After the long journey from Glasgow to Bloodstock the previous night, the first full day of non-stop heavy metal mania couldn’t come quick enough.
Endeavour (7) was the first band I caught on the Sophie Lancaster stage. They performed their complex and varied music both tightly and heavily. The audio quality in the tent got across all aspects of the band’s sound from the heavy riffing, to the Cynic-style clean guitars and bass acrobatics, to the expertly combined clean harmony vocals and aggressive screams. A particular highlight was the virtuoso display of guitar gymnastics by guitarist Iain “GT” Davies, whose smooth licks were performed with slick ease. The band engaged well with the crowd with banter between every song, and the crowd reciprocated with cheers all round.
Corpsing (5) were more extreme with their contribution to the Sophie stage’s roster. They brought a sound that was like a heavy hybrid of death and black metal. The vocalist delivered with a raging voice reminiscent of both Mayhem men Attila and Dead (R.I.P) combined. However the rest of the band’s performance left a little to be desired with their stiff actions and little stage presence. The lack of atmosphere that usually adds to the experience of a blackened metal band’s show could be seen in the limited response from the crowd.
BloodThread (7) were a band I had to check out, being local Glasgow lads. They tore up the New Blood stage with their brand of crushingly heavy modern death metal. Their sound was reminiscent of late 90s Morbid Angel and Cannibal Corpse combined and dragged screaming and bloody into 2017. The crowd went wild in the bouncing mosh pit surrounded by flailing heads. Frontman Tony Mitchell displayed a particularly energetic performance, an in-your-face stage presence backed up by the pounding drums. However, the second guitar and bass performed somewhat stiffly at times and disappeared behind the rest of the band.
Morass of Molasses (8) brought the fun to the Sophie tent with their heavy bluesy stoner rock. Everyone in the tent was clearly having a great time to the catchy riffs as both the band and the crowd’s faces were beaming with wide smiles as they rocked out. The band finished their set a little early and had some spare time which they used to treat the headbanging rockers to an impromptu jam session. It’s a testament to the band’s musicianship and synchronicity when the jamming riffs sounded like what easily have been another song. Let’s see if the Bloodstock jam ends up on their next release!
Dendera (8)’s melodic flavoured modern metal went down a storm to an almost full Sophie tent. Epic songs like “Age of Agony” and “Edge of Tomorrow” were performed with electric energy and beautifully sung high vocal harmonies. Frontman Ashley Edison expertly engaged with the crowd and the band’s delivery of their brilliant metal got loads of heads banging and roaring voices permeating the air above.
Decapitated (7) proved to be particularly popular with a massive crowd present for their set on the main stage. The band’s no-nonsense brand of modern death metal went down well with the audience, despite a small technical hitch with one of the guitars. The tight and heavy performance littered with pre-recorded intros resulted in cheers all-round especially to fan favourite tunes like “Spheres of Madness”.
Testament (9)’s legendary thrash metal performance was arguably the best show of the day so far. Playing mostly newer bruisers (such as “Brotherhood of the Snake”, “Dark Roots of Earth” and “The Formation of Damnation”) with a few golden oldies (like “Into the Pit”, “Practice What You Preach” and “Disciples of the Watch”) peppered throughout the set, the band were clearly having a great time on the main stage and this resonated with the fans. There were massive mosh pits in every song and crowd surfers aplenty raging to the thrash masters, and the roaring chants confirmed that the band owned the day, at least up to that point.
Blind Guardian (8) brought their energetic power metal bursting from the main stage. Another huge crowd were drawn to the arena for the genre legends, cheering rapturously between classic song after classic song like “Mirror Mirror”. A special highlight was the band’s final number, “Valhalla”, where the words could be heard soaring to the hall up high by crowd joining in with the band.
Amon Amarth (9) drew by far the biggest crowd of the day. They brought a Viking spectacle to the main stage with stellar performances backed up by brilliant stage sets and drama. Playing mostly newer songs such as “First Kill”, “Deceiver of the Gods” and “Guardians of Asgaard”, the band delivered an awesome performance and the crowd roared for the show. Particular highlights must be “Cry of the Blackbirds”, “Varyags of Miklagaard” and finale number “Twilight of the Thunder God” where Viking warriors fought ferociously, the crowd engaged in mass Viking rowing (the biggest ever rowing to the band – where the ritual originated at Bloodstock), and frontman Johan Hegg challenged a huge Jormungandr (the Midgard Serpent as described in Viking legends) backed up by giant flaming runes onstage respectively. Hegg commanded the stage and made sure to engage with the entire audience during the set, and the crowd reciprocated with flying hair, and rapturous roars to deafen Valhalla itself.
The Friday of Bloodstock 2017 was a roaring success. The heavy metal hordes moshed hard to the awesome array of the finest bands to storm Catton Park’s fields. There were two more days to go, and the anticipation for more fun times to best music in the world was extremely high. Roll on more heavy good times!
All photos by Will Tudor Photography