Bloodstock Open Air 2017 : Friday Review

SCREAM FOR CB BLOODSTOCK, for we are in you!! Day one (even though it starts on Thursday) had a rather generous helping of thrash metal on the a la carte menu along with side orders of just about everything else. It also had the usual shit load of bands we hadn’t heard of, not that that’s ever a bad thing.

We like surprises.

TeamCB reconvened after the previous evening’s events and headed back into the arena just as Forever Still were opening up the main stage for Bloodstock 2017. As it was, they didn’t initially seem to be attracting a great deal of interest with the Bloodstockers priorities being a. Coffee b. Breakfast and c. What is that big shiny thing in the sky.

We thought Forever Still were the perfect easy introduction for the weekend though, and we weren’t alone in that. By the time they closed their set with ‘Scars’ the crowd had certainly warmed to them, the perfect soundtrack to a DeliKate breakfast.

No time to sit around in the sunshine though, and the first (of many) walks across the arena to catch Iron Rat in the Sophie tent. The place was starting to fill up nicely and it was clear that people were getting into the Rat’s heavy bluesey vibe.

Now these days every music festival has much more on offer than just bands. I mean who wants to go to a music festival to see music? It’s not complete without skateboarding, wrestling or suchlike to add to the overall experience.

At Bloodstock the mysterious white tent in the middle of the arena turned out to be the weekend’s home for the Xplosive Ape strong person competition. Now we’re not exactly up on the world of powerlifting, dragging trucks and moving yokes that weigh more than a car but the first competition there involved little ladies lifting more than we could move with a van. It’s difficult to vision what 170kg looks like, and difficult to imagine being able to lift it..

It is a lot!!

Yeah, so if you want to see a blonde girl in fluorescent socks lifting 28 stone, Bloodstock is THE place to be. Come see girls with names like Natasha, Nicola and Stephanie defy the laws of physics, and gender stereotypes.

The heat was starting to build now, and we left the weightlifters to it when Infernal Conflict fired up on the Sophie stage. Nothing quite like a spot of bang-your-head thrash to get things going, and to get the beer sales at the tent’s well stocked bar moving up a gear.

We headed out into the sunshine next for another appointment with extreme noise terrors Chelsea Grin who had the place going bonkers down the front but were receiving a more restrained reception further back. Not for us, nah, we didn’t think much of them at Hellfest, and we don’t think much here. We can’t like everything, can we!?

The band did try to encourage more of a response from the audience, “If you see someone who is not moving or not headbanging, grab them and make them have some fun”. I’m not sure grabbing someone and making them have some fun is really the British way though?

We headed over to the New Blood stage, and as we approach it’s clear something a bit special is happening. Considering it’s still early, Embodiment have the place rammed, and the band are clearly slightly awestruck by the response they are getting. Great to see someone having so much fun it in the Bloodstock limelight.

They soon hit their stride and the Bristolians do themselves proud up there on the big stage.

Cracking t-shirt too. Huh, huh, huh.

So far today, band wise, the Sophie tent has been THE place to be, and Endeavour kept the 100 percent awesome record going there, the bands on there were virtually worth the price of admission alone. We did venture out for a spot of Whitechapel on their main stage return but it’s the tent stages which seem to have it all going on for the moment.

The crowd in the Sophie tent did thin out a bit for Corpsing though, as everyone was off to see the warbly bloke on the main stage. We did hear someone describe Devilment as “A really shit Nightwish”, obviously someone who had never actually seen or heard them. Danni was, well, Danni and the crowd were loving it with the first crowd surf action of the weekend getting well underway.

Hopefully we’ll get Cradle Of Filth to Bloodstock next year, but for now this’ll do.

We took a quick look at how the strong-lady competition was going and things were getting serious there. It was interesting to see Girls who if you saw them with a heavy bag you’d offer to carry it for them shifting twice your body weight.

Devilment were neatly sandwiched by two top notch New Blood bands. Pre-Devilment we finally get around to see Ashen Crown. They are well supported in the t-shirt stakes around the site and were well worth the hype we’ve been hearing about them.

Even better are our post-Devilment entertainment, Blood Thread. A blistering assault from the Glaswegian death metallers is well received and we make a mental note to catch these guys again soon.

But, maybe it’s time for something a bit more easy on the ear as we chow down on the first burrito of the weekend. Thank you Burrito Boys for the extra heat… we’ll be melting a portaloo somewhere close by later on tonight.

The Sophie tent had filled up again by the time we headed back in to see Morass of Molasses, a band who’s name describes their output pretty well, sludgy yet dexterous doomey riffs which went down a storm. Beards and blues always gets a thumbs up from CB…

We liked them 2 years ago on the Jager stage, then at Uprising and thought they were destined for bigger things.

