It’s the middle of August and we’ve had the hottest summer possibly since records began. Three solid months of incredible sun without a cloud in the sky.
Of course rain is forecast for this weekend…
We arrive at around 12 to a sea of metal heads waiting in line. If you think black is a fairly dull colour – go to a metal festival. It’s incredible how many different ways people think of wearing the darkest, most metal, colour. We queue for almost exactly two hours to get in but the time flew by, a chorus of “Sorry!” going throughout the queue every time we all shuffled forward with bags upon bags of camping gear but everyone was so friendly.
All the campsites are named after places in Norse Mythology such as Asgard and, ironically, the quiet camp is called Hel! We arrive in the fabled Midgard campsite - the biggest of the lot, where I’ve heard all sorts of stories of chaos mainly revolving around the famous bin jousting. Within 10 minutes of trying to set the tent up I’m seconds away from losing the plot, setting the tent on fire and going home - just as two guys walk over and introduce themselves as our neighbours. Then, without batting an eyelid, they proceed to help my long suffering and (much) better half set up the tent as I have a bit of a sit down, spark up a fag and crack open a cold one.
I love metal but I fucking hate camping.
Once the tent was set up and we’d had chance to figure out what was what and where, we headed down to the arena for the few bands who play on the Thursday for campers only. The only band we managed to catch were BLOODSHOT DAWN who were making their fourth appearance at the festival after their debut 9 years ago in the smallest tent. They play a blend of technical death metal which was really well received by the crowd, who were either packing in here as it was the only place that was open, or because they were genuine fans of the band. Either way, the only thing that’s let these guys down is the abysmal sound quality in the Sophie Lancaster tent so we could only hear drums and bass with the occasional solo breaking through. Of all the things I’ve heard about Bloodstock’s second stage, the most common criticism is the poor sound quality, hopefully things improve over the weekend…
Bloodshot Dawn are:
Josh McMorran - Guitar / Vocals
Morgan Reid - Guitar / Vocals
James Stewart - Drums
Giacomo Gastaldi - Bass
You can find them at:
FRIDAY - 10.08.18
After spending the entire night wondering if it was reasonable to drive two hours home each night and two hours back each morning just to get a decent night’s sleep I reflected on the Midgard campsite. It’s great fun and for those who can function on little sleep and lots of booze it’s probably ideal, but no matter where you camp it seems like you’re surrounded by large groups who love to party and hate to sleep.
After having some breakfast (a can of Guinness is breakfast, right?) we headed down to the arena in some incredible sunshine to check out FEED THE RHINO. I was really surprised to see their name added to the bill when it was – a fairly late addition and first on the main stage all just seemed a bit odd. They’re not by any stretch of the imagination a metal band but Bloodstock has spent the last few years broadening their horizons and welcoming more and more bands from various heavy sub genres. Regardless, they are one of my favourite live bands because they put on the best show physically possible – every single time. Before the music’s even started, front man Lee Tobin is down on the front barrier screaming in people’s faces, clearly very, very happy to be here this morning. It takes a while for the crowd to really get into the swing of things and the request for some action in the pit falls on deaf ears at first until they slowly win the crowd over. By the end of the set, everyone’s jumping and casually flailing around the pit – hopefully all having just found their favourite new live band.
Feed the Rhino are:
Lee Tobin - Vocals
James Colley - Guitar
Sam Colley - Guitar
Chris Kybert - Drums
Oz Craggs - Bass
You can find them at:
By the time WEDNESDAY 13’s set rolled around we’d had a fair amount of rain, not that that would deter any metal head from watching a band. It’s been longer than I care to remember since I last
saw Wednesday 13 live and things are all a bit different.
The set begins with a white door in the middle of the stage, the word ‘Redrum’ inscribed in blood and two women dressed as ghoulish versions of the twins from The Shining walk out. With the band all in position, the music begins and from behind the door out pops an axe wielding Wednesday 13 who gets the morbid party started. The set list is made up predominantly of newer, heavier material which seems to go down really well with the audience and I don’t know if it’s just because this is a festival but there are absolutely no punches pulled with the stage show – there are costume changes in abundance, backing dancers and plenty of fire to boot. They have a fairly creepy routine with backwards masks which needs some work but on the whole it’s a brilliant show comparable to Alice Cooper’s ‘Theatre of Death’ which is clearly a big influence.
