Bloodstock continues with day three as heavyweights Parkway Drive and Anthrax take to the stage and The Wildhearts make their first Bloodstock appearance.
Krysthla came to the Ronnie James Dio stage swinging and ready to fight. Speaking to a fan by the barrier he said “They’re greasy but I could listen to the drummer all day” and to some extent that statement reigned true. The blast beats of the drums complemented by the heavy doom-style riffs from the guitars drew the crowd into a mosh pit, and this is first thing at 10.45am, before any other band has even stepped foot on any stage. The stand out here was the first single that was released from their yet-to-be released album “Zero Sum Game“. Their energy and the pure heavy nature were fantastic, but the growling of the vocalist wasn’t anything to write home about.
Meanwhile the Sophie Lancaster stage opened with The Parallax Method, who showed a clear distinctive flair in their blues-infused brand of metal. Their music, whilst lacking traditional structure was enjoyable, and a great easy opener to the day.
Cancer Bats upped the ante on the main stage by leaping into action with their signature energy and hardcore punk style. Though just the first song the band already had several pits going, just going to show how easy it is to listen to them and feel ready for anything. Though the vocals perhaps weren’t as clean as they are on track, that’s not what you go to see Cancer Bats for, you go for the raw emotion and power that their songs deliver, and they did, in spades. Unexpectedly Cancer Bats performed their cover of Sabotage by The Beastie Boys, where back in the crowd the energy and excitement was cranked straight to 11.
Swallow the Sun entranced festival goers with their sweet and soft melodies which contrasted with their heavy and intense choruses. The juxtaposition of high pitched notes over the deep power chords made for a pleasant experience, it’s just a shame then that the open-air nature of the stage didn’t lend itself well to the vocal stylings of the Mikko Kotamäki.
Bringing a breath of fresh air to the main stage on the Saturday was Evil Scarecrow with their strong theatrical presence, head turning costumes and weird set piece. The use of Co2 canons and guns on stage certainly brought life to the already upbeat performance, raising the bar that much more.Evil Scarecrow held great stage presence with clear skill using their respective instruments, even coming down to synchronised movements between the various members. However whether it was due to the heavy winds during their set, or audio issues, it became increasingly difficult to hear the music at the level of quality it deserved. Funnily enough the band seemed to know about the weather issues and even stated that they had spent a fortune on “pyro’s” and asked the audience to “imagine” the pyro, whether that’s true or not is up to you.
The best thing about Evil Scarecrow’s performance was that every single song was punctuated by a different accompanying act on stage, ranging from a large metal goblin to strange entities bursting from the on-set igloo to the “polter-ghosts”, and even a so-called “genuine NASA astronaut” and his anti-gravity machine (which can supposedly bought from Argos). Even during the explanation for these off-the-wall activities, even frontman Dr Hell couldn’t take themselves seriously, bringing some much needed levity to the day, which so far had been extremely heavy almost non-stop. This band clearly deserves a listen outside of a festival environment, but their show really does need to be seen live to experience to true weirdness of their sick and twisted imagination.
Meanwhile on the Sophie Lancaster stage, Red Method were busy bringing their own brand of death metal to the masses. Easily recognisable by their striking costumes, Red Method brought harsh and fast beats, through their first song at least, until they hit some technical issues where certain backing tracks wouldn’t stop or start when needed. Luckily Jeremy Gomez has a decent amount of charisma and was able to keep the crowd entertained until the issue was resolved. Following in the footsteps of Death and Cannibal Corpse, but putting their own spin on the genre, Red Method are a band to keep an eye on.
As to be expected from a name like Thy Art Is Murder, the band brought brutality in spades and absolutely killed it. The death growls of frontman Chris McMahon are some of the best on show of the whole weekend, and no doubt, available today. Thy Art Is Murder came with a clear message against certain political leaders with the track “Make America Hate Again” and regardless of their standpoint none can deny the raw power and skill behind this phenomenally composed work of art. They may have been around for some time now, so it surprises this reviewer that a band with such charisma and talent is so low down the bill, although this may be expected considering it’s their first ever appearance here at Bloodstock – hopefully we can expect better things in the future.
During Thy Art Is Murder, the young German thrash metal band Dust Bolt kicked it into gear on the Sophie Lancaster stage, turning it up a notch with their high energy performance that held clear nods to more classic Thrash bands like Metallica, Slayer and even Kreator. If you like high speed, high energy music, give Dust Bolt a go, you won’t regret it.
