Bloodstock Festival… the only major festival in the UK that caters towards the more extreme side of heavy metal. This is the place people go to see the likes of Cannibal Corpse, Trivium, Rob Zombie & Napalm Death perform on stage in the sun. 15,000 metal-heads descended on Catton Park, Derbyshire to be part of a weekend of drunken debauchery & extreme heavy metal.
2015 saw some of the more divisive headliners Bloodstock has ever had. Trivium as the Friday night headliners, Within Temptation as the Saturday & Rob Zombie as the Sunday night closer. However if the headliners weren’t your cup of tea then the undercard for most days was filled with plenty to keep even the most brutal of metal fans happy.
Thursday night is opening night for Bloodstock with a handful of bands playing in the Sophie Lancaster Stage. This is Bloodstocks 2nd stage & is situated within a large tent. The bands that play on Thursday tend to lean towards the more fun side of rock & metal & Desecration (5/10) toilet humour is about as funny as a rock to the face. Musically they aren’t bad but fail to really light the crowd up. Red Rum (7/10) do a much better job afterwards with their own brand of pirate metal. A rousing version of ‘They’re taking the hobbits to Isengard’ goes down particularly well.
Friday’s opening main on the Ronnie James Dio stage (the main stage) is a bland-sounding Nuclear Assault (5/10). Thankfully Raging Speedhorn (9/10) really gets things going afterwards. The sound quality is excellent & the band seem really pleased by the large crowd they draw in. Armored Saint (8/10) are up next & really impress, John Bush’s vocals are perfect & his energy is infectious.
The sun comes out just in time for the black metal glory that is Belphegor (8/10). Black metal doesn’t have much of a home this weekend on the main stage but Belphegor do an amazing job of showing why it is such an important genre within metal. Enslaved (7/10) follow on & really showcase what makes them such a popular band.
Over at the Sophie Lancaster stage Fire Red Empress (7/10) & their hard rock patter makes for a nice change from the extreme metal so far. They draw in a decent crowd & seem to really enjoy their brief time on stage. Hang The Bastard (9/10) are incredible within the tight confines of the tent really allowing their music to just sound immense. Watch this band; they are going to be huge.
Back on the main stage, the band of the weekend comes out for their special guest slot. Sabaton (10/10) are quite simply amazing. So much positivity on stage, huge sounding songs that get everyone involved & a stage show that just wows. If you weren’t a fan before, you were afterwards.
We actually felt sorry for Trivium (9/10) having to follow such an act & the boys don’t quite get there but it is still an excellent set filled with plenty of new & old songs. Matt Heafy’s banter on stage reminds you that they are at heart, metal fans too & most who watched went away happy.
Saturday sees Xerath (6/10) suffer from sound problems on the main stage early on but are still an enjoyable watch. Black metal legends 1349 (8/10) are an intense band to watch & under the red hot sun the crowd looks to be wilting however the band do a great job of energising everyone. Korpiklaani (7/10) start off slow but soon really hit their stride about halfway through. The folk metal outfit seem perfectly fitting for the sunny skies around them. The feel-good factor rolls into Napalm Death (10/10) who are on incredible form. Frontman Barney’s banter between songs is both funny & heart-felt; it’s easy to see why they continue to be such a popular band.
Death (9/10) are proud to be on stage in support of the late, great Chuck Schuldiner playing the music that he created. The songs sounds amazing & it never feels like a tribute band. Final band of the night, Within Temptation (4/10) are incredibly disappointing. Sharon Den Adel has an amazing voice & some songs sound huge but the band seem nothing more than backing & the use of video/recorded voices for additional singers made it feel less of an event.
The final day of Bloodstock sees Wolf (7/10) bringing some feel-good power metal to waken the crowds. A solid band that made a lot of new fans. Orange Goblin (9/10) draw a huge crowd for their immense set. It’s both a testament to the strength of their music & the history they have. Sepultura (7/10) sound great, as a fan of the Cavalera boys it can feel a bit strange hearing those songs coming from a different voice but it is very enjoyable. Over at the Sophie Lancaster Stage up & comers Saille (9/10) do a wonderful job for the few that gathered to see them play.
Cannibal Corpse (6/10) should be better but after a short period you can tell it’s not going to be. Solid as hell but lacking the killer edge those other bands have brought this weekend. The same can be said for Black Label Society (5/10) who seem to bore many who are watching. A 5 minute plus guitar solo mid-way kills whatever momentum the band had going.
The final band of the night & the festival as a whole, Rob Zombie (7/10) is impressive but lacks a really good show. The man is a rock icon & the swagger he produces on stage is hypnotising. Most of the songs sound great with a few rarities aired but it does end abruptly.
Bloodstock 2015 was an amazing experience filled with many great bands playing some of their best music to date. With Venom & Behemoth announced already for 2016 it already looks like it will be even better.