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Bloodstock Open Air 2014 Review

Posted in Festival, Live, Metal with tags , , , , , , , , , , on 24th August 2014 by Hammi

Bloodstock Open Air Festival 2014 [Down, Emperor, Megadeth & more]

Catton Hall, Derbyshire

8th-10th August, 2014

Bloodstock 2014 came and went like an almighty clap of thunder. Before I even knew it, it was August and that time of the year when the bearded horde descends upon the sleepy Derbyshire countryside for the UK’s most metal weekend. A line up chock full of interesting names that promised to deliver crushing sets, more beer than I could comprehend and a surprising number of costumes and Native American accessories awaited me. As always, I’d coughed up the extra money for a VIP ticket- again, I will say that it is WORTH IT- but this year, let me start by giving a negative review. The VIP toilets were shocking. Usually they are cleaned regularly, supplied with toilet paper and soap and all the mod-cons that help to make the price that much more acceptable. This year, however, it was horrific. I realise that with the weather they were going to get dirty- but I would have been okay with mud. Little brown fishes are not so okay.

Anyway…  After being thoroughly slaughtered by the Thursday night pre-party and starting to pick my way through the VIP bar’s 103 real ales and ciders, I awoke on the Friday morning, blinking with bleary eyes into the blazing sunshine. Fitting that the opener was Bloodshot Dawn, then. A good start to proceedings, followed by the always satisfying Entombed A.D. It’s the second time I’ve had the pleasure of watching these guys and they were just as good as before- even though they’re in a different form from last time. Irish extreme metallers Primordial followed, with an absolutely stellar set. I’d caught a bit of their set the last time they played Bloodstock, and made sure I was able to see the whole thing this time round. It was a good choice, because their particular brand of black-ish metal is excellent live. A smidgeon of thrash was added to the mix by Flotsam & Jetsam, who entertained for the whole of their set and were a good choice, as were industrial metallers Prong. Both bands were received enthusiastically by the crowd and there were few heads still during their slot on the main stage.  

Controversial opinion time- I don’t like Triptykon. I will never forgive Tom G. Warrior for the glam metal Celtic Frost ridiculousness, and even though on paper I should appreciate Triptykon’s doomy line of metal, I just don’t like it. It was all very grim and frosty and plenty of people did like it, but it definitely wasn’t my cup of tea. Hatebreed, however, reminded us exactly why they were one of the best received bands of 2012. Perfectly on form, as always, they were energetic and exciting and definitely one of the best acts of the weekend. The same cannot be said for Dimmu Borgir, and frustratingly it wasn’t their fault. I was looking forward to Dimmu Borgir; they are one of my favourite bands and their 2012 set is still one of the best I have ever seen. But this year they were plagued by technical difficulties and a sound mix so bad keyboardist Gerlioz left the stage. Arriving at least twenty minutes late, and forced to stop and start throughout, when they did play they proved that they could have been great this year. Such a massive disappointment. Friday night headliners Down took the stage to an arena buzzing with anticipation and excitement and baying for blood. And, whatever you may think of him as a person, you have to hand it to Phil Anselmo– he is the perennial frontman. They filled Catton Hall with their groovy brand of metal and crushing riffs, and teased the horde with ten to fifteen seconds of Pantera classic Walk.

Saturday morning started with, in my opinion, the performance of the weekend. Evil Scarecrow. I need to take a moment to dedicate this whole review- and, at the very least, an entire paragraph- to Evil Scarecrow. Eleven o’clock in the morning and the arena was absolutely rammed. We’re talking Special Guest to Headliner amounts of people. Very much a story of success against the odds, Evil Scarecrow are something special. They manage to be simultaneously funny and extremely clever, and also just extremely fucking good. They turned Bloodstock into a heavy metal ballroom, filled with waltzing Cyclopes (cyclopi? Just what is the correct plural term here?), they commanded first an army of (totally in sync) shuffling Crab(ulon)s, then an army of Robot(atron)s, and finally managed to get almost every lucky bastard assembled there to war-march around the sound desk. We are talking an arena wide march. Even if we only moved about ten foot forward, that’s still an impressive feat. Every single person there had a huge grin on their face. If you weren’t watching, you missed out on history.

Shining had a bit of a hard act to follow, unfortunately, and it was a shame to see such a reduced crowd watching them. Their somewhat bizarre jazz-extreme metal fusion was quite refreshing, however, and I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a saxophone on the RJD stage before- or will again. Decapitated were as expected- brutal- and Israel’s Orphaned Land were a nice surprise. I’d never really heard any of their music before, but their progressive tinged metal was much better than I thought it would be. Crowbar were awesome, with bass lines so shuddering and crushing that I could feel my liver shaking. Following their set with Italian pseudo-goths Lacuna Coil seemed a bit of an odd choice- in fact, in general I felt that the line up could have been re-arranged across all three days- but Cristina Scabbia and her cohort were on fine form. There was a nice selection of new and old, including some of the better tracks from latest album Broken Crown Halo. I know a lot of people criticize Children of Bodom for being one-trick-ponies. In my opinion, that just shows that they know what the winning formula is and stick to it. Alexi Laiho and Janne Wirman deliver guitar and keyboard solos with sickening ease that almost borders on laziness, but Laiho was his usual ball of boundless energy. An unexpected setlist including fan favourites such as Hatecrew Deathroll and Lake Bodom, they were fantastic as always.

