FESTIVAL REVIEW: Bloodstock Festival 2016 – Day 3 (Sunday)

Well, here we are. The last day of Bloodstock Festival 2016. If you missed our Friday and Saturday coverage, be sure to check that out. This year’s Bloodstock has bolstered a truly staggering lineup of bands across a multitude of genres across the metal metal spectrum; from glam to black metal. Now, read on for Distorted Sound‘s coverage of Day 3 of Bloodstock Festival 2016!

GHOST BATH – Ronnie James Dio Stage

Ghost Bath live at Bloodstock Festival 2016. Photo Credit: Katja Ogrin
Ghost Bath live at Bloodstock Festival 2016. Photo Credit: Katja Ogrin

The biggest surprise of the weekend is not that GHOST BATH themselves are good, but that GHOST BATH opening the main stage in broad sunlight are good. Much has been made of how poor a decision it was to put GHOST BATH here and not within the dark confines of the tent of the Sophie Lancaster Stage where their depressive vibe would work so much better, but they give it their all and incredibly lose very little. Their shoegaze-drenched black metal is not original but utterly enveloping, the guitar passages in Golden Number as sleek as they are moving. Clad all in white other than the singer in black, they have a clear visual aesthetic which happily (or more appropriately unhappily) matches their sound. The singer is quite simply the most morose looking man at the festival. The vocals of course are the make or break factor, an anguished howl that pierces the audience right down to the bone in truly marmite fashion. Unfortunately such a style provokes near constant copycat cries from some of the audience, detracting somewhat from the emotive atmosphere and turning things into a joke. What emerges later in the day though is that GHOST BATH’s merch does incredibly well; clearly, an impact is made.

Rating: 8/10

Words: Perran Helyes

DESERT STORM – Sophie Lancaster Stage

Desert Storm live at Bloodstock Festival 2016. Photo Credit: Tim Finch
Desert Storm live at Bloodstock Festival 2016. Photo Credit: Tim Finch

Standing on the heavier end of the stoner rock spectrum, Oxford’s DESERT STORM got the Sophie Lancaster Stage off to an early start on Bloodstock’s final day. Bringing in the classic bluesy riffs and psychedelic guitar work that is such a staple of the genre, DESERT STORM added their own twist with the inclusion of occasional growled vocals usually reserved for the death metal scene. Throw in the classic heavy metal riffs and bass groove and you got an effective combination delivered to a decent sized early morning crowd. It may not have been a genre defining performance but it was certainly an enjoyable, no nonsense stoner rock show and a perfect wake up call for a Sunday morning.

Rating: 7/10

Words: Oli Saville

HEART OF A COWARD – Ronnie James Dio Stage

Heart of a Coward live at Bloodstock Festival 2016. Photo Credit: Sabrina Ramdoyal
Heart of a Coward live at Bloodstock Festival 2016. Photo Credit: Sabrina Ramdoyal

The booking of TRIVIUM as a headliner last year showed that Bloodstock are unafraid to turn to more modern styles such as metalcore alongside its more traditional fare, for better or for worse. HEART OF A COWARD today make a strong case for it being for the better. A band who have been on an admirable rise throughout the current decade, last year’s Deliverance was a career best and provides them with an arsenal of tunes today with which to decimate an audience. Jamie Graham is an archetypal metal frontman channelling the likes of Phil Anselmo and is exceptionally good at it, goading the crowd into forming some of the largest circle pits of the weekend and at one point commanding everyone in front of him in a synchronised headbang. Both parts of Turmoil, especially the SLIPKNOT-esque stomp of Part 1, are savage, and the stand out song from their previous album Deadweight receives an enthusiastic response. An impressive showing from a band just beginning to make their mark.

Rating: 8/10

Words: Perran Helyes

UNEARTH – Ronnie James Dio Stage

Unearth live at Bloodstock Festival 2016. Photo Credit: Sabrina Ramdoyal
Unearth live at Bloodstock Festival 2016. Photo Credit: Sabrina Ramdoyal

With Bloodstock opting to cater to more bands that fall outside the boundaries of extreme metal in recent years, UNEARTH‘s presence on the main stage didn’t feel out of place. The US based shredders have a notorious reputation in the live setting and quite rightly so, pummelling drumming and blistering riffs were the main attraction here and despite the slightly thinned crowd, the band were able to captivate those in attendance. Ken Susi‘s playing was a thing of marvel, with the solo on Zombie Autopilot being a stand-out moment, and frontman Trevor Philips oozed ego and enthusiasm. Consistent with his growls, UNEARTH pulled out a truly monstrous performance and as closer My Will Be Done pummelled the audience one last time, the band had left their mark; utter destruction.

