Full disclosure here, when I saw the words “acoustic EP”, my toes curled up so far they nestled in my intestines and set off a chain reaction of cringing and shuddering. While King Creature may have established as a sturdy, powerful, energetic Blues Rocking act of growing repute, the acoustic EP is a difficult beast to digest (even without toes clogging up the tracts), with very few examples coming close to Alice In Chains Sap / Jar of Flies (Columbia) levels, and many more being indistinguishable filler littering the bargain bin of many a record store. Continue reading →
Corrosion Of Conformity has added extra dates to their already planned UK tour with Orange Goblin,Fireball Ministry, and Black Moth. Tickets for COC headline shows in Dublin, Limerick and Belfast are on sale now. The band continues to tour behind early 2018’s excellent comeback album No Cross, No Crown (Nuclear Blast). It is their first album with Pepper Keenan since 2005’s In The Arms Of God. Continue reading →
It has been 13 years since Pepper Keenan’s last album with Corrosion of Conformity; 2005’s excellent and under-rated In the Arms of God (Sanctuary). In the meantime, the rest of COC ploughed on as a trio, releasing the passable pair of Corrosion of Conformity and IX (both Candlelight); two records which tried to combine their early Punk and Thrash roots with the groove-laden rock and metal of their latter days, to only middling success. Continue reading →
It’s been a dozen years since Corrosion Of Conformity recorded new material with Pepper Keenan at the helm, but the long wait for fans is almost over. The legends will be releasing their highly anticipated new album, No Cross No Crown, on January 12th via Nuclear Blast, and I recently got to speak with Pepper about his return to the band, the new record, and so much more. Continue reading →
As the earth shook and the ground parted, so did the gates to another world open, spewing forth demons of the Blackest of the Black. Bands, fans, vendors and the occasional celebrity descended upon Oak Canyon Park—a quaint little camping spot nestled in the hills of Silverado, California—for the Blackest of the Black Festival. This gathering of the depraved and debauched was the brainchild of none other than Jersey native and trailblazer of horror punk and doom-goth-metal, Glenn Danzig. Opening day of the festival coincided with the release of Danzig’s new album, Black Laden Crown (Nuclear Blast Records), his follow-up to 2015’s Skeletons. Continue reading →
After a wobbly Saturday morning start, Akercocke carried on from where they left off a few years ago, improving and gaining/regaining fans as they went along. Rotting Christ sounded fantastic, The King is Blind completely owned the second stage for forty brutal minutes, and Fear Factory treated the crowd to all of 1995’s Demanufacture album while singer Burton C Bell tried his best to keep his voice from cracking. Paradise Lost played a set filled with heavier material, and Gojira stunned the majority of the audience with a set that not even headliners Mastodon could come close to touching. A typically eclectic set, the Atlantan four-piece struggled to get any momentum going, and even with the aid of some fancy video screens, only occasionally showed signs of being genuine headliners. A new version of old UK thrashers Acid Reign also managed to steal Mastodon’s thunder all the way from the second stage, playing one of the fastest and most enjoyable thrash sets of the festival while singer, ‘H’, looked resplendent in his shocking pink suit and top hat.
Gojira, photo credit Bloodstock Open Air on Facebook
And so to Sunday, and to the wonders of Ghost Bath. Only possessing the vaguest of knowledge about this band, I was simply unprepared for the next forty highly confusing (and occasionally eye-wateringly funny) minutes. Imagine a Black Metal band fronted by the shrieking goat from YouTube and you’d have a good idea of what I witnessed that morning.
Although the pedigree of the members of Metal Allegiance is not in question, I’m afraid the same cannot be said of their collective efforts. Cover version after horrible cover version was mauled and discarded, as people turned to each other in disbelief and disappointment. Playing all of 1996 album Nemesis Divina in full, Black Metallers Satyricon put in one of the performances of the weekend, even in the blazing sunshine. Finland’s Whispered took to the stage in their Japanese costumes and make-up and proceeded to win over an entire tent of confused onlookers. Technical Thrashers Vektor followed and even more people left with smiling faces. Symphony X gave everyone on the main stage plenty to sing along to, but Anthrax obliterated their memory in seconds. The last time the New York outfit played here in 2013, it was all fairly average, maybe even disappointing. But not this time. They were on fire from the second they launched into ‘You Gotta Believe’ until they left the stage to ‘Indians’. Nobody even cared that they dropped a couple of favourites in order to showcase newer material.