Controversial opinion time the second- I think Carcass are past it- or at least, Jeff Walker is at any rate. It almost seemed like they were going through the motions, tearing through a set filled with classics with an almost clinical, sterile precision. Apt for a band whose latest release is called Surgical Steel, true, but it seemed like they lacked heart. Saturday evening was all about one band, anyway. Emperor took to the stage to celebrate 20 years since the release of their seminal album, In The Nightside Eclipse. They were flawless. There was an almost reverent atmosphere in the arena as they turned the temperature frosty and filled the venue with their chilly, eerie brand of black metal and reminded us all why they are and will always be one of the best in the business. Plus- when are we ever going to see Ihsahn, Samoth and Faust playing together ever again? It was an incredible moment, something I will never forget.

I will admit something now- I only saw four bands on Sunday. The celebrations from Emperor nearly killed me, and I slept through both Arthemis and Aborted. However, I have it on good authority that Arthemis put on a valiant performance, and that Aborted were savage. I managed to rouse myself from the darkness in order to make it down to watch Valkyrian favourites ReVamp perform in an absolute downpour. Floor Jansen is a force to be reckoned with, and it’s easy to see why she has been nabbed by Nightwish. She had those assembled to watch in the palm of her hand and did well despite the odds. I then returned to my tent to recover some more, only to discover that a veritable tempest was beginning to blow. The first tent to fall victim to the wind was- ironically- the Tangerine Dreams tent-hire company’s reception tent, followed swiftly by a gazebo that took to the skies with captivating elegance before landing with one leg impaled in another thankfully empty tent. A quick conversation led to the decision to pull up camp and leave later that evening, so by the time we had cleared up and packed everything in the car, we’d missed both Biohazard and last-minute stage-switchers Avatar. Obituary, however, were worth catching for some decent, straightforward and relentless death metal.

Saxon were everything I expected them to be- cheesy, fist-pumping and glorious. Good old Biff was on fine form, and they were well received by a crowd of an incredibly diverse age range. By the time they played Denim and Leather, the whole arena had been brought together and it was easy to see why so many people got on board with Saxon’s campaign to have Heavy Metal recognised as a religion in the last UK census. Amon Amarth were absolutely outstanding. Fire-breathing dragonheads, upon which guitar solos were performed,  filled the stage and Johan Hegg led the Viking hordes through a set that perfectly represented their catalogue of greats. They reminded me why they are one of my favourite bands and why I will always throw my horns up in the air when I hear any of their songs. Unfortunately, this is where my Bloodstock experience ended as we made a run for it as the weather worsened and the storm moved in. This does mean that I missed MegaDave- sorry, I mean Megadeth– but controversial opinion the last? I wasn’t particularly bothered. Had I been more in the spirit of things and had imbibed a fair bit of cider I’m sure I would have enjoyed them, but being sober and eager to leave before the wind picked up again it wasn’t much of a loss.

Bloodstock 2014 was a rollercoaster ride of technical problems, triumphant performances and crazy weather. But I would not have missed it for the world. The performance of the weekend, as I feel I have already clearly shown, was definitely Evil Scarecrow, and I will give them less than five years until they are special guests, if not headliners. Even though we’re still waiting for any announcements, there’s nowhere I’d rather be from the 6th to the 9th of August next year. I will see you then.

 

Hannah O’Flanagan

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Hannah’s 2013 Highlights

Posted in Editorial/Opinionated, Misc. with tags , , , , , on 4th January 2014 by Hammi

Well, we are now 4 days into 2014, and it’s that time of year again. Time to look back and reflect on 2013, a year of great highs and lows. Personally, 2013 was a crock of shite. Ill health, family and friends dropping like daisies, rubbish chucked at me academically; I’m well shot of it. Musically, however, it was much better! We had a few absolute curve balls chucked at us, but in general I think it was a splendid year for musical releases within the metal world and beyond. So without further ado, here are my Top 10 metal albums of the year. Strap yourselves in and play the Top of the Pops theme tune as we count them down- but in no particular order. Sorry!

FinntrollBlodsvept

An absolute corker of an album, Finntroll are once again on shining form. I sometimes wonder if the rollicking band of Finnish folk-stalwarts will get one wrong, but they prove themselves time and time again.

GhostInfestissumam

In many ways, 2013 could be seen as the year of Ghost (for copyright purposes, in the ol’ U.S. of A., see: Ghost B.C.). Papa Emeritus II (or should that be 1.2?) and his ghoulish brigade seem absolutely unstoppable and this proggy, weird, almost unsettlingly catchy offering gives more fuel to that fire.

CathedralThe Last Spire

As we shall see in my ‘Top 5 Highs and Lows of 2013’ shortly, this was also the year I was forced to say goodbye to one of my favourite bands, but Cathedral’s last ever offering did not disappoint. As many observed, this seemed to bring them full circle and back to their simple, crushing doomy roots and it was a bittersweet triumph.

