Bloodstock Open Air 2016: Editor’s Choice

With festival season well and truly underway, for UK metal fans, Bloodstock feels like Christmas. There’s been a lot of build up, great anticipation and a ton of preparation for the annual carnage that is Bloodstock Open Air. Known for its brilliant atmosphere and moderate size, Bloodstock has enjoyed rising popularity in recent years, thus bringing in bigger bands in quality and size. 2016’s edition of the festival is no different with a lineup that boasts a wide variety of metal’s many sub-genres and styles. Sometimes this can be pretty overwhelming for both the first-time festival goer and the seasoned veteran, so us editors at Distorted Sound present our guide to who you should watch at Bloodstock Open Air 2016!


When the New Wave of American Heavy Metal exploded in the early 2000s, UNEARTH were one of the bands leading the charge. Boasting chugging riffs, massive breakdowns and whirlwind solos, the American metallers capture the essence of what metalcore stands for without sacrificing their intensity. Melodic twin guitar play carries the rhythm and the growls from Trevor Phipps carry depth and force. The band have been active since 1998, so with a career spanning six studio records, expect a plethora of material performed during their set at Bloodstock. Known for their ferocious live sound, expect carnage from start to finish!

WORDS: James Weaver – Founder & Editor-in-Chief


When news broke of the tragic passing of Martin Kearns last year, it seemed the end for BOLT THROWER. Whilst the death metal giants may be in slumber, a new force has awoken and Bloodstock will become a battleground. Enter MEMORIAM, a new project fronted by Karl Willetts [BOLT THROWER] created to fill the void. Despite only forming this year, the band are rapidly rising up through the underground. Putting pen to paper in a deal with Nuclear Blast and with a plethora of material on the way, it is time for MEMORIAM. Boasting a savage old school death metal assault, MEMORIAM‘s performance at Bloodstock is a must watch if you crave a pummelling musical display.

WORDS: James Weaver – Founder & Editor-in-Chief


The death metal scene is a celebrated and flourishing sub-genre of heavy metal and whilst recent trends show more bands leaning towards a high quality mix and embracing more technicality into their sound, there is no doubting the grab and appeal of the old school sound. THE KING IS BLIND captures the raw essence of death metal and boast a sound that is stacked with aggression. The Essex based metallers have shot up the ranks of the UK underground and rightly so, their debut Our Father (released earlier this year) a celebration of the old school sound in the modern era. Following successful shows across the British isles, including a performance at this year’s Download FestivalTHE KING IS BLIND look set to conquer Bloodstock. With huge riffs, blistering drumming and a venomous vocal performance, expect THE KING IS BLIND to decimate the Sophie Lancaster Stage!

WORDS: James Weaver – Founder & Editor-in-Chief


Tainting the grounds of Bloodstock Open Air this year is extreme metal band ROTTING CHRIST. The Greek band have an extensive history, gathering nearly 30 years doing what they do best from the realms of black metal to some fine extreme metal and with their latest album Rituals, that was delivered to us earlier this year, you can only get what you’re going to expect. Doom-esque introductions and ferocious blast beats with some of the most gut-wrenching guttural vocals you will have ever heard will leave you feeling more than satisfied. Their chant-like approach to the music will only ever add to the incredible atmosphere that ROTTING CHRIST leave behind at their shows, enhancing what is going on around you and dragging you in by the soul you sold to the Devil.

WORDS: Jessica Howkins – Co-Editor-in-Chief


British doom band WITCHSORROW have been taking the genre by storm since their 2012 debut album God Curse Us. Now just after a year since their latest album, No Light, Only Fire, the band are gracing the stage at Bloodstock in all their finest doom and gloom. With pounding grooves and tense bass, the band will be giving out all their defiant attitude in the best way doom can. WITCHSORROW will undoubtedly play a set where all you’ll know is their set begins, ends and a lovely lady named Mary Jane through some purple haze.

WORDS: Jessica Howkins – Co-Editor-in-Chief


In what has already been deemed an exciting year for metal, GOJIRA have staked their claim as one of the hottest prospects in world music currently. Following their astounding new album Magma, the French heavy metal outfit will be ready to tear up the Ronnie James Dio Stage just before Saturday’s headliner MASTODON. With an arsenal of relentless songs from their release in June, as well as an entire back catalogue of crushing anthems, GOJIRA are set to cause incessant chaos in what is certain to be one of the highlights of the weekend.

