Archive for Bloodstock

Interview: Dakesis

Posted in Interview with tags , , , , , , on 3rd August 2012 by Nico Davidson

Following the announcement of their Bloodstock appearance on the Jagermeister Acoustic Stage and their UK tour with Axenstar and Ascension, Nico interviews Birmingham-based power-prog outfit Dakesis.

Nico: You’ve been confirmed for the Jagermeister Acoustic Stage at Bloodstock, how are you feeling about playing the UK’s biggest metal festival?

Adam: We have indeed, how could it feel anything other than amazing? Most of the band have been attending Bloodstock for many years; some of us even from the early days of Bloodstock Indoor, so to see our name on the bill is incredible. As you mentioned, we’ll be playing the Acoustic stage this year, so it’ll be Dakesis, but perhaps not as you know it!
Wayne: We’ve given some of our tracks a complete makeover for the occasion, and rehearsals are going very well, so we’re looking forward to showcasing a side of the band many people will be unfamiliar but pleasantly surprised with.

N: Aside from being booked for Bloodstock, what’s been the highlight of the year thus far for Dakesis?

A: We were very lucky to support Edguy at Birmingham’s HMV Institute in February. I think I’m right in saying we’re all pretty big fans of the band as well as Tobias’ other work, so to share a stage with a band as infamous as these was a great experience.
Matt: You never know what to expect when you meet your idols, but Edguy proved to be some of the most friendly and welcoming people we’ve met.

N: Are there any bands that you’re looking forward to seeing at this year’s Bloodstock?

A: Iced Earth and Dimmu Borgir will be highlights for me. I’ve also been listening to a lot of Grand Magus recently. ‘The Hunt’ is incredible; I’m looking forward to seeing this live.
W: We were also very proud to see Kataleptic triumph at M2TM, so we’ll be supporting them at the New Blood stage, and our good friends Triaxis will also be gracing the Acoustic stage.

N: So your debut album was released in November of last year; what was the writing process like for it and what were your feelings when you had finished writing it?

W: A lot of the songs on the album actually predate the start of the band, they’re songs I’d written some years ago. Each member has added their own signature to the tracks though.
A: It certainly felt good when we finally had the finished product in our hands.
M: The process for album two is been different. Having said that, there’s not really a specific writing process we stick to; some songs are written in two hours, some have taken two years.

N: Where do you see Dakesis in five years time?

W: DAKESIS!!! COMING SOON TO A WORKING MENS CLUB NEAR YOU!!!! Damn, I forgot my crystal ball! In all seriousness, I hope that Dakesis continues to go from strength to strength – we’re certainly going to continually work hard and push it as far as we can!

N: Given the chance to share the stage with any musician, living or dead, which one would you pick and why?

W: There are so many, a good few I have already had the privilege such as Nino Laurenne [Thunderstone] but if I was to pick one I would say Stéphan Forté [Adagio] as he has been a major influence in my playing style so far.
A: I’d love to go back to 1976 and win the Genesis gig! Also a drum battle with Brann Dailor [Mastodon] would be fun, although I’d get my ass kicked.

N: So, you’re touring with Axenstar later this year, how are you feeling about that?

A: I can’t wait! It’s gonna be a lot of travelling, but it’s all good fun.
Wayne: It will be great to hit the road again, especially with a band the calbibre of Axenstar. (I have a custom guitar lined up specially for this tour too!)

N: What are the band’s plans for the rest of the year, gig wise?

W: We have a lot of travelling on the cards. Aside from the tour, we’re also heading to Northampton, Cambridge, Hull, Tamworth and Manchester to name a few. We’re making huge strides towards album two as well, so in between the live shows there’s a lot going on towards preparation for the next record.

N: Aside from the UK, is there any country you’d love to tour in the future?

A: Hopefully Europe is on the cards at some point in the near future. We’d love to try our hand in Germany and Scandinavia. Our sound is influenced by a lot of European progressive and melodic metal acts.

N: If you could replace the soundtrack of any film with your own music, which one would you pick and why?

W: Sorry, could you repeat the question please?
A: Valhalla Rising. I spent the entire film waiting for some epic battle to start and it never did, so something from Trial By Fire might have spruced it up.

You can check out Dakesis at their official Facebook or at Bloodstock August 10th at 2:50pm over on at the Jagermeister Acoustic Stage.

Spires–Lucid Abstractions

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , , on 21st July 2012 by Nico Davidson

Spires
Lucid Abstrctions
Released: July 2012
Acoustic
Self-Released

Hailing from the rich and diverse metal scene of Manchester, come the progressive metal quarter Spires, a band who have received critical acclaim from radio, printed and online media since their debut release of Spiral Of Ascension, back in 2010. Following their recent tour of Ireland and a busy 2011, where they toured with Incassum and two slots at the UK’s biggest metal festival Bloodstock, Spires have released their highly anticipated acoustic EP.

The grimly titled Under Bloodstained Skies opens the EP under with calm riff and intense set of vocals that add that eerie touch to the lyrics. The title track Lucid Abstractions follows next, in three parts. The track begins rather mystically with almost jazz-like musicianship that leads into the more progressive styling of the band. The main vocals are soothing, whilst the guest vocals, provided by Talena Cuthbert, add a certain warmth to the song.

Perception takes a subtle approach to the music but keeping true to the progressive spirit of the band’s sound. The vocals really stand out yet blend in well at the same time. The cello sections, provided by Jacqueline Wilson, adds a unique touch to the song. The melodic riffs of Inevitability bring a very enchanting aspect to the EP. The final track is none other than Sprial Of Ascension, which does take some getting used to when listening to this version if you’ve already heard the original version on the album of the same name. However, the acoustic version does really capture the essence of the song and project across quite brilliantly, though when I listen to it, I can’t help but epect to start hearing some major extreme metal styled riffs.

Acoustic music isn’t really my thing, save for a few artists, but Spires really have proven to be a band with a diverse and unique style. Each track contains its own unique sound and spirit without betraying the band’s sound.

