Best Of 2014: Bloodstock Open Air Festival 2014 – Saturday Review

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Bloodstock Open Air 2014 Festival Header Image

Words by James Halstead & Nicholas Holmes, photos by Tess Donohoe.

After some tremendous performances from the likes of Prong, Hatebreed and headliners Down on day one of the 2014 edition of Bloodstock, it was time to head back into the arena at Catton Hall for more metal mayhem on day two of the festival aka Middle Saturday. If you missed Rock Sins’ coverage of Day one of Bloodstock Open Air 2014 you can read it in full on this link. Now, onto day two…

Evil Scarecrow (9) kick the Saturday of Bloodstock off with style drawing a crowd almost as big, if not as big as, last night’s headliners ‘Down.’ A firm Bloodstock favourite Evil Scarecrow have proven time and time again they are capable of producing a hugely enjoyable half hour set. Their first appearance on mainstage is no different and sees ‘moon moshing’ and a field of metallers doing the robot.

A large and excitable crowd crammed around the tiny Jagermeister Stage for teatime shots of the strong stuff and old skool rock n’ fuckin’ roll. Lancashire lads Massive Wagons (9) recently released debut album “Fight The System” and prove Airbourne haven’t cornered the “bastard sons of AC/DC” market. It was energetic riffs, fist-pumping beats and confident swagger with frontman Baz and his buddies. From the naughtiness of “Red Dress” (see the video on Youtube!) to politically agitated album title track the band delivered. Bigger and brighter things should deservedly come. Brilliant.

Massive Wagons 2, Bloodstock Open Air 2014 by Tess Donohoe

Shining (8) who follow may have a crowd size more suited to the early hour but are certainly much more interesting musically their ‘jazz metal’ lunacy providing a pleasing forty minute set. That Shining sound so good is even more impressive considering this is their second gig in twelve hours! Up next, Decapitated (10) are nothing short of stunning. One of this weekend’s many highlights its almost hard to believe this is the same band that turned in such a middle of the road set supporting Lamb of God in January. Focusing fairly heavily on latest album ‘Carnival is Forever’ might upset some fans but the relative simplicity of the groove Decapitated have introduced translates much better in a festival setting.

Orphaned Land (7) suffer from too much bass in the mix which slightly dilutes the great subtleties intrinsic to their music. However the airing of one of their quieter songs in ‘Father/Son’ provides a welcome highlight relying, as it does upon a more stripped down acoustic approach rather than a driving bass line. Next up, Crowbar (8) do what Crowbar do best and douse the arena in aural sludge. No surprises, no disappointments. This is just Crowbar doing what Crowbar do best and doing it damn well.

Seven years on from the band’s first visit to Catton Hall Italy’s Lacuna Coil (8) returned in excitable form. The sun shone bright for Christina Scabbia, dressed all in black, and she sounded as good as she looked. Co-vocalist Andrea Ferro was on top of his game too. The pair strutted up and down the stage as “Fragments of Faith”, “Zombies” and a defiant “Nothing Stands In Our Way” had the Bloodstockers in equally fine voice. Impressive.

Christina Scabbia of Lacuna Coil, Bloodstock Open Air 2014 by Tess Donohoe

On the New Blood Stage Warcrab (8), who hail from Devonshire, bludgeoned the audience with huge crushing riffs reminiscent of Bolt Thrower, Crowbar and vintage Sabbath. The sludgy, grimy and downright dirty noise was capped by savage roars from Kane Nelson who sounded like a bear with at least two sore feet. Mighty stuff from another act to look out for.

It was almost ten years since Children of Bodom (8) first played Bloodstock when it was an indoor event up the road in Derby. They also appeared at the first open air festival a year later and these loyal Finns did not disappoint. Frontman Alexi Laiho was taking no prisoners demanding fists in the air, moshpits and all that stuff. The set leaned heavily on older material and like a decade ago they opened with “Hate Me!”. Other back catalogue gems included “Needled 24/7” and “Hate Crew Deathroll”. Nostalgically nasty.

Children Of Bodom 2, Bloodstock Open Air 2014 by Tess Donohoe

There’s no git like an old git and Carcass (8) vocalist/bassist Jeff Walker was in spiky mood. He griped and grumped about being told to get off and cut the set short but carried on regardless. Despite the grumbles Merseyside’s grind godfathers pummelled the eardrums with new material such as “Cadaver Pouch Conveyor System” and brutal classics including “Incarnated Solvent Abuse” and “Corporal Jigsaw Quandary”. There’s life in this particular corpse yet!

Jeff Walker of Carcass, Bloodstock Open Air 2014 by Tess Donohoe

Bloodstock are all about those unforgettable events. Emperor (10) playing ‘In The Nightside Eclipse’ in full is just one such event. Backed up by strategically placed pyrotechnic the original album sounds utterly flawless; additionally none of the atmosphere of the record is lost. A monumental achievement when you consider so much of Nightside’s atmosphere is created through the production values yet it just feels so right. Closing the main set with a majestic Inno A Satana, Emperor continue into the encore and produce several of their earliest demo songs before wrapping up with a cover of Bathory’s ‘They Rode On.’ Tonight really feels like the celebration it should be; even down to the decision to delve into the roots of Emperor during the encore rather than producing a “greatest hits” portion of the set as some bands would be tempted to.

Ihsahn of Emperor, Bloodstock Open Air 2014 by Tess Donohoe

And so with a mesmerising dose of black metal another day was brought to a conclusion at Bloodstock Open Air 2014. Stay tuned for the final part of our BOA 2014 coverage featuring headliners Megadeth, Amon Amarth, Saxon and many more.

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