Bloodstock Open Air Festival 2017 – Saturday Review

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Ghost

After the previous days entertainment, topped off by the mighty viking extravaganza from Amon Amarth brought Bloodstock Open Air Festival 2017 day one to a close, team Rock Sins was back at it again bright and early for the second day.

Falujah (4) might have the technical ability but their opening slot on the Ronnie James Dio is far too sterile and lacking any connection to an increasingly bored mainstage audience. Alex Hoffman’s monotone barks and stilted crowd interaction only worsen the problem. There’s just nothing to grab onto and get excited about Fallujah – especially considering what is to follow today. JH

Winterfylleth (7) are an exciting proposition to open the mainstage on Bloodstock’s Saturday. Some Black Metal bands might suffer in the open air but Winterfylleth pull it off with remarkable skill. It helps that they do not rely on any of the visual aesthetics of some of their European peers while the music itself compliments the countryside surroundings of Bloodstock – meaning that the intended atmosphere is still very present. JH

Havoks (6) take on the thrash revival is played straighter than most. Their Megadeth worship might not be particularly original but songs like Hang ‘Em High still sound great. There’s no gimmicks or anything to Havok and the band just let the music do all the talking. Things start to get a little bit samey towards the end but Havok still provide a fun 40 minute blast of thrash. SD

Havok on stage at Bloodstock Open Air Festival 2017

The One Hundred (7) were always an odd booking for Bloodstock. And this is something they completely embrace during their 30 minute set on the Sophie Lancaster Stage. Instead of making any attempt to be more appealing to the Bloodstock crowd, The One Hundred do everything they can to stand out. Focusing more on the dance and grime aspects, The One Hundred still manage to have the crowd in the palm of their hand. Frontman Jacob Field’s extravagant outfit and dancing could not look more out of place at this festival but no one seems to mind. It helps that the songs off their long awaited debut album sound massive as well. Many might have expected this set to be a train wreck but The One Hundred really managed to stand out this weekend. SD

The One Hundred on the Sophie Stage at Bloodstock Open Air Festival 2017

Abhorrent Decimation (6) suffer from possibly the worst technical problems of the entire festival. Which is a huge shame because punishing death metal should sound brilliant. But when the guitars are barely audible for large portions of the set and the vocalists mic is constantly cutting out, it’s hard not to feel a little disappointed. The band do everything they can to salvage the set and still manage to make a lasting impression on many watching, it’s just not as triumphant as this set should have been. SD

Abhorrent Decimation on stage at Bloodstock Open Air Festival 2017

Having evaded British soil for far too long, Flint’s finest King 810 (10) storm the Bloodstock RJD stage with overwhelming conviction, opening with the devastating ‘Heavy Lies the Crown’ to cement their presence. Fully armed with harrowing intro tapes, phenomenal skinsmanship from Andrew Workman and frontman David Gunn on blistering form, any doubts that this band could not live up to their peers at Bloodstock were swiftly blown out of the water by the authoritative ‘Alpha and Omega’. While axeman Andrew Beal couldn’t join his bandmates due to legal issues, the likes of ‘Murder Murder Murder’ and ‘Give My People Back’ do not suffer from his absence and continue to deliver a blow-by-blow order of service balanced slightly toward the abrasive edges of their first album ‘Memoirs of a Murderer’. “No-one meets death until they see me” remains the haunting eulogy of a set that holds glittering testament to their legacy – King 810 demand to be heard and Bloodstock has been a phenomenal platform for them. Even performing without the lifeblood from their guitarist, Gunn and co. have quite visibly won over a number of new fans. AC

