Harsh, screeching vocals are Visions of Disfigurement’s way to introduce themselves to everyone. Describing themselves as “slamming death metal”, they certainly have…colourful lyrics. Just one listen of “Fecaluria” will ensure that you’ll never forget some of the images they conjure up. Drums come at a breakneck pace and work well in tandem with the down tuned guitars, certainly one for the memories.
Desert Storm bring things down a notch, injecting hints of blues and psychedelic into the mix. Like so many bands over the weekend, they pack out their space at the Sophie stage. Drums take a more subdued role in their music whilst guitars crunch and wail, at times sounding like early 90s alternative and with the exception of the harsh vocals, Matt Ryan could sound like Zakk Wylde gargling gravel.
Pteroglyph you may have heard of. Zach’s (the very same Zach whose review was shared by Dee Snider) dad is one of the guitarists. Flirting with the proggier side of things, it’s a little out of my comfort zone but there’s a passion in the performance that very few other bands this weekend pull off.
Heart of a Coward are a band I’ve only heard of and I was honestly expecting something a bit naff to cater to a certain magazine’s crowd. How wrong I was. It was metalcore done so very right. Likely the best I’ve heard since Killswitch Engage and just as entertaining, they put in a great, energetic performance. If Killswitch Engage are ever looking for a great support act, look no further (this will be when someone tells me it’s already happened at some point…)
With soaring vocals, Tarin Kerrey leads Sanguine through their groove-filled nu-metal songs. Not too heavily reliant on harsh vocals, she can still hit the bottom notes when she wants alongside the higher ones. The riffs chug with the force of a steam train from Nick Magee, his backing vocals snarling behind Tarin’s.
Kahtet were maybe the strangest band I saw all weekend. As the trio combines technical with prog, they rely only on instruments, no vocals in the slightest. Going from aggressive to ethereal calm and back, it makes for a weird experience but an enjoyable one nonetheless.
Pulling no punches, Krysthla intend to provide you with the most primal of heavy metal they can manage. With gut-punching riffs that are designed to knock you on your ass, there’s an intensity that knocks you off-kilter though that could be down to the fact it’s still relatively early in the day. They set the standard for the day and barely any acts manage to beat them.
The female-fronted I Saw the World Burn have clearly made an impression on attendees given their reception on the post-mortem social media posts. While most of the female-fronted bands here aim for the Within Temptation/Nightwish niche, I Saw the World Burn aim for a far heavier approach. It’s done with ease and panache as frontwoman Katie Cairns holds her audience captive and with the tightly-knit performance from the entire band, you wouldn’t think they’d been together for less than a year.
Divine Chaos were a band I caught at Wildfire and they were incredible. Definitely one of the day’s “must-see” bands and it seems several people at Bloodstock had the same idea as the Sophie stage is packed. An energetic blend of thrash of doom and heavily polished, had it not been for bands higher up the bill, they would easily have been the best band of the day.
Doom metallers Witchsorrow take their shot at the Sophie Lancaster stage and almost like a unicorn, a three-piece here is a rare sight. Opening with a song almost like “The God That Failed”, there’s more of a stoner vibe to them than doom, almost as if they were Wolfmother who took a bunch of mushrooms and became a sludgier version. It’s a slick band but there’s very little oomph with bassist Emily Witch skulking near her amp.
Rabid Bitch of the North approached me as I stood mouth agape at Gojira’s set, handing me one of their CDs based on the patches on my denim cut-off. I can see why as their NWOBHM riffs delivered as a three-piece is definitely up my alley. There’s a chant of “Rabid Bitch!” filling the New Blood stage which the band are in awe of. Despite being inspired by NWOBHM, there’s an injection of groove and melody to bring an extra layer of texture to it, becoming far more tangible.
Hitting the melodic end of the spectrum, the four-piece Derange are intent on conquering the Sophie stage and they manage to do so with ease. One of the most professional bands of the weekend, frontwoman Cat Pereira is intent on playing as if to a packed stadium and the crowd lap it up. Backed by the thunderous drums of Warren de Melo, there’s an easy rhythm to nod along to for most of the set, making for a great time, their set passing by in a flash.
Firebomb were another band that ended up lodging itself at the front of our minds for the remainder of the weekend, impressed by the quality they were displaying. With a modern hard rock sound with a classic twist, it made a nice change of being subjected to the converse. The one thing that popped into my mind was they wouldn’t at all be out of place at Wildfire and I could see them getting a good slot on the bill there next year. Dave Ritchie, if you’re reading, it’s just a thought!
DragonForce suffer technical issues and their stage time is pushed back, as such, they only have time for a handful of songs but they use their time expertly, squeezing “Cry Thunder”, “My Spirit Will Go On” and a couple of others before closing with “Through the Fire and Flames”. It’s a setlist that’s not surprising but when you’re playing a festival, it’s the proper way to do it (take note, Iron Maiden). Marc Hudson makes for a great frontman and there’s a sense that he’s no longer the “new boy” but still a sense of wonder as he windmills during instrumental parts,
The John Doe’s Burial get the short end of the stick as people have hung around to catch DragonForce. Deathcore isn’t my thing. From the name of the genre, I know that right away. Except, I rather like this. Far heavier than anything I’m used to, it’s a shame their set clashed with DragonForce’s so much as I would have liked to have seen more.
With two lead vocalists, Chronicles are a rather unique line-up. One vocalist concentrates on harsh vocals whilst the other focuses mainly on clean with some harsh vocals. It seems a bit unnecessary since one vocalist can do both. Musically, the metalcore outfit seems a bit sloppy and it seems nerves are creeping into the performance – understandable. However there’s some great bass work on offer from Leighton Mead and they’re not the worst band of the weekend.
Valous are another band to combine NWOBHM with another sub-genre, this time aiming for a more 80s American rock feel. Something which definitely shouldn’t work. As such, you get the chugging riffs mixed in with bending notes, turning them into a captivating spectacle.
After the jaw-dropping behemoth that was Anthrax, Pythia aim for a darker vibe, pulling in a sizeable crowd and as they look to album four and their position on the bill, there’s a lot of love for them. The gothic take is well-received by the crowd but it’s not my thing, regardless of how well they do it.
After bumping into a nice girl who we’ll call Elizabeth, it’s time to see Attica Rage and once again, there’s no space to be had in the Jägermeister stage. With their blend of NWOBHM and thrash, it’s something which shouldn’t really work but it does. As tight a performance as ever, they’re conscious of appearing between Anthrax and Slayer and no-one wants to miss the final band of the night. Just like with his other band, Mason Hill, Matthew Ward delivers massive bass lines and holds his own during the spine-tingling cover of Motörhead’s “Overkill”. I’d completely forgotten how much I like these guys and I enjoyed the stark reminder so much so, I now have a ticket for their Glasgow show in October!