Bloodstock 2022 – Friday 12th August – Review18th August 2022
There always seems to be a problem at Bloodstock. Back in 2019, it was the rain. In 2020, it was you-know-what. In 2021, it was endless lineup changes (thanks to you-know-what). In 2022, it’s the sun.
Putting up a tent in 33 degree heat is unbearable, and trying to get into said tent is even worse. So we dumped our stuff as quickly as possible and arrived at the main arena in time for the biggest band of the weekend – Machine Head.
The ‘secret set’ had been sparking rumors for weeks. At first it was going to be ‘Pantera’, then things got a little more hopeful with suggestions of Corey Taylor / Slipknot or even Metallica or Ozzy showing up at Catton Park. Eventually, Amon Amarth seemed to be a dead-cert, following< their Waken secret set. However, just a few days but a guarantee.
Their merch stand and massive logo draped behind the Sophie Lancaster stage really stunted the build up in the underwhelming minutes before they came on stage.
The band, playing as a three-piece, were tight and powerful, especially considering this was their first proper show since the pandemic. ‘Aesthetics Of Hate’ and ‘I Am Hell’ are as punchy as they were the day they were released, and ultra-rare cuts like ‘The Dagger’ were a gift to die-hards. However, ‘Halo’ was always destined to be the highlight of the set. Even those unfamiliar with the band can’t argue with the rumbling, doomy groove of The Blackening’s standout track.
However, the organization was shocking. Almost the entirety of Bloodstock attempted to get to the Sophie stage just to see who was playing. I get it, but surely the point of a secret set is that it’s… secret? It meant that hundreds, if not thousands, were crowded around the tent in direct sunlight, seeing nothing and hearing very little. It also meant that by the end of their set, those who were nonplussed by Machine Head had gotten over the initial excitement of seeing such a
big band on such a tiny stage and simply left, and genuine fans of the band had given up hope of ever making it into the sweltering tent.
By the time ‘Halo’ came around, the crowd was no bigger than one a standard Sophie headliner would attract. I can’t help but feel like if this secret Bloodstock history.
Anyway, Gwar were on the mainstage soon after to really settle everyone down. From the spraying blood of a ‘Typical American Redneck’ or a fight to the death between a heavily accented (and possibly borderline racist) Chinese dictator and Vladimir Putin, Gwar really know how to put on a hectic show. Also, they must have been dripping with sweat in those costumes.
Directly after Gwar, we caught Vulgar Dissection on the Jagermeister stage. They didn’t draw much of a crowd, but their brand of brutal death metal was technical, fast and ferocious. Seeing such a heavy band up close and personal is a rare, but genuinely engaging experience.
To break up the excruciating monotony of an Exodus-Testament double bill on the Ronnie James Dio stage, we caught some fantastic performances on the New Blood stage from the likes of Verminthrone, Fyresky and Tumanduumband, as well as a few minutes of Avatar, whose
lead singer sounds remarkably like Bruce Dickinson.
The announcement of a few Bloodstock 2023 bands that followed was a mixed bag. Decapitated, Gatecreeper and Megadeth are good shouts, but I’m really not convinced by a Killswitch Engage headline set. Prove me wrong, I guess.
As the sun finally started to ease up, it was time for Behemoth’s headline set. I’d never really been into the Polish blackened death metal three-piece, but I was about to be converted. The wash of noise they create is instantly gripping, and Nergal’s voice is even more fierce in a live setting. The relentless fury of tracks like ‘Ov Fire And The Void’ and ‘Off To War!’ is balanced out by atmospheric, almost catchy cuts like ‘Bartzabel’ and ‘Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel’. Their stage show is dramatic as you’d expect, with pyro constantly threatening to set fire to the makeup-laden band, but they do this sort of thing in their sleep. They stroll from one side of the burning, satanic stage to another as casually as walking between two different fried chicken stalls to get two different fried chicken wraps within five minutes of each other (we did this). It’s an absolute spectacle, and rightfully, they get both the biggest crowd and the biggest response of the weekend so far.
It’s a shame that Sleep Token, were on hand to put a dampner on the night. Booking a few bands that might not seem like standard Bloodstock fare is a bold move that often pays off beautifully, but not tonight. At the end of the day, they play melodramatic pop music with a distortion pedal. They look great on stage and their music is emotive and well textured, but after half an hour of their set I was at a complete loss as to what they were doing here. Over-produced pop melodies leaking from an X-Factor voice; zero grit from an over-abundance of piano ballads. I found myself wishing that Watain were back, ready to throw pig blood at me. We wandered back to the tent, where I slept with a rock directly beneath me. Wonderful.
Standout Performance: Behemoth
Hidden Gem: Vulgar Dissection
Track Of The Day: Machine Head – Halo
For more info, click to www.bloodstock.uk.com.