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FESTIVAL REVIEW: Bloodstock Festival ’17 – Thursday & Friday

Bloodstock Festival, the UK’s mecca for metal returns for another year with a stacked and varied lineup. Covering a wide variety of genres, sounds and styles, this year’s festival was a must-attend for those who crave for the heavy. Will the festival selling out for the first time in it’s history, 2017’s edition of Bloodstock Festival felt truly special. Distorted Sound were on the ground at this year’s festival and so, let our coverage begin. Here is our lowdown of the Thursday and Friday of Bloodstock Festival 2017!

THE INFERNAL SEA – Sophie Lancaster Stage

The Infernal Sea live @ Bloodstock Festival 2017/ Photo Credit: Down The Barrel Photography
The Infernal Sea live @ Bloodstock Festival 2017/ Photo Credit: Down The Barrel Photography

With Bloodstock‘s main activities commencing on the Friday, the Thursday of this year’s festival served as a pre-party before the festival kicks off in full swing. With a range of genres displayed on The Sophie Lancaster Stage, rising black metallers THE INFERNAL SEA easily displayed enough quality to set themselves apart from their peers performing that day. Donning plague masks and armed with an arsenal of icy riffs, pummelling blast beats and piercing shrieks from vocalist Dean Lettice, THE INFERNAL SEA made a true statement of intent in their performance at Bloodstock; one which not only showcases the sheer talent within the UK extreme metal scene, but for the band themselves.

Rating: 9/10

Words: James Weaver

BATTLE BEAST – Sophie Lancaster Stage

Battle Beast live @ Bloodstock Festival 2017. Photo Credit: Sabrina Ramdoyal Photography
Battle Beast live @ Bloodstock Festival 2017. Photo Credit: Sabrina Ramdoyal Photography

Headlining the Thursday’s proceedings, Finnish power metal warriors BATTLE BEAST intended to keep the party roaring and their set at this year’s Bloodstock Festival achieved just that. With hard hitting riffs that strictly followed the heavy metal blueprint, their headlining set was packed with power; fitting the traditional roots of the festival itself. Frontwoman Noora Louhimo did an adequate job with her vocal deliveries and was met with numerous sing-a-longs from the swelling crowd. Despite a tightly-knit and well executed live sound, unfortunately for BATTLE BEAST, there just seemed to be a lacking of that killer blow, a missing piece of the puzzle to truly make their live presence memorable. As their set progressed, the riffs and tone of their style became increasingly bland and repetitive, which dampened their impact in the live environment. Despite these short comings, for most in attendance, this did not matter, as the Finnish metallers brought the party, kicking off the weekend’s antics to a positive start.

Rating: 6/10

Words: James Weaver

FOREVER STILL – Ronnie James Dio Stage

Forever Still live @ Bloodstock Festival 2017. Photo Credit: Sabrina Ramdoyal Photography
Forever Still live @ Bloodstock Festival 2017. Photo Credit: Sabrina Ramdoyal Photography

Opening up the main stage of the first day of one of Britain’s biggest metal festivals is no easy task, so the pressure was on for FOREVER STILL to deliver a strong set. Playing some of their strongest hits, including Miss Madness, Maja Shining offered a solid stage performance alongside her vocals which were, for the most part, equally powerful. Bassist Mikkel Haastrup dominated the stage as he bound around the stage and supported bandmates Rune (guitar) and their excellent drummer. Rune was hands down the most impressive member of FOREVER STILL’s set, as she was on top form, especially during her solos. FOREVER STILL’s set consisted of primarily fast-paced, melodic tracks including the bouncing Awake the Fire, and some new tracks to surprise the audience. While Maja was slightly off key in places, the whole band seemed to attract a sizeable crowd and pulled off their difficult place on Bloodstock‘s bill.

