All Words and Photos: Jay Hawkins
The final ‘official’ day of Bloodstock festival has been bestowed upon my good self to cover and it’s with great pleasure I do so, whether you wanna read it or not! Sunday, which I’m now calling the day of sin, was my day to shine on the big stage ‘YES’ it’s been 5 long years of hard work, but it’s paid off, everything I’ve worked for has lead me to this point, this festival is now like my second home. I have made so many friends with bands and punters alike, it’s like coming home, a sentiment I’m sure a lot of you also share!
Kicking off the main stage, at an ungodly hour, 10.45 am to be precise, was Ghost Bath, who have been, without question, the most talked about band, on social media, since the festival finished. The band’s name refers to the act of committing suicide and they describe their sound as depressive…..that should have been a massive clue to what we were about to hear. Musically the band, who shall remain nameless, at their request, were extremely competent musicians, the vocalist however just made an audible noise throughout, never once forming and actual word, which a lot of people didn’t really make sense of. I on the other hand, could appreciate what he was trying to do, as an artist. To try and stand out from an over saturated crowed, artistic license appears to have been lost somewhat, so I appreciated this band immensely, mainly for trying to be creative. From a photographic sense, I could take 100 images of the singer and they would all look the same. Still, it got people talking about them and they say no press is band press!
Next up, a band I love, Heart of A Coward, I first heard their new single on Daniel P. Carters Radio 1 Rock show at the beginning of the year, I know right, it was a shock for me too. I then managed to see them touring with Trivium and As Lions, which was a baptism of fire, nothing can prepare you for the explosive power of this band and the bands lead singer Jamie Graham, who in my opinion, is fast becoming one of the great front men, of our modern times! This band will go far, believe me, but for how long, remains a mystery, one I look forward to following in the years to come! Now the party’s started, well done guys, brilliant set!
Metal heavy weights, Unearth next, all the way from Boston, Massachusetts, USA. Personally, I know very little of this band, but after today’s performance, I’m eager to know more about them. The band have been around for some 15 years and rose to fame, the Massachusetts based quintet stood tall beside their peers in the so-called New Wave of American Heavy Metal (a category that includes their friends and contemporaries in Killswitch Engage, Lamb Of God, Shadows Fall and All That Remains). When I listen to their music, namely the bands latest album release ‘Watchers Of Rule’ released in 2014, I can easily hear a similarity with bands such as Hatebreed and Fiver Finger Death Punch, 2 bands I love, 2 bands who sell out arenas all day long! Why I haven’t seen them before now is a mystery, that will have to change.
Supergroups like Metal Allegiance are all the rage of late and why not, especially when they’re formed to honour musical royalty and lost souls, such as David Bowie, Lemmy Kilmister and Glenn Frey. I’ll most certainly come across as a clueless critic, I’ll never contest at being anything more, but I wont patronize this band by saying something they’re not, nor will I use cheap epithets to belittle what this ever changing band of brothers are trying to promote. In short, the band are a collective of metal musicians, who produce music, for the soul purpose of entertaining and celebrating the musical and the lifestyle we all hold dear!
As I had a little time on my hands, this gave me an opportunity to venture away from the main stage and catch a band I’ve been wanting to see for a while now, on the Sophie Stage, who go by the name of ‘Witchsorrow’ signed to Candlelight Records, the trio hail from Hampshire and who produce crushing doom metal. It was crushing as well, however, I think Emily, on bass forgot which way the crowd was, as she had her back to us through most of their set? I’m aware doom isn’t the most over exerted form of metal out there, but it is played with pure emotion, emotion, we the crowd would love to see, because lets face it, you’re highly unlikely to start a circle pit, whilst watching a doom band, are you! Musically, these guys and girl were amazing, I’ll never get enough of its brilliant misery and Witchsorrow do it exceptionally well!
I had to venture over to the Sophie stage for Sanguine, who’ve had the best year or their career, to date, thanks to their amazing new album, Black Sheep. I saw them again earlier this year, after a long period without, when they supported the mighty Mushroom Head, which was an amazing tour to get on. I spoke with Tarin and Nick, at length at that show, so I knew big things were happening for the band, behind the scenes. I’m a real sucker for female fronted metal band, but good ones are few and far between, Tarin however is an amazing vocalist, who can do things with her voice, only the supernatural can hear. I mean that in the nicest possible way! Sadly, I never got to speak with the band here, as their appearance on stage was pretty much our lot, as they were whisked away soon after, to support Fear Factory, who also appeared at Bloodstock this weekend! The crowd for these guys was massive and it’s easy to see why! I’m looking forward to following the band, closely now, after this year, to see how high they can reach, for me, the sky’s the limit!
I’m aware of the band Satyricon, sadly and I’ll be honest, I know fuck all about them, as I’m not a massive black metal fan. So why did I go to Bloodstock, I hear you ask, well, for me it’s a journey of discovery, If I happen to see a band, like Satyricon and they play out of their skins, I’m more likely to give them the time of day, the next time they’re in town, or I happen to come across a track that I like, that’s a win, in my book. Today, these guys impressed me immensely, as did their music, take tracks ‘Black Crow on a Tombstone’ what an anthem that is…RIFF, those in the know, namely the bloodstock masses adored these guys though, that was plain to see! Black Metal (some) i’m a convert!
