A heavy metal festival. Oh god the teenage years wasted with headphones on have come rushing back! The noise, anthemic melodies, the acts of testosterone daring and questionable humour all heady stuff and outside the reproachful gaze of parents or girls. Mentioning teenage kicks would be too punk for the audience but you get the idea.
Meshuggah kicked ass on the first night. They are without a doubt one of the most influential bands of the last decade and performed a solid rocking set. Knowing the tracks forward and back I’d have to say they almost seemed out of time for the first song – possibly their greatest – Rational Gaze. However they quickly kicked into gear and the rest of the set blazed through. The crowd didn’t move much but stunned awe turned to rabid applause between songs and the set ended with ears ringing to the sound of earnest eyed boys declaring hand on heart that THAT was the greatest performance EVER.
Modern metal seems to me to be at the forefront of mixing performance with musical progression and Bloodstook featured a lack of ‘classic’ rock acts with their cliché stage antics. Every performance contained either a knowing irony or a real sense of musical knowledge. Performance wise the acts generally took cues from the Springsteen school of sincerity.
Amongst those most at home in themselves was Devin Townsend. Devin is simply a master of his art and an amazing rancoteur/performer. What started with Meshuggah carried on with Devin whose powerful set was played a wholly appreciative festival.
In a similar vein the modern sounding Gojira wowed audiences with their take on the stop start poly-sounding vibe. But the heart of the festival had to go to Evile, a one time Metallica cover band, who as one punter told me ‘are the band that Metallica sound have become!’ (i.e Puppets era and more). Mirroring the death of cliff burton their bass player died of a brain aneurysm and this was one of the first outings with the new bass player. Eulogies made and commerative performances followed. To those that hadn’t heard the band before many new converts were made, myself amongst them.
Of the progressive acts there seems to the a distinct differentiation between the opera-y bands and the crunch heavy crew. Opeth played a weirdly orchestral set that had many many fans, I personally found it a little hard to get into and almost alienatingly bland. I have been assured that I need to give some of the recordings time but one the strength of the bloodstock performance this isn’t a strong possibility. Unrepentantly Scandi were the Children of Bodom, whom I expected to be more of the Opeth-esque pomposity. How wrong I was. They are fucking amazing and blistering live.
The final word has to go to GWAR, comic rock veterans with a deeply political bent (and reportedly Stanley Kubrick’s favourite metal band) brought it to another level. Consumately extraterrestrial and awesome there isn’t much more to say really. Unless you were covered in blood you weren’t there.
Done and in recovery till next year.
Bloodstock – UKs legendary Metal festival. Catton Hall, Derbyshire from 12th – 15th August.