FESTIVAL REVIEW: Bloodstock Festival 2016 – Day 1 (Friday)

Bloodstock Festival, the annual metal party in the UK is done for another year. 2016’s edition of the festival was bigger, louder and more ferocious than we ever anticipated and we here at Distorted Sound saw lots of bands across the weekend of the festival. Kicking things off for our coverage, we have the full lowdown on the Thursday’s opening party and the first full day of music at Bloodstock Festival 2016!

KARYBDIS – Sophie Lancaster Stage

Karybdis live @ Bloodstock Festival 2016
Karybdis live at Bloodstock Festival 2016. Photo Credit: James Weaver

London’s technical metal outfit KARYBDIS had a tall order performing on opening night of the festival. With the band dropping their latest record, Samsara, earlier this year, the opportunity was prime for KARYBDIS. Riffs pummelled through the tent, bending in groove and shape, bass drops were earth-shattering and the vocal performance from frontman Rich O’Donnell oozed character and confidence. They may still be causing rumbles in the UK’s metal underground, but KARYBDIS demonstrated enough character and unity to grow from this performance and become a larger player in the UK alternative scene.

Rating: 8/10

Words: James Weaver


The party was in full swing before the main stage even opened, as PHIL CAMPBELL AND THE BASTARD SONS headlined the Sophie Lancaster Stage on the opening night of Bloodstock Festival 2016. It was a set filled with MOTORHEAD classics as Lemmy’s former bandmate paid tribute to the late rock and roll legend.

Being the first Bloodstock since the MOTORHEAD frontman’s passing, emotions were always going to be high, with the sentiment frequently shared that Bloodstock just didn’t feel the same without Lemmy, yet there was a feeling of celebration, not mourning, as Deaf Forever, Killed By Death and Ace Of Spades blasted out of the Sophie tent. A cover of David Bowie’s Heroes celebrated the memory of another fallen hero, while the real highlight came as Campbell and co. were joined on stage by Dee Snider and Pepper Keenan for memorable rendition of Born To Raise Hell.

The finale took a trip way back into Lemmy’s back catalogue, closing with a rendition of HAWKWIND’s Silver Machine. It’s still a little strange hearing MOTORHEAD without Lemmy’s gravely tones, but it was a fitting end to the first night nonetheless.

Rating: 9/10

Words: Oli Saville

HARK – Ronnie James Dio Stage 

The first band on the main stage this weekend are HARK from Swansea, who attract a decently-sized crowd considering their slot this early in the day. Their heavy riff-based sludge certainly doesn’t go too far out of the typical Bloodstock-goer’s comfort zone meaning they are something of a crowd pleaser, not offering anything too mindblowing but playing to their strengths and to the tastes of those in front of them. Truth be told they don’t fully possess the on-stage charisma to fully sweep you up in what they are doing and over time their songs begin to blur into one another, but they start things off admirably enough and in the boisterous swagger of Sins On Sleeves closing their set they throw out a late highlight to remember them by.

Rating: 6/10

Words: Perran Helyes

WITCH TRIPPER – Hobgoblin New Blood Stage

The very evident increase in size of the Hobgoblin New Blood Stage stands to how important new found musicians producing music for future generations really is to the UK metal community. One of the earlier bands on the bill of the festival, WITCHTRIPPER brings a blast from the past and makes it fresh again with the addition of different styles. A breath of old school heavy metal with some tiny hints of speed metal quickly changes into a thick foggy barrage of stoner infuses doom riffs. Combining these forces with a hefty stage presence mixed with the intimate setting with the crowd allowed for a highly packed out tent stage to jam in unison!

Rating: 7/10

Words: David Creamer

GLORYHAMMER – Ronnie James Dio Stage

Gloryhammer @ Bloodstock Festival 2016
Gloryhammer live at Bloodstock Festival 2016. Photo Credit: Em Coulter

“We are GLORYHAMMER, from space!” – A power metal battle cry that proved exactly why metal doesn’t have to be serious. The Scottish/Swiss group hit a Ronnie James Dio Stage crowded with fans still nursing Thursday night hangovers, and greeted them with a set based around their album, Space 1992: Rise of the Chaos Wizards. From ALESTORM’s Christopher Bowes in full wizard garb, to vocalist Thomas Winkler (that’s Angus McFife to you) parading around in green armour, GLORYHAMMER may have been a little too high on the cheese for some, but taking outfits out of the equation, these guys can still really play.

Following a rendition of The Hollywood Hootsman, we were treated to a drinking contest of epic proportions, as Hoots himself took on the evil wizard Zargothrax, before closing out with the crowd pleasing Unicorn Invasion of Dundee. We told you it was cheesy, but has power metal ever really been anything else?

