In which our intrepid reporter continues his chronicle of disappointment. Part one can be found here
We wake up to Saturday morning sunshine, the air thick with the bellowing mating call of the drunken metaller. We take a moment to ponder the previous day with a sense of dismay. We’re not angry Bloodstock. We’re just really, really disappointed in you.
We summon the effort to go to Hell. Might as well, since that’s where we’ll all end up anyway. They deliver in a big way. This band possesses a frontman so engaging, enthralling and entertaining that actual heavy metal sorcery happens in his presence. True story. They were always going to be good though. Strange that they have the best sound of the day *coughAndy Sneapcough*
Kataklysm come up next and are the perfect death metal band for this time in the afternoon. Their groovy riffs slice through a barrage of blasting and at a tempo that does not strain one’s neck too much nor too soon. Yummy. We do not go to see Gojira. They are boring.
Sabaton play an hour of classic Bloodstockian pomp, my heart filled with the power of metal. They’re a lot of fun and really good at what they do. Nevertheless, I blame them for what was to follow. Vast quantities of drink are the chief order of the day, however, and though memories are frangible, I will try to recollect what nuggets I can.
Power Quest: I really don’t remember but I am sure we watched them. Perhaps I shall wake up one day, sweating in tangled sheets, vividly recalling their set in a disoriented panic, but until then let’s just say they were good.
Lamb of God: From what I remember—and I dropped in on their set on two separate occasions due to wee and beers—it all sounded the same. Every song. What’s worse is that it’s not even their song. You know the name of that other band that sounds the same. I don’t need to point them out. They are spectacularly terrible and not even in a brain-dead self-aware wanker’s way. They are the worst, most despicable excuse for modern day metal there is. I would rather wrap myself into a pretzel and puke up my own arse than spend one more second listening to the disgraceful Randy Blythe.
Like many others in our cohort we go to see Andrew O’Neill (he’s that metal comedian guy that occasionally pops up on comedy panel shows and who is actually metal. Go him. I also notice him wandering about the place on the Sunday. You wanted to know that right?) He plays on the fact that we have all come to escape the sewage treatment of metal on the main stage, to pretty good effect. He is a funny guy but some of it gets lost in such a large and, I can only assume, drunken crowd. Good audience participation, nevertheless, featuring both types of appreciative feedback: stomping and clapping. He is also borne aloft to the bar on a sea of upraised hands after the set. Not sure why.
The evening winds up into the familiar and foggy haze of alcohol, as is customary in these parts. I think we ended up back in the Sophie tent, ostensibly for the ‘entertainment’, but mostly for the booze. Hey, is that chips? That looks like chips. I like chips.
Bed. Overnight the world appears to have ended. I have the thunderous monotony of an Ufomammut riff on a constant loop in my head and my comrades appear to be under the indoctrination of a Reaper (computer game joke). This can’t have anything to do with last night’s drinking, so we head back to the bar for a taste of what is definitely not killing us. I try (admirably, heroically) to drink a cider. I fail. Hours seem to pass before my spirit guide comes to me in a vision and persuades me of the restorative benefits of grease-laden protein. We’re really doing this? Fine!
Sat collectively munching on something dead and wincing in pain, we are serenaded by the one note metulz of Whitechapel. Even thrice hungover to hell I can tell this is bad. I do perk up a bit though, so thanks for that chaps!
The next two bands are why I am really here. RSJ are a lovely band from York that ‘crush’, as someone explained to me after their set. I know a couple of the chaps, and without blowing too much smoke up their bums they really pull out all the stops. Great set that has everyone buzzing. Well done them. Bossk follow and I will be honest, I do not expect to see a band like this at Bloodstock. They are mindbogglingly good. Other bands take note: this is what despair, anguish, anger and beauty sound like when performed by actual people, with souls. Wow. Set of the weekend for me. A friend of mine went to see Fozzy, that band comprised of insane anti-Islamic right-wingers and fronted by a fucking wrestler. They were shit apparently. I have no reason to doubt this. Still a little the worse for wear we descend once again upon the Sophie stage for Evil Scarecrow, and it is packed. A few minutes in, we see why. They rule this stage and have the crowd clutched in their collective claws. They have a sound hard to define, which is so refreshing. Not sure if I would buy anything of theirs but I would definitely watch them again. Mass audience participation and loads of actual fun.
