A gruelling journey to metal mecca, self induced tinnitus, and that
fucking rock karaoke, it was all in a day's work for GRTR!'s Sonia
Friday August 13
After a long
hard slog through dire traffic and a gruelling 4 hour drive from Wales,
I eventually saw the golden sign which was leading to Metal Heaven, as
in one of the UK's biggest open air festivals Bloodstock.
cloudy and dreary sky, which was filled with razor edged screams and
thundering riffs, I wandered into the main arena to notice that since
2008 it had grown noticeably.
Sophie Lancaster stage not only bigger but in a red marquee, this was
the first to grace the ears, hailing new and upcoming artists.
further past the bizarre fairground blaring out a mixture of pop music;
yes, I did say pop, and the vast array of food and clothing stalls, you
finally get to the main stage in all its metal glory.
When I say
metal, I mean the silver covering that is wrapped around the parcel of
the huge stage reflecting the last rays of the waning sun.
grace the stage was Meshuggah, this coincidentally reminds me of
their performance which was full of chugging riffs, screaming vocals and
full on attack.
What a way
to be welcomed. Their hour long slot was greeted by tanked up fans
raising their fists in homage and in their already inebriated state -
some more than others - either just lost in the music or just plain
With a hard
act to follow, Opeth strolled on to their intro which raised
voices and much celebration from their awaiting audience and then
proceeded with their epic set full of 12 minute songs.
Synthesiser melodies provided by the keyboards, combined with a theatrical aura
brought a slight calm that washed over us, that was until the deep, dark
riffs from the twin guitars sliced through the atmosphere and filled it
with energy, re-purposed by the audience, who by now were blazing.
set, I decided to take a wander to explore the rest of the festival area
whilst the mob were otherwise engaged to see a true view of what
was to offer.
so, I ended up back in the Sophie Lancaster stage, as that was the only
area where music was blaring out, only to find there was a group of
rather strange looking people.
in the centre of the stage, as if they were having a school photo taken,
what I can only guess was a mixture of genders sporting Halloween
facemasks and much more. The intrigue soon dissipated as I was to find
that this was all in the name of Rock Karaoke.
didn't seem to be much interest at this time, even though the compere
was doing his utmost to drag and encourage people to get on stage, I
wandered back to see Opeth who were still in full swing.
ended to much applause and raucousness before a straggling crowd
disappeared into the blackness of the night. And so did I, ready for the
next day of self-torture.
this was the end of the aural blitzing, as from the confines of my tent,
I could hear the likes of Pantera 'Walk', Slipknot and more accompanied
by the roars and screams which scored the air well into the early
morning. It was the Rock Karaoke and the DJ's were in full swing.
out of the tent at 8 am and straight into a swamped out field - a result
from the previous night's downpour - the eager metal heads were already
meandering around aimlessly looking for either food or beer.
act to 'entertain' with their female operatic vocalist and gruffly toned
male vocalist was Leaves Eyes.
In the vein
of Nightwish and Sonata Artica, this was certainly a wakeup call.
Not sure if my brain was engaged enough to actually take it all in,
however there was a small gathering at the barriers already rearing to
As their set
ended, the gathering dispersed to find sustenance before 'local heroes'
Evile raged the stage. The youngsters gave a fully blown
energetic performance, which was great to see as it was not so long ago
they had unfortunately lost their previous bassist.
had turned but this certainly did not dampen the enthusiasm from the
crowd or the band that were thoroughly enjoying themselves with smiles
in between tracks.
After a near-enough 14 year break, it was great to see the return of Bristol based
thrashers Onslaught, who have come back with vengeance.
the studio working on their new album, this was another band who
certainly seemed to not only be at ease but happy to be back.
of guttural roars emerging from the on looking crowd who by now had
grown to a swathing mass, it was easy to see why the band are back on
track, with no loss of support.
changeover, with a spare bit of time, I ventured to see what was
happening in the Unsigned Tent, only to spy a young Lithurgy
going full on to a decent sized crowd.
surprising thing to me was the addition of a saxophone being sported by
the vocalist. To my amazement, they actually made this work. What a
great performance and I'm definitely interested to see how they progress
in the future.
quick time check, I legged it back to the Main Stage for the
commencement of Edguy.
Bloodstock had the privilege of being able to announce this was the
band's only UK Festival appearance this year.
With the addition of Helloween's own Markus Gropoff, who was standing in
for their normal bassist due to the birth of his child. This was not a
set I wanted to miss.
Not only am
I a great fan of both bands, I wanted to know how the addition of Markus
would change the performance.
chirpiness, the band came bouncing on to the stage and cracked into
their first track which got everyone wiggling and rocking.
