Bloodstock Festival has shared a new video on its YouTube channel (which you should subscribe to). They have shared a pro-shot video of Queensryche’s awesome full set at Bloodstock 2019. Their current album The Verdict (Century Media) was released last year. Continue reading
Animus’ reversal of more traditional Death Metal imagery was a breath of fresh air for many and a point of contention for others. Alongside tours with the likes of Trivium and Bloodstock main stage slots, Venom Prison garnered a large support base from fans and journalists alike, but it’s the ‘difficult second album’ that often causes younger bands to be ditched by the mainstream Metal press. There were those who debunked the band’s debut record as not much more than industry hype, but those people should brace themselves because Samsara (Prosthetic Records) will make the naysayers eat their words. Continue reading
Mention the city of Liverpool and most people tend to think of The Beatles and football. Ask a metalhead, and the names of Carcass and Anathema will surely pop up soon after. Although not exactly at the forefront of the UK metal scene, Liverpool has no shortage of underground talent to offer. Scare Tactics have been around since 2010 and have played both Bloodstock and Download festivals. Reaper have been thrashing around since 2011, and Techy Prog types Reperium are steadily building a name for themselves, as are the heavier Oceanis. Continue reading
The beauty to last weeks’ beast, the Ghost Cult album round-up is back for your vulgar delectation, and our final compilation of 2017 captures albums most Metal and most Melodic, shining a light on last-minute stocking fillers that St. Anne, rather than St Nick, would approve of… Continue reading
There aren’t many bands to achieve the success levels that Trivium have that have to subsequently prove themselves over with each album. While the shadow of the decade old Ascendancy (Roadrunner) continues to loom over their career, that familiar feeling of deja-vu pervades as the Floridians unveil their seventh album, Silence In The Snow (also Roadrunner), once again to a backdrop of doubters and people gleefully awaiting a failure to show their mettle.
There is often negativity and scepticism attached to bands changing their style, but Trivium’s new music sounds more sophisticated and almost effortless. The introductory track ‘Snofall’, delicately crafted by Ihsahn to reflect the melodies of the upcoming title track, is dark and haunting; intriguing the listener, yet not giving away exactly what direction Trivium are going to take with their new sound, and the beautiful melodies are able to reinforce the themes of loneliness and of course… snow. The snow theme seems to have put off a lot of people, as if snow is only related to Frozen or Christmas. Although it may make a good Christmas present, this album is anything but tacky…
Title track ‘Silence In The Snow’ had its live debut earlier this year on the bands’ summer shows and since then it has been frequently gracing the airwaves and segues from the introduction before duplicating the same chaos as ‘In Waves’ with its melodic stomp. ‘Blind Leading The Blind’ is one of the strongest songs on the album and the guitar work is extremely effective: the simplistic riffs contrast well with the technical guitar solos.
‘Until The World Goes Cold’ opens with a haunting guitar riff, and progresses into a slow yet bass-heavy song. There are no fast-paced or shredding guitars, as the track shows Trivium’s softer side. Matt Heafy’s clean vocals are stronger than ever, and there is more of a focus on the lyrical content, with the heavy vocals of previous albums left by the wayside; exploring themes of legacy and fading away in ‘Dead And Gone’, singing “I feel I will die a forgotten man, just a number.”
Trivium have been criticised in the past for trying too hard to create music that they think everyone will like, however, Silence In The Snow should change perceptions and sets up a future direction. With less of a focus on trying to be the heaviest, it is much easier to enjoy their sound for what it really is: decent metal music which does not need harsh vocals.
Heafy’s improved vocals are the focus throughout, a path which is a continuation of the route travelled on Vengeance Falls (Roadrunner), so if you are looking for an extremely heavy album then you will be disappointed. Allow yourself to enjoy the increased emphasis on song-writing and melodic refrains, however, and Silence In The Snow will resonate with you.
While roaming the green green grass of Bloodstock Festival earlier this year, Ghost Cult caught up with Saille to discuss their first appearance at the legendary festival, and how work on their next opus is coming along…
If there was something special about Bloodstock Festival in 2015, aside from the bands and the people of course, it was the constant sunshine and heat; something we always hope for at UK festivals but we rarely get (anyone who has encountered Download Festival at its worst will testify to). However, while this is great for the fans it does not necessarily prove to be so for those bands on the main stage who strive for dark and haunting atmospherics. The likes of Agalloch and 1349 across the weekend made due effort and came out well; for poor Belphegor the presence of butterflies clearly visible to the stage proved too comical to take them seriously.
