The last day of a festival is always a struggle. The liver and the limbs are aching and you might not want to admit it out loud, but you start to feel a little bit metalled out. Thankfully, the overly cheerful Mrs “Good Morning” must have been feeling the same and kept quiet, allowing an extra few Z’s before the onslaught.
On a day that is brimming to the top with thrash, Gama Bomb are first up on the RJD stage, and CackBlabbath are here too, coffee in hand. Gama Bomb have been drinking (beer I presume) since nine in the morning and are intent on making a day of it. Not until they’ve treated us to a dash through their recently expanded back catalogue however. After the second song Philly explains that they’re gonna play a lot of songs that sound just like the past two. He’s got a point and that’s exactly what they do, but at least they are pretty damn good songs no one minds, and Gama Bomb are always good fun to watch.
Whitechapel bring their roaring death metal along to make sure it’s not all thrash today. The honey monster vocals and precision riffs and breakdowns get heads bobbing across the site. The weather can’t please everyone it seems as frontman Phil appears to be wearing a nice blue fleece. Whitechapel’s sound is far from fleecy though and they blow off the last remaining cobwebs.
A quick dash to the Sophie Lancaster stage allows CB to catch some of Grifter’s set. They suffer a little from the inevitable festival technical demons but immediately make up for it with a great rendition of ‘Fairies Wear Boots’. It’s also never bad to discover a band with a love for cowbell; you can never have enough cowbell.
Next up was something we’d been looking forward to for a while.. it’s always great to see a band make the transition to a main stage act, and deliver on their “gonna be big” potential..
Sacred Mother Tongue tick off all the festivals for 2013 with a lunchtime slot on Bloodstock’s main stage. With the new album out and the band in the middle of some relentless touring, it’s no surprise that they hit the ground running. New bass player, Craig, seems to fit into the line-up comfortably, anyone who’s seen SMT live before knows what a big pair of shoes he’s filling, but fill them he does. The old crowd favourites are there obviously, and it was great to see new cuts such as ‘Demons’ and ‘A Light Will Shine’ fitting into the set perfectly already.
Take a look across the main stage line-up and Fozzy probably stick out as ‘most likely band to get bottled’ at the festival. The Bloodstock crowd are not a bad lot though, and Chris Jericho and co entice in quite an enthusiastic throng for their straight ahead metal anthems. Okay, there were a few half full pint pots slung his way, but they were terrible shots (and he gave as good as he got, catching the CB tog on the head with a wayward cup of what we all hope was Red Bull).
Showmanship seems to come naturally to the Fozzy frontman…can’t think where he got that from! Whether it’s Chris climbing the rigging, climbing into the crowd or the grand finale with fire eating and blood splattered girls; it certainly is a great show.
Cool to see them joined on stage by Motorhead axeman Phil Campbell too. Nothing quite like a proper festival guest appearance to give a band that extra “wow” factor.
Over on the New Blood stage there is a decent sized and expectant throng awaiting the arrival of Fury. The crowd are cheering away and chanting the band’s name before their arrival as if they are waiting for a headline act, and when Fury take to the stage we soon realise why. Mixing up some lumbering brazen riffs with some intense thrash, not to mention a few Maiden-style time changes; Fury are one of those bands you instantly become a fan of. A proper metalhead’s metal band Fury tick all of the boxes, topped off by frontman Julian, who along with getting everyone in the tent to raise their hands, even manages to coax a few passers by into joining in.
CB got to speak to them afterwards too and they’re nice chaps, which always helps.
Amorphis frontman Tomi Joutsen just about outdoes Death Angel frontman Mark Osegueda on the floor sweeping dreads front as the band arrive in a haze of smoke. What they lack in stage presence they more than make up for with an awesome mix of death and folk tinged metal. It’s a chance for the Bloodstock audience to have one last breather before the climactic thrash onslaught on the main stage.
It’s thrash Sunday and with two of the mighty ‘Big 4’ at the top of the bill, Exodus should be a good warm up, yeah? Nah! They are band of the day by far. From the opening display of ‘The Ballad of Leonard and Charles’ to the farewell of ‘Strike of the Beast’ the crowd go batshit crazy with little relent. Lee Altus and Gary Holt look the ultimate thrash guitarist duo as the breeze sweeps theirs mops to one side while they chug away their speedy metal. Rob pounds around the stage pointing, scowling and generally looking like a man in charge of the mayhem in the pit.
He’s not that scary though, as he proves when he picks a young man out the crowd to play out the final bars of the show. The big softie…
Half way through Wolfsbane’s set Blaze announces to the crowd that since their reformation all they’ve wanted to do is play one of the big festivals. So tonight is their chance and the band certainly don’t mess about. Blaze constantly works the crowd; he’s up on the speakers, out in the crowd’s faces and jumping around like a mad man for the whole set.
He forces the crowd to get involved just when the festival aches are really setting in, telling us “Get your fucking hands up or get the fuck out of here”. Okay Blaze, don’t worry we’re enjoying ourselves! The whole band look pumped for it and songs new and old like ‘Blue Sky’ and ‘Money to Burn’ get the crowd boogying away like they have just arrived onsite.
Today marks the 200th show of the ‘Worship Music’ world tour for Anthrax. Scott Ian takes that as proof that “The planet still loves thrash metal”, and he’s not wrong; especially as Anthrax are squashed in between Exodus and Slayer on today’s bill. Bloodstock certainly loves thrash metal. They kick it off old school with ‘Caught in a Mosh’ and ‘N.F.L.’ before unveiling banners of Ronnie James Dio and Dimebag and playing ‘In the End’. A nice tribute and CB are sure that a certain Mr Hanneman won’t be left out of the day’s proceedings. The very first song off of the very first Anthrax album is given a blast as ‘Deathrider’ is followed by AC/DC’s ‘T.N.T.’ from the latest ‘Anthems’ collection.
The band have hit all the major rock and metal festivals during this long album tour and may well have headlined this one were it not for another member of the thrash royalty being in attendance…
There are not many bands in the world of heavy metal that get the (almost) unanimous nod of approval. Slayer are such a band however, and are a superb choice to close this year’s festival. Opening up with minimum lighting, creating an evocative scene, the band start off with ‘World Painted Blood’ and ‘Disciple’ before delving into the past for a huge ‘War Ensemble’. The fast pace lighting make the arena look like a war zone with Gary Holt traversing the stage like the proverbial cat on a hot tin roof. The drum riser is ridiculously high and Kerry King assumes his normal stance and delivers the body juddering headbang that he throws out for the full show. Araya is his usual smiley self, wandering to the side of the stage when not singing and has extended chats with the crowd that, on this occasion, seem a little flat and disjointed at times.
You can’t fault the set list. We get ‘Dead Skin Mask’, ‘Seasons in the Abyss’ and ‘Mandatory Suicide’ and obviously a whole lot more, but…well there’s something missing. It all seems a bit pedestrian at times. This is supposed to be F*CK*N SLAAAYYYER right? It just doesn’t seem dangerous and a little bit like they’re going through the motions, and yes…CB are aware that it’s been a tough year for them.
You can’t argue with the finale of ‘Angel of Death’ though; Araya’s screams pierce the muggy Derbyshire air for a final time with the Hanneman backdrop hanging proudly behind the band, just before Bloodstock is put to bed for another year.
It’s something you’ll read a lot of in the reviews of Bloodstock every year, and 2013 is no exception.. The atmosphere, The site, The Bands, The Fans…. there just isn’t another festival quite like this…
So, the best Bloodstock yet? We say that every year don’t we…