Chthonic- Bú-Tik

The Taiwanese black-symphonic metallers offered us this brutal follow up to 2011’s brilliant Takasago Army this year, and what an album! The troupe from Taipei constantly manage to sound fresh and never lose any of that fury, channelling their rage in their music and fleshing their sound out with that distinctive, symphonic blend of metal and traditional Taiwanese refrains.

Black Sabbath- 13

If you know me, then you know I like grinding, crushing, groovy metal. Then it must come as no surprise that this list includes 13, the phenomenal come back from the legends that are Black Sabbath. Sounding as fresh and vibrant as they did on seminal releases such as Black Sabbath or Paranoid, 13 saw Sabbath at their absolute best, and I for one am so happy to see them back.

Amon Amarth- Deceiver of the Gods

I can’t possibly list my favourite albums of the year without Amon Amarth. Some people say they are samey and don’t offer anything new. I think they know what works and stick to that winning formula. The Swedes once again brought their mythological flavoured metal to us on this stonker and I love it.

Fleshgod Apocalypse- Labyrinth

Italian technical death metal band Fleshgod have been around for a while but they are a relatively new thing for me. Having said that, Labyrinth is a great album and well deserving of a place in my top 10. For one, it’s a concept album based on mythology- the legend of the Labyrinth of Knossos, if you didn’t know, but of course you did- and for two, it does it well. Brilliant, from start to finish.

Tyr- Valkyrja

I’ll keep this short and sweet- Tyr are phenomenal. The two covers that round this album out are almost unrecognisable in their execution. The progression shown by Tyr from The Lay of Thrym to this is fascinating and I can’t wait to see where they go next.

Hell- Curse and Chapter

Really, if I’m being honest, 2013 was the year I fell in love with Hell. I can’t say enough good things about this band- they are blasphemous, outrageous, and ridiculously good fun to boot. They serve up a one-of-a-kind blend of NWOBHM and theatrics and Curse and Chapter is just outstanding. I predicted that they will be Bloodstock headliners within five years in this year’s Bloodstock review. I now make that three years.

Satyricon- Satyricon

A rather controversial choice, maybe? I know how unpopular this record has been with a lot of long-time Satyricon fans, but this long-time Satyricon fan loved their eponymous album. The thing I love about Satyricon is that Satyr is never afraid to go to places that make fans uncomfortable and force them out of that safe zone. Their albums are never formulaic and I really appreciate their bravery and daring, and willingness to shake things up. A great album.

Wasn’t that fun? Now, this next Top 5 may be a little unorthodox, but I’m a music lover. I love all music, even- SHOCK HORROR!- that which is not metal. So here are my 5 Top Non-Metal releases of the year!

HIM- Tears on Tape

HIM are one of my favourite bands- okay, you can shoot me if you want- because they do what they do incredibly well and without apologies. Tears on Tape is one of their best albums to date and it’s surprisingly heavy in parts- you can see that Ville Valo really worships a few gothic and doom metal bands in the songs on this record!

AFI- Burials

I was thoroughly mortified by Crash Love. Like, irrevocably mortified. AFI are a band I have loved since I was 12 and whilst Burials is definitely no closer to what they used to be than Crash Love or even Decemberunderground, it manages to make up for it in atmosphere and a healthy dose of gloom. Davey Havok’s voice hasn’t sounded this good in a long time, and neither has Jade Puget’s playing. Welcome back, boys!

David Bowie- The Next Day

David Bowie is the king and I worship him. Seriously, though, The Next Day is a welcome return by the Thin White Duke, 10 years after his last release, and it is an unusual, almost-awkward slice of musical bliss. This album shows more energy and enthusiasm for making beautiful music- to get pretentious, for making auditory art- than bands half his age.

Little Mix- Salute

I love Little Mix, I don’t even care. They were put together on that Christmas-number-one machine that is The X Factor, sure, but they actually work ridiculously well together as a group and they contribute to the writing of their songs to boot. Their second album, Salute, is indeed a salute to the sassy, R’n’B flavoured pop of the nineties. It works, it’s ludicrously catchy, and I love it.

Lorde- Pure Heroine

I hated Lorde the first time I heard her. Her lyrics are stupid and non-sensical (see: Tennis Court), the kind of faux-intellectualism loved by the stylish hipster crews that are the current ‘in’ crowd. She’s a clever girl with some fierce ideas, though, and by GOD did this album get under my skin after a while and now I can’t get enough of it and I’m sorry.

Okay, I’ll get back to the metal now. Rounding up my 2013 retrospective is a look at five of the most important events of the year. These are my Top 5 Highs and Lows of 2013.

Randy Blythe is acquitted

Of course, the story most people will remember this year is that Randy Blythe was acquitted of all charges on the 5th of March this year. Blythe had been facing jail after 19 year old Daniel Nosek died after being pushed from the stage at a Lamb of God show in Prague in 2010. Whilst the courts agreed that Blythe was morally responsible for Nosek’s death, they did not find him guilty of any criminal liability.