And lo, here they are.

For what should have been their last number they were joined on stage a semi-naked bloke making them look like a bunch of perverts apparently and with that their set was done. It turned out there was still some precious Bloodstock stage time left. We were asked if we want them just to jam? Just make something up then? So they did and bloody good fun it was too.

Morass of Molasses left a great impression with us on the Friday afternoon. The sun was out. The sound was spot on. They had a massive crowd and you could even decipher actual words, rather than groans and satanic vocals. As always we clocked up the leg miles switching back and forth between stages, passing the merchandise stalls and market like pop up shops. The same traders are back every year, and a roaring trade is done in army surplus, patches, silly hats, inflatables and the usual inexplicable squid hats. The shopping arrangements are top notch but as everyones grannie used to say. “If it aint broke, why fix it?”. The Bloodstock organisers and crew have their finger on the pulse catering to the festival goers every need from booths to charge phones and lockers to refreshments both alcoholic and non alcoholic.

For the more daring metal heads there is funfair type rides and face painting stalls. They should issue shower caps to passers by though. As one poor fell got to the top of the massive spinny upside-downy thing, his face turned hulk green and I’m pretty sure his pizza came back up to say hello.

We were pretty sure we weren’t going to like Soilwork, but as it happens we found ourselves nodding along on route from the Sophie tent to the new blood stage.

The next port of call was supposed to be New Blood, but we were sidetracked as something on the Jagermeister stage grabbed us by the ears. “We’re Hung Daddy and its pronounced.. Hung Daddy. This is about everyones favourite driver, the grandma in a Datsun”.

OK, not entirely serious then. An inflatable crocodile, a massive beach ball and, for the first time this weekend, a headbanging chipmunk all getting into the Daddy groove. Hell it even started raining but no one cared. “This next song might be about love but to be honest I havent a fucking clue”.

Actually, we stand corrected as it wasn’t a chipmunk in the crowd, it was a squirrel. The euponymous hero of Sammy The Squirrel Made A Sex Tape.

The last one was obviously a crowd favourite. The fans chanted chanted it’s name twice but we couldn’t make out what they were saying, so we asked.

It’s called I shit liver.

Yep. Thats what its called

As it turned out there was time for one more.. and Hung Daddy doing Hung Daddy was just about the highlight of the day.

After all the noisy stuff the Friday had thrown at us it was refreshing to see Seasons End lightening the mood next. These guys were a new one on us and we really liked their proggy rock with some epic guitar tones.

The technical gremlins struck Decapitated, but that couldn’t kill the buzz the band had generated on the Main Stage. Their last album ‘Anticult’ has “album of the year” written all over it. Mix the new stuff with an unrivalled back catalogue and, well, Death Metal doesn’t get much better than this. Even with it’s techy leanings we were more than happy to have a headbang to this lot.

Enslaver. A band we decided to see when our Rob agreed to while speaking to one of them in the bar the night before. Possibly while drunk. As it was, we didn’t mind as some old school death metal brutality was the perfect way to fill the gap until Testament hit the main stage.

Even if the first song sounded like someone going “Heeeeeeeee” in a death metal style over blast beats. They do shake it up though. Just when you think hes going to go “Heeeeeee” he goes “Roarrrrrr”. Then “Heeeeee….”

Okay, joking aside we really enjoyed Enslaver. In a bill awash with great Death Metal it takes a lot to stand out but the lads managed it. There are a load of really good Death Metal bands emerging at the moment, and from what we saw here Enslaver are definitely in that group and well worth checking out.

Never mind anything else though. Testament Time.

Oh dear, the sound has gone a bit squiffy, it’s mostly drums and vocals with Eric and Alex struggling to be heard. The sound situation had sorted itself out, a bit, for ‘The Pale King’ as the guitars were turned up. Testament had mixed up the setlist a touch, but there was one track that you knew HAD to be in there. “You guys ready for some old school thrash metal? Lets stir this one up. This is a song for all you crazies. This is a sing called ‘Into the pit’!!”

Oh. Hell. Yes. Some songs dont need clarity, some songs dont need finely balanced EQs. Some songs hit you in the gut and demand you raise your fist, bang your head and generally behave like you did when you first heard it.

30 years ago in certain cases…

Yeah, Testament. The best band not to be the best of the big 4

As we segue seamlessly into ‘Dark Roots Of The Earth’ we could pontificate about how there are three decades between those two tracks but what the fuck. Testament still deliver like none of their contemporaries can manage.

