THE PARALLAX METHOD
Some people like grog in the morning, some people like a bit of prog.in the morning. The instrumental outfit The Parallax Method wakes up the Sophie Stage with a complex, layered landscape of sound. After a heavy night of head banging, some people in the crowd are suffering from a bang-over, and this three-piece is not going easy on our hurting brains with their technical playing.
The Parallax Method moves through their set swiftly, addressing the crowd in between songs humbly and calmly. It’s nice to hear a bit of clean guitar and it is nice not to be yelled at to “fuck this shit up!“ for a change, especially when you’re barely able to sip your coffee because your throat is still hurting from screaming your head off the previous night.
This band has found a lovely balance of playing ambitious pieces and nuanced musicality – never did they seem like they were showing off their skills for the sake of it. Each member appeared to just enjoy their instruments and this music so much, it was impossible not to join in on a dorky bounce. 5/5
On the Sophie tent, Odd Crew are doing the same thing as every other band, which is waking people up. Their 80s style power groove metal approach is not lost, because as soon as their playlist begins, the windmilling starts too. It’s very easy to get into the swing of things when there are others around you. It’s a feel-good pick up for today and it’s a welcome boost for the weary heads. 3.5/5
Blowing the dust off the corpses that are left after the Friday night shenanigans at the Ronnie James Dio stage, Krysthla grab us by the shoulders and wake us up forcefully.
Sleep deprived and smelling like stale beer, revellers get stuck in with the charge of a raging bull. Vocalist, Adi Mayes is impressed with the turnout based on the time and the weather. And I’ll admit, I’m impressed as well. It’s muddy, wet, and still the audience it rocking like it’s the last day on Earth. 3.5/5
Filling the main area turns out to be no problem for the Canadian hardcore band, even at noon. The minute the musicians enter the stage, they turn the energy up to maximum drive and infest the Bloodstockers.
It is impossible to remain still and not let their grooves take control of your moves… It is astounding how this band delivers the same high quality of performance as 10 years ago – even when the lead vocalist Liam Cornier confesses that he “only had two coffees and is fucking dying“, which is easy to relate to during an 11.45am show on the third day of Bloodstock Open Air.
Songs that have been in their repertoire for a while, like ‘Hail Destroyer‘, ‘R.A.T.S’ and their cover version of Beastie Boys ‘Sabotage‘, have the masses bouncing, thrashing and lashing out. Bloodstock has seen great circle pits, but during this show, it may have been the premier of a cancer pit, when around a hundred people started circling and strutting around in a crab walk.
Sound as Canadians tend to be, they close their invigorating set with a dedication to Birmingham and the godfathers of Heavy Metal. Bat Sabbath cover Black Sabbath’s anthem War Pigs.
The audience is invited to sing the song, as Liam Cornier holds the microphone towards the black masses. The second half of the song is a little bit lost, as only half of the crowd knows the lyrics off by heart, but Liam tried his best to feed us the lines. During the final phase of the song, the sky opened up and sunshine tickled the heads of the Bloodstockers. What a lovely, epic close. 5/5
SWALLOW THE SUN
Atmospheric back tones and choirs samples set the mood for Swallow The Sun’s stage entrance, and an unpredictable overcast aligns perfectly for their moody blackened doom metal. Vocalist Mikko Kotamaki remains still throughout the set while guitarist Juho Raiha at parts takes front and centre stage to conduct the crowd with head banging and stomping. (5/5)
Over on the Ronnie James Dio stage, Evil Scarecrow bring their bag of tricks and gimmicks … From a spaceman to a pair of ghosts and a castle with eyes where the windows are. Dr Hell, Ringmaster Monty Blitzfist, Brother Pain (who has a hankering for handstands), and the rest of the gang bring a cracking and side-splitting fun show for everyone to enjoy.
Their anti-gravity machine also turns up, although it takes a while to plug it in on the stage. Apparently the weather has hampered their planned show, as there were pyrotechnics and other effects aimed for the gig. But that aside, it doesn’t take away the metal element that they’re known for. Scuttling away after they run over time, Scarecrow leg it and allow us to recover. 4.5/5
Classic English heavy metal coinciding with thrash and death metal brings to the table Corby’s Reaper-X. Frontman Scott Austin is reminiscent of a younger Bruce Dickinson with soaring vocals and stage movements, while guitarists Mark Innocent and Drew Reilly add their input to form slightly more brutal riffs.
