Bloodstock is the perfect excuse to roll around in a field listening to heavy metal and swilling paper cups of crap lager. Hugh Platt reports from the fattest, ugliest and most ridiculous festival in the UK.
“It’s a European-style festival, only in the UK,” is how Vicky Gregory, one of the Directors of Bloodstock, describes the event to Thrash Hits .com.
Compared to the bloated corporate sheen of Download, the heavy-as-we-want-it-to-be attitude of Bloodstock is a welcome addition to the metal calendar.
Growing from an indoor one-dayer of just 700 people back in 2001, the festival now spans three days and over 8500 people rolled up to throw the horns. And we were there to soak it all up.
There is nothing, nothing, more irritating at a festival than that handful people who wave flags around in front of the stage. But when on Sunday almost the entire Main Stage was almost blotted out by dozens of skull and crossbones, our interest was piqued. Responsible for this sea of flags was Alestorm, Scotland’s only true pirate metal band. With their tongues so firmly in cheek they’ll probably develop a speak impediment, the Perthshire gang soon had the entire crowd roaring “Hey, hey! I want more wenches! Hey, hey, more wenches and mead!” Sentiments that we at Thrash Hits .com can only endorse.
Biggest amount of bells and whistles
Dimmu Borgir might’ve had enough flames to roast Satan’s cockles, and Nightwish may have used up the UK’s entire supply of dry ice for their closing set, but when it came to OTT stage gear, Swiss folk-metallers Eluveitie win the prize. With eight members playing everything from tin whistles and bagpipes to even a hurdy gurdy (google it), the celtic-folk metallers were almost like indie-types Arcade Fire. Well, if Arcade Fire played big fuck-off guitars and stuffed their songs with liberal amounts of death metal vocals that is.
Biggest scene of carnage
After scorching the main stage on the final day with an unholy firestorm of thrash’d –up death metal, French Canadians Kataklysm brought the backstage to a messy end when a drinking competition escalated into something altogether more rough’n’tumble. Like their uncompromising metal roar, Kataklysm don’t mess about.
Biggest success in the face of adversity
Both Ted Maul and Ravens Creed jostle for this one, with both bands’ performances on the Scuzz Stage blighted by early technical problems. Ravens Creed soon settled into a gut-punching groove, with man-mountain Ben Ward bellowing like a wounded bear. Ted Maul, for whom it was the last show with current drummer Matt ‘Cave Gnome’ George, gave their departing sticksmith a whirlwind of chaotic noise as a send-off. But it is antipodean extremists The Berzerker who take the crown, by managing to blow the PA with only their second song.
With the media obsession with all things new, sometimes we forget just how good the back catalogues many of the weekend’s established acts are. Iced Earth’s vocalist Matt Barlow’s voice was as high as the waistband of his trousers, and Jon Schaffer demonstrated why his vision for his band is so strong, with riff after riff of ferocious metal. Overkill’s hour of punked’up thrash, led by the svelte and sneering Bobby ‘Blitz’ Ellsworth, was every bit as entertaining as you expect legends to be.
Band of the weekend
There was nothing at Bloodstock to touch At The Gates (pictured, above). The roar of disappointment that met vocalist Tomas Lindberg’s onstage announcement that this would be the last ever UK show for the reformed At The Gates said it all. With a set featuring classics like ‘Under A Serpent Sun’, ‘World of Lies’, and ‘Raped By The Light Of Christ’, At The Gates found a fitting place in Bloodstock to host their sole UK outing.