And so, our coverage of this year’s Bloodstock Festival draws to a close. With plenty of bands to see on the final day, there was something for everyone who craved to have their ear-drums battered for one last time and we were there to get the full lowdown on the action. We want to take a moment to thank the wonderful team behind Bloodstock that make the festival a delight every year and our friends at Cosa Nostra PR for accommodating Distorted Sound for this year’s festival, so now, let our coverage of the final day of Bloodstock begin!
BROKEN TEETH – Ronnie James Dio Stage
Hardcore is a genre that’s used to playing to about 100 people on a good night, so when a band like BROKEN TEETH end up on a stage the size of the Ronnie James Dio Stage it’s a special moment. The band do end up pulling a few thousand curious punters over with their thrash-influenced sound but the set never really feels like it hits its stride. Perhaps it’s the lack of interest in the crowd or maybe jut how out of place a true hardcore band feels at a festival like Bloodstock but even with songs as good as At Peace Amongst Chaos the set still doesn’t feel like it even truly takes off. BROKEN TEETH might well have just opened the flood-gates for other bands of the same ilk to play Bloodstock though, and that is something worth applauding.
Words: Eddie Sims
VENOM PRISON – Ronnie James Dio Stage
Since the release of Animus last year, VENOM PRISON‘s rise has been meteoric. From supporting some of the biggest bands in extreme music and dominating the pages of the press, there feels to be genuine excitement for VENOM PRISON so there was a lot of anticipation going into the band’s set on the Ronnie James Dio Stage. And the band absolutely delivered. Unleashing their brand of death metal fused hardcore, what followed was one of the most heart-racing sets of the weekend. Ash Gray and Ben Thomas‘ fused their riffs together to create an imposing wall of sound that reigned down over the crowd and their chemistry allowed Gray to flourish with polished flickers of trickery, whilst Larissa Stupar excelled with her guttural vocals packing an absolute punch. It was an exhilarating performance and one that showcased the genuine excitement behind VENOM PRISON. Believe the hype, this band are special.
Words: James Weaver
COURTESANS – Sophie Lancaster Stage
There have been several curveballs on Bloodstock‘s lineup this year. From PUPPY to KING 810, Bloodstock have cast their nets wider this year and sprinkled the lineup with more diversity. Perhaps the clearest example of this is COURTESANS, whose doom-tinged pop seemed unusual when compared to the rest of the day’s billing. However, the female four piece brought a spellbinding and memorable performance on the Sophie Lancaster Stage, helping them stand apart at the festival. Delicate melodies through the guitar work of Saffire Sanchez created an absorbing atmosphere which was only bolstered through the cracking percussion efforts of Vikki Brown on the drums. Where COURTESANS truly shone though was in the vocal department. Sinead la Bella absolutely excelled with her vocals showcasing a wide range of influences in her delivery which held the audience in a trance. From the hip-hop fuelled bars of Feel The Same to the harmonising melodies of Sanchez, la Bella and bassist Agnes D. Jones on Mesmerise, there was something enjoyably fresh about COURTESANS‘ performance at Bloodstock which was rounded off with a hair-raising tribute to Sophie Lancaster, the stage that they graced. This is a band who are not afraid to experiment with their sound and it resulted in one of the best performances of the weekend.
Words: James Weaver
BRUJERIA – Ronnie James Dio Stage
Now that all the intrigue and mystery that once surrounded BRUJERIA in their early years is gone, the band have essentially become grind merchants in bandannas. This is not a bad thing though, provided you’re searching for a set to turn your brain off too. Musically BRUJERIA are about as accessible as grindcore can become, the riffs are gnarly but there is enough clarity in sound to actually connect with what’s being played. The Spanish banter in between songs results in awkward silences as the crowd patiently wait for the next song to play, and the band seem to acknowledge this barrier as they swiftly move through their set. BRUJERIA aren’t going to be band of the weekend any time soon but their set is a very easy way to spend forty minutes in the pit, flailing to some very anti Donald Trump grind.
Words: Eddie Sims
HEATHEN DEITY – Hobgoblin New Blood Stage
Black metal seemed in short supply in Bloodstock this year with WINTERFYLLETH‘s atmospheric being the only offering on the main stage. However for those that dug a little deeper and happened upon the Hobgoblin New Blood Stage there was a throwback to an earlier time on offer. HEATHEN DEITY was formed in the 90s and their style of black metal shows it both aesthetically and musically. There is no pretention here, no faux-esoteric beliefs, just corpse paint, blood and inverted crosses over riffs that belong on murky black and white tapes and lyrics that call for a war against Christianity. While refreshing, HEATHEN DEITY’s greatest strength was also their weakness with the band struggling to distinguish itself from the multitude of bands of the style who have come before, aside from their tightness and obvious passion for the music. This is a band well worth keeping an eye on, as if they can find their own identity beneath the trapping of the style they are likely to be something special.