5/5

Nico Davidson

DreamCatcher–Never Look Back

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , on 19th July 2012 by Nico Davidson

DreamCatcher
Never Look Back
Due for release: 13th August
Melodic Metal
Released via Rising Records

Leeds power-riffing atmospheric metallers DreamCatcher, who are appearing twice at this year’s Bloodstock, have released their new, Never Look Back, taken from their, ‘SoulDesign‘, out now on Rising Records. In the past, the band have supported acts such as Delain and Pythia, as well as PowerQuest and have even gone onto sell-out two shows at the Cockpit in Leeds.

The EP begins with the title track Never Look Back, that starts sounding like a track taken from a Rhpasody album. The vocals are typically power metal-based, something that is emphasised by the use of keyboards and vicious snarls of the guitars add an almost Odyssean feel to the track. The following track is the instrumental piece known as Foresight. The synth intro is vaguely familiar, like the sensation of deja vu. The guitars that follow scream with a certain metallic fierceness, echoing out in similar veins to the music of Epica. I keep expecting their to be vocals in certain sections but sadly, there isn’t any. The single ends with what is a longer version of the first track, despite being a little lengthier, it’s just any epic.

I never figured any Yorkshire band could create a beautiful mixture of atmospheric sounds and power metalesque riffs but it seems DreamCatcher have managed to it and Never Look Back really does display the bands abilities at creating a perfectly balanced sound. Hopefully, they’ll be flying the flag for Yorkshire on bigger stages in the near future!

4.6/5

Nico Davidson

DreamCatcher set for double appearance at Bloodstock

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , , on 17th July 2012 by Nico Davidson

Leeds power-riffing atmospheric metallers DreamCatcher ready themselves for their double appearance at this year’s Bloodstock with the release of the new single, ‘Never Look Back’, taken from their stunning EP, ‘SoulDesign’, out now on Rising Records.

The single features brand new instrumental track ‘Foresight’ as a b-side, and will be made available free to download on the 13th August via the band’s bandcamp for a Facebook post or tweet.

The sextet will play two sets at Bloodstock 2012; first off an unplugged performance on the  Acoustic Stage on Saturday 11th August at 5:20 PM demonstrating their versatility, with the full blown metal assault on the New Blood Stage at 2:15 PM on Sunday 12th.

Having made fans of their idols, Nightwish, Anubis Gate, PowerQuest and Epica, DreamCatcher are proving to be devastating metal force from the north, and having twice sold out the Leeds Cockpit, they are most certainly becoming Leeds’ best kept secret. Their balance of skillful dual guitars, pounding rhythms, atmospheric synths and extraordinarily powerful vocals captured on The SoulDesign EP has earned the band support from the likes Metal Hammer, Terrorizer, Big Cheese and Rock Hard Germany.

With shows supporting Delain, After Forever, PowerQuest and Pythia already under their belts and Bloodstock on the horizon, the band are primed to take their sound nationwide and will soon be announcing UK tour dates for the autumn.

Bloodstock and the Perils of Mainstream Metal

Posted in Misc. with tags , , , on 12th June 2012 by Hannah

In two months, thousands of hairy, bearded, black- and camo-clad metalheads will make their way across the country, by train, coach, motorbike or car, and descend upon a picturesque part of Derbyshire for the eleventh Bloodstock Festival. After a soggy Download this weekend past, they’ll be hoping for dry weather and clear skies under which to enjoy gallons of beer and three days of non-stop metal. Taking place this year from the 9th-12th of August, Bloodstock promises to be four nights of memorable performances, spanning (as usual) three stages and including acts from unsigned upstarts Infernal Creation right through to legendary shock rocker Alice Cooper. I’ll be going, and I’m personally looking forward to most of the bands on offer, but there are a few I’m not particularly keen on. One act is dividing the fans, however, and in my opinion have been one of the most controversial bookings in Bloodstock’s 11 year history.

Announced only a week ago, Machine Head’s booking as the Saturday night headliner has caused a lot of controversy. Shrouded in ‘secrecy’, but leaked in an interview with Terrorizer magazine, Bloodstock’s organisers have been calling Machine Head one of the most ‘prestigous’ acts they’ve ever managed to acquire, and even though many people have been complaining about this and questioning Machine Head’s Bloodstock pedigree, it’s actually quite accurate to call Machine Head prestigous. For their particular, Bay-Area thrash influenced brand of heavy metal, and out of the number of bands that formed in the early 90’s, they are definitely one of the most successful and long-standing. Machine Head have been producing music for over 20 years. It’s no fluke that they have sold almost two and a half million albums since their debut, Burn My Eyes, in 1994. They have even been given a nod by those over at the Grammy awards. This, I guess, is why many people are complaining. Machine Head are mainstream, you know? They’re the kind of band that 13 year-old wannabes listen to when they’re just getting into metal. They’re heavy enough to feel exciting and dangerous to a young kid, but nowhere near as extreme as a number of the bands on this year’s line up. I mean, Watain, Mayhem, Deicide and Behemoth sharing a stage with Machine Fucking Head?

What I think is important to remember is this: Bloodstock is the main metal festival in the UK. The way that it stays alive, in what is still in many ways a niche market, is by attracting a large and diverse number of people. This means catering to a mass market, and booking some more well known and widely popular bands is one of the ways they will do this. Machine Head are incredibly commercially successful, and with the cancellation of this year’s Sonisphere still looming over festival organisers everywhere, the Bloodstock people will have been feeling quite pressured to deliver the goods. Not only that, but they have the chance to nick a few of the people who would only have been going to Sonisphere- which, by the way, is a rock festival, not a purely metal fest. If that means they have to book someone a bit more radio friendly, then so be it. I’d rather Bloodstock book Machine Head and keep going, than make every single booking elite and super kvlt and run out of money in two years time.

I’m not going to lie; even I will get bored if every single band at Bloodstock is an extreme, super-evil death/black metal band, or a cheesy-yet-epic Euro power metal band. I need variety. And by the time Saturday evening rolls around, I will be incredibly drunk, and definitely in the mood for a little nostalgia. I’ll dance with the best of them and hope against hope that Robb Flynn and his merry men blast out Davidian and Imperium into the hazy summer night sky. If nothing else, Robb isn’t going to take a gobstopper to the head lightly. Whilst Cradle of Filth rightly stopped their set for fear of Paul Allender’s welfare, I’m pretty sure the gobstopper would come off worse in that fight.

