Kobra and the Lotus put on a great early morning main stage show. The lovely Kobra Paige and her band clearly possess a good amount of what it takes, which will hopefully take them further up the bill next time out.
Corrosion of Conformity
It’s true to say that former Metallica favourites Corrosion of Conformity have slipped way down the rankings over the last few years. Today they play a set covering their near 30 year existence, including ‘Loss For Words’, ‘Mad World, ‘Vote With A Bullet’, ‘Deliverance’ and ‘Positive Outlook’. In addition comes a handful of tracks from 2012’s belated album title ‘Corrosion of Conformity’. With the official status of the pit given as “Hanging” and bass amp gremlins doing their worst, the now three piece Raleigh outfit still create enough of a stir to send at least half of those present running for the energy drink and paracetemol cocktail. Welcome to Bloodstock Sunday 2012.
Once they actually get going, South Persia enthusiasts Nile knock everybody’s snooze button off – with some pretty volatile stateside Death Metal. The maelstrom of Saunders and Toller-Wades guitars showed no mercy to anyone, and songs ‘Lashed to the Slave Stick’ and ‘Sarcophagus’ are enough to resurrect an entombed Mummy .. and a few hungover daddies. It would seem the only ones displeased with Nile’s efforts are the ancient gods themselves as the first rain of the weekend begins to fall.
The Black Dahlia Murder
Ryan Knight, The Black Dahlia Murder’s guitarist makes friends early by berating the less than perfect performance of some of the concessionaires. After that, it’s plain sailing for the motor city five piece, as they clatter in with set detonator ‘A Shrine to Madness’. Over the remaining thirty five minutes The Black Dahlia Murder demonstrate why their brand of extreme metal has attracted so much favour over the years, with skull crushing tracks such as ‘Moonlight Equilibrium’, ‘Necropolis’ and ‘On Stirring Seas of Salted Blood’. Playing it slightly tongue in cheek, vocalist Trevor Stnard bounds over every inch of the stage, often chased by his band mates. In the end, The Black Dahlia Murder smash their way out with ‘Unhallowed’ and ‘Funeral Thirst’, leaving everybody just a little breathless in the warm August drizzle.
Having being vaunted as “the saviours of UK thrash metal” it’s surprising that more people don’t stick around to see if Evile are indeed the future. The grafting Yorkshiremen give maximum effort for sure. The Drake brothers guitar work is sharp and pleasing, but their efforts are a little let down by Matts vocals which, in truth, matched the atmosphere – a little flat. ‘In Dreams of Terror’ was a definite high point, but if Evile are to continue upward they must do better than this.
The loudest cheer of the day so far is reserved for Anvil. Are they serious or are they the real life Spinal Tap? Nobody seems to know, but what we do know is that today during their set frontman Steve “Lips” Kudlow breaks the no swearing rule within seconds. Anvil have a bass player that looks like a mad hobgoblin, a drummer that leads a jazz/metal odyssey, naff song titles like ‘Metal On Metal’ and ‘Juggernaut Of Justice’ and killer riffs that have been ripped off by many during their 35 year history. With Lips playing a five minute solo using a sex toy, and the whole band playing with the blind enthusiasm of sixteen year olds – funny or not, who cares? Everyone loves an underdog, so around Bloodstock-land Anvil are well and truly adored.
Paradise Lost are the last of the true goth rock bands still more or less fully intact – which is why there is full attendance for their set on the Ronnie James Dio stage. Opening with ‘Widow’ and ‘Honesty in Death’ it soon becomes clear that all is not well with front man Nick Holmes. Backed solidly by the massive, majestic open chord guitars of messers Mackintosh and Aedy and the precision drumming of Adrian Eraldsson, Holmes jokes his way through. Along with the doom laden bass lines of Steve Edmonson, the cracks are covered and the set qualifies as a bone fide monster. When ‘Say Just Words’ ends, the goose bumps on our arms have nothing to do with the slight chill in the air.
Over on the Sophie Lancaster stage French quintet Headcharger rip it up big time with their potent mix of metalcore, stoner rock, avec a dash of old-school punk attitude. Frontman Sébastien Pierre bounces energetically through a set which consists of full-on hardcore, mid-paced AC/DC-esque stomps and the occasional groove thang. From the latest album ‘Slow Motion Disease’ comes ‘All Night Long’, ‘Fires of Hell’ and ‘Dusty Dreams’, proving that Headcharger are a band who right now should be making those who are not already aware of them, take some notice.
Back to the Ronnie James Dio stage and after what seems like an endless chanting intro, Dimmu Borgir slowly march on stage. For a band that trades on the darker side of music and imagery, seeing them bathed in the very pleasant evening sunshine is more than a little surreal. The returning Norsemen are greeted with devil horns a plenty, as they kick it all off with ‘Spellbound’. The trouble with Dimmu Borgir’s brand of melodic black metal is that it isn’t overly mosh friendly and the pit remains static. Nonetheless the crowd give other numbers like ‘Ritualist’ and ‘Mourning Place’ their full attention. During his time presiding over the masses vocalist Shagrath calls for screams, obedience and Earths final titanic doom. He gets the first two; let’s hope the third remains a romantic pipe dream.
For all the imagery, creativity, drama and theatrics of any band since the early seventies what they all must realise is that they are merely followers of one man, and that man is Alice Cooper. The original shock rocker has come to Bloodstock to show us how we all got here. It’s a bit like your dad telling you the story of how he met your mom. The curtain falls away to reveal a set of Hollywood proportions with the man himself standing atop a twenty foot pulpit. He spreads his arms and shows a set of spider legs as Black Widow opens the proceedings. ‘I’m Eighteen’, ‘Billion Dollar Babies’, ‘No More Mr Nice Guy’, ‘Hey Stoopid’ all electrify the appropriately biggest crowd of the entire festival. Props are in abundance as Alice plays the monster, the cripple and warped circus ringmaster. Despite being the undoubted focal point Alice has always insisted it is The Alice Cooper Band and he delights in showcasing the other group members, in particular the extraordinary talents of ex Michael Jackson guitarist Orianthi Panagaris. ‘Feed My Frankenstein’ and ‘Poison’ continue the greatest hits show and Cooper’s inevitable mock execution during ‘Killer’ is greeted by audience frenzy. ‘Schools Out’ closes the festival because it would probably break international law if it didn’t. Most of us have seen the stunts on show before, but the video game generation that forms the first ten rows haven’t, and like participants in a rite of passage – they walk away different people.
So there it is Bloodstock 2012 is over. A success? Unequivocally. Will it get bigger? With Anthrax already confirmed for next year it would seem so. Also at this juncture an honourable mention is due to those bands who got up onto the New Blood and Jaegermeister stages and took their chance to show us all that the future of UK metal is in safe hands. Bands like Fallen Fate, Dreamcatcher and Andrast are the next wave and it is to the organiser’s great credit that these young guns continue to be given a platform to launch from. So will Bloodstock 2013 be one of the more hip places to hang out next summer? I suggest you bring your metal self to deepest Derbyshire and find out for yourself.
Review: Noel Fischer
Photography: Steve Johnston