Bloodstock 2022: Saturday Review
Words: Dan Barnes, Tim Finch, Paul Hutchings, Richard Oliver, Sam Jones, Julian Pepper, Neil Bolton
Photos: Tim Finch
Saturday sees Bloodstock again bathed in glorious summer sunshine, but you walk around in the heat like you’re wearing it.
As the sun continued its merciless onslaught of the grounds of Catton Hall, a sizeable and enthusiastic crowd slapped on the factor 50, grabbed a beer (or bottle of water) and headed to front of the main RJD stage in time to see a masterclass by Danish titans Baest. It was Easter Sunday when the band turned Fuel Rock Club in Cardiff into a sweaty mess, and although I was sweating even more watching them outside, their performance was even more majestic. Crushing death metal done properly always ticks my box and these guys do just that. Punishing riffs, driving blast beats and vocalist Simon Olsen’s deafening growls all combine to great effect. They are also fantastic people and Olsen’s humble between song conversation was further evidence. The dedication of ‘Gargoyles’ to the now deceased Trevor Strnad of the Black Dahlia Murder was delivered with sensitivity. By the time the band hit set closer ‘Necro Sapiens’ the curious in the crowd had either run away or been converted. [PH]
Not such a pleasing set from Finnish thrashers Lost Society whose change in direction caused such a media storm not that long ago. Pinning their set on 2020’s ‘No Absolution’ the Finns were heavy enough but their switch to a ,more nu metal style just grates and live it’s even worse. It’s a shame for their earlier work was decent but after 20 minutes this was a set that failed to ignite. Vocalist and rhythm guitarist Samy Elbana delivery is akin to a 1980s hair metal singer whilst the band’s music is jarring to say the least. Still, those that liked it gave the Finns a decent reception and that’s about all you can ask for. [PH]
Finnish Thrashers, Lost Society, have barely more than thirty-minutes to stake their claim and they do so with half-a-dozen slices of groove-laden tunes, custom-made to get the body moving. Concentrating on their last couple of records, the four-piece hit Bloodstock with a combination of Blood on Your Hands, What Have I Done and No Absolution to a growing and appreciative crowd. [DB]
A country/western track plays through the PA, enter a group of men in suits, embroidered with colourful catci and decked in stetsons. What everyone in the 15,000 string crowd is expecting from Spiritworld is certainly not what they are about to get.
Despite the imagery the band play cold, hard death metal with lashings of aggression. As Stu's vocals roar out the riffs come flowing. Riff after glorious riff, the heat may be suffocating but that doesn't stop the band nor the fans as the pits open up. Their style of "death western" is glorious, there are nods to Slayer her and there, but this is a unique show. We warned you before the festival this band would surprise you, we weren't wrong! [TF]
Even though Lorna Shore have been plying their trade since 2010, if feels as though the past twelve-months or so has seen them becoming the world’s default Deathcore darlings. Incorporating massive swathes of bombast with meaty riffs, the New Jersey quintet attract a huge crowd and deliver a appropriately sized show. Although having three full-lengths and four extended plays to cull from, Lorna Shore opts to focus on last year’s …And I Return to Nothingness three track EP, opening their set by playing it in its entirety. Will Ramos delivers a variety of vocal styles as he leads the band through To the Hellfire, Of the Abyss and the title track, switching from rapid fire, ripping delivery to more sedate, almost choral motifs. Matching Ramos are guitarist Adam De Micco and Andrew O’Connor who mesmerise with their technical proficiency and down-right musical marauding. Bodies fly over the crowd and circle pits begin, despite the heat of the day, for the three new tracks: the appropriately named speedy shredder, Sun//Eater; Cursed to Die with its stomping grandiosity and Into the Earth, a song with such a deep rumble that Structural Engineers need to be inspecting the foundations of the stage after the set. All three of these later songs are taken from the forthcoming album Pain Remains, due after the band have joined fellow Bloodstock alumni Parkway Drive and While She Sleeps on an early autumn area trek around the UK. [DB]
Sylosis have always eluded me. At last I had an opportunity to see, once and for all, what the band were all about. What Sylosis lack in theatrics and extremity they make up in the sheer power of the riff. Putting the main stage’s speakers to the test, the immense bass that flows from their performance is not to be trifled with. As the band play, the crowd only continues to swell before Sylosis have a veritable headliner amount of people watching them. Applauding the audience for sticking with them throughout the heat, Sylosis give a supercharged performance that feels much more down to earth than the more bombastic acts we’ve had lately yet it feels deeply necessary to remind us of what truly matters: The riff. A sound so heavy and true they summoned the clouds to block the sun, if only for a moment. I for one, am finally converted to Sylosis. [SJ]
After having to pull out of Bloodstock 2021 for obvious reasons it was a joy to see Jinjer playing this year. The band took to the stage to a sea of blue inflatable balls bouncing across the crowd and a few Ukrainian flags fluttering in the breeze before playing one of the sets of the weekend.
Lead singer Tatiana Shmailyuk totally owns the stage and has the crowd in the palm of her hand, none more so than when she makes an emotional speech about the conflict in her homeland and thanks everyone for their support.