Now, if you will excuse me, I’m off to get my fork throwing arm in shape for the extreme sport that is Forky Forky. Where did I put that courgette?

Hannah O’Flanagan, 2012

Valkyrian Festival Updates

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , , on 21st April 2012 by Nico Davidson

ValkFest2012

Following the success of last year’s Valkyrian Festival at the Ringside in Hull, festival organiser and owner of Valkyrian Music Nick Taylor, commonly known by his pen name Nico Davidson, is proud to announce that Valkyrian Festival is set to go ahead again this year to raise money for Autism Plus. The event is set to take place at the Lamp in Hull on November 24th.

Headlining the festival will be Birmingham based power metal quintet Dakesis, who earlier this year supported the legendary Edguy. Joining them will be the likes of Sanguine, who are confirmed for both Download Festival and Ibiza’s Hard Rock Hell, along with Hull’s premier black metal act Infernal Creation, who later this year will be hitting up Bloodstock. Other confirmed acts include Incassum, Sea Of Giants, Nitronein, Ziyos and Aonia.

Sanguine guitarist, Nick Magee, commented "Sanguine are psyched to be playing Valkyrian 2012, make yourselves pretty, dust off your stomping boots and get ready for an invasion."

Incassum guitarist Chris Taylor had the following to say as well: "Incassum are stoked to play this year’s Valkyrian Festival at The Lamp, Hull. It’s going to be great sharing the stage with other bands representing a myriad of heavy music styles, not least Infernal Creation with whom we had the pleasure of headbanging with during our first date in Hull last winter.  The event is raising money for Autism Plus which is a really worthy cause, and another reason to get your asses down to The Lamp on the 24th of November. See you there!"

Like last year’s event, this year’s show will feature a raffle to help raise extra funds. Prizes will include goodies from the likes of Metal Blade Records, Napalm Records and Earache, as well merch donated by the bands and members of the Valkyrian Music team.

Wayne Dorman, frontman for Dakesis also commented: “It’s a real honour to be headlining Valkyrian Festival! We’ve a great relationship with the guys at Valkyrian Music – they were the very first publication to review our latest album “Trial by Fire” and they gave us top marks to boot, as well as being voted their band of the month in February – we can’t wait! Dakesis always have a great time when we play in Hull and the surrounding areas, so bring on the party, it’s going to be an amazing night!”

Tickets will be available on the door for a mere £3 and doors will open early in the day. For more info and updates, head over to the official Valkyrian Festival Facebook page here.

Line-up is subject to change.

Evile Confirmed For Bloodstock

Posted in News with tags , , , , , on 30th March 2012 by Nico Davidson

Evile are among the latest groups to be confirmed for this year’s edition of Bloodstock Open Air, a dedicated metal festival held annually in Derbyshire, UK.

The band will be performing on the Sophie Lancaster Stage on Sunday, 12th August, and join a line-up of bands such as Testament, Sepultura, Behemoth, the legendary Alice Cooper, Deicide and many more.

Evile lead guitarist Ol Drake commented: “It was great to wake up to the confirmation of our appearance at the one and only Bloodstock Festival.  With the release of our Five Serpent’s Teeth album, we dedicated the track ‘Centurion’ to the festival, and for them to have us back with a great slot on the Sophie Lancaster stage, it’s bound to be a show to remember.  We may just even have a special, first time live-airing of the previously mentioned track for the BOA masses. Come along for your Evile fix! Long live Bloodstock!”

Get tickets and more information about Bloodstock at http://www.bloodstock.uk.com

See Evile live at the following shows:

Apr. 12 – Madrid, Spain – Sala Ritmo y Compas
Apr. 13 – Gijon, Spain – Sala Acapulco
Apr. 14 – Pamplona, Spain – Sala Totem
Apr. 15 – Barcelona, Spain – Sala Music Hall
Apr. 21 – Haugesund, Norway – Karmoygeddon Festival
May 05-06 – Eastern Sea, Finland – Radio Rock Cruise
May 28 – Belfast, UK – Ulster Hall (w/ MACHINE HEAD)
May 30 – Dublin, Ireland – Olympia Theatre (w/ MACHINE HEAD)
Jun. 03 – Exeter, UK – Real Devon Rocks at Exeter Phoenix
Jul. 20 – Luarca, Spain – Luarca Metal Fest
Aug. 12 – Walton-On-Trent, UK – Bloodstock Open Air Festival
Aug. 24/25 – Wörrstadt, Germany – Neuborn Open Air Festival

In related news, Evile lead guitarist Ol Drake has been nominated for the “Dimebag Darrell Shredder” award at the Metal Hammer Golden Gods.  You can vote for Ol here.

"Moonlight Equilibrium" Video Online

Posted in News with tags , , , , , on 19th March 2012 by Nico Davidson

The Black Dahlia Murder‘s long-awaited video for Moonlight Equilibrium is now finally on the web. The video is described as a David Brodsky-directed nod to old-school horror films with a much more graphic approach. The video’s content aptly fits the lycanthropic lyric concept set against a bawdy Victorian back drop. The result: a chilling and entertaining slice of mini-horror that metal fans and horror-enthusiasts will enjoy.

You can watch Moonlight Equilibrium here.

The Black Dahlia Murder will be back in the UK at Bloodstock later in the year.

Noctiferia Confirmed For Festivals

Posted in News with tags , , , , , on 19th March 2012 by Nico Davidson

Noctiferia hav been confirmed for the UK’s number on metal festival Bloodstock Open Air. The band will also be playing Metalcamp in Slovenia and Zonk Festival in Austria.

The band commented:”We are really excited to perform at this year’s Bloodstock festival together with some of the great names in metal! This will be one of our final shows promoting “Death Culture” album [which is available via Listenable Records]. It’s been six years for us since we’ve toured UK as support to Hypocrisy and we are really looking forward to finally return! Expect one hell of a show from us!”

Currently, the band is in their studio finishing the pre-production for the upcoming album scheduled for late 2012.

