Fans emerging from their tents on Saturday find the Derbyshire skies overcast, even threatening a little rain, not the best hang over cure but all seem in high spirits.
German melo-death metallers Nailed to Obscurity start the day with a short angst filled set. Shortly followed by Texans Power Trip who are fast becoming the most talked about new thrash outfit in the world, bringing a whole heap of attitude and Jeff Hanneman inspired guitar licks to the table. This is thrash metal at its 80’s finest delivered by the new generation. Setting a fast and furious pace throughout they don’t slow down for a minute. Front man Gale bounces around the stage as the guitars dual for supremacy. For the thrash fans in the arena this is heaven.
Limb grace the Sophie Lancaster Stage early on, fresh off the back of their new album Saboteurs of the Sun. The doom outfit are slowly going down a prog influenced road and their set today, featuring some new tunes, shows this. Throbbing bass and drums keep pace whilst the guitars atmospheric cacophony draw you down a path not often trod. Rob Hoey’s mesmerising vocals with a hint of 90’s grunge to them round off the bands perfect sound and a stunning Bloodstock performance.
I’ll be honest in that before hand I was not expecting too much of Septicflesh, and I knew little about them. But I am happy to hold my hands up and say I was wrong. Their 45-minute set on the main stage was a mesmerising performance from the Greeks bringing their own twist to the death metal genre. As the rain clouds gather overhead these guys were a breath of fresh air.
The same can be said of Combichrist, another band I did not expect too much from, but they were the surprise of the day for me. Their industrial sound grabs you buy the balls and thrusts you into their world. The dual drummers add a twist to the sound and add to the theatrics of the show. As the drums beat reverberates through your soul the gnarling guitars and vibrate vocals hold you firm and batter your senses.
To flip the world completely on its head, up next on the main stage are Alestorm, and from the size of the crowd and the number of fans dressed as pirates, they are one of the bigger pulls of the day. From the off the show is insane, as fans in their hundreds surf over the crowds heads in various inflatables, from ducks to full blown pirate ships. It’s a sight too hard to put into words but amazing to experience. On stage the band launch straight into Keelhauled, bringing to proceedings a blend of part folk metal, part Pirates of the Caribbean the crowd lap it up. To round out their set is the ever popular F*cked With an Anchor. What a band!
Cannibal Corpse had been much talked about prior to the festival, with the fans organising to all wear Hawaiian shirts for their set, in commemoration of their Ace Venture appearance so many years ago. The movement proved popular with the majority of the crowd joining in and the view from the stage was a sea of colour despite the now heavy rain. Their set was as you would expect from the band, traditional death metal delivered to the letter. The band do not stray from the norm and never have throughout their career. George Fisher hunched over wind milling his hair between each vocal grunt. Following on from the previous act, direct to the point aggression is just what was needed.
Back on the Sophie Lancaster Stage Exhorder, often described as the thinking man’s Pantera, were making a rare appearance in the UK. Their groove-orientated thrash sound anthemic and aggressive delivers on point this evening. These boys laid the foundations on which Pantera and later Machine Head would build a career. The appreciation of the rare show in the UK is shown by the crowd, another packed tent for this performance. Snarling guitars the highlight with vicious vocals leaving everyone broken, battered and bruised.
Closing out the Saturday of the festival are French technical metal group Gojira. Having played the festival twice previously they have worked their way up the ladder to be headlining this year and well deserved the slot is too.
Backlit with a giant screen playing various videos (a’la Tool) the band tear through a set littered with pyro, flares and other assorted explosives. Only Pain opens with a bang and Love see’s the flames light the dark Derbyshire skies. The fans cheers as they are bombarded by barrage after barrage of riffs from L’Enfant Sauvage and Toxic Garbage Island, their lyrics delivering a stark message of reality.
As the set is rounded out with Vacuity the fireworks light up the drizzle laden night sky and the soaked festival goers head back to the bars and their tents for a night’s frivolity prior to the final day. Saturday at Bloodstock has been a stunning one, will the final day live up to it?