Rating: 7/10

Words: Jordan McEvoy

CHELSEA GRIN – Ronnie James Dio Stage

Chelsea Grin live @ Bloodstock Festival 2017. Photo Credit: Down The Barrel Photography
Chelsea Grin live @ Bloodstock Festival 2017. Photo Credit: Down The Barrel Photography

WHITECHAPEL proved that deathcore can work at Bloodstock the first time that they played back in 2013, but CHELSEA GRIN are a different property altogether. WHITECHAPEL had as much a place on Summer Slaughter bills as they do on Impericon tours, and from the moment CHELSEA GRIN vocalist Alex Koehler walks on wearing a snapback, things look very out of place. What’s perhaps surprising then is how well things go. CHELSEA GRIN’s leap towards more tech metal territories on their last two albums is to be honest not very interesting on record, but these songs work much better live with their thick textures and bouncing rhythms. The older material like My Damnation though is where things really impact. Recreant’s breakdown is the stuff of legend amongst the deathcore faithful, and when all of CHELSEA GRIN’s members headbang in perfect synchronisation to nothing but a sub-drop for a solid few seconds, it can’t be denied that it’s entertaining

Rating: 7/10

Words: Perran Helyes

WHITECHAPEL – Ronnie James Dio Stage

Whitechapel live @ Bloodstock Festival 2017. Photo Credit: Katja Ogrin
Whitechapel live @ Bloodstock Festival 2017. Photo Credit: Katja Ogrin

Returning to Bloodstock after a four year absence, WHITECHAPEL are part of the new era of metal on show at this year’s festival and their performance on the Ronnie James Dio Stage was packed to the brim of quality. Through a triple riff assault from guitarists Ben Savage, Alex Wade and Zach Householder, WHITECHAPEL were able to create an enormous wall of sound that engulfed the crowd throughout their performance. From the enormous pummelling of I, Dementia to the lightening speed of Mark of the Blade, the impact of the band was utterly satisfying. Frontman Phil Bozeman fronted the band with absolute ease with his guttural blasts holding their own in the mix which effectively delivered the killer blow and whilst it was disappointing that there was a jarring absence of material from the band’s first three records, WHITECHAPEL gave a performance that showcased that the newer bands within heavy music can hold their own against the greats at festivals like Bloodstock.

Rating: 8/10

Words: James Weaver

EMBODIMENT – Hobgoblin New Blood Stage

Embodiment live @ Bloodstock Festival 2017. Photo Credit: Down The Barrel Photography
Embodiment live @ Bloodstock Festival 2017. Photo Credit: Down The Barrel Photography

Over on the Hobgoblin New Blood Stage, Bristol Metal 2 the Masses winners EMBODIMENT are blowing away what’s left of the Thursday night hangovers in brilliant, technical death metal style. There are a number of shirts around for the quintet and they waste no time in getting stuck into their set that includes tracks like Infested, Captured Vanity and a jaw-dropping rendition of The Beast. Even more impressively, the tent is packed by the time they’ve finished and the 100 albums they give away as freebies vanish in seconds, which is testament to just how brilliant they’ve been. There are walls of death, circle pits, plenty of headbanging and the cheers get louder with each song that passes; it’s a triumphant day at the office for EMBODIMENT, no doubt about that.

Rating: 8/10

Words: Elliot Leaver

DEVILMENT – Ronnie James Dio Stage

Devilment live @ Bloodstock Festival 2017. Photo Credit: Sabrina Ramdoyal Photography
Devilment live @ Bloodstock Festival 2017. Photo Credit: Sabrina Ramdoyal Photography

As a CRADLE OF FILTH album is on the horizon with Dani Filth presumably tied up from there, his other band DEVILMENT take this opportunity for a Bloodstock showing attracting a crowd that’s largely more curious than dedicated. Their music is much more meat and potatoes than the spiralling symphonic grandeur of Dani’s day job, their riffing and grooves competently getting heads nodding but not much more. As such, it’s a set that lives and dies on the personality of its performers, and thankfully Dani has that in spades. He’s in fine form, hopping around the stage with glee as he unleashes that unmistakable and peerless shriek, holding his microphone a good foot away from his face to avoid bursting people’s eardrums. Keyboardist Lauren Francis fills her role well providing a gothic female counterpoint to Dani’s bestial character, but after a while the lack of memorable tunes really begins to show.