With their debut Bloodstock appearance on the Sophie Tent instead of the main stage, Belgian black metallers Saille luckily benefited from the tent atmosphere, able to showcase their tone and visuals unaffected, and as a result proved one of the weekends highlights. Speaking to vocalist Dennie Grondelaers and guitarist Reinier Schenk before their Sunday set, they both understand their stage positioning, and are very positive about their setting.
“We have to accept the fact that we are a growing band; if we are on the main stage we would just vanish into nothing” begins Grondelaers, philosophically.
Schenk “I prefer to play inside because we can bring our own light show”
Grondelaers “Its certainly interesting for black metal bands to play in the sunlight.”
With a very strong release ethic which has seen 3 albums in the last 4 years, Saille have, unsurprisingly reached UK shores more frequently as of late, but Bloodstock represents their first festival appearance, at least in the UK. With so many festivals across Europe now, competition is as fierce as ever. Grondelaers muses “I don’t think it’s actually well known (outside of the UK), but people who know Bloodstock are really excited about it, but I also think the main audience is people on the mainland.”
Schenk: “There is a lot of competition on the continent, a lot of small countries and huge festivals, if you can’t see a band there then maybe come here, like Emperor last year.”
Grondelaers “Plus it’s the same weekend for Party San in Germany and Brutal Assault in the Czech Republic.”
Despite the competitive nature of the festival season however, Saille are very positive about Bloodstock and say there is a big plus on its side. Grondelaers explains: “It’s a small festival, there are very big bands but on a smaller scale, compared to say Graspop which is nice but its huge, about 50,000 people. Here it’s half (that) and much more laidback, more relaxed and you don’t have to walk around. You don’t have to walk 4 hours on some sandy trail to get to your camping spot.”
With the festival season still in full swing even after Bloodstock, Saille have a busy schedule of more European festivals before returning to regular venues, and the writing of the follow up to last years Eldritch(Aural Music). With a very fast paced release schedule before, this time around they want to take things differently. On the subject of new music, Grondelaers adds “We want to take a little more time for the next album, we are not putting any deadlines on it this time.”
Reiner Schenk continues in blunt fashion. “Deadlines always destroy something, if it’s the artwork or the production, it sucks.”
Grondelaers “It’s a bit too early to talk about it but we have pretty much worked out the concept will be about pain and suffering.”
“We tried butterflies and love but that was taken already” Schenk deadpans.
WORDS BY CHRIS TIPPELL
As the final day of Bloodstock 2015 begins, it is once again with the shock of no sign of rain once again. Someone, somewhere must have made some kind of sacrifice to some form of deity to ward off the rain and giving perfect sunshine for the entire weekend. No doubt the usual washout day will rear its head again next year, but for today, there is plenty of heavy metal to enjoy.
Kicking off proceedings for the day is one very annoying clash between atmospheric black metaller’s Agalloch on the main stage and British heavy metal masters Triaxis, who reward the rammed Sophie Tent by assuredly knocking the cobwebs of people’s hangovers away with a spectacular showcase of straightforward but massively enjoyable metal. New cuts like ‘Liberty’ and ‘Death Machine’ prove just as immediate and strong as fan-favourites like ‘Black Trinity’ as they show just why they one of the brightest lights on the British metal scene today, as today’s set feels hugely triumphant. The same can’t quite be said for the following The Izuna Drop who’s electronica bass drop tinged sounds are interesting in principle but doesn’t translate well today as a thin, curious crowd quickly empties even further.
For all the critics of the modern day incarnation of Sepultura (WAH! THERES NO MAX CAVALERA ITS NOT SEPULTURA!) they’re overlooking three important factors: Firstly Derrick Green has been a part of the band by now longer than Max ever was. Secondly the band that they are today is a very different beast to the Max incarnation; yes they play the hits like ‘Roots Bloody Root’ and ‘Refuse/Resist’ but with a somewhat different tone to those days. And thirdly, they still pack a hell of a punch, giving a strong, somewhat safe set with very few surprises (other than a brand new song aired) but one that is never less exciting than before, as the main stage crowd gives a huge response, especially to those aforementioned hits.