Words: Tim Redman
POSSESSED – Ronnie James Dio Stage
One of the most memorising things about watching POSSESSED was the huge smile coming from Jeff Becerra‘s face. It’s been a long time coming but fans old and new of the original death metal band gathered in their masses to see them give one of the best performances that could have been hoped for. Sure, it should not matter that Jeff is bound to a wheelchair, he still absolutely destroys a stage but it was warming to see a man who has been through hell and back still get up in front of thousands of people and give it all he has got. He’s an inspiration to those who face difficulties in their life either through disabilities or not to just get up and kick some ass. They’re not the original line-up but they played to POSSESSED perfection and have delivered nothing but hype for their first record in 32 years.
Words: Jessica Howkins
SENTIENCE – Hobgoblin New Blood Stage
With the plentiful array of thrash and death influenced bands on the Ronnie James Dio Stage it was a nice change of pace to witness the melodic, progressive tones of SENTIENCE take to the stage. With their soaring vocals and intricate guitarwork combined with punchy bass riffs they provided a lively, energy filled performance. Following in a similar vain to tech metal giants PERIPHERY and TESSERACT with their big choruses and quirky time signatures they harnessed the perfect measure of melody and aggression.
Words: Dan McHugh
PUPPY – Sophie Lancaster Stage
Out of place doesn’t really cover it for PUPPY. The only band in recent memory to support both CONAN and CREEPER, their grungy sound crossed with BLACK SABBATH riffs means they have a unique diversity that allows them to straddle multiple genres. However, even with the band going full pelt and really hitting hard where they musically can, PUPPY are still unable truly win over the crowd. Tunes like The Great Beyond should have everyone present swaying with enjoyment but the static crowd doesn’t give much back to the band whose refined stage show meant there wasn’t a lot going on. There were of course fans within the crowd, but in front of an audience who largely hadn’t heard of them, PUPPY seemed too tame for a weekend like Bloodstock.
Words: Eddie Sims
OBITUARY – Ronnie James Dio Stage
OBITUARY might not have delivered a truly classic album in twenty years, but they have been reliably good and in one area in particular. Live, OBITUARY always slam. Bona fide death metal legends taking to the main stage at Bloodstock is always a tantalising prospect, and OBITUARY bring with them pure filth. Their guitar tone is like CELTIC FROST emerging from a swamp, and John Tardy’s voice is still as disgusting and inhuman as it ever has been, vomiting and slurring through his words in deliciously putrid fashion. It also really helps that every member of OBITUARY looks like they’re genuinely having fun. The opening hits of Chopped In Half are like having an anvil dropped on your head, the relentless chug of Dying is impossible to resist headbanging to, and ending with a venomous rendition of Slowly We Rot is downright riotous. The new material like Ten Thousands Ways to Die holds its own though, and OBITUARY prove that Florida death metal still has an alluring stench all of its own.
Words: Perran Helyes
HELL – Ronnie James Dio Stage
There’s a rumour going around the site prior to HELL‘s set that the band have a month’s worth of pyro to use up or it has to be thrown out, and this is their only show this month. Whether that specific information is true or not, for the following forty minutes it feels like being the Nazis at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark. For a band playing at four o’clock to have this much fire is legitimate insanity. HELL is all about theatre and spectacle, and flamethrowers lining the front of the stage certainly grabs attention. Singer David Bower is a total showman, complete with a head mic so his hands are free for dramatics, even going as far as to flog himself at one point and then to emerge on gargantuan goat legs while spinning a spark-shooting trident. Musically meanwhile, their NWOBHM feels surprisingly timeless and fresh, Darkhangel standing out a genuinely great song. There’s a little bit of a feeling that HELL should probably get an album out soon to remain relevant, this being a very similar show to the one they brought to Bloodstock four years ago, but it’s still incredibly entertaining.
Words: Perran Helyes
ONI – Sophie Lancaster Stage
Next up on the Sophie Lancaster Stage was ONI; a band that have been on the rise and experienced a surge in popularity since the release of their debut, Ironshore. Incorporating their signature and niche instrument, the Xylosynth, to create a whole new sound makes them stand out of the crowd in an otherwise saturated genre. In their set, vocalist Jake Oni fluctuated between clean and harsher vocals seemingly effortlessly, both of which were executed to the standard expected at Bloodstock. Johnny DeAngelis brought the Xylosynth to life while guitarists Brandon White and Martin Andreas brought the progressive metal element to the forefront and did their studio work justice. Towards the end of the set, the songs seemed to gel together somewhat, but individually they were excellent. Since rising in popularity after their 2017 tour with CHILDREN OF BODOM and their solid performance at Bloodstock this year, it’s clear that ONI have a very strong future ahead of them.
