Waking up in a daze on the Saturday morning at Bloodstock always seems to be the norm. Some may have a bit of a hangover, some may have a bit of a bangover, and some may have a bit of both! What can be said for certain, is that everyone had an awesome time the previous day. After a quick wake-up call from Mr Tea’s or Motley Brew’s fine selection of caffeinated beverages, or a brave chug of a can of whatever cheap lager one might be sharing their tent with, the denim and leather-clad legions at Bloodstock were ready for another day of heavy metal insanity.
Fallujah (7) opened the main stage with their intense and varied modern heavy metal sound. Being quite early in the day, and with many of the metalheads searching for a hangover cure, the crowd was still building. The band performed well, executing the blastbeats, jagged rhythms, and ambient sounds tightly and with impressive virtuosity. However only about half of the crowd were cheering and nodding their heads while the rest watched through squinted bleary eyes as the sun shone brightly above the arena.
Blind River (7) received a better reception on the Sophie Lancaster stage. Despite only a half full tent, the band’s brand of catchy heavy rock went down well with the crowd. There were raised fists and nodding heads aplenty in the crowd, and Blind River appeared to be enjoying themselves as well.
Winterfylleth (7) brought their no-nonsense black metal to a much bigger crowd on the main stage. Unlike most black metal bands, their no-pretense style allowed for them not to suffer from the lack of atmosphere the daytime sometimes takes away from live performances of the genre. The crowd enjoyed the show with big cheers between songs and mass sing-alongs to the cleaner “Whoa-oh” moments peppered throughout the perfectly captured black metal sound.
Titan Breed (7) tore up the New Blood stage with their modern metal. Though there was only a moderate crowd in the tent, they all went wild in the mosh pits and applauded loudly to the heavy sound. There were lashings of heavy and catchy riffs as well as harmonised and melodic ideas coming together to create a varied sound that went down well with the audience.
Havok (8) drew arguably the biggest crowd of the day so far to the main stage. Their raging thrash metal invoked massive mosh pits aplenty and the first crowd surfers of the day. The band’s relentlessly energetic performance was a clear hit with the crowd, with the band’s rally cry for freedom “Give Me Liberty… or Give Me Death” being a particular highlight.
Infected Dead (8) brought their crushingly heavy modern death metal to the New Blood stage. Their energetic performance drew a large crowd to the tent and the vocalist ensured that he engaged with every single person present with an evil stare to rival that of George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher (of Cannibal Corpse and Monstrosity fame). The band are no slouches either, making their virtuoso sweeped and tapped lead guitars look effortless. As the new fans moshed hard in the pit, it’s clear that these guys are definitely a band to look out for in the future.
Annihilator (9) proved to be the best performance of the weekend so far. The band played brilliantly and the crowd went wild with intense mosh pits throughout the set. They played mostly classic fan favourites like “King of the Kill”, “Set the World on Fire” and “Alison Hell” as well as newer numbers like “No Way Out”. They also debuted a new song, “Twisted Lobotomy” which went down a storm. The song is arguably the heaviest and fastest thing the band have ever written which is a sign that the upcoming album is sure to be a thrash metal treat. Charismatic mainman Jeff Waters worked the crowd, inciting plenty of shout-alongs as well as laughs as he treated them to his dry humour.
Municipal Waste (10) upped the ante and caused arguably the most insane crowd response ever seen at Bloodstock. They played a mix of all of their raging punk-thrash hits from throughout their history. There were intense massive mosh pits throughout the entirety of the performance. The band also attempted to top the world record for the largest number of crowd surfers at a festival which they did with a massive 711 (which I of course took part in)! It’s clear that thrash hits like “Unleash the Bastards”, “You’re Cut Off”, “Breathe Grease”, “The Thrashin’ of the Christ” and “Headbanger Face Rip” went down more than just a storm.
Particular highlights also included the all-too-appropriate “I Want to Kill the President” (bearing in mind one of the band’s latest t-shirts which seemed to be the biggest seller at Bloodstock this year) and closer “Born to Party” where chants of “Municipal Waste is gonna fuck you up!” rang loud beyond the borders of Catton Park… and after their show it’s fair to say that this statement not only rang loud, but rang true.
