Bloodstock Festival: Top acts not to miss
From August 10 until August 13 metal fans in their thousands will make the pilgrimage to legendary metal festival Bloodstock.
Still trying to decide who to see? Check out our list of top acts you cannot miss:
Swedish Vikings Amon Amarth will be sailing their longboat into Catton Park to headline the main stage on Friday night.
Still riding the crest of the wave after 2016’s incredible and ambitious concept album Jomsviking, the quintet’s heroic hymns went down a storm when they last graced Bloodstock in 2014.
This time around berserker-in-chief Johan Hegg – who now has a business making authentic Viking related gear - has promised ‘an awesome party with immense bloodshed’, and who are we to doubt him.
He and his bandmates have spent the majority of the past year touring the world, with shows in Latin America, Israel and the USA as part of their exhaustive schedule. In preparation for a slew of summer festival appearances the band released a nifty Peaky Blinders inspired video for album track The Way of Vikings.
Prepare to raise your drinking horns!
Bay Area thrashers Testament have remained a firm favourite with fans throughout their 34 year career.
Albums such as debut The Legacy and 1990’s Souls Of Black are still seen as classics to this day, and despite a few line up changes, the band have seen a resurgence in recent years, undoubtedly picking up legions of new followers with the well received headbanger Dark Roots of Earth and last year’s brilliant Brotherhood of the Snake.
Singer Chuck Billy – now in his mid-50s – gets better with age; ditto for guitarist Alex Skolnick, who appeared to give Testament new impetus when he rejoined in 2005.
This is a band that thrives on producing quality over quantity, taking four years between each of its last three full lengths. And they still bring it live, with the Bloodstock performance falling towards the start of a tour that takes them across to South America before returning to Europe at the end of the year.
Decapitated started bringing the Polish assault in the mid-90s, and over the years have built up a reputation as one of the masters of modern death metal.
This year’s Anticult full length is arguably one of their best, featuring a truly astonishing level of guitar work from original member Vogg and some of the catchiest songs they have ever penned.
Ok, so the emphasis on melody may have polarised fans, with some no doubt pining for the band’s more brutal style of old, but the truth is Decapitated’s sound has evolved on an album by album basis.
One thing that has never changed, however, is their penchant for prompting utter chaos with their incendiary live performances.
Frontman Rafal Piotrowski knows how to hold a crowd – as those who witnessed the band’s crushing 2014 display at Bloodstock will attest to.
Ghost promise a near religious experience when they bring their bizarre stage show to Bloodstock for the first time.
Fusing elements of prog into a heady mix of early Black Sabbath and Pentagram, the Swedish six-piece are sure to feel right at home on the hallowed turf of Catton Park.
A band of ‘nameless ghouls’ led by the inimitable Papa Emeritus III, Ghost’s most recent album Meloria spawned the track ‘Circle’, which won a Grammy for Best Metal Performance.
It was followed last year by the critically acclaimed ‘Popestar’ EP.
There is highly likely to be masks, face paint and maybe a bit of choral chanting when these occult rockers hit the stage, but the best advice is to expect the unexpected.
Passionate and folky black metal from Manchester that reeks of northern England’s pagan culture and heritage.
Second album The Mercian Sphere propelled them onto the international stage when it was unleashed in 2010, which was also the year they first graced the stage at Bloodstock.
They have shared the stage with the biggest and best the black metal scene has to offer, including Enslaved, Primordial and Solstafir. When Winterfylleth get started there will be ferocious aggression, soaring guitars, and a whole lot of melancholic beauty hidden within.
When Hatebreed first graced Bloodstock in 2012, there were a foolish minority of critics who argued that they had no place at a metal festival.
Jamey Jasta and his crew promptly silenced them with an explosive display of metallic hardcore ferocity that garnered the band plenty of new fans. They made a triumphant return in 2014 and this year they are back again – cementing their place as a mainstay of the Bloodstock line up.
Eight albums into their career, Hatebreed’s fury shows no signs of subsiding, and last year’s The Concrete Confessional was arguably their hardest missive yet. Having long ago shown themselves to be a unifying force between hardcore and metal cliques, Hatebreed has nothing left to prove.
They will be heard.
Crossover party animals Municipal Waste are a strange breed.
They started playing thrash at a time when the sound was considered unfashionable by certain sections of the music press – yet albums such as 2003’s Waste ‘Em All dropped like manna from heaven into the laps of those of a metal thrashing mad inclination.
This year’s Slime and Punishment continues the legacy, with a sound rooted in the mid-80s glory of crossover kings like DRI and Dr Know.
The band’s appearance on the Ronnie James Dio stage on Saturday marks their first Bloodstock show since laying Catton Park to waste back in 2013.
One of the original titans of thrash, Megadeth have seen a resurgence in recent years, with 2016’s Dystopia hitting number one in the Billboard charts and landing the band a Grammy for best metal performance.
Despite going through numerous line-up changes, Megadeth is still very much the baby of singer, songwriter, lyricist, guitarist and all round head honcho Dave Mustaine.
It’s been more than 30 years and 15 albums since he was kicked out of Metallica, and Dave’s still bitter. But Megadeth are nothing if not resilient.
Expect thrash classics like Hangar 18, Peace Sells and Wake Up Dead along with riff-heavy newer stuff from a band re-energised.
In the eyes of many Possessed are the godfathers of death metal, cited by almost everyone that matters as an influence and hailed as both pioneers and innovators.
Their dual mid-80s assault of Seven Churches and Beyond the Gates made serious waves in the metal community at the time, and years later they still stand as bonafide genre-bending classics.
There has been no full length from Possessed since 1986, but that is about to change after the band’s recent announcement that writing is underway for their debut on Nuclear Blast.
Vocalist and founding member Jeff Becerra says the quintet are primed for a new era, starting with a set of summer shows and festival appearances.
Florida legends Obituary will need no introduction when they hit the main stage on Sunday.
With a discography that starts off with a trio of early 90s death metal ‘must-haves’ in Slowly We Rot, Cause of Death and The End Complete, the quintet came back with a bang this year with arguably their best record in more than two decades.
The self-titled release is pure Obituary, sticking to the set formula that has stood the test of time with just enough tweaks to keep things sounding vital.
Obituary are no strangers to Catton Park, having previously burst eardrums at Bloodstock in 2010 and 2014, but this year’s set promises to pack an extra punch.
One for the hardcore mob. Manchester bruisers Broken Teeth will open up proceedings on the Ronnie James Dio stage on Sunday.
Since their formation a decade ago the band have built a solid reputation, chiefly on the back of some of the hardest, most pit inducing breakdowns to have ever emanated from the UK scene.
After releasing a series of seven inches – including a split with The Mongoloids that garnered attention Stateside – last year’s debut album At Peace Amongst Chaos was highly anticipated by many. And it didn’t disappoint, presenting a set of 10 paeans to brutality that never let up in terms of ferocity or aggression.
Definitely worth arriving early for.
Other bands to look out for:
Kroh - Brummie occult doomsters with haunting vocals from Oliwia Sobieszek. (Sophie Lancaster stage, Saturday)
Inquisition – Majestic and evil black metal from Colombia. (Sophie Lancaster stage, Friday).
Macabre – ‘Murder metal’ legends screaming about serial killers. (Sophie Lancaster stage, Friday).
Gurt – Proud inventors of the ‘party doom’ genre. (Sophie Lancaster stage, Thursday)
Bloodstock takes place at Catton Park, near Burton on Trent from 10th - 13th August. Weekend tickets are sold out, but day tickets & further information can be found at www.bloodstock.uk.com.