WORDS: Tom Wakenell – Head of News


One name which stands out on Bloodstock’s bill is DRAGONFORCE. The act hailing from London will bring the fun factor to Bloodstock with an entire set of power metal classics. The sing-along for DRAGONFORCE’s 2006 highly-acclaimed Through The Fire And Flames is certain to be a hair-raising moment to help draw the festival to its conclusion on the Sunday. With vocalist Marc Hudson still firmly in the ranks, his prowess will ensure the crowd are in the palm of his hand. Witness the sporadic, rapid fire twin guitar solos in what will be a memorable set and a chance for DRAGONFORCE to prove why they are still relevant in 2016.

WORDS: Tom Wakenell – Head of News


Rarely does a band carry a huge sound from album to stage or vice versa, Milton Keynes’ HEART OF A COWARD are one of a rare breed that can. Last year we saw Deliverance, the 5 pieces 4th album release and it was huge – tracks like Hollow, Miscreation and title track Deliverance throttled the listener with a broad and overwhelmingly huge sound. All these tracks (and more) make the transition to a live audience flawlessly and are almost a new experience entirely when heard live. HEART OF A COWARD have awesome on stage presence, scream alongs, a massive amount of energy and style by the bucket load. It will be crazy, it will be chaotic, and it will be an experience that you won’t forgive yourself for missing – check ‘em out!

WORDS: Jim Forsyth – Lead Magazine Designer


FEAR FACTORY haven’t exactly got on the game recently, it is probably safer to say they are an establishment these days. Formed way back in 1989 their roster has shifted somewhat over the years, but the image and the core of FEAR FACTORY has never really changed. The band have developed a tone in their time that itself has became iconic – and rightly so, FEAR FACTORY have influenced other huge bands like STATIC-X and COAL CHAMBER. Albums like Demanufacture and Obsolete are a look back in time to what the industrial metal genre was, and how relevant it still is today. FEAR FACTORY live is a trip back, a history lesson almost, and their sound hasn’t dwindled, its grown and morphed into what we see today – pure, raw industrial metal.

WORDS: Jim Forsyth – Lead Magazine Designer


In their first ever UK headline show MASTODON have a lot of pressure going into Bloodstock. The US outfit have a solid live reputation and an impressive back catalogue to back them up. Riding high on the success of 2014’s Once More ‘Round The Sun, MASTODON‘s performance at Bloodstock could open the gates to the big leagues. With Brent Hinds‘ iconic vocals leading the charge and the mesmerising dual guitar play from himself and Bill Kelliher, MASTODON have the potential to deliver a truly spectacular performance. From start to finish we expect a headline show that is both captivating and full of energy. Rifftastic!

WORDS: Katie Needham – Head of Photography 


Manchester’s metal scene is ever growing and AFTER THE ABDUCTION are the latest product of one of the UK’s hotbeds of metal activity. The five lads from Manchester have been hard at work at growing their reputation, with an upcoming supporting slot to heavyweights SLAUGHTER TO PREVAIL evident of this, and their performance on the Hobgoblin New Blood Stage could open new doors for AFTER THE ABDUCTION. With artillery-esque drumming, solid riffs and truly demonic vocal deliveries we expect AFTER THE ABDUCTION to lay waste to the stage. If one thing can be taken from this band, it is that the UK metal scene is well and truly in a good shape!

WORDS: Katie Needham – Head of Photography


A mixture of progressive and groove elements to the heaviest kind of metal, BEHOLDER provide a performance of the highest brutality. Combining trippy, bass laden riffs with intricate yet utterly uncompromised malice, the four piece are a storm on stage. Providing a blast of unbeatable metal that will both mellow you through with the intricate technicality of it all, and ripping you a new one with the sheer volume of their show. Having three albums behind them, and a relentless touring background, this is a well-seasoned band that are simply a must to see. To discovering the visceral lyrics, vigorous beats and hefty melody at Bloodstock might well be one of the most worthwhile things you do all weekend.

WORDS: Laura McCarthy – Introducing Editor


So few bands embrace black heritage within the genre of metal. Three piece VODUN have demonstrated just how ferocious and captivating that heritage can be. Incorporating psychedelic, soul and Afro vibes into the heart of metal, VODUN way and swell to a beat that is entirely their own. What VODUN do is largely in part due to the theme and influence of Voodoo. Through this, they unleash a tide of ethereal, visceral music that no band before has managed to incarnate. There is a spiritual nature seldom seen in live performance, one that transcends the realms of the usual, in fact with their debut album creating a huge amount of buzz for its massive amount of creativity and rare imagination, be sure to find them out.