Nile and Mayhem Exclusive UK Show At Bloodstock

Posted in News with tags , , on 24th January 2012 by Nico Davidson

So, this year’s Bloodstock line-up just seems to get better with each new announcement and it couldn’t get any better than legendary black metallers MAYHEM and American death metal outfit NILE playing Bloodstock as an exclusive 2012 UK show. The announcement was made on the official Bloodstock Facebook just minutes ago.

Interview with Morgue Orgy

Posted in Interview with tags , , , on 20th November 2011 by izaforestspirit

Interview with Morgue Orgy, at S.O.P.H.I.E. Festival, 19th November 2011 by Iza Raittila

The Birmingham based melodic death/ thrash metal band Morgue Orgy has caused quite a stir in the world of British underground metal. Iza caught up with Gray, Carter, Uncle Holloway, Prok, Pence and Tom before their first performance as the headlining band of S.O.P.H.I.E. festival.

Iza: So how did you guys find out about this event and what’s your involvement with the charity?

Morgue Orgy: We saw it on Facebook and we obviously all know about the charity and what happened to Sophie Lancaster. So we basically messaged the organiser and just told him straight up that we wanted to get involved, to raise some money for a good cause and that was pretty much it. Then they put us on the bill straight away. As easy as that! An exchange of emails…

Iza: You’ve had a really good year so far. You have played at Bloodstock; you’ve also been featured in Terrorizer and Zero Tolerance. What’s been the highlight so far? Any favourites?

Morgue Orgy: Seeing Bad Religion at Sonisphere was amazing! Regarding Morgue Orgy…? Playing loads of gigs and going to Burger King every time. That’s actually a really serious answer! Another issue was obviously getting our EP ‘Murders Most Foul’ released and we did our first video was well. But as for Morgue Orgy’s career it was probably Bloodstock. The live highlight for us this year was supporting Evile.

Iza: Could tell me a bit more about the new EP you’ve got out- ‘Murders Most Foul’?

Morgue Orgy: Well, obviously it’s called ‘Murders Most Foul’ and it’s a collection of short stories to music. All of them being about murders that were most foul. It was… We felt that it was a big step up from our first recording in terms of the quality of the songs and the quality of the recording. It’s been a big boost for us. We’ve had a lot of good feedback and really we just want to get more people to hear it and write more I suppose. That’s pretty much it.

Iza: One of the tracks from the new EP features guest vocals from Dave (Anaal Nathrakh). Could you tell me what it was like to work with him?

Morgue Orgy: It was pretty easy because he’s one our mates anyway and obviously we look up to Anaal Nathrakh, they’re from Birmingham. So it was really easy, it was great and it turned out brilliant. Really great! It was cool that after he finished recording the vocals he asked us what we thought of it. That was quite funny. You know, I mean we should have been asking him what he thought of it.

Iza: So what’s next up for Morgue Orgy? What are your plans for the future?

Morgue Orgy: We’re going try and get as many gigs as we can around the U.K. really, take on as much as we can. And obviously look towards our next recording. We will do an album, a full album at some point. Don’t know when.

Iza: Anything else you’d like to say to your fans?

Morgue Orgy: To our fans, thanks for the support, thanks for coming out to gigs, buying the merch and spreading the word. We do this because we love it. We’re six mates and if we come to places like Manchester, Leeds, Swansea etc. which we’re not from, and the crowds will turn up for us. We think that’s really good. You know, we’re doing something right for the music that we do. So I just want to say thanks. Oh and one more thing, after our show at Scruffy Murphy’s last year with the likes of Stoner Wars etc, to whoever found my Black Dahlia Murder T-shirt could I please have it back!
And anyone who comes to our gigs wearing a Bad Religion T-shirt gets free merch!

Photobucket

Bloodstock Open Air 2011 [Live Review]

Posted in Festival, Live with tags , , , , , on 21st August 2011 by Nico Davidson

Bands: Wasp, Therion, Motorhead and more
Location: Catton Hall, Walton-Upon-Trent
Date: 12-14th August, 2011

It’s August again – and time for the Metal Militia to mobilise, monster-like, and materialise in the munificent meadows of Catton Hall, Derby for another magnificent Bloodstock Festival.

Bloodstock is a festival ‘by the fans, for the fans’ and the organisers genuinely cater for this by running active online forums and IRC chatrooms (in which they participate), taking into account the festival-goers’ suggestions each year to improve the event. Having attended four previous Bloodstocks (2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010), Bloodstock 2011 was, by 12 parsecs, the best Bloodstock I have attended.

Disclaimer – I attended this festival as a fan and a punter rather than as official press. I was not able to see every band due to conflicting stage times, hangovers and basic human needs such as food, water and ale.  Additionally, while this review does cover bands in the black / death / grindcore genres, due to my personal preferences in music, I saw many more power / melodic metal acts, so the review will tend toward these bands.

Overall organisation

Having queued in the past for – literally – hours to enter, I was pleasantly surprised at the efficiency and organisation of the door staff. Arriving approximately half an hour after the gates opened, we were through the entrance and pitching our tents within 15 minutes.

The layout of Bloodstock was well thought-out, with the camping areas clustered around the main arena and festively named ‘Valhalla’, ‘Asgard’, ‘Midgard’ and ‘Hel’. ‘Hel’ was the quiet camp and provided a positive environment for families and others who did not wish to be disturbed by revellers late into the night.  A small fairground was set far enough back that the noise from the rides did not disturb the enjoyment of bands on the Ronnie James Dio (main) stage and a market brimming with music stalls and alternative clothing and jewellery offered a variety of products that can be difficult to find out in the mundane real world.

The only negative aspect of the layout is that, for the past two festivals, the New Blood stage is at the side, beyond the Ronnie James Dio stage and near the Bloodstock Arms bar. In 2008, the stage was placed between the arena entrance and the main stage, which meant that many bands drew in a crowd due to simply overhearing something they were interested in listening to. Its current placement meant that crowd members had to make a conscious effort to go and check out unsigned talent and this meant that some acts which could have had bigger crowds simply didn’t.

