Friday 11 August
So, the first full day dawned nicely over the Derbyshire field. I was a little wary that the weather might turn bad and was hoping it wouldn’t, but still, it wasn’t enough to quell the hype I had for the party ahead.
Eventually, 11am drew near and we embarked into the arena where a band from Bradford were showcasing their talents on the Sophie stage.
Iron Rat; a band who fuse classic Metal and Hard Rock with some Doom and Stoner technicalities and depth echoed forth a very pleasing and quite upbeat repertoire of songs, covering comments on modern society and the things doing a few too many drugs can have on the mind.
A nicely sized audience had gathered and I felt the gallops and drones and changes in directions with every track were welcoming for me and the rest of the crowd.
They had opened the gates and the flood of Metal was now pouring forth.
Iron Rat were a very good choice of festival opener!
About 40 minutes later, I headed towards the Ronnie James Dio stage to catch the first main stage band of the weekend. And different would have been an understatement if I were to compare what I was met with to Iron Rat’s intro. In fact, it was nothing short of disappointing and, honestly, unsettling.
Chelsea Grin, a Deathcore band from Utah were on stage giving a rendition of their best-known songs which was pleasing for all the people around me.
Whilst the songs appeared slow and a tiny bit clunky at times, the band were working hard and doing their best which was deservedly received by the crowd.
Chelsea Grin were that band who were required to add the depth to the morning and tell the world the Metal was fully unleashed.
A quick wander over to see Internal Conflict proved to be worthwhile…
With an uber aggressive show which was filled with energy and giant riffs, and a front man that doesn’t stop moving!
Whitechapel, of Tennessee, were up next and made a very good impression that had people revelling for more as they came and blasted through their Deathcore repertoire.
None of Whitechapel’s songs felt out of place or badly played so they made up a damn good show.
Whitechapel came on and did what they did best, which they’ve been doing for 11 years now. A fine delivery of some finely crafted Deathcore tunes which only a band like them can craft.
Next up was something a little odd, considering the ups and downs I’d experienced so far that day.
Devilment, a band fronted by the infamous Dani Filth strolled up to the stage armed with what I can only describe now, as a bunch of ‘misfire’ songs.
They do sound a lot like Cradle of Filth, but the kind of Cradle that could have been and thankfully did not come about. As each number progressed, I felt Dani and his entourage were doing their best to wow the crowd the same way he’s done so for the last two decades, but the songs seemed to fall short.
Every song from Devilment feels like a deleted Cradle track recycled from the cuttings on the editing room floor.
Sure there were hints of good past albums like Midian or Damnation and a Day, but the delivery and groove of the composition just didn’t do it justice in my opinion. The grooves and vocals just didn’t quite seem to hold together.
This may have been just an off day for Devilment, but it was not quite the performance expected from such veteran musicians.
Another wander over to the Sophie stage left me wondering about the curious naming of the band playing over there – Morass of Molasses!
Sludgy, blues filled rock, isn’t really my cup of tea to be honest but there’s something about these guys that really do make your head nod and puts a smile on your face. Plus check out the beard, that’s pretty impressive!
The afternoon was now drawing in so a well-deserved break was taken. Wandering around the numerous campsites locating friends and fellow festival lovers whom I hadn’t bumped into since last year in this field was needed. And definitely gave off the impression that the atmosphere and friendly attitude hadn’t waned at all.
Eventually, it was time to go back in, and what a good band to greet us was on the Dio stage.
Testament. Veterans of the Thrash Metal world, the underrated kings of one of the first extreme genres of Metal had come all the way from their native California to play us some new grooves from their 2016 album: Brotherhood of the Snake.
The first thing I’ll always notice about Testament is the distinct might and precision of Gene Hoglan as the blasts from tempo to tempo making the energy and bone splitting speed of the band slice into your head like an arrow from an Elf’s bow.
Tunes about violence, hate, anger, distrust and fear of society, social problems and the ever present anxieties about the end of the world sprung from Chuck Billy’s vocals and Alex Skolnick definitely knows how to personify the energies and anguish that the average American might feel in this day and age on his strings, so I don’t see Testament going away anytime soon.