Emperor Reform for 2014 Festival Season

Yes, my friends. Legendary black metal outfit Emperor officially announced a reunion for a series of special performances, including Wacken’s 25th anniversary, BOA 2014 and Hellfest 2014. I have my ticket to Bloodstock and I can’t fucking wait, because Emperor are the bee’s proverbial knees. Oh yes.

Cathedral Call it Quits

30th April 2013 was a sad, sad day in the world of doom metal, as protectors of the groove Cathedral called it a day on the release of their tenth studio album, The Last Spire. After waving the flag for crushing, gloomy, often psychedelic doom for twenty-one years, Lee Dorrian, Brian Dixon, Gaz Jennings and Scott Carlson took their final bows. Their legacy lives on.

Joey Jordison Slipknot Shock

In a rather bizarre turn of events, the 12th of December saw the shock announcement of Joey Jordison’s departure from his ‘main’ band of 18 years for ‘personal reasons’. The plot however thickens as it has been revealed in the last 24 hours that Jordison himself had no idea of his apparent departure. Will we ever know what’s going on? Will this cause a duel to the death between Corey Taylor and Joey Jordison before Mick Thompson steps in and holds them apart by the scruff of their necks whilst the rest of the band talks sense into them? Who knows?

Black Sabbath Top Charts

Yeah, if producing an album as impressive as 13 wasn’t enough, Black Sabbath also went and topped the UK Album Charts with it. Their first offering in 18 years managed the rare feat of placing top in the mainstream charts, and how often does a bunch of hairy, lairy old metalheads do something like that? Keep going, boys.

So that was 2013. There’s a lot I’m looking forward to in 2014, but my highlight will most certainly be Bloodstock 2014. I shall see you there! To all Valkyrian readers- I wish you a Happy New Year and have a good one!

Three more bands confirmed for Bloodstock

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on 28th November 2013 by Hammi

Lacuna Coil, Carcass and Primordial have been announced as the latest acts on an increasingly epic bill for Bloodstock Open Air 2014!

Italian metallers Lacuna Coil will be bringing their sonic wall of Gothic-tinged sound to Catton Hall for the second time, performing the Ronnie James Dio stage on the Saturday. Frontwoman Cristina Scabbia reflected on their return with a sneak peek of what fans can expect from their set:

“It will be LACUNA COIL’s second time there and I’m curious to see how the festival has grown.  We will have songs from the new album and some LC classics, so see ya all in the summer!”

The legendary Carcass will be acting as Saturday’s Special Guests , and after their triumphant debut release with Nuclear Blast, Surgical Steel, gained wide acclaim and rave reviews, they have promised to be ‘firing on all cylinders’ with their set. Also announced are Irish gaelic metal outfit Primordial, returning after a victorious set in 2011. This may be one of your only opportunities to catch them next year, so don’t miss it. All three bands join an exceptional roster including Emperor, Down, Megadeth, Saxon and Amon Amarth, and with Early Bird tickets selling fast, it might be time to secure your place at what is promising to be the metal event of the year.

As Jeff Walker commands, “Let there be rot!”

Bloodstock Amon Amarth Exclusive!

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , , , , on 19th November 2013 by Hammi

Bloodstock Open Air 2014 continue their run of amazing announcements with three more great bands added to the bill. Swedish melo-death giants Amon Amarth have been announced as filling the Sunday Special Guest slot, with their BOA performance a UK-exclusive show for the year. Joining them over the weekend will be metalcore stalwarts Hatebreed, returning after their triumphant 2012 performance, and Prong, who will be making their BOA debut performance. Running order is still unconfirmed as the BOA website is currently down for maintenance, but you can be assured as soon as we at Valkyrian HQ know the updated order of ceremonies we will let you know!

The date for the start of VIP Serpent’s Lair ticket sales has been confirmed as being the 16th of December, and ordinary weekend camping tickets are onsale now. BOA 2014 is looking to be an unmissable metal experience, with three solid headliners in the shape of Down, Emperor and Megadeth, and an array of fantastic bands during the weekend. Valkyrian will, as always, be in attendance and we hope to see you there!

Bloodstock 2014 Announcements

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , , , on 8th November 2013 by Hammi

The bill for Bloodstock 2014 is further heating up following the announcement of two exclusive UK-only appearances and one only UK-festival appearance. Metal giants Children of Bodom have been announced for the Ronnie James Dio stage, who along with legends of death metal Obituary are performing their only UK show of 2014 at Catton Hall, as well as the announcement of a UK-festival exclusive performance by sludge-titans Crowbar. Bloodstock also announced the long awaited main stage debut of long term fan favourites and parody-metal connoisseurs Evil Scarecrow, who will be opening the festivities on Saturday. Already on the bill are headliners Megadeth (also performing their only UK show of 2014), Down and a reunited Emperor, along with British NWOBHM legends Saxon, Flotsam & Jetsam and Decapitated.

Many more bands are still to be announced, as well as the dates for the 2014 Metal to the Masses competition, in order to find a band to perform at Bloodstock as well as a number of other European festivals, including Wacken. Bloodstock Open Air Festival 2014 will fall over the 7th-14th of August, and tickets are available from the Bloodstock website now.