Heavy rain overnight means that festival goers are treated to a bit of a mud fest early on Sunday morning. The arena and surrounding areas of Bloodstock have soaked up the rain and it is now looking like a bit of a swamp. But that will not stop anyone getting back out for the final day of the festival today.
On the Sophie stage proceedings are kicked off by Doomsday Outlaw, Derby based hard rock outfit. Their set is full of luscious riffs, juicy basslines and soothing vocals that even Jon Bon Jovi would be jealous of. With plenty of banter between songs this is the perfect way to start off a damp day 4.
Amaranthe on the main stage have some technical difficulties. Whilst we wait for these to be sorted out we are treated to a comedy routine from bassist Johan which proves to be great entertainment. When they are finally able to get started, the trio of vocalists come to the fore as they vie for supremacy yet complement each other perfectly with their differing styles. Olof on guitar dictates the bands musical direction as they deliver a near perfect display of melodic heavy metal.
Over on the Sophie Stage are New Zealand youngsters Alien Weaponry, much is being made of them in the music business at the moment and we are about to find out why. A traditional Haka by drummer Henry de Jong is the bands intro before the fireworks really start. Ferocious angsty thrash metal, technically superb from one of the youngest bands on the bill. These lads are not to be missed, I recommend you check out their album now.
Back to the main stage Fozzy are returning after a few years absence. Fronted by Chris Jericho (of WWE fame) and Rich Ward (Stuck Mojo) this is a fun fuelled set of out and out heavy metal. Rich has a giant smile on his face throughout the set and Jericho is everywhere on stage and then off into the crowd, all without dropping a note. If it’s a good time you are looking for, these delivered it today.
Sangre are a breath of fresh air over of the Sophie Stage, at that point in the festival when you want to hear something a little different they delivered in spades. Hard edged heavy metal with a Latin influence and a hint of death/grind for good measure. The brutal yet short set woke a few of us up from our slumber and gave us the kick up the arse we needed to see the festival out.
On the main stage Jamey Jasta is returning to the festival for the second year in a row, but this time without Hatebreed. His side project “Jasta and Friends” delivers big name hitters and some interesting twists. The first twist comes with Howard Jones coming out to provide a second vocal, but it doesn’t end here. Next up Fear Factory’s Dino Cazares appears performing a number of his bands hit tunes with Jasta. The crowd lap this up and are loving every minute before the final surprise, which draws the biggest cheer, when Kirk Windstein from Crowbar joins them. This infusion of styles and big names provides a main stage highlight for the day.
A lot of negativity filled the internet when Mr. Big were announced by Bloodstock. In many people’s eyes it was a strange booking that wasn’t in keeping with the rest of the line-up. However, the band were out to prove the doubters wrong, and that is exactly what they did. A euphoric set from Eric Martin, Billy Sheehan and Paul Gilbert showed what an inspired booking this was from the Bloodstock team, the perfect way to head into Sunday evening.
Another highlight of the weekend on the main stage is Swedish legends At The Gates. The crowd are the getting rowdy, more so than they have been all day. They are soon tearing through “Slaughter of the Soul” and ‘To Drink From the Night Itself”. The circle pits have formed and the crowd are going mental. This is everything Bloodstock is about.
Closing the festival as a whole, Nigthwish bring a huge stage show to Bloodstock to headline the event for the third time. The show they put on delivered in every aspect high on energy and excitement and fantastic visuals to accompany their stunning soundtrack. Floor Jansen owns the stage and every single note she sings, holding the audience in the palm of her hands she teases them before delivering the goods. The ultimate front woman knowing exactly how to please her fans. Through tracks like Come Cover me, I Want My Tears Back and Ghost Love Score the band’s symphonic metal stylings hold fast and strong providing a great closing statement for the festival as a whole.
From small beginnings, the festival has grown into this behemoth of an event covering 4 days and 18,000 fans. Organically it has grown into the leading heavy festival in the UK and year on year proves just why it is so well regarded.
To Vicky, Paul, Adam, Rachael and the whole Bloodstock team, we thank you for yet another stellar event.