Rating: 8/10

Words: James Weaver

METAL ALLEGIANCE – Ronnie James Dio Stage

Metal Allegiance live at Bloodstock Festival 2016. Photo Credit: Sabrina Ramdoyal
Metal Allegiance live at Bloodstock Festival 2016. Photo Credit: Sabrina Ramdoyal

You never know what to expect from a METAL ALLEGIANCE show. The project has become a phenomenon in the metal scene thanks to it’s star studded roster of heavy metal players and the band’s UK debut at Bloodstock was a party from start to finish. With this edition of the lineup featuring Alex Skolnick [TESTAMENT], Charlie Benante [ANTHRAX], Mark Osegueda [DEATH ANGEL] and Mark Menghi as the core players the band utilised a set of covers of classic tracks and original material. Occasionally joined by Gary [EXODUS, SLAYER] the party hit full swing as iconic covers like Heaven and Hell [BLACK SABBATH] and Suffragette City [David Bowie] had the crowd singing at full volume. It was downright fun, championing the best of heavy metal, and for a setting like BloodstockMETAL ALLEGIANCE replicated the ethos of what the scene is truly about.

Rating: 9/10

Words: James Weaver

WITCHSORROW – Sophie Lancaster Stage

Witchsorrow live at Bloodstock Festival 2016. Photo Credit: Sabrina Ramdoyal
Witchsorrow live at Bloodstock Festival 2016. Photo Credit: Sabrina Ramdoyal

Reliving the old school and how heavy metal should probably sound, WITCHSORROW stormed the Sophie Lancaster Stage on the Sabbath to show us how truly doomed we all are. Armed with spectacularly bass heavy riffs and completely fuzzed out guitar tones, they marched on through their set with ease, bringing forth many old school doom metal vibes as well as mixing in the odd thrashy section which got everyone’s heads bobbing a little bit faster. The live sound was monstrous to say the least, yet still perfectly articulated despite the heavy distortion, leaving an uncompromising performance from a band who definitely know what they’re doing.

Rating: 7/10

Words: David Creamer

SATYRICON – Ronnie James Dio Stage

Satyricon live at Bloodstock Festival 2016. Photo Credit: Sabrina Ramdoyal
Satyricon live at Bloodstock Festival 2016. Photo Credit: Sabrina Ramdoyal

Continuing the weekends theme of having the black metal play when the sun is shining, SATYRICON take the stage after some angry shouting from a stagehand to the sound desk. Quite why is a mystery as the quality of both the stage and sound is perfect. The band themselves are completely giving their all and blast through the entirety of Nemesis Divina out of order before playing a handful of classic songs to close out their set. A solid performance and worthy tribute to a classic album, especially meaningful as frontman Satyr has only recently started performing again after his cancer treatment.

Rating: 8/10

Words: Tim Redman

DRAGONFORCE – Ronnie James Dio Stage

Dragonforce live at Bloodstock Festival 2016. Photo Credit: Sabrina Ramdoyal
Dragonforce live at Bloodstock Festival 2016. Photo Credit: Sabrina Ramdoyal

Everyone’s heard of DRAGONFORCE, be it from Guitar Hero fame or based on their music alone. With frequent debates over the bands live performances, any doubt was put to rest with flawless renditions of classics such as My Spirit Will Go On and Through the Fire and Flames. Guitarists Herman Li and Sam Totman put on a particularly impressive performance, shredding through their back catalogue of ultra-fast power metal solos.

What was less impressive however was the delay of at least 20 minutes at the start of the show, as the Bloodstock crowd grew increasingly impatient, before finally viewing a shortened, limited set. Simply put down to those dreaded words, “technical difficulties”, it was a shame for the London based group at their first Bloodstock performance. A final bow was replaced by a shrug of the shoulders which seemed to say ‘We did the best we could’. An enjoyable half set, but nothing more than that.

Rating: 5/10

Words: Oli Saville

VEKTOR – Sophie Lancaster Stage

Taking to the Sophie Lancaster Stage in the early evening there is an air of anticipation for VEKTOR, both as one of the new thrash acts that has manged to outlast the initial burst and for their brilliantly received third album Terminal Redux. A restrictively short set time means the band only manage to play five songs, although the choice of lengthier tracks may have played into this. Despite this the performance is intense and only of the standouts of the whole festival, blowing many in the crowd away completely and no doubt making the band a multitude of new fans.

Rating: 9/10

Words: Tim Redman

MEMORIAM – Sophie Lancaster Stage

Memoriam live at Bloodstock Festival 2016. Photo Credit: Tim Finch
Memoriam live at Bloodstock Festival 2016. Photo Credit: Tim Finch

Fans of Bloodstock Festival had requested BOLT THROWER for years and whilst that may never happen, MEMORIAM may be the next best thing. Fronted by the charismatic Karl Willetts, fans of BOLT THROWER were in awe at his new venture. Old school death metal tinged riffs drove the ferocious war themed tracks and the confined tent of the Sophie Lancaster Stage made for a perfect environment. Playing the entirety of the acclaimed debut The Hellfire Demos, premiering new material from their forthcoming debut full length and including BOLT THROWER covers (Powder Burns, Spearhead), MEMORIAM whipped up a ferocious display of death metal done exactly right. Musically tight and utterly monstrous on the live stage, MEMORIAM proved that the war rages on.