And then, oh hells yes, they drop ‘Low’ into the setlist before Practice What You Preach. At this point someone said “if they finish with Souls of Black im just going to lie in the corner..

.. and have a wank”

Not sure if I, erm, I mean they meant it though.

As it happened they didn’t, although Disciples Of The Watch will do !!!! As we headed off for more thrash in the Tent from Shrapnel who scratched any remaining itches that Testament couldn’t reach.

And Shrapnel were on mighty fine form too! They don’t mess about with their in-your face brutal thrash and the Bloodstock crowd stream into the tent to catch these guys returning to the festival once again. With their new album ‘Raised on Decay’ about to drop any day now, they are gearing up for some busy times but it looks and sounds like they are a well oiled machine already on tonight’s performance. A mix of old and new, but regardless of whether we knew the songs or not, it was a blistering old set from the Shrapnel crew.

We took  a wee jaunt through serpents lair where we caught up with some familiar friends for the obligatory group selfies and spoke mainly about how awesome Testament were and how excited we were for that viking bunch on later tonight. Costume changes done, fed and watered we headed back into the arena.

Sales of viking horns must have gone through the roof. The busy wee peeps over at the viking-like stalls made a killing as wannabe norsemen got into panic buy mode, pre Amon Amarth! If you haven’t seen them already, you should purchase one or two of these horns. Well worth it for shits and giggles. OK, so they do nothing for your street cred but a great prop for halloween.

Now then, we’ve been raving about Blood Oath for long enough now, well, Rob has anyway… (The band discovered that a few other members of Team CB had never heard of them when they approached them the night before).

Having watched them slay the Metal to the Masses competition a few months before and seeing how much they were chuffed to finally play Bloodstock; we knew they were going to cut the mustard tonight. And they did! The now familiar ‘Kingdom of Dead Souls’ sounded huge up there on the New Blood Stage and with all the blood and smoke, they put on one of the eye-catching shows of the weekend on thre Hobgoblin stage.

According to Blood Oath when we spoke to them… “We formed purely to be, in our eyes, a Bloodstock band”.

They cracked it. Yep, Blood Oath could really do well at this heavy metal game. They wouldn’t look out of place on the main stage with a bit of pyro to play with! Maybe in a few years… and the pyro (and longboats) are in good hands tonight already. Hopefully Blood Oath will get out with some shows of their own on the back of this little victorious set!

We watched a chunk of Blind Guardian’s well received set from near the back before heading into the Sophie tent for a long overdue date with Lionize who promised us some proper heavy rock, a rare thing in this land of death / black metal and all things ‘core. The tent was about as busy as we’d seen it and the Americans put on a proper old school rock’n’roll show, all riffs, solos and big, big choruses.

Nooo, can it be Headliner time already??. Amon Amarth’s elevation to headliner status comes as a surprise to no one. “Welcome to our viking feast. For the first time we are headlining this motherfucker!!”.

Amon Amarth are sounding HUGE, anyone who doubted they could step up to this level. Bloodstock has sold out and it looks like all 15,000 people are there raising their horns to the viking invaders.

“Are you ready to feast like vikings tonight? Good this song is for you. First kill”

Of corse with 15,000 people there the longships are going to be huge. Johann demands “Some epic rowing in the birthplace of rowing” and he duly gets it as we set what he thinks is “some sort of fucking world record”.

Amon Amarth belong on the big stage playing gigs like this. ‘Death In Fire’ sees them setting some sort of pyro record before things wrap up, as you’d expect, with the towering frontman battling a giant inflatable serpent with a big hammer.

Yeah, you had to be there.

It has to be said, Amon Amarth have had a truly victorious rise through the ranks to this headliner status. They just get better and better.

The last band of the evening was Inquisition. These guys must save a fortune on band travel arrangements. Mind you why do some bands need 6 members when this pair can make that much racket.

It wasn’t quite the end of the music though. Back in the Serpents Lair we had Darth Elvis And The Imperials. I think there’s a Star Wars theme at play here… A Jedi lead singer, a tie pilot bassist, a stormtrooper drummer and a guitarist who didn’t get the star wars theme memo.

Actually that’s not fair. He did have a Grand Moff Tarkin uniform on and but for a prosthetics man who didn’t like camping would have been in his usual Darth Vegas regalia, complete with Maul’s face paint and horns.

Darth Elvis don’t do mosh pits, no, for them it’s a sarlac pit. Up on stage it was, apparently, hotter than mustafar but that didn’t stop the party. “This is for our buddy Admiral motherfuckimg Ackbar” before Electric Six’s Gay Bar is reworked in homage to the Mon Calamari rebel.

Raise your wampa horns in the air for Darth Elvis.