Arriving on site, we’re greeted by a troop of knights marching towards the VIP entrance. However, this is Bloodstock so we expect no less. The UK’s premier metal festival returns with a line-up that is a heavy metal fans wet dream, but there is a long way to go until thrash titans Slayer bring the festival to a thunderous finale on Sunday night. Day one of Bloodstock Open Air opens up with Municipal Waste, Dark Funeral and headliner King Diamond amongst the acts to grace the stage.
Ahead of us lies three days of the very best of heavy music and, making our way to the media area the sound of Swedish black metal demons Dark Funeral blasting their way through their set is filling the air. It’s a ferocious start to a weekend that celebrates everything great about heavy music with traditional metal outfit Firewind next to throw up the devil horns and smash through a set of melodic heavy metal anthems that goes down a treat with a crowd who are in it for the long haul.
Embracing all that is great about heavy music (namely alcohol, zombies, and loud guitars), thrash/crossover nutters Municipal Waste are next up causing carnage in the pit with their brand of drunken thrash. Grinning from ear to ear, the band spend their thirty-odd minutes causing all sorts of mischief from the stage with everyone from the security to the punters in the pit talking about their set long after the band have headed off in to the distance.
Our first venture of the day into the Sophie Lancaster tent sees Xerath tearing up a right royal rumpus with their brutality with frontman Richard Thomson winning the prize for most entertaining faces pulled on stage. Following that Xentrix frontman Chris Astley announces “Welcome back to 1989” as the Preston thrashers deliver a set that, for me, is one of the highlights of the weekend. Reminiscent of the thrash greats at their peak, the likes of Questions and Black Embrace get the heads banging.
Back over on the main stage, the legendary bands just kept on coming as Canadian progressive metallers Voivod live up to their reputation despite their sound having to battle against a breeze determined to do its best to ruin things. As for metallers Accept well, the legendary Germans certainly had a following repaying the crowd with one of the sets of the day. Full-throttle metal, cheesy as fuck but ridiculously entertaining, the Germans had the crowd eating out of the palm of their hands within seconds of hitting the stage and kept them there for the duration throwing out heavy metal anthem after heavy metal anthem. Denim, leather, metal anthems, this is what Bloodstock is all about!
Speaking of heavy metal legends, King Diamond was an interesting choice of headliner for the first day of the festival but, as the number of make-up clad fans in the front rows attested to, he was certainly not without his fans. As expected, the show is as theatrical as it gets while his operatic vocals divide the crowd who fall into either the love them or hate them category. The King Diamond experience is one that his fans adore, the initiated are left a little confused by but nobody leaves without an opinion of some kind.
Check out the song “The Family Ghost”