Friday’s Bloodstock brought scorching sunshine AND torrential rain as Catton Park was thrown back to in time, from the warzone of Sabaton to the Vikings of Grand Magus, it was an epic second day!
Incite kicked Saturday off with an eery synth track, mixed live by the band on stage. They were fast and heavy, and ticked all the metaphorical boxes of things you want in a metal band, it’s just a shame they were so early on in the line-up where the crowd is still recovering from the previous night.
Zealot Cult lit up the Sophie Lancaster stage with pyrotechnics from behind the stage and ensure to competition would only heat up from then on. Zealot Cult showed clear talent in their respective genre, it’s unfortunate then that the genre didn’t lend itself well to the acoustics of the tent as most of the articulation from the death growls were lost in translation. However this didn’t stop the crowd from getting into the mood, ready for the next band on the bill.
Surprisingly big turnout for Xero at the Hobgoblin New Blood stage, a relatively new band on the scene, but I can understand why considering the deceptively high quality of their music. However, you could tell that they were not as accustomed to performing at a festival as other bands as their stage presence was not as good as it could have been. Other than that, the band made damn sure that the audience had a great time. We should be excited to see what they come up with next.
Back on the Ronnie James Dio stage, Xentrix introduced themselves to the familiar theme from Terminator 2: Judgment Day, and somewhat fittingly their music style resembled that of bands such as Annihilator. In stark contrast to the rest of the bands on Saturday morning, Xentrix were relatively static throughout their performance. The music and tempo itself was slower paced than most of the bands so far, which allowed for more time to appreciate the melodies that had clearly been worked hard on, though the vocals came across as somewhat underwhelming. This spot at the festival did however prove to be a good position for the band as they were able to use it to present songs from their new album.
Control the Storm entertained the Sophie Lancaster stage with their brand of melodic metal. Singer Firouzeh beguiled the crowd with her impressive vocals, and was supported by soaring keyboards and solid guitar work. The song writing was catchy and the band were energetic.
Meanwhile on the Hobgoblin Stage, if you closed your eyes and wished hard enough you could believe that you were listening to Iron Maiden circa Powerslave, or Judas Priest. It was in fact Midnight Prophecy putting a new spin on the NWOBM and resurrecting it with gusto, fun and not a little skill.
For the first time in 6 years, thrash metal legends Death Angel returned to bloodstock with a balls-to-the wall attitude and the metal to match. They drew the crowd from the whole festival to the Ronnie James Dio stage with their high energy and high tempo performance, not letting the crowd rest for even a second, keeping the adrenaline pumping and the mosh pits going. A standout song for me was their track “Voracious Souls” with the hard hitting beats and smooth riffs, it really did leave the crowd hungry for more.
Metal Church brought an irresistible “cool” energy to the Ronnie James Dio stage. Performing clearly came naturally to these veterans, and the pitch perfect instrumental performances made that clear. The vocal performance too was on point, however when it came to the harmonising with (the bassist), it came across less as a harmonisation for the sake of the chorus, and more as two people singing the same song at the same time, one with a deeper voice than the other.
Just before Soulfly took to the Main stage, the Gods saw it fit to open the heavens and unleash an absolutely insane amount of rain, drenching the area and everyone in it. As soon as the rain stopped however, almost to the minute, heavy metal veterans Soulfly took to the stage to help everyone forget about the rain, and help them remember why they came to Bloodstock in the first place: To listen to some fantastic Heavy Metal. Even through the rain, the crowd were eager to take part in the “woooooaaahhooohh’s” in the choruses. One standout member more than any other was Zylon Cavelara as from watching the stage or the screens it’s easy to see how much effort and pure skill he puts into his performances going from beat to beat seamlessly at breakneck speeds. They really did prove themselves to be Ayotollah’s of Rock and Roll.
One thing’s for sure, Children of Bodom aren’t dead yet. They came rocking onto the stage with their signature brand of “Extreme Heavy Metal”. Alexi Laiho’s vocal performance feeding the hungry crowd, and the accompanying instruments were all nothing short of pitch perfect. Children of Bodom may be nearing the three decade mark at this point, but they certainly don’t perform as if they’ve aged a day.
