As the sun rises on the final day of this year’s Bloodstock Festival, we look to what will be the strongest Ronnie James Dio Stage line up of the three days. Lots of clashes for all the fans to consider today, early on Venom Prison clash with Blind Haze, Possessed clash with the up and coming Courtesans whilst Skindred and Criminal take to their respective stages at the same time. Not to mention all the bands on both the Hobgoblin Newblood and Jagermeister stages. The fans choice today is limitless.
Venom Prison are the UK’s fastest growing death metal outfit with a critically acclaimed debut album and a Metal Hammer Golden God award under their collective belts the world is now their oyster. First, they need to conquer the hungover crowd early on the last day of the weekend long festival. They put on a display to put the more established death metal acts later on the bill to shame. Showing the fans exactly why they have received such praise they batter the senses for a full on half an hour of face melting extreme metal.
Brujeria are a different experience all together. Throbbing angry bass and drums, screeching fast guitars and machete wielding vocalists all the way. The older material is the highlight of the set for me; Brujerizmo and Anti-Castro are brutal grind with a Mexican twist and to finish off we have their own take on that classic; The Macarena which the Sunday morning faithful seem to lap up.
Seminal 80’s death metal outfit Possessed are next up, playing the festival for the first time since their
reformation. Frontman Jeff Becerra is outstanding and has always been a consistent front man and yet again doesn’t fail to deliver.
Fellow American death metalers Obituary play directly afterwards. The Tardy boys have long been the forefathers of the genre and in the last two shows that I have witnessed they have been nothing short of mesmerising. Their form continues today John Tardy’s vocal grows and his brother’s exquisite drumming the driving force behind this band. Trevor Peres and Kenny Andrews on guitar whip up a storm that gets the fans into a frenzy. The ideal band at the ideal point on this so far extreme main stage bill.
Rumour has it Hell have brought over £30,000 worth of pyro with them for their mid-afternoon performance. From the outset it would seem the rumour is true, vast fire cannons fill front of stage with wave after wave flares. They have the musical styling’s of a traditional NWOBHM ensemble, but in truth they are anything but. Andy Sneap’s on point guitar-manship ensure they are technically superior to anything that musical movement produced. Blasphemy and the Master brings out front man David Beckfords acting background. A star of stage and screen his performance gives the band an edge, it’s almost as if you’re watching a musical not a heavy metal show. 35 minutes is too short a set, if you ever get chance to see Hell’s full headline show, I highly recommend it.
Next up are the weekends second controversially booking (following on from King 801 yesterday). Another act the Bloodstock faithful were not sure fit the bill, but frontman Benji was out to prove the doubters wrong. The band go all out straight for the off, Benji possibly the best front man in the business and knows how to whip up a crowd. Thanks to some of Bloodstocks sponsors the pit is full of beach balls being thrown about, quite the site to see. The fans add to this too, a giant inflatable turtle can be seen along with a bearded
fellow crowd surfing on the back on an inflatable whale (seriously). Back on stage Benji has the crowd eating out his hand with his brand of regge infused heavy metal. When they hit Warning it’s time for the “Newport Helicopter” and it’s quite a sight to see. 15,000 extreme metal fans bouncing up and down swinging their t-shirts over their heads. Despite being seen as a controversial billing Skindred have certainly proved any doubters wrong. Never have I seen such audience participation at Bloodstock, people dancing, bouncing and singing from the front to the very back of the arena. Mark my words, 2019 will see Skindred headline this festival – I’m off down William Hill to bet my house on it!
Trying to top that are Swedish melodic death metal outfit Arch Enemy, and they have quite an act to follow. This is only the second time I’ve seen the band since Angela Gossow departed to be replaced by Alissa White-Gulz. She has grown into the role, not to fill Gossow’s shoes but to stand alongside them and she does that job so well. Making the part her own with her personal vocal style that fits so well with the older material just as it does with her own songs. Entering with an almighty bang to which Arch Enemy literally explode onto the stage and for forty five minutes they rule the roost, maybe lacking the fan interaction of Skindred, but on par with them for musical performance.
To close the day and the festival as a whole, Megadeth return for the second time in the final headline slot. These days there is no messing about with the Megadeth machine, you know exactly what you are going to get with them and Dave Mustaine is on form tonight. They blast out of the box with Hanger 18, The Threat is Real and Wake Up Dead, enough to make the hairs on the back on your neck stand on end, this Megadeth set is the real deal!
Kiko Loureiro taking over on guitar proves he’s quite the match for Mustaine, being allowed to solo just as much as the front man showing off just how good a guitarist he is. Rolling out the older tunes we have the Mechanix from the bands 1985 debut album and A Tout Le Monde is as popular as ever. The killer finale to the set is much as expected, but performed well it is so so good. Symphony of Destruction, Peace Sells and the unbeatable Holy Wars round off the weekend.
Year on year Bloodstock just keeps getting better, from the overall organisation to the band line ups, the staff, the volunteers and every single person involved. Add to the probably the best festival fans in the business and this weekend never fails to deliver. With Gojira and Nightwish already announced to headline 2018, the festival shows no signs of slowing down at all.
Check out our final day gallery below!