A huge chant of “Reaper X!” from the crowd demanded an encore, however time unfortunately wasn’t on their side. (3/5)
It is the third-day people have been sweating at the Sophie Stage and not the tent smells like vinegar and mud. A young band hailing from Glasgow stirred the smells up by propelling their very contemporary take on Hardcore out to the masses.
From the very first minute, one can tell that The craze that is driving this band is not posed – in between some goofy dance moves, the members are smashing their heads with their own hands. The bassist Tony Bianchini is swinging his instrument and legs around so much, it wouldn’t need much more to set him flying.
Yet, the two guitars are thin compared to the clanging sound of the bass and the overpowering backing track. The bass drops of the backing track are oversaturated, taking away the effect it can have. During the middle of the set, the mix settles a little bit better. Nice detail of their performance are the little choreographies, their synchronised kicks, and stomps which motivates the hardcore dancers in the pit to send their limbs flying, with roundhouse kicks, cartwheels, and windmilling arms. 3/5
SCARS OF REMEMBERANCE
Releasing their single “Shattered Wiings” especially to coincide with their first ever performance at Bloodstock, north Wales’ Scars of Rememberance perform with vocalist Mike Edwards alternating between shrieks and intense spoken word on top of a combination of hardcore, sludge and heavy metal. (3/5)
Norwegians Helheim deliver an interesting blend of atmospheric, dreary blackened metal with bittersweet and melancholy undertones. Members seem to take turns between songs for vocal duties, offering a more experimental and varied feel for where each song takes the listener.
Guitarist H’grimnir takes the duty of clear and rough vocals while bassist V’gandr steps in the rougher direction. Drummer Hrymr is contrasting the crisp blackened sound of the bands mood with smiles of joy, in front of a video back screen displaying decapitated heads sitting on spikes in a rainy forest (delightful).
Going between Depeche Mode-esque atmospheric sounds to pure blackened metal with mellow undertones, Helheim delivers the perfect rainy-mood performance. (5/5)
The Wildhearts are next, and are a drinking rock and roll band from Wales.
Frontman Ginger Wildheart has that edgy and seasoned persona that beams from his stage presence.
It’s a bit of a departure from the hardened metal that we’ve seen so far, but not unenjoyable. The dancing starts and keeps everyone in their toes and the sun shines strong over the festival. The riffs are catchy and hooking, and The Wildhearts are truly wild at heart with their spot-on approach and I urge everyone to give them a spin. 3/5
A FOUL BODY AUTOPSY
Have you ever shredded in your bedroom to backing tracks, imagining one day you will be standing on an actual stage? This imagination manifested itself with Tom Reynolds, only he didn’t bother to pick up a band on the way.
It may seem a bit strange in the beginning, but Tom Reynolds stands and shreds in a very sovereign manner. Performing music completely alone to a community which is known for strongly disliking change does take some good-sized balls, even if it’s just on the tiny Jäger Stage. The Bloodstock community is laid back and easy-going, which is probably part of the reason why he is received so well, next to delivering a solid set of death metal. 3/5
THY ART IS MURDER
Playing into the fact that Metal-heads like to not take themselves to seriously at times, Thy Art Is Murder prepare the stage with a cheap euro-pop track. At this point, it is extremely windy, which makes the sound travel.
When sudden bursts of wind almost topple your upper body over, it only amplified the bass drops of their backing track. Thy Art Is Murder play their show in a slightly comedic way, insulting the crowd calling them cunts. Their music is heavy as kangaroo balls, and the band plays extraordinarily tight.
Crowd banter by somebody dressed in leopard print shirt is something that still needed to happen this weekend. One epic moment, everything fell into place as the vocalist Chris “CJ” Mcmahon Long lets out a long, epic scream, shirt open, belly out, arms and hands extending and the wind blowing the hair out of his face. His cocky tone with the crowd is refreshing and sympathetic. 4/5
It’s nice when bands put in some thought into costumes and a show. It’s nice when they invite other artists from relating fields to join the show and support and Red Method are playing into what the metalhead stereotypically likes.