Stand out songs were 'Home Back' and 'Pisces' which perfectly demonstrate Tati’s ability to seamlessly switch from clean to gruff vocals. However, this is definitely no one person band as she is superbly backed by the technically brilliant trio of Roman on guitar, Eugene on bass and Vlad on drums.
'Vortex', the single from their latest album 'Wallflowers', wraps up Jinjer’s set in style and they leave the stage to rapturous applause. [JP]
Having been forced to withdraw from Bloodstock 2021, Bury Tomorrow take to the Ronnie James Dio stage with a point to prove. Veterans of Download and Slam Dunk festivals, Bury Tomorrow is the future of British metal. Big grooves and bigger hooks permeate every song and it’s obvious the band is totally at ease on a big stage. “I’m here to make sure you get your money’s worth.” states singer Daniel Winter-Bates, urging the crowd to circle pit and jump throughout the set. When he asks Security how they’re feeling you know there can only be one outcome. And, sure enough, bodies pile over the barrier in an attempt to break a crowd surfing record.
The Age, More than Mortal and the title track are aired from the Black Flame album, and the last release, Cannibal from 2020, sees its title-track, Choke and Grey (VIXI) played. Blending post hardcore choruses with emo song structures and an aggressive assault has Bury Tomorrow positioned for the long-haul and, with an autumn tour with August Burns Red in the wings, the future is looking bright for these Southampton lads. [DB]
Dimmu Borgir are a band that have had a rocky time with previous Bloodstock appearances. They inevitably have technical problems, are late on stage due to said issues and usually encounter sound problems throughout the set. Well as per tradition the band had their inevitable tech issues and a delayed start to their set and when they did hit the stage the sound was rather lacking and flat. The set itself was a nice mix of old and recent with the bands latest album Eonian covered by Council Of Wolves And Snakes and Ætheric which sat alongside set staples such as Gateways, Puritiania, Progenies Of The Great Apocalypse and Mourning Palace. Due to the delayed start it meant that the set was shortened so it felt like the band were on stage for no time at all. Despite the criticisms this was still an enjoyable set with great performances from the band but it just felt rather lacking and didn’t meet the power and grandiosity of the bands music. [RO]
I feel incredibly lucky to say that I can review Mercyful Fate’s first UK show in three decades. For many, myself included, this was a show absolutely not to be missed. The smoke grew, the ambience collected and King Diamond himself, in a devil’s headdress, descended the stage amidst satanic atmosphere. Tracks like 'Satan’s Fall', 'Curse Of The Pharaoh' and 'Evil' brought vast roars from the audience. Throughout the show, King Diamond is changing his outfit, slowly shedding the headdress and his red gown into something far more akin to his classic look. Giving people a first taste of a new, and nine minute no less, track, Mercyful Fate appear to have returned not as a reunion but rather, a restart. Highlighting the various members of the band, King Diamond kept bringing the audience back into the fold. We were as much a part of the show as the band were. I’ve never experience a Bloodstock headliner go by so quickly. It was an absolute joy, one I’ll never forget. At the end, King Diamond hopes it’s not the last time Mercyful Fate play Bloodstock. So do I. [SJ]
The S.O.P.H.I.E. Lancaster stage should offer some blessed relief from this damnable heat, yet only the occasional cooling breeze wafting off the Trent as it wends its way passed the site gives comfort. I’m starting to contemplate a rethink on my life-choices as clearly the fires of Hell are not going to suit me.
Sister Shotgun is the siren to entice people into the tent and the band’s Goth Metal vibe is very much in the vein of those indoor Derby shows. [DB]
Manchester’s Mastiff don’t appear to be in the mood for anything amicable and, instead smash the tent with some Saturday morning d-beat confrontation. Fat, chugging riffs, massive breakdowns and the heaviest of hardcores means this is a quality slice of UKHC, with a sprinkle of sludge-infusion to spice up the show. [DB]
Pupil Slicer delivery the kind of grinding mathcore that Dillinger used to dally with. Their 2021 Mirrors record heralded the arrival of a new and exciting voice among the pantheon of up and coming UK acts. The bulk of the set is taken from that release, with only Thermal Runaway not included on the full-length, yet such is the breadth of scope of that record that it feels like we’re being served up an entire banquet. Vilified is directed at every one who tries to keep you down; Martyrs sees a wall of death and Kate does some PR for Mercyful Fate’s impending performance, as they played on the same festival bill a couple of nights before Bloodstock. [DB]
Cage Fight were not so long ago on tour with Cro-Mags and they appear to have learned much from the New York legends. Following Pupil Slicer was never going to be an enviable position to be in, but this four-piece make the S.O.P.H.I.E. stage their own with a set of unbridled anger and aggression, directed at any and everyone who finds themselves in Cage Fight’s crosshairs. No quarter is given as the band serve up destructive riff and devastating breakdowns aplenty, with Rachel adopting the kind of scary persona Candace Kucsulain has been prowling stages with over the past few years. [DB]
The collective personnel of Cyhra reads like a who’s-who of Bloodstocks past. Featuring formers members of Amaranthe, In Flames and Kamelot the band are a welcome throw-back to the shows of old. [DB]