Karybdis achieved the holy grail of melodic death metal in that there was both death and melody in equal measure, along with outstanding technical ability and brutal, brutal aggression. It’s hardly groundbreaking stuff, but what is striking is how well they do it. A brief examination of the lyrics of their current album show a desire to highlight just what hypocrisy and plain stupidity have done to this planet we call home. Melodic death metal with a heart – what’s not to like?
“I don’t even know your name” may be a lyric from Sulpher‘s first song that they performed, but the crowd certainly knew who they were after their intriguing performance and distinct musical style. Smoke filled the stage adding an air of mystery to the music. Sulpher’s setlidt, as highlighted by the strange, alien, techno beats mixed with the hard hitting power chords, are all a clear influence from Rob Holliday and his background in the likes of The Prodigy, Marilyn Manson, and even Gary Newman. Halfway through the set Holliday ran into some technical difficulty and lost use of his guitar, however the level of professionalism he held would make anyone not paying too much attention not even notice, that is until he called attention to it with “These guys f*cking suck” gesturing to the stage. Credit where credit is due though, he kept performing and keeping the crowd entertained until the issue in question was fixed and to make it up to the audience he went in even harder than before. The highlight and surprise of the show has got to be their cover of “The Beautiful People” by Marilyn Manson, a cool fresh take on the song, making the already heavy song heavier, but still putting a fresh spin on the vocals.
Powerwolf had the subheadliner spot for the Ronnie James Dio stage and their set up was headliner worthy. A set up that could be likened to a lovechild of Ghost & Rammstein, it really was sight to behold when the band took to the stage, resembling a black and white classical painting was truly something spectacular, paired with the raging reds and yellows that radiated from their pyro set up, including some impressive hand flame throwers on vocalist Attila Dorn, they were one not to be missed.
Raging Speedhorn, the second contender for name of the name of the day, certainly live up to the image that the name implies – loud obnoxious music that’s all the better for it. Straight away they held the audience’s attention in the palm of their hand with the incredible use of the dual vocalists (Frank Regan and Dan Cook) and the hard hitting power chords and beats only being used to further incite chaos in the crowd. Both frontmen commanded fantastic stage presence, each communicating with the audience in their own unique way, sometimes riling the crowd up, others demanding their attention
Sabaton headlined the Ronnie James Dio stage, the first main stage headliner of the weekend and they brought a show! Following on from Powerwolf’s extravagant set up, they certainly went one up, taking us to 1914 with a TANK gracing the stage, paired with the fire and costumes, the crowd knew they’d be in for an excellent show. This didn’t take away from the vocals though, Sabaton live being true to their studio work, Joakim Brodén’s vocal skills pair with his infectious energy showed Bloodstock why it’s a no-brainer that they headlined. Rolling around on the sand bags that lined the stage, it was like watching some action packed war movie. The highlight of the set had to be ‘Winged Hussars‘ and ‘The Red Baron‘.
Sabaton boldly stated that Bloodstock Festival “is the best in the UK” – And honestly I have to agree it is one of the best. The security, the organisation – everything so far, even with a bit of rain, has been a delight, other festivals take note!
Grand Magus book marked the end of the day with a phenomenal outing, as to be expected of a group of their caliber. JB (Vocals and guitar) took the time to learn the names of the guys helping him with the sound tests before the gig even started which, to this reviewer, speaks volumes to their character. If you’ve seen Grand Magus before you’ll be familiar with their distinctive mix of genres, taking inspiration from the likes of blues, hard rock, metal and even doom. Nowhere is this more apparent in one of their stand out tracks of this setlist “Like The Oar Strikes The Water“, a song which ranges in both speed and style to deliver an all-round full package. JB, Fox, and Ludwig clearly put their all into every performance, and it was obvious to the crowd that these songs were made to really make you feel every beat, riff, and melody. As to be expected, Grand Magus ended the night on their most famous track “Hammer of the North“, which of course left many an audience member singing the “Whoah-oh“s long after the stage had dimmed and the band had left.
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