Words Adrian Young with added “Well actually…” from Adrian Hextall
Pictures: Adrian Hextall \ MindHex Media
Header and Gallery Shots: Olga Kuzmenko \ Olga Kuzmenko Photography
The Gods of Heavy Metal had decided that “Bloodstock” wouldn’t mind some rain and they certainly delivered. After a lot of it overnight I entered the site with the anticipation of a mud bath but overall it wasn’t too bad. The most pressing weather-related issue was the wind which was forecast to increase as the day went along.
Kickstarting the day were Bulgarian outfit Odd Crew. A mass of energy on stage, the band, coming across like a Euro version of Suicidal Tendancies at times, really got the bal rolling and offered the perfect start to the second full day at the festival. Major props to vocalist Vasil Raykov, who, front and centre, worked the slightly hung over crowd really really well, blowing away the cobwebs and focusing everyone in the Sophie tent for metal and beer (cos’ that’s why we are here!).
The first band of the day was Colchester’s very own “Goat Monsoon” who describe themselves as garage fuzz rock. They have been on a run of support slots with some of the more established heavyweight bands such as Orange Goblin and Paradise Lost. What a great way to start the day, lots of driving riffs and a very energetic and powerful frontman.
At festivals where there are lots of bands you might not have heard of, I like to play a game of death or power metal. With a name like “Guardians of Time” and being from Norway it could only be power metal.
The band has been around since 1997 but has had various breaks so this might be why they have passed me by but I have been missing some excellent classic power metal. The band played to a large crowd in the Sophie Lancaster tent and they were not disappointed. In Bernt Fjellestad they have a powerful singer who propelled the performance to great heights. Lots of sing-a-long choruses as well which always go down well with a power metal audience.
If you have never had the pleasure of seeing “Evil Scarecrow” at a festival then you have missed out on amazing group experience. Nowhere else will you see thousands of metal fans scuttling from side to side while making crab claw movements during the classic track “Crabulon”. The band performance is also big on-stage props which the band themselves describe as a bit Blue Peter and when you see them you will know what they mean but it is done in a very knowing way. All these theatrics shouldn’t take away from a group of excellent musicians they are, led by Dr. Rabid Hell they play high-quality metal music.
At this point, the wind was starting to pick up and the video screens either side of the stage had to be lowered and some of the band’s props were starting to suffer which in their case added to the good time everybody was having. Thankfully the wind dropped enough as the pyro tech got Evil Scarecrow to stand back long enough for their major finale. (See below)
Sometimes random events prove to be very beneficial and no more so than seeing ‘3 Headed Snake’ in what guitarist Sin Quirin said was their first gig. But these were not a bunch of new starters but were a group of seasoned pros’ who had formed a metal project in the classic style. It turns out that the band is a side project for three members of industrial metal titans Ministry plus Johnny Ray from The Mourning and DV Karloff from Society 1.
Next up were “The Wildhearts” who were late replacements for the hardcore punk band “Code Orange” who had to cancel at short notice. Well done to the “Bloodstock” team for such an excellent replacement.
“The Wildhearts” have been at the forefront of the British rock scene for over 30 years now despite the soap opera nature of their existence which has seen the lead singer and guitarist Ginger as the only constant member. From the 1993 release “Earth vs The Wildhearts” which was the Kerrang album of the year to smashing up the Kerrang office in 1995 as they took offense to an article saying that they had split up which is something they often did, nowadays, the band seems to be entering a calmer phase of their long career with the return to what some would say was the classic line up of Ginger, CJ, Ritch, and Danny. 2019 sees the release of the new album “Renaissance Men” which has been very well received and they started their set with “Dislocated” from the album.
So that’s the history what about today, well Ginger and the gang grabbed the unexpected opportunity with both hands and delivered a stomping 60-minute set mixing the old and new including perhaps their most widely recognized track “Caffeine Bomb”. They finish the day with a sing along of “I Wanna Go Where the People Go” and finished the set in a glorious flourish to what might not have been the biggest crowd of the day but to perhaps was one of the most enthusiastic.
