Bloodstock 2022: Sunday Review

Bloodstock 2022: Sunday Review
Words: Dan Barnes, Paul Hutchings, Richard Oliver, Sam Jones, Neil Bolton, Julian Pepper
Photos: Tim Finch

I arrive on site Sunday to the distressing news Life of Agony won’t be playing today due to ill health. But, such unfortunate circumstance opens the door for Skarlett Riot, who are bumped up from the S.O.P.H.I.E stage to open main stage proceedings for Bloodstock’s finale. They make a fair fist of their opportunity with a set composed of mainly Invicta era songs and giving the slowly increasing crowd a taste of that Euro-metal Bloodstock laps up. [DB]

To say the apples haven’t fallen from the tree is to do both Griffin Taylor and Simon Crahan a disservice. Sure, Vended do have something of the Slipknot about their sound, but when you’re the progeny of two of the creative elements in the biggest metal band of the past two-decades, it’s inevitable something is going to rub off. Ded to Me and Burn my Misery are coloured by some Nu influences, which becomes sort of obvious when you consider where all this began. [DB]

Many a gate keeper’s eyes rolled to the sky when Butcher Babies were announced, but their party, numetal sound should work well on this stage, and in this heat. Right from the outset a sea of pink and black moshers form a pit and enjoy the scene in front of them. Obviously most of the crowd focus on the two front ladies who have the fans in the palm of their hands. Heidi Shepard sprints and leaps around the stage performing high kicks that would make a young David Lee Roth jealous, while her partner in crime Carla Harvey growls and pours out aggression from her throat. 'Ignighter'” has already whipped the place into a frenzy and this state is never lost. In fact when the girls invite the crowd to come over the top to high five them, the masses duly oblige. The girls keep their promise to high five every one that makes the pilgrimage over the crowd and the excellent security assist in every way. 'Magnolia Blvd.' caps off this entertaining set well with a bouncing, pitting crowd lapping up every second. [NB]

As of writing this up, Vio-lence have never played the United Kingdom, until the Sunday of Bloodstock. Originally slated for 2020 before everything kicked off with Covid, Vio-lence were one of the best received bands announced for the upcoming Bloodstock. Now, finally, UK fans have their chance to lose their minds to Vio-lence. Sean Killian and Phil Demmel are amongst the biggest names in the band and the crowd are quickly believing the hype regarding this performance. The band themselves are excited, it’s a long time coming. Crowd favourites such as 'Upon The Cross', 'Kill On Command'” and 'Phobophobia' are performed to ecstatic response, no less because of the sheer number of crowdsurfers. I lost count with how many shoes I had go over my head, the crowd security really had their work cut out for them. The band were so excited to be here, at long last; Sean Killian has lost none of his stage presence as he effortlessly commands the audience through a stern, powerful gaze and the ability to grasp a microphone demonstrating years of experience. It was the most ruthless thrash show I’ve been to in years. I’d love to see Vio-lence play a more dedicated UK tour. [SJ]

Drafted in at the eleventh hour following the untimely death of Black Dahlia Murder’s Trevor Strnad, back in May, Venom Inc. take to the Bloodstock main stage with only one ambition in mind: to celebrate the fortieth anniversary of one of the seminal albums in the whole of Heavy Metal. Yes, Black Metal is forty this year and Venom, Inc are about to play it live, back-to-back for the first time ever. A gaffer-taping of the Demolition Man’s microphone is needed during To Hell and Back and his raw-throated rendition of Buried Alive oozes the panic and desperation inherent in the song. We all know that it’s not a proper Bloodstock unless Nick Barker is playing drums with someone, and this year, it for Venom, Inc, adding that solid base upon which Mantas can weave his fiendish treats. Teacher’s Pet is played with a tongue in the cheek; Sacrifice is filled with a Motorhead vibe and Countess Bathory feels as powerful today as it did back in 1982. Given that Mercyful Fate trod the boards last night and Black Metal is being played start to finish today, it’s a wonder the Prince of Darkness has any time at all this weekend to conjure diabolical plans, let alone put them into practise. [DB]