Tobi's voice was amazing, whilst the rest of the band powered through
behind. The energy was truly electric and so was the atmosphere that was
being emanated from stage to audience.
their anthem from Tinnitus Sanctus 'King Of Fools' the band were nearly
drowned out during the chorus from the raucous singing coming from the
fans. This to me was definitely the best performance of the day. Biased?
Probably…but I wasn't the only person to say this.
happy, until a voice boomed through the Tannoy telling all the adoring
flag wavers to dismantle flags as they were no longer allowed in crowd
much the annoyance and grievance of fans.
My ears had
just returned to normal after the previous musical obliterations, and
then the glorious thundering riffs and ripping vocals from Obituary
boomed from the stage. Oooh ... I'm sure I felt my head split… This was
pure heavy thrash. The lead singer ran around the stage like a mental
head whilst the others stood statuesque dealing their pummelling tunes.
I'm not sure
If I am cut out for this full metal onslaught as by now the tinnitus had
started to set in, as much as I was loving the atmosphere that was
emanating from the whole place, I needed to find something a little
tamer, so headed to see Croydon boys Mordecai who were going
strong in the Sophie Lancaster tent.
solid performance, it was a shame they had to compete with the main
stage band. I was happy to see a good group of supporters and
interested parties and just wished that the guys could have had a better
chance to grab more of the limelight as they are a good band.
Now, back to
the main stage under the rays of a glorious sun, where Devin Townsend
and his project were already wandering around. I had heard his name
before, but couldn't recollect from where. After enquiring, I was told
he was renowned for being part of Strapping Young Lads. This still
didn't ring a bell, so was left intrigued.
Due to some
technical difficulties with the main vocal microphone, poor Devin was
left standing in front of 5000 eager fans. For most musicians, this
would be an intimidating moment, but not to Devin. Showing his zany
personality, he actually went into comedy mode, entertaining us with air
guitar, poses, crazy faces and generally having a laugh with the crowd
which he thoroughly enjoyed and if he ever decides to leave the music
business, cabaret would certainly be an option.
performance and interaction with the crowd alone was amusing and would
have satisfied us as it was. Luckily for the band the problem was fixed
and Devin went straight into it with full steam. His unique vocals,
switched from being soothing and melodious to razor sharp and grinding
is certainly something to check out.
It was then
it clicked: 'Sex & Religion'. No, not a new found fad for me, it is the
title track of an early Steve Vai album. Devin had been the vocalist.
I was now settled in thought and got into the full swing of the
performance, which was one of the craziest I have seen. Not because of
any weird and wonderful additions or outfits, just because of the
stances, facial expressions and song content including the last track,
taken from his album which details an alien travelling from outer space,
visiting earth to find ... wait for it ... the perfect cup of
coffee!? He seriously deserved the appreciation he received and has
certainly gained a new admirer in me.
decided to ensue much to the joy of the fans who decided they would have
a go at mud wrestling. With much encouragement at what I first thought
was going to be a mosh pit forming, bodies started to slip and slide.
Jeers and cheers rose as the forms got more and more covered.
Factory. The name alone suggests strength, power and brutality and
that's exactly what we got next. As Burton, Dino and Co thundered onto
the stage with the title track 'Mechanize', you certainly knew that you
were in for a hammering.
I have been a long time follower of the band, this was the first time I
had seen them live. Expecting a ruthless attack, I wasn't disappointed.
Vicious riffs and Burton's distinctive voice boomed out to the mass that
were already in full swing, viciously head banging and roaring out every
assault was followed by a further two new tracks from their latest
offering Mechanize. The poor souls who had not been privy to the new
album were taken by complete surprise. The rest of the set was a mix
from their notorious album Demanufacture and a couple from Digimortal
which went down well with the crowd.
ended on a, well, ferocious note with Children Of Bodom. Any hope
of a 'quiet' night was doomed. Loud. Really loud is the most I can
say. The fans came here for a full attack of Thrash; well if they hadn't
had their fill by now, this would do it. Angry, raging & rampaging –
need I say more? The night sky was filled with pure angst and metal
wrath rising from the mass that filled the festival field.
was in full attack by now, to the point where the band had left the
stage and I hadn't noticed, the noise of pure Thrash still ringing
strongly around my head.
In my daze,
I decided that to walk to the refuge of the tent. The rain, which had
decided to make reappearance, was doing a grand job of turning the field
back into a mud bath. This did not discourage the majority who were
tanked up and ready for more. The Sophie Lancaster tent once again
filled for the next bout of Rock Karaoke...