Sharp black and red costumes, black body paint, flinging expensive instruments around as if they grow on trees and pretty women who like to touch each other and show their butts to the crowd.
The two dancers are dressed in two opposing costumes, apparently, the “Angel and Demon“ cliche is not dead yet, with the demon dancing exotically and the Angel wearing point shoes. It is cringy to watch if you are aware of how much training a professional ballet dancer requires.
Red Method’s playing is very solid and gritty, crossing borders of genres and belting through their set strongly, but this is sadly undermined by staying within comfort zones and not fine-tuning the ideas. For the last song, the dancers reappeared, their arms tied to another with straight jackets and they huddle across the stage. Once again, it is a good idea but executed lazily. 2/5
Fancy some freshly sliced thrash? Because Dust Bolt, a young band from Germany has got it.
This is another show of the day, where it is clear that the musicians just purely fucking love the music they’re playing and want to share it with as many people as possible. They do not play behind a front or generic stage banter, no frills or lace – raw to the core, full-powered, insanely fast and lashing out without mercy. The circle pit is almost breaching centrifugal force, kicking up dust and mud and Dust Bolt holds up the energy until the very last note. 4/5
3 HEADED SNAKE
The rain is staying away but it’s getting windy. Unfortunately it gets so bad, the main stage is closed until they weld everything to the ground. Cradle of Filth are moved to Sunday as a result, but we’re not phased at all because 3 Headed Snake are about to blow the roof off the Sophie Stage for their first ever live performance!
Hailing from from America, 3HS shake the Sophie tent with soaring powerful melodic metal gut-punches and amazingly tight vocals from singer Johnny Ray.
Their melodic metal roots are superbly together, and the American quintet hold us in the palm of their hands. They have definitely become worthy of a bigger slot on BOA’s radar because as the audience sings along with them in “Mother and Child“, the volume increases with it. The fans are lapping this up and the Snake keeps this going for the entire setlist. Watch this space, as 3HS have the potential to break orbit and rumble the metal world like one of those big-ass ships in the District 9 movie. Awesome stuff! 4.5/5
Back on the Hobgoblin New Blood stage, Lock Horns are taking it to the audience in spades. It has taken then 3 years to get to where they are now and revel in the spoils of war. They are brutally heavy, and overcome any nerves by sheer willpower. Frontman Alex De Costa masterfully hammers down the role of vocalist backed up by his comrades. They have stormed the new blood stage much to their advantage. And more power to them for it. 3/5
After some mix-up with wind VS technical issues on the main stage, many people sauntered to smaller stages to see what BOA’s smaller stages had to offer – one being Blackpool’s Daybreaker. A good call – between brutal shrieks, catchy, pounding riffs and drums (with some very impressive sneaky time signatures thrown in), the foursome offered a crazily intense and at times hilarious show.
Between developing a huge mosh pit in the arenas smallest stage tent, to bassist Lynden Garrad completely leaving the stage via the back entrance to walk around and join the audience in the mosh pit.
As the band started to deconstruct after their set, they were stopped to the demanding chants of an encore, and delivered a very impressive metal version of “Sabotage” by Beastie Boys. (5/5)
According to the band’s Facebook stage, due to unforeseen circumstances, Generation Kill was forced to cancel their show. Instead, Black Shuck from Ireland rose to the occasion and kept the Sophie Stage heated.
The excitement of the band to suddenly be playing the second largest stage is very noticeable and it ignites a straight forward set. Black Shuck is driven by a passion and dedication to metal. The people in the tent are digging what Black Shuck is feeding them and it would not be a Bloodstock festival if they didn’t start rowing the boat. Black Shuck is thrilled and propels this right back at the audience. 4/5
A sinister, almost Danny Elfman-esque intro pumps up the crowd for Taake’s stage conquering.
A full house within the Sophie tent, the Norwegian black metallers take no time to viciously blast into an outrageous variation of their back catalogue spanning almost 30 years.