Rating: 9/10

Words: James Weaver

ANTHRAX – Ronnie James Dio Stage

Anthrax live at Bloodstock Festival 2016. Photo Credit: Sabrina Ramdoyal
Anthrax live at Bloodstock Festival 2016. Photo Credit: Sabrina Ramdoyal

ANTHRAX have always been consistently solid live. The last time the US titans graced Bloodstock was three years ago, and for many in attendance, that performance still seemed fresh in their minds. Not that this dampened the spirit, in fact, it bolstered it. From the moment the band took to the stage, chaos ensued. Classics like Caught In A MoshMadhouse and Got The Time kept the pit surging at high density, new material like Breathing Lightening and Evil Twin felt right in place alongside the classics and Indians saw one of the biggest pits of the weekend. Musically, the band were on fine form. The ever enthusiastic Scott Ian kept the riffs pummelling and the crowd cheering, Charlie Benante never missed a beat and Joey Belladonna galloped across the massive stage never stopping for breath. ANTHRAX have been a staple of heavy metal for decades now and they show no signs of slowing down, yet again, their performance at Bloodstock was a masterclass from start to finish.

Rating: 10/10

Words: James Weaver

FOOTPRINTS IN THE CUSTARD – Hobgoblin New Blood Stage

Whether it was because their appearance fell neatly into a slot between SYMPHONY X and ANTHRAX on the main stage, or because word had got round about how entertaining they can be live, FOOTPRINTS IN THE CUSTARD attracted the biggest crowd of the weekend to the Hobgoblin New Blood Stage. FOOTPRINTS IN THE CUSTARD managed to be both simply wrong and one of the most entertaining bands of the festival. In a six song set their lyrical subjects included oral sex, drinking and a sexually-aggressive bear. The area in front of the stage seemed to be dominated by people carrying inflatable penises. Can you see a pattern forming? After third song Party Metal, the band didn’t so much have a costume change as disrobe, leaving the audience looking at a (male) bassist wearing a bra, a guitarist in a mankini and a singer in a fetching purple/green tutu and tights combo. FOOTPRINTS IN THE CUSTARD completed their set with a thrash version of It’s Raining Men. How many other bands over the Bloodstock weekend had audience members crying with laughter? Let’s hope they get an invite back to one of the bigger stages soon.

Rating: 10/10

Words: Simon Alcock

SLAYER – Ronnie James Dio Stage

Slayer live at Bloodstock Festival 2016. Photo Credit: Sabrina Ramdoyal
Slayer live at Bloodstock Festival 2016. Photo Credit: Sabrina Ramdoyal

The loss of Jeff Hanneman was still a very fresh and painful wound when SLAYER last headlined Bloodstock in 2013, and it understandably showed in their performance. Three years later with a solidified lineup and a new record behind them, there’s more fuel in the tank this time around, and while they’re not on the ferocious form they were on during their UK tour in November SLAYER rule tonight. On either side of the stage is perched an upside down cross made of Marshall amps shooting pyro as quite suitably the most metal thing at Bloodstock is saved till last. It’s pandemonium from the very beginning, SLAYER reminding us just how many brilliant songs they have by being able to drop Disciple second song in.

Tom Araya is naturally not the wild headbanging monster he was when he was younger but his voice has held up incredibly well, still able to send chills down the spine when introducing War Ensemble with a scream, and Gary Holt has long cemented and deserved his position as the man to stand alongside Kerry King in a post-Hanneman world. Some interesting setlist choices are made as obscurer oldies are thrown out like Fight Till Death and Necrophiliac, which goes over the heads of some but sends the diehards into an excited frenzy. The last six songs meanwhile from Seasons in the Abyss and Dead Skin Mask to Raining Blood and Angel of Death via Hell Awaits and South of Heaven are a home run of cast iron metal classics that will never sound dated, overplayed or unwelcome. The anticipation in the air is almost overwhelming as those building tom hits in Raining Blood approach the coming of Armageddon, and the utter destruction that follows is something that only SLAYER can incite.

Rating: 9/10

Words: Perran Helyes

GOATWHORE – Sophie Lancaster Stage

A fitting closer to perhaps one of Bloodstock Festival’s best years yet. And what a phenomenal closing performance it was. A bloodthirsty crowd fresh from the war zone that SLAYER had left behind wasted no time in forming one massive bruiser of a mosh pit in the dismal dark of the Sophie Lancaster Stage. Sammy Duet’s guitar riffs and licks provided the gateways to pure death-thrashing madness as they ripped through song after song without any compromise or signs of fatigue on part of any member of the band nor the audience. Adrenaline fuelled chaos was in deed on the menu for that evening, and GOATWHORE served it on a platter covered in leather, spikes and blood.

Rating: 8/10

Words: David Creamer

Well there you have it, Bloodstock Festival is done for another year. We had an absolute blast, as always, and are already counting down to next year’s event! For all things Bloodstock, check out their official page on Facebook.

Check out our photo gallery from photographers Sabrina Ramdoyal, Tim Finch and Katja Ogrin:

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