Bloodstock Open Air Festival 2022 @ Catton Park, Derbyshire, UK

Spread the metal:

Bloodstock Open Air Festival 2022

@ Catton Park, Derbyshire, UK

11th – 14th August 2022
Review by Kira Levine & Lee Carter
Photography by Artur Tarczewski & Rebecca Bush

Thursday, 11th August 2022

The hottest edition of Bloodstock saw thousands of metalheads queuing for hours under the blazing sun, with an assortment of band baseball caps, tinted glasses and sunburnt arms. Once people started filtering in, the threat of heatstroke seemed like a distant memory as cold beers and ice creams were enjoyed during the lead-up to showtime.

Rather fittingly, an English band kicked things off at England’s biggest summer metal festival. Snuff/death grinders Basement Torture Killings began their half-hour “lecture” on the Sophie Lancaster stage.

The dismembered baby dolls and mannequin parts present throughout their set were apt visual representations of their songs, full of sonic bloodlust and death.

Front-woman Beryl is small yet fierce, with a voice as unclean as the music. Her microphone stand was conveniently fitted with a blood bag, just incase she got thirsty. Looking like an actress from a slasher movie, she gleefully decapitated a giant teddy bear, then used its stuffing as confetti before throwing its body into the pit.

Ex-guitarist Bertrand made an appearance onstage, his presence turning BTK into a five-piece and giving them an extra set of vocals and riffs, leading to even more crowdsurfing and mosh pits. A few audience members were having fun waving something that resembled red entrails around, whilst a little teddy (a gift from Beryl) was tossed around over the heads. Opening and closing their performance with songs from their latest album Lessons In Murder, the “serial killers” gave BOA a bloody weird start with 30 minutes of guttural grindcore.

Basement Torture Killings setlist:

1. Armchair Psycho or Pure Predator
2. The League of Extraordinary Killers
3. Foetus Eater
4. Gorgasmic Movements in the Dark
5. The Rat Catcher
6. Drill Bit Erotica
7. Shit Carcass
8. Severed Head Fellatio
9. Human Body Part Jewellery
10. Die You Fucking Bitch
11. Public Displays of Aggression

Bournemouth-based Thuum walked onto the stage to the sound of Skyrim’s theme song, earning them a lengthy applause from the many gamers under the tent. Their brand of groovy sludge metal went down a treat, the mix of melodic singing and harsh growls causing people to dance as hard as they moshed. Among all the interesting characters present, a girl with multicoloured helium-filled balloons attached to her hair in the pit was the most eye-catching.

Guitarist/vocalist Bear joked Daphne & Celeste and Vengaboys fans would be “upset” and disappointed” with Friday’s mystery band. He also asked the question “Who likes to groove?”. This was answered with cheers, causing him to express his relief, because otherwise they would “all be shit in bed”. The crowd were in fits of laughter at this point, clearly entertained by the comic relief in between songs.

A proggy track with quieter/slower parts was saved until the end, contrasting with the band’s usual fast/loud style. A fun, grooving set from the quartet.

Mother Vulture – a Bristolian “hectic blues punk” outfit – were up next.

As they arrived, an audience member was quick to notice vocalist Georgi Valentine’s new shorter haircut. His range is impressive, especially on songs like “Rabbit Hole”, delivering the lyrics in contrasting styles, with the guys on bass and guitar providing backing vocals.

Initially wearing a buttoned shirt and blazer, guitarist Brodie Maguire ended up being shirtless before he scaled the stage scaffolding and played from there for half a song as the astonished audience cheered him on.

They got top marks for audience engagement as Brodie and Georgi jumped off the stage, over the barriers and into the crowd during the penultimate track in their set.

Dominated by an energetic drum performance, last song “Mr. Jones” proved to be particularly catchy as people chanted along to the line “Why don’t you jump off a cliff?!” every time it was belted out by the Mother Vulture main man. Definitely the most lively of the three bands that had played so far.

Italy’s Nanowar Of Steel dazzled with their parody metal (and their outfits). They seem to be very fond of songs that feature saxophone solos, because at one point the tune of George Michael’s “Careless Whisper” was played as everyone sung along to the chorus.

If that was not enough sax-y vibes, the solo from Gerry Rafferty’s “Baker Street” could be heard during the middle of “Ironmonger”, played on guitar by Mohammed Abdul.

