Bloodstock Open Air is the leading heavy metal event in the UK these days, sixteen years after its humble beginnings as a one day indoor show in Derby. The festival has grown steadily ever since that day expanding indoors before moving outside in 2005 with one stage over two days. From there on the potential for growth has known no bounds. The hard work put in by Paul Gregory and his children has seen the outdoor festival now span four days and four stages attracting some of biggest names in the heavy metal world.
Every August 15,000 metalheads head to the Derbyshire countryside to camp in the expansive grounds of Catton Hall country house and enjoy the sun, sights and 4 days of extreme music. With entry prices cheaper than any of its counterparts, year on year its always a rush to get tickets, especially those limited VIP and Rock Society ones, both of which have long since sold out for this year’s event.
And so with the event just over sixteen short weeks away here at The Revival we are just a little bit excited
about this year’s instalment, no matter what you specific tastes, there will be something for you. The main stage is named in memory of the legend that is Ronnie James Dio and the headliners for each day has now been announced.
On Friday, the first full day of the weekend, we are treated to Amon Amarth at the top of the bill. The band have played the festival three times previously, including one of the indoor events, but never in the top slot. Fans have long been calling for their promotion to main stage headliners and now they get their chance.
Hailing from Sweden, the band are death metal in sound and lyrically deal with Norse mythology and Vikings. Johan Hegg's guttural vocals fit perfectly into the themes the band cover, a Viking warrior roaring as he enters the battle. Musically there are melodic elements to the death metal sound, but don't let that put you off; the screaming guitars and fast passed heavy drums are more traditional death metal than anything else. When they last appeared at the festival in 2014 they brought a partial stage show for their set, one slot below the headliners of the day and what a display that was. Fire breathing dragons filled the stage with flames and smoke for over an hour of a breath-taking set. We here can't wait to see what theatrics they bring with them this summer.
Saturday is a different matter entirely, an inspired booking by Vicky Hungerfood and her team, who have brought Grammy winners Ghost to the festival for the first time. Another booking fans have been calling for, nee begging for, for some years. From their last album release the band have taken a step up musically as the multitude of awards have shown.
Having recently caught the band on their sold out Popestar tour of the UK last month, we at The Revival are incredibly excited by this booking. Just read our review of their recent Manchester show to understand why. The progressive metal outfit meld exquisite musicianship with inspired vocals and lyrics into a theatrical anti-Catholicism theme. All members of the band are anonymous, suited in all black with identical silver horned masks covering their faces. Frontman "Papa Emeritus" dresses as a demonic version of the pope with full robes, hat and a prosthetic mask covering his face. A complete contrast to the Friday headliners, with choral vocal perfection and technically exploitative musicianship that push the boundaries in every way possible.
The Sunday of the weekend sees Megadeth return to close out the festival for a second time, having previously done so in 2014. One of the "Big 4" thrash metal bands and pioneers of the genre, led by everyone's favourite ginger, Dave Mustaine. I wasn't expecting a great deal from their last festival appearance after the 2013's release of the somewhat lacklustre Super Collider; however the set they put on for the Bloodstock faithful was top draw.
2017 sees the band return having just release the critically acclaimed (and Grammy award winning) Dystopia, which almost instantly became a hardcore fan favourite. The scope for the show they could put on this summer has grown significantly since their last showing and has the Megadeth faithful foaming at the mouth in expectation.
With three headliners holding so much gravitas amongst the heavy metal community, the festival has the potential to be the best yet. Whilst VIP tickets are sold out, standard access/camping tickets remain on sale for the weekend, but they won't last long with the strength of this line up. Be sure to head over to www.bloodstock.uk.com to guarantee your place in a Derbyshire field alongside us at what promises to be the event of the year.