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Bloodstock proves why it's the UK's No.1 metal festival

by Frank Ralph. Published Tue 15 Aug 2017 13:44, last updated: 15/08/17

Bloodstock Festival had absolutely everything a discerning metal head of any age could have ever dreamt of and much, much more. Be it crowd surfing Hobgoblins, strong men and women, incredible weather, Kraken rum ice creams or fire – lots and lots of fire, Bloodstock 2017 had it in spades.

All that in itself would be plenty to keep anyone entertained, but throw a 15,000-strong crowd and some of the best metal bands on the planet into the mix and you have the basis for 3 days of the loudest fun you can imagine, whilst stood in a field in Derbyshire.

Denmark’s Forever Still kicked things off on Friday with a powerful set of anthemic metal and Chelsea Grin’s deathcore gave me my first experience of arm in arm head banging which looked very impressive. We gave Devilment the chance to blow us away but it just didn’t happen and it felt like they never completely got going and Dani Filth’s vocals are somewhat of a desired taste that failed to translate in the daylight.

The only major catastrophe of the weekend was when Black Moth and Testament clashed. Testament were always going to be incredible and we’d heard so much great stuff about Black Moth it was a tough decision to make. The only sensible thing to do was to watch half of each set, which we did. Black Moth were, as promised, fantastic and even with mic and guitar technical problems that meant at times all you could hear were drums, Testament were one of the best bands all weekend.

Lionize were something quite different for the festival and brought their brand of funk rock to the Bloodstock party. They went down a storm and proved you don’t have to be heavy as balls to be heavy and get a positive reaction from this audience.

Amon Amarth brought their Viking metal to the main stage as one of two first time headliners and had a whale of a time. Sales of drinking horns and ale surely spiked in the run up to their set and they had more fire than a barbecue round at Daenerys’ gaff. They are custom built for this stage much like the Viking horns drum riser. It’s taken them 25 years to headline a show of this size but that just means they’ve more than earned it and the crowd were on their side throughout. Watching Bloodstock legends take their moment and enjoy every last second of it.

Bloodstock 2017

Bloodstock 2017

Saturday’s early energy boost came from a boundless Havok. Charging around the stage like lunatics playing some of the best new thrash out there. They clearly enjoyed themselves and won over a considerable number of new fans in the process. Following them, Flint, Michigan’s’ King 810 were a bit of a curveball in all honestly - but they were insanely good. A guitarist down due to the fact he’d been arrested on gun charges in the US they were in one word… intense. David Gunn is one of the most interesting front men out there and his tortured vocals added huge depth to the material. That was all in broad daylight too and I can only imagine how good that would have been indoors in a smaller venue with the lights out. Definitely one of the bands that changed hearts and minds over the weekend.

Bloodstock 2017

Bloodstock 2017

I didn’t think that anybody could be more excited to have been playing Bloodstock than Annihilator frontman Jeff Waters until Jamey Jasta took to the stage with Hatebreed and pretty much stole the weekend. Both bands absolutely nailed it as the enthusiasm of both frontmen simply won over everybody in front of them - but Hatebreed were on a different level. If you’ve never seen 60-year old men crowd surfing and acting like they were 18 all over again then you’ve not lived. That level of pure joy that a band like Hatebreed can incite is what this place is all about.

In between both of these bands Municipal Waste set an incredible record for the number of crowd surfers coming over the top - with a hefty count of 711 – that will take some beating as I think the previous record was 500 and something when Cannibal Corpse last played.

Saturday night headliners Ghost were phenomenal. The most atmospheric headliners the festival has ever seen. They were born for this spot on the bill and it won’t be the last time they headline shows of this size or bigger. Papa and his Nameless Ghouls made it look easy, there was even a rumour that Dave Grohl was playing drums for them but it sounds too good to be true.

Bloodstock 2017

Bloodstock 2017

Waking up a crowd on the Sunday morning of a festival is probably the toughest job on the bill but both Broken Teeth and Venom Prison did a bang up job of this and it was clear to see why Venom Prison are the talk of the scene at the moment. Pure brutality and great stage presence.

Courtesans were really impressive on the SOPHIE stage and seemed to be enjoying themselves. Their doom/pop/triphop style went down fantastically in front of a packed tent. They are a name on everyone’s lips and the fact that the tent was packed for them makes the future look good for them.

The always brilliant Skindred physically lowered the altitude of Catton Park by about 3 feet with the amount of bouncing they encouraged from the crowd – who by that time on a Sunday afternoon were in desperate need of an injection of energy. Which is exactly what they got – any naysayers who frowned at the fact they were playing this year were firmly put in their place and even when they dropped On A Ragga Tip people were losing their minds. Most of the crowd shot their loads early with the Newport Helicopter, but when it kicked off at the end of Warning it looked as bloody impressive as always – even the Showsec pit crew got involved.

Bloodstock 2017

Arch Enemy played their final show of a 300+ date tour of the War Eternal cycle and it showed. It was an absolutely flawless set, honed to perfection and designed for maximum impact. They don’t have much time to relax though, they’ve already got the next album in the bag and will be repeating the whole process again in the next few months.

Megadeth took the Sunday night legends headline spot and threw the greatest hits at it. With a big production and excellent sound they stormed the show proving why they are one of the world’s finest metal bands. Even MegaDave seemed to be enjoying himself and they played one of their best sets in years.

Bloodstock 2017

Now the dust has settled and whoever’s job it is to get the Henry hoover out and clear up the mess that Kreator and Ghost left in their wake has begun in earnest, we can only look forward 12 months until next year’s festivities.

Bloodstock is by far THE friendliest festival going and with Nightwish and Gojira already announced as headliners for next year you have no excuses not to book your early bird tickets now and become a part of the family yourself – you will not be disappointed.

Check out the full gallery of the weekend here



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