To bring the set to a close, they play a brilliant medley of classics ‘Want You Dead’ and ‘I Walked With a Zombie’ which are just full of nostalgia and Wednesday brings out the big middle finger umbrella to close the set with a brilliant sing-along rendition of the Murderdoll’s classic ‘I Love to Say Fuck!’. Whether you like the music or not, there’s no denying that Wednesday 13 is definitely bringing the horror metal for our generation and long may it continue.
Wednesday 13 are:
Wednesday 13 - vocals
Roman Surman - guitar
Jack Tankersley - guitar
Troy Doebbler - bass
Kyle Castronovo - drums
You can find them at:
Having seen REPRISAL play on the local circuit for a few years I’ve seen them grow from strength to strength and new album ‘None Survive the Sun’ is a massive statement from the death thrashers that they mean fucking business so it’s time to see if the live show holds up…
The first thing that hits me is the mix, it seems like whatever issues there were last night have now been long removed and everything sounds really well balanced. The guitar solos cut through easily and everything sounds great. The second thing that hits me as the absolute audacity of the set. Front man Tom Johnstone is up there commanding circle pits like the crowd owe them something, surely they should just be grateful for the opportunity to be here?! But no, they’re up here with the biggest poker face of the weekend, commanding the crowd left right and centre and fuck me it works. They’re playing this set like headliners and the crowd are completely on board with it. The tent quickly packs out and the crowd get livelier and livelier throughout the set. They’ve definitely got the right attitude towards this occasion - no-one is giving any handouts in heavy music at the moment, if you want to make a name for yourself, if you want anyone to pay attention to you, you need to get out there and make them notice you. Get in people’s faces and melt them off with killer guitar solos and brutal vocals just like Reprisal have been doing to get themselves here. Their poker face is broken only by their thanks for the audience “We do appreciate it from the bottom of our hearts. Stay safe, look after yourselves and do not get anyone pregnant” – what better way to end the set? Hopefully more from these guys very soon!
Tom Johnstone - Vocals
Oliver du Toit - Guitar
Theo Brooke - Bass
Sion Mason – Drums
You can find them at:
We make our way over to the main stage for one of the most anticipated bands of the weekend, the legendary Venice Beach crossover band – SUICIDAL TENDANCIES.
Only the backdrop isn’t theirs…Lovebites, despite being billed on the second stage, have their backdrop donning the main stage and the band start to come out and set-up. Starting to panic that Suicidal Tendencies have pulled out, another audience member comes over to advise us that ST have been delayed and will be playing Lovebites slot in the tent. My first thought is, where’s the fucking announcement over the PA? My second thought it, holy fucking shit. ST in the tent. Best day ever?
A little while later we make it into the tent way before the scheduled start time to grab a beer and get a good view. Bassist and all-round hero Ra Diaz sound checks his mic with the usual “1, 2, 1, 2” which quickly becomes “S, T, S, T” and before long the entire tent, with fists in the air, are chanting “S, T, S, T” at the stage until the backing track for ‘You Can’t Bring Me Down’ starts and I have the biggest adrenaline rush I’ve had in a long, long time.
Cyco Mike Muir takes to the stage and well and truly kicks things off with “What the fuck is going on around here?!” and the most intense circle pit kicks off right in front of us and lasts for
pretty much the entire set. I couldn’t even begin to tell you what other songs they played before closing the set with absolute classic ‘Pledge Your Allegiance’ despite the fact that I’m fairly
certain I sang along to each and every one of them.
It was without doubt one of the greatest live performances I’ve ever seen, the whole situation – their flight being delayed, having Dave Lombardo on drums, playing in a tent far too small to fit the audience in, just all of it was incredible. Part way through a guy in a wheelchair even crowd surfed and Mike gets him up on the stage and starts wheeling him around like a maniac. Absolutely brilliant stuff.
