Emperor ensure they will be remembered at Bloodstock

Bloodstock Open Air 2014 review

By Elena Francis | Published: Fri 15th Aug 2014

Bloodstock Open Air 2014 - around the festival site
Photo credit: Robert McGlade

Bloodstock Open Air 2014

Thursday 7th to Sunday 10th August 2014
Catton Hall, Walton-on-Trent, Derbyshire, DE12 8LN, England MAP
£130 weekend incl camping (+ booking fees)
Daily capacity: 12,000

Saturday at Bloodstock begins with more merciful weather, although the temperature has dipped by a few degrees. About to shatter the norm are Norwegian experimental metal weirdoes Shining. Given their insistence on destroying any rule book, this phenomenally talented band weaves avant-garde progressive metal with jazz-influenced approaches - complete with violent time changes, very angular guitar riffs and the inclusion of a hyperactive saxophone. Selections from freshest albums 'Black Jazz' and 'One One One' secure an impressive crowd for an early morning band that plays non-committal music and a cover of King Crimson's'20th Century Schizoid Man' is a fantastic treat for those new to Shining.

The Sophie Lancaster Stage sees Darlington-based underground heroes Old Corpse Road demonstrate the fruits of the recent UK explosion in Anglo-Saxon folk-inspired black metal. Formed in 2008, this five-piece have one impressive album bearing their name. Hypnotising keyboards are stitched to a four-vocalist attack and tasteful blastbeats to create compelling modern black metal songs. The attendance in the tent is deservedly creditable as the band allures the masses into tales of British history and by gauging their response, the onlookers are certainly eager to experience them.

Israel's Orphaned Land are on the Ronnie James Dio Stage with their almost ritualistic live performance. Their blend of Jewish folk music and progressive metal marks them as an intense rarity in music (their earlier days clasped on to doom metal too). Frontman Kobi Farhi is incredibly genial, denouncing the war between Israel and Palestine, advocating that both countries should share the Gaza Strip, receiving a wealth of applause from all listening. The metal cycles between the celebratory and the melancholy, vigorous and impassioned. Plenty of selections from last year's 'All is One' are aired out in addition to beloved fan favourites such as 'Sapari' and 'Ocean Land (The Revelation)' that make standing still a challenge. They return to the UK again later this year and they are guaranteed to see some new converts after this appearance.

Returning to Bloodstock again are gorefavourites Carcass on the Ronnie James Dio Stage. Starting things slow with 'Buried Dreams', these Englishmen have theaudience instantly headbang and mosh to the punchy death metal riffs and blood-curdling rasps while a projector spews forth a mess of gory images.Fairly on, the performance is brought to a halt as a fan needs to be salvaged from the aggressive crowd. “He's faking it, like every woman I've ever gone to bed with,” frontman Jeff Walk jokes before adding “If he dies, I'm going to look like a right cunt.” His stage banter piques quite a fair amount of attention as he dedicates a song to the memory of Sophie Lancaster and takes aim at Emperor's murderous drummer Faust.

The focus of the setlist is on last year's reunion album 'Surgical Steel', a highly lauded release verifying that Carcass are in firm control of their pathological death metal skills. Choice cuts include 'The Granulating Dark Satanic Mills', 'Unfit for Human Consumption' and 'Captive Bolt Pistol'. The early grindcore days are revisited with a medley of 'Genital Grinder', 'Pyosisified (Rotten to the Gore)' and 'Exhume to Consume'. However, the fans reacted most animatedly to 'Corporal Jigsore Quandry' and closer 'Heartwork' with crowdsurfers sailing over the rails rapidly and mosh pits growing disproportionately. Once again, Carcass leave the dishevelled audience grinning from ear-to-ear as yet another high octane is show is crossed off their list.

Headliners Emperor are back in the UK for the first time since 2006 when they did their initial reunion headlining show at London's Astoria. To make this appearance even more extraordinary, this UK exclusive will see the Norwegian black metallers playing their first-rate 'In the Nightside Eclipse' debut album in its entirety. As soon as opener 'Into the Infinity of Thoughts'  launches, moshers and headbangers raise temperatures in the crowd. This extremely influential symphonic black metal album sounds significantly clearer in the live environment than on CD without the production. It bonds together majesty and fierceness, all while the Norwegians provide an austere stage presence. Particular highlights of the set are 'Cosmic Keys to my Creation and Times', 'Towards the Pantheon' and 'I Am the Black Wizards' all performed flawlessly and demonstrably cherished by the multitude.

After 'Inno A Satana', the album arrives to its end and Emperor vacate the stage. There is a wild ovation and chants of “Emperor!” lead the Norwegians back out for their encore. Surprisingly, the setlist backtracks even further into Emperor's career with 'Ancient Queen' and 'Wrath of the Tyrant' from the 'Wrath of the Tyrant' demo, the first release of Emperor's. The set is masterfully tied up with a cover of Bathory's 'A Fine Day to Die', a tribute to the inventor of black metal. This secures a thunderous response and the cover would make Bathory's Quorthon very proud. With ease, Emperor have ensured that they are the band to remember at Bloodstock this weekend.

review by: Elena Francis

photos by: Robert McGlade

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