The likes of Agalloch and Belphegor may have suffered some of their atmospherics due to the sunshine on the main stage, so its fortunate for Saille that they perform to a darker, more intense Sophie tent, where their brooding, melodic brand of black metal is allowed its full impact. Mostly static but full of intensity, their vivid tales inspired but the likes of H.P. Lovecraft proof menacing but so captivating, and they have surely made a tonne of new friends in this instance.
You always know what you’re going to get with Cannibal Corpse, from the bludgeoning barrage of their music to the recognisable stage introductions (“This song is about shooting blood from your cock”) but it never withers in intensity, and today they are as strong and reliant as ever. The staggering amount of crowd surfers during this set tells you how well they have gone down today, and why they are such a firm live favourite.
It may be hot outside, it may be the evening of the last day, but people still want to have a bloody good time, and apparently a bit of a boogie. Good job French swing/death metal oddballs Trepalium are at hand with perhaps the surprise set of the entire weekend. Not a huge name by any means on these shores but they pack out the Sophie tent, and after a confusing sound-check, absolutely explode. Volatile death metal meets catchy, jazz like passages with stunning effect as the what could possibly be the biggest moshpit the tent has seen all weekend is surrounded by people dancing like loons to four sharply dressed musicians and a shirt-less, voodoo mask like painted nutter of a vocalist. An unexpected highlight as they prove one of the bands of the weekend.
All three headliners this year were subject to vitriolic responses on the internet forums at their announcement, but today’s headliner Rob Zombie probably received the most flak. Coupled with the memory of recent, stripped back festival appearances not gaining plaudits and there is a swell of anticipation amongst excited fans and those who seem to be there simply wishing for a car crash performance. Not to mention the catastrophic stage problems that plagued Trivium and Within Temptation, there is a feeling that anything could happen; fortunately for the excited throng, all goes well this time around.
Opening with a storming ‘Teenage Nosferatu Pussy’, Rob Zombie’s part b-movie horror flick, part cartoon brand of industrial metal proves an excellent festival closer which oozes fun. Zombie himself proves very charismatic (if at times forced) whilst the excellent pair of John 5 and Piggy D jostle and challenge for attention on stage, both giving show stealing, virtuoso performances and their own unique visuals. Coupled with such a strong arsenal of songs and it seems silly to think how it could have failed; although there seems to be reliance on a couple of famous covers to gather some momentum: an awkward rendition of James Brown’s ‘Get Up…’ and note perfect, nothing special renditions of ‘Blitzkrieg Bop’ and ‘Schools Ou’” which surely take time away from songs people may have wanted to hear. That being said the likes of ‘Superbeast’, ‘More Human Than Human’ and a rarely aired ‘Pussy Liquor’ hit the spot, bringing the festivities to a euphoric close on the main stage (for those who still have energy and urging for a more claustrophobic disposition, Godflesh pack out the tent later on in the night).
Over the weekend some issues reared their heads again, from the stage show suffering of black metal bands in broad daylight to the near comical amount of main stage difficulties which nearly derail many a set, but none of this can detract from a tremendous weekend that gave fantastic weather and even better bands.
See you in a year Catton Hall.
CHRIS TIPPELL and SARAH WORSLEY
With the Sophie Lancaster Stage headliners finishing late into the night, as well as other forms of entertainment in the arena or the Serpent’s Lair VIP Area (or for the less brave of course, beers at the tent), you’d be forgiven for thinking the atmosphere would be a little subdued on the Saturday, especially considering the scorching heat the day before. Far from it however, as Saturday greets all with even hotter weather (thankfully there are plenty of water stations and surprisingly small queues) and another day of some of the best and most exciting bands the metal world has to offer.
A relaxed and lazy morning means the days viewing kicks off in the Sophie tent with British death metallers Ageless Oblivion, whose dark atmospherics try to detract from the sunshine outside. Pulling in a strong crowd, they prove why they are one of the most exciting bands on the UK extreme metal scene, complete with unpredictability structures and relentless viciousness with hypnotic majesty.
The small size of the festival arena proves a blessing as Ageless Oblivion wrap up their set just as prog/tech metallers Xerath take to the main stage within seconds. With a large, attentive crowd Xerath prove that they are more than worthy of the upgrade from their last time here on the second stage, as their progressive tendencies hit the mark alongside a tonne of fat grooves, perfectly catering for all. The stage size does not seem to daunt them as they give a confident and crushing display.
