The Über Rockin’ Guide To… Bloodstock (Ronnie James Dio Stage) Print E-mail
Written by Mark Ashby   
Saturday, 15 July 2017 05:00

In exactly four weeks’ time, we’ll be slap bang in the middle of what many people regard as the only “true” heavy metal festival in this corner of the Überverse, Bloodstock.




Like many festivals, it’s a combination of factors: checking out some of your favourite bands, catching up with some you’ve never seen (or perhaps even heard) before, and maybe ticking a few off your bucket list to boot. Yesterday, we provided our guide to some of the quality acts who will be hitting the Sophie stage; today, we turn our attention to the main arena and look at some of the bands the UR team will be hoping not to miss. We’ll look at them in the order they will be performing over the weekend:


Chelsea Grin (Friday)


We’re not normally fans of deathcore – or anything with those four letters otherwise used to describe the leftover bits in the middle of an apple – but Chelsea Grin are one of the undoubted pioneers of the sub-genre, and still one of its most consistently innovative and creative forces. They’re also one of the few bands who employ three guitarists, adding a unique depth to their sound which many of their contemporaries lack. This, combined with their reputation for bouncing live shows, and a relatively early slot, should shake off any early stiffness from either a late night or hours of travelling…


Soilwork (Friday)


It’s been nigh on two years since we had an album from one of the progenitors of the modern Swedish metal sound, but that hasn’t stopped them showing that they continue to cut it in the live arena, as their most recent trip to these ‘ere parts, in the company of Kreator and Sepultura proved abundantly. With Bloodstock being the penultimate date of a short run of summer festivals, and a full Scandinavian tour scheduled for November, all the indicators are that a new album is on the horizon: will we get a taster of it at Catton Hall? There’s only one way to find out, isn’t there?


Blind Guardian (Friday)


Blind Guardian were another band who seemed to come out of left field as far as this year’s BOA was concerned, but fit brilliantly into this bill, especially as main support on the first full day. With a new 22-song three-CD live retrospective under their belts, the German power metallers are celebrating their 30th anniversary in style. We’re not quite sure what to expect from their set: it probably will draw heavily on their most recent ‘The Ninth Wave’ album, but with a back catalogue as extensive as these guys possess, we’re sure we can expect a few surprises, just to add to the sense of occasion…


Amon Amarth (Friday)


One thing can be guaranteed about Amon Amarth’s stage show: it’s going to be fucking huge. Spec-fucking-tacularly fucking huge. And maybe then some. The last time they played Bloodstock, in 2014, they blew Dave Mustwank and Megahuff off the stage on the closing night. Now they’ve quite rightly moved up to the headline slot. Despite a disappointing last album in last year’s ‘Jomsviking’ concept piece, they have a back catalogue of tales of Viking derring-do as expansive as you could wish for, and, in Johan Hegg, one of the most impressive frontmen in metal. Expect pyro – loads of pyro: and a sore neck in the morning, ‘cos this one is gonna be simply awesome \m/


Municipal Waste (Saturday)


As we said in our review of MW’s new album, ‘Slime And Punishment’, you more or less know what to expect: it’s gonna be fast, it’s gonna be frantic… and it’s gonna be pure old school, no nonsense, fast ‘n’ furious, neck snapping thrash fuckin’ metal. And that, indeed is what we’re probably going to get – and, with the addition of second guitarist Nick Poulos, it’s probably gonna be even more intense than ever. Expect the mosh pit to be fast ‘n’ furious throughout the Waster boys.


King 810 (Saturday)


This crew from Flint in Michigan – once dubbed the “murder capital of the USA” – have courted controversy from day one, splitting opinions of fans, critics and just about everyone else in the music business: are they all about posturing, pretending to be hard men from a hard town just to get attention, or can they really deliver the goods? Well, two albums which have been rather on the good side and some high energy (if sometimes equally controversial) live shows seem to answer the latter question in the affirmative. One thing is going to be certain: it’s going to be pretty damn hard to keep your eyes off frontman David Gunn – mainly ‘cos he’ll probably come down into the crowd and beat you to a bloody pulp if he senses you ain’t payin’ attention, boy… or maybe not. Depends if they actually turn up… or get into the country?