Breed 77 Interview- Bloodstock 2013

Posted in Interview on 7th September 2013 by Hammi

Bloodstock Festival, 11th August 2013, Catton Hall

Hannah caught up with Danny Felice and Andre Joyzi of Breed 77 on the Sunday of Bloodstock, 2013.

 

Hannah: Thanks guys so much for talking to me today, I really appreciate it! So obviously, this is your first time playing Bloodstock?

Danny: Second.

Hannah: Second!

Danny: Yeah, we played donkey’s years ago with Sebastian Bach. It was a tiny festival, we did the early ones, yeah.

Hannah: Okay, so this is your first time playing since it exploded into this.

Danny: Yeah, yeah.

Andre: Bloodstock’s done great, and it’s growing.

Hannah: It’s got a good vibe I think, Bloodstock.

Danny: It’s amazing, I think it’s the greatest metal festival in England! Cos Download’s a bit commercialised nowadays, I’m not talking badly about Download you know, or anything, but you got like lesser… you got like 30 Seconds to Mars, you got like the Prodigy, you know, that’s not metal.

Hannah: It’s not metal!

Andre: It’s more a mainstream festival.

Danny: It’s more mainstream than this other one, yeah.

Hannah: Yeah, I mean I think there’s really good things about a mainstream festival, because then, at Download, you do occasionally get…

Danny: Yeah, exactly.

Hannah:… and like even here, I mean last year I’m sure you know there was a big thing about Lamb of God playing yesterday, and last year people really made a fuss about Machine Head.

Andre: The whole point is that Bloodstock is still growing and you need bigger bands to grow.

Hannah: Exactly, and then you need the people to come in.

Danny: I tell you, one day, in three or four years’ time, this will be as big as Download.

Hannah: Yeah, definitely.

Andre: The UK needs festivals like this.

Hannah: It does.

Danny: We have the privilege and we were invited to play here, and apart from the like… this is getting a really good name abroad, you know.

Andre: Yeah!

Danny: We just came actually from Germany, and we like would do these cities, and people would be like ‘Oh, where are you playing?’ ‘Oh, we’re playing Bloodstock’ and they’d be like ‘really!?’ you know?

Hannah: Yeah!

Danny: This is Germany, and other towns outside England, so the word is spreading, and yeah, it’s amazing.

Hannah: And I guess its really good playing something like the SOPHIE tent.

Danny: Yeah.

Hannah: For you guys, it means that people can walk past and think ‘ooh, what is that,’ go in, and see, ‘cos you’ve been around for ages now, you guys!

Danny: I mean, you know the beginning of the Earth? Jesus Christ was born and that shit? Before that.

Hannah: You were there at the Crucifixion, playing along as he died.

Danny: Man, did you see me on the side there in the Bible?

Andre: Actually, the story in the Bible’s a bit changed, cos it wasn’t Adam: it was Breed 77 who ate the apple! It was this motherfucker (points to Danny) who ate the apple!

Danny: Wasn’t Jesus from Gibraltar?

Hannah: We could talk about Gibraltar, actually, mention the politics of the situation. How has that affected you guys with the music and the scene over there?

Danny: Obviously, the Spanish oppressors, those motherfuckers, man? Oh my God. No, I mean, we’re here and for me, and for us, and for other people… politics is for the politicians. But when they tighten the screw? People are going to retaliate man. You cannot like, just take it.

Hannah: I mean, I was on a family holiday in Spain about a month ago, and we found just randomly an English bar where they were having a death metal night. And so, we were in Benidorm, the place where all the English people go.

Danny: That’s near Valencia? Yeah.

Hannah: Yeah! And there was a band from Bilbao…

Danny: It’s a vast country.

Hannah: And the people of that sort of area love their heavy, extreme music.

Danny: Metallers, people are people. They’re not politicians!

Andre: People don’t care as much. When you go to a gig, you don’t care, you know, what’s going on. Whereas when you’re in a band… I’ll tell you what, I’m Portuguese, Pedro is Spanish and the three of them are all Gibraltarian, and we all eel… we’re all on Gibraltar’s side, because it’s very wrong what Spain is doing. But we’ve just had the honour of being invited to play Gibraltar’s National Day.

Hannah: That’s brilliant!

Danny: We’re headlining, playing for 10,000 people.

Hannah: Is there any kind of scene in Gibraltar? Because it is quite a little bit… little!

Danny: Yeah, it’s very small.

Hannah: Just a big rock, really!

Danny: (puts on sunglasses) Funky glasses!

Hannah: Ready for the party.

Andre: We’re DJing in the VIP area later, Danny and I.

Hannah: I know! If I wasn’t ill and taking medicine I would be drinking!

Andre: Yeah, me too! I’m on antibiotics man. I had surgery to my armpit yesterday… I’m the drummer! So I’ve been playing in lots of pain!

Hannah: I can imagine!

Andre: Yeah, you don’t want to see… Actually, if you do want to see, I made a video of when I was changing the thing… It’s like an open hole underneath my armpit.