We leave the tent at the end of the set and I feel like I need a lie down. The comedown from such a massive adrenaline rush has left me feeling completely flat. We don’t even bother going to see Emperor which is a massive shame and by the time Judas Priest come on it feels like we’ve already seen tonight’s headliner and nothing could ever possibly top that performance.
Suicidal Tendencies are:
Ra "Chile" Diaz,
You can find them at:
We power on regardless and I’m glad we did because this is JUDAS PRIEST we’re talking about. No matter how tired, wet or miserable you may feel – Judas Priest will make you feel awesome. Somehow Judas Priest are probably the only legacy band I’ve never seen live but Rob Halford’s voice absolutely blows me away. I have no idea how old he is but he has one hell of a set of lungs on him. They play a fairly standard headline set, all the hits with some great visuals displayed in the background but it’s a really nice touch that they drop some new songs into the set list and also some really old songs like ‘Saints in Hell’. There’s also something nice about seeing big, bearded Viking looking guys singing along to ‘Turbo Lover’, the sort of scenes you only really get at a Priest gig!
With one of the best albums of 2017 under their belt, Texan crossover outfit POWER TRIP are going from strength to strength. In a day and age of everyone streaming music, 2017’s Nightmare Logic
far surpassed everyone’s expectation selling more vinyl copies than the majority of their peers. This is a testament to the appeal generated by their hard work and dedication. This is confirmed by
the fact that a massive crowd has gathered so early in the day to see what all the fuss is about. The circle pit opens up as soon as the music starts and things get really exciting, really quickly. I
don’t know what it is about this music but I just want to bang my head so hard the guy next to me ends up feeling it for a week.
Two songs down and in the split second before they start the third, Riley Gale shouts “Think fast Bloodstock!” and the opening riff to ‘Soul Sacrifice’ kicks in. The crowd clearly know it and they definitely know what’s coming next… ‘Executioner’s Tax’! It’s so predictable it’s comparable only to watching a film you’ve seen a thousand times. Only, it’s your favourite film. And no matter how many times you’ve seen it, no matter how well prepared you are for THAT moment to hit, it still completely blows you away! What also catches me off guard is just how many people know all the words to this song! Riley Gale ends up throwing his mic away and just shouting on the front barrier with everyone in the front row “SWING OF THE AXE!”
What follows in the rest of their set is an absolute masterclass in thrash metal that is so meticulously planned and so flawlessly put together it really must be a case of when, not if, this band start playing further up the bill at these big festivals. The energy levels stay high throughout the set with a massive wall of death towards the end and the bands stage presence is incredible – Riley Gale flies around the stage throwing haymakers and roundhouse kicks at the air with a vengeance. Fucking hell this band are good.
Power Trip are:
Riley Gale – Vocals
Blake Ibanez – Guitars
Chris Ulsh – Drums
Nick Stewart – Guitar
Chris Whetzel – Bass
You can find them at:
Greek symphonic death metal outfit SEPTICFLESH have managed to pull a surprisingly big crowd today. I never would have heard of the band had it not been for the Bloodstock playlist so it seems like everyone knows something I don’t! It’s all fairly run of the mill ear-shattering death metal but what sets Septicflesh apart from their piers is their ability to incorporate ambient electronic samples into the music. Vocalist Seth Siro Anton is doing an incredible job of playing bass and still getting this crowd riled up despite having a dislocated shoulder which is clearly causing him some discomfort throughout their set. Overall the sound quality is excellent and the crowd are fully with the band during ‘Anubis’ which has most of this now really packed out crowd singing along.
Seth Siro Anton - Bass & Vocals
Christos Antoniou - Guitars & Orchestral
Sotiris Anunnaki V. - Guitars & Clean Vocals
Kerim “Krimh” Lechner - Drums & Percussion
You can find them at:
I’ve never seen as much hype before the release of a new record like I did in the build-up to the release of CONJURER’s debut album ‘Mire’ earlier this year. The Twittersphere seemed to almost
explode with people raving about how good it was and, having received a vinyl copy of the record before it went live on Spotify, it’s the first time I’ve ever just sat in a quiet room and listened to
an album start to finish – taking in all the atmosphere on the record, reading the lyrics, appreciating the incredible artwork. The way music was designed to be consumed. Regardless, this is the band
I’m looking forward to the most this weekend.