Anthrax, photo credit Gary Alcock
Even headliners Slayer struggled to keep up. Again, like Anthrax, it was a much improved performance from 2013, but things seemed to go a little awry in the latter stages of their set. For some reason, ‘Hell Awaits’ became an instrumental after the first chorus, and Tom’s demeanour changed from happy and smiling to fairly disinterested around the same time. Still, when they came back out for the encore of ‘South of Heaven’, ‘Raining Blood’, and ‘Angel of Death’ everything was quickly forgiven and forgotten. It was left up to New Orleans bandGoatwhore to close the weekend on the second stage, and they did so imperiously with one of the loudest, heaviest hours of the festival.
Slayer, photo credit Gary Alcock
From the almost comical amount of crowd surfers (Acid Reign alone clocked 263 in one hour – an average of over four per minute) to the spontaneous chant of “MAN IN YELLOW”, directed to one of the security staff stood on the scaffolding before Slayer, to the glorious weather and generally contagious good feeling of everyone in attendance (even a lot of the campsite toilets were still usable by the Monday morning!), there was only one place to be last week.
There were a few odd little problems, of course. Since the festival ended, a story has emerged that a girl was sexually assaulted in her tent, and the amount of moshpit idiocy seems to be on the increase again. Not, this time, from the shirtless circle-pitters and kung-fu merchants, but this time from the people who stand on the barrier all day, doing their best to punch and deliberately tear clumps of hair from any crowd surfer (male and female) unlucky enough to invade their personal space as they get dragged over the front. Making sure at all times, of course, that security have a firm hold of their target first so that they can’t retaliate.
The worst thing this year though was the repeated loop of the same bloody music videos on the big screen all weekend. When I arrived in the main arena on the Friday, I said “hey, this new Wormrot song’s great. I’ll definitely be getting the album”. By the time Saturday evening came around, I never wanted to hear fucking thing again. And as for the constant exposure to the videos of Wakrat and Blackberry Smoke, let’s just say that if I ever meet either of those bands in person, then it won’t end pleasantly for either of them.
Overall though, and yet again, Bloodstock Open Air was a roaring success.
For those of you who may be unaware, Bloodstock Open Air is a UK festival which began at the Derby Assembly Rooms in 2001. After four successful years, the decision was made to turn one festival into two. One would remain at the same venue, while a bold, open air venture would take place at Catton Hall in nearby Walton-on-Trent. The outdoor festival proved to be a hit, the indoor show was subsequently dropped, and the annually held event has gone on to expand in both size and stature ever since.
Bloodstock 2016 Thursday crowd, photo credit BOA on Facebook
Thursday’s festivities were kept fairly low-key as usual, with short, enjoyable sets from Karybdis and Sumer, with Ireland’s Psykosis left toreally get the party started. The evening was rounded off by the newly renamed Phil Campbell and the Bastard Sons (formerly Phil Campbell’s All Starr Band), the former Motorhead guitarist ploughing through a selection of Motorhead covers plus ‘Heroes’ by David Bowie, ‘Sweet Leaf’ by Black Sabbath, and ‘Sharp Dressed Man’ by ZZ Top. Joined on stage by Twisted Sister frontman Dee Snider and Pepper Keenan of COC for a truly memorable version of ‘Born To Raise Hell’, the band eventually brought things to a rousing climax with a cover of ‘Silver Machine’ by Hawkwind.
Phil Campbell and the Bastard Sons with Dee Snider, photo credit BOA on Facebook
Friday is where the entertainment really begins at Bloodstock though, and you don’t get much more entertaining than songs about unicorns and space wizards followed by a battle cry of “We are Gloryhammer and we sing songs about hammers!” Evil Scarecrow followed, and you simply haven’t lived until you’ve held your pincers in the air and scuttled from side to side for the mighty ‘Crabulon’. Corrosion of Conformity played a typically crowd-pleasing set of which my only criticism would be ‘Clean My Wounds’ being used as the backbone for a rambling, ten minute long jam session. Venom‘s Legendary bassist/vocalist, Cronos, snarled and joked his way through their set, but the band let themselves down with a poor choice of songs. No such problems from Behemoth though, who played latest album ‘The Satanist’ in its entirety before finishing with a blistering encore of ‘Ov Fire and the Void’ and ‘Chant For Ezkaton’.
Britain has always held a special place in Twisted Sister‘s heart and it really showed in their last ever performance here. Drawing the biggest ever crowd for a Bloodstock headline act, it was the perfect send off for one of the finest American Heavy Metal bands to ever grace a UK stage. Diamond Head finished off the evening on the second stage in competent, if unspectacular style. At least they didn’t sound like a tribute act to themselves like they did the last time I saw them.