Rating: 6/10

Words: Perran Helyes

SOILWORK – Ronnie James Dio Stage

Soilwork live @ Bloodstock Festival 2017. Photo Credit:  Down The Barrel Photography
Soilwork live @ Bloodstock Festival 2017. Photo Credit: Down The Barrel Photography

In February SOILWORK‘s last appearances in the UK were marked by them being battered into next week by every other band on the tour as the savagery of KREATOR, SEPULTURA and ABORTED around them just made them look tame and weak. Today, they suffer a very similar fate, and this time it’s hard to pin that solely on the formidable competition. SOILWORK‘s melodic death metal frequently lacks both of the key elements that make the genre at its best so riveting: bite, and hooks. Their melodies soar but without taking anyone with them, and this combined with sound that never truly tears into you as death metal of any kind should means that SOILWORK bore. Even Bastard Chain, an early cut that sits on the podium as one of their finest songs, is sapped somewhat of its brutality today. It’s more than a little frustrating, but SOILWORK in 2017 rarely seem to rise above mediocrity.

Rating: 5/10

Words: Perran Helyes

BLOOD THREAD – Hobgoblin New Blood Stage

Also a part of the Carlisle iteration of Metal 2 The Masses BLOOD THREAD turned a few heads throughout the qualifying rounds with their own twisted form of unrelenting death metal. As a result of this they were hand picked to appear at the festival alongside overall winners SEEK SOLACE IN RUIN. By no means strangers to big occasions after recently supporting bands such as CATTLE DECAPITATION and VITAL REMAINS they took full advantage of this opportunity by pummelling the crowd with a barrage of riffs and bone jarring blast beats showcasing material from their most recent EP Era of Corruption most certainly acquiring some new fans in the process.

Rating: 7/10

Words: Dan McHugh

DECAPITATED – Ronnie James Dio Stage

Decapitated live @ Bloodstock Festival 2017. Photo Credit: Katja Ogrin
Decapitated live @ Bloodstock Festival 2017. Photo Credit: Katja Ogrin

On the back of one of the contenders for the year in Anticult, Polish extreme metal maestros DECAPITATED came to Bloodstock with one thing on their minds; to incite chaos and they achieved just that. Throughout their set on the main stage, DECAPITATED gave a master-stroke of a performance; one which showcased sheer technicality and utter brutality. Despite a brief technical glitch, one which the band overcame without it hampering their impact, the band were firing on all cylinders as they unleashed wave after wave of frantic riffing, ear-splitting blasts from the drums and a monstrous display of vocals from frontman Rasta Piotrowski. Guitarist Vogg Kiełtyka showcased why he is considered one of the best guitarists in extreme metal through countless amounts of guitar trickery; one which he achieved with absolute ease. With a varied setlist and the inclusion of a healthy addition from their latest album, Kill This Cult and Earth Scar inciting some of the biggest mosh pits of the day, DECAPITATED were utterly terrifying in their live performance which is nothing but a good thing.

Rating: 10/10

Words: James Weaver

BLACK MOTH – Sophie Lancaster Stage

Black Moth live @ Bloodstock Festival 2017/ Photo Credit: Down The Barrel Photography
Black Moth live @ Bloodstock Festival 2017/ Photo Credit: Down The Barrel Photography

BLACK MOTH‘s set on the Sophie Lancaster Stage could have really suffered given the fact that some oiks called TESTAMENT are playing at the same time across the arena, but the sizeable audience that greets their downtrodden, crushing riffs and catchy hooks suggests otherwise. On the form of their lives this evening, they’re so heavy that heads are genuinely in danger of being wrenched from their corresponding neck, especially with the likes of Blackbirds Fall ringing out at what feels like 1000 decibels at times. Plus, frontwoman Harriet Hyde is a true star in the making in every respect; this is a band who should be far bigger than they actually are, so if you’re a fan of bands like LED ZEPPELIN, ALICE IN CHAINS and RED FANG, get on these guys.