Four stages offered a variety of acts, with the Jaegermeister stage and Ronnie James Dio stage alternating showtimes, which meant that, without moving from a vantage point just behind and to the right of the sound desk, patrons could enjoy eight hours of almost interrupted music – without even venturing to the Sophie Lancaster tent (second stage) or the New Blood stage (which housed unsigned acts).  In general, as well, acts on Sophie and New Blood stages were of a different genre to the Ronnie James Dio stage, which meant that there was always something of interest to watch, catering for the wide variety of tastes that rockers have cultivated.

Security at the arena entrance was tight as they searched bags / pockets for weapons and alcohol (got to protect the beer sales in the arena!). Showsec staff, mostly, were pleasant, friendly and joked with the crowd as they filtered through. The proximity of the campsite and the efficiency of the Showsec staff meant that it was easy to move quickly between the camping areas and the main arenas. The festival cloakroom also provided a secure place to store bags, phones, coats and purchases from the market stalls – my husband and I purchased a weekend ticket at £16 and found the service invaluable for keeping our goods protected while he went to play in the circle pits for…pretty much the entire weekend.

Toilets, while offensive to the olfactory sense, were generally clean and well-stocked, especially in comparison to Download, Sonisphere and previous years.  Showers were available in the Midgard camp for £3.00, though a ‘no time limit’ policy meant that queues were longer than the M1. (I did not partake. I don’t have to smell myself.)

Jaegermeister stage

The Jaegermeister stage provided an acoustic venue and offered the opportunity to see bands in a different light and in what felt like an intimate environment.

Alternative Carpark – Mark (vocals) started the gig with a good crowd rapport, offering good-natured abuse to festival-goers as they walked past the stage following Coroner’s set. His clear baritone voice and easy nature drew in an audience, who appreciated friendly banter and the band’s distinctive, eclectic style. The mixture of metal and blues with a funk-style slapping bass got the audience grooving and created a feel-good atmosphere.

Rannoch – Unfortunately, I was not able to see this band ‘plugged in’ but their acoustic set showed their strength as musicians, with interplay and harmonies between the guitars and bass. The vocals oscillated between an accomplished death metal growl and occasional, contrasting clean vocals. The band seemed at ease on stage and the addition of an Irish drum (and drummer) borrowed from Middle Age-inspired death metal band ‘Haerken’ added a folk element that gave the music a unique dimension.

Obsessive Compulsive – Energetic and driving, Obsessive Compulsive’s set comprised dark, anthemic tunes complimented by Kelli’s powerful, gravelly, alto vocals. A confident frontwoman, she genuinely appreciated the audience’s enthusiastic response and expressed her gratitude to the festival for their work with unsigned musicians. As the bass pulsated, driving riffs and intricate guitar work got the crowd’s heads banging

Guardians of Andromeda – This band is one of my favourite finds of the weekend. An easy nature and sense of humour go a long way in a cosy environment like the Jaegermeister stage – and frontman Mikael has both in spades, along with a tenor voice that is reminiscent of Hansi Kursch of Blind Guardian fame. Confident guitar work and haunting melodies with a tribal undertone further sustain the fantasy-world feeling of being transported to realm of mystery, honour and valour.  Layers of vocals gave a more orchestral feeling to the acoustic set. Joined by Sarah, of Zocolo fame for the last songs, intertwining tenor and alto vocals wrote a story which was supported by inter-band interactions reminiscent of powerful, classic musical theatre duets. Guardians of Andromeda’s music is a gourmet recipe, drawing ingredients from the whole world of music, rather than simply metal and the final product is nothing short of extraordinary.

New Blood Stage

The New Blood stage showcased some of the best unsigned metal acts that the UK – and Europe – have to offer. Venues across the nation and in Norway hosted ‘Metal 2 the Masses’ heats and the winners of these competitions were handpicked by Bloodstock organisers and the founder, Simon Hall.

Entro-P – Jake’s dark, driving bass pushes Entro-P’s songs forward and several tempo changes into Meshuggah-like non-standard time signatures are ably managed by Sean, giving Entro-P’s music a sensation that takes them out of the realm of normal run-of-the-mill death metal bands. Expert tremolo picking by the guitarists, along with several complex articulations combined to create a bed of nails upon which the growling vocals can rest. All elements merged to create a gritty, doom-laden sound that is heavy as a two-tonne weight in a black hole.

Training Icarus – Vacillating between dark, heavy songs and lighter, happier tracks, Training Icarus showed a breadth and depth to their repertoire and musical talent. Frontwoman Leigh displayed a strong passion throughout the entire set. Enchanting mezzo/alto/belter vocals rested comfortably on top of Maidenesque guitars and metronone-like, driving drums. Infectious, anthemic choruses became brainworms that refused to leave. (I found myself humming ‘Nightmares’ days after the performance.)  Orchestral accompaniments provided atmosphere between the songs. The backing track also sat low enough in the mix to add a subconscious feeling of fullness while sampled harmonised vocals emphasised key phrases and gave Leigh the opportunity to provide soaring descant ad-libs over repeated choruses. In a day when metal bands often never find their way out of minor keys, the bouncy, quick-tempo, major-key tracks provided a welcome contrast that left a happy, lively feeling.

Brezno – ‘Innovative, exciting and stunning’ are the three best adjectives to describe this band. Hailing from Slovenia, the seven-piece band’s half hour set on the New Blood stage took the crowd by surprise and by storm. Keyboards, violins, wind instruments and four vocalists, ably led by Sara wove a tribal blanket of sound that was comfortably worn by everyone in the New Blood tent. A traditional Irish folk feeling haunts Brezno’s music and the lilting melodies call forth images of warriors fighting for honour, justice and truth.

Soulsphere – Despite their vocalist being unable to attend, atmospheric doom metallers Soulsphere pulled off an energetic performance with ably ad-libbed lyrics provided by stand-in Gary from the band Fallen Few. Brutal, heart-pounding riffs overdriven by a thumping bassline and jackhammer-like drums offered a suitably aggressive base for Gary’s throaty growls. Soulsphere’s brand of in-your-face metal is like a left hook to the jugular – swift, brutal and leaves you gasping for breath.

