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Bloodstock 2022 was an absolute scorcher!

by Frank Ralph. Published Thu 18 Aug 2022 09:56, last updated: 18/08/22

The hallowed turf of Catton Park once again played host to the biggest metal party of the year. Always a place of extremes, although usually music based, this year was even more extreme with the weather deciding to get in on the act this time as the 4-day festival coincided perfectly with a 4-day heatwave.

With the hordes of metal fans converged at the site the fun began with a handful of bands playing the SOPHIE stage on Thursday. Beginning with the mental metal grindcore of Basement Torture Killing. Thankfully their stage show only seemed to have one victim, a rather innocent looking stuffed teddy bear, who Betsy regularly dismembered throughout their set, throwing limbs into the baying crowd. A great band if you love a bit of torture theatre with your ear ringing metal.

BTK  @ Bloodstock 2022

Later in the day the insanity went up a couple of notches with the ludicrous Nanowar of Steel and Nekrogoblin performing. Nanowar’s pantomime take on metal got the blood flowing and seeing the goblin riling up an audience never really gets old. One of the great things about Bloodstock is that you can experience all the little sub genres of metal in one place, but some, like Nanowar are not for all, so a trip to Lemmy’s bar was called for, for some much-needed refreshments and shade.

Having met the band outside the hotel early on Friday morning, and taking their recommendation to see them, it was Red Method who were the first band to see on Friday. Opening the main stage is generally a tough job as everyone is slowly waking up but throw into that the insane heat which meant people were hunting for shade rather than standing in front of the main stage and the job of opening ceremonies might have been a bit of a chore. The crowd however showed up for Red Method in their droves, and they were not disappointed at all. They proved to be one of the stand outs of the whole weekend, with frontman Jeremy working the crowd up by joining them and riding on the shoulders of a fan. With members from Metastasis and The Defiled in their ranks they are formidable and almost certainly pick up a legion of new fans from their set.

Red Method @ Bloodstock 2022

Red Method @ Bloodstock 2022

With the announcement a few weeks ago of a super-secret set by a super-secret band the festival rumours were rife all day on Friday, but before we discovered who it would be (there were spoilers) we had the amazing Indian metal of New Delhi’s Bloodywood to look forward to. Having initially been booked a few years ago but unable to play due to Covid related travel rubbish it was a much-anticipated appearance. They burst onto the main stage and spent the next three quarters of an hour making new friends and playing some incredible music. Probably the booking of the year in our opinion. Not only giving them the platform to perform to a united and eager audience but also for giving us the chance to see this kind of music performed on a big stage. Bloodywood. Bloody good.

Bloodywood @ Bloodstock 2022

It was then time to discover the worst kept secret in metal that day, which had been alluded to by the band in question the week before and due to a timing slip up on the merch tent, completely blown long before the band appeared. It was of course that Machine ‘Fuckin’ Head were playing their first festival set in 10 years to a baying audience inside the SOPHIE tent. We say inside, but the crowd extended way outside the tent and proved it impossible to get anywhere near to the action. By all accounts it was a fantastic set and hopefully sees the start of an annual surprise set line up addition from now on.

Doyle over on the main stage did suffer from a depleted audience due to the surprise set, but their run through of horror punk classics with frontman Alex’ Wolfman’ Story stalking the stage in a bondage mask was fantastic. A blast of much needed energy right when it was needed. Each song introduced as a love song you can dance to if you want.

Doyle @ Bloodstock 2022

After them the insanity levels of the interplanetary numbnuts GWAR seemed to be on a ridiculous level. 45 minutes of Presidential beheadings, a redneck spurting entrails everywhere and a visit from The Queen later the front three rows and a whole pit of photographers and security were covered in blood and other bodily fluids and all of them had smiles on their faces. The beauty of GWAR is they’re nuts, they know they’re nuts, we know they’re nuts, and who doesn’t enjoy nuts occasionally. Even the side stage screen trailer says there now a joke without a punchline, but they’re great entertainment and that’s all that’s needed.

Before the much-anticipated headline set from Behemoth we were treated to a double bill of some of the best bands from the Bay Area thrash scene, Exodus and Testament. Both bands showed why they’ve stood the test of time and been so influential. For any thrash metal fan, being in the presence of thrash royalty like this was a dream double hitter.

With the temperature cooling drastically, it was time for Bloodstock favourites Behemoth to unleash a barrage of pyrotechnics and showmanship to warm everyone up again. Their show is headline worthy with the crowd in fine voice for the singalongs, the pure drama of the lighting and stage set combining to create a stunning, unmissable show you can’t take your eyes off. Nergal strikes a blue and yellow flare midway through Off to War which gets a huge response from the crowd. They are a band that is purpose built for the grandness of a show this size and hold the attention throughout. Their tour later in the year will be just as engaging but on a more personal level.

Behemoth @ Bloodstock 2022

Black confetti was fired into the crowd during O Father O Satan O Sun bringing a jaw dropping show to a close with a jaw dropping spectacle. Behemoth crush it every time they play here, and this was no different.

The Saturday began with even hotter weather, more umbrellas on site as people got wise and plundered the campsite shop in search of portable shade. Lemmy’s bar, the New Blood stage and various spots around the site that had had camo sheets put over them to create cool areas were filled up as people tried unsuccessfully to cool down throughout the day, longing for any slight breeze to whisk its way through the site. The heat was pretty unbearable at times, but it did nothing to dampen the spirits of the festival goers.

