As the final day looms, rain peppers the proceedings throughout the day, the arena’s looking a touch worse for wear and people are ready for a shower and the comfort of their own bed. But first, there’s one last day and a slew of more great bands. As woodchips are laid from the walk into the VIP section from the campsite, it’s something which would have been welcome at other points such as at the Sophie and New Blood stages where there’s a high volume of foot traffic. But the mud doesn’t stop people from enjoying their weekend – it’s all part of the fun.
One band on the lips of many people this weekend is Resin and as their stage time looms large, much of the press tent also make their way over to the Sophie stage to watch the day’s openers. The grunge-tinged hard rock/metal outfit have brought something rather special with them for their appearance today – a string quartet. Whilst they’re there for the duration of Resin’s performance, it takes a few songs before their presence is known, buried in the mix and puts a slight dampener on what was a highly-anticipated show starter. Regardless, it’s great to see the tent so busy so early on and they power through the set with aplomb.
28 Double keep the rock factor going with oodles of groove over on the New Blood stage. It’s great music to bob your head along to from a polished act and helps build the momentum as the day ramps up to heavier acts on the billing. Speaking of which, Elyrean bring their own brand of thrash metal to the New Blood stage after Ross the Boss (featuring the talents of legend KK Downing) have the main stage in the palm of their hands. Elyrean take a more technical slant on thrash but bring it down on “Fallen Ground” for a melodic moment. Meanwhile, Solitary are taking a more straightforward approach their thrash stylings, travelling at breakneck speed to ensure those bangovers will be going strong as people make their way home the next day.
Having not seen much death metal this weekend, Soilwork bring the melodic variety to the main stage without becoming overbearing on the melody, keeping it nice and heavy. They’re a great live band to watch and one of the tightest to grace the festival this weekend. Wheel keep things interesting back at the Sophie stage with their doom-laden tones and ensuring they make their performance as atmospheric as possible. Take Refuge are one of the harder bands to pigeon-hole, drawing on a wealth of different influences and genres but it works in their favour to bring a unique sound and pack out the New Blood tent. Boss Keloid make their return to the festival and as the entrance to the Sophie stage becomes sludgy, the band appropriately answer the call by bringing their own sludgy stylings to the weekend. There’s a good helping of melody to make it accessible, refraining from becoming overbearing on the sludge element and they shine with professionalism.
As household names on the poster goes, it doesn’t get much more recognisable than Dee Snider. He and his band blaze their way through a mixture of material from Snider’s For the Love of Metal album and some Twisted Sister classics for good measure. One of the best sets of the weekend; for both the fans and the band, it really is about the love of metal. Between songs, there’s plenty of time for jokes such as calling Mother Nature names and directing the inclement weather to an EDM festival, comparing fans hearing the phrase “new material” with Pavlov’s dog and needing the toilet and a reference to 2016’s “doughnut pizzas”. Snider also finds time to get serious and between it all, it’s what’s perfect about the genre.
After gracing the stage yesterday with Evil Scarecrow, Alfie Wood on guitar with The Lost Boys tear through all your favourite rock classics in the VIP tent. Reinterpreting some of the staples to make them a touch heavier but still firmly in the rock camp, they’ve got a great personality to them with the crowd at the front singing and dancing the whole way through and the band mingling with them. There’s a big personality to them and when you see the crowd and band gel together so well whilst playing some iconic songs, you can’t help but smile.
Bloodred Hourglass have the Sophie tent bouncing with their straightforward approach to the genre, it feels more standard to some of the more interesting takes on the various sub-genres to be found over the course of the weekend. Meanwhile, Queensryche have the rockers in the crowd fired up with their prog-infused rock. They’ve got their massive audience under control and with their unpretentious take on the genre, there’s a great blend of stadium, classic and modern rock which fits right at home here but would also be suited to a dingy basement venue with 100 packed in like sardines.
Damim are the last truly heavy band of the weekend and it’s a great one to end it on. It’s intense and it’s plain to see they take the idea of a performance as seriously as possible. After all, it’s how a band has to “sell” itself nowadays, sad as that sounds. One of the few bands to grace the New Blood stage not from Metal 2 the Masses but past lineage, it shows, it’s not just about being better than other bands in your local area – if you’re good enough, you’ll get the call regardless. The Lazys follow on to close the New Blood stage. This is pure, unadulterated hard rock. It’s everything you can expect from a modern rock band in 2019 but since they’re from Australia, that’s right, you can expect a dash of their forefathers AC/DC dropped in to invite everyone into the tent. Ever come across one of those bands you wished you’d discovered earlier so you could rave about them to other people and pack the stage even more? This is them.
Closing the main stage for what has been a momentous year for the festival, you’ve got to get legends to do the job and who better than Scorpions? Straddling that line between rock and metal, they’re right at home here and playing to an arena full of fans as they sing their songs wordperfect. They hit all the marks you’d expect and even delve into their earlier material when they were less heavy and more psychedelic, breaking up the proceedings and it works well. Elsewhere, there’s guitar solos aplenty and “Wind of Change” is particularly poignant with it being more or less the 30th anniversary of the Moscow Music Peace Festival.
Then, there’s the drum solo. As possibly the most boring part of a live show, it becomes one of the highlights of their set when you consider who it is behind the kit: Mikkey Dee. As much of a showman as those free to wander the stage with their instruments, it’s full of passion and panache, involving the crowd and entertains to the point where it’s actually a disappointment when it reaches its conclusion. Simply relying on screens for their own stage show, they have the least “flashy” show of the headliners but like Parkway Drive the night before, they prove why less is more – they’ve got the songs and the connection as a band to provide an hour and a half of entertainment. It may not have hit the heights set the night previously but it was a great way to close the festival.
With another year now in the books, it’s a wonder why I left it so long to go back – it felt like I had never been away. Between the organisation of the festival, the on-the-fly changes to the line-up, the people, the friendly security staff who look like they actually enjoy their job, the atmosphere, it’s no surprise its so beloved and has become an institution for heavy metal. Sure, there were a couple of niggles, but they were so tiny, they’re not even worth mentioning and the positives far outweigh them. So with it being 20 years of Bloodstock next year, and a handful of bands already announced, it’s fair to say all eyes will be watching them over the coming months for what will likely be their biggest year yet.