Combichrist – BLOODSTOCK 2018
Continuing with Saturday at Bloodstock Metal Festival brings us back to the main stage. This was for a band that I had never seen and were in a genre of “metal” that I don’t much listen to. It was, to me, a mix of Prodigy and Rammstein, with lots of effects and very much a dance style. I would unlikely listen to a band like this at home, as the songs are pretty repetitive, but live, for 40 minutes or so, it was quite entertaining.
With two drummers, a keyboardist, guitarist and a singer, Combichrist certainly looked different to everyone else at the festival. One of the drummers (who I thought was a girl, but apparently is a bloke) seemed to like to kick the shit out of their drums, even during songs. It was like they were pissed off the whole time. I felt sorry for the drum tech! The singer looked to be happy with the reaction of the crowd, smiling constantly and encouraging people to dance and sing. They seemed to go down quite well and were pretty visual. I quite enjoyed them, as I did feel entertained. Not really my thing, but they were an interesting change of style and pace.
Voyager – BLOODSTOCK 2018
I went back to the Sophie tent to see Australian outfit Voyager. The bits I had heard sounded quite progressive, so I was interested to hear how they sounded live. The band was a bit of a surprise. They were quite “dance rock” in some places and elements of trance or electronica in others. The first song “What A Wonderful Day” sounded like 1980’s INXS or Duran Duran, or at least until nearer the end when the metal kicked right in. It actually took me by surprise when it happened.
The second song, “Misery Is Only Company” started quieter, with a time signature that sounded interesting. At the start, it reminds me a little of early Genesis. However, as it got into the body of the song, there was a more modern sound; a large hook/melody, yet sounding complicated. The bass sounded particularly impressive on this as well. Possibly, my favorite song of the set, due to the beauty of it. Or that could also be “Lost”, which was very bouncy and had the band dancing around more than ever.
Throughout the set, they switched from that pop dance type sound to complicated heavy rhythms with ease. The singer Daniel Estrin did thank us for watching an “odd weird funk metal band” at one point, and I could see his point. Yet, I know they have played full on progressive festivals. They create a great vibe and have the skill and dexterity to pull off what they do. Very impressive.
Alestorm – BLOODSTOCK 2018
By the time I came out of the tent, Alestorm were doing their thing on the main stage. That “thing” is (on the whole) childish, stupid and immature! It also goes down a storm. I only caught the last two or three songs which were about “rum”, “pirates” or “swearing”. There were folks on inflatables roaming around on the rest of the crowd and lots of silliness in the audience. They are a party band who dress and act as pirates (strange as they come from Perth in Scotland, which is pretty well landlocked) and have large inflatable ducks on stage with them.
They are very good at what they do. A few beers with a load of mates and the chances are you will have fun. Bloodstock were certainly having a blast. The last song was belted out by the crowd. The chorus includes the line “fuck you, you’re a fucking wanker”. Being sober (boooo) meant it all seemed a bit juvenile, but, as I said, lots of people were having a blast.
Luna’s Call – BLOODSTOCK 2018
It was back to the New Blood stage at this point for my first look at Luna’s Call, a progressive Death Metal band from Lincoln.
Within a few minutes, I was captivated. There was a definite Opeth thing going (that being early Opeth), but they were not clones. There was use of things like electronic voices at one point, adding to the texture of what they do.
First track “Locus” had a great opening riff and second track “The Advent Of A Martyr” even had some fine vocal harmonies. There are also moments where I thought of bands like Leprous and Ihsahn, where melody was to the fore. Some neat time and style changes throughout this as well. They only played four songs, each being around 7 or 8 minutes at a time, but I was engrossed in each of them. This is a band that showed a huge amount of promise having only formed roughly three years ago. From the two new tracks they played, it sounds like the new album will be impressive.
At this point, the heavens were declared open! It absolutely chucked it down. I decided to take some time out before the headliners and caught up with some friends under the cover of canvas! It also meant I could try and rest the leg a little for the headliners to come.
Gojira – BLOODSTOCK 2018
Like magic, the rain decided to ease off, then stop, just as main stage headliners Gojira came on. This French band is known for their amazing musicianship and creativity. They also know how to put on a “headline” performance for an open-air festival. The band threw everything at it. Amazing visuals, a shit load of pyro, confetti (weddings near Catton Hall must have struggled to find any for this weekend) and flames aplenty. Of course, most importantly, they have amazing tracks to enjoy.
They played songs from all six albums released to date, focussing (of course) on most on the latest album Magma. They sounded fantastic from where I was standing. And, just like the albums, they mix beauty and elegance with harsh brutality and crushing riffs.
They were jaw dropping on the night. I confess that I struggle to remember the names of the songs (many of them have either no chorus or indeed even feature the titles in the lyrics), but it doesn’t matter when confronted with something this good. I spent time enjoying the screen projections and working out either what the song was or the album it came from each time. Absolutely top-notch performance and show. They proved themselves to be a worthy headliner for a festival of this size.
Orphaned Land – BLOODSTOCK 2018
By this point, I was hobbling like a drunken pirate whose peg leg was a faulty size. However, I was utterly determined to see Israeli outfit Orphaned Land in the tent. I confess I was in quite a bit of pain and, due to the meds, running a fever! Common sense said to go to First Aid, but, like most of Decibel Geek people, I parted company with that years ago. A very healthy crowd was still up for more live music, so it was hot and sweaty in the tent.
They opened with “The Cave” the first track from their excellent new album Unsung Prophets And Dead Messiahs (of which played six songs from) which builds up nicely and immediately shows the uniqueness of their sound and style. They just are different to everything else around. From beautiful haunting and emotional melodies to progressive death with growls and screams, they cover so many bases.
They didn’t go too political on the night other than singer Kobi Farhi reminding us that they are from the middle east and that if we thought our leaders here sucked then we should check out theirs. He pointed out how awful they were on all sides and how music is the catalyst for peace and change. The thing is that when he says it, you know it is truly sincere. That was before another track from the new album in “We Do Not Resist” which a scathing view of the world and its leaders.
I mentioned melodies and one of their best on the night was “Let The Truce Be Known” which seeps deep into your soul. Part I feel near to tears and at the same time feeling uplifted. They do bring some strange sensations to folks with their music. The crowd’s efforts to chant along in the eastern style was superb, with the “la la la’s” in Kiss Of Babylon” and the chorus in “Norra El Norra” being particularly memorable. A band that gets better every tour, original captivating and also still fun. One of the best bands around in my view.
Back to First Aid – BLOODSTOCK 2018
After they finished it was back to the first aid tent! They were slightly annoyed with me and told me to sit down before I fell down. They kept me in a while, gave me antihistamines, antibiotics and washed down the wound (stung like fuck) and had me lie down till my temperature came down a bit. Yes, I felt awful, but after the 2 headliners, I had just watched I was still high on the music and energy. Yes to an extent trying to catch bands, take notes and do interviews was proving to be hard work but I wouldn’t have wanted to be anywhere else than Bloodstock surrounded by fabulous people and tremendous music. I also was thinking “still got Sunday” to watch and report on. That is coming next at Decibel Geek, including Jasta and Mr. Big.
For Tom Cornell’s complete BLOODSTOCK 2018 coverage: BLOODSTOCK FESTIVAL 2018 (The Complete Coverage)