We arrive early in the Sophie Lancaster tent and just pray to all that is unholy that this set goes well. After a quick sound check, they take to the stage and the tent is absolutely rammed. Beyond the unparalleled heaviness of the music, the most striking thing about Conjurer is that these guy are like a painting - thousands look on in adoration but they see none of it. They’re not here for the adulation, judging from the fucking anguish on their face they’re just grateful for the catharsis.
For some reason everyone in the pit is completely losing their mind as well - like some inexplicable virus has consumed them and taken over. Maybe it’s just the fact that this band are far more relatable and connect with them more than the current socio-political and economic climate ever could. Catharsis. Relief. Punishment. For something they’ve never done, never asked for. Existence. Or maybe they’re just a really fucking good band, who knows.
Hearing vocalist Dan Nightingale scream the words to ‘Hollow’ without a microphone and hearing the entire crowd audibly fall silent across the entire tent truly is a site to behold. This set is beyond words. A sentiment that is made evidently clear as we walk out of the tent and I can’t quite understand why it’s daylight. My girlfriend asks me if I want a beer and I really don’t know. Gas and air would probably do the trick. It feels like all that’s left of my mind has been ripped out by Conjurer and stamped on repeatedly in front of me. Mind blown indeed…
Dan Nightingale - Vocals/Guita
Brady Deeprose - Vocals/Guitar
Jan Krause - Drums
Conor Marshall - Bass
You can find them at:
After a lie down and some fresh air I begin to feel a bit more human and head over with a sea of pirates to the mainstage to catch party-pirate-metal legends ALESTORM. With the words ‘Oh Wow’ in
huge print either side of a giant inflatable duck a massive grin is stretched across my face and it doesn’t leave until the band finish playing.
When Alestorm set out to be a pirate metal band I can only imagine the amount of people who laughed in their face, despite the absolute masterpiece of a debut in ‘Captain Morgan’s Revenge’ you couldn’t help but wonder how much longevity was really in writing music about pirates. But this is Alestorm, they took the pirate ship to outer space to fight a giant squid and, most recently, headed down to Mexico to get lost in the gay dolphin and party hard!
Hammering through classics ‘Keelhauled’, ‘Mexico’, ‘Sunken Norwegian’ and ‘Alestorm’ the crowd are absolutely lapping up the fun atmosphere here today. There’s people crowd surfing in inflatable pirate ships which ends up getting confiscated by security much to the disappointment of lead singer Chris Bowes who lets them know he doesn’t approve of any fun-bashing here today! If nothing else, this is the most fun I’ve ever had watching a band and by God can they write a catchy hook – there’s sing-alongs a-plenty and, during ‘Nancy the Tavern Wench’ a sea of people on the floor pretending to row a boat. What more could you want from a festival set?!
Christopher Bowes - Vocals
Máté Bodor - Guitar
Gareth Murdock - Bass
Elliot Vernon - Keyboards
Peter Alcorn - Drums
You can find them at:
Playing main support to tonight’s headliners are Buffalo gore-death outfit, CANNIBAL CORPSE. The backdrop falls into place at the back of the stage and literally couldn’t have the band’s name in
bigger print if it wanted to. Just in case anyone didn’t know who Cannibal Corpse were before their set, they certainly will by the time it’s done…
Playing all the hits ‘Scourge of Iron’, ‘Code of the Slashers’ and ‘Stripped, Raped and Strangled’ - not forgetting when Corpsegrinder so eloquently introduces one song “This next song is about shooting blood out of your cock - it’s called I CUM BLOOOOOOOD!” There are also Hawaiian shirts in abundance here today thanks to a social media campaign to get everyone to wear them after Jim Carey dons one at a Cannibal Corpse gig in Ace Ventura.
