bloodstock open air festival, catton hall, 12th august 2023

As day two erupted into life, I found myself being drawn to the Sophie Stage to catch some pure, uncompromising Thrash Metal courtesy of Tortured Demon. As I found my spot in the pit I was absolutely blown away when they unleashed their set upon us, it was technical, intricate and aggressive Thrash Metal, reminiscent of the Bay Area in the early years. The vocals were raw and caustic, antagonising the crowd to swell and generate a pit any Thrasher would be proud of, the guitars were jagged and stabbed into your very being with accuracy and momentum. I simply have to urge anybody with an interest in the faster end of the metal spectrum to go out and catch these when they are out on the road again in October.

Back to the Main Stage, and back for a healthy slab of Stoner and Sludge, and to catch up with a relatively new find of mine, Urne. I last caught these when they played Incineration Festival in London, and I was keen to experience their heaviness once again and was I not disappointed. Nally was like a juggernaut, pounding out crunching and booming riffs from his bass while his vocals were masterful and heavy as. The band had come to Bloodstock on the back of ‘A Feast On Sorrow’ and they had come to decimate all in their path. The crowd were impressive for the time of day, giving Urne the appreciation they so rightly deserved, and I for one am pleased I managed to catch these again, a heavy start to my Main Stage action for the day.

I decided to stay at the Ronnie James Dio stage in preparation for Royal Republic and some Swedish rock. As soon as they hit the stage we knew we were in for a good time. The tunes were punchy and catchy, infectious and feel good, all which added up to create one giant party which saw grins across all faces of those who were in attendance. They even slotted in a very well accomplished version ‘Battery’ which I’m sure Papa Het and co would be proud of. This is one band to keep on the radar for years to come, a well accomplished set which I’m sure will have made more than a few new friends on the back of their shift today.  

I made my way back over to the Sophie Stage for some industrial post metal, courtesy of Tribe Of Ghosts and I was well and truly not disappointed. Beccy came out with energy and maniacal intent, spitting out her vocals with every ounce of her being. The crowd that had gathered within the tent was impressive to say the least and a huge pit formed front and centre in order to soak up all of the energy which was being poured down from the stage above them. As the set progressed the band seemed to grow into their surroundings and with the comfort and familiarity came more and more controlled violence with which the tracks were able to be delivered faultlessly with. A commanding performance and one which may well see them play the main stage in the not too distant future.

Employed To Serve were next on the Main Stage and with them they brought their Punk inspired Metal core and pyro, lots and lots of pyro. As they were setting up and sound checking the heavens decided to open, but this didn’t deter the assembled crowd as they stood firmly rooted to their spots in order to gain a prime vantage point to be able to be a part of this set, and they were right to hang around. As the band hit the stage it was obvious to see that they were here to take no prisoners. Justine barked her vocals out with anger and dedication, while stalking the stage as if her prey had just come into sight, and McHale on the drums put in an absolute shift and a half, attacking the skins and cymbals as if he was trying to crack open an impervious boundary. As the set progressed, the flames started igniting all over the place, only adding to the calculated and measured pandemonium which was unfolding before us, pandemonium which was well structured and maniacal. That was a brutal set delivered by well accomplished facets of a rising band, keep an eye open for these and be sure to catch them when they are on the road again in October.

Another dose of Sludge on the Main Stage and this time courtesy of the New Orleans legends Crowbar. As I have documented in previous reviews, Sludge is not really my forte, or my chosen genre, but Crowbar have grown on me and I now have a very firmly rooted soft spot for Kirk et al. I definitely have a new, well a few years old (Ok Ok I know im late to the party), found love for Crowbar and I can’t really get enough of them in the live arena. As soon as Windstein came out, he was like a puppet master with a plethora of marionettes in the crowd before him, orchestrating and conducting with his lungs and six strings as opposed to an orchestral baton. The set was filled with highlights, and I won’t name them all, but two absolute standouts for me have to be ‘The Cemetery Angels’ and ‘Like Broken Glass’, absolutely magnificent and a heavy ass dose of technical Sludge Metal in the warm August sunshine. See you next time guys.

Knocked Loose brought the Hardcore with them and the gathered really were out in their droves, the place was absolutely packed to the to the ‘rafters’, so to speak. Garris leapt out of the blocks and attacked the Bloodstock faithful with aggressive and antagonistic vocals which he delivered in a calculated and barbarous manner. The words from Garris’s lungs were abrasive and caustic yet lapped up by each one of the maniacs stood before him. The set progressed with a muscular undercurrent and the guitars and drums punctuated and injected the set with constant technical and battering musical scores on which the swarm fed off. This was Hardcore but like nothing Bloodstock has ever seen before and as the band signed off the reaction that they had cultivated from the crowd was one of appreciation and gratitude, another success story from the bowels of an afternoon at Catton Hall.

Black Metal legends don’t come bigger than Abbath, and from the moment he strode out onto the stage and unleashed his vocal chords and fretboard in unison we knew we were in for an exhibition of Black Metal of the highest order. ‘To War’ opened the proceedings and the vocals which Abbath spat out were dominant and potent, commanding and formidable beyond belief. The composition of the tracks throughout were compelling and intricate, brutal and ruthless. The set evolved with highlights emerging in the form of ‘Ashes Of The Damned’, ‘Acid Haze’ and the colossal, epic and magnificent ‘Winterbane. The set also included an ‘I’ cover, ‘Battalions’, and the mauling and pummelling Immortal cover, ‘The Rise Of Darkness’. As the band signed out with ‘Endless’ we could only reflect that the set had been a full package, it included everything you would expect from an Abbath gig, trademark characteristics, punishing vocals, perfection from the strings and pounding kit work from start to finish. Abbath well and truly brought the darkness and the black arts, and I for one absolutely loved it. Is it to soon to declare set of the weekend??

After a short respite it was time for a lesson in history, an iconic lesson in antiquity, it was time for the prodigy Tom G Warrior and the magnificent Triptykon to guide us with a walk back through time and the Celtic Frost history books. As the set opened itself up with ‘Into The Crypts Of Rays’ it was evident that Warrior et al meant business. Slajh absolutely killed it on the bass score from start to finish, manipulating and caressing her thicker stringed beast with evident ease and passion, the vocals from Warrior himself were mesmerisingly brutal and powerful, all generated and delivered while maintaining perfection and precision on his own stringed axe. This had been a once in a lifetime opportunity which had attracted a huge gathering and one which will undoubtedly live on in the memory of all those who had borne witness to it.

Atmosphere, brutality and crushing was the order of the day when it came to the Saturday night headliner. Meshuggah had indeed brought the ambience and mood with plenty of backlighting and heavy crunching djent riffs, devastating and barbaric vocals from Kidman which were dispatched with passion and fervour throughout. The set was heavy with acquisitions of the latest opus ‘Immutable’ while it was also showered with numbers from their illustrious back catalogue, all lapped up by the gathered congregation with palpable delight. A fantastic headliner set delivered with power and precision throughout.   

So, as the penultimate day drew to a close it was time to get some well-earned rest and recouperation in preparation for the Sunday at Bloodstock, and a day that was boasting so many promises and mouth-watering delights, so without further a due, let’s get some sleep and lets bring it on !!  

Previous Premiere: Galán/Vogt unveil exquisite remixes of 'Above The Aether' and 'Nothing Is Under Control' from their 2021 album 'The Sweet Wait' along with exclusive video.
Next News: Aoife Nessa Frances's reveals new track with accompanying video, also announces Dublin date

No Comment

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.