Welcome to Bloodstock Open Air 2012 specialising in all things particularly heavy, this small but perfectly formed festival set in the Derbyshire countryside is not for the feint-hearted.
Luckily, or unluckily for festival revellers whose wardrobe consisted of black, black and more black, the sun was out from the start and the temperature was off the Richter scale.
An early highlight of Friday saw South American metal act Sepultura rock the hungry crowd who devoured their ferocious drum beats and eye-watering growls.
Dio’s Disciples shook Bloodstock’s Main Stage to its core.
The band opened with a great ode to their fallen soldier: “We lost a great singer, which this stage is named after. Let’s hear it for him.” This was met with rapturous applause.
The band, fronted by Tim Owens played with purpose and was promptly joined by Little Angels front-man Toby Jepson who shared vocal duties with Owens throughout the set.
Watain followed, taking the audience in a complete different direction. Rumours of audience members getting drenched in pig’s blood kept people on edge.
The heavily painted Swedish black metal band made their way through the smoke, playing next to crosses which were set on fire. The blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cup of pigs blood was thrown towards the audience, mocking the security guards.
By Saturday the sunburn had started to peel and the sun hid behind the clouds. Death Metal band Benediction reaped the benefits on the Ronnie James Dio stage drawing a large crowd. Lead singer Dave Hunt shouted to the audience: “Welcome to the Bloodstock breakfast club” before telling the audience he could barely walk. The front-man of the metal band had the tone and charisma of a local radio DJ in between his growls.
London hardcore death metal act Dripback, graced the Sophie Lancaster stage on Saturday afternoon, shouted in the crowd’s face that they were there to be remembered. Lead singer Wez had a damaged look on his face which added to the psychotic energy of the songs.
Wez chewed on the mic and it was a surprise to see one still there once he removed it from his face.
Croatian band Father bought the fun to the New Blood Stage with rock covers, then introduced the audience to Disco Metal. The band filled the tent with positivity as they beckoned the audience to dance with them.
Hair metal-inspired band Furyon, unleashed eye-watering vocals and music to shake your locks to and called for fist pumps.
Hatebreed entered the Main Stage to sirens and demanded huge circle pits. They released their twisted vocal onto a gargantuan crowd. The hardcore of super-fans were out in full force as they took over singing duties when the band stopped singing, which was a pretty strange sight for a band with inaudible lyrics.
Metal giants Machine Head closed Bloodstock with the perfect cocktail of ear-bleeding metal and face-melting pyro. Robb Flynn and co. saw crowd-surfer after crowd-surfer spill overhead and into the mosh-pits.
Sunday had a more relaxed feel after a day of very heavy music and the crowd took their energy levels down a notch. The thrash metal Huddersfield band Evile had huge grins slapped across their faces as they riffed to their adoring crowd. Fans were stuck to the barrier for the whole set.
Nochtiferia and their dread-locked front-man caused a bit of a stir in the Sophie Lancaster tent.
Nile took to the Main Stage to give the audience a death metal-themed history lesson, grunting their way through ancient Egyptian history. The crowd bought into this and the lasting memory of the performance was the permanent grin on lead singer Karl Sanders’s face.
Next up were cult shoe-gaze metal figures Paradise Lost. Though skilled musicians if you weren’t a fan of doom metal, the music appeared to slowly drone through the park.
French band Headcharger injected the audience with a shot of joy. The lead singer danced around the stage clicking his fingers in a giddy fashion. The band were soft compared with the onslaught on Death Metal the audience had to endure. Their pop-punk approach to rock might not have been good news to all the festival-goers, but to some it was a welcome change of pace.
Dimmu Borgir, who were once described at ‘Disney Metal’ had thousands of metal-heads following them. The Norwegian Black Metal band dressed in their fantasy outfits were adored by the crowd. It wasn’t clear whether the audience had a tongue-in-cheek appreciation for the band, or whether they were genuinely revered. They seemed to brighten up everyone’s spirits.
To close Bloodstock they brought out the big guns in the form of the ultimate showman Alice Cooper. Alice appeared with spider legs under his arms during his opener, Black Widow. The theatrical rocker tantalised the crowd, who had his face embroiled on their chests. He was worshipped to god-like level and the 64-year-old fed off the crowd’s energy. The aged rocker was the perfect theatrical rock legend to close the heavy metal festival this year.
Words: Catherine Marr
Photos: Lara Cullen, Jamie Boynton