MONUMENT – RONNIE JAMES DIO STAGE
We’re still going strong on day three on the RJDS, as NWOBHM 5-piece Monument start the ball rolling at the horrifically early hour of 11 am. The rain has buggered off from the torrent last night and Monument slap us awake with an old-school heavy metal schooling.
The riffs are tight, the vocals are clean and soaring, and the solos are downright obscene. It’s a pity that more people aren’t here to see this because seeing as the UK gave birth to this genre, it could be classified as the perfect way to start the final leg of this awesome weekend.
UNCURED Sophie Stage
Hailing all the way from New York this young band played at a very high-performance level. Uncured pulled off complex structures, a good command of melodies and virtuoso technicality seemingly with the ease of a band that had been around for decades.
Floor-touchingly low power stance emphasized their serious shredding. Uncured choreographed a couple of movements the guitarists were doing all together, marking accents of the songs. They stood next to each other, pulling the neck of the guitars upwards and back in order to strike their axes down like a sword. Uncured shouted out to Jasta for taking them on the tour, who was set to play the Dio stage later that day.
The vocals of the two brothers were a notch inequal and at times the riffage is hidden in a wall of noise dominated by the drumkit. Boosted solos of ridiculously fast shredding shone through the songs. Their stage manner was boasting from confidence – this is certainly not the last we will have heard of Uncured.
EVERGREY – RONNIE JAMES DIO STAGE
Following Monument, we have Evergrey, who were one of the first bands to play at the very first Bloodstock back when it started as a small event indoors. This is also another old-school shakeup, and are a similar to their previous stage dudes Monument, but slightly more classical. They have been around the block a good bit and you can tell by their relaxed and professional vibe that they are no strangers to the festival scene. There is the odd vocal mishap but that’s because the weather is acting the maggot. The setlist is really chilled and heavy but it seems a bit lost on the attendees.
KING LEVIATHAN Sophie Stage
A nice touch was the light show, which had been synced to match the beat of the drums. King Leviathan cut through mellow times with thunderous eruptions. The tent is jammed. The blast beats propelled the headbanging of the Bloodstockers. Frontman Adam Sedgwick asked the crowd if anyone was miserable. Jokingly, he added, “Aw, I’m guessing most of you are happy… cunts!” before they powered through the following three songs, opening up an impressive pit.
The band invited the Bloodstockers to join them in their misery. The final song was dedicated to Sophie Lancaster, for it was the anniversary of her tragic death this weekend. When the final song reached it’s highest point, the singer climbed down to meet the crowd face to face. Whilst the last thunderous wall of noise was washing over the tent, the Sedgwick began to smash the microphone against his head, emphasizing the notion of destruction in their music. King Leviathan’s cathartic presence was dedicated to their music.
AMARANTHE – RONNIE JAMES DIO STAGE
Symphonic metal six-piece Amaranthe follow Evergrey on the RJDS and contribute to the uplift of the audience with an upbeat and highly charged act. The three singers blend clean male and female vocals with aggressive death growls and fusing chunky fat riffs into a feel-good atmosphere that doesn’t lack any punch among metalheads here today. Stunning stuff.
ALIEN WEAPONRY – SOPHIE STAGE
Over in the Sophie Lancaster tent, New Zealand Maori metal upstarts Alien Weaponry catch up with the rest of the weekend and crashland with their Haka-bleached death metal fury. Newcomers to BOA, they already have a worthy fanbase in the tent as it’s almost at full capacity (not quite Suicidal Tendencies-level on Friday, but not far off it).
Their drumming deserves a class of its own and the guitar section should be outlawed. No band that flew 11000 kilometres with little or no rest should sound that good. The lads pull-off pull off a melter of a show, and they have well and truly multiplied their fan level by a very large factor.
FOZZY – RONNIE JAMES DIO STAGE
Ric Flair is to thank for a new festival phenomenon – boys and girls, men and women, trans, pans, fluid and queer people were exclaiming high-pitched “wooooooh!“s whenever an occasion called for it, which means at a festival – all the fucking time. Throughout their set, Guitarist Rich Ward got infected by the same phenomena, woo-ing as if some cold, clam hand had touched his buttocks.