Thrash veterans Annihilator (6) grace Saturday’s Ronnie James Dio stage line-up to bridge the two-year gap since 2015’s ‘Suicide Society’ with a set crammed with timeless hits. Frontman Jeff Waters instantly commands with an energetic rendition of ‘King of the Kill’ leading relentlessly into ‘No Way Out’. There’s no room for filler on the Bloodstock stage, although this does appear to limit the draw for a crowd searching for a calmer afternoon before the evening’s hectic festivities – fans would expect a much more diverse set than this especially with fifteen albums under their bullet belts. That said, ’Set the World on Fire’ feels as authoritative as ever in the afternoon sun and ‘W.T.Y.D.’ charges its way toward the sea of banging heads in the arena. Of course as is now traditional for Annihilator, ‘Alison Hell’ introduces herself in the only grim way she knows how, but this set isn’t quite the unforgettable venture into the archives that it should have been. AC

Annihilator on stage at Bloodstock Open Air Festival 2017

A Municipal Waste (7) much reinvigorated since their last appearance at Bloodstock are one of the day’s highlights. One of Bloodstock’s ‘house bands’ by now it would be hard for this set to be a damp squib and so it proves with a torrent of crowd surfers breaking the Bloodstock record and a constant and growing circle pit throughout their set. Art of Partying, Headbanger Facerip and Born to Party are all predictable highlights. JH

Are there many bands more reliable than Hatebreed (9)?  The hardcore heroes waste no time laying waste to Bloodstock with the opening combo of A.D. and Looking Down the Barrel of Today. From then on its hit after hit. Jamey Jasta is just as overwhelmingly positive as ever, constantly motivating the crowd to go harder. What else can really be said about Hatebreed that hasn’t been said before? They are just one of the best hardcore bands ever. By the time they drop Destroy Everything and immediately follow it with Honour Never Dies it’s fair to say Hatebreed have delivered one of the very best sets of the weekend so far. And people once complained about this band playing Bloodstock… SD

Hatebreed on stage at Bloodstock Open Air Festival 2017

With a Bloodstock weekend so full of thrash metal there’s a danger in oversaturation. Thankfully Kreator (9) are just a good enough band to avoid that with a set as tight as ever backed by a stage show that’s bigger than at least two of the headliners this weekend. Confetti, giant demon heads, and some of the most underrate thrash metal anthems ever written all ram their point home with a predictably brilliant Pleasure to Kill closing out their set. Mille Petrozza hasn’t lost a drop of venom since the golden years of thrash while Sami Yli-Sirniö remains one of metal’s undiscovered great guitarists. Kreator are amongst the most clinical, tight bands of the weekend musically and it elevates a brilliant set of songs.

What is particularly impressive about Kreator sets in 2017 is that a great majority of the set is actually culled off albums released since the turn of the millennia. Some bands sets might suffer from taking this approach but Kreator have maintained more than enough quality. Indeed, Even when the likes of Total Death and People of the Lie are both surrounded by songs written twenty years there’s no noticeable dip in quality. JH

Kreator on stage at Bloodstock Open Air Festival 2017

Finally it was time for Ghost (9) to bring the Saturday of Bloodstock to a close. After a delayed start, Square Hammer begins the set in spectacular fashion. Ghost might not have the same level of production as Amon Amarth the previous night but their stage show still stands out. Obviously Papa Emeritus is the centre of the whole thing and he is absolutely fantastic. Never once breaking character for the entire set, it is a truly memorable performance from him. Whether its at the start of the set when he’s in his full pope gear or after his costume change, he never lets his performance slip once. There is a real campy fun to Ghost as well, you could almost imagine Papa Emeritus being a villain in a black and white horror movie. This would all mean nothing if Ghost didn’t have the songs to back it up and over their three albums they have built up a huge arsenal of great songs. Songs like Ghuleh / Zombie Queen and Ritual have the crowd belting out every word and even despite all the make up and costumes, the band really connect with the audience. Monstrance Clock closes out the set with the addition of a local choir really adding to the scale of the song. This felt like a real crowning moment for Ghost and confirmation that the band really are headed for bigger things. SD

Ghost on stage at Bloodstock Open Air Festival 2017

Words by James Halstead, Sam Dignon and Ali Cooper. All photos by Fran Dignon.