Bloodstock 2016: Day Two Review
Hangovers and bangovers are slowly creeping in, but there's a whole new day of heaviness at Bloodstock festival.
Having only just recovered from Twisted Sister's blistering headline set last night, it's another day of brutalising metal and more sweary t-shirts than you can shake a skull staff at. Topped by the progressive metal titans Mastodon, Bloodstock have crafted a smorgasbord of destruction for the Catton Hall masses.
It's a shame The Heretic Order  are opening the tent instead of the main stage, with their theatrical aesthetic and stage show of skeletons and blood soaked virgins custom made for a bigger spectacle. The fact they're backed by the classic metalisms and gothic undertones of Burn Witch, Burn is a massive plus. (AR)
Returning to play their first show in 12 years, nu-metal survivors Kill II This  bring their groove-oriented, gabba-tinged industrial-lite kicking and screaming into the modern age. It hasn’t aged well, sounding distinctly of its time, but their obvious delight to be here and accessibly energetic punch sees them through. (TO)
The amount of touring miles melodic metallers The Raven Age  have accumulated this year certainly show, with a performance that's tight and polished if still lacking a bit of character. Encouragingly though, the new cuts from upcoming debut Darkness Will Rise are the highlights. (AR)
They might have lost the suits and have less hair than when last we saw them, but Akercocke  have lost none of the stately, atmospheric grandeur that so enhances their bestial extremity. Even in the midday sunshine their homage to Satan brings true darkness to a rabid circle pit. (TO)
Grecians Rotting Christ  open ceremonies imperiously, bringing much of the same might and majesty as Behemoth in their devastating syncopation and slow burn, grooving intensity, but in a less memorable fashion. Not that their field full of braying acolytes mind, soaking up their ardent blasphemy in the glorious sunshine. (TO)
Barely two months ago, The King Is Blind  brought the house down at Download and here they are again at Bloodstock doing exactly the same thing. Gnarly, exciting and genuinely powerful, this band are leading the charge for the UK underground right now and there's no mistaking the sound of unstoppable momentum. The tent is packed, the mob go wild, TKIB nail it again. (DL)
Fear Factory  are immense today, playing Demanufacture in its legendary entirety and sounding better than they have in years. Burton C Bell has a few iffy vocal moments, but nails it when it counts, particularly on an epic Pisschrist and monumental goth ballad A Therapy In Pain. The rest of the band, as ever, sound like a fearsome machine with many gallons of fuel left in the tank. (DL)
Some veteran bands rely solely on past glories to sustain their live careers, but Paradise Lost  are still surfing on the wave of acclaim they received for 2015's The Plague Within. Today it's the newer songs that hit the hardest, not least towering opener No Hope In Sight. They plunder the past too, of course, but there is extra meat on the bones of old classics like Rapture these days and despite enduring "the fucking sun", Nick Holmes seems to be genuinely enjoying himself. A class act on great, morbid form. (DL)
Judging by the size of the crowd that greets their every riff with hysterical, bug-eyed alacrity, Gojira  could easily be tonight's headliners. The band's rise has been both gratifying and inevitable, the combination of their unwavering prowess onstage and their admirable humility providing the keys to their reputation. What really matters is that Gojira are absolutely mesmerising from start to finish today, with everything from Backbone and L'Enfant Sauvage to new skull-flatteners Silvera and Stranded sounding immaculate and crushing. The sense that some unearthly power awakes whenever these four musicians click into syncopated gear has never been more palpable: Gojira bring real magic to Bloodstock and it's irresistible. (DL)
Norwegian black jazz exponents Shining  bring something a little different to the festival, turning an initially hesitant audience into one big party with their distinctive, hard rocking ensemble, proving definitively that the saxophone, when wielded in the right pair of hands can be coaxed into doing the devil’s work. (TO)
Understandably given what's preceded them, it takes some time for Mastodon  to make their mark on Bloodstock. Wobbly vocals are exacerbated by a definite void between band and crowd, with the first half of the set struggling to ignite despite some wondrous tunes and Brent Hinds being tassled up to the nines. Yet the Atlanta quartet demonstrate their class, not least Brann Dailor’s extraordinary drumming, and backed by screens of kaleidoscopic visuals that bring a real sense of occasion to their first UK headline slot. The Wolf Is Loose, Megalodon and a monstrous Blood And Thunder creates a palpable energy that's impossible to resist, leaving what could have been an underwhelming set on an undeniable high. (AR)
Words by Dom Lawson, Tom O'Boyle and Adam Rees. Photos by: Will Ireland.