Words: Alan Daly
Pics: © Olga Kuzmenko Photography
For those that didn’t have the time or cash to go to this year’s fantastic Bloodstock Festival, tonight provides an opportunity to see not one, but three of the bands that were on the bill. It’s been four years since Devildriver last played Dublin in support of their 2013 release Winter Kills. Since then, they have had a major line-up shake-up, released another solid album of originals in Trust No One, and more recently, delivered a surprising collection of outlaw country cover songs in Outlaws ’til the End. With another double album in the works and a European tour in full swing, it’s clear that Devildriver are not ones to rest on their laurels.
The first support act is reigning Bloodstock Metal 2 the Masses competition champions This Place Hell who are poised to gain significant exposure thanks to this and their well-received appearance on the New Blood Stage in Catton Hall just a few days prior. The Dublin-based five-piece have earned themselves a reputation as an aggressive modern metal act that has quickly matured into a world-class band ready to tour. With heavy but hooky riffs from Mick Hynes and Damien Regan and a pummeling rhythm section courtesy of Ryan Cummins and Dylan Scully, their sound is topped off by in-your-face vocalist Stephen Cannon. Videos accompanying tracks for ‘Filth’ and ‘Endgame’ help to make them recognizable and provoke an enthusiastic response from the slowly growing crowd on this Wednesday night. Their audience may have started out thin, but their sound is thicker than tar, and by the end of the short set, there were surely more than a few new This Place Hell fans in the house.
Up next is Dead Label, another Irish support act, who has already amassed a five-figure following on their social media platforms, and are steadily growing. This year marked their second performance on the Sophie Lancaster Stage at Bloodstock, and with an appearance at Download Festival and support slots for the likes of Fear Factory and Gojira under their belts, it won’t be long before the Cellbridge-based trio is making the cover of Kerrang! Immediately throwing the eager audience into the deep end of the mosh-pit, they open with ‘The Birth of Suffering’ from their 2016 album Throne of Bones and continue to aurally assail the attendees with more thundering tracks including the instantly-recognisable ‘Salvation in Sacrifice’ and ‘Forget the Names’, a brand new track with tragic inspiration. The crowd is totally engaged throughout the set, and willingly oblige when called to form a “wall of chaos” during their Scuzz-featured track ‘Pure Chaos’. O’Grady, Hall, and Percival have dedicated their lives to this band and deserve great recognition for their efforts.
With two such entertaining opening acts, it would be easy to forget that the best is yet to come, and Californian groove metal quintet Devildriver take to the stage a little later than scheduled. Frontman Dez Farara and guitarist Mike Spreitzer are joined by relative newcomers Neal Tiemann, Austin D’Amond and Diego Ibarra and the show kicks off with a triplet of tracks from their 2005 sophomore album The Fury of Our Maker’s Hands; ‘End of the Line’, ‘Hold Back the Day’ and ‘Grinfucked’. With the promotional posters for tonight’s show, and the tour name (“Devildriver ’til the End”) in keeping with the theme and artwork of their recently released country outlaw covers album, it’s somewhat surprising that tonight sees no live debut of any of its content. If truth is known, this probably comes as a relief to dedicated Devildriver fans who are visibly content with classics like ‘These Fighting Words’, ‘I Could Care Less’ and ‘Clouds Over California’. Chaotic mosh pits erupt throughout the set, prompting upbeat Fafara to comment “Now that’s what I want to see”. He dedicates their cover of Awolnation’s ‘Sail’ to anyone in the audience who, like he, suffers from ADHD. More than three-quarters of their set is taken from the first three albums, with just ‘Ruthless’ and ‘My Night Sky’ taken from Winter Kills and Trust No One. With the originally advertised timeline for tonight indicating a ninety-minute show, many fans were understandably critical of the hour-long set, perhaps expecting an encore despite Fafara’s clear stance on the egotistical nature of such charades. Despite leaving them thirsty for more, the performance proves popular among the attendees, and we’re sure to see a great turnout when Devildriver return with their double album of new material due in late-2019/early-2020.