Rating: 8/10

Words: Oli Saville 

BOSS KELOID – Sophie Lancaster Stage

The Quirky Wigan quartet have rightly earned themselves a deserving place in the underground UK metal scene, proving their worth with the anticipated Herb Your Enthusiasm. And playing live seems to come so naturally to them, even faced with one of their biggest crowds at an ever bigger Sophie Lancaster Stage. Kicking off with some of their well-received hits such as Lung Mountain, they quickly brought up those who were unfamiliar up to speed. There was not a head that was not being bobbed in sync with the heavy stoner inspired sludge. These of course also being reverberated throughout the corners of the stage’s tent. The intimate setting with the audience allowed them to perfect their personalities by creating a stage presence utilising the space provided and all of this combined gave way to a cracking show.

Rating: 9/10

Words: David Creamer

EVIL SCARECROW – Ronnie James Dio Stage

Evil Scarecrow @ Bloodstock Festival 2016
Evil Scarecrow live at Bloodstock Festival 2016. Photo Credit: Em Coulter

Following on from the pure silliness that was GLORYHAMMER, things weren’t about to get any more serious as the self-proclaimed “Bloodstock house band”, EVIL SCARECROW, hit the stage to a huge crowd. Anyone who’d seen EVIL SCARECROW play before knew exactly what to expect, that being 40 minutes of dumb, drunken fun.

Ever popular with the Bloodstock faithful, Dr Hell led a set filled with crowd interaction, from the duelling circle pits of Hurricanado, to 10,000 strong robot dancing to Robototron. Topping off the set was the crowd favourite, Crabulon, complete with crab claws, scuttling pits and an on stage appearance from the mighty crustacean himself. There was no technical mastery here, but no one expects that from an EVIL SCARECROW show. What you do always get is one of the most enjoyable, and hilarious live bands out their doing what they do best: entertaining you.

Rating: 9/10

Words: Oli Saville

MISERY LOVES CO. – Ronnie James Dio Stage

MISERY LOVES CO. feel like a little bit of a strange presence on a Bloodstock bill. They are one of a number of bands at this year’s edition of the festival to somewhat harken back to the face of heavy music at the back end of the 1990s, rather than a more contemporary flavour. The industrial metal act are returning from a 16 year hiatus, and don’t seem to have moved on from where they were when they originally left us. They attract a far smaller crowd than the likes of Bloodstock favourites GLORYHAMMER or EVIL SCARECROW before them, but the throng who do show up are admittedly dedicated, enthusiastically greeting the likes of Kiss Your Boots. MISERY LOVES CO. have plenty of weight and heft to them, but unfortunately gradually begin to morph into a bloated dirge.

Rating: 5/10

Words: Perran Helyes

GARGANJUA – Hobgoblin New Blood Stage

One of the main contributing factors as to why the Hobgoblin New Blood Stage is a worthwhile visit is its suitable environments for doom bands to truly flourish their sounds to new audiences. Its towering support towers drape the tents cower the way a churches ceiling casts a dismal shadow upon its denizens. This also trapped in the fuzzed out tones of GARGANJUA, allowing the heavy stoner riffs to reverberate throughout the tent, providing a brutal aural experience whilst at the same time carrying you along with their dredging, sludgey grooves. And all you can do is just headbang solidly in time.

Rating: 8/10

Words: David Creamer

VEHEMENT – Hobgoblin New Blood Stage

Over on the Hobgoblin New Blood Stage one of the most invigorating prospects of the weekend are the black metal stylings of VEHEMENT from the south coast. They benefit from fairly impeccable sound and a crowd of extreme metal fans not too bothered by STUCK MOJO on the main stage lapping up their crisp and visceral attack. Material from their 2013 release Collapse sounds excellent and hints at whatever they record next being well worth the time and effort to check out, and the more operatic vocals occasionally offered by their bassist alongside the traditional rasps from their primary vocalist are theatrical in a very tasteful manner (and he looks thrilled to be there delivering them). Visually they’re a little inconsistent, half of the band choosing to don bandannas over their faces some but not all of the time while others don’t bother at all, and you wish they’d either commit fully to whatever aesthetic they’re choosing to go for or not do it at all, but really this is a superficial complaint and what matters is that musically they put on a fine showing.

Rating: 7/10

Words: Perran Helyes


Corrosion of Conformity @ Bloodstock Festival 2016
Corrosion of Conformity live at Bloodstock Festival 2016. Photo Credit: Em Coulter

CORROSION OF CONFORMITY have been one of the most pivotal bands in heavy metal for years now and their performance at Bloodstock made for perfect mood for the Friday sunshine. Riffs flowed in groove and consistent pace and the rough vocal deliveries from iconic frontman Pepper Keenan helped drive the force of the band. With a setlist comprised of the band’s most prolific tracks, Vote With A Bullet packed a punch and Broken Man sounded enormous through the main stage. With the band utilising a spur of the moment jam mid-way through Clean My WoundsCORROSION OF CONFORMITY had left a satisfying impression to the packed crowd. Riffs, sunshine and effortless groove. A band made for the festival stage.

