Our first port of call as our Bloodstock 2018 experience drew to a close was the New Blood stage which has seen many new names from the underground scene tread its boards over the weekend. This time it was the turn the brutally named Imminent Annihilation to take over the tent making the most of their opportunity to shine with a blistering set including the crushing “Human Culling Farm”.
Everygrey are our first stop on the main stage who are one of the main stays of the Bloodstock festival having been around since the early days and are in town celebrating their twentieth anniversary and supporting current album The Storm Within. Drizzle greeted the band as they took to the stage and did their best to warm up a damp, slightly hungover Bloodstock crowd with their Swedish progressive metal.
Sadly things took a turn for the worse as technical problems almost ruined Amaranthe’s return to Bloodstock but, after ten or so minutes of joking about with the crowd, the problems were resolved and the band powered through their triple-vocalist clinical set. It’s impressive stuff from the band with the mix of male and female vocals blending in perfectly with their high energy metal.
Ahead of headliner Watain’s set later in the evening, we managed four trips to the Sophie Stage. Nepalese metallers Underside provided an impressive introduction to the Nepal metal scene with their creative show and ferocious sound. Indian shredders Demonic Resurrection weighed in with a solid set of brutal metal and a good dose of humour as they joked to the “thirty or so people in here who saw us on our recent UK tour!”
Watching German duo Mantar bludgeon through their set it never fails to amaze me how some musicians can make such a sonically disturbing sound. The German pair are one of those bands who will quite literally assault your senses to breaking point. In fact, if your senses hadn’t been beaten to a pulp already by Mantar the mighty Pallbearer weighed in with enough doomy, suffocating heaviness to make sure that only the strongest were left standing for the headliners.
Back on the main stage though, Chris Jericho and his rock warriors in Fozzy brought a bit of glitz to the day with a set that got the Bloodstock faithful rocking. Racing about the stage, Rich Ward won the award for most energetic man on the site today as the band wound up their current tour with a polished performance. Given that Jericho was still seen doing press late into the evening, here is a band who love to soak up every moment they’re at Catton Hall.
Jamey Jasta is no stranger to the masses at Bloodstock having been here previously fronting metal titans Hatebreed. Today Jasta has brought a bunch of friends with him and while cheers ring around Catton Hall as Fear Factory riffmeister Dino Cazares and Crowbar sludgelord Kirk Windstein join Jasta on stage, the biggest roar goes out as Jasta introduces Light The Torch and former Killswitch Engage frontman Howard Jones who makes a long awaited return to the UK. Like Hatebreed, this is no frills metal from Jasta just how we like it.
Sandwiched between Jasta and Devildriver was the surprising addition of Mr.Big who, in the form of Billy Sheahan and Paul Gilbert bring a certain level of rock royalty to the party. They may have been a brave addition to a bill that includes At The Gates but, throwing devil horns as they enter the stage, the band know exactly how to rock hard enough to keep a crowd like the Bloodstock one happy and, given the onslaught that was about to follow, it would appear that their bluesy rock was the perfect respite.
Devildriver have one mode – fucking heavy – and, today, Bloodstock got that right in the mush. Headbanging, inciting circle pits and spitting out his lyrics, Dez Fafara was in no mood to go easy on the Bloodstock crowd although, as the band dished out the likes of “Grinfucked”, looking out from the stage, judging by the sight of thousands of metal fans smashing the bejeezus out of each other, Bloodstock was just as up for this as Dez and his outlaws were.
Given the standard of musicianship bred into the Swedish metal scene, it comes as no surprise to find that melodic metal heavyweights At The Gates don’t do bad shows. By the time they are cruising through “Slaughter Of The Soul” early on in proceedings, it’s clear that this is going to be another gobsmacking display from the band. Frontman Thomas Linberg stalks the stage roaring out his lyrics as a pristine sound ensures that every majestic, shredding riff rings beautifully around Catton Hall.
So we come to the final instalment of Bloodstock 2018 and what a weekend it has been – a true triumph for heavy music as operatic metal titans Nightwish bring the main stage to a close with a suitably dramatic set. The stage kicked off three days ago with the raucous hardcore of Feed The Rhino and, while we’ve had all manner of memorable sets take place on these very boards, Nightwish make sure that they take things up a notch or ten with the kind of show that befits a festival headliner.
Of course the operatic vocals and the swathes of symphonic metal are not to everyone’s taste but, of the sixteen plus thousand in attendance, those numbers are in the minority as the band treat their faithful fans to a near perfect set. If it needs emphasising any further, epic doesn’t even come close to describing the kind of show the Finnish band put on both visually and musically as the likes of “Wish I Had An Angel”, “Amaranth” and “Nemo” saw vocalist Floor Jansen putting in a note-perfect display. Couple that with magical visuals, dramatic symphonics courtesy of Nightwish mainstay Tuomas Holopainen and temperature raising pyros, this was as perfect a main stage headline set as Bloodstock could have wished for.
By now we’re running on empty but we muster up enough energy for one last trip to the Sophie Lancaster stage to worship at the altar of the mighty Watain. Much has been said about their eagerly anticipated appearance over the course of the weekend and, as the band stride out in front of a packed tent, they are clearly going to make sure Bloodstock 2018 signs off in truly evil style.
A dramatic stage lights up the Sophie tent as, following frontman Erik Daniellson’s equally dramatic entrance, the band thunder into their set. Savage doesn’t even begin to describe the ferocity with which the Swedish black metal heavyweights pummel through the likes of “Nuclear Alchemy” and, while the Bloodstock masses may be struggling to keep up with the ferocity of the set, there isn’t one disappointed face the crowd as, yet again, Bloodstock organisers have put on the kind of fantastic weekend that really does prove that the devil really does have all the best tunes.