Hannah: I had surgery like that a couple of years ago. Anyway, so yeah, you’ve played Download, loads of other festivals in the UK, I mean, you released ‘The Evil Inside’ earlier this year. I don’t know, everyone always seems to be really receptive, really good to you, but still, you haven’t quite broken through.

Andre: Broken through, yeah.

Danny: The only way you have to break through is to go to America and sign for Warner Brothers or something with lots of money.

Andre: For us, the attitude is that we’ll keep doing what we’re doing, you know we love it, and we see people loving I, the reception you saw today! It’s usually like this, we get very well received.

Danny: I mean, though, if you want to invest money, you’re welcome to…!

Hannah: If I had any, I would!

Andre: It’s only a matter of luck, you get the right people pushing you.

Hannah: I guess that’s the right attitude to have, though.

Danny: When have you heard a band from Gibraltar being famous? Never.

Hannah: That’s true!

Danny: We have what we have and for me, already, it’s big. Already what we’ve done… we achieved a lot. I mean, we’re not like Metallica, but how many bands are like that?

Hannah: Well, I saw you –it must have been 6 or 7 years ago now- at the London Guitar Show, when you did an acoustic set.

Danny: Yeah, we did an acoustic set!

Hannah: I think I was at the back of your set in the SOPHIE tent, and it was like back then: People were walking past, coming in, having a mosh, and then moving on, I think that still says a lot that they’re coming in and listening.

Andre: Last year at Download we played an acoustic set right before Skindred: it was impressive the amount of people that came to see us.

Danny: Today was pretty good!

Andre: It was massive, that’s what makes us want to keep going.

Danny: I mean, what do you want me to do? Cut my hair and get an office job?

Hannah: Exactly. And there is an underground Breed 77 support network!

Danny: I’m happy with that.

Hannah: I have two questions that I have to ask you because my brother is a big fan and he was like ‘Ask them this!’ so first: what is your writing process? Let’s get very technical and boring!

Danny: The main songs are like… I get a bunch, the other guitarists get a bunch, and bring into the room, and we vote on what we like, and then we jam with them, and then it grows from there.

Hannah: So it’s very democratic and organic.

Danny: Some I do the lyrics for… I’m very political, there’s like ‘Motionless,’ there’s ‘Fear,’ my lyrics are dark. I don’t know, maybe I’m an evil motherfucker!

Hannah: You’ve got this whole flamenco metal thing, this real hybridity of cultural influences, of language…

Danny: We’ve got the Portuguese fado, we’ve got flamenco… You know?

Hannah: Yeah! So, this is another of my brother’s questions: would you say you have any major influences? If you had to name an artist or a band?
Danny: Individually?

Andre: That’s an individual question, you can’t ask the band. I mean for my case? Machine Head, I grew up listening to Metallica, and then later it was Slipknot, Machine Head… and then now more heavy rock. You’re always learning, you know?

Danny: In my case? I love new stuff, but it’s more retro, like, Mercyful Fate, Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath, Dio, more like old school.

Andre: The mix works well.

Danny: Nobody has one influence. But you know, rock, metal? Unites people. There’s a brotherhood, there’s common ground.

Hannah: Definitely. So, final thing: What’s next for Breed 77? The world?

Danny: Well, we’re going to play and play our arses off! We’ve got lots of things now, and we’ve got a few UK dates in September, and then we’re going to rock and roll again and again and again and again, until we drop and die or something.

Hannah: And long may you reign!

Danny: And for your thing earlier, ‘are you big?’ What’s big? I enjoy music, we enjoy what we do.

Hannah: And that’s all that matters! Thanks so much for talking to me today, guys, and best of luck with the rest of your tour!

 

 

Interview conducted and written: Hannah O’Flanagan, 2013.

Bloodstock Open Air 2013: The Year of Thrash

Posted in Festival, Live with tags , , , , , , , , on 5th September 2013 by Hammi

Bloodstock Open Air Festival 2013 [King Diamond, Lamb of God, Slayer & more]
Catton Hall, Derbyshire
9th-11th August, 2012

Bloodstock 2013. What a weekend. From the 9th to the 11th of August, hordes of fans of some of the best music on the planet once again descended on Catton Hall in Derby in order to pray at the altar of metal, beer, metal, partying, and more metal. As always, I was there, this year having forked out for a VIP pitch, tent and pocket money in hand, ready to drink my way through the extensive bar and watch some awesome bands tear it up. This year was dubbed ‘The Year of Thrash’ by many, and I think I’d agree- how unfortunate for me that I’m not thrash metal’s biggest fan, then! Before I dive into the music, let me just say one thing: for the extra £100, i.e. more or less the same overall price as a ticket to Download or Reading, a VIP ticket is worth it. If you are able to save or can afford it outright, I would recommend it to anyone, just for the actual proper toilets. I know it’s a bit weird for me to be praising some bogs, but you would understand if you had the ability to use them. They had proper wooden doors, proper toilet rolls, proper sinks, proper soap, proper TOILETS. Amazing.

Right then. Let’s talk Bloodstock proper, shall we?