Here we have another band who have aged well, and in my opinion, have not let their position as Thrash Metal godfathers go to their heads like some of their brothers. 30 years on the road has been good to this band and Bloodstock revelled in their Thrash glory.
Last year at Bloodstock we had medieval fighting with fully armoured people beating the living daylights out of one another with blunt swords! Bizarre as it sounds, this was actually extremely entertaining to watch! (Maybe it was just me?!)
This year, however, this was replaced by Xplosive Ape weight lifting and strong man competitions.
Not quite as interesting to me to be honest but still fascinating to see how much can be lifted and how people can push themselves when in competition.
It seemed all the best bands of the day had been reserved for the evening, for next to come on stage were, I can now confirm as being: the best main stage performance of the whole weekend.
Blind Guardian. Germany’s premier Power Metal bulwark. On the road for 30 years making blood pumping speed tunes about Tolkien, Moorcock, fantasy lands, adventures across space and time, chaos magick and everything in between.
Imagine a Dungeons & Dragons session put to music and you will have Blind Guardian. And whilst the band didn’t look like they were on their way to a LARP meet or anything similar – the battle was fought and won with all the might Germany’s Power Metal scene can offer.
The crowd were in the palm of Hansi’s hands as he bellowed and cried out across the field, getting everyone to join in on ‘Valhalla’ and scream and cry in unison as the choruses of the tunes plunged forth from the amps into the arena.
All was tight, the composition was perfect, the band were having one hell of a good time and the fans were going bananas – that meant we had some of the best before us.
Thank you Blind Guardian. Come back to Britain soon, you bards of wizardry and adventure.
The Ninth Wave/Welcome to Dying/Nightfall/Born in a Mourning Hall/The Script for My Requiem/Mordred’s Song/Mirror Mirror/The Bard’s Song – In the Forest/Valhalla
Having heard some rumours about Lionize and a guy in a gold shiny suit, I thought it was definitely worth a few photos!
Making a welcome interlude from the standard metal I’d listened to all day, Lionize play a kind of hard rock but fused with a whole load of other influences that makes their sound, well, different!
You’ll need to take a listen to see what I mean! The rumours about the suit were correct!
So back to the main bands; and there was still one band to go. A band I’ve seen plenty of times and I always enjoy their tunes but haven’t quite seen them give off one hell of an open air performance than they did tonight.
Amon Amarth, all the way from Sweden wanting to entertain us with a good set of Death Metal blasts about Vikings, Norse mythology and the history of Scandinavia cam about, with the stage now looking like the set of an episode of The Vikings.
And what a damn good show it was. Fire blazed from the pyrotechnics, the guitars and drums sounded off like a set of cannons and we even had a brilliant side show of armour clad warriors duelling on stage as Johan Hegg and his brethren growled stories about ages past.
My favourite part of the whole show was when Hegg took on the Nidhoggr (norse serpent) who invaded the back of the set whilst the band played some very memorable solos. He wielded the hammer of Thor nicely and defeated the beast single handed.
You’d expect a band like this to have good stage presence, which of course they did, but they had great control of the crowd, especially when they got everyone to sit down and pretend to row like in a longboat sailing over the seas!
Overall, Amon Amarth were the first ‘show band’ who gave off one hell of an end to the night with a nice array of battles and historical journeys.
The Pursuit of Vikings/As Loke Falls/First Kill/The Way of Vikings/At Dawn’s First Light/Cry of the Black Birds/Deceiver of the Gods/Destroyer of the Universe/Varyags of Miklagaard/Death in Fire/Father of the Wolf/Runes to My Memory/War of the Gods/Raise Your Horns/Guardians of Asgaard/Twilight of the Thunder God
That was the last of the main stage bands for the day, but I did briefly catch Inquisition, the American Black Metal group making a pretty good racket on the Sophie Lancaster stage as I walked back to the campsite.
The tent’s acoustics served well for the band because Inquisition are a band best suited for an indoor festival as is the case with a lot of Black Metal. Nice atmospherics and the vocals were as crisp and jagged as on CD.
So the first day was over.nd it was now time to indulge in some good old bin jousting, as is the Bloodstock tradition, until it was time to hit the hay and wait for tomorrow’s audible exploits.