Rating: 8/10

Words: Elliot Leaver

TESTAMENT – Ronnie James Dio Stage

Testament live @ Bloodstock Festival 2017. Photo Credit: Sabrina Ramdoyal Photography
Testament live @ Bloodstock Festival 2017. Photo Credit: Sabrina Ramdoyal Photography

One of THE thrash legends in TESTAMENT returning to Britain’s biggest pure-blooded heavy metal festival should have “triumph” written all over it, but a few factors conspire to really hold things back. Latest album Brotherhood of the Snake has received a fairly muted response in comparison to their acclaimed 2008 comeback The Formation of Damnation and its excellent follow-up Dark Roots of Earth, and despite them playing the three best songs from it, an over-abundance of recent material subdues the crowd a tad. The difference when they decide to tear into old classic Into the Pit is noticeable. Chuck Billy’s speech before Stronghold about the rights of Native Americans is obviously noble in its intentions but a little awkwardly delivered and vague for a non-American crowd, and a bigger issue is the sound. TESTAMENT are totally robbed of practically all of their primal power as the wind consumes their visceral edge, the remaining sound unsatisfying mush. Things pick up towards the end as they close with a destructive rendition of The Formation of Damnation’s title track, but with the pedigree of the people involved in this current line-up, TESTAMENT are capable of far more than this.

Rating: 6/10

Words: Perran Helyes

SEEK SOLACE IN RUIN – Hobgoblin New Blood Stage

After narrowly missing out in the Metal 2 The Masses Carlisle final last year to the deserving TRIVERSE MASSACRE it was almost destiny for SEEK SOLACE IN RUIN to claim their rightful place on the Hobgoblin New Blood Stage this time round. The five piece burst onto the stage with the sole intention of making every second of this opportunity count leaving every single spectator with serious bangovers as a result. Despite the unfortunate occurrence of their set clashing with death metal powerhouse DECAPITATED they still managed to acquire a respectable crowd and showcased an abundance of killer groove-ridden riffs accompanied with some impressively extravagant drum fills. Frontman Joseph Fryer commanded the stage with his brutal combination of savage screams/growls which were spine-chillingly executed. Leaving the stage to a rapturous applause was clear evidence that SEEK SOLACE IN RUIN have a bright future ahead of them.

Rating: 8/10

Words: Dan McHugh

BLIND GUARDIAN – Ronnie James Dio Stage

Blind Guardian live @ Bloodstock Festival 2017. Photo Credit: Katja Ogrin
Blind Guardian live @ Bloodstock Festival 2017. Photo Credit: Katja Ogrin

BLIND GUARDIAN have a special relationship with Bloodstock Festival. Through their relationship with Paul Gregory and playing the festival numerous times (as far back as 2002), their booking as special guests to Friday’s headliner AMON AMARTH was a match made in heaven and the German metallers gave a performance that was epic to say the least. Despite a lacking of visual artwork and stage effects, the band opted to let the music do the talking and quite rightly so; as BLIND GUARDIAN delivered a performance that showcased their quality. From Frederik Ehmke‘s bombastic work behind the drums to André Olbrich‘s dazzling guitar licks, the band’s wide soundscape translated extremely well in a festival environment and this was fronted through the excellence of vocalist Hansi Kürsch. Kürsch‘s soaring vocal lines more than held their own against the band’s enormous sound and the charisma at Kürsch‘s disposal only further enforced this. The band’s choice of songs worked highly in their favour with Mirror Mirror keeping the crowd’s spirits high and Valhalla inciting one of the biggest sing-a-longs of the weekend. Not even the rain could dampen the spirits as a brief rain shower only made The Bard’s Song – In The Forest resonate more to the massive crowd. BLIND GUARDIAN have been on the scene for decades now and their performance at Bloodstock more than showcased that the band have plenty more to offer for those who crave heavy music.