The Thursday night offerings had always been a bit of a mystery to me; I’d always seen Thursday as an opportunity to get in some drinking, have fun, and eventually wander over to the SOPHIE tent for the late night DJ. However, with an incredible pre-festival line up, I thought I’d better get over. Unfortunately (well, it was also pretty cool), we got chatting to the awesomely friendly guys that were camped around us and before we knew it, we had missed the first three bands! Luckily, we were able to make it over to watch Yorkshire’s finest warriors Ravenage absolutely lay waste to those assembled, with their unmistakably Medieval folk- and death- flavoured metal. Their set had everyone jigging, headbanging, horn-throwing: basically, everyone was enjoying themselves. I particularly enjoyed the tent-wide Drunken Sailor singalong. Magical!

Following Ravenage was the world’s premier metal BeeGees tribute act- yes, you read correctly- Tragedy. Never have I seen or heard a bigger crowd of bearded metalheads singing and dancing along to disco classics such as ‘You Should Be Dancing’, ‘Jive Talking’ and, of course, ‘Saturday Night Fever’ and ‘Staying Alive.’ Tragedy filled Thursday evening with glitter, sequins, lipstick, hairspray, disco-balls, glamour- it was glorious. Such a perfect way to begin the weekend with a beautifully camp bang.

Friday’s main stage offerings began with Earthtone 9. These guys gave a lot of energy during the early slot, and put on a good show, but they weren’t really my cup of tea. Not what I expected, and they weren’t bad at all, but I wouldn’t choose to see them again. Followers Death Angel were everything you’d expect- brutal, straight up thrash metal- and again, they weren’t my cup of tea. However, Ex Deo were fantastic. The ex-Kataklysm troupe brought Rome to Derbyshire and they made me feel like an absolute traitor by the amount I enjoyed them- Rome are the enemy! They were immense and one of the highlights of the day for me. Even though I was really looking forward to them, Dark Funeral unfortunately suffered greatly from issues with their sound, and their frosty, evil atmosphere was completely lost in the mix. Many bands would actually suffer from this over the course of the weekend: followers Firewind, from example, were plagued with sound issues throughout their set. I’m not technically minded at all, but my brother informed me that the vocals were turned up too high. It’s a shame because Firewind were putting on a great performance.

One thrash band that I have to put up my hands and admit to loving is Municipal Waste. I can take their brand of thrash- fun and silly and all about the partying. Last time they played Bloodstock they broke the record for the greatest number of crowd-surfers during one song, so what would they do this time? A crowd-wave, of course, complete with absolutely epic wheelchair-surfer. Whoeever you are, I salute you! Next up were Voivod– another band that I have to be honest and say I didn’t really enjoy. The Canadian metallers did put on a good show if you were a fan, though. Veteran German heavy-metallers Accept thoroughly enjoyed their time on the main stage, something that was obvious and spilled out into the crowd. Their slot was a fantastic display of nostalgia and horn-throwing sing-alongs. Get your balls to the wall, indeed!

Headliner King Diamond has been requested constantly by Bloodstock fans over the past few years (myself included), and so his appearance felt like something of a coup. I will admit that his performance was probably quite confusing if you were not a fan or familiar with his material, but I have to be selfish and say that he was blinding. One of the best performances of the whole weekend! He gave us full theatrics- with Grandma, Miriam Natias and all his chums making an appearance, turning the stage into a Gothic, demonic crypt complete with wrought-iron fencing and a glowing, menacing sigil of Baphomet. King himself was absolutely on form, showing himself to be completely recovered from his near-fatal illness of a couple of years ago, and managing to reach notes with clarity he hasn’t shown in years. Completely outstanding.

I must admit that I missed Saturday’s opening act, Stormbringer. What I could hear from my tent, however, was pretty impressive. Bloodstock favourites Beholder gave it all of their energy and passion, as usual. I love watching this band- they clearly appreciate every opportunity Bloodstock is giving them, and it shows. Long may their success continue! 3 Inches of Blood were everything I expected. I only knew two of their songs, and unfortunately both of these songs were played really early within their set- something I didn’t expect at all, because if you know only one 3 Inches of Blood track, it would be ‘Deadly Sinners’, am I right? Regardless, they were very good and the crowd loved them.

Hell… what can I say about Hell? The best performance of the weekend? An utter revelation? Neither of these seems strong enough. I was absolutely blown away by Hell’s set- I had never managed to get to see them play live before, and I am kicking myself for it. Frontman David Bower clearly still possesses his Equity card, but the professionalism and sheer slick nature of his performance was still incredibly impressive. He had every single member of their enormous crowd right in the palm of his outstretched hand, and worked the stage like an infernal evangelical preacher. The moment he stepped out dressed like a giant faun, complete with pyrotechnic pitchfork, I knew that Hell were now one of my favourite bands. They deserved the huge crowd they managed to attract, and between you and me? Their crowd was bigger than Lamb of God’s. Church was in session on Saturday, my burning soul loved every second of it, and I guarantee you that Hell will be headliners within the next five years.

