So after an utterly fantastic start, things were set to get better and better for Bloodstock. Saturday saw the sun break through the clouds, bathing Catton Hall in a blistering heat. Unfortunately, due to travel and accommodation, we missed Inquisition headline the Sophie Lancaster Stage after Amon Amarth utterly annihilated the main stage. This time, though, we arrived a bit earlier and didn’t take a wrong turn this time, so we arrived in plenty time to catch bands early. Read on, and see how Day Two of Bloodstock went down!
Eradikator – Sophie Lancaster Stage
Brummy thrashers Eradikator were already in full swing when we got into the arena. Offering up a well-executed throwback to ’85, their relentless speed and Hetfield-esque vocals were just what the doctor ordered to shake off the cobwebs. We only managed to see a couple of tracks from Eradikator’s set, as Winterfylleth when delivering a grim sermon on the Ronnie James Dio Stage, but what we did see was very impressive. Most importantly, the crowd was loving it – there was a sea of banging heads and raised fists, and a respectable sized crowd in the the Sophie tent given how early in the day it was. Eradikator are definitely one to keep your eyes on!
Verdict – 7.5/10
Order the latest Eradikator record, “Edge of Humanity“, here.
Winterfylleth – Ronnie James Dio Stage
Your average black metal band may lose some of the frostbitten atmosphere in the sound while playing on a massive stage in the blazing sunshine. Decked in corpse paint and armour, with plenty of stage props, your average black metal band might look a bit silly in the sun, where the same things would project an evil, theatrical presence in a dark venue. But, Winterfylleth are not your average black metal band. Forgoing the theatrics, Winterfylleth are just four average dudes, playing extreme, cathartic metal. One of the few black metal bands that losing nothing on a festival stage compared to a smaller venue, the Mancunian quartet brought an epic atmosphere to Catton Hall, delivering one of the finest black metal sets I’ve seen. Unfortunately, persistent interference marred the end of their stellar set, somewhat ruining the otherwise fantastic rendition of Winterfylleth classic Defending The Realm.
Verdict – 8/10
Order Winterfylleth’s latest record, “The Dark Hereafter” here.
Havok – Ronnie James Dio Stage
Colorado thrashers Havok were next to pitch up on the Dio stage. The retro quartet were high on my “must see” list, having seen them deliver nothing short of excellence at Heavy Scotland earlier this year. Unfortunately, Havok seemed a little plagued with issues throughout their set – the sound was just terrible, to begin with, with bass drowning out the vocals and the guitars, the sample from the beginning of Intention To Deceive being played a couple of tracks early, and then Intention To Deceive being cut after only a brief moment due to time constraints. Fortunately, these are the only complaints that could be made of Havok. The sound improved as their set went on, finally letting us hear the snarls of Dave Sanchez with a bit more clarity, and dig into the razor-wire riff-work. Whatever your thoughts on Havok’s music, it’s hard not to enjoy them live – especially with bassist Nick Schendzielos running around the stage (and off the stage) like Steve Harris and screaming into the cameras. Finally witnessing Give Me Liberty… or Give Me Death live was a personal highlight for me, as I, unfortunately, missed that part of their Heavy Scotland set. Technical issues aside, Havok played phenomenally – there is a reason they are leading the New Wave of Thrash charge.
Verdict – 8.5/10
Order Havok’s latest offering, “Conformicide” here.
King 810 – Ronnie James Dio Stage
After a break for lunch, we decided to check out King 810. Probably the most polarizing band of the weekend, there was a steady stream of traffic both away from and towards the stage as their set grew close. There’s a scene in the N.W.A movie Straight Outta Compton that reminds me of King 810 – when confronted about the glamorization of gang life in their lyrics at a press conference, Ice Cube fires back “Our art is a reflection of our reality.” It’s easy to see King 810 as a band trying to portray themselves as tough guys, with a mentality more akin to gangster rap than metal. But hailing from Flint, Michigan, poverty and gang violence is the reality for David Gunn & co. Listening to their albums there is a lot of creativity there that I can respect, it just doesn’t do it for me. But I was still curious to see how it would come across live – and, to be honest, I was disappointed. Much of the creativity in the sound was lost, turning the band into just another beatdown clone, and Gunn’s vocals felt far more forced and strained than I was expecting. The almost constant use of news samples also halted much of the momentum King 810 tried to build. A risky addition to the Bloodstock line-up that didn’t pay off.
Verdict – 6/10
Order King 810’s latest record “La Petite Mort or a Conversation with God” here.
Raised By Owls – Hobgoblin New Blood Stage
Nottingham’s Raised By Owls won their Metal 2 The Masses leg, taking a respectable place on the New Blood Stage. Their brand of brutal silliness isn’t entirely horn of beer, but calling them anything other than extremely fun live would be simply wrong. After checking some of King 810, I was a bit late to the party Raised By Owls were hosting. With a crowd reaching about six people deep outside of the Hobgoblin tent, I missed a fair bit of their set as the Dio stage drowned them out, but lots of fun was had inside the Hobgoblin tent and there was a very serious buzz about Raised By Owls for the rest of the weekend.
