Bloodstock Open Air Festival 2016 – Saturday

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The second day of Bloodstock dawned bright, and blearily for some punters following the festivities of Twisted Sister the night before. Another fantastic day of the best heavy music can offer awaited though, from Cambion and their Ronnie James Dio stage début, through to Mastodon’s first ever UK festival headline slot through to a triumphant return to Bloodstock by Gojira – surely only a few years away from making their own Bloodstock headliner début.

Cambion, (8) opening the mainstage, start strong and only get better, their irregular rhythms slowly but surely enveloping all present in their hypnotism. It’s a strong mainstage début and proof of Bloodstock’s credentials in supporting young bands.

From there its a quick dash over to the Sophie stage for Mage’s (7) riff-heavy doom which easily penetrates the Saturday morning fugue with a heartfelt tribute to former guitarist Ben Aucott wrapping up their set.

Vallenfyre (8) put in a strong showing on mainstage; their set demonstrating a strong grip on the dynamic extremes of death metal. The strong doom elements that permeate most of their music is delivered with a bowel grinding rumble while the faster parts meet the much more difficult task of keeping the grinding intensity present. (JH)

Cornish stoners Cybernetic Witch Cult (8) pulled a good crowd to the Jagermeister Stage and their heady grooves were perfect for a sunny afternoon. Saturday’s main attraction, though, were UK Black Metal luminaries Akercocke (7), returning after a six-year hiatus. Initially poor sound was overcome and once the gremlins were gone it caused a stark realisation. This band writes some truly great stuff,  from fast and furious death metal to prog to heavy electro that Gary Numan would be proud of.

Legendary Greek black metallers Rotting Christ (8) brought bombast to Bloodstock. A heady mix of prog, death, choir effects and sounds of hysterical women wove a beguiling atmosphere. Spooky storytelling in the lyrics was also worthy of chin-stroking respect rather than mad moshing. (NH)

Meanwhile, over on New Blood Famyne (8) fill the tent with their more traditional doom sound (and an impressively large gong.) It’s a strong performance from the Canterbury band and just one small example of Bloodstock’s Metal 2 The Masses success in bringing the best of Europe’s local scenes to the festival.

The King Is Blind (9) though, are today’s highlight, playing a sophisticated yet still magnificently violent set on the Sophie Lancaster stage. Omitting some of the more extended doomy compositions sees the band sprinting through a powerful set with the occasional rest stop for some good, old-fashioned headbanging. Both new songs aired today compliment this approach and sound fantastic while at it; the song dedicated to “Boris Johnson being a cunt” quite fittingly sees the first pit action of the set.

The King Is Blind Bloodstock 2016 Tess Donohoe

Fear Factory (6) run into the usual problems with Burton’s voice struggling and his stage presence being severely lacking. It’s down to Dino to provide most of the physical and musical presence, peeling off the riffs to ‘Demanufacture’ with consummate professionalism. Unfortunately herein lies the sets other problem: although a landmark album, performing Demanufacture in a festival setting isn’t quite right. The first half of the album might contain several big hitters but once you hit the albums second half the set really begins to start dragging. (JH)

Local sludge fiends Conjurer (7) hit the New Blood Stage to the sound of horns and their dirty death-heavy racket, topped with savage vocals, hit the spot for those seeking something more vicious.

Broken (8) on Jagermeister Stage were a fine mix of chugging riffs and thunderous drums with some aggressive punk attitude.. A rowdy crowd joined vocalist Paul’s chants of “Yorkshire!!!” during the set finale, neatly previewing the arrival of their fellow county-men on the mainstage in the form of Paradise Lost (8) were on top form. “Great to be here at Bloodstock with the sun piercing my fucking eyeballs! Through cheap sunglasses!” chortled Nick Holmes. “We are gonna do some old shit.”  The “old shit” in question was “Rapture”, from 1991’s “Gothic” LP. “We wanted a sunny setlist. Mirth and laughter for all. Not just me,” quipped Holmes. “The sun is going in at fucking last!” he laughed as the disco metal stomp of “Say Just Words” brought their hour to a close.

Paradise Lost Bloodstock Festival 2016 Tess Donohoe

Bury beasts Vice (7) roared on to the Jagermeister stage with a sound that is part hard rock, part NWOBHM with added thrash on top. It had the crowd chanting until the last chorus. Very good. (NH)

Gojira (8) aren’t quite up to their usual standards today, even if those standards are the best of any other bands performances. Nevertheless ‘Wisdom Comes’ and ‘Backbone’ are both absolutely masterful highlights while a closing ‘Vacuity’ also brings the house down. Extended jams on the musical themes of some songs also lending the set an extra level of utterly crushing groove with those following ‘Wisdom Comes’ and ‘Backbone’ being particularly impressive. (JH)

Gojira Bloodstock Festival 2016 Tess Donohoe

Norway’s Shining (9) were simply stunning. Their fast, funky, dance-rock fusion echoes the musical muscle of their friend Devin Townsend. Inflatable saxophones were waving at in honour of frontman Jorgen Munkeby, who switches between guitar and saxophone while also singing. He plays sax like Kenny G on speed with the atmosphere in the S.O.P.H.I.E tent electrifying. You need this band in your life. (NH)

Mastodon (7) struggle with extremely poor sound initially, while the complete lack of fanfare surrounding the stage show leaves a sense of anti-climax. However, it’s an astonishingly in-depth setlist and, as the sound clears up, the songs begin to hit home. It’s certainly a dream for fans of the band with an impressive 20 songs being aired tonight – not bad when you consider some of them are upwards of seven minutes long. Thunderous renditions of ‘The Wolf is Loose’ into ‘Crystal Skull’ heralds the sets final sprint through to a closing ‘Blood and Thunder’ and by the time Brann emerges from behind the drum riser to give a heartfelt speech thanking the crowd its clear Mastodon have overcome some initial problems to deliver a triumphant UK festival headline début. (JH)

Mastodon Bloodstock Festival 2016 Tess Donohoe

Stay tuned for the coverage from the final day of BOA 2016!

Words by: James Halstead and Nick Holmes (no, not that one)

Photos by: Tess Donohoe

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