And so the final day of an astonishing Bloodstock Open Air weekend arrives and we kick it off with the brutal death metal of UK stalwarts Bloodshot Dawn who, despite being two members down, rip through their set with devastating precision. A crushing way to start the day.

Sitting between the brutal death metal of Bloodshot Dawn and Scottish metalcore crew Bleed From Within are New Wave of British Heavy Metal legends Diamond Head. The perfect band for the Bloodstock crowd, the heavy metal outfit get heads banging with crowd-pleasers like “Helpless” going down a storm with fans new and old.

Scottish maulers Bleed From Within continue the early afternoon onslaught on the main stage with a set that was equally as ferocious as their Download Pilot set back in June. The Glaswegian band waste no time in getting the pit moving with frontman Scott Kennedy overseeing the mayhem his metalcore bandmates are inciting with eyebrow destroying flames shooting up all around him.

Bloodstock Open Air (w/ Vexed, Bleed From Within, Diamond Head & More) @ Catton Hall (Swadlincote, UK) on August 15, 2021

The beauty of festivals like Bloodstock is wandering into one of the smaller stages and finding your new favourite bands which is exactly what happened with Pist. Hailing from Manchester, the band tore through a set of sludgy, brutal metal even managing to throw in a dash of humour when their guitarist’s instrument died mid-song.

Also tearing the Sophie Lancaster Stage a new one were UK tech-metal bruisers Vexed who were supporting their awesome Culling Culture album. Even more brutal on stage, vocalist Megan Targett threw herself around the stage howling like a woman possessed as any thoughts of easing into the home run for the festival went straight out of the window.

One particularly divisive choice for the weekend was the addition of Irish punks Therapy? but as soon as the band screamed into opener “Potato Junkie” followed by a ferocious “Knives”, the Bloodstock crowd collectively lost their shit. Grinning demonically at the scenes in front of him, frontman Andy Cairns led the Irish outfit through a hit-packed set including “Stories” and “Teethgrinder” before the band finished wiping the floor with the Bloodstock crowd with thunderous renditions of “Nowhere” and “Screamager”.

A swift bit of confusion followed as a late change to the bill saw Black Tongue replaced by New Blood Stage headliners Ghosts of Atlantis. Hailing from the darkest depths of Suffolk, and featuring members of Devilement amongst their ranks, the wealth of experience shone through during an impressive debut gig for the dark-hearted metal band.

Heading into the home straight now it was party time over on the main stage as the ludicrously brilliant Gloryhammer raced out onto the stage. The main area is awash with inflatables as the band dish up the kind of symphonic power metal that this Bloodstock crowd would lap up all day long. Of course, it’s completely ridiculous and totally over-the-top but, as the crowd and band unite as one for the fantastic “Gloryhammer”, you couldn’t have picked a better match.

Back into the Sophie Lancaster Stage for the brutal death/black metal of Necronautical. Having formed back in 2014, the extreme metal band have gone through numerous forms during their time and are set to release their Slain in the Spirit disc shortly after they’d laid waste to Bloodstock. Delivery a dark, brutal, epic set, Necronautical certainly lived up to their reputation.

And so Bloodstock Open Air comes to an end with two of the most legendary British acts the heavy metal world has seen. First up though, and speaking of legends, who better to introduce Saxon than a true icon Brian Blessed? Attending his first-ever festival, the legend addressed the crowd with a huge smile on his face as the Bloodstock masses made him one of their own.

Having headlined the first-ever Bloodstock twenty years ago, metal legends Saxon hit the stage for this extra-special set and, with frontman Bif Byford asking for the volume to be turned up early on, this was on course to being one of those truly iconic Bloodstock sets. Powering through a career-spanning set, Byford and Co delivered the perfect setlist for this crowd. Heads banged as the heavy metal icons powered through “Wheels of Steel”, “Denim and Leather”, “The Eagle has Landed” and “Dogs of War” to the delight of this denim-clad crowd. Bringing their set to a close with a thunderous, and audience-picked rendition of “Princess of the Night”, Saxon were the perfect way to kickstart the big finale for this year’s Bloodstock party.

Bloodstock Open Air (w/ Saxon, Judas Priest and more) @ Catton Hall (Swadlincote, UK) on August 15, 2021

What a finale though! Helping Bloodstock celebrate their 20th anniversary while celebrating their own monumental fiftieth celebration, who better to close out the main stage weekend at Bloodstock than the mighty Judas Priest? A huge cross lowers down from the roof of the stage as the band hit the stage for a two-hour set that had everything from crowd-pleasers to not-heard-in-forever dusted off numbers.

Stalking the stage, frontman Rob Halford was a true showman while guitarist Richie Faulkner pulled every single pose out of the rock guitarist handbook. For all the posing and strutting about though, it was the set-list that made this night truly one of those unforgettable nights. Opening with “One Shot At Glory”, the band powered through the likes of “You Got Another Thing Comin’”, “Turbo Lover”, “Painkiller” and more. Aside from soaking in these metal classics, Priest treated their hardcore fans to a stack off rarely heard offerings from their back catalogue including “Rocka Rolla” and “Dissident Aggressor” while dusting off “Invader” for a live debut.

Unsurprisingly, this packed out arena lapped up every minute of it but Priest still had one ace up their sleeve as guitarist Glenn Tipton joined the band onstage for “Metal Gods”, “Breaking The Law” and set closer “Livin’ After Midnight”. It was an emotional finale to a weekend that had been emotional on every level. From the moment gates opened on the Wednesday and the hordes poured into Catton Hall in their thousands, Bloodstock organisers made sure they had the weekend of their lives and, with the heavy metal legends Judas Priest closing out the main bill, what a way to sign off.

Tickets for Bloodstock Open Air 2022, featuring Lamb of God and Mercyful Fate are on sale now from the Official Bloodstock Open Air Website

Poster for Bloodstock Open Air 2022

I have an unhealthy obsession with bad horror movies, the song Wanted Dead Or Alive and crap British game shows. I do this not because of the sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll lifestyle it affords me but more because it gives me an excuse to listen to bands that sound like hippos mating.