The final day of Bloodstock begins with a non-stop torrent of rain that feels like it will last for the duration of the festival. This is probably good news for October File, tucked away in the tent hosting the Sophie Lancaster Stage, undoubtedly picking up spectators who simply want to remain dry. Coalescing elements of post-punk, industrial, alternative and modern metal, they certainly offer something different for the Bloodstock audience and serve as an intriguing vessel for aggressive music.
In the more traditional Bloodstock vein are ReVamp on the Ronnie James Dio Stage, Dutch symphonic metal fronted by Floor Jansen (current Nightwish singer) after her previous band After Forever called it quits a few years ago. Jansen proves her ability as a versatile vocalist, handling sorpranos and occasionally some growls while providing a trained stage presence that shows she is far from new to the metal domain. The music is very heavy for a symphonic metal band and there is a spread of different emotions touched upon throughout the set. The audience may not be colossal but those watching air their gratitude vociferously.
With the sun making an appearance and the rain like a distant memory, Floridian death metal legends Obituary take the Ronnie James Dio Stage. There is a sizeable crowd watching them as the five-piece plough through their old school doom death metal, serenading the seemingly never-ending mosh pit. The guitars have a coarse grit to them and the unmistakeable vocals of John Tardy peg these proud rednecks as one of the most distinguishable old school death metallers. The usual suspects such as 'The End Complete', 'Chopped in Half' and 'Turned Inside Out' make an appearance, much to the glee to the Obituary devotees and once again closer 'Slowly We Rot' steals the show, extracting a final surge of energy from the spectators.
Always welcome at Bloodstock are England's own Saxon, opening with title track of the latest album 'Sacrifice'. Besides this and 'Battalions of Steel', these crowd pleasers play no other song from the latter end of their repertoire, adhering to their '80s heavy metal anthems. The setlist is of no revelation to those who have seen Saxon before and this is a great thing. Classic fan favourites such as 'Heavy Metal Thunder', 'Crusader', '747 (Strangers in the Night)' and 'Wheels of Steel' see metal fans young and old singing along in unison. Despite the age of the band, Saxon are as energetic and dynamic on stage as ever. A surprise arrives after 'Princess of the Night' finishes – Dave Mustaine of Megadeth joins the Englishmen on stage to provide guitar duties for the unifying 'Denim and Leather' and the audience explodes with excitement. There is no better way to end this set and must assuredly be one of Saxon's most compelling shows in recent years.
With two enormous dragonheads on the Ronnie James Dio Stage, melodic death metal favourites Amon Amarth hit the ground running by starting their set with 'Father of the Wolf. Being one of the most popular bands at this festival, the Swedes have amassed a large audience. Promoting 'Deceiver of the Gods', the Viking obsessives air out 'As Loke Falls', 'We Shall Destroy' and the title track, in addition to the opener from this release. The vast majority of their set focuses on the most recent portion of their discography with songs such as 'Guardians of Asgaard', 'Asator' and 'Cry of the Black Birds'. Interestingly, the absence of the firm fan favourite 'Death in Fire' feels glaring.
Frontman Johan Hegg does a fair job at keeping punters animated throughout the show but the level of exhilaration seems low after following Saxon's set. Perhaps it is because Amon Amarth are constantly touring and have played Bloodstock several times prior to this year but their set fails to feel exceptional in anyway, despite there being nothing technically wrong with their performance. An encore of 'Twilight of the Thunder God' and 'Victorious March' lift spirits but there certainly feels as if something is lacking.
Headliners Megadeth of the thrash metal Big Four are the last band on the Ronnie James Dio Stage for this year's instalment of Bloodstock. Opening with the exercise in guitar virtuosity 'Hanger 18', the audience surges forward against the barrier as frontman Dave Mustaine and guitarist Chris Broderick engage in a battle of dazzling guitar solos. The setlist is one that will please most Megadeth fans, with superb songs including 'Wake Up Dead', 'Skin o' My Teeth', 'Sweating Bullets'and less predictably 'Poison Was the Cure' making the cut. The only newer songs are 'Kingmaker' and 'Public Enemy No. 1' with the audience comparatively pacified during these tracks with the thrash metal content reduced.
In the past few years, Mustaine has been known to take his social and political diatribes to his concert attendees but tonight he barely talks, bounding through each thrash metal attack and rightfully letting the music do the talking. His stage presence comes across as cartoony at times but clearly he is having fun and it does not detract dramatically from the performance. 'Peace Sells' closes the body of the set but “Megadeth!” chants do not cease until the Americans are back on the stage. The encore begins unexpectedly with a cover of the Thin Lizzy masterpiece 'Cold Sweat' before the curtain calling 'Holy Wars…The Punishment Due' invites the audience to mosh, headbang or crowdsurf one more time during Megadeth's set. Given some of the issues that customarily plague Megadeth concerts these days, Mustaine and friends certainly pulled out as many stops as they could to deliver a highly gratifying performance, well-suited for a festival headlining slot.
But Mustaine is far from flawless. His management insisted that no band play the same time as Megadeth so new wave of British heavy metal icons Satan had to delay their set until the headliners were finished, meaning those who had to leave the festival early completely missed them. Nonetheless, those dismayed at the clash between bands had the opportunity to see both. Vocalist Brian Ross sarcastically thanked Mustaine for giving them the headline slot as the Sophie Lancaster Stage fills up to catch their show. Their take on heavy metal is hardly revolutionary but they are a solid band nonetheless and selections from their 1983 album 'Court in the Act' are well-received by those watching.
All in all, the Bloodstock team have done another fantastic job at providing the UK with a great outdoor metal festival for the weekend. Despite the negativity of the weather forecasts beforehand, the weather predominantly held out compassionately and undoubtedly many are excessively thankful at the great memories that were crafted this weekend. Highly recommended to British metalheads who wants a festival that concentrates on metal in all its various forms, showcasing both prime international talent and home-grown gems.
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