Cattle Decapitation’s billing between the forces of darkness finds the death-grinders in particularly unyielding mood. From the commencing scream and Travis Ryan’s parody of Spinal Tap’s opening; to the closing notes of Death Atlas, San Diego’s most animal friendly sons offer no shred of comfort to the baking crowd at the front of the stage. Almost immediately a circle pit has formed and, regardless of the heat, those pits remain in perpetual motion throughout the show. The ironically titled Bring Back the Plague, recorded in 2019, seems to have been a foreshadowing of things to come, as is Plagueborne. There’s someone held shoulder high, wearing a pink Morph suit, who seems to be operating on pure instinct by this stage, as are most of the participants in another bout of circle pitting. Travis varies his vocal style from guttural growls to high-pitched screams almost as much as King Diamond did last night. Forced Gender Reassignment, Finish Them and Time’s Cruel Curtain finds Cattle Decapitation on a furious, but never monotonous, mood. I’m off to see them again on Wednesday at the Rebellion Bar in Manchester, so a direct comparison between arenas will be interesting. Watch this space! [DB]

Dark Funeral make the reunion of 2013 bands complete, with King Diamond on last night and Lamb of God due to take the stage in a few hours’ time. Appearing on the back of this years’ We Are the Apocalypse album, the stage is decked with banners and logos, and the invocation of the Dark Lord begins. Not dipping directly into the new record, it is Unchain my Soul that starts the rite, with the Swedes out to reclaim the title of Bloodstock’s most evil band. The Arrival of Satan’s Empire, The Secrets of the Black Arts and Open the Gates all make their demonic presences felt, as does an early in the set outing for My Funeral, usually saved for the end. Understandably, it is the two Heljarmadr fronted albums, Where Shadows Forever Reign and the latest, that dominate the show. Nailed to the Cross could be a Deicide title and Leviathan demonstrates Dark Funeral’s creative mindset as being one of Black Metal’s most inventive and innovative acts. [DB]

As they fast approach their forty-fifth anniversary, Killing Joke finally make it to Bloodstock. The Post-Punk legends are one of the most influential acts of their (or any other) generation and have inspired countless artists along the way. Check out Metallica’s version of The Wait or Fear Factory’s Millennium to see the undeniably important place Killing Joke hold in extreme music to this day. No strangers to a Metal festival, the Notting Hill four-piece do not need anything other than their instruments to create one of the most unholy, yet beautiful, sounds of the weekend.

Starting with the comment: “We are the beginning of World War 3.” and cranking into Wardance -just to get the crowd warmed up - it was going to be interesting to see how Killing Joke’s dense music would translate to a late-Sunday afternoon throng. Jaz Coleman is rarely the most interactive frontman, and the band’s style could be off-putting to the uninitiated. But those of us who love a Gathering, soak up every beat of Paul Ferguson’s drum, every low note of Youth’s bass and every chord from Geordie. Fifth man, Roi Robertson continues his stint on keyboards, adding even more layers to each classic tune.

Requiem, Eighties, The Death and Resurrection Show, Total Invasion, Pssyche and Pandemonium sound massive through the Bloodstock PA; I Am the Virus, from 2015’s Pylon, seems to have been the result of consulting esoteric forces. Not content to play a set of heavy numbers, Killing Joke mix in trance-like moments during Money is Not Our God, adding even more to the overall breath of the set.

As the show comes to an end there’s an image on the screen from the back of the stage of Jaz silhouetted against the darkening sky, the crowd baying for more; and it is an image that encapsulates Killing Joke to perfection. Probably the most nihilistic band of the weekend and certainly one of the most enjoyable. No Love Like Blood, though, curiously enough. [DB]

So, it is left up to Lamb of God to bring the 2022 mainstage to its close. After the eye-popping visuals of the past two night, Randy and co opt instead for an assault on the ears. Last time they played this stage, back in 2013, the band had been through the legal wringer following the death of a fan in the Czech Republic and the subsequent court case. Naturally, the effects of those proceedings still weighed heavy on the band and their performance was slightly below the high energy show for which they are known.

