Words by James Halstead & Nick Holmes, photos by Tess Donohoe.
With only one more day to go, it was time to wipe away the grime accumulated over the past several days and go again for one last round of metal mayhem for the final day of the 2015 Bloodstock Open Air Festival. Anyone who’s not seen our coverage of the first two days can check it out on the links below:
And now, onto Sunday’s action….
Agalloch (7) might be a slightly odd choice to wake up the crowd and their post-metal soundscapes might have been better suited to the darker confines of the Sophie Lancaster tent but it is still an impressive performance and seems to do the job. Just in time for the Bloodstock masses to bellow along to WOLF (7) who put on a solid forty minutes of heavy metal thunder. Almost the ideal band to wake up a Bloodstock crowd on a Sunday morning WOLF ply their NWOBHM sound with a veteran’s proficiency. JH
Bloodstock favourites Orange Goblin (8) blew away any remaining hangovers with a brisk blues-heavy lunchtime set. Towering frontman Ben Ward roared, “The fucking party starts now! It’s early for a Sunday but go fucking crazy!”, before this generation’s Motörhead blasted through the likes of “Scorpiana” and “Sabbath Hex”. “This is the best place to be in the fucking world!” declared Ben and nobody was arguing.
New Yorkers Pro-Pain (7) were struck by sound gremlins, with a huge electrical fart sound on the PA disrupting their set. They ploughed on regardless, reminding the sun-baked audience of the close relationship between the hardcore and heavy metal scenes.
Former TV presenter, DJ and all-round metal legend Krusher took the stage to make an amusing introduction to some very special birthday boys. Brazil’s Sepultura (8) are celebrating 30 years of breaking eardrums and though founder members Max and Igor Cavalera have not featured for years there is still huge affection for the band. Early classic “Troops of Doom” opened a kind of greatest hits set including “Inner Self”, “Refuse/Resist” and closing with “Roots Bloody Roots”. Nostalgic fun! NH
Meanwhile in the Sophie tent Ol Drake (8) might clash with the beginning of Sepultura but he still has a substantial audience watching his guitar pyrotechnics. Although some might be put off by the absence of vocals the guitar parts are more than interesting and varied enough. Additionally, the stage show is very engaging with two “backing band members;” Arnold Schwarzraker and Sylvester Stylrake wielding Rakes as mock guitars.
Next up on the mainstage Ensiferum (8) conjure a similar atmosphere to Korpiklaani the previous day. A much more up-tempo setlist benefits them and it’s a much more enjoyable set than the previous day. Cuts like ‘Twilight Tavern’ getting a positive reaction and providing a nice mid-afternoon lull from the heavieness. Which is just as well, because next up are Cannibal Corpse (9) and their giant back catalogue of brilliant death metal songs. There aren’t many bands that are pushing thirty years and can realistically argue are still producing their best work but the Corpse are one of these bands. ‘Demented Aggression,’ ‘Make Them Suffer’ and cuts off latest album like ‘Ice Pick Lobotomy’ and ‘Kill or Become’ all stand shoulder to shoulder with such charming classics as ‘Fucked with a Knife’ and the integral ‘Hammer Smashed Face.’ It’s a constant stream of brilliant death metal songs and, while it’s hardly a surprise, it’s heartening to know you can still rely on the greats. JH
As dusk fell blues metal took over in the form of ex-Ozzy Osbourne acolyte Zakk Wylde and his Black Label Society (7) gang. Featuring as many guitar swaps as Madonna makes costume changes, the rocking vibe created by “Funeral Bell” and “Suicide Messiah” stalled with a totally unnecessary fret-wank. The whole crowd already knew Wylde’s pedigree and it was a shame to waste an entire song’s worth of time in what was otherwise a good set.
After an appropriately blood-red sunset horror movie director, heavy metal frontman and full-time “Hellbilly” Rob Zombie (8) appeared in a swathe of blue lights, groovy death-disco riffs and swirling leather tassles. The crowd was noticeably swelled by day ticket buyers and it was obvious why. The guy is a consummate showman. The band were on top form too, ripping through classics from the White Zombie era, his solo stuff and throwing in fun covers of James Brown’s “Get Up (Sex Machine)” and The Ramones’ “Blitzkrieg Bop”. Zombie can be forgiven drum solo and fret-wank interludes as he switched outfits, with the main set closing on rumbling “Thunder Kiss ’65”. The only disappointment was the lack of fireworks and pyro during encores “Lords of Salem” and “Dragula”. You’d hope someone so visual would have brought a few whizz-bangs, but sonically the show was superbly sexy.
It wasn’t time for beddy-byes quite yet. Over on the S.O.P.H.I.E stage industrial pioneers Godflesh (9) may have been a curveball booking and some of Zombie’s crowd didn’t get the eerie electronic atmosphere. The Birmingham duo, backed by vicious programmed drums, hit those still standing with a crushing wall of sound. Some attempted to dance to the hypnotic rhythms of “New Dark Ages” and “Streetcleaner” while others froze in stunned or bemused silence. Frontman Justin Broadrick dedicated the set to the memory of Sophie Lancaster and “all victims of ignorance everywhere,” adding “Thanks to the human condition we’re all fucked!” It was a sombre note to end on but it clearly had an effect. After brutal encore “Like Rats” a wide-eyed Godflesh first-timer admitted, “That is the heaviest thing I have seen all weekend. By far!” NH
And so with that, another amazing year at Catton Hall comes to an end. With Venom and Behemoth (playing The Satanist in full!!!!) already announced for Bloodstock Open Air 2016, we’re sure we’ll be back in just under twelve months time!