The Wildhearts followed Thy Art Is Murder on the Ronnie James Dio stage. The first thing which struck the crowd is how radically different this band is than the last, their bass riffs and some vocal stylings are clearly inspired by older bands like The Beatles, where as other vocal sections more closely resemble the likes of Deep Purple, with the guitars sounding like they could belong to a Guns N’ Roses tribute band. At this point in time The Wildhearts are three decades old, and unfortunately it’s beginning to show. They felt out of place at Bloodstock, let alone being set between heavy hitters like Thy Art Is Murder, and Extreme Metal legends, Cradle Of Filth.
For Three Headed Snake to only come and play Bloodstock is a shame as they command enough presence and skill to hold their own tour. The vocal ability of Johnny Ray, the lead singer is absolutely astounding, reaching notes which usually would be reserved for the likes of Iron Maiden, except here this reviewer would argue that they excel. The band’s background in Ministry are clear as the guitar work takes clear inspiration, yet manages to differ itself enough to transform Three Headed Snake into a completely different beast. “Untouchable Undead” was a phenomenal stand out song as it contained a beautiful mix of slow and beautiful guest work which delved deeply into the heavy riffs, combined with the dark harsh bass and drum beats. As to be expected of the Grammy nominated guitarist Sin, the work on the solos was absolutely without equal, and to see it in the flesh was truly an experience that needs to be had. For a first ever show, Three Headed Snake absolutely blew it out of the park.
There’s not much to say about Anthrax that hasn’t already been said. Introducing their first song by asking “anybody got the fucking time?“, the answer was late. Late because winds held up the bands timeslot to an hour later than it should’ve been. The Thrash Metal legends proved to the huge crowd just why they’re Thrash Metal Legends, with recognisable riffs and choruses in nigh on every song. Most likely due to the winds, occasionally Joey Belladonna would seem to drift and cut out, which though it didn’t lessen the enjoyment per se, it was disappointing. It was certainly a surreal experience as during “Mad House” the wind picked up yet again and both the lights and speakers began to sway in the wind, almost echoing the bands raw power behind their music. Anthrax were a great time with so many iconic songs and beats that you can almost hear in your mind when you speak about them. But as iconic as they are, I’d be quite content to have this Bloodstock show as the final one for me.
During the battle between Anthrax and the wind, Divine Chaos took up arms at the Sophie Lancaster stage to show the crowd what Death Metal really sounds like. Their blast beats and slick riffs kept the crowd jumping about long into their final songs.
Parkway Drive were a controversial decision to have headline the Saturday of Bloodstock, which is arguably the biggest day. But I contest anyone who says that Parkway Drive didn’t absolute kill it on stage. From the first moment that the band were led through the crowd by their torch bearing companions, into Wishing Wells, there’s not much more to say than they blew everyone who came before straight out of the water. Their song Prey, one of the best songs released in recent times, was even better to witness live, instantly raising the remaining energy levels up from 1-100, and if weren’t a convert by the end of this show, then you never will be. Sometimes beauty is in the simplicity of a show, and this was one of the greatest examples of that concept. Parkway drive didn’t dress up in anything more than plain black clothing, calling attention purely to the music.
Winston McCall seemed genuinely humbled by the fact that he and the band were at Bloodstock as the main act, and there was even some humour where he introduced bassist Jia O’Connor who “fucked his knee up playing football” and had him brought on stage in a wheelchair, calling the wheelchair the “real sixth member of the band”, a callback to when Winston had broken his foot earlier in the year.
“One life, one shot, give it all you’ve got” a lyric from their third track “Vice grip” which Parkway Drive clearly heeded as during the entire performance they gave 110% from beginning to end. Aside from pure musical ability, the technical aspect of the gig was also just as good with lighting emphasising each band member during particular part, and a staggering amount of pyrotechnics that lit up the night sky with every use. Even though Jia was in a wheelchair, it didn’t stop him from being on the scissor lift which helped him ascend during the bass heavy sections of “Absolute Power“. Halfway through the set, the energy was brought down and calmed when the lights focused in on four classical string players performing beautiful piece which smoothly transitioned into the second half of the set and even seamlessly wove them into the chorus of the following song. My only complaint is that I had to wait that little bit longer to see the show.