepultura, and it's certainly fair to say that they aren't the same now as they used to be, but despite this they are still very impressive. Singer Derrick Green is an imposing sight as he prowls the stage - the man is simply enormous and has an equally large voice. They may not have the Cavalera's any more but Sepultura are still a force to be reckoned with.

Over on the Sophie Lancaster stage were British metallers Pythia. They played Bloodstock back in 2009 when they headlined the Sophie stage (which back then was a much smaller stage - the same size as the current New blood stage). Tonight they pull in a large crowd - one of the largest of the day. The guys are in their usual leather armour, although guitarist Tim Neale looked to be wearing a pair of womens fishnet gloves as well for some reason. Singer Emily Ovenden was stunning in a new outfit, although I'm not sure that the antlers really worked, and being critical, the dress would have looked more at home at a Mediaeval Baebes gig. Pythia put in a great show - one of their best recent performances, and with the powerful guitars, solid bass and drums pounding at breakneck speed this was good heavy stuff and Emily's powerful voice works superbly well with the power of the music. The fans clearly loved the performance too - a great set.

Next up were Dio Disciples, boasting not one but two talented vocalists - Tim Ripper Owens, and Toby Jepson. With a set of Dio songs then they could hardly go wrong, and they didnt - seeing Dio Disciples performing on the Ronnie James Dio stage at Bloodstock was a special moment for many at the festival, and served to remind us what an amazing talent was lost when Ronnie James Dio died.

After Dio Disciples ended it was time for Absolva over on the Jaegermeister stage. In case you havent come across Absolva before, the band was founded by the remaining two members of Fury UK after Luke Appleton left to join Iced Earth. They put in a good performance and are certainly a band worth keeping an eye out for in the future.

The last band of the night on the New Blood stage was Fallen fate. They were certainly heavy and loud, and with a good sized crowd - impressive as they clashed with Watain. Another good performance on the new blood stage.

Following Dio Disciples on the main stage would be a challenge for most bands, but Watain certainly didn't seem fazed by it. With notices in the press tent warning photographers of the risks of being splashed by blood, it was a very nervous pit full of photographers that ventured out to photograph Watain. With animal skulls, upside-down crucifixes, and flames plus the afforementioned animals blood then this was always going to be an impressive show - and it certainly was. Musically they were impressive too and in my view with their stage show and songs they should have headlined.

After the spectacle of Watain, anything else was likely to seem dull in comparison and in the case of Alcest that's definitely true. They really do need to improve their stage-craft as visually they were one of the dullest performances of the day. Musically they were better, but I struggle to see how they got such a high billing when earlier bands were far better in my opinion.

The headliners though were Behemoth. Well we assume it was them - it was hard to tell through the thick clouds of smoke that filled the stage, and with their ornate microphone stands blocking most peoples view of the band members then we only got occasional good looks at them and of course we also had face-meltingly hot blasts of flames to add to the spectacle and roast any security or photographers in the pit at the time. It was an impressive show, but musically I wasn't that keen I'm afraid.

An excellent Thursday and Friday at Bloodstock with plenty of diverse bands but all consistently impressive.

Photographs of the Thursday/Friday bands:

Bloodshot Dawn:

Control the storm:
Dio Disciples:
Fallen fate:
Grand Magus:
Iced Earth:
My Wooden Pillow:
Skarlett riot:
Sweet savage:
The commander in chief:


Skribent: Anthony May
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