Frontman Hoest exudes extreme confidence and aggression on stage, seemingly threatening the crowd with his mic stand, jumping into almost animalistic poses, and punching and kicking the air.
A phenomenal light show adds to the intensity and aggression of Taake’s very tight set, wrapping up the night with the question – how on earth is anyone supposed to sleep after that much adrenaline? 5/5
One of the big four adorn us with their presence tonight. By far the biggest band of the weekend, but don’t make a big fuss about it, the thrash-legends open up with a riff from Pantera’s Cowboys From Hell.
Scott Ian and Frank Bello play a game of ‘The Floor is Made of Lava’ and leap from one side of the stage to the next. Front man, Joey Belladonna apologizes for the weather, but is absolutely on fire.
I’m sad because the screens have had to be taken down because of the high-wind so I cant really see what was happening on stage from very far away even though I’m in front of the sound ask which is about 100 feet from the stage.
Hitting us with specials like “Got the Time“, “Indians“, Madhouse” and “I Am the Law” break everyone into a flurry of bat-shit dance-moves among the young and old, as well as the topless ladies up the front.!
The only downside to this entire show is that you can’t see the stage due to the screens being taken down due to the high-winds. As always, Anthrax put on a very special stage show and leave us amazed and totally worn out. 5/5.
They are owning it. No further questions. Parkway Drive makes it crystal clear, why they conquered the headlining slot of Bloodstock Open Air.
Having just played to 80.000 people the previous weekend at W:O:A, they are still riding the high of that experience. Now, they have arrived as a headlining act of modern Metal. Four cloaked figures holding burning torch are standing under the giant silver emblem which reads their initials PWD woven together.
The stage is drenched in red. Suddenly, each member is introduced by illuminating them individually in red light until a sudden black and a spot in white shines on Winston McCall – an entrance that rivals those of pop stars. He begins to serenade in his signature husky, growling clean vocals.
The whole stage is covered from top to bottom in white lights, that is shining towards the audience, trickling down in synch with the beats.
After the first song, the Winston McCall points out that a member of the band is missing. He explains that the bassist Jia “Pie” O’Connor has injured himself playing football, but lo and behold, he is being pushed out in a wheelchair and joins the show.
Instead of thrashing his body around, Jia “Pie” O’Connor instead spins in circles in his wheelchair, when he gets excited.
Parkway Drive proceeds to advance through their set, which includes predominantly songs of their most recent albums. The masses are chanting and fist-bumping as their music has developed to be fit for filling arenas. How many effects can one put into a show? Let’s find out as each song is underlined with different special effects. From laser horizontally cutting through a thick wall of smoke to fireworks dripping from above and exploding from below, flamethrowers to a string quartet standing on individual lifting ramps, riding high above the crowd.
The sound of the violins is slow-dancing with the tone the guitars, mingling softly. The string quartet remained on stage for a while, giving more depth to the sawing sounds of the guitars.
In between, Winston McCall talks sincerely to the crowd, doesn’t bother with distorting his voice when speaking and emphasises how much work goes into establishing a metal band and how grateful he is for the past twenty years Parkway Drive have been on the scene. He mentions the Mac’n’Cheese stand at the very back of the Dio stage, and this set off the very witty Bloodstockers chanting “MAC AND CHEESE!“ until the band joins in on a little jam session. Parkway Drive continues to push through their set, never losing the grip on the audience.
The stage changes colour, and the guitarist Jeff Ling is illuminated in blue light and begins to play the opening figure of their breakthrough song from the album ‘Horizons‘. Thousands of people sing the leading riff of ‘Idols and Anchors‘ and where ever you try to go in the audience, a mosh pit is following you.
As the band arrived at their encore, the cloaked figures from the beginning reappear.
To cap things off Winston walks on stage, holding a fucking molotov cocktail and throws it at the drum set – the whole stage ignites in a fire, fit for a black metal show and Parkway Drive close the Dio Stage with ‘Crushed‘ and ‘Bottom Feeder‘.
Shaun Martine, Norrie Kivlehan, Oran O’Beirne, Bláthín Eckhardt
Photos – Exposing Shadows Photography, for www.overdrive.ie © 2019