Bloodstock Open Air 2014 festival review

'Bloodstock reaffirm their commitment to all forms of metal'

Bloodstock Open Air 2014 festival review

Photographer: Steve GerrardRoss Baker on 12 August 2014

Following up a strong year for festivals with the triumphant return of Sonisphere, the Gregory family reaffirmed their commitment to more traditional and extreme forms of the metal genre.

Catton Hall remains a great festival site which is far easier to navigate than the vast fields of Donington et all, which can make the experience somewhat heavy going on occasion.

Friday kicked off with an impressive performance from Swedish death metallers Entombed A.D., before Primordial (8) put in a typically stellar shift. Alan Averill is a brilliant master of ceremonies, leading the Celtic crew through bombastic numbers like ‘The Coffin Ships’ with vitality and fire.

New Yorkers Prong (7) also impress with forty minutes of chest beating industrial metal. Tommy Victor is a much underrated player and rock club classic ‘Snap Your Fingers, Snap Your Neck’ has the crowd in the palm of their hands.

Dark clouds suit the ominous vibes of Triptykon (9) perfectly. Tom G. Warrior delivers a master class in punishing atmospheric doom. With the sun setting surely dramatic Norwegian symphonic black metal act Dimmu Borgir (3) would deliver another inspiring performance. Only they do anything but. Suffering from a truly appalling sound mix which see’s their keyboard player storm off stage in a snit.

This left New Orleans heavyweights Down (8) to close the day with former Pantera frontman Phil Anselmo in a jovial mood as his cohorts turn out the grooves of 'Lifer', 'Witchtripper' and 'Bury Me In Smoke'.

Saturday is a special day not least for Emperor (10) marking the 20th anniversary of their seminal debut ‘In The Nightside Eclipse’, but also featured some groovy sets from Manc metalheads Babylon Fire (7) and visceral black/death metal of The King is Blind (8) - who boast former Cradle of Filth axeman Paul Ryan.

Evil Scarecrow (8) are a sight to behold. Songs about giant robots and alien crabs may not be everyone’s cup of tea but they have so many grinning from ear to ear.

Norse Jazz rockers Shining (6) fail to match their usually lofty performance. However much of that could be due to much of the band’s equipment not making it over from Germany in time.

Kirk Windstein is also in fine form delivering complex and towering riffs that could move mountains. His departure from Down was a disappointment to many but it has helped Crowbar (7) go from strength to strength.

The one guitar line up of Lacuna Coil (6) sounds a bit stretched augmented by backing tape to compensate. Numbers like ‘Nothing Stands In Our Way’ are received well enough but it is a safe performance.

Children of Bodom (3)? Children of boredom would be more apt. The sound was decent but they just never change, they sound the same every time they play here, but are a BOA favourite.

If he dies, I am going to look like a right c**t” quips Jeff Walker. Whipping through their catalogue of grizzly medical death metal in a clinical fashion until a fan being dropped in the crowd halts the set for a brief period. “He was faking it like every girl I go to bed with!” grins Walker who dedicates a song to Sophie Lancaster while having a dig at Emperor Drummer Faust’s murder conviction at the same time. Some would call it bad taste but then what would you expect from Carcass? (8)

Relentless grindcore may be a rude awakening for many on Sunday but that’s what Aborted (7) are all about. Savage, highly technical and merciless they cannot be ignored. Thankfully the tempest that has enveloped Catton Park has abated once Revamp (7) take the stage. Floor Jansen is a truly wonderful vocalist and this is clearly her ship to steer as she wishes leading her band though some fist pumping symphonic.

Biohazard (6) have never quiet recovered from the loss of the charismatic Even Seinfeld yet 'Punishment' still manages to incite a mass stage invasion which many acts would give their right arm for.

Trading the Sophie tent for the main stage Avatar (5) put on a visual feast with their soldier uniforms yet it reminds you of the decline of Marilyn Manson when he could no longer be controversial.

Likewise Obituary (7) ’s meat and potatoes death metal is relentless. The Floridian behemoth lumber onstage like a Neanderthal swinging a club which makes Ten Foot Wizard (8) such a welcome diversion with their catchy 70s inspired blues rock over on the VIP bar.

The breakout performance of this year had to come from Collibus (9). Lead singer Gemma Fox has a stage presence to match her soaring vocals. Occupying her own territory rather than opting for the route of gothic chanteuse or demonic diva. She is ably flanked by some great musicians who balance complex harmonies with engaging heaviness.

Twenty foot dragon heads that double as stage risers are like something from Game Of Thrones. Yet for Amon Amarth (9) this is all part of the Viking metal theatre. Following in their steps of forefathers like Judas Priest it won’t be long before they are headlining events like this.

Photo credit: Steve Gerrard

Click here for a Megadeth headline set review.
Click here for a Emperor headline set review.
Click here for a Down headline set review.


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