A colleague of Flair’s in wrestling, frontman Chris Jericho, claimed the stage in chic fashion wearing a studded long scarf, his signature studded leather jacket, skin-tight leather trousers, and a leather vest. Fozzy’s hard rock calls for a cheerful celebration, jumping and bouncing and occasionally body-slamming as Jericho and Ward took a running start and smacked their bellies together in the middle of the stage. Jericho is first and foremost an entertainer. During “Burn Me Out” Jericho was crossing the entire area of the Dio stage, stealing the crew’s cameras and proceeded to take pictures of the crowd and himself while singing – which also made it obvious just how much overly processed playback was used in their live show.
The wrestler entered the masses, leaving trails of bouncing people on his pathway back to the stage. Punching his chest like Tarzan, bopping up and down like a jackhammer and flashing big, white tooth smiles. A weird highlight was Ward’s theremin solo, which worked fantastically. Sadly during the closing song “Sandpaper“, you could hear guitarist Ward’s backing vocals more clearly than Jerichos. The Bloodstockers enjoyed the lighthearted, modern pop influenced hard-rock which works like a breather between the heaviness and seriousness of other acts this weekend.
JASTA & FRIENDS – RONNIE JAMES DIO STAGE
Jamie Jasta of Hatebreed and his band entered the stage with Dino Cazares of Fear Factory, and lashed out the first song with captivating intention. Even if you’re not a fan of hardcore or Hatebreed for that matter, the encouraging energy Jasta brings to the people sends positive vibes and is simply enjoyable to take part in. For the second song of the set, he announced the guest for the following songs, no other than metalcore vocalist Howard Jones from Light The Torch, ex-Killswitch Engage for he is also a guest singer on the new album. Opposing styles of voices sometimes work well together, as it did in this case with Jasta shouting the verses and Jones singing the chorus in his vibrato-rich, full voice – yet he was cupping the microphone in such a way that he was singing into the back of his hand, which made his vocals sound slightly muffled.
Jasta introduced another guest of honour, the riff master Dino Cazares with the words “his riffs are so heavy, they make my foreskin grow back“. Dick related jokes are almost always a win at a festival. The heavy processed bass slide made your bone marrow tremble. Jasta & Friends bring straightforward, no frilled hardcore metal suited perfectly for workouts and drills, motivating you to keep going, pumping, pushing. The third special guest of the day entered; Kirk Windstein of Crowbar, playing his filthy riffs and hoarse backing vocals.
At the end of their set, Jasta paid a homage to the metal legends, who had dedicated and given their lives to this music and passed away too early, with special respect to the recently deceased Vinnie Paul. At this stage, four guitarists were on stage and they laid into the dirtiest series of guitar slides stoner metal has brought in recent years – the Bloodstockers went bezerk when Jasta & Friends closed their set with a cover of Down’s “Bury Me In Smoke“. For the reason that he “always wanted to do that” Jasta went up to the drumkit, took sticks and slid into the drummer’s place while the other musicians kept the riff going. Jasta did a decent job drumming and grinning all the way to the last notes.
THIS PLACE HELL – NEW BLOOD STAGE
Over on the New Blood Stage, This Place Hell are whipping up a storm. The Irish winners of the Metal 2The Masses have the New Blood Stage by the balls. Clashing with Jasta on the RJDS, they still draw a sizable crowd and annihilate the place. Cataclysmic frontman Stephen Cannon works the crowd into a frenzy in the small arena and supported by his brothers-in-arms, they proceed to show the world who and what they are. The answer is unstoppable.
Swinging the axe like a demon possessed, the band gets to finally unleash all the fury of so many near wins in M2TM and make it clear that there will be no prisoners taken. The pace is fast and furious with this band as it has always been and have undoubtedly been noticed by some big fish if they haven’t been already. The gut-cutting riffs of ‘Filth‘ and ‘EndGame‘ rivet the audience, with a lot of sore necks in its aftermath. This Place Hell don’t bother their arses throwing the kitchen sink at the crowd for this titan performance… they throw the entire fucking factory.
MR BIG – RONNIE JAMES DIO STAGE
The bodies are starting to get tired now as the weekend’s non-stop and relentlessly high-energy fun is starting to take its toll. Mr Big takes their place on the RJDS and the audience are gagging for cheese. Legendary superstars Billy Sheahan and Paul Gilbert are back in the game and tease us repeatedly with individual virtuoso bass and guitar solos.
It’s a rock n’ roll masterpiece from yesteryear as the hands sway in the air and the mood is undoubtedly regenerated into a positive atmosphere. There are a lot of parents holding their young children close and describing the band to them, a lot like what happened at Judas Priest on Friday night.