All weekend, the turn around times, thanks to the amazing crew that makes Bloodstock happen, were quick and efficient, except for Dragonforce however, due to a technical fault with a cable, this gave me some time to run over to the New Blood Stage, for Chronicles. Someone mentioned to me that I’d stated I didn’t like this band, I have no recollection of ever saying this, however, people are allowed to change their mind, if I ever did say it! I first saw these guys play Damaged Stock, in 2013, when they supported Evil Scarecrow and since then, I’ve gotten to know the bands ‘clean’ singer, Bane Oakenshield quite well since that first encounter, all be it through our connection via social media, but I’ve grown to like his character, so I thought I’d make a concerted effort to see his band play live. Today, I loved it, these guys sing about all things superhero related and why not. I mostly admire the fact these guys do what they love to do, work hard and are entertaining, but above all, ain’t complete cunts! Fantastic set guys, loved it!
So as stated, Dragonforce were some 20 minutes late appearing on stage and throughout the first three songs, I could clearly see the keyboard player was having a nightmare of a time with his instruments. In the end, he gave up and came and sat on the edge of the stage, playing what looked like a toy keyboard. Such is the nature of the bands music, the rest of the band are very entertaining themselves, especially the 2 speed playing guitarists Herman Li and Sam Totman, man those guys now how to play a guitar! It’s also worth mentioning, I was extremely impressed with Marc Hudson, the bands not so new lead vocalist, who appears to have fit in very well within his new role and was relishing performing for us today! Sadly, they never played their guitar hero (Bonus Track) ‘Through the Fire and the Flames) Boo…
Symphony X released their latest album ‘Underworld’ last year and has been getting some serious airplay on internet metal radio shows across the UK, especially and for that reason, they have deservedly earned their place on today’s bill, which by all accounts is turning into a power metal day! Again, I’m not a massive fan of this type of metal, but half a million of you are and it’s easy to see why. The band are very entertaining, their musical ability is unquestionable! Any fans of guitar based music can easily relate with the bands musical style, which isn’t offensive, in fact quite the opposite, it’s very uplifting!
ANTHRAX…..having been stood in the crowd, at Sonisphere, back in 2013, for the big 4, it was an absolute pleasure to be given the opportunity to photograph this band, professionally (sshhh don’t tell anyone) I even had a bit of a fanboy moment, in the press area, whilst guitarist, Scott Ian was being interviewed by Dan P! Since the early 80’s, along with the likes of Metallica, Slayer and Megadeth, these guys have helped to shape metal genres like thrash metal, where they’ve remained leaders within it! Take the bands new album ‘For All Kings’ never has a band stayed more relevant, than these guys and this new album is a true testament to their creative genius, still today! Anthrax have never taken their music too seriously, but this album is a game changer. It still has that classic Anthrax sound, yet totally original, they haven’t gone over old ground either, they’ve managed to produce a classic Anthrax album, that’s totally original! I’m sure these 4 are in constant competition with each other, as the other 3 have also released new albums, within months of each other, Metallica being the latest, what a surprise, but for metal music fans, this competitive streak between them can only be a good thing, as it helps to keep the music alive. As for tonight’s set, the weather gods were with us, as they played throughout the Sunday’s sunset, which illuminated them perfectly for photography! DREAM. COME. TRUE!
My previous statement also holds true for tonight’s headliners and festival closers SLAYER. Although I’m knocking on a bit, sadly I’ve only ever seen Slayer twice, neither of which featured Hanneman (RIP brother) which saddens me greatly. If I could go back in time, I’d love to see an early slayer show, as I’ve heard they were legendary! Tonight’s stage set up and pyro was incredible, Bloodstock didn’t hold back for these guys. Every song they perform is an absolute anthem and thankfully, they played my favourite track ‘Dead Skin Mask’ which Tom Araya proclaimed is a love song, whilst introducing the track…OK!!! Surprisingly, only 3 new tracks, off the album ‘Repentless’ featured in tonight’s set, the title track (check the video out on youtube for this track, warning, not for the faint hearted), When Stillness Comes and You Against You. Obviously Raining Blood and Angel of Death closed tonight’s set, I’m pretty sure there would be a riot if the band didn’t play these 2 track! Sadly, no wall of death happened, from what I could see, bit that’s been done before, right! As with Anthrax, Slayer’s new album is a true testament to the creative genius of these bands and bands like Slayer. If you haven’t already (shame on you) go out and buy Slayers new album, released via Nuclear Blast Records, its sinfully good! From what I’m reading we won’t have to wait too long for a new album either, as most of it has been penned, during the making of Repentless!
Sadly, Bloodstock 2016 ended way too soon, seriously, where does the time go, but as they say, time flies when you’re having fun and I had a blast! Early bird tickets are already on sale, I’ll most likely buy mine now, seeing as it’s pay day. Bloodstock truly is like being at home. The fan forums are alive with chatter at the moment, mostly people posting possible band suggestions for 2017, which must be great for the organisers, as it gives them a chance to see which bands the fans (ticket purchasers like me) want to see and would most likely buy another ticket for next years event! I’m going, who ever’s on the bill, if I don’t like someone, there’s usually another band about to start playing, not too far away. My only gripe was the food situation, although there was plenty of choice, most of it was shit and expensive. I don’t mind paying good money, for good food, like the Paella stall, that place fucking rocked. Hippy chips can suck my balls, robbing bastards hahaha!
Until B.O.A 2017, stay fucking metal.