Day 4 of Bloodstock sees KK Downing take to the stage for the first time in a decade, The Lazys rocking out, Wheel and Queensryche bringing the prog and The Scorpions were just kinda there.
Taking the stage accompanied by an old country song about crack cocaine and Adolf Hitler, All Hail The Yeti didn’t ease the crowd gently into the last day of the festival. They came out swinging with catchy beats that had you tapping and nodding along first thing in the morning. Overall a good first showing for the Sunday, with screams reminiscent of Parkway Drive from the previous night, and clean vocals which made for a nice contrast.
During All Hail The Yeti, Resin took to the Sophie Lancaster stage to demonstrate their unique brand of metal which is fuelled by a mixture of clean vocals and distorted beats. An interesting thing to note about the band’s performance is that a violinist accompanied them onstage. Their presence was felt throughout the whole set as it brought a unique flavour to the music. Adi Mayes from Krysthla also joined Resin on stage after performing on the Saturday, lending his vocals much to the crowd’s delight.
Aborted took to the Ronnie James Dio stage during a torrential rainstorm which seemingly came out of nowhere. This was fitting in some ways as their blast beats from the drums and intense guitars felt right at home in the heart of a storm. Aborted bring a very particular type of Death Metal to the stage, which understandably might not be for everyone, but many were able to still have a good time with the harsh beats.
Ross The Boss tore into the Ronnie James Dio stage, post rainstorm, helping the crowd to forget all their recent inconveniences of the rain and mud. The second they started playing the sun came out, and so did the crowds. Ross The Boss clearly had a sizeable amount of fans at Bloodstock, and it’s clear to see why with their style resonating with the like of Manowar, and The Dictators, clear influences from Ross Friedman’s earlier career. Whether you like the genre of classic metal or not, it’s impossible not to admire the clear level of technical ability shown by the band. The lead guitar is the clear focus and it’s easy to see why with their riff and old school solo focused songs which could easily be compared to Judas Priest. Speaking of Judas Priest, special guest K. K. Downing made an appearance as co-guitarist, and for the classic metal fans in the crowd, this was very special indeed; and from as an unbiased point of view as possible, it was really cool to see. The standout here of course was their cover of “Breaking The Law“, they’re a band who’ve channelled classic metal into their very being, and covering one of the most iconic songs of all time, WITH one of the original members of the band, what’s not to love about it? Ross The Boss don’t do anything new, they simply refine what’s existed for years into a streamlined machine. If you like classic metal, then this band is perfect for you.
Soilwork play melodic death metal with a heavy emphasis on the melodic. There’s always one band who you come away from a festival promising yourself that you will gorge yourself on their back catalogue. On the basis of today’s performance that honour this year goes to Soilwork. I had heard of them due to Devin Townsend having contributed to the band in the early 2000s but had never really checked them out. I now realise this was a mistake. Hailing from Sweden these guys really know how to write a melody and they really know how to play. I feel like I might be getting on a bandwagon that has been going on for 20 years with people screaming at me “How could you not know???”, but hey there is so much music in the world and so little time, but rest assured I will be doing my upmost to catch up.
During Soilwork’s phenomenal outing on the main stage, Wheel lit up the Sophie Lancaster stage with beats of their own. The instrumental work through their set was fantastic with a clear drum beat leading the way, complemented by a phenomenal baseline. At first the band appeared to be a simple rock back, however the further on in the setlist the band played, the clearer the Prog rock influences became. By the middle of the set Wheel were in full Prog mode with long form songs, heavy driven beats that built to a beautiful sense of catharsis and even clear contrast in the vocal stylings of James Lascelles’ cleans and screams. Wheel show an outstanding amount of promise, and I’ll be looking forward to seeing them again when they’ve a clearer identity of their own.
Melodic Death Metal has been a rare sight at Bloodstock this weekend, but Hypocrisy brought a breath of fresh air back at the Ronnie James Dio stage with their incredible beats that you could feel in your stomach, and their fantastic mix of synthesised beats layered over the fast paced dark hard hitting verses. The way that Peter Tägtgren seamlessly went from deep growls up to the high pitched screams was awe-inspiring. All in all, Hypocrisy were a fantastic warm up act for those of the crowd who were waiting for Cradle Of Filth.
I came to Dee Snider expecting to see a musician past his prime, only in it for the money. But I’m glad to say I was pleasantly surprised. “You can’t stop rock and roll” is the title of one of Dee Snider’s most recognisable tracks and it pretty much sums up the band itself. Dee Snider would be recognisable to most as the lead singer of the rock legends Twisted Sister, yet in this solo project he lends his vocals to a harder, faster version of Rock, one that fully deserves to be at Bloodstock Festival. The tempo was high and so was the nostalgia. Dee Snider went on speak about Twisted Sister and how the only reason they split up was because “he wasn’t done yet“. Aside from the music though he held phenomenal stage presence and made the whole audience laugh with a short rant about people leaving for the bathroom during his songs, but staying for the Twisted Sister. Regardless of the inevitable covers that were performed, the highlight of the show had to be the new music that was performed here at Bloodstock. Songs like “American Made” really show the difference between the old and new of Rock and Roll.