Red Rum (8) continued the party on the Sophie stage with their fun pirate-themed metal. The tent was almost full and both the band and the crowd clearly enjoyed the show. There was cheering ringing throughout as well as flailing heads and raised fists to the energetic performance. A fan favourite highlight is always when the band play their heavy version of “They’re Taking the Hobbits to Isengard” (originally a funny video on Youtube created using music and video clips from Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers) which naturally went down well.
Kreator (10) proved to be one of, if not the best band to play Bloodstock over the entire weekend. They brought it all – a stellar performance, a great stage show and more. The show was chock full of impressive effects from the stage settings of stained glass window framed LED screens (displaying images and videos from throughout the band’s history), a forebodingly huge Kreator demon centre stage above the drums, intense pyros, and never-ending blasts of white and red streamers and confetti (which subsequently clung to the main stage PA for the remainder of the festival).
The set focused mostly on more modern bangers like “Hordes of Chaos”, “Satan is Real” and “Civilization Collapse” as well as a few classics such as “People of the Lie” and “Total Death”. The performance was particularly energetic with a massive mosh pit raging and crowd surfers flying throughout the entire show. Commanding the stage with an undeniable presence, frontman Mille Petrozza worked the crowd into a frenzy turning the mental mosh pit into a huge wall of death – twice.
A special highlight of the set was undeniably “Fallen Brother” where the band poignantly paid tribute to music legends who have sadly left us on the stage screens – this included a diverse range of music heroes from Ronnie James Dio to David Bowie, Lemmy, Prince, Chuck Schuldiner, Amy Winehouse and more. Closing the set with their second wall of death-invoking and all round proto-death/thrash classic “Pleasure to Kill”, it’s clear that after such an amazing show that Kreator owned Bloodstock 2017 and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see them headline the festival in the future.
Xentrix (8) brought more thrash to the Sophie Lancaster stage with their old-skool noise. The crowds seemed to be gathering en masse in the tent after the main stage predecessors and made up for lost time with the headbanging and fist-pumping throughout the set. Classics like “Balance of Power” and “No Compromise” proved to be a hit with the crowd and were performed well, especially by new frontman Jay Walsh in his debut performance with the band.
Ghost (9) headlined with a spectacular show. Arguably one of the most polarising bands of our time, with legions of dedicated fans and armies of naysayers all having strong opinions on the band, they probably drew the largest crowd of the weekend. Opening their set with the extremely catchy pop-tinged hit “Square Hammer”, the crowd exploded with noise. The set consisted primarily of songs from the Infestissumam and Meliora albums and every song went down a storm.
The band played excellently and brought plenty of pomp to the performance. The stage setting was a simple, yet effective church-style setup accented by atmospheric smoke. Mysterious, yet charismatic frontman Papa Emeritus III owned the stage as he delivered his heavy metal sermons, with dashes of great humour (which seems a little unexpected from such a serious-looking character) to the faithful congregation. The show was full of highlights, though there were a few particular standout moments.
The performance of the Grammy award-winning “Cirice” was simply magical. Beginning with a short guitar battle between two of the Nameless Ghouls playing the main theme of “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” (originally by Pink Floyd), the crowd roared rapturously as the eerie intro riffs rang throughout Catton Park. The true magic came in the chorus when almost the entire festival sang along with Papa’s immortal refrain “I can feel the thunder that’s raging in your heart. I can see through the scars inside you”.
Another highlight was the bombastic performance of “Year Zero” which featured pyrotechnic accents as well as more glorious singalongs. The show ended with a special rendition of “Monstrance Clock” which featured the return of the Sisters of Sin (nuns who appeared with gifts for the audience earlier in the show) as well as a local youth choir to back up the band on the song’s “Come together” refrain. More could easily be said about the performance and it’s clear that despite their relatively short career so far, Ghost were born to be a headlining band. Love them or hate them, Ghost are here to stay and it’s undeniable that they are a stellar live band.
The Saturday night of Bloodstock 2017 was easily one of, not just my favourite Bloodstocks, but one of my favourite sets of gigs in my entire time of being a heavy metal fan. The day was beyond awesome and all of the bands of the entire festival had outdone themselves so far. One more day of raucous heavy metal mania lay ahead and it’s fair to say that to the hordes were eager for it.