This Bloodstock Open Air article was written by Jack Press and Shannon Lockett, GIGsoup contributors

The UK’s premier heavy metal festival, Bloodstock Open Air, embraced its largest attended year with a bang with the first UK show from Venom in ten years, a start-to-finish play-through of Behemoth’s magnum opus ‘The Satanist’, and Twisted Sister’s last ever UK show – but how did it all go down?

Stuck Mojo brought the rap metal style to the Ronnie James Dio stage, however the crowd was quiet as it was early on in the festival madness and many people were still arriving and setting up. They perhaps could have made a larger impression, we can’t quite place a finger on what is missing from their performance despite their best efforts at enticing their glass half empty crowd.  Perhaps by their upcoming tour announcements for ‘Here Come The Infidels’, Stuck Mojo will be received with more welcoming and energised crowds. (SL)

At a festival dip-dyed in darkness, Corrosion of Conformity are one of the few bands listed on the line-up that could be improved with the sun shining down on Catton Hall, lending itself playfully to their groove-laden sludge-metal onslaught. Gliding their way through a set practically built upon their seminal 1994 album ‘Deliverance’, COC’s sludge hits home hard but only half of the flailing crowd are ready to answer to their appeal-to-the-masses booze, beats, and banter approach. Whilst it’s as clear as the bright blue sky above the crowd that COC are as raring to go as ever since the return of Pepper Keenan, the frontman’s banter with guitar maestro Woody Weatherman is often or not lost on those of the Bloodstock faithful uninitiated with the groove gurus. Donald Trump jokes aside, classic cut ‘Vote For A Bullet’ roars with a potent sense of intensity whilst a spaced-out over-the-top jam session during the middle of closer ‘Clean My Wounds’ loses the already-fading attention of the crowd, the insanity of the song itself, and leaves the fans in the crowd wondering why they didn’t play two or three more fan favourites in the time they were jamming the same jam over and over. (JP)

Bloodstock Open Air - Day One - Friday 12th AugustWhilst Corrosion Of Conformity have been grooving along our shores once more for some time now, it’s been ten years since the influencers of Thrash, Speed, and Black Metal – Venom – played a show in their hallowed homeland and there is an angst-ridden air of anticipation for the legendary trio to deliver their blend of punk-inspired, black-riddled, thrash metal. Opening with a double-whammy of tracks from their latest studio album – 2015’s ‘From The Very Depths’ – Cronos and co. deliver a fifteen-strong set that throws caution to the wind with a risky eight out of fifteen coming from their two most recent efforts instead of running through their extensive hit-riddled back catalogue. Whilst the likes of ‘Long Haired Punks’ and ‘Grinding Teeth’ went hand in hand with legendary cuts ‘Welcome To Hell’ and ‘Countess Bathory’, the emittance of classics such as ‘Witching Hour’ and ‘Buried Alive’ are all the more potent, obvious, and unfortunate considering the nature of this hour-long set. Regardless of their set choices, Venom are as fiery as the flames of the Hell they come from, ending their set with a rip-roaring rendition of ‘Black Metal’. Whilst this will forever be an historical moment in the history books of Bloodstock, the set itself fell short of the success it should’ve been. (JP)

Behemoth made their presence memorable on the Ronnie James Dio stage by playing their magnum opus, 2014’s ‘The Satanist’ from start to finish. Playing on the theatrics of the atmospheric album, there were mouths filled with blood being spat left, right, and centre across the stage and their trademark black and white corpse-paint and black attire resonating, they ensure that they cannot go unnoticed. Throughout the set, fire, smoke and red ambient lighting fit the aesthetic of Behemoth’s satanic and extreme metal style, adding interesting theatrical elements that make this band stand out. At one point Behemoth return to the stage swinging thuribles, before kick-starting Messe Noire with the bold statement “I believe in Satan“. The band additionally introduced black horned masks towards the end of the set which further conveyed the satanic message as they stood statuesque facing the crowd for ‘O Father O Satan O Sun.’ (SL)

Back for their last ever show in the UK, Twisted Sister storm the stage with their current tour title of “Forty and F*ck it!” being a loud and proud statement and a running theme for their fun and high energy set, starting off with ‘What You Don’t Know (Sure Can Hurt You)’. The atmosphere was enough to see that Twisted Sister were not going out (of the UK) without a bang. It is clear from Dee Snider and Jay Jay French that this band are honoured and grateful to have played Bloodstock 2016 as their last show in the United Kingdom, adding in that it’s where their career blew up. French also spoke about how they are thankful for forty years of support from fans, breaking into a fitting ‘The Fire Still Burns’. From this theme of reminiscence over their 40 years as a band, they dedicate ‘The Price’ to their heavy metal heroes that have recently passed away: their previous drummer A.J. Pero; Ronnie James Dio; Jimmy Bain and Lemmy Kilmister. Dee Snider made the show entertaining with interactions with the crowd and distractions with food stalls, they also brought the crowd together through anthems such as ‘I Wanna Rock’, ‘We’re Not Gonna Take It’ and ‘It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll (But I Like It) (The Rolling Stones cover) where everyone was singing whether they were a huge fan or not. (SL)

Whilst Twisted Sister have completed their forty years and said fuck it, Diamond Head are still plunging along with their guitar-mastering leader Brian Tatler rotating band members every other album or so to keep things as fresh as they can be for a band famous for inspiring others (cough, Metallica, cough). Following Twisted Sister’s crowd-shattering final UK show was always going to be difficult, and whilst Tatler and co. don’t top Dee Snider’s eccentric circus of hits, Diamond Head tackle their Sophie Lancaster stage headline slot with a ferocity the NWOBHM legends have been lacking for quite some time, the centre of this second wind coming from their fresh-faced frontman Rasmus Andersen, whose 80’s inspired howl slots itself finely between the old and the new of the Diamond Head catalogue. Rocketing through a set dominated by their debut full-length, ‘Lightning For The Nations’, it’s the newer additions to the set such as ‘Shout At The Devil’ and ‘Bones’ from their latest self-titled effort that feeds their set the fire it needs. Whilst it isn’t quite Twisted Sister saying fuck it at forty, it’s Diamond Head embracing old age as if life for them is just beginning. (JP)

This Bloodstock Open Air article was written by Jack Press and Shannon Lockett, GIGsoup contributors

Bloodstock Open Air - Day One - Friday 12th August

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