Words: Jordan McEvoy
SKINDRED – Ronnie James Dio Stage
Even with five minutes before they start, people in the crowd are still protesting that SKINDRED are ‘not a Bloodstock band’. An hour later, their words had been firmly shoved back down their throats, because SKINDRED show yet again why they are one of, if not THE best live band from the UK right now. From the bounce of Doom Riff to the carnage of Kill the Power, it’s absolute mayhem from start to finish. The inclusion of acoustic song Say It Now raises a few eyebrows and slows the momentum, but it’s poignant for many in attendance and they follow that up with a brand new song called Machine that is so heavy it threatens to dismantle the Ronnie James Dio Stage bolt by bolt, including a lovely vocal interchange between Mikey Demus and Benji Webbe as well. Of course, Warning closes the set and that means one thing: the Newport Helicopter. And yes, it’s majestic. And yes, even the security join in. And yes, SKINDRED should come back and play Bloodstock more. Cheers, lads!
Words: Elliot Leaver
ARCH ENEMY – Ronnie James Dio Stage
Serving as sub-headliners to MEGADETH, ARCH ENEMY had to bring their A-game to Bloodstock and consistently throughout their set, the band delivered a polished and tightly-knit performance. The twin guitar melodies from Michael Amott and Jeff Loomis, outstanding guitarists in their own right, were constantly a delight to watch with melodic leads and frantic soloing leaving people in absolute awe. When the band kicked it up a notch and brought the power, ARCH ENEMY were unstoppable, from the massive shredding of War Eternal and the sheer power of My Apocalypse being just a few highlights. Alissa White-Gluz has grown in stature within the band and rarely disappointed with both her vocal deliveries and her crowd interactions. And whilst there were times where ARCH ENEMY‘s sound felt a bit too polished and lacked a sprinkling of raw energy, the band delivered a truly enjoyable performance with encore Nemesis being one of the strongest songs to rock the Ronnie James Dio stage all weekend.
Words: James Weaver
BOSSK – Sophie Lancaster Stage
Already with a pedigree for playing heavier festivals, BOSSK craft a unique combination of doomy, almost stoner riffs with progressive and post-hardcore musings to wondrous effect. The translation from record to live show is almost effortless and with songs like Kobe to rely on, the band seem at ease on stage as they meander through their ambient sounds before crashing unceremoniously into the audience with huge riffs that do come almost out of nowhere. The musical dynamic is there and balanced well, with the band sounding excellent on stage, even if the vocals are messy. BOSSK have a unique identity and sound to them and they easily fill their hour slot with something far more reflective to help close out the weekend.
Words: Eddie Sims
MEGADETH – Ronnie James Dio Stage
MEGADETH are a classic band that brings in the crowd with absolutely no problem, their concern is being able to keep that crowd. They’re definitely a band that sometimes loses the attention of their fans and this was the price they paid for their headline slot at Bloodstock this year. The classics were played, newer songs also and die-hard fans loved it but there was something missing, the band didn’t feel like they were playing to their best. It’s always a delight to see one of the classics and it still was with the right company and mood towards MEGADETH but sadly, Bloodstock was a lacking performance with other bands across the weekend taking charge in theirs.
Words: Jessica Howkins
WINTERSUN – Sophie Lancaster Stage
And thus it falls on the shoulders of WINTERSUN to truly close the weekend, and there aren’t many bands here more equipped for the job. They’ve been surrounded by drama for years concerning album delays, crowd-funding and more, but as soon as they appear on that stage and spread their wings all of that goes out of the window. WINTERSUN‘s music is absurdly layered and elaborate, and unfortunately a lot of those intricacies are swallowed by the sheer power and volume of their mix. The flipside of that is that the intensity is tripled. Their blend of black metal, melodic death metal, power metal and folk metal is not only unique but palpably visceral, songs like Winter Madness a total blizzard of guitars that sear like hot knives. The apex though comes in Sons of Winter and Stars. As perfect a heavy metal song as they come, its fourteen minutes speed past in what feels like four as every single riff, note and melody rocket into the stratosphere with maximum force, culminating in an unstoppable chorus that sees the tent roaring back at the band at an unparalleled volume. It’s a heavy metal fan’s dream, which is an apt way to end a festival that feels much the same.
Words: Perran Helyes
And there we have it! Our coverage of this year’s Bloodstock Festival is done for another year! If you haven’t already, read our round-up of the Thursday/Friday and Saturday of this year’s festival and head over to our interviews section for a round up of some of the bands that performed at this year’s Bloodstock. See you all next year!