Bloodstock Festival 2019 – Part 1
Reviewed by: Robbie Maguire
A typical British summers day was forecast for the first full day of Bloodstock Open Air. Therefore, the sensible decision to don the wellies and raincoats was made. The signs were ominous with cars already wheel spinning in the muddy car park at 10am on the first day!
The skies darkened but the rains held off as Incite did well in warming up a decent sized crowd as they opened up the main stage, despite it being still early. A tough position for Incite but a great opportunity and with the sound a bit muddy they blasted through a short set of groove orientated 'nu'-ish metal. The riffs were there, as was the enthusiasm but as harsh as it sounds, it was all a bit samey. It certainly didn't deter the circle pitters from getting their early morning bit of exercise in.
The crowd had swelled quite considerably by the time British thrash veterans Xentrix took to the main stage. Despite the sound not quite at its best, the only representatives from the British big four on the Bloodstock bill still thrashed their way through a seven song set playing two new cuts from the excellent recent album 'Bury the Pain'. These seemed to go down pretty favourably although the classics 'For Whose Advantage' and 'No Compromise' seemed to generate a bigger reaction with the crowd . A crowd who despite the bands best efforts were fairly muted.
A definite air of anticipation and excitement was present by the time Death Angel followed Xentrix on the main Stage. For a band with such a strong back catalogue it must be so hard choosing a setlist of seven or eight songs to play. Highlights were 'Voracious Souls' which despite being over 30 years old still sounds so good. This was followed by the fairly recent tune 'The Moth'. With the sound having improved considerably Death Angel were tight and frontman Mark Osegueda looking at times genuinely humbled by the awesome reception and reaction they received.
The strength of bands on the main stage early on meant there was only a short window to pop over to the 'New Blood' or 'Sophie Lancaster' stages to see what was going on. It must be pointed out that one of the biggest positives of Bloodstock is the accessibility of everything. Whilst it feels and looks like a massive festival in quality of bands and amount of people it is still small enough in size to get around quickly and easily and most importantly retains a really great atmosphere.
Surprise band of the day were Metal Church. A band I'd known of for years but never been into. Again the sound was so near perfect for a festival and they seemed to relish playing their thrashy brand of heavy metal, stuffed full of riffs to a sizeable main stage crowd.
The heavens opened just as Metal Church finished and the biblical rains as cliché as it sounds nearly saw Soulfly playing to a handful of wet diehard fans. The downpour thankfully cleared and the crowds returned in their numbers to see Max Cavelera ease slowly and at first it seemed uncomfortably into a very engaging and commanding performance. Max certainly appeared much more comfortable without the guitar, or at least when not playing it. Mark Rizzo was more than capable of delivering the guitar duties which allowed Max to grow into a performance where he seemed a confident and definitely happy frontman.
Eager to catch Damnation's Hammer on the Sophie stage, I left Soulfly early over at the main stage. I wished I'd got there sooner to be honest. Basically, they were awesome! Band of the day and I only caught two songs. Easily the heaviest and tightest band on Friday, Damnation's Hammer certainly let their no-nonsense, doomy riffing heavy metal do the talking. Anyone with an interest in Crowbar and Triptykon I suggest you check these guys out.
Tesseract, whilst being a huge band within the heavy progressive metal genre seemed an odd fit to the “metal” bill that was booked on the main stage. Their brand of very heavy technical prog certainly went down well with a hardcore group of fans but the general crowd had reduced somewhat and the expansive wall of noise seemed to go on for a long, long time!
Powerwolf certainly bought the stage show, the set dressed as a castle and the band in full costume and make up. Their brand of theatrical entertainment seemed to go down very well with the power metal faithful.
Thankfully over at the Sophie Stage Raging Speedhorn were bringing their own brand of brutal pounding heavy metal to a possibly smaller than expected crowd for a special guest slot. The double vocal attack of Frank and Dan Cook (standing in for John) together with their huge riffs provided a great sound was lapped up by the enthusiastic crowd.
With the long Journey home an early getaway was in order, which meant not seeing Sabaton or Grand Magus. Despite this and knowing that both those bands would put on a great show, I'd seen some awesome bands in the company of wonderful people. So, If you are reading this and thinking of going to Bloodstock next year; firstly I thank you for getting this far and secondly I'd say do it. Book your ticket now. Next year marks the 20th anniversary. It's is a great festival and with Vio-Lence, Sacred Reich and Black Dahlia Murder already been announced for 2020 there’s nothing stopping you.