AH: “Well actually……”, no wait, what can I say, Ade Y is correct. Mortal Kombat levels of ‘flawless victory’ from a band who could have divided the audience (see comments later about Parkway Drive) but instead pulled the ‘festival performance’ of the day out of the hat and delivered a perfect set. If the weather gods had their way, this set could have also been the last on the main stage which would have meant that The Fuckin’ Wildhearts would have headlined Bloodstock… so near yet so far…. also the story (at times) of the band over the last 25 odd years! One day their time will come and the only music you hear on the radio will have been written by Ginger & Co.
Gallery 1 – Bloodstock Open Air 2019 – Saturday August 10th – Photos by Olga Kuzmenko
As I mentioned earlier the day was plagued by ever-increasing winds and this escalating situation forced the temporary closure of the main stage. This was I am sure not a decision taking lightly by the team but was done with safety in mind. This meant that “Cradle of Filth” had to be canceled much to the disappointment of the crowd. Thanks to the excellent communication from “Bloodstock” via the app and signs put up around the site it was announced that they would play on Sunday instead. That was fantastic news for the people with three-day tickets but what about the people who had a day ticket only and had specifically come to see “Cradle of Filth”? Well, “Bloodstock” really pulled it out of the bag by allowing Saturday only tickets to be used on Sunday as well. A big round of applause for the team behind the festival for that generous gesture which shows that the fans are the most important element of “Bloodstock”
Eventually, the wind speed reduced to such a level that the main stage was back up and running. So, a little bit later than planned, the mighty thrash titans “Anthrax” entered the Ronnie James Dio stage to the biggest crowd so far.
Anthrax was formed in New York in 1981 and was one of the bands at the birth of the speed and thrash metal scene. They have been fortunate to have someone such as Scott Ian as a constants force in the band which has sustained them through many line-up changes.
Vocalist Joey Belladonna has been the “Anthrax” vocalist on and off since 1984 but has been constant in the band since 2010 and this settled line up including “Charlie Benante” on drums and “Frank Bello” on bass has seen them emerge from the wilderness years to the acclaim of much younger crowd some of whose parents might not have been born when “Anthrax” first emerged. Well, what did we get? We got a set of the greatest hits of “Anthrax” and the crowd loved it, it felt like 1985 all over again.” Caught in the Mosh”, “I Am the Law” and “Indians” were particular highlights for an old thrasher like me and the crowd as well. A very welcome return to the festival scene.
Last of the night was a band who had been a controversial choice as a headliner for Bloodstock. Its fair to say that Vicky Hungerford came in for quite a lot of stick, her basic response was “we know what we are doing just wait and see”. I have to admit that I was one of those skeptical people who thought it was a bad decision. Confession time, I was completely and utterly wrong and should have had faith in Bloodstock.
The problem for me is that I had seen “Parkway Drive” a couple of times before and I thought musically they were very good but the metalcore vocals diminished the experience. It was with this memory I waited for them to appear, hoping for the best but expecting the worst. Their entrance was unexpected as a bunch of torch-bearing monks escorted the members of the band to their chosen position, this was unexpected but in a good way, suddenly the interest is rising.
Then the band started and to my surprise, there was clean vocal from Winston McCall, he can sing and in a very powerful way. In Winston McCall, the band has a singer that not only sings the songs but sells them. He rarely stands still and when required moves in such a way that you would know what emotion the song was telling without even hearing the words.
I must mention the stage show which looked fantastic, a dark and moody setting helped by the fact it was now past sunset. The number of flames was incredible and you could feel the heat a good 20 metres from the front, it must have been intense near the stage.
The band played tracks such as “Prey”, “Vice Grip” and the crowd favorite “Wild Eyes” It was at this point the circle pit started as Winston McCall had them eating out of the palm of his hand and everything changed in many people mind.
AH: “Well actually….” I was not looking forward to this… there I said it! 90 minutes of “shouty bollocks!” didn’t really sound ideal to me. I am now wearing my “I’m a twat” t-shirt as this was indeed something else. I find myself heading to Spotify on a regular basis, dipping into the back catalogue wondering how I got it so wrong for so many years. Yes the vocals are still shouty and at times McCall’s throat must be agony with all the razor blades he has to eat to get that sound. However PD put on THE show! no mistake, just stunning!
Gallery 2 – Bloodstock Open Air 2019 – Saturday August 10th – Photos by Adrian Hextall
PARKWAY DRIVE SETLIST
Idols and Anchors
Writings on the Wall