Kataklysm were brilliant, although struggled to follow Hell a little bit. French’s best Gojira were crushing, as usual and expected. I have to admit to being in a little bit of a daze for these two bands, but luckily this daze was lifted for Sabaton. The power metal veterans had suffered a few problems with their luggage, losing a trunk full of costumes on the journey over to the UK, and seeing Joakim Brodén step out wearing simply a plain black vest and their signature urban camo trousers was a little jarring. Thankfully, a helpful member of the crowd stepped in and lent him their own metal-panelled cyber-goth vest, and the show could go on! Sabaton have to be one of the nicest bands currently on the scene, and Joakim proved his own merits when he gifted two young fans (aged around 9 and 11, if I remember correctly) who were by the barrier with his own wristband and sunglasses.

Saturday ended on a bit of a juxtaposition. Tobias Sammet’s guest-studded Avantasia set was breathtakingly beautiful, a rock opera in the middle of a dirty field. I think everyone expected it to be a spectacle, but I was able to sit back and let the music wash over me, engrossing me totally. It was just gorgeous, and they were another highlight. ‘Controversial’ headliners (controversial for the same tired reasons that Machine Head generated controversy last year) Lamb of God, however, left me wanting, a little bit. Even the ridiculously amazing announcement that Emperor will be headlining next year’s festival couldn’t keep up the energy throughout their set. They were marred by safety issues with the barrier, with frontman Randy Blythe pleading with the crowd to watch out for each other, but there just seemed to be a little bit of a flat atmosphere. I was expecting them to be victoriously received by the crowd, given Blythe’s recent acquittal, but I think the sight of countless fans leaving before their set had finished speaks volumes.

Special mention must go to two bands on the SOPHIE stage on Saturday- Mael Mordha and PowerQuest. Irish doom metallers Mael Mordha served up a folky slice of ‘Gaelic’ doom metal and reminded me why it’s one of my favourite genres of metal. PowerQuest’s set, my brother informed me, was a bittersweet triumph, being their last ever performance as a band, featuring members of their old line up and filled with nostalgic tracks from the career of one of the most criminally underrated bands in the UK. They will be sorely missed.

I have a confession to make. At some point between Saturday night and Sunday morning, I caught a bug. I don’t know what it was, but I spent most of Sunday unable to keep any food or drink down. Subsequently, I missed the first three bands, dragging my sore self away from my tent and into the arena in time to see Fozzy. I didn’t know what to expect from these guys, being eager to keep an open mind, but I was pleasantly surprised. They were brilliant, straight-up metal, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Chris Jericho was clearly over the moon to be on that stage, loving every second and I have to say- he is an absolute nutter. At one point, he climbed right up the lighting rig and sang one song from the top of the stage. Brilliant, and I might have to watch out for Fozzy in the future. Finish metallers Amorphis were excellent, delivering their strange blend of prog, folk and death metal to an incredibly receptive crowd- I have to listen to some more of their material, because I really enjoyed what I heard! I must admit to missing Exodus, but I have it on good authority that they were as brutal as one would have expected them to be. Devildriver were nicely nostalgic for me- I’m not too familiar with much of their stuff, but I was a huge Coal Chamber fan back in the day so I loved watching Dez Fafara and his cohorts do their thing. ‘Hold Back The Day’ was a highlight of a set full of metal camaraderie and a focus on enjoying yourself.

Here’s the confession that may get me lynched- I missed most of both Anthrax and Slayer, and I’m not that sorry. I spent most of Anthrax unconscious in my tent, from dehydration, pain and exhaustion: but I have to admit, the one song I managed to catch at the end was very good. Anthrax had an awful lot of energy, clearly enjoying every second of being there and grateful for every fan. The same could not be said for legendary thrash metal tyrants Slayer. I am truly sorry to say this, but Slayer were boring to me. They just got on stage and played their songs: there was no performance there at all. I also personally find their music very repetitive. However, I will concede that I am sure it was the best part of the weekend for the countless baying Slayer-heads in attendance, and I only managed to catch a couple of tracks from their set, ‘War Ensemble’ included.

I also have to mention Gibraltan metal quintet Breed 77, who tore apart the SOPHIE set earlier on Sunday. I am a huge fan of Breed 77 anyway, and they delivered song after song of underrated brilliance, peppered with insights from people living inside the Gibraltarian/Spanish political conflict. Dedicating the bruising ‘Insects’ to both an unelected UK-government and a group of Spanish fascists was a particularly genius move on Paul Isola’s part.

Other highlights of my weekend included meeting Alien Loves Predator and Judge Dredd (the latter of which was pulled up on stage during ‘I Am The Law’ in Anthrax’s set), and sampling some delicious beverages over in the VIP bar. I think the best drink I had all weekend was Bruce Dickinson’s Trooper, which is like the Iron Maiden warbler himself- mellow, laid back and easy going. You can actually buy bottles of Trooper in certain supermarkets, so I would implore you to Google and find out!

Bloodstock 2013 was a mixed barrel for me as far as the music was concerned. However, I actually go to Bloodstock for the experience and the people just as much as I do the bands. It’s always better when you like a significant portion of the line-up, of course, but I enjoyed more than I thought I would and managed to have a whale of a weekend, even with a final day marred by illness.

Emperor next year? I’ll see you there.

 

 

 

Hannah O’Flanagan, 2013