Defects blend hardcore, modern metal and even a bit of pop into their brand of metalcore and, although they don’t attract the biggest S.O.P.H.I.E. crowd of the weekend they cannot be accused of short-changing those of us who did venture into the tent to catch them play. Lockdown is a barked-verse diatribe against the last two years; lighters illuminate the ballad, During The Wake (possibly?) and the most ambitious wall of death is attempted, ending more as a whimper than a bang. But, you can only work with what you’ve got and the sheer dedication to their craft has earned this band a new fan. [DB]
Having been around since the 1980s, Switzerland’s Samael have quietly gone about their advance through Europe’s extreme music scene with the stealth of a Ninja. Having worn many different guises in that time, from Black Metal acolytes to Industrial drones, Samael have always infused their music with high quality playing and a myriad ideas. Following the intro tape, they drop into Black Trip from Ceremony of Opposites and the symphonically black Rain taken from 1996’s Passengers platter. Samael have always mixed the dark and sinister with the cold and industrial, giving their sound a nuance that can sometimes be missing from the blast-beat merchants. When you’re hewn from the same national creative rock as Celtic Frost and Coroner, it feels like mediocracy is not an option. This is the kind of festival set most bands would kill for: covering the whole of the band’s history, from 1991’s Into the Pentagram through to Hegemony’s band-named track, Samael play it almost perfectly, enthralling the large crowd and reminding everyone present they are still a force to be reckoned with. [DB]
Blood Youth are very much a shining example of the direction of extreme music. Not content to exist in a single genre or be pigeon-holed, the band channel their angst and rage through gothic, progressive and neo-Post Metal. Able to switch from Type O Negative style laid back grooves to pummelling riffs, seemingly at ease, Blood Youth embody an emotional vulnerability that oozes self-preservation. Ones to watch, without a shadow of a doubt. [DB]
Ferocious Dog would seem like a square peg in Bloodstock’s round hole; their Celtic folk punk more akin to Rebellion than Catton Park. That is, however, until you remember Bloodstock’s love of a good old jig. And jig they did. For the hour that Ferocious Dog occupy the stage the capacity audience is putty in the band’s hands. Wall to wall, front to back, there’s barely a body in the entire place not compelled to either bop, jump or wave in what appears to be unbridled enthusiasm. [DB]
Replacing Hatebreed as top dogs for Saturday are Sheffield bruisers, Malevolence, whose star is certainly in the ascendency; and with Nuclear Blast in their corner, it feels as though the sky is the limit for these lads. It’s not hyperbole either, as a constant bout of touring, stretching back to the Download Pilot of 2021 and including, Bloodstock, Slam Dunk, a surprise slot at Outbreak, and an opening slot on the Architects’ arena tour sees this five-piece honed to perfection.
Album number three saw the light of day earlier in the summer and Malevolence are so confident in their product that they smash out half-a-dozen of its tracks to an expectant and densely packed crowd. Life Sentence, Still Waters Run Deep, Higher Place and the album’s title track all see the light of the darkening day. Karma has the band joined onstage by Will of Lorna Shore and the triumphant set climaxes with On Broken Glass.
The Lockdown EP that is The Other Side has its three tracks all brought out, including a guest spot from Harry of Blood Youth and the now obligatory Konan Hall led ballad that is the title track of that record.
The band themselves are as tight as you would expect them to be and Alex prowls the stage like a caged animal, barking abrasive instructions to the massed bodies.
Such is the potential of Malevolence that it’s difficult to go to a show these days without being inundated with their merchandise adorning at least every twentieth person, but it is something they thoroughly deserve and have worked hard to achieve. Their future as the leading light in the exploding UK Hardcore scene is assured, as is their status as S.O.P.H.I.E. stage headliner. [DB]
As ever the party continued throughout the day over on the New Blood stage highlighting the best of the British underground.
London thrashers Imperium had stormed their regions M2TM competition and the five-piece attracted a sizeable crowd for their early evening set. Bristling with a confidence that comes from regular playing, Imperium ripped into their set with gusto. ‘Ragnarok’ and some excellent audience participation on the band’s anthem ‘Here Comes the Night’ along with driving mosh pits increased the temperature even higher. As the sweat poured off those on stage, it was just as moist in the pit. Their 30 minute set flew by, and suddenly it was over. The boys did themselves proud from start to finish and it’ll be interesting to see how they push on from here. [PH]
For the second year in a row little old Telford (home of The Razor's Edge) is represented at Bloodstock. Recall the Remains take the honours this year as a last minute call up to replace Headpress. A band I have watched through multiple M2TM competitions over the years, they took a break this year and ended up at Bloodstock anyway!
They open with a blisteringly fast number, front man Jacob appears through a whirlwind of dreadlocks and flailing limbs to climb his podium centre stage. Throughout the half hour set he trades his brash vocals with bassist Jordan’s more melodic stylings. Their set is full of brutal licks and the fans lap it up. What an opportunity and the world is now this bands oyster! [TF]