Bloodstock Festival 2017

Bloodstock 2017: Sunday 13th August

And so like all good times, things sadly must come to an end. But Bloodstock knows how to go out with more than just the proverbial bang. So let’s get stuck into Sunday’s madness.

I began the last day of the festivities by going into the Sophie stage and being greeted by Gravil, a Melodic Death Metal outfit from London who’ve been making music since 2006.

These guys weren’t like any of the boring Brutal Death Metal and Slam which I’ve come to find annoying over the years, and they were just off the mark of the old school Death that I enjoy so much.

So here we had some guys playing Death Metal with melodies and breakdowns which didn’t feel like they lasted too long so can’t say I was bored by them – but neither was I wowed by Gravil.

Detonate/Are We Alive/Decommissioned/Forever Is a Prison/Fractured And Divided/One Eyed King

But up next we had a band I’d been eager to check out since I saw them live on stage at Damnation Festival last November.

Venom Prison. A political and socially angered band who fuse Death Metal with Hardcore Punk and Post Rock to simply horrify and anger the listener about the current state of Britain and the way race, gender and social norms are constantly at war with one another and the politics of right wing governments do nothing to help.

This was no ‘it’s hip to be political’ group who just focused on the topics to sell records – Venom Prison had decked out the backstage drop with flags supporting hunt saboteurs and animal rights movements, so this was the real deal.

Imagine Poison Girls, Conflict, Dying Fetus and Desecration fused together in a lock up and you’d have Venom Prison.

Music wise, my god can Larissa Stupar growl. She brought more than just the proverbial house down with her anger at society the only way Death Metal can deliver to the general public.

The guitars and drums were raw and flayed well, so I felt like I was at as much of a Punk show as a Metal show – magnificent fusion of such genres.

Very well done Venom Prison, keep up the fight.

Very serious stuff for a Sunday morning, so now it was time for something a little more comical. Bloodstock then played host to a band who have spent their whole careers dressed as Mexican drug lords and making both serious and humoured tunes about drugs, racism, segregation and social anxieties in California and Mexico.

Brujeria were very powerful in their delivery of comments on society and the world of drugs, sex and rock n roll. It was also nice to hear a band singing in Spanish too as it made the performance a little different to all I’d seen and heard so far.

A band who knew where to draw the line on their outputs, for they ended on a very funny parody of the Macarena hit, alluding to a well known narcotic.

Fun and alert, that was Brujeria for you.

Brujerizmo/El desmadre/Pito Wilson/Colas de rata/La migra (Cruza la frontera II)/Hechando chingazos/¡Viva Presidente Trump!/Ángel de la frontera/Anti-Castro/Marcha de odio/Revolución/Consejos narcos/Matando güeros/Marijuana

A quick wander over to the Sophie tent for me to catch Courtesans (I think they have dropped the “the” from their name?). 

An all female band, they blend some seriously dark overtones with some finely honed pop sensibilities to create something that defies being pigeon holed.

This gives rise to some very well crafted songs, almost always with a hook that will draw you in.

Plus a stage act that is almost hypnotic, each member of the band sporting black paint to cover their necks and front woman Sinead La Bella putting in a sterling vocal performance, very impressive. One to catch if they visit your town!

Next, on the bill, we had one of the first Metal bands I ever listened to. Many, many aeons ago, when I was just getting into Metal and wanted to know what Death Metal really was like, I looked up a band with a very memorable name and an excellent stripped down sound.

Possessed – the band who took the evils of Thrash and made them a little more evil, just before the guys who popularised the genre were starting out. The guttral growls of one Jeff Becerra made me realise just how brutal and evil Death Metal is and is a long way from the boring bands I’d grown up under the misconception of ‘Death Metal’.

So here the godfathers were, giving it all they had, and I must commend Becerra overall because a life changing gunshot wound hasn’t stopped him from pursuing the dream he set out to achieve decades ago – and I don’t think the years have been at all bad for Possessed.

The band still packed one heck of a punch with all the right guitars, blasts, down tuning and early death growls to make you feel like you were on a trip down memory lane and seeing those who brought you into this area of the Metal world still alive and well as they rang forth tune after tune of evil.

Well done Possessed, I look forward to hearing your new album.

Confessions/The Eyes of Horror/My Belief/Storm in My Mind/Intro / The Heretic/Tribulation/Shadowcult/The Exorcist/Fallen Angel/Death Metal

Just like the previous day, we had some veterans to see us into the afternoon’s exploits. Obituary – godfathers of Death Metal and the men who put Florida on the Metal map alongside their brothers Death, Morbid Angel and Deicide.

Obituary, for me, are that band who have stuck to their roots quite literally for their entire career. They are that band who still use same simple chords, riffs and drums that a garage band would have used when jamming at weekends – and have made a whole career off of them.

They have released 10 albums without a blast beat in sight, so they deserve to be the ones credited with keeping the simplicity and original anger alive, and when they came on stage I knew they were that band who would inspire many a young Metalhead to take up their instruments and start their own bands no matter how good a musician they were.

John Tardy still sounds like he’s got a knife in his guts, his brother still has the skills to keep the angry bangs and crashes of the drums loud and clear and the guitars and bass fared excellently throughout the set.

As always, the band came to an end with their classic tune: Slowly We Rot – a song so simple to play yet so damn catchy. I’ve yet to see them disappoint which I doubt will be anytime soon.

