Battered and bruised from two days of metal the last day of Bloodstock is perhaps the best lineup wise. With thrash metal royalty Slayer headlining today and up-and-comers Heart of a Coward sure to make a splash on mainstage early in the day its no time to start winding down. If you’ve missed the first two parts of our Bloodstock Festival coverage then you can catch up below:
Ghost Bath’s (8) ethereal soundscapes open up proceedings on mainstage for the last day of Bloodstock 2016. Although more atmospheric music often suffers in bright sunlight the strength of Ghost Bath’s music, as well as its focus on less “evil” soundscapes helps it to shine through despite the early slot.
Heart of a Coward (8) might not be your typical Bloodstock band but their live prowess speaks for itself with a healthy sized circlepit moving by the end of their set. They might not be one of the bands immediately associated with Bloodstock but the juddering grooves give yesterday’s Fear Factory’s set a run for its money while Jamie Graham proves himself one of the weekends standout frontmen.
Unearth’s (7) energy – especially this early in the day, is a huge selling point and greatly adds to the appeal of their set. Songs like ‘My Will Be Done’ and ‘Black Hearts Now Reign’ may speak just as loudly but in the end it’s the ceaseless energy of the band themselves that hits home with this Bloodstock crowd that are really needing a pick-me-up at this point in the weekend.
Metal Allegiance (5) put in a poor performance; especially when seen in context of today’s sheer quality. There’s very little chemistry between members and all the project’s original songs aired today are, at best, completely forgettable. Even the covers painfully expose just how little chemistry there is around this outfit; especially live. Sure, it might be Alex Skolnick on the guitar, Charlie Benante on the drums and the bloke from Death Angel singing but names matter little when the standard of the music aired is just so poor.
Witchsorrow’s (7) trad doom is a pleasant way to get things back on track and spend forty minutes listening to some great metal before Satyricon (6) who are performing Nemesis Divina and, like Fear Factory on Saturday, have their set really suffer for it. The sound often renders the intricacies of Nemesis obsolete and the setlist further suffers from the lack of ‘big hitters.’ While certainly an influential album performing it in full just robs the set of a lot of it’s momentum. Between Satyricon and Fear Factory the viability of album in full sets can be severely doubted. Nonetheless a quick sprint through some of the bands greatest hits to close out the set does claw some ground back with ‘Fuel For Hatred’ being especially impressive.
Dragonforce (7) suffer from some technical difficulties setting up and so have a much reduced set but are still entertaining regardless. ‘Cry Thunder’ and the obligatory ‘Through the Fire and the Flames’ being very obvious highlights.
Vektor (7) peel out a blistering set of otherworldly thrash metal. There is still plenty of bite in the riffs but where Vektor find their identity is in the subtle sci-fi ambience that permeates each song. Folllowing up on the SOPHIE stage Memoriam (8) Comprised of current and former members from bands including Bolt Thrower and Benediction put in an excellent showing on their UK debut. Memoriam, like Metal Allegiance earlier in the day, air a number of their own songs alongside covers. Unlike Metal Allegiance though there is a real chemistry with Memoriam while their own compositions are excellent examples of great, old school death metal. Unlike Metal Allegiance there’s a real chemistry and passion obvious in the performance. (JH)
The deafening duo of Anthrax (8) and Slayer are like a pair of beloved old boots. The treads are well worn but they’ve been around so long now that they are comforting in a way. This half of the “Big 4” thrash legends proved they are far from ready for retirement by releasing well-received new albums in the last 12 months. First up were New York’s thrash royalty who opened with two tracks from “For All Kings”. As well as the new cuts they blasted through classics including the ever-raucous “Madhouse” and “Got The Time”, inspiring a wardance-mosh during frantic closer “Indians”. Joey Belladonna’s voice was in great shape, as was Scott Ian’s sarcasm and Frank Bello, probably the happiest bassist ever!
That left the other beloved old boot, Slayer (9), to close the mainstage. Like Anthrax, Slayer also opened with the first two tracks of their latest album, “Repentless”. The difference was the biggest pyro display the festival had ever been roasted by. As a giant angst-ridden Jesus peered from the backdrop huge burning inverted crosses cooked the band and the first few rows. Tom Araya can no longer head-bang on doctor’s orders but his infamous roar is still intact, as displayed on the ever-brutal “War Ensemble”. Tom’s introduction to “Dead Skin Mask” may be predictable but the song still has chilling power in its vicious ambient lead riff. There was enough gas in the tank for a savage encore of “South of Heaven”, “Raining Blood” and THAT scream, heralding traditional finale “Angel of Death”. Recently Araya has mentioned retirement, but with soft-spoken reassurance he said “Thank you very much for spending time with us. We’ll see you soon.” Hope so, Tom. (NH)
Slayer’s spectacle leaves it down only to Goatwhore (9) who are the perfect band to close out Bloodstock 2016 with their crusty blackened thrash in the SOPHIE tent. Perfectly balancing both the crunch of thrash and some of the most filthy, crust infused elements of black metal it’s a perfect way to close out the festival. Same time next year, yeah? (JH)
Words by: James Halstead and Nick Holmes
Photos by: Tess Donohoe