Rating: 9/10

Words: James Weaver

LIONIZE – Sophie Lancaster Stage

Lionize live @ Bloodstock Festival 2017. Photo Credit: Katja Ogrin
Lionize live @ Bloodstock Festival 2017. Photo Credit: Katja Ogrin

LIONIZE are a band that have been in the music game for just over a decade now but only recently starting to break down the barriers and after their performance at Bloodstock it is boggling as to why it has taken the world so long to catch up with them. At first the crowd was far and few in between but as goers walked by and heard their unique sound of classic/acid/funk rock the Sophie Lancaster Stage soon filled out. The key thing to note when watching LIONIZE is the sheer amount of energy that went into their performance and the ability to capture the crowd and make them forget what standing still is, organist Chris Brooks absolutely stole the the hearts of everyone, he was fuelling the entire atmosphere around him and breaking down the barriers of what people might deem uncool. The US rockers were the underdogs of the weekend and gave one of the best performances of the entire Bloodstock weekend.

Rating: 9/10

Words: Jessica Howkins

AMON AMARTH – Ronnie James Dio Stage

Amon Amarth live @ Bloodstock Festival 2017. Photo Credit: Sabrina Ramdoyal Photography
Amon Amarth live @ Bloodstock Festival 2017. Photo Credit: Sabrina Ramdoyal Photography

AMON AMARTH headlining Bloodstock felt like a long time coming. The Swedish Vikings have been on a meteoric rise in the last couple of years and there was a lot of anticipation prior to the band’s headlining set on the Friday night. And AMON AMARTH brought a performance that showcased their authority at the top of the heavy metal tree. Powering their way through an extensive setlist covering plenty of ground from the band’s expansive discography, the band’s live form was utterly superb and the crowd reacted emphatically. The frantic War of the Gods brought chaos throughout the sea of people, Cry of the Black Birds‘ melodic framework from guitarists Olavi Mikkonen and Johan Söderberg allowed Johan Hegg‘s booming vocals to soar and Death In Fire’s bombastic drum-work sounded absolutely monolithic. These are just a few glimpses into the sheer majesty that was AMON AMARTH‘s performance and this was only bolstered by the band’s stage show. Frequent back drop changes, an arsenal of pyro, Vikings battling each other stage and an enormous serpent engulfing the stage during encore Twilight of the Thunder God are just the best picks of the bunch and at the epicentre of this was Johan Hegg. Hegg excelled in his vocal deliveries and boasted the charisma and charm of a natural frontman. From start to finish AMON AMARTH more than delivered in their headlining show and demonstrated why they are a hugely important band of the modern age of heavy music.

Rating: 9/10

Words: James Weaver

INQUISITION – Sophie Lancaster Stage

Inquisition live @ Bloodstock Festival 2017. Photo Credit: Sabrina Ramdoyal Photography
Inquisition live @ Bloodstock Festival 2017. Photo Credit: Sabrina Ramdoyal Photography

Serving as the last band for the Friday of this year’s Bloodstock, black metal duo INQUISITION had a tall order to follow AMON AMARTH‘s triumphant performance on the Ronnie James Dio Stage. Despite no visual stage presence, the duo of Dagon and Incubus let their music do the talking and the band gave a riveting and menacing performance on the Sophie Lancaster Stage. Backed with thunderous blast beats that kept the momentum in full gear, Dagon‘s blistering guitars packed an absolute punch as INQUISITION blew people away. Dagon‘s iconic snarls and monotone lows rumbled over the mix and held their own in the chaos, helping propel the band’s quality to the highest level. From Desolate Funeral Hymn‘s mid-tempo hooks that drew people into a trance to the dizzying pace of Vortex from the Celestial Flying Throne of Storms, the band held nothing back in their performance and it marked an earth-shattering day to the first day of Bloodstock Festival 2017.

Rating: 9/10

Words: James Weaver

And there you have it! Stay tuned to Distorted Sound as we bring you our coverage of the Saturday and Sunday of this year’s Bloodstock Festival! 

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