The band are mainly known for their biggest hit ‘Be With You‘, and following a series of rock-smashers, they deliver the goods, as couples embrace and sway to the rhythm. This is a reminder that Bloodstock is love for all, no matter who you are or whatever you do. You are welcome here, and all comers are family.
MANTAR – Sophie Stage
This very angry two piece set up their stage in a way so they were facing each other, which put the onlookers in an observing space, rather than being confronted directly with Mantar’s performance – as if the audience were studying the band. Even though Mantar only possesses two heads, the beast is not to underestimate; their steaming fury and rage were enough to set the tent of the Sophie Lancaster Stage ablaze.
The drummer Erin Sakarya was seated on the right, the guitarist and singer Hanno Klänhardt on the left, standing in front a wall of Marshall amplifiers. Klänhardt’s wiry body was contorted in an S-shape by the brute force he gathered from the pits of his stomach and ejected at the microphone.
Mantar had the impact of a tsunami, yet the sound was a little too muddy – Klänhardt signalised an upward motion to the sound-tech, as the guitar was drowned out by the sheer brutality of Sakarya – later on in the set, he apologised to the crowd for the technical fuck up, as their gear got damaged, jokingly insisting that it doesn’t matter because they’re beautiful, right? Mantar handled the technical issue very well, pointing them out and apologising, maybe it fueled their anger even more. So fueled that Klänhardt fell to the floor at one stage, but kept playing.
The driving force of this band is exhilarating, it is music that accompanies you running or chasing something until you vomit. Towards the end, the sound cleared up more so the chugging riffs were smacking the back of your head repeatedly. The Bloodstockers at the Sophie Stage jumped onto each other’s backs, chasing, falling, smashing – they really didn’t care that the sound was not perfect, for the sheer anger Mantar projected was a raw and truthful human emotion that fed our rage and helped to let it out.
DEVILDRIVER – RONNIE JAMES DIO STAGE
Following the relatively gentle set from Mr Big, its back to mayhem with LA metal outlaws Devildriver. The pit is some of the biggest of the festival as maniac vocalist Dez Farfara lights the fuse and walks away from the carnage with a smile. The violence is ceaseless except for the people inside the pit who have created an island of isolation bang in the centre. It’s like watching sharks circle a raft. ‘Clouds Over California‘ has the effect of an atom bomb and the videos will soon be online to prove it. It’s just crazy.
On the Sophie Stage, LA metalcore group Act of Defiance play to a mainly drained audience. The weekend is taking its toll and the battle-weary are running out of battery. The weather is still behaving itself and keeping things somewhat dry, so getting to the stages is fine. AoD, being the purveyors of sick riffs that they, are keeping the pace alive and well. Bouncy and headbanging enticing, the down-tuned tone is a shot in the arm because right now, that is needed a lot. Energetic and well-timed beats stir the remaining headcases in the audience and their heaviness is deserving of the moniker they go by.
AT THE GATES – RONNIE JAMES DIO STAGE
Over at the Dio stage, At The Gates laid into their set, which was in serious lack of pyro. The veterans of Gothenburg’s melodic death metal kicked right off with “Slaughter of the Soul” being the second song. The bass sound of Jonas Björler was incredibly saturated, which was a lovely contrast to the two sawing guitars. Swedish metalheads just know how to write and perform songs – singer Tomas Lindberg could walk up to new guitarist Jonas Stlhammar and have a chat with him mid-song.
Stlhammar replied by shrugging his shoulders, which made it seem like he works just fine as a replacement for the old guitarist Anders Björler. Lindberg’s posture appeared hunched, his movements seem to be a little stiffened, which didn’t stop him from grabbing a drumstick and smashing the crash. At The Gates pointed out how back in they were very well received in England and therefore dedicated a song to old school At The Gates fans. The Swedes walked through their set with the same level of intention, making it a very consistent show.
PALLBEARER – SOPHIE STAGE
D o o m. Spacious and omnipresent. Thick and hazy smoke filled up the Sophie Stage during Pallbearer’s mesmerizing set. The tent was packed with tired people, who were probably drifting in and out of the presence, paced by the slow beats of this doom-bringing band. The absolute silence in between songs felt a bit odd for it interrupted the trance, especially when the players were tuning and testing their instruments.