A very longwinded and drawn-out joke about Varg Vikernes was used to introduce fusion track “Norwegian Reggaeton”. In time to the booming rhythm section, Mohammed A. and singer Potowotominimak twerked against each other as the Sophie tent was transformed into a scene from a carnival street party.

The quintet are amusingly random and write nonsensical lyrics, but they know how to make sure everyone has a good time. Even an earmuff-wearing mini Bloodstocker clapped along to “Armpits of Immortals” while he sat on the shoulders of his parent/guardian. Finishing with a song about Odin and IKEA, the Italians left all who witnessed them sufficiently entertained by their hilarious take on heavy metal (and no doubt inspired budding comedians, cosplayers and fancy-dressers alike).

Nanowar Of Steel setlist:

1. Barbie, MILF Princess of the Twilight
2. The Call of Cthulhu
3. Il cacciatore della notte
4. Ironmonger (The Copier of the Seven Keys)
5. Norwegian Reggaeton
6. Armpits of Immortals
7. Valhalleluja

Hyped up by their hunchbacked mascot John Goblikon, US melodic death/folk metallers Nekrogoblikon played Thursday’s first set after sundown.

Admiring the fans that wore a fitting mask for their slot, frontman Nicholas Von Doom expressed his appreciation and then commented that “we’re all goblins dressed as humans” before the band exploded into “Dressed as Goblins”. The vocalist almost sounds as if he is possessed by one of the creatures he sings about, while Guitarist Goldberg’s occasional growled vocals counter his voice well.

The hype-goblin made various gestures from heart hands, flipping the bird and even starting for a circle pit by simply imitating one with his spindly fingers at the beginning of songs such as “Going to Die” and “Yin”. Although he does not make a sound, the green fiend worked the stage, interacting with the band members as much as the excited crowd.

Performances such as “The Magic Spider” with its fairy tale-like lyrics delivered almost like a nursery rhyme, and “This Is It” with its flute intro, displayed their folk metal side. The crowd kept moving even when riffs disappeared, waving their hands in time to the melodies.

“No One Survives” featured a dance music breakdown that Von Doom introduced as some “heavy metal”, which caused people to throw funky shapes as they mirrored Mr. Goblikon and further highlighted the comedy aspect of the band. All in all, bizarrely captivating hour of goblin metal from John & co.

Replacing Static-X as the first-day headliners were Gothenburg melodeath pioneers Dark Tranquillity. Usually a six-piece, the Swedes were a man down but having one guitarist did not stop them from giving the performance their all. Leading their set with a couple of tunes from their latest full-length Moment, they were welcomed like homecoming heroes.

Vocalist Mikael Stanne alternated between swaggering across the stage when things got upbeat and become very expressive with his hands when the riffs were absent. He also shared how happy everyone in Dark Tranquillity were to be back in the UK playing the festival and described the audience as “beautiful”, and the response reflected their beauty.

The live rhythm section (Strandberg-Nilsson and Jansson) brought the house down during tracks like “Terminus (Where Death Is Most Alive)” which had people chanting and punching their fists into the air vigorously.

Songs such as “Atoma” that exhibited a stronger use of Martin Brändström’s keys were more impactful sound-wise, and this was reflected by how enthusiastically fans responded during and after each of the performances.

With the exception of one track from their 1999 album Projector, DT’s set focused on their discography from the past 20 years. They saved their 90s song “ThereIn” for the last portion of the set, causing folks to get nostalgic while singing along to the slower, melodic parts and circle-pitters to do the rounds during the faster portions of the song.

After a triumphant guitar solo from Johan Reinholdz towards the end of “Misery’s Crown”, virtually everyone in the rammed tent was clapping throughout the pre-chorus. Recognising fans’ dedication, the frontman handed a copy of the setlist to a member of crowd management, so he could pass it on to a starstruck front-rower who had clearly been to many Dark Tranquillity shows before.

At the end of the set, Mikael was challenged to chug his practically full beer down in one go. He did it effortlessly, the applause level rivalling the amount given to the songs. A bevvy, heavy evening from the Swedish melodic death masters.

Dark Tranquillity setlist:

1. Identical to None
2. Transient
3. Monochromatic Stains
4. Forward Momentum
5. Terminus (Where Death Is Most Alive)
6. Atoma
7. The New Build
8. Phantom Days
9. ThereIn
10. Lost to Apathy
11. Misery’s Crown