Internal Bleeding/Chopped in Half/Turned Inside Out/Visions in My Head/Sentence Day/A Lesson in Vengeance/Dying/Find the Arise/Ten Thousand Ways to Die/No/’Til Death/Slowly We Rot 

Classics of sorts were to reign down further, for next up we had a band who started out over 30 years ago, called it quits after five years but then came back right at the end of the last decade to produce some quite finely crafted New Wave of British Heavy Metal.

Hell, appropriately named for the hell they raged onto the stage as their showmanship proved to be more than entertaining.

Vocalist David Bower has all the charisma required for any kind of entertainer who loves dressing up in outlandish gear to make the audience feel like a black mass is ensuing.

The use of extra long legs and devil hooves proved very well for the concept of the group and the church setup offered a nice backdrop for the evils the 80s style tunes raged about as the band galloped from strength the strength.

Hell are that band you go and see for a good evening out, if you like stories relating to the occult and darkness.

Nicely crafted and very memorable work, Hell.

The Age of Nefarious/Let Battle Commence/Something Wicked This Way Comes/Blasphemy and the Master/Darkhangel/Plague and Fyre/End Ov Days/On Earth as It Is in Hell

I didn’t watch the next band, Skindred, but could hear it well over the PA.

Although I’ve never really liked their sound, it is worth noting that they seem to be the only band around fusing Reggae with Metal, so I think it’s worth saying they set themselves aside from the rest on several scores.

Skindred are one of those bands that just really lifts the mood. They’re fun and frothy, full of good vibes and perfect for a festival. They get the crowd bouncing, that’s just what they did at Bloodstock.

Benji Webbe is particularly adept as a frontman and leaves the crowd with some good thoughts about peace and love!

A quick dash to the Sophie tent to catch a little bit of Arthemis from Italy.

These guys play a very polished fusion of power metal with a few thrashier elements thrown in for good measure.

Bit of a disappointing crowd, there’s still a very large mass of punters watching Skindred. This is a shame because Arthemis are a pretty fine band and today they sound pretty good too.

Up next were Arch Enemy, a band I’ve listened to for over 5 years and am now happy I’ve seen them live.

Vocalist Alissa White-Gluz had the crowd in the palm of her hand as she growled and screamed her way impressively through tunes about anger, society and the hardship faced by the young people who seek out this sort of music for solace.

Music wise, I could tell Arch Enemy are veterans because the riffs and blasts were delivered with aplomb and I could see they were having one hell of a time doing what they did best.

Definitely check out Arch Enemy live, especially if you like your Melodic Death Metal from Sweden.

The World Is Yours/Ravenous/Stolen Life/War Eternal/My Apocalypse/You Will Know My Name/As the Pages Burn/Avalanche/No Gods, No Masters/We Will Rise/Snow Bound/Nemesis/Enter the Machine

Now the evening was drawing in fast so it was time for the third and final headliner of the weekend…

Another veteran band was ready and waiting to perform for us and make the festival go out with a bang.

And bang on did this band do as Megadeth, one of the big four of Thrash Metal arrived and played some very memorable pieces of Thrash Metal.

It was good to see another one of the Big Four as I’ve only caught Slayer and Anthrax in my time so now we saw Dave Mustaine take on the current day political and social situation in some of the most alert genres of extreme metal.

The use of video tape told of how the band were concerned about war, pain, suffering and the current political climate and the thrash riffs personified just how angry yet energetic the average joe could be when looking around them.

Megadeth packed a good punch and the use of typical thrash and some classic Heavy Metal riffs and song structures flowed nicely through the field making the night come to a frivolous end conducted by a band who’ve been all over the world and performed for long enough to give memorable show after memorable show.

Thanks Megadeth, we were all very taken back by the Metal you delivered.

Hangar 18/The Threat Is Real/Wake Up Dead/In My Darkest Hour/Sweating Bullets/Conquer or Die!/Poisonous Shadows/She-Wolf/Trust/Mechanix/A Tout Le Monde/Tornado of Souls/Dystopia/Symphony of Destruction/Encore: Peace Sells/Encore 2: Holy Wars… The Punishment Due

So that was it, the end of the festival. But the music wasn’t over just yet.

In the Sophie Lancaster tent it was time for just one more band: Wintersun, a diverse and somewhat versatile Symphonic Death Metal band who fuse together all sorts of genres to create a unique sound that stands out from their fellow Finns.

Having recently released their third album ‘The Forest Seasons’, Wintersun were eager to show the UK what they had been up to.

Said album has been shrouded in controversy since it was announced, but that didn’t stop me from checking out what these musicians had to offer.

And I came away feeling nothing short of refreshed and exhilarated by the hefty gallops and symphonic melodies Wintersun possessed and expressed forth across this tent which was full to the brim.

Wintersun deserved the crowd who gathered because they were a lot of fun and packed so much energy for this time of night.

Awaken From The Dark Slumber (Spring)/Winter Madness/Beyond the Dark Sun/Starchild/Sleeping Stars/Sons of Winter and Stars/Death and the Healing/Time

So that was it for Bloodstock 2017! I really enjoyed myself as I have done for the last eight years and the selling out of all camping tickets has not changed the atmosphere that has existed for me since my first time there.

So here’s to a place I always feel comfortable in and hope to have as good a time next year!



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