Kreator (Saturday)


Kreator’s place in heavy metal folklore is assured. After all, they are one of the first generation of German thrash bands, and one of Europe’s equivalent of the ‘Big Four’. More importantly, they have consistently stayed at the forefront of the movement, always staying true to their roots and loyal to the fans whom they freely admit have kept them where they are today, which is also one of the most requested bands to appear at Bloodstock… well, you know what they say about wishes and commands. Having completed another hugely successful European tour earlier this year, we have no doubt that the ‘Gods Of Violence’ will assert their authority and have everyone pledging allegiance to the flag of hate…


Ghost (Saturday)


Seen by many as a very brave choice for the Saturday night headline slot, but many more others as an extremely clever one – and, as we’ve said, Bloodstock have never been afraid to push the envelope (e.g. Trivium in 2015); whatever your view, it’s a well-deserved accolade for a band who have slowly crawled their way up the heavy metal ladder to a position where it was only a matter of time before someone took that step and put them at the top of the bill. After all, as our own Rich Hobson declared back in March: “Much thought in the metal world now goes into which bands could possibly take over as festival headliners once the current crop of golden oldies finally heads off to the great afterparty beyond. They needn’t bother – Ghost aren’t just primed to headline the festivals of tomorrow, they’re ready to start today.” We have absolutely no doubt that the charismatic Papa Emiritus and his ghouls will not only prove his assertion right but, in the process, will put on one of the most spectacular and memorable festival headline shows ever!


Possessed (Sunday)


Nestled deep in the shelves of URHQ’s cavernous archive is an almost pristine copy of Possessed’s beautifully packed ‘Beyond The Gates’, an album that was opened with due reverence when first purchased. Along with its predecessor, ‘Seven Gates’, it was one of THE truly landmark US death metal albums of its time. Personally speaking, I have my doubts as to whether or not it has stood the test of the intervening 31 years, as subsequent generations have taken the genre to new and greater levels. But the opportunity to see one of DM’s most seminal acts on a rare excursion to the UK (they also play a club show in Belfast two nights later) should not be missed.


Brujeria (Sunday)


What to make of Brujeria? Allegedly from the Mexican resort of Tijuana, and taking their name from the Spanish for “witchcraft”, they perhaps define both the luchador spirit of their alleged homeland and the ultimate supergroup. Hiding behind scarves, masks and fake names, past alumni have included Dino Cazares and Raymond Herrera of Fear Factory, Jello Biafra, Faith No More’s Billy Gould and original Cradle Of Filth drummer Nicholas Barker. The current line-up is known to feature Shane Embury and Criminal guitarist Anton Reisenegger, alongside Pat (‘Fantasma’/’Adam Bomb) Hoed. If King 810 think they’re hard men, Brujeria will stomp their arses in the nearest mudhole…


Hell (Sunday)


Always the bridesmaid, never quite the bride, Hell were one of the most influential bands on the British occult metal scene in the early Eighties: but, the devil didn’t look after his own and the band imploded in 1987, following first the bankruptcy of their record company and the subsequent suicide of Dave Halliday. But, by then, they had won a major fan: a young guitarist by the name of Andy Sneap, who should need no introduction to extreme metal fans the world over… he re-united three of the four surviving members in 2011, added David Bower on vocals – and they haven’t looked back since. It may well be early evening at the beginning of August, but there will be a darkness and a chill in the air…


Arch Enemy (Sunday)


Fuck Megaduff. To many sane metallers, Arch Enemy are the true headliners on the final night. There can be no doubt about it, Alissa White-Gluz had big boots to fill when she replaced Angela Gossow three years ago – but, she’s done an incredible job, and helped take AE to the next level in the process, with the subsequent ‘War Eternal’ album both redefining and refining their sound. The continuing power of Michael Amott to take things to the next level was further demonstrated with the recruitment of Jeff Loomis – a move treated with initial scepticism but now embraced. Expect new album ‘Will To Power’, due on 8 September, to once again fuck with the formula but further consolidate Arch Enemy’s position at the cutting edge of the extreme metal genre.


Well, we’re sure there’s plenty to discuss and rant about in our selection. Like, for example, what have we got against Megadeaf? At the end of the day, this is our personal choice, our opinion on a bill that never ceases to please and deliver on every level… Tomorrow, we conclude our three-part preview of Bloodstock with our hot tips on the New Blood Stage. Check ya then \m/


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