Bloodstock, the UK's biggest annual outdoor metal festival is nearly upon us, in just a few short weeks we'll all be standing in a field in Derbyshire watching some of the biggest bands the genre has to offer under the blazing summer sun.
The line up will be familiar to a lot of you. Amon Amarth, Ghost and Megadeth headline a day each and need no introduction from myself (you can read our headliners preview if you do need this introduction). Also on the main stage bill are Blind Guardian, thrash legends Testament and Kreator, Hatebreed, Arch Enemy, Skindred, Hell and Obituary and many many more. An absolute killer line up that will be gracing the festival over three days of head banging, fist pumping, heavy metal fury.
However, the thing I absolutely love about Bloodstock is not the big acts that fill up the main stage roster, but the acts I've never heard of before. The ones that every year I go to the festival not knowing a thing about and yet get a recommendation from some guy at the bar; usually with the tag line "Dude, you need to check out band x they are killer". Every year, without fail I leave the festival site with a love of a handful of bands I didn't have before. Thus, today I am being that guy at the bar, telling you before you even reach the bar "Dude, check out these bands, they are awesome!"
First up in my list of four bands worth checking out are Londoners GURT! Appearing on the Sophie Lancaster stage on Thursdaynight, so make sure you get their early. My first live experience of them was actually from "that guy" at the bar three years ago at this very festival. On the recommendation of a stranger I wandered over to the Sophie Stage and my life was irreversibly changed forever. Gurt are quite possibly the best active sludge band in the UK, this fair aisle's answer to Crowbar. The live show of intensity and sludge mastery that is sure to get your buy in, if you like that sort of thing. A down right dirty, gritty sound that I will tell you now you will love!
Friday see's Birminghams Ashen Crown take to the Hobgoblin Newblood Stage for their first major festival appearance. The band only formed late in 2016 and we at The Revival were lucky enough to catch their first ever show earlier this year. They meld death metal riffs with some darker doom laden elements. Dual guitars from Ste and Jay mix perfectly and the latter’s solo work is as good as any you will hear. We highly recommend you catch Ashen Crown at Bloodstock, momentum is in their favour, they are on a roll and gaining a lot of critical acclaim, they won't be on stages this small for long!
Saturday might have the big name headliner in Ghost over on the main stage, but the Sophie Lancaster stage has a stella line up. If you like your doom then we cannot recommend enough Kroh, the brain child of former Mistress/Fukpig guitarist Paul Kenny. The band tweaked their line up prior to releasing the stunning sophomore album, Altars, last year and followed it up with a string of live shows that quite simply blew people away. With Oliwia Sobieszek taking over at the helm on vocal duties; her Kate Bush like style mixed with Kenny's dark song writing is a match made in doom laden heaven. Certainly one of the break out bands of last year and one not to miss.
For something completely different, also on the Sophie Stage, we highly recommend upcoming thrash outfit Eradikator. Heavily influenced by the big four, their records to date an credibly well written, recorded and produced masterpieces with a heavy hint of "countdown era" Megadeth creeping in. Their show is everything you would expect from a band playing the old school thrash sound, loud and raucous with a dedicated fan base to match. They have a string of big name dates leading up to their festival appearance, including support slots with Sacred Reich and Death Angel. If you like your heavy metal delivered at face melting pace then I recommend you check them out.
So there you have it, before you get to the hallowed fields of Catton Hall and walk over to Lemmy's bar to buy a drink, I've jumped in and recommended to you four relatively unknown bands who are moving on to big things. Before they all make it to the big time, and they all will, you've got the opportunity to see them in a more intimate setting on a smaller festival stage. I hope you all make time to at least check one or two of them out, if not them all. I assure you, you won't regret it.
Editors Note: It would be absolutely criminal if we also didnt mention The Infernal Sea who will absolutely rip you limb from limb on Thursday night. Be sure to check them out. i have it in good faith that they are pulling out all the stops for this show and you wont be dissapointed - Jay