FESTIVAL REVIEW: BLOODSTOCK OPEN AIR 2019 – Day 2 (Friday)
The Metal Wani collective love the echoes of metal in the morning! The downpour from the previous night did little to dampen the spirits of the eager punters. Equipped to beat the bad weather along with denim, leather and even corpse paint, there was a beneficial number of early risers who walked into the main arena. Commence Friday festivities!
Unleashing metal to some busted eardrums on the Ronnie James Dio Stage was their preliminary band of the day, Incite. To ceremoniously open the fields in the early hours of the morning was no easy task so to show no fear in their pace was a breeze through the park. Even just to be on the stage was immediately clear for the Arizonian quartet. Bringing their fifteen years of thrashing tracks across various metal sub-genres, it goes a long way to how this year’s crowd was ravenous for some brutality.
In front of some of the UK’s most die-hard metal fans who have been supported for many years, the Preston thrash quartet Xentrix were on stage to not only make their new album Bury Your Pain shine the brightest, but they eliminated all with their classic tracks in their ongoing repertoire. That was their mission accomplished with not one grumpy punter insight, so much so they’ve gained a few new fans on their path!
It’s not often that this set of thrash kings get to play on our fields. But when Death Angel do, the San Francisco quintet had the groove and power that not a lot of thrash outfits get to capture the audiences with. Whilst demonstrating their sheer control through tracks such as Thrown to the Wolves, The Dream Calls for Blood and The Ultra-Violence / The Pack, it was apparent to see that the thrash experts have never fallen from being on top of their game.
It was time to head over to the Sophie Lancaster Stage to check out some statement-making noise. It did not take very long for the North England four-piece Def Con One One chewing on their authority to their victims. Giving thunder in their old-school high-energy vibes to their party, the five-piece were enormously enjoyable and incited a similar level of stomp-along intensity, signifying a bright future ahead.
Another underrated thrash band lead the charge on the Ronnie James Dio Stage to once again make a name for themselves after a long absence. Now with a firm five years and two studio albums into their return, Seattle’s Metal Church were very impressive with their overall sound. With a blend of old and new material, it sounds like it could have been released in the 1980s and still sound refreshing! Nice play, gentlemen!
Bong Cauldron were victorious during their live show on the Sophie Lancaster Stage. Making a good attempt to steal for the last time, the sludge metal spreaders kicked the gates with massive bass lines, guitar tones and enough vigour that kept their audience tight in the palm of their hands for the entirety of the performance. This was a fierce set from three Yorkshire lads who clearly had a wonderful time. It was even sentimental to know that the metal scene will never see them again.
One can expect some strong vitality to a Soulfly show. This was no different! It was collective chaos that smashes down many walls. Tribe madman Max Cavalera was the one to make everyone lose their combined minds at the Ronnie James Dio stage exploding with immense pleasure. With each passing track, the set descents into many recognisable jams making the serious occasion feel like a party. Sets like this make you appreciate metal heroes whilst they’re around.
Damnation Hammer were up on the Sophie Lancaster stage laying waste on many damning tracks to make your hair droop with what remaining heat that was in the air. Having some serious experience under their belts, their aura had a calming effect on the crowd in between their flavoursome sounds. With their invitation to raise their fists and bring down the Hammers of War, this shows metal at its finest.
The sun might have shined for some time, however, Children of Bodom wasted very little time on taking all to school with their seminal openers Are You Dead Yet flowing nicely with aggressors Under Grass & Clover In Your Face, provided the first genuine singalongs of the weekend. The ballistic Finns have clawed their way back to the European melodic death metal scene with their latest record ‘Hexed‘. But, that does not mean that classics Angels Don’t Kill and Hate Crew Deathroll could not be missed as it further demonstrated their unsurpassed technical supremacy.
Being the ones to clash with a major band on the Ronnie James Dio Stage, Karybdis had a lot to make up for. But that didn’t stop them from going all-in with their sonic assaults to an all unsuspecting crowd. Their spectators absolutely loved the fast-paced riffs seamlessly meeting into bold breakdowns. With a short set, the London metallers showcase why they’re one of the best bands the UK metal scene has to offer on the Sophie Lancaster stage.
Heading over to the New Blood Stage, one can assume of what such talent can be on one’s lips. It is not so often to express this little unknown group. With Marw, the Merseyside roar was of black metal wonder. Visceral and atmospheric, their unique voice of dark soundscapes, one could be mistaken for a Scandinavian band from the river depths. As a local band, they’ve carried a majestic existence into their live performance.
Given their more diverse resonances, one might look at our British homeboys and feel they seem a little out of the norm of traditional metal. However, when Tesseract came out the gateway with a deadly rendition of their Concealing Fate triple threat, this supplied an impact of technical sorcery that kept their territory well and truly glued. The band sounded tight. The mix of old and new melodies like Luminary, Smile and closer Juno were excellent and this further shows their general ultra-class musicianship.
Over on the Sophie Lancaster Stage, Countless Skies packed in what can only be defined as a blistering seven-song assault. Showcasing an abundance of material from their album New Dawn, it was clear just how far the UK melodic death metallers have come. They brought a majestic take on melodic death metal which evokes the genre’s most epic leanings. As the set flowed through into the evening, the quartet grew through their repertoire bringing many epic soundscapes that their audience caught.
Majestic, grandiose and just downright enjoyable the very structure of their congregation, the German force Powerwolf was evidence to what Bloodstock Festival can do from very humble beginnings! Through the pyrotechnics complementing their anthemic directory, they were the victors as they blitzed through Army Of The Night, Amen and Attack and the ever-popular Demons Are A Girl’s Best Friend. Their command was infectious with all members having diverse personalities that not one face was disconnected. Leading their wolfpack with Resurrection By Erection, Werewolves of Armenia and their closer We Drink Your Blood, it would be no surprise that in the years to come, the Germans will march on to headline their terrain.
Speaking from humble beginnings, another Swedish heavyweight have built their career from the creating power metal of epic proportions’ and bringing enough displays showing off their capabilities. Bursting in with Ghost Division, Sabaton set the pace firmly in place giving the ravenous crowd songs like The Great War, Resist & Bite and Fields Of Verun with fire. With copious amounts of theatrics, there were plenty of deep cuts for their long-term fans with The Lion From The North, Carolus Rex, Night Witches and Primo Victoria. As Sabaton gave their witnesses a healthy dose of new heroic tracks The Red Baron, 82nd All The Way and Bismarck, their maturity and appreciation to the history was what made the Swedish collective the ones to made it with the metal elite. There was no want for the glory to end as the Swedish collective kicked into the closers Swedish Pagans and To Hell & Back. What was given to all at Bloodstock Festival was a very worthy place in metal history books on British soil that Sabaton were the ones in charge of their Friday night.
Enter Grand Magus, who were another Swedish power distributing honest old-school sounds on the Sophie Lancaster stage. It was apparent that all everyone wanted to do was to just headbang and drink into the night! In a stark contrast from the headliners, their performance was nothing more than letting the songs deliver the conversation. Their grand closer Hammer Of The North gets an absolutely huge sing-along even long after the set had finished, some say there are still people in the Sophie Lancaster Stage belting it out to this day.
There we have it! Friday was off to a grand start to the heavy metal shenanigans. Although Bloodstockers were a little beaten by the forces of Mother Nature, it had not stopped all to witness great diverse music and create new memories of such splendour. Stick around for Metal Wani’s Saturday edition. The team know it will rattle a few bones, but all are prepared for the war!