Verdict – 7/10
Order Raised By Owls’ debut EP, “The Great British Grind Off” here.
Infected Dead – Hobgoblin New Blood Stage
We went to grab a beer before the horde vacated the New Blood Stage following Raised By Owls’ set, then slipped in after they left to catch some of Infected Dead. Unfortunately, Infected Dead clashed with Abhorrent Decimation, whom I am a big fan of – but I made sure to hear a couple of tracks before I made my way to the Sophie Lancaster Stage. And I am so glad I did. The Kent Metal 2 The Masses winners offered up some no frills, straight-to-the-point old-school death metal worship executed to the highest quality. With some thrashy elements accompanying the brutality, there is a lot to love in Infected Dead’s sound for the old-school extreme metal fans out there – a band I have seriously enjoyed digging into some more following Bloodstock.
Verdict – 8/10
Enjoy Infected Dead’s debut single, Forced Existence, below, and keep an eye out for their debut EP “Archaic Malevolence“, coming soon!
Abhorrent Decimation – Sophie Lancaster Stage
London’s as yet uncrowned kings of death metal, Abhorrent Decimation, have been on my radar for a while. First discovering them when The Black Dahlia Murder shared the video for Glaciate the Servants on Facebook, I’ve been hooked ever since. Their new record, “The Pardoner” is ranking pretty high on my “2017 best of…” at the moment, and for good reason. Though still true to their brutal roots, “The Pardoner” takes Abhorrent Decimation’s sound to a whole new level. Returning to Bloodstock after three years and armed with a stunning new album, Abhorrent Decimation carved their name in the soil of Catton Hall as one of the most promising death metal bands to grace the festival. Having recently signed to Prosthetic Records and boasting a live set of pure, aural destruction, this is only the beginning for the Londoners.
Verdict – 9/10
Order Abhorrent Decimation’s newest offering, “The Pardoner” here.
Annihilator – Ronnie James Dio Stage
Bloodstock 2017 proved to be a pretty spectacular weekend for thrash. With Testament, Shrapnel and Havok already showing us thrash will never die this weekend, Annihilator join the ranks of thrash-terpiece performances over the weekend, along with Municipal Waste, Kreator, Wretched Soul, and Megadeth (more on ALL of them later). Jeff Waters & co have never been entirely my thing, with some tracks really scratching my 1985 itch, and some just not doing it for me. Live, however, they are a force to be reckoned with. Opening with King of the Kill, Annihilator thrashed their way through some old school thrash, until they came to one of my highlights from the whole weekend. Twisted Lobotomy, a new track from the as-yet untitled new album, didn’t just drop my jaw – it tore it off and threw it into a tornado-esque circle pit. Played for the first time live in Essen at Nord Open Air at the end of July, Twisted Lobotomy may just be the best thing Waters has ever written. Rounding off their set with a few classics – Alison Hell, Phantasmagoria and Human Insecticide – Annihilator shows that Canadians can thrash just as hard as the Germans and Californians.
Verdict – 8.5/10
Order the latest Annihilator record, “Suicide Society” here.
Municipal Waste – Ronnie James Dio Stage
So, I have a confession to make – I can’t get into Municipal Waste. They’re one of the most popular retro thrash bands in the world, but no matter how much I listen to them and how much I want to like them, other than a couple of tracks they just don’t do it for me. That said, however, they are far and away one of the best live bands I’ve ever seen, and delivered one of the best sets of Bloodstock 2017. Maybe it was the party atmosphere of Bloodstock complimenting their sound, maybe they are just a band that I can only fully appreciate live – whatever it is, in a live setting they bring a sound and a feeling that just isn’t there on record for me.
The second the Richmond five-piece hit the stage, I just knew things were about to get crazy – and I was not disappointed. What followed was 45 minutes of utter chaos. Not many bands can boast that they conjured more consistent pit-action than Bay Area legends Testament, but Municipal Waste pulled it off. With a steady stream of crowd-surfers accompanying the mosh, the punk thrashers powered through a set mainly composed of their much respected older material, opting to only play Breathe Grease and the title track from their new album, “Slime & Punishment“. Personal highlights from Municipal Waste’s set include the first track of theirs I really enjoyed, Sadistic Magician, and, of course, the record breaking crowd surf. During Slime & Punishment, I believe (I could be wrong on that count, however), Municipal Waste threw some shit at Gojira for breaking their world record, and then made a cry to break it again – and they crushed it. The Richmond thrashers beat the previous world record of most crowd surfers in one song (462, I believe), setting a mammoth new record of 711! This was very cool to watch, but was ultimately only one piece of brilliance in an entirely entertaining set. Needless to say, Municipal Waste fucked me up.
