Mother Nature must have got out of the wrong side of bed today as the wind hit harder than the after effects of a prawn vindaloo, so much so that the Ronnie James Dio Stage was shut down and cordoned off for about an hour later on in the day. A mad dash through the mud for the first band of the day on the New Blood Stage was Motherwell maniacs Inferiem. First stage clash meant I only caught the first four songs from them but was well impressed with their unbridled fury. Opener ‘Parasites’ eased us in slowly with a wave of steady grind as the riffs sludged up midway that got tired heads nodding. They burst into life with the drum driven ‘Kill The Poison’. ‘Bury Me’ was a head clubbing dirge that matched its title and I left them after the truly monstrous riffing in latest single ‘The Fall’.
I saw Krysthla here a few years ago and they have now elevated to playing on the Ronnie James Dio Stage and their eight song set, featuring two from latest album Worldwide Negative hit hard and fast. Fronted by the mighty roars of Adi Mayes, ‘The Minor Mystery Of Death’ was a day early Sunday sermon for a large crowd at 10.45am! Other choice cuts included the unrelenting death metal of ‘Yawm-Al-Qiyamah’ and in similar vein, first single from the new album ‘Reawaken’ was a downtuned destroyer. ‘Zero Sum Game’ went down the gears as my song of the set ‘Make Disciples Of The Nations’ could of been the soundtrack to armageddon and mass headbanging ensued for set closer ‘Luminosity’.
From last seeing Toronto based hardcore band Cancer Bats at a small gig in Manchester to gracing the Ronnie James Dio Stage seemed on paper a bit surreal but they whipped up their own storm with ‘Gatekeeper’ fronted by the affable Liam Cormier. Their early stage slot saw him quip “I’m barely awake, feel like shit and can hardly get a boner”. ‘Sabotage’, their first of two covers was a full on take of the Beastie Boys classic followed by the blink and you’ll miss it rant of ‘Fear Will Kill Us All’. As if a field full of metalheads had not already warmed to their bonhomie, they ended on a crowd fueled first and last verses during ‘War Pigs’ by Black Sabbath. They really put their own stamp on it with impressive bass runs from Jaye R. Schwarzer. Geezer Butler would have been proud!
Old school thrash metal always does it for me and a big dollop of it was raged out by Corby based Reaper-X. Razor sharp riffing in ‘Blood In The Air’ tore from the New Blood Stage and that ferocity flowed through the pit opening barrage of ‘Fury In Flames’ as the pit quickened in size and speed for their all too soon set closer ‘Red Menace’. How Evil Scarecrow have evaded being locked up since their formation in Nottingham 2002 beggars belief! I first saw them many years ago at the Sanctuary in Burnley and their mixture of thrash metal served up with lashings of self deprecating humour have seen them yet again grace the Ronnie James Dio Stage. The high winds may have scuppered their pyro plans but I was more than happy with hilarious props used throughout their set.
A cheesy intro tape of ‘You’ve Got The Touch’ set their stall out for the idiocy to follow. ‘Way To Die’ was a gothically heavy crunch followed by a surprisingly early and the heaviest run through of ‘Robototron’ I’ve heard by them. Special guest on guitar was twelve year old Alfie Wood from The Lost Boys band who riffed and soloed heroically and as crowd cheers of “Alfie Alfie Alfie” subsided, frontman Dr. Rabid Hell jokingly shouted “Fuck off my stage you little bastard” and of course the huge crowd joined in with the robot dancing moves. It’s mandatory! Their set leaned heavily on current album Chapter IV:Antartarctica with five being bashed out from it. The laid back ‘The Ballad Of Brother Pain’, (their lead guitarist) came after the doctor had shouted out “Fuck you weather” due to the lack of pyro but we did get a snow shower of ticker tape from front of stage. ‘Skulls Of Our Enemies’ was an unearthly pound. ‘Polterghost’ was as over the top as its title suggests but pick of the crop was an ear bending ‘Hurricanado’. Two from Galactic Hunt were ‘Space Dementia’, full of props that looked like they had come from the worst sci fi B movie ever and set closer ‘Crabulon’ saw more off the scale crowd choreography as thousands scuttled from side to side, raising their claws!
Bristol M2TM 2019 winners Voluntas raged hard to say the least with their thrashtastic set and caught my attention with duel clean and growled vocals as they whipped up the right sort of storm, a metal one! Their five song set came from their debut EP From Hell as the abrasive riffing of ‘The Price Is Blood’ got heads banging in the full New Blood Stage. Devilish howls from Joe Barton added a chilling death metal vibe over crunching heavy metal. The EP title track was a real brain mangler with a full on lead guitar solo midway. ‘Wolves’ literally went for the throat due to its ferocity and they closed with ‘Into The Black’ which seemed to be summoned from the depths of Hell.