Venturing to the SOPHIE stage for the chance to see two of the UK’s brightest new stars Pupil Slicer and Cage Fight with both bands having a serious buzz around them and lots of support visible around the site over the weekend. Pupil Slicer were full of energy and absolutely terrifying in a great way. They sound like they’re treading a thin line between being a bit ramshackle and brutally dangerous which makes for a captivating watch. Whereas Cage Fight just pummel the tent into submission with a set of heavy riffs and brutal vocals from Rachel Aspe. Two bands that are destined for great things.

Cage Fight @ Bloodstock 2022

It was then back over to the main stage to witness a glorious set by New Jersey deathcore band Lorna Shore. We knew they’d be brutal and great to watch but having watched a video of frontman Will Ramos shoving a camera down his throat to see what happens as he’s making his signature and distinctive guttural vocals and pig squeals it was even more intriguing to witness them in real life. If you’ve not seen it yet check it out on YouTube but beware it’s not for the squeamish.

Lorna Shore @ Bloodstock 2022

There was a really endearing moment of unity on display when Jinjer took to the stage, it was the third time lucky for this particular booking as they have twice been scuppered by Covid travel problems and with the horrific war gripping their home nation it looked at points that they wouldn’t be able to make it again this year. The fact they did is incredible in itself, but the response and love they receive from the crowd, with flags and blue inflatable balls bouncing around in the sky just goes to show who’s side the Bloodstock family is on. They perform an emotional and powerful set in the glaring sun and for that hour are a connection between the metal loving, civilised people of the UK and those same souls who are suffering in the Ukraine.

Jinjer @ Bloodstock 2022

Dimmu Borgir are another band that people have had to wait to see with them not being able to make the festival last year. Technical difficulties delay the start of their set but once they arrive the crowd are drooling for some theatrics. In full face paint and battle dress, in a still uncomfortably hot evening they seem to be struggling under their layers but musically it’s everything this crowd have been waiting for all day and they don’t disappoint at all. In fact, they prove to be the perfect appetiser for the night’s main course a serving of classic of Merciful Fate.

Filling the air with drawn out progressive heavy metal epicness and performing under a giant illuminated inverted cross they sum up everything a Bloodstock headliner should be. King Diamond interacts with the crowd between every sprawling sonic sermon and has them in the palm of his hand throughout. There are so many people here for who this band were pivotal in their musical tastes or careers. They will definitely go down in history as one of THE best Bloodstock headliners ever.

Mercyful Fate @ Bloodstock 2022

On Sunday you could almost hear the collective sigh of relief that we had made it through to the final day in such difficult circumstances. It’s typically British that we complain about the weather whether it’s cold and wet or hot, but this had been a war of attrition to make it this far. The heat wasn’t going away and nor were the fans. This was always going to be an epic finale to an epic weekend, but no-one had expected it to be in the middle of a heat wave.

Scunthorpe hard rockers Skarlett Riot were enjoying an upgrade by moving their SOPHIE set to open the main stage as Life of Agony had unfortunately had to pull out at the last minute as the drummer suffered heatstroke in Belgium and couldn’t travel. Hopefully they will carry over to next year’s bill as they were a band a lot of people were looking forward to seeing. This meant though that Skarlett Riot were handed the opportunity to open Sunday’s proceedings which they did in fine form after a few mic issues for Chloe Drinkwater, pleasing the large crowd they had garnered.

Next up were, for me, the discovery of the weekend in Vended. They burst onto the stage and delivered a masterclass in brutality. You can tell these kids are using music to channel their anger and using their anger to fuel their music. They are all already masters at what they do, and their sound is not only huge but the perfect wake up smack around the head you need on a Sunday at a festival. Check them out as soon as you can.

Vended @ Bloodstock 2022

Vended @ Bloodstock 2022

LA’s Butcher Babies were up next and proceeded to play a standout high energy set, full of rage and anger with the double threat of Carla and Heidi whipping the crowd into a frenzy. Flury’s riffs created the momentum as both of these fierce women conducted the audience through singalong after singalong, inviting crowd surfers to the front for high fives.

Butcher Babies @ Bloodstock 2022

A first ever UK performance for the absolutely legendary Vio-lence was the next highlight from the main stage. Everybody in the pit looked to be up for this one as did the band as they ripped through a set of classic thrash anthems. Phil Demmel’s guitar work proved the perfect foil for Sean Killian’s gruffly barked vocals and the crowd surfers kept up with the energy of the band for their whole set.

The closing two acts of this year’s festival were both legends in their own rights. Goth legends Killing Joke brought a heavier set to Bloodstock than some may have expected from them, with their signature tribal sonic attack, which omitted possibly their biggest track Love Like Blood Jaz Coleman in custom boiler suit and full red-painted face is an icon, and always a pleasure to watch perform.

Killing Joke @ Bloodstock 2022

If things had been hot all weekend, they were only going to get hotter when Bloodstock royalty Lamb of God took the stage to close out proceedings. With Randall Blythe on top form and the band sounding crushingly loud they raise the already high temperature with a lorry load of pyrotechnics too. With dreads, riffs and pyro flying all over the place it’s a visual extravaganza and THE perfect way to finish off a special weekend. Dedicating Redneck to Sophie and Sylvia Lancaster, who they whole day had been dedicated to, was a special moment and the crowd lost their shit one last time. There is absolutely no better place to be than Bloodstock when they have a band this good on. Roll on next year, for hopefully a slightly cooler experience.

Lamb of God @ Bloodstock 2022

Lamb of God @ Bloodstock 2022

For a full set of photos from an epic weekend click here


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