The intervening years have seen Lamb of God crafted and sharpened on the stone of touring until they have become one of the scenes most accomplished and reliable live acts. Kicking off with Memento Mori and into Ruin, the Sunday headliners aren’t about to let no Danes or Poles steal their thunder, not without a fight at least. Randy is a mass of kinetic energy, with dreadlocks flying all over the place; the band are as tight as their touring history and billing would suggest and they end Bloodstock with a greatest hits (so far) set, including Walk with Me in Hell, Omerta, 11th Hour and Now You’ve Got Something to Die For.

Omens is due for release in October and they add Nevermore and the title-track to the set, the former being of the same cloth as the earlier releases, big, fast and angry, whereas the latter is built around more of a Pantera-style groove. That they play songs from all their albums from As the Palaces Burn onwards shows the level of consistency in Lamb of God’s material and the encores of Vigil, Laid to Rest and Redneck cement their position as one of the new flag-bearers of Heavy Metal.

Just as Parkway Drive did back in 2019, Lamb of God’s show proves Bloodstock is evolving into a place where big bands can find a home. [DB]

Sunday morning hasn’t made the S.O.P.H.I.E. stage any less stifling, but what can you do? It is summer after all!

Pelugion, a Coventry-based three piece in the mould of Sabbath, lay down some high energy down tempo riffs in their short allotted time. [DB]

Oxford stoner lords Desert Storm greet a large crowd the Sophie tent. The talk of the talents of this stoner/doom band have spread and many are waiting to be enthralled. 'Vengeful Gods' begins this set, and from its outset bass player Matthew Dennett takes centre stage and displays his skills to an appreciative crowd. Matt Ryan’s ever impressive vocals soar around the tent on a bed of sludgy heavy tunes. Excellent new tunes are thrown into the mix before we return to the familiar of 'Black Bile' and 'The Machine' from 2020’s 'Omens'. Desert Storm crush the Sophie tent with power and skill that has seen them reach this level, a level that can only be surpassed with an upcoming release this year. [NB]

There’s probably something fitting in Mancunian hardcore/ crossover merchants, Guilt Trip having named their latest EP Rain City. Being someone who spends a lot of time in Manchester I can attest to the higher-than-average level of precipitation and it’s a wonder more people haven’t written songs about this. As has been proved over this weekend, the UK hardcore scene is in fine shape and while Guilt Trip are one of the more straightforward practitioners they are no less valid an addition than any of their more experimental contemporaries. Laying down some massive beats and bigger breakdowns, Guilt Trip are here to ruin your day through sharp and aggressive tunes. Admitting this is the biggest crowd the band have played to and a love of Machine Head, there is something of the Slayer about the band at times. [DB]

Bolstered to a five-piece with the arrival in 2021 of guitarist Cristobal Galan, Valencia’s black metallers Noctum don’t take any prisoners. Temperatures inside the Sophie Tent were rumoured to have hit 50 degrees, but that didn’t stop the Spaniards who stoked the heat by several degrees with their intense furnace blasting black metal. Focused with a scary intensity, lead singer Beleth prowls the stage, his snarling roars unsettling and frantic. The band deliver blisteringly fast and hypnotic inducing black metal, and despite the black leather and studs, they maintained a cool few could match. Brutal in their aural assault, Noctum surely added a few more buyers for their forthcoming album by the end of their set. [PH]

Church Road Records signees, Heriot (from the Old English, meaning War-Gear and a death-duty during the late Anglo-Saxon period) are rightly reaping the rewards of their Profound Morality debut. The exploration of despair and desolation transfers to the Bloodstock stage through a combination of industrial soundscapes and crushing weight, leaving an already wounded crowd, decimated. [DB]