Every Wildhearts gig I go to ends up with me saying “It’s the best I’ve seen them play”, so of course when they owned the Ronnie James Dio Stage today, I repeated myself yet again. Stand in drummer Cam Greenwood from Terrorvision played a blinder as permanent smiles from Ginger, Danny and CJ were caused by a crowd going nuts throughout their nine song set. New album The Renaissance Men is getting rave reviews and three played from it today included set opener ‘Dislocated’, a real hangover cure! The Wildhearts choir were in fine voice as we belted out ‘Everlone’ with them and they kicked out the jams with a super heavy ‘Suckerpunch’. ‘Vanilla Radio’ was simply glorious as the vocal melodies tickled our ears and the riffs bruised them and we hollered out “Where’s my Elvis?” with aplomb in the choruses. ‘Let Em Go’ was another strong new one and a surprise addition to the set for me was ‘Jackson Whites’. ‘Caffeine Bomb’ was bashed out on an adrenaline rush of punk rock riffing and a 100mph vocal delivery. The last new one today saw ‘Diagnosis’ whet our appetites for a thumping ‘I Wanna Go Where The People Go’ and we had some divine intervention as the sun came out when Ginger sang “Let it shine, let it shine” before the first chorus!
A quick dash for my first band of the weekend on the Jagermeister Stage saw one man band Foul Body Autopsy. Tom Reynolds on guitar plays along to backing music which is written and recorded by himself and a full on half hour of death metal played to a huge crowd encircling the stage was just what the doctor ordered. A very impressive performance for his third appearance at Bloodstock! One of my new band highlights came from Los Angeles based 3 Headed Snake. I only found out later that this was their first ever gig after only a few rehearsals. Formed by Ministry guitarist Sin Quirin, they decimated the Sophie Lancaster Stage fronted by the overwhelming vocal prowess of Johnny Ray. Some of the notes he was hitting left me speechless!
Set opener ‘Symbiotic’ was a wall of industrial pounding with banshee screamed vocals. ‘Catharsis’ was a crushing slow burner followed by the battle metal grooves of ‘Wisdom Screams’ hammered out to a rapturous, packed out tent. ‘Money God’ was not just a power ballad, it was a nuclear power ballad topped off by a fretboard burning guitar solo from Sin. ‘Untouchable Undead’ was seismic. ‘Tight Rope’ was a no frills headbanger with a full on drum battering from another Ministry member Derek S Abrams and they left us buzzing with the ear worm main riff and stratospheric vocals in ‘Regret’.
A mad dash to the New Blood Stage through ankle deep mud slowed me down long enough to miss the opening number of Sheffield based Deformation Of Man. A musical wrecking ball hurtling around the stage came from ‘Ashes Of Our Enemies’. ‘Tyrael’ was all turbocharging punk rock rage and that vibe carried through the early Will Haven like ferocity of ‘Brothers’. ‘Despondent By Design’ was a full on hammer blow pit opener and they saved their heaviest opus till last as ‘Hatriot’ was a real chest beater! Now the high winds had abated, the lighting trusses were raised and front of stage area opened up to let us in for a triumphant return by Anthrax. With a back catalogue like they have it must be tough with only an hour long stage time but they hit us hard and heavy with seven stone cold classics, opening with a snippet of ‘Cowboys From Hell’ that segued into a skull crunching ‘Caught In A Mosh’. A bass heavy cover of ‘Got The Time’ thrashed towards a stomping ‘Madhouse’, but my set highlight was a storming run through of ‘I Am The Law’. A rarely played ‘Now It’s Dark’ saw some mighty crowd “Whoa oh oh’s” and a mighty ‘A.I.R’ preceded a crowd fueled cover of ‘Antisocial’.
As with other years headliners Within Temptation and Ghost who I’d knew nothing about and were blown away by, I approached todays headliner Parkway Drive with an open mind as when you are filling arenas worldwide then you’re doing something right and deserve a headlining spot here. They arrived through the crowd with blazing torches as they strode onstage with each member getting a sole spotlight, the last being on lead vocalist Winston McCall. A spoken word intro lead to a “Bloodstock, are you fucking ready?” as they crashed into set opener ‘Wishing Well’ backed by a retina burning light show. It’s not normally my musical genre but other strong numbers were ‘Prey’ as it’s juddering riffs lead to crowd fueled choruses. In fact this was probably the loudest crowd I heard all weekend. Winston proved to be a very engaging personality as he made the huge crowd feel like they were in the front row during ‘Vice Grip’.
Pyro and more blinding lights added intensity to the already crowd pleasing pound of ‘The Void’ and that rang true for the visuals that powered ‘Dedicated’ along with a lung busting vocal. A string quartet added an eerie calm to ‘Writing On The Wall’ as a sea of mobile phones lit up the sky as they played on raised individual platforms which made it my set highlight from the New South Wales, Australia based five piece.