Pallbearer bring a kind of obese doom that spread numbing warmth through your body which made your head float and visited ghosts of the past. Sometimes the mind was pulled back forcefully by the sound of the sick, crackling fuzz and heavy blasts of the drums. Sometimes the emotional melodies of the guitar made you want to release your body tension, wanting to let it being pushed from side to side by a tide of limbs and other bodies. Their set went slightly overtime, but nobody seemed to be bothered by that. Some Bloodstockers were already well aware of Pallbearer’s captivating sound, others couldn’t help but be drawn into and hypnotized by their tenacious intention.
NIGHTWISH- RONNIE JAMES DIO STAGE
The final headlining show of this festival took off with a bang – balls and blades of fire were shot into the cool night sky emphasizing the epicness of Nightwish’s symphony. After Gojira’s invigorating show the previous night, Nightwish were in a difficult place to live up to that bar.
Nightwish chose projections of mystical landscapes of green and icy countries as the design of their stage – the screens spawn across the entire stage and covered up the front of the elevations where the drumkit and keyboard sat, giving the optical illusion that the six-piece is playing amidst nature, which made their stage show a feast for the eyes.
A child in the crowd exclaimed happily as she recognized the beginning of “Elan” – the storytelling, highly melodic side of Nightwish is something that appeals to the imagination of little people minds just the same way it can appeal to somebody who has already lived a life of legends.
The stage fell dark, and the yellow eye of a wolf was illuminated in sync with the snare beats to “Sacrament of Wilderness“. Frontwoman Floor Jansen was dressed elegantly in a form-fitting long-sleeved dress, beaming and carrying her posture majestically. Even though bassist Marco Hietala’s long silver hair and beard made him look like the earl of a Viking tribe, he appeared in a way, gentle.
Heavier songs called for Jansen’s gestures to be more hostile, finishing her movements with spikey fingers and her long black hair swirling like a vortex. The pipes, the pipes were calling as Troy Donockley blew mystical spirits into the air. Nightwish’s set flowed with ease from symphonic to folk to slightly poppy songs to heavy almost deadly metal. The voices of Marco Hietala and Jansen completed each other beautifully like a black and white photography. The frontwoman gave herself in and appeared humble after every song, showing just how much joy it brings to her to sing for and with a crowd of thousands of people.
The bittersweet melody to “Amaranth” lifted the Bloodstockers, letting them dance weightlessly and sway from side to side. After a fiery performance of “The Devil & The Deep Dark Ocean“, which drowned the entire festival in violent red, the keyboardist, and remaining founding member Tuomas Holopainen played the introductory phrase to “Nemo“.
A wave of nostalgia swept over the younger generation of metalheads at Bloodstock, as this song was shown on music channels on television before the Internet reigned and directed the cultural stream. It was one of the first songs that introduced kids of the 90’/00′ to heavy metal. The show closed with moving scenes of DNA, sea creatures and ocean waves to “The Greatest Show On Earth” (Chapters II and III), reminding people of the wonder of life and the accessibility of the concept of a universe with our conscience, climaxing in thousands of people chanting the lyrics “We were here!”. Nightwish had set a firm foot on stage and their stage show made it clear why they got the honour of closing Bloodstock 2018.
WATAIN – SOPHIE LANCASTER STAGE
Swedish black metal stalwarts Watain are closing the Sophie Lancaster stage after what has been a feral weekend. The full display of their ghoulish act has packed out the tent for the last swing of the axe this weekend. The atmosphere is tense as the lights go down and an eerie red glow engulfs the stage, where the frontman walks out carrying a flaming torch to ignite the 2 columns either side of the stage in the shape of the band’s logo.
The stage is also covered in candles which adds to the gloomy setpieces. The dark and macabre setlist has plenty of fast blasts and slow drudgey chunks of down-tuned palm-muted savagery, as the Satanic undertone really sets this place alight (and that term isn’t wasted here… There’s a lot of things on fire). The temperature is also on the increase due to the stage’s props. But the heads are banging at the speed of the snare drum (which is difficult) to make damn sure that every drop of energy is used.
There really are no words to describe their continuous high-speed assault, because, at this stage of the evening, the energy levels are low. It feels more like a sermon in a Satanic mass cathedral by the end of the show as the genuflecting frontman kneels and bows to the altar behind him, and then to the audience who are still roaring. A truly unforgettable performance and one that no doubt would have been a tremendous headache for Bloodstock to pull off. A superb ending to another magical Bloodstock weekend! Roll on 2019!
Bloodstock Sunday highlight gallery – Exposing Shadows Photography.
Photography – Exposing Shadows Photography 2018, exclusively for www.overdrive.ie © 2018