Orbit Culture from Sweden take us into unfamiliar ground where Metallica is filtered through the Gothenburg sound. Melodic Death Metal usually goes down a storm at Bloodstock and Orbit Culture is no exception. [DB]

Ill Nino are a blast from the past with the Latina version of groove and Nu metals. The band aren’t about to disappoint their fans and plumb Revolution Revolucion, Confession and One Nation Under Ground for those wanting to relive their youths. [DB]

Appearance number three for Gregor Mackintosh’s Strigoi, whose darkened doom laden death and crust metal brought a chilling atmosphere despite the heat. That’s three appearances in total for the band mind, and so it was unsurprising that there were a few chinks in the armour. Mackintosh still looks a little out of his comfort zone without his guitar but after a few minor issues, he found his stride which seemed to temper his slightly angry approach and from there on in it was a solid set of crushing riffs and varying tempos. The sight of a circle pit slowed down to little over a step every 30 seconds was quite hysterical. Musically, the band are delivering something a little special, and the new album that is slowly being pieced together should be one of the most anticipated releases in recent times. [PH]

A long line of press photographers (including The Razor's Edge Deputy Editor) lining up single file at the side of the stage can only mean one thing, pyros! This hypotheses is proved correct as black metal lords Belphegor take to a stage draped in darkness, the flames then begin the explode creating a hellish atmosphere . Conquering the Sophie stage immediately with 2017’s 'Baphomet' the Austrian Black Metal demons show they are easily capable of entertaining a large crowd. A couple of new tracks from “The Devils” are performed. The chanting lyrics of 'Virtus Asinaria - Prayer' float around the tent with satanic intent while fire and damnation surround the band. The demonic overtones are never lost and the Bloodstock faithful soak up every diabolical second of it. The ten song set is complete and it’s time to escape into the cooling Derbyshire air. [NB]

Originally scheduled to close the Thursday party night at the festival it actually worked out to be a stroke of genius to have The Night Flight Orchestra close out the festival headlining the Sophie stage on the Sunday night. After the skull fracturing brutality of the Lamb Of God set on the Ronnie James Dio stage there was a worry that there would not be much of a crowd for some slick and cheesy pop rock tunes but any fears were quickly allayed as The Night Flight Orchestra had one of the loudest and most enthusiastic crowds of the entire festival weekend. The Night Flight Orchestra features Bjorn “Speed” Strid and David Andersson from Soilwork but musically are very far removed from said band paying homage to the AOR of the 70’s and 80’s and bands such as Journey, Foreigner and Toto but also taking influence from the pop music of that era. The results are party ready, feel good anthems which went down an absolute storm with the Bloodstock crowd. The Sophie tent was ablaze with singalongs, dad dancing and one of if not the biggest conga I have ever seen. The band themselves seemed taken aback with how warm a reception they got and this adoration and enthusiasm from the crowd seemed to enthuse the band to play one of the most fun sets of music I’ve witnessed in years. We were treated to party tunes such as Sometimes The World Ain’t Enough, Divinyls, If Tonight Is Our Only Chance and Gemini as well as brand new single Black Stars And Diamonds. An encore of White Jeans and West Ruth Ave left the crowd wanting more and it is clear that The Night Flight Orchestra are a band that need to make a return to Bloodstock in the future. It was an absolute joyous end to a fantastically fun yet challenging weekend. [RO]

For the third day in a row the New Blood and Jägermeister stages offer up the best in British underground talent!