Back to the main stage, where we catch Exodus. I have a soft spot for this band which makes their terrible sound so frustrating. Exodus are all about the guitars and they are so low in the mix that if I didn’t know the songs more intimately than my own palm, I would have been at a loss. This has been a problem in previous years also. Arse.
Now seeing as our collective is past the mythical age of 30, after which the disappointment of life begins to set in (juggling boring jobs and demanding children between the crushing inanity of managing a real life, etc) we had decided we were leaving this very evening. As the next band was Devildriver we decided now was the time to go and pack up the tent. Devildriver: so good that you would rather risk death under the baking sun to pack up a tent and drag it back to the car. You can quote me on that, Dez.
We make it back in time to see some Anthrax and although not a band I have ever liked, save for that period when they were taking it back with the good singer, their sound is surprisingly good and their fans are left happy.
By now at the point of bemusement at the strange weekend we’ve had, we go to see Blaze Bayley and the mighty Wolfsbane. Sing-a-longs all round over here! I don’t know their songs but they follow the old school path of two words repeated four times, ad infinitum, so it’s easy to pick up the gist. Blaze still has an amazing voice and the band is beaming. Such a good feeling in the Sophie tent.
On to the main event, Slayer (or half of Slayer if you’re a pessimist). Before I start I want to make it clear that musically-speaking, they were absolutely flawless and played everything you would expect them to play, and that Gary Holt is just on another level compared to practically every other guitarist.
This felt odd, and I was a little uncomfortable on the few occasions that Tom Araya spoke to the crowd. He was visibly upset, obviously feeling down, and gave a speech on life that was so drawn out and depressing I thought he might walk backstage and top himself. It is easy to understand why, with the loss of Jeff Hanneman and the other (rumoured) issues within the band.
There was a nice touch when they unveiled a large backdrop of a Heineken can with Hanneman on it before playing Raining Blood and Angel of Death. At the end of the set both Tom and Kerry King left the stage while Paul Bostaph and Gary Holt did the usual band stuff.
Truthfully, it just felt really odd to have seen such a professional performance mixed with a much, much darker undertone (and not in a metal way, just to be clear). It made for a heated discussion on their future on the trudge back to the car. Our three days are done, and it was good—just not as good as it has been. I don’t know whether I am getting too old for this shit but it just didn’t have the proper Bloodstock feel.
So, because it’s not very nice to be critical without offering a solution, here is how we think Bloodstock needs to improve, before it goes the way of Sonisphere:
- Stop booking Download bands. We already have one Download. That is more than enough.
- Book more Bloodstock bands (ie power metal).
- Sort the EFFING sound out.
- If you need to expand your bill, book more death, black, stoner and doom bands. Not the radio-friendly stuff either. You get fewer wankers with them on a bill. It would also offer an actual alternative to the Wal-Mart bands on the main stage.
- Get rid of the DJs and pole dancers. It’s just pathetic. An actual club night is all that is needed. You know, where we can meet like-minded equals and discuss the bands of the day or get pissed and mosh ourselves to sleep again.
- Krusher is not funny. Some of the jokes he told, even my dad would not have touched. An actual dad! Finding someone decent to gee up the crowd and introduce the bands is a simple enough task. You have a radio station. Try using someone off that instead.
- Where the hell was Mr Teas? I missed my coffee and toast of a morning. It was always a great place for the, ahem, older Bloodstockers to nurse a delicate head, relax and chat actual adult conversations. I was very sad and did a cry.
First confirmed band for next year is Emperor. Which is almost as exciting as finding out Anthrax were playing this year. I don’t think I will be going to the next Bloodstock unless there is an incredible supporting line-up of actual good bands. It’s a pity that it has come to this, but all good things must end.
I could trot out the old line about growing up, moving on, being in different places to one another and how it’s not you, it’s me. It’s all bollocks. I won’t do that, because I’m more of a ‘won’t ever ring you back, will change my phone number, and instead try and jump the bones of a younger more attractive festival with an exotic European flavour’ kind of guy.