Sacred Illusion – If Iron Maiden ever decide to retire and create a reality TV programme where the younger generation audition to replace them, these guys are it. The frontman – Bruce – beyond being the namesake of one of the best voices in metal, shares with Dickinson a stunning tenor voice with an operatic tone found in the very best power metal bands. A driving rhythm section created a strong foundation, which face-melting lead work uses as a launch pad into the heavens with spiralling riffs and anthemic melodies. Tighter than many signed bands, if Sacred Illusion carry on delivering blistering performances as they did on Sunday, they will skyrocket to the top of the metal mountain in no time.

Twilight’s Embrace – Dark doom metal with some floating melodies over the top comprised Twilight’s Embrace’s set. Frontman Dee effortlessly switches between clean vocals and a powerful, death metal-inspired growl. Clean guitar behind chugging power chords creates an ethereal sensation and lonely distorted lead creates echoes of emptiness reminiscent of some Opeth tracks.

Sophie Lancaster Stage

A new addition last year, the Sophie stage this year was much more effectively used to showcase a range of bands, giving crowdgoers an alternative to the music on the Ronnie James Dio stage.

Evil Scarecrow – Parody black metal is a risky style of music. Black metal in itself is quite obscure and oftentimes black metal fans can be somewhat elitist about the genre, rejecting what could be seen as an attempt at poking fun. However, Evil Scarecrow have persevered through being ignored by metal record labels and have, grass roots style, cultivated a massive fan base who packed out the Sophie tent (capacity approximately 3,000) on Sunday. Post-gig Facebook updates have also hinted that the band members themselves handle all merchandise sales – they are the very definition of a DIY metal band. Tight as a watch spring, the five-headed, ten-legged monster appeared overwhelmed and humbled by the response of the crowd, including several crowd members who came decked out in full robot regalia for the band’s signature tune ‘Robototron’. Tracks with interweaving melodies such as ‘Blacken the Everything’ and challenging changes between time signatures such as ‘Vampyre Trousers’ affirmed that the best way to parody any sort of music is to be accomplished musicians who write good music – then add in satirical lyrics and a ‘bloody’ good stage show! Doctor Hell’s sung introduction to the most metal cover of all – ‘The Final Countdown’ –  in a clean, strong baritone voice also proved what black / death / thrash metal fans have known for years: to be a good growler, you must first be a good vocalist! True fans of metal, the band members could be seen throughout the festival not just on the Sunday but throughout the weekend – and despite the overwhelming response to their music they were still humble, down to earth and genuinely thankful to the crowd.

Powerquest – With soaring, screaming guitar riffs that flew fast as lighting from the fingers of Andy Midgley and Gav Owen, melodic and atmospheric keys from Steve Williams and some frenetically fast drumming from Rich Smith, melodic metallers Powerquest unleashed a tsunami of sound that reverberated throughout the Sophie tent. Elevated over the top of this frenzied orchestration were supreme vocals from Chitral Somapala that cut through the music like a hot knife through butter. Reminiscent of Fabio Lione (Rhapsody of Fire) and ZP Theart (ex-Dragonforce), Chitral’s operatic tenor voice and passionate performance provided the icing on the cake (an extremely powerful cake) of a musically accomplished band.

Amaranthe – An unusual blend of three vocals – a male growler, a clean tenor and a mezzo / belter female – Amaranthe has a very unique sound. With thundering bass and melodic guitars providing a scaffolding for these three to climb to the stars, the mixture of vocals was novel. I was disappointed to say that the sound during this set was of less quality than previous performances (at one point the left speaker stack cut out completely) so at times it was difficult to differentiate between Elize (female vocals) and Jake’s (clean male) vocals. Animated interactions between the vocalists onstage made the band fun to watch as well as listen to – a strong performance from all involved.

Ronnie James Dio Stage

Named after the fallen legend, the RJD stage was the main stage in the arena, housing the very best of metal talent from all over the world.

Wolf – Classic metallers Wolf, hailing from Sweden, put in a solid performance that was full of fun and life. Niklas and Simon’s lead and backing vocals intertwined like ivy and the guitars and bass provided a thrumming support that was like a magnetic draw to headbang. The band draws clear influences from 70s and 80s metal bands such as Iron Maiden and Judas Priest which could be heard in their galloping riffs and seen in their enthusiastic stage show.

Forbidden – Circle pits erupted almost instantly during Forbidden’s set as Matt Camacho’s gritty bass thundered. Craig Locicero and Steve Smyth provided sweeping, face-melting accompaniment on the guitars with brutal, in-your-face riffs. Forbidden is a band grounded firmly in American early 90s thrash –reminiscent of very early Metallica – and these guys have stuck to this overall feeling in their music. Russ Anderson’s vocals – almost a scream, almost a shout and almost sung – add to the aggressive and brutal tone, building a 45 minute wall of anger that swept over the cloud like a thunderstorm.

Triptykon – Arising, phoenix-like, from the ashes of Celtic Frost, Triptykon’s heavy, doom-laden sound slowed down the pace of the day and provided a welcome rest from the circle pits and frenzied pace from earlier. Tom Gabriel Warrior’s part whispered, part growled, part sung vocals created a sense of intimacy in an open field designed for 10,000 people – not an easy task! Slow, heavy guitars painted a backdrop of darkness for the anger-fuelled lyrics and created a sense of trepidation in the crowd. Solos drifted over the top like a murder of crows, hanging heavy in the air.

Coroner – With a slow, melodic, acoustic introduction, Coroner misled audience members unfamiliar with their work to believe that their set would be a laid back one – this was definitely not the case! Self described as ‘technical thrash metal’, Ron Broder (bass) and Tommy Vetterli (guitars) illustrated this expertly, alternately juxtaposing intricate melodies and layering complex, galloping riffs that ploughed forward like a steam train. Marky Edelmann’s drums drove the music forward while never drawing emphasis from the melody at hand. Ron’s vocals were strong, a gravelly tone – almost a scream – and they rested comfortably on top of the guitars.