WORDS: Laura McCarthy – Introducing Editor


It seemed like we lost AKERCOCKE far too soon, hanging up their suits after five horrifying albums and setting the British extreme music scene alight, with their members going on to prove that they very much still had something to give in bands such as VOICES and THE ANTICHRIST IMPERIUM. After much whispering and rumbling however AKERCOCKE announced their reformation earlier this year, and they are now indeed set to make their official return at this year’s edition of Bloodstock. AKERCOCKE’s brand of infernal worship is something altogether more unsettling, hypersexual and charmingly British than that of your typical corpse-painted Scandinavian warriors. It might not be the most obvious choice for the (hopefully) bright sun of the main stage, but the diabolical hedonism of these dapper Satanic gentlemen is something to revel in whenever we are granted the opportunity.

WORDS: Perran Helyes – Live Reviews Editor


The last time BEHEMOTH played Bloodstock in 2012 they headlined it, a profound statement of resilience, might and awe-inspiring ferocity after Nergal’s triumph over leukaemia. Four years later, they return in very different circumstances. They may only be sub-headlining this time around, but performing their most recent album The Satanist in full is not only a ballsy move but one that feels oh so right. A modern game-changing masterpiece that has taken BEHEMOTH straight piercing through the roof of the extreme metal underground twenty years into their career, its airing at that same festival where they proved that they were very much alive in 2012 will be the perfect cap celebrating this remarkable chapter of a band who we may well have lost but instead have blown all expectations out of the water and defined an era of extreme music, before we embark on the next chapter in the hopefully not too distant future.

WORDS: Perran Helyes – Live Reviews Editor


On the Saturday PARADISE LOST guitarist Greg Mackintosh pulls double duty, bringing the misery with his main band a few hours after savaging the main stage with his other band VALLENFYRE in a far less restrained show of violence. If PARADISE LOST is Greg’s doom and gloom, VALLENFYRE is his spit and bile (though of course being Greg Mackintosh, there’s a fair splash of doom and gloom here too). Despite his hiding behind a guitar for twenty years, with VALLENFYRE Greg has proven himself to be an enthralling frontman with sardonic wit to match his bestial roar both dripping with misanthropic disdain. The band’s pedigree extends beyond their frontman, also containing members past and present of MY DYING BRIDE, AT THE GATES, CRADLE OF FILTH, THE HAUNTED and again PARADISE LOST, though the last four of these are all just drummer Adrian Erlandsson. The dude’s a busy man. It’s little surprise then that VALLENFYRE are a blissfully visceral example of crusty 90s death metal channelled into the present day, and are sure to make things feel that little bit more nasty for the time they’re on stage.

WORDS: Perran Helyes – Live Reviews Editor


Death metal runs deep in the veins of Bloodstock, and it’s also what GOATWHORE do best. Closing the Sophie Lancaster Stage on the Sunday, the NOLA death metal group will no doubt be armed to the teeth with enough riffs to level a small village. GOATWHORE sound like DOWN jacked on steroids with a serious anger problem, so the pits will likely be as aggressive as they are huge. If the bands last album is anything to go by, then their closing set at this years Bloodstock will be filled to the brim with energy, with the entire tent soon descending into chaos with smiles brandished across everyone’s face.

WORDS: Eddie Sims – Album Reviews Editor


Singing about galactic happenings is a pretty spacey topic as it is, but it becomes a whole other beast when you try and add in classic thrash metal to the mix. Utilising the sounds of the 80’s to great effect VEKTOR have been able to craft interesting and progressive songs that thrash with the best of them. The lyrical content is perfect sci-fi fodder and the riffs the band put out are ideal pit fodder also. With their recent album Terminal Redux being released this year, the momentum the band will play with will definitely aid them in delivering one of the sets of the weekend.

WORDS: Eddie Sims – Album Reviews Editor


The British tech-metal scene has grown so exponentially over the year that a festival dedicated to the technical wizardry has birthed forth. CAMBION have been involved in this evolution over the past few years, and have evolved themselves also. Being promoted from the second stage to main stage duties, the weird and heavy sound that CAMBION boast will open up proceedings on the Saturday in the heaviest possible way. Expect clever use of time signatures, monster riffs and breakdowns that come from nowhere to knock you square on your backside, all from their stellar EP Virus.

WORDS: Eddie Sims – Album Reviews Editor

Well, there you have it! This is who we think you should definitely watch at Bloodstock Open Air 2016! Don’t agree with us? Think we missed someone out? Let us know in the comments below!

Bloodstock Open Air 2016 - Latest Poster

Bloodstock Open Air 2016 takes place from the 11th-14th of August. Tickets are still available from the Bloodstock website.

For more information on Bloodstock, like their official page on Facebook.

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