Friday morning welcomes the first full day of the Bloodstock festival; a full four stages of bands to fill the average metal heads every need, and then some. Today sees the likes of Amon Amarth headline the Ronnie James Dio main stage, whilst Inquisition will close out the Sophie Lancaster second stage and a plethora of young talent fills the Hobgoblin sponsored Newblood stage.
To wake us all up from a dreary start to the morning and ease us all out of our hangovers are Bradford’s own stoners Ironrat on the Sophie Lancaster stage. Blues infused, tuned down, slow and dark is the best way to start the day. Hints of Corrosion of Conformity echo through Chris Flear’s vocals and bass of Stuart Hillman reverberate around the tented arena. A fantastic start leaves me wondering why these Yorkshire men are so low down on the bill.
Following on the Sophie stage to add a little more intensity to the morning are Leicester’s Internal Conflict.
One of the great things about this festival is the diversity the line up brings and that’s exactly what we get from this highly rated five piece. Bringing their own brand of metalcore / hardcore to the table much different to what has come before or will indeed come after. They deliver an early morning slap to the face with fantastic execution and delivery of sheer brutality.
Heading over to the Hobgoblin Newblood stage we have The Revivals favourite new band Ashen Crown. Having caught their first ever show back in March we can’t wait to see them make their first ever major festival appearance following on from their Metal to the Masses win. The band delivers an on point display of death metal mastery. Front man Kieran Scott has grown so much into his role in the past six months commanding the stage and deliver a solid vocal performance. As the circle pits open up dual guitars of Jay Rogers and Ste Fowkes drive this force forward, Jays solos on par with that of a certain Mr Mustain playing on the main stage later in the festival.
Dani Filth, of Cradle of Filth fame, brings his new outfit Devilment to the main stage. Despite not being the biggest fan of his other band, Devilment provide something else musically that can even draw Dani’s biggest opposition in. Musically Devilment stand head and shoulders above Cradle and the live show matches this. The dual vocals of Dani and keyboardist Lauren work wonderfully and takje you along on their magical metal mystery tour of extreme metal madness.
Morass of Molasses on the Sophie stage take us back on a stoner route, but these boys have the banter level turned up to 11. In between bowel quivering low end tunes dripping in doom filled abundance, they offer the best on stage banter of the day. Leaving the tent I had a smile ear to ear from both the music and the comedy, on an entertainment level by far the best band of the day.
Back in the Newblood stage are Coventry’s Metal to the Masses winners Devil’s Playground. A six-piece outfit with dual male/female vocals. Much like Devilment on the mainstage this dual vocal combo works exceedingly well, a growling death metal snarl accompanied by the striking singing voice of Leanne gives this band the edge. Delivering full on heavy metal with a twist, Devil’s Playground show the fans in this smaller stage just how good a product they have.
One of the highlights of today’s bill are undoubtedly Testament, the thrash metal titans and some would argue one of the “big four” thrash bands instead of Anthrax. Chucky Billy has lead this group through trials and tribulations over 35 years and they are still going from strength to strength. Alex Skolnick’s guitar work is as ever suburb. Despite the technical and sound difficulties experienced in the set its still a show to remember. Finishing off their allotted hour with Practice What You Preach and Formation of Damnation. It’s about time the band returned to these shores for a full tour and if they do from that performance we can expect something very special.
Blind Guardian may not be everyone’s cup of tea; but as power metal are the foundation blocks of this very festival they make a welcome return to the line up for all the traditionalist amongst us. The packed main stage witnesses the ensembles first UK festival performance in eight long years as they lead us through mythical tales throughout their early evening slot. The Bards Song – In The Forest the moment for a full on Bloodstock sing along. No matter what you think of Blind Guardian you can’t fault their performance this evening.
Back in the Sophie stage are US progressive stoner rockers Lionize, similar to Clutch in sound but more progressive mixing dub and reggae stylings in with the hard rock vibe. Frontman Nate, ever the showman in his outlandish outfits, leads us on a joyful romp through fields of heavy riffs and experimental frivolity. Some may find them an acquired taste; but their willingness to experiment and put out something that little bit different makes them stand out from the crowd and I for one love the show.
Thus we are brought back to the main stage to close out proceedings. Amon Amarth just three short years ago wowed us all with fire breathing dragons during their set as main support to Megadeth. This year they are headliners in their own right and we can only start to dream about what sort of show we will encounter this year.
As dusk draws in and the stage lights dim, the drum riser is unsheathed to reveal a giant Viking crown atop which the drum kit sits. Opening with The Pursuit of Vikings flames abound from front of stage in a wondrous show of theatrics. Johan’s guttural throaty vocals take us on a jaunt through Viking mythology and tales of middle earth.
Melodic death metal at its finest the Raise your Horns and Guardians of Asgaard round out a solid headline performance which displays just why they are headline material, taking that next step up on the career ladder. With the addition of Twilight of the Thundergods as an encore we are left mesmerised (and those of us at the front a little charred) from the musical and pyrotechnic display. Possibly the best way to end the day and leave us wondering just what has the remaining two days got to offer, can day 1 be topped?