Taking the stage at their new time slot following Dee Snider, Cradle Of Filth drew in a huge crowd, some just curious, others dedicated fans that clearly had been waiting all weekend if the amount of shirts is anything to go by. Their iconic brand of Extreme Heavy Metal is instantly recognisable through the mix of creepy keyboard backing tracks, crossed with insane guitar, bass, and drum playing, always at what feels like 100 miles an hour, and of course Dani Filth’s instantly recognisable screams. On a technical level Cradle Of Filth are fantastic, I found it difficult to find any flaws in their musical ability whatsoever, they really are masters of their craft, and that includes the backing singer. My only issue is at this point in their career they’ve almost become parodies of themselves, what with their long Gothic costumes, moody composure and serious to a fault attitudes. The couple of times Danny Filth tried to crack a joke went unheeded by the crowd as it felt out of place in their otherwise Gothic theatrical gig, it just feels as if they can’t fully commit one way or the other. Overall, fantastic on a technical and musical level, but don’t expect much in the way of charisma.
Over on the Sophie Lancaster stage, Blood Red Hourglass had the daunting task of following Cradle Of Filth off of the back of the crowds from the main stage. The band were certainly a good fit for this as their genres of extreme/death metal mixed really well with each other, though I’d hasten to add that Blood Red Hourglass seemed to command a better stage presence in their shorter time on stage than Cradle Of Filth managed to in their whole set. The main differences here is that Blood Red Hourglass lacks any immediate form of keyboard or synth backing track, but to combat this the music contains far more leading melodies for their audience to appreciate. They were also not afraid to take it slow, using breakdowns if they had to to keep to crowd immersed in the show.
Queensrÿche had their first ever appearance at Bloodstock this year, and it was long overdue. The Prog metal legends took to the stage burning iconic track after iconic track, each bringing a cathartic experience, and each better than the last. “Walk in the shadows” was a standout track for many as it gave the chance to really sing along with the chorus, and many did. Live, the vocal ability of Todd La Torre astounds – the sheer skill it must take to hold the notes as long as he does, again and again without fail is simply breathtaking. One thing that surprises, regardless of all remaining in the same genre, is the wide variety in the songs that Queensryche perform. To a lesser band, this could throw them off their groove but these Seattle legends didn’t miss a single beat. If by some miracle you’ve never truly given Queensryche a proper listen, set aside a couple of hours and get to it.
Being given the daunting task of playing opposite prog metal legends Queensryche, Batushka certainly lifted all lethargy from the crowd in the Sophie Lancaster stage. Originally replacing Dimmu Borgir after they couldn’t make it, and then being moved to the following day due to the wind, Batushka finally took to the stage in eerie faceless holy-man uniforms, surrounded by candles and incense. The set and costumes were almost certainly some of the best all weekend bringing a sense of mystery and excitement to the stage. This reviewer has never seen a band be as dedicated to their theme as Batushka is, not only do they wear identity concealing costumes on set (similar to Ghost for those of you that have no idea what I’m talking about) but even their lyrics are written in the Old Church Slavonic language. Aside from mere aesthetics however, the Black Metal band impressed on a musical level as their expertise with their weapons of choice was undeniable, all of which were only highlighted by the choir-like track playing in the background. If you like unique experiences with your music, Batushka are ones to watch for certain. [Editor’s note: this was Bartłomiej Krysiuk’s Batushka]
The final band on the Hobgoblins New Blood stage, The Lazys had quite the task ahead of them being late on the last day and on one of the smaller stages. Luckily their high energy set kept the crowd in a amped up late into the evening. One of the best things about The Lazys is that even though they’ve probably played their set a hundred times or more, they always look as if they’re having as much fun as if it was the first time all over again. By the end of the second song “Highway Woman“, half the crowd were dancing and the rest were sure to follow. Whilst maybe not the most fancily polished of bands, The Lazys make up for it by their sheer fun factor, energy, and raw emotion.
The Scorpions drew the largest crowd of the entire weekend, by far. Personally, I went to see The Scorpions with the same expectations of Dee Snider – five old men, well past their expiration date doing one more concert for the money. Dee Snider proved me wrong but unfortunately I walked away from the headline act feeling the same as I walked in. For an act as massive as Scorpions I expected to be blown away by their raw star power, and instead I felt as if they were just “fine”. Many crowd members referred to The Scorpions as “The ones who done Rock Me Like A Hurricane” and I believe this statement is unfair as they do deserve far more respect than that. It’s a shame that the set lacked energy as the set design was very interesting with the use of multiple LED screens, portraying different images depending on the songs and different themes. The stand out song here “Wind Of Change” was even a bit of a tearjerker as you could still feel the passion behind it through the meaning of the lyrics. It was clear to the audience that 71 year old Klaus Meine wanted to put the energy and effort it, but 2019 marks the 50th year he’s been with the band and it’s starting to show as the vocals were decent enough, but the show itself just seemed to lack energy. I walked away having enjoyed The Scorpions, but enough that I feel content to not see them again.
Overall Bloodstock was a huge success and with bands already announced for next year, the wait for Bloodstock 2020 will be an agonising one! 9.5/10
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