Making their first appearance at Bloodstock were Hertfordshire based death/doom metallers Denali. Comprised of members of bands such as Countless Skies and Everest Queen, Denali take influence from bands such as Katatonia, My Dying Bride and Swallow The Sun and perform a bleak and mournful style of death doom with slow lumbering rhythms and a bleak cold atmosphere. Despite playing in the stifling hot New Blood tent the bands bleak and cold atmosphere was maintained as well as there being a very healthy crowd in attendance. The band performed songs off their debut self-titled E.P. as well as a brand new song which sounded absolutely fantastic. Despite some technical issues delaying the start of their set Denali were able to perform for their full scheduled 30 minutes. Definitely a very talented band who are one to keep an eye on. There aren’t enough bands in the U.K. performing this style of death doom so Denali are a very welcome addition. [RO]

A lot of talk about the fact that Devastator in the New Blood and Vio-lence on the RJD stage clash would only have one winner, and that would be the San Francisco thrashers. Happily this was not the case at all. The New Blood stage is rammed and Devastator enjoy and capsulise on this huge crowd to 'Worship The Goat'. Their blend of Satanic thrash black and roll is infectious and the sweaty masses fly around with air guitars and sore necks. There are no signs of heat stroke or festival fatigue in this tent at this moment. Evil vocals and growls are launched from the stage covering the congregation worshiping below. Having witnessed these guys in smaller venues their ability to entertain a much larger crowd seems effortless. A new tune is thrust upon us before we return to the familiar tunes from 2020’s 'Baptised In Blasphemy'. The clammy moist congregation soaks up every moment and it seems as though the band do also.  [NB]

Wedged on the Jägermeister stage between metal heavyweights Vio-lence and Venom on the main stage are the superbly named Lore of the Woodman. Their 'Leave Everything Aside Now' album had been on constant rotation on the run-up to Bloodstock so I was intrigued to see how they would fare with their more progressive leaning sounds.

There must be something in the water in Milton Keynes as these are the third great band that I’ve reviewed from there! Describing their sound as “a merging of twinkling ethereal guitar lines, interwoven with driving bass melodies, with intricate rhythm and experimental time signatures” is absolutely spot on! Both the band and the crowd are transported into a trance like state during this magical set. All 3 band members (Martin on guitar, Cam on bass and Salvo on drums) are technical masters on their instruments. Martin in particular plays his guitar in a way that I’ve not seen before, helping to build up songs such as '3AM' and 'Lucid' into grandiose crescendos.

The ecstatic crowd reaction at the end of this superb set sums up the performance, which was undoubtedly my highlight of the festival! [JP]

With a name like theirs it’s no surprise that Acid Throne lean towards the doomy/stoner end of the metal spectrum. However, during their heavy as hell set there are definitely elements of hardcore and black metal thrown in the mix, which is a combination that I, and many others at the crammed Jägermeister stage found to their liking.

This four piece from Norwich sure know how to churn out great riffs, getting heads banging and a pit started in the process. Playing tracks from their recently released demo such as 'Confess Your Sins' and 'Forgotten Realms', this is another band who deserve your attention and I look forward to their future releases. [JP]

If grunge is indeed dead then nobody has told Milton Keynes trio Torus as they rip through a set that draws on influences from bands such as Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins and QoTSA. They’ve also tapped into the energy of the grunge/alternative scene, with vocalist/guitarist Alfie and bassist Harry covering every inch of the New Blood stage.

However, this all means nothing if the music is not there to back it upon and I’m pleased to report that it most definitely is! Their debut EP 'Sail' was released earlier this year and it’s these 4 tracks that form the bulk of their set. Stand out track is undoubtedly “Hurt You” with its disjointed riff and earworm of a chorus that you’ll find yourself singing for the rest of the day. This is how you finish a great set, with Alfie, Harry and drummer Jack reaching a great crescendo and leaving the crown screaming for “one more song”! [JP]

And there ends Bloodstock for another year. The early announcement of Killswitch Engage and Megadeth as Friday and Sunday headliners, respectively, caused a buzz around the site since the Friday revelation and gives the faithful something to look forward to as they pack up their camps, lower their flag-poles and trudge back to their homebound transport. See you all in 2023!

Check out our other Bloodstock coverage!

Thursday Review [HERE]
Friday Review [HERE]
Saturday Review [HERE]
Sunday Review [HERE]

Bloodstock Photo Gallery [HERE]

Band Interviews [HERE]

All photo credits: Tim Finch Photography

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