Verdict – 9/10
Order Municipal Waste’s newest offering, “Slime & Punishment” here.
Red Rum – Sophie Lancaster Stage
Most of the time, folk metal isn’t really my thing – generally speaking, it’s far too upbeat and happy, and I’m a miserable old bastard. However, in a live setting – particularly at a festival, as I learned from Finntroll at Heavy Scotland – well-executed folk metal absolutely slays. To call Nottinghamshire pirates Red Rum’s set well executed would be an understatement. Smashing through a set of boozy folk metal tracks that you can’t help but dance to, it would be easy to compare Red Rum to Alestorm – but I don’t remember Alestorm mixing their fun elements with a sound this heavy. After a comical cover of YouTube sensation They’re Taking The Hobbits To Isengard, Red Rum blast through the two best songs in their setlist – the surprisingly dark Through the Eye of the Storm and the epic closing track Rise From the Deep. Red Rum are more than a cheap copy of Alestorm, offering up a slice of darkness and heaviness that juxtaposes the fun, folky sections perfectly.
Verdict – 8.5/10
Order Red Rum’s latest album, “Booze & Glory” here.
Kreator – Ronnie James Dio Stage
Teutonic thrash legends Kreator were probably the band I was most excited to see this weekend. Having witnessed the German quartet deliver a show as close to perfection as you can get in Manchester in February, (reviewed by our Fearless Leader here), I knew the Bloodstock crowd were in for a treat. Both the other half and I are huge Kreator fans (they are probably the only band that rival Iron Maiden for my number one spot), and our already pretty high excitement grew and grew as their massive stage show was set up. Opting to save our energy for Kreator, we sat near enough to the Jägermeister Stage to enjoy some of the proggy, hard rock trappings of Twisted Illusion while we had some dinner, but not really close enough to get a good feel for the performance.
As Choir of the Damned played through the speakers, one final mass-migration of black-clad metalheads surged their way closer to the stage, and I clung to the vain hope that maybe Kreator would open up with the “Pleasure To Kill” scorcher Ripping Corpse. However, Ripping Corpse hasn’t been played live in years, and now would have been an odd time to bring it back into the set. Instead, Kreator shower the crowd in a sea of red confetti before thundering through a blood-stirring rendition of Hordes of Chaos that conjured some immediate and respectful pit action before diving into Phobia – the only track from their more experimental albums to still get regular air-time live.
After a tell-tale sound of a gong, Kreator shred their way through Satan Is Real and Gods of Violence – two of the lead singles from their stunning new album. These two tracks are delivered perfectly, showing that as wonderful as the new album is, Kreator have the chops to take the tracks and somehow make them even better live. After a throwback to 1985 with Total Death and the unnaturally catchy People of the Lie, the intro track to 2012’s Phantom Antichrist is played through the PA. As the opening notes of Phantom Antichrist are played, I knew it was time for me to come out of mosh-retirement. Charging forward, it became clearer just how well Kreator were performing – though the crowd were certainly not quiet or still near our vantage point at the back, the fanaticism and energy down in the pit was infectious.
The pit slowed, though didn’t quite come to a stop, for the ode to our lost heroes, Fallen Brother. As photos of metal legends including Jeff Hanneman, Lemmy, Dio and Paul Baloff accompany the likes of David Bowie and Leonard Cohen on the screens, Catton Hall becomes a sea of raised fists in a show of respect. An utterly massive wall of death opened up for Enemy of God, and merged into a crash of brutality that proved to me that I’m getting a little too old/unfit for the mosh. There was a brief lull from the stage after Violent Revolution – but no Kreator show can be complete without Pleasure To Kill.
With Enemy of God and Pleasure To Kill conjuring two of the biggest, most brutal pits of the weekend, it became clear the Kreator have the cops to headline Bloodstock. They have the stage show, they have the God-tier material, and they clearly have the support from Bloodstock’s crowd. Comparing their set to when I saw them earlier this year is difficult – they played for longer in Manchester, but their stage show at Bloodstock was spectacular with Mille Petrozza firing his CO² gun around with glee, enough pyro to make Rammstein a tad jealous and a beautiful looking stage. Either way, at both shows, Kreator executed their set perfectly – fuck the Bay Area, Germany is where the best thrash is made.
Verdict – 10/10
Order Kreator’s newest offering, “Gods of Violence” here.
Bloodstock Day Two – Band of the Day
Choosing a band of the day was much easier for the Saturday. Though I was gobsmacked by Municipal Waste and Abhorrent Decimation’s brand of brutality made them a very close contender, there was only one band it could be – Kreator. Coupling an incredible performance with incredible music, once again the Essen four-piece proved they are the tightest, most exciting thrash band in the world!
Read our review for Day One of Bloodstock 2017 here.
Read our review for Day Three of Bloodstock 2017 here.
Read our “Final Thoughts” of Bloodstock 2017 here.