Corpsegrinder’s charisma and charm is clearly on display as always at the end of their set “Unfortunately we have come to the end of the show tonight. This is our last song. Do you want another song?! Yeah? Well I’ve decided…in my black heart…that the answer is still…no hahahahah!”
Cannibal Corpse are:
Alex Webster - Bass
Paul Mazurkiewicz - Drums
George "Corpsegrinder" Fisher - Vocals
Pat O'Brien - Guitars
Rob Barrett - Guitars
You can find them at:
As the sun goes down it’s time for French metallers GOJIRA to take to the stage. This is their first major festival headline slot and I can’t help but think it’s well deserved – consistently good
albums with incredible live shows to boot. They pull out all the stops with their stage show tonight, smoke cannons and pyros all round.
‘Flying Whales’ was a site to behold with a group at the front all waving their inflatable killer whales, it sounds stupid but was actually quite incredible to see. The guy next to me rueing losing his joint for this perfectly chilled and ambient song - up until the verse kicks in and the singer calls for total fucking chaos in the pit which there is in abundance. ‘Toxic Garbage Island’ is the stand out song of the set for me, completely biasedly as it’s my favourite, but it was just incredible, a perfect sing along at the end – never did I dream of being in a field with 20,000 metallers screaming the words “PLASTIC BAG IN THE SEA!” at the top of my lungs. I’ve also never seen a band synchronise their on-stage pyros with fireworks from behind the stage before either, again, just another reason why this band are bloody brilliant and they have absolutely embraced the challenge of a headline slot. You can only hope Andy Copping is watching because there is nothing more tired in the world of heavy music than Download’s headline act rotation.
Joe Duplantier - Guitar, Vocals
Mario Duplantier - Drums
Christian Andreu - Guitar
Jean-Michel Labadie - Bass
Sunday morning we decided to pack up our tent and load up the car before the mad rush of Monday morning to make it as easy as possible to get out quickly. Armed with only our camping chairs, we set out to watch as many bands as physically possible on the last day and soak up every inch of atmosphere we could before heading home and facing the impending doom of reality.
Due to some unfortunate stage-time clashes we hadn’t managed to see any of the ‘New Blood’ bands we had planned to over the weekend. The New Blood Stage is home to all of the winners of this year’s ‘Metal to the Masses’ battle of the bands style competition which is held at various independent music venues across the country in a bid to get more recognition for the unsigned talent the country has to offer.
Having scanned the line-up for what’s on offer today we decide to head over to watch IMMINENT ANNIHILATION – purely for the fact that I think it’s a great name! What’s more metal than being
seconds from total destruction?! With this being a very last minute decision I have absolutely no idea who these guys are or where they come from – sometimes the best way to watch new bands.
In the vocalist’s own words “We used to be a death metal band, but now we play more bouncy groovy shit.” – fair enough. The newer more groove orientated music is alright but it’s completely over shadowed by old death metal track ‘Pitchfork Abortion’ (of course that’s what it’s called…). The whole band seem so much more comfortable in playing it and far more proficient in the style of music. Having said that, they’re a decent band and whilst it’s obvious they aren’t a signed band there’s a charm to it. This festival is all about supporting each other – in whatever in may be, and giving new talent a platform and an opportunity. It’s great to see and next year I’ll definitely make more of an effort to check out the bands on this stage and hopefully attend all of our local Metal to the Masses competition.
Imminent Annihilation are:
Connor Rhodes - Guitar.
Harry Godfrey - Drums.
Richard Knight- Bass.
Jordan Gray - Vocals.
You can find them at:
Midway through a European tour with ‘Jasta’ it made sense to check out UNCURED on their debut UK gig. Again, knowing very little about the band before going to see them, they play a blend of ambient progressive death metal mixed with funk wah filled instrumental breaks and solos. The performance is incredibly polished for a group so young. They’re tighter than some bands who I’ve seen do this with their eyes shut for years and the talent on stage is available by the bucket load, solo after solo without even batting an eyelid. The only thing that breaks the veil is some of the crowd interactions. The art of getting a crowd riled up is by influencing their behaviour, manipulating their adrenaline rush. With phrases like “This song gets fucking heavy”, “We’re gonna get slower and lower” and “There’s a big fucking groove coming” they’re literally just stood describing what’s about to happen instead of letting the music do the talking. In addition to this, the thought behind the music is great but the execution is poor - the art of this music, fusing two opposing genres together is the subtlety in it. The idea is to seamlessly meld two genres together but to break so quickly from one to the other they may as well just play some heavy songs and some funk songs.