Wasp – Enthusiastic crowd interactions from front man Blackie Lawless created a feeling of togetherness in the crowd. The band seemed genuinely pleased to play the festival and they involved the crowd by running competitions and even pulling a fan from the crowd to sing ‘I Wanna Be Somebody’. Catchy songs and natural showmanship left the audience calling for more. Their choice of a ballad encore was unusual but finished off the day quite nicely, in a peaceful and happy ambience.

Tarot – Marco Hietala, of Nightwish fame, fronts this classic style metal band that were widely requested on the Bloodstock forums. Marco’s voice is incredibly unique – a gravelly baritone that often spirals into a higher, distorted tenor. Contrasted with Tommi Salmela’s classic rock style falsetto, the two men’s voices criss-crossed into a tapestry of pure energy. Zachary Hietala’s melodic guitar and Janne Tolsa’s keys similarly supported each other, alternating lead that floated above Marco’s metronome-like bass. Despite tripping over Tommi and one point and falling down backward onto the stage, Marco’s playing was solid and his frontmanship is second to none with humorous stories between songs and enthusiastic interaction with the crowd. The members are all clearly at ease and comfortable with each other, laughing their way through the set and genuinely enjoying each other’s company onstage, interacting effortlessly and occasionally poking fun at each other in a light-hearted way. Tarot appeared to really enjoy playing Bloodstock and the overwhelming sensation of happiness swept over the crowd, who eagerly chanted for them to return.

Finntroll – Black folk metallers Finntroll are repeatedly one of the most requested bands on the Bloodstock forum. With two keyboardists and three guitarists (‘Trollhorn’ doubles), intricately intertwining melodies rolled forth at the speed of light, evoking images of Middle Earth or of days long gone by. Catchy melodies flowed easily over heavy guitars and several pits erupted at once when they played their signature tune ‘Trollhammaren’ with several crowd members dancing Irish jig-style. Windmilling instrumentalists added to the spectacle and Vreth’s growling vocals fit easily into the mix, loud enough to be heard but not so loud as to distract from the melodies cascading from the keys and guitars. While it would have been nice to see the band in full regalia (fake troll ears and all), they put in an exciting and energetic show.

Ihsahn – Black / progressive metal, Ihsahn (from Emperor stock) provided – at times – screaming, blistering riffs that exploded off the stage, with aggressive, growling vocals and melodic keyboards. The machine gun-like staccato of the drums carried the melody forward in these tracks. Contrasting, slower songs carried a sense of trepidation, supported by the rasping black metal inspired vocals.

Wintersun – Hotly anticipated by fans who feared that the band would pull out of the festival, as they have in the past, Finnish folk metallers Wintersun did not disappoint. Switching between lightning-fast, syncopated, tremolo-picked, euphoric riffs that burst from the stage and slower, sweeter melodies that evoked a sense of peace and sorrow, Wintersun truly showed their range as musicians. Enthusiastic frontmanship accompanied a tight set. Jari Mäenpää’s vocals provided a rougher contrast to the smoothness of the music; his clear enunciation meant that his lyrics could be easily understood. Solid double kick drumming from Kai Hahto added to the frenetic feeling of the faster songs, while providing articulation and accompaniment to the slower tunes. The melody lines are infectious and memorable, providing a testimonial to the fans that their pleas for Wintersun’s appearance have not been in vain.

Therion – If Wagner had Marshalls, he would have written this. Combining the very best elements from classic opera and heavy metal, Therion is the most innovative band I saw throughout the weekend. Each song told a story, ably pantomimed and staged by four talented vocalists. Samples added to the orchestral, operatic feeling of the music, in addition to a melodic flute solo. The set started off slowly with ballads, and the band’s new mezzo soprano vocalist (Linnéa Vikström – Thomas Vikström’s daughter) was introduced. Lori Lewis’ coloratura soprano easily soared over the top of the other three vocalists, providing descants that spiralled into the stratosphere in a clear, piercing tone that would make Sarah Brightman jealous. As the band moved to heavier songs, the instrumentalists struck traditional metal poses, headbanging and interacting with each other, which juxtaposed effectively with the vocalists’ theatrical performances. The pent-up energy of the crowd exploded. The best way to describe this performance would be as a Gothic rainbow of energy and sound – eclectic, powerful and amazing.

Rhapsody of Fire – Possibly the most technically accomplished guitarist in the metal scene (if not the world), Luca Turilli’s fingers of flame did not disappoint the thronging crowd. With such an accomplished musician in a band, it can happen that other musicians become overshadowed – however, this was distinctly not the case! Patrice Guers’ jackhammer-like bass seemed glued with industrial strength adhesive to Alex Holzwarth’s drums, over which the guitars could leapfrog. Fabio Lione’s vocals were strong and clear, like golden laser beam shooting over the crowd. Christopher Lee’s voice provided a suitably epic introduction. The inclusion of the Italian language ballad ‘Lamento Erocio’, while a strange choice, was a fantastic performance, delivered with sentiment and intensity that brought a tear to the eye. Finishing strong with the frenetic, harmonised ‘Emerald Sword’, Rhapsody of Fire’s performance lifted the mood in the audience to euphoric levels and left them begging for more.

Hammerfall – With a slightly odd set list that left out a number of old classics (‘Renegade’ for one), Hammerfall, nevertheless, gave an enthusiastic performance with a number of songs that got the audience singing along, including the Quiet Riot cover ‘Bang Your Head’. Joacim Cans’ voice was on top form and his easy nature with the audience created a lively, fun atmosphere of celebration. Changing between slower, heavier songs (‘Last Man Standing) and technical, intricate songs that sped faster than a speeding bullet, Hammerfall clearly demonstrated their range as musicians. As they ended with the anthemic ‘Let the Hammer Fall’, the 45 minute set seemed far too short.

