Don’t get us wrong, here at Hardbeat we love throwing devil horns and hailing Satan but we didn’t expect Bloodstock to literally be hotter than hell this year. With four days of 30+ degree heat, punters had to battle melting corpse paint, burnt skin and the pain of only packing black clothes, but it was all worth it for yet another excellent weekend of metal in Derbyshire.
Launching Bloodstock proper are industrial rising stars RED METHOD. Returning after their lauded performance on the Sophie stage back in 2019 the band command the crowd superbly despite the early morning slot. Screaming guitars and stomping boots accompany new age old school thrashers INHUMAN NATURE as they lead the Sophie tent in some gloriously riff laden apocalyptic cardio.
The masses then begin converging for one of the more highly anticipated sets of the weekend. It’s BLOODYWOOD, who pull no punches and have the gathering dancing and shouting along with them even in the extreme conditions. A secret set from notorious festival avoiders MACHINE HEAD is as special as it is exciting. The band deliver with a varied off the cuff setlist while the live debut of 2005s Roadrunner United track ‘The Dagger’ is met with uproarious delight from the crowd.
A Bay Area tag team of EXODUS into TESTAMENT proves a predictably wonderful if uneventful time. You know what you’re gonna get when these thrash legends hit the stage and they deliver.
Though the twinkling keys opening SLEEP TOKEN’s late night ritual threaten to lull even the hardiest festival goer into a much needed slumber after a busy day, the ensemble do break out the heavy in their own bewitching way.
There is no better cure for the affliction that is festival morning hangovers than a brutal assault to the senses courtesy of sludgecore collective MASTIFF. To the hellfire on the main stage! Temperatures soar as LORNA SHORE take to the stage and continue to prove why the tremendous hype is warranted as the operatic onslaught ensues.
SYLOSIS have long since cemented their status as staples in the UK metal canon and this performance demonstrates just exactly why that is. Heavy, techy and honed to a T, it’s what we like to see!
The main stage is in ridiculous form today and a long anticipated Bloodstock appearance from Ukrainian juggernauts JINJER goes as well as you’d expect. Which is to say incredibly. The effortlessness with which this group perform is a joy to behold. Following this, BURY TOMORROW bring the heat with some fiery staging to accompany an equally intense performance that feels so at home on these larger festival stages. Possibly one of the meatier sounding sets of the weekend.
When MERCYFUL FATE last performed in the UK, they opened the second stage at Big Day Out 1999. 23 years later and with a ferocious cult following behind them, the Danes close the Saturday mainstage with drama and delightful metal fun. Sheffield’s finest MALEVOLENCE close the Saturday with the biggest headline show of their career. It’s easy to forget that this band have been fusing heavy metal, and groovy hardcore for twelve years and to celebrate Lorna Shore’s Will Ramos and Blood Youth’s Harry Rule come out to perform ‘Karma’ and ‘Keep Your Distance’ respectively. C’mon boys, let’s see you headline the main stage on album number four.
Lineage certainly looms large over Slipknot babies VENDED but with this UK first performance the Iowa collective show they can stand on their own. Brimming with energy, it will be interesting to see this group grow.
Another festival, another slam dunk performance from HERIOT. And the heavy continues with ORBIT CULTURE and their lusciously savage showing. The same goes for CATTLE DECAPITATION, who have brought their a-game. Hair is furiously whipped and banged in circles as the San Diego five-piece spend 45 minutes battering the crowd with their signature death-grind combination.
An unconventional booking in the form of KILLING JOKE turns out to be one of Bloodstock’s best. Effortlessly cool and darkly gloomy, the band rifle through a forty year career of excellence and provide perfect respite from the rest of the lineup.
Closing out the Bloodstock main stage, LAMB OF GOD put on a career best performance. Songs such as ‘Laid To Rest’ and ‘Walk With Me In Hell’ explode on the main stage, inciting a crowd reaction reserved for only the most beloved metal anthems, while new songs ‘Omens’ and ‘Nevermore’ indicate that the band are still capable of producing career best material.
The final band of the weekend, NIGHT FLIGHT ORCHESTRA bring an 80s pop-rock extravaganza that somehow manages to be neither cliche nor annoying. Like Ghost for people who prefer Foreigner to Alice Cooper, Night Flight are riotously fun.
Words by Paris Fawcett and Will Mawdsley