You can find them at:
It’s not my kind of music in the slightest but with 20 million listens on Spotify, I have to see what the fuss is all about. Unfortunately for AMARANTHE, things don’t get off to the best of starts. As the backing track plays and the band take to the stage, the music cuts out so singer Elize Ryd hands a microphone to bassist “The funny one in the band!”, Johan Andreassen, who treats us to a good 15 minutes of sporadic, borderline cringe-worthy but generally hilarious impromptu stand-up comedy. Once they manage to sort their technical difficulties out the band take to the stand and music begins. Having never seen them before it’s difficult to tell if it’s a knock-on effect of the technical difficulties or just something that happens with their sound but the backing tracks are far louder than the live music so when Elize Ryd sings the backing track dominates over her live vocal and actually makes it sound really weak. I can’t imagine they’ve come this far with a poor live performance but even the guitar solos sound awful. It’s like watching a shred video but live. Really bizarre and hopefully all attributable to unfortunate technical difficulties.
Olof Mörck - guitars, keyboards, synthesizers (2008–present)
Elize Ryd - female clean vocals (2008–present)
Morten Løwe Sørensen - drums (2008–present)
Johan Andreassen - bass (2010–present)
Henrik Englund Wilhemsson - unclean vocals (2013–present)
Nils Molin - male clean vocals (2017–present)
You can find them at:
Having gone from “Y2J’s band” to a band in their own right, it’s great to see FOZZY on the main stage at another major UK festival, even if there are very few people here. However, I don’t think
that’s owing to people disliking the band (especially judging by the size of the queue for their signing later in the day) but potentially due to the fact that ALIEN WEAPONRY have just taken to the
second stage and it’s so busy people are standing right out of the tent just to try and get a glimpse of the mauri metallers. Either way, the band take to the stage to big single ‘Judas’ which goes
down really well with the audience and the band, in stark contrast to Amaranthe sound absolutely brilliant. Really tight and the production quality is great – the perfect setting for their brand of
classic stadium rock.
Despite having never really listened to much of Fozzy I find myself singing along to every song, taking a big influence from Def Leppard’s ‘two chorus’ approach to song writing some of the vocals are massively catchy.
Chris Jericho - Vocals
Rich Ward - Guitar/Vocals
Frank Fontsere - Drums
Billy Grey - Guitar
Paul Di Leo - Bass
You can find them at:
Unfortunately the last band of the weekend for us is JASTA, but what better way to go out than with everyone’s favourite entrepreneur and podcast host Jamey Jasta. Coming out to the theme from the podcast ‘The Jasta Show’ they play a mix of covers from all the guests bands – Dino Cazares (ex-Fear Factory guitarist), Howard Jones (Light the Torch, ex-Killswitch Engage vocalist) and Kirk Windstein (Crowbar, Down guitarist/vocalist). The stand-out song of the set is Jasta’s own song ‘Chasing Demons’ where Howard Jones’ vocals on the chorus give me goose bumps – WHAT a voice that man has! It’s great to hear Fear Factory classic ‘Edgecrusher’ and Crowbar’s hit ‘All I Had (I Gave)’ and they close the set with a hilarious rendition of ‘Bury Me in Smoke’ by Down which descends into madness as Jasta takes to the drum kit to play the outro. It’s great to see so many big names all take the stage together and to have so much fun doing so.
As we head home, it’s been an incredible weekend. Being a five minute walk from tent to arena makes this festival so easy to attend – everything is so easy to get to. There are a few bands we wanted to see but couldn’t for one reason or another but generally the line-up is about as good as it gets for metal heads looking for a festival without the same headliner year in, year out.