Rating: 9/10

Words: James Weaver

VENOM – Ronnie James Dio Stage

Venom @ Bloodstock Festival 2016
Venom live at Bloodstock Festival 2016. Photo Credit: Em Coulter

This was VENOM’s first UK show since 2006, an amazing fact given the bands legendary status and the fact they’ve been continuing to release albums throughout. Expectations were minimal given the lengthy absence and well published disputes that have led to two versions of the band existing. From the second the band, led by original singer Cronos, took the stage these expectations were shattered. The band blasted through a mixture of new and old material with such explosive passion and energy it was impossible not to be fired up by it. Classics such as Welcome To Hell and Countess Bathory filled the set before closing out on Black Metal. A standout performance of the festival by a band that has been absent from their home shores for far too long.

Rating: 9/10

Words: Tim Redman

BEHEMOTH – Ronnie James Dio Stage

Behemoth @ Bloodstock Festival 2016
Behemoth live at Bloodstock Festival 2016. Photo Credit: Em Coulter

BEHEMOTH’s Nergal walks onto the stage waving fire and spreading incense, and it’s testament to how special his band are and how anticipated this particular performance is that this doesn’t come across as corny in the broad daylight. This is after all a special performance, feeling like something of a cap on the last few incredible years of not just this band but extreme metal’s history as BEHEMOTH set out to perform their era-defining last album The Satanist in full. What follows is an utter annihilation of whatever cynics may have said and total affirmation of their status as one of the most vital heavy bands on Earth.

The staging is mesmerising, guitarist Seth and bassist Orion atop pedestals flanking Nergal, and as the opening tones of Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel begin to ring out there is a ripple throughout the crowd that something unstoppable is about to erupt. Of course THAT opening line being roared back from the crowd is joyously evil, but it’s only the beginning. As they rumble through the rest of the album seeming to shatter the ground underneath them as they do, the true depth and power of it shines through like an unholy beacon, whether it be the mystical title track or a ridiculous peak in Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer during which complete anarchy unfolds and many a throat is devastated in reverence. The album draws to its climax in O Father O Satan O Sun! and the band step back atop their pedestals donning ritualistic masks surrounded by shoots of pyro in a truly breathtaking moment, before suddenly Ov Fire and the Void and a manic Chant for Ezkaton inspiring a huge circle pit sign off a ridiculous and imperious hour. BEHEMOTH leave having thrown down the gauntlet for any band on the planet to try and follow them.

Rating: 10/10

Words: Perran Helyes

TWISTED SISTER – Ronnie James Dio Stage

Twisted Sister @ Bloodstock Festival 2016
Twisted Sister live at Bloodstock Festival 2016. Photo Credit: Em Coulter

TWISTED SISTER being the ones to do so may seem a little unmatched, but if there’s one thing BEHEMOTH share with tonight’s headliner it’s a special bond with this particular festival and its audience. TWISTED SISTER are choosing to perform their final ever UK show as part of their farewell tour at Bloodstock, and here it feels like the audience are giving them all of the love and respect they deserve for their contributions over the past fourty years. What’s crazy is that even given that their music is tied to a particular era within metal history, watching TWISTED SISTER does not feel like watching a fourty year old band who are on their last legs. Unlike so many of their peers, TWISTED SISTER are still wild and full of life.

Dee Snider is the definition of a star, overflowing with rock icon charisma and hurtling around like he’s in his twenties. Mark Mendoza is a particularly huge presence, making you feel very sorry for his bass as he abuses the poor thing, and for all the comments about how We’re Not Gonna Take It and I Wanna Rock are their only two songs their setlist is wall to wall rock anthems. Snider’s sneering theatrics during Burn In Hell are more menacing than ALICE COOPER‘s been in years, the likes of Shoot ‘Em Down and The Kids are Back have people who have never heard the songs before singing like their lives depend on it by the second chorus, and The Price dedicated to Lemmy, Dio and TWISTED SISTER’s own late drummer A.J. Pero literally gets a sea of lighters in the air. We’re Not Gonna Take It is of course the highlight, a statement of defiance that is both outrageously fun and entirely cathartic. It’s frankly criminal that TWISTED SISTER never reached the commercial heights of KISS or SCORPIONS, but as they bow out here on a massive high, they leave everyone present with the fondest memory.

Rating: 9/10

Words: Perran Helyes 

Well there you have it! Day one of Bloodstock done! Stick with Distorted Sound as we unveil our coverage of the Saturday and Sunday of Bloodstock Festival 2016 over the next couple of days!

Check out our photo gallery of Day One of Bloodstock Festival from our photographer Emily Coulter:

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