Bloodstock Open Air // The Sophie Lancaster Stage // Sunday August 13th // Pt.3

So, when you see the name Church Of The Cosmic Skull you kind of have the fear of god in you, and not in a good way. You’ll approach the Sophie Lancaster Stage with trepidation wondering what the hell you’re gonna encounter once you step through the barriers, to my amazement it was not what I expected! I was mentally prepped for a Darkness-esque styrofoam crab on the stage and sci-fi-dressed characters but thankfully my nightmare did not come to fruition.

Instead, there were six individuals all dressed somewhat like hippies and I knew I was now in for something altogether different, as the guitar player stage left was sound checking and playing chords and runs, some would say noodling my faith in humanity was restored and I began to believe, I actually became a belieb-er! BOA can be genre heavy, all forms of metal known to mankind but occasionally they can surprise you and I just knew standing there completely naked in the pit, this was going to be special!

I was not wrong, as soon as the band kicked in, this glorious sound echoed out over the Sophie Lancaster Stage and I was absolved! The Church Of The Cosmic Skull are without a doubt my favourite band of the weekend, why BOA don’t push the envelope out a little more often and bring in bands that absolutely cleanse the pallet once in a while to give the BOA hardcore fans a breather I just do not know, to me, this was reminiscent of last years Sunday night closer, The Night Flight Orchestra and their contrast compared to most bands on the stage. These guys and dolls were an absolute breath of fresh air and an undiscovered gem for me, I loved every second of what I saw and could not recommend them enough if you are a fan of old-school classic rock, vintage to the core, we’re talking the days of Free, Fleetwood Mac and The Eagles, beautiful classic songwriting performed by a stellar cast of musicians like nothing else this weekend had to offer. Praise the baby Jesus for the Church Of The Cosmic Skull for I am a Belieb-er! I am a Belieb-er!!!

Embodiment brings back the gnarly to the Sophie Stage, all whimsical, ethereal feelings that were floating around like the innocent bubbles blown by a child are now being stomped into the ground by the raging BOA heavy squad. Any memories of Church Of The Cosmic Skull have been eradicated by the vicious stabbing of Embodiment and their savage riffary, gnarly guttural vocals and behemoth sound. It clearly is time to batter and bruise the BOA faithful with a collection of hard-hitting bangers to whet the appetite for what is to come later. Tonights remaining bands are Zeal & Ardor here on the Sophie Stage, Megadeth on the Ronnie James Die Stage and back here for Biohazard. Clearly, no one is getting out of here alive tonight!

Embodiment drives it home with a brutal set that whips the crowd up into a frenzy, frothing at the mouth for more, bodies coming over the top for security to manage again and again, it’s all part of the beauty of a festival like BOA. Where do you go after Embodiment? How about a dose of Zeal & Ardor, this is one artist I have been dying to see for a long time now, ever since I first reviewed one of his albums I was mesmerised by the sonic tapestries he weaves and the thorough process that must take him on the journey during his songwriting process. Now it was time to see how this all translates to the live stage. There were 3 microphones placed centre stage, Z&A appears to have a double mic most likely used for distorted vocals and one for clean, and two other mics on either side indicating further vocalists. As the band take to the stage there is a guitarist and bassist on either side of the mic stands and then two gents come out to take their place before Z&A takes his place in the centre. What is unleashed is one of the most glorious live performances I have seen in a while as they rip the Sophie Stage from side to side, a magnificent blend of soulful, gospel-laden undertow all wrapped up in the most savage distortion and brutal, thunderous backline pummelling us with double bass drum patterns and thumping basslines. The frantic nature of the violence of the songwriting against its melodic quality and the utter passion pouring form the stage made this one of my highlights of the weekend. It was an absolutely stunning performance by a very special artist all put together to deliver the most immersive live experience you can get. Simply Awesome Sauce-inspiring, par excellence!

Megadeth take to the mainstage and a sold-out crowd pile down to witness one of the tightest thrash shows you’ll see in a while, the blistering guitar work and sublime solos of Kiko Lori light up the arena space and all is good once again. The very last band to play the Sophie Stage and say adios to BOA23 are the majestic Biohazard! You can tell this one is going to get messy as the volume of security has exponentially grown! At first we are lured into a false sense of security, the first song is relatively calm, one or two bodies over the top until, Biohazard call out the lack of work security are doing down below and then the shit hits the fan, the photographers are cleared out of the pit and chaos ensues! Exactly as a Biohazard gig should be. What a way to end a festival, what a way to end a glorious weekend packed full of bands, great music, craic with friends all at one of the friendliest festivals in the UK.

It is hard to believe it is time to say adieu once again, but all good things come to an end, a big thank you to Mark & Emmie for all their hard work, Kirsten & Michelle for having us and of course everyone at BOA23 for putting on yet another fine festival. Everyone I spoke to cant speak highly enough of the experience they have at BOA, long may it last.

Till next year I guess.


Pic’s By Flash Art Mark