Normally benefiting from people wanting to shelter from near monsoon conditions, its truly heart-warming to see masses of people supporting those bands that have come from far climes, especially when they are as good as the first of two Indonesian bands on the bill today, Jasad. As they take the stage they are greeted with a near packed tent and a euphoric response which clearly humbles them as the band can hardly contain their smiles throughout. Combined with brilliant death metal and frontman Mohammed Rohman’s sense of humour and this proves one of the most fun and triumphant sets of the weekend.
Very few bands are as consistently brilliant both live and on record as Napalm Death so its unsurprising that they are consistently great form today, and the huge response they get from the crowd makes this a no surprises but incredible set.
It has to be pointed out the diversity that, appropriately, the Sophie Lancaster Stage presents over the weekend, brings some of the weekend’s greatest moments. Right near the top has to be the second Indonesian band of the day, Burgerkill as once again a packed out tent and the chaos that ensues proves truly heartening. The massive grins that adorn each member tells the story as the moshpits almost takes over the entire front of the tent. As Oaf’s Dom Lawson makes a guest appearance the importance of today for the band is abundantly clear, and they took it by storm.
Opeth are no strangers to the Ronnie Jamies Dio (main) stage, having headlined twice, once in the place of Heaven & Hell who cancelled due to the sad passing of the man for whom the stage is now named. They could play in a nightclub car park and still exude the same amount of beauty and brutality as they do co-headlining a festival. Love their progressive direction or loathe it, Opeth never fail to impress as ten thousand mesmerised fan sway to ‘The Devils Orchard’, then moments later headbang to ‘Deliverance’, showing symmetry with the bands diverse back catalogue.
To quote the mighty Taylor Swift – “haters gonna hate” – and those die-hard Bloodstockers who scoffed or spewed ignorant and hateful babble when Within Temptation were announced certainly did. They can be spotted a mile off, standing with their arms folded waiting for the Dutch symphonic metallers to suck harder than Lars’ drumming. But they don’t – so ha! Each song is performed with heart and soul, with the set culled mainly from the more recent Hydra (BMG/Universal) and The Unforgiving (Roadrunner) albums, and the unity the crowd feel with the band is a testament to their longevity. Sharon den Adel, who seemingly has danced in the blue flame of eternal life, rallies the crowd so that even when technical difficulties plague their penultimate song, the baying masses hang on her every note. Within Temptation bring a touch of flair and class to Derbyshine; utterly sublime.
CHRIS TIPPELL & SARAH WORSLEY
With humble origins as a smaller, indoor festival in 2001, and being headlined then by metal legends Saxon due to connections to organiser Paul Gregory, Bloodstock steadily grew and grew until eventually in 2005 it saw an additional (not solitary) open air version. It is now the UK’s biggest open air metal (not rock) festival. Now, in the open air’s 10th year, a cursory glance at the line-ups throughout the years show its size and stature growing with bigger names from the likes of Slayer, Megadeth and this year’s closer Rob Zombie alongside the underground, the extreme and even the silly (hello Korpiklaani).
Much smaller than the likes of Download Festival, Bloodstock benefits from its close proximity to the campsite meaning if you do fancy a nap to fight off that expected hangover then you are only five minutes away. As you do enter the main arena you are firstly greeted by a cordoned off circle which later in the weekend will see infamous Knight fighting, as illustrated by the many in full knight’s armour throughout the weekend because, you know… metal!
A few paces beyond is the Sophie Lancaster Stage which proudly supports the S.O.P.H.I.E Campaign, and just beyond is the smaller Jagermeister Stage which sits just next to the grounds of the main stage, and even past that is the Hobgoblin New Blood Stage, all within a few minutes walking distance, easy and convenient. Coupled with one of the most consistently pleasant, easy going, and friendly festival goers you will hope to meet (with plenty of families about) and you can’t help but have a fantastic weekend. Welcome to Bloodstock!
As per usual, the festivities really kick off on the Thursday with several bands on the Sophie tent; and a glance at the shirts about show that openers Reign Of Fury have a tonne of fans about. Later on in the day if Welsh death metal hoodlums Desecration don’t get you in the mood for debauchery then nothing will as they deliver a sterling set.
Friday arrives and the rescheduled Nuclear Assault start off the main stage as it would continue throughout the weekend; with troubles, as they play with borrowed gear due to airport confusion. Still they play with intensity and ferocity, if you can get past John Connelly’s cartoon like voice which verges between cringe worthy and suiting.