Motorhead – A statement released after Bloodstock explained that the three-piece hard rock band had been suffering from a virus which explains why their performance was not up to the standard expected by their fans. Firebreathing girls added some spectacle and guitarist Phil Campbell did his best to take over frontman duties, offering an extended guitar solo. Drummer Mikkey Dee had to leave the stage at one point but returned to perform a phenomenal drum solo from his perch high above the stage. Disappointingly, the band finished 20 minutes early after a somewhat lacklustre performance – while this was explained in retrospect on the Bloodstock forums, it would have been preferable to have that explanation on the night because, after the quality of music heard all weekend, the disappointing act of the final headliner left the festival on a bit of a down note. If there had been an official explanation before or just after Motorhead’s performance, the crowd would have been grateful to the band for making the effort to come on and play, despite less than ideal circumstances, rather than disappointed and annoyed.

Overall, Bloodstock this year was the best Bloodstock I have attended in terms of organisation, variety of bands and atmosphere. Well done to the organisers and roll on BOA 2012!

Melissa Adams

Interview: Thomas Vikstrom [2011]

Posted in Interview with tags , , , , , , , on 9th August 2011 by Nico Davidson


Nico has a chat [via e-mail] with Thomas Vikstrom, frontman of Therion and Enlighted about his time in Therion, music and other things.

Nico: Hi Thomas, thanks for taking the time to talk with us today. Now, obviously you’ve been apart of Therion for a short while – excluding the two years you were the live vocalist – Do you feel that in that time you’ve bonded well with the other members?

Thomas: Hi Nico! I have been a part of the band in soon 5 years. And I think I have bonded well with everybody in the band. Even though we are all very different personalities. But that is only something positive I think. Right now there is a very good vibe in the band!

N: Therion use a lot of occult symbols and ideologies in both the lyrics and on the album covers, is there any reason for this? And how do you feel about the use of occult symbology and references?

T: Yes, we do! Exactly like Lord of the rings, Omen, Nosferatu, etc, etc. I have always been into mysticism and horror. But for me its entertainment and fantasies.

N: While we’re on the topic of the symbology, have you or anyone else in Therion received negative response due to the symbology? Have any of you been accused of “devil worship” or something along those lines?

T: I can only response from my point of view. I did a TV program for Japanese television a while ago. The show was called Amazing Voice. And we wanted to film a song in a church. The church did not allow me to film in there because I played in Therion. I asked them why? Because Therion means The beast they said! I think that’s the only time!

N: That must have been disappointing then – That you couldn’t record in the church. Aside from being the frontman for Therion, you’re also the frontman for Argentinian metal band “Enlighted” – Are there any plans for an Enlighted album in the near future?

T: Nah. The Japs found some other great places! Yeah, I really like Enlighted. Its fun to do something that is different then Therion. There are plans for a full album. But I don’t know when that will happen yet

N: That’s a shame then – for your fans. Therion will be playing at Bloodstock, in the UK, in a few weeks, are you excited about that?

T: YES! I’m very exited about that! I can’t wait! It was a while now since we played, so it’s gonna be a lot of fun!

N: I bet it is. Speaking of playing live shows, it was recently announced on the Therion website that your daughter, Linnea, will be the replacement for Kat. Are you looking forward to touring with your daughter?

T: True. I’m very exited over that! And I bet she is too! She started to count the days! It’s something I have never done before so it’s gonna be interesting! And on tour we will try to be more like colleagues and not only father and daughter!

N: Well, it will be interesting to see what you both bring to the stage. This is next question is a random one, asked by one of our readers [Peter Talbot]: Why did Christopher cut his hair?

T: The answer to that is simply that he got tired of it. Plus his hair was in very bad condition!

N: That’s not good then. What are your post-festival plans? Will you be going into the studio with Therion or Enlighted or will you be taking some to relax?

T: Our plans is to start to work on a new Therion album. Hopefully spring nest year! But I can not reveal anything about that right now. Enlighted hopefully before that! But nothing is decided yet! I will record an album with a project I’m in called “Covered Call”. Its a melodic thingy!

Cryptic Age w/Support @ Stereo [Live Review]

Posted in Live with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 16th July 2011 by Nico Davidson

Bands: Cryptic Age, Lost Effect, Windrider
Location: Stereo, York
Date: 15th July 2011

The night was certainly a most anticipated event as it was Cryptic Age’s first gig as the headlining band. Originally four bands were booked for the night but one of them had dropped out. The doors were due to open at 7:30pm though didn’t open until nearer 8pm – Though this didn’t deter those who had already arrived for a night of metal.

Critically acclaimed folk metal quartet Windrider were the first to perform. Their usual guitarist, Lee, was absent due to injury so Windrider’s bassist Hallam filled in on guitar whilst Cryptic Age’s bassist Tom filled in as bassist for the night. At the beginning of Windrider’s set, the crowd was somewhat small though they soon filled in after the first song “In The Hall Of The Slain”. Despite playing a small stage, the band were extremely active receiving a great reaction from the crowd, especially with the performances of “A Warrior’s Tale” [The title track of the recent Windrider EP of the same name] and “Slaughter From The Shadows”. It was certainly an impressive performance.

The second band of the night were Lost Effect who describe themselves as “melodic metal”. Their set was certainly most interesting as they mixed brutalising riffs with melodic sections topped off with the clean, operatic-like vocals of the front woman and violent grunts and growls of their keyboardist. Lost Effect had a superb stage presence and clearly wowed the crowd with songs such as “Whispers” and “We Are The Damned”. The only down side to their set was that it didn’t seem long enough.

The headliners, as stated above, were York based power-folk quartet Cryptic Age. Their set began with a metal version of the theme song from “Game Of Thrones”. The vocals were strong, as is to be expected. Cryptic Age interacted brilliantly with the audience in between songs. Some of the highlights of their set include “Homeland”, “Paragons Of War”  and “On The Cold Bare Ground” [all of which can be heard on Cryptic Age’s debut EP “Homeland”]. Their performance of “Bring Down The Sky” was mystifying, almost haunting. Cryptic Age also played some new songs including “Aftermath” and “Maelstrom”. “Aftermath” sounded like a combination of Iron Maiden and Ensiferum due to the very melodic guitar riffs while “Maelstrom” had a very tribal sounding chorus, especially when the crowd sang along.

All in all, the night was certainly an energetic, metal fuelled night with immense performances from three bands. Keep an eye out for these bands as they could soon be on Scuzz or playing at Bloodstock.

Nico Davidson