Despite the glorious sunshine its back to the Sophie tent for the loveable Pronk duo Oaf as they deliver the first truly great moment of the festival with a set chock full of obscenities, humour and incredible songs. Very little will top the image of a packed out sea of Cheshire Cat grins bellowing out the chorus to brand new song ‘Disgusted By Your Genitalia’ this weekend.
The New Blood Stage over the weekend will play host to numerous winners of Bloodstock’s Metal To The Masses winners as well as other great new talents, proving a very worthy place to go if there is a gap in your schedule. Early on in the day is Brighton’s winner, thrashers King Leviathan who combine the pace and energy of thrash/death metal with black metal’s fascination and imagery of the occult. With impressive numbers and a formidable display, it seems the future of metal is in good hands.
Shortly after, the sunshine doesn’t appear to be helping the black metal bands of the weekend as they vividly corpse painted Belphegor seem to be greeted by not only it brightening but butterflies flying around the stage, which proves too hilarious.
There is even plenty of Prog over the weekend, with a wide range of progressive minded metal bands across the stages, which brings up your scribes’ first major clash of the weekend. It wouldn’t be Bloodstock if a stage or two wasn’t plagued with sound issues, and it’s a testament to the loyal masses that Enslaved’s inaudible vocals did not detract from the raucous response from a crowd who adore this darkened, Nordic prog. Outings from newie ‘Building With Fire’ and old favourites like 1997’s ‘Alfablot’ amalgamate perfectly to create one of the sets of the weekend, proving that the spirit and character of a band can cast away sonic snags. An entirely different beast, Australian tech metallers Ne Obliviscaris pack out a rapturous Sophie tent with a rare visit to these shores, and a mind bogglingly complex but stunning set which has everyone in attendance hooked.
The main stage gremlins make yet another appearance as they wreak havoc on Ihsahn, causing a long pause during the set to sort out monitor difficulties. Not that you would have noted the band’s distraction at all as aside from this delay they/he perform an absolute masterclass. Plus it’s a testament to his deity like reputation and the open minded crowd that he can close with a brand new song in ‘My Heart Is Of The North’. The Prog continues with relative newcomers Diatessaron on the New Blood Stage with, sadly, some signs of nerves kicking in and a sound that feels too out of place for the festival, the band seeming too thin and reward with a somewhat disinterested crowd.
Making good use of the close proximity to the campsite means it’s time for a rest to recover from the heat. A few drinks in and it turns out we have accidentally missed the mammoth heaviness of Conan (dammit), but its back in time to see Swedish power metallers Sabaton continue their ascent to one of the UK’s favourite metal acts. Kicking off, as ever, with ‘Ghost Division’ they charge in with the subtlety of a Panzer battalion as the likes of ‘Carolus Rex’ and a rare UK airing of ‘No Bullets Fly’ cause sing-alongs a plenty. The band themselves are certainly having the time of their lives up there, but the set derails somewhat by their insistence on rehearsed comedy routines which are completely unnecessary, especially with the songs they could have played in their arsenal. Still even this cannot take away from one of the most fun sets of the day; plus they have a huge fucking tank on stage.
Since they have been huge favourites in the UK since their inception, and the history they have with UK festivals (that infamous main stage opening slot at Download), it seems about time that Trivium are given the challenge of headlining a major UK festival, in what seemed like it could have been another historic and defining moment for both the band and festival. Sadly they hit problems immediately as they choose to open with the live premiere of brand new song ‘Silence In The Snow’ which has not only been out for only a few weeks but also does not prove captivating enough a song. Things are unaided by the absence of guitarist/growler Cory Beaulieu due to microphone difficulties which result in him getting electric shocks (those gremlins again).
When issues settle however and they hit their stride they show strong a band they are with quite the arsenal of anthems, from stirring renditions of the likes of ‘Like Light To Flies’ and ‘Into The Mouth Of Hell We March’. However the set does prove very inconsistent as for each great moment, there are those that fall flat, like ‘Strife’ and ‘Black’, plus another new airing in the trudging ‘Blind Leading The Blind’ towards the end of the main set. It’s a real shame as at times they are almost exquisite, but at others they seem tired and daunted by the event. The crowd is firmly behind them, but what could have been a monumental occasion sadly proves frustrating.
WORDS BY CHRIS TIPPELL & SARAH WORSLEY