Bloodstock 2017 Day 2 review: Hatebreed, Kreator and Ghost
Peter Madeley was at the UK's biggest heavy metal festival to see Hatebreed, Kreator and Ghost perform.
What a difference a few years makes.
Connecticut’s Hatebreed certainly weren’t everyone’s choice as a Bloodstock main stager when they first played the festival in 2012, but they went about silencing their critics by delivering what was arguably one of that year’s standout performances.
Jamey Jasta and his crew have now become Catton Park regulars, and bedlam ensued from the moment they took the stage in the late afternoon blazing sun.
The double whammy of Looking Down The Barrel Of Today from The Concrete Confessional and In Ashes They Shall Reap from the self-titled 2009 album saw to it that a pretty impressive circle pit was formed early in proceedings.
We were treated to tracks from Hatebreed’s impressive eight-album back catalogue, including Proven and Smash Your Enemies from Perseverance, Defeatist from Supremacy and the heavy-as-an-anvil Beholder of Justice from The Rise of Brutality.
Jasta looked genuinely happy to be at Bloodstock, a broad grin plastered across his face throughout the set despite Hatebreed having endured a 35 hour trip on ‘planes, trains and automobiles’ from the Czech Republic via Belgium to get there.
There was a nice touch when they launched into Last Breath from first album Satisfaction Is The Death Of Desire, with Jasta dedicating the song to Linkin Park’s Chester Bennington and anyone who has ever suffered from depression and anxiety.
And the tail end of the Hatebreed set really was a treat to behold.
Destroy Everything – which had the majority of the crowd screaming along to every word – was followed by short and sweet hardcore rager Empty Promises from the first album, Jasta leaning forward over the front of the stage as he screamed: “How can you save me, when you can’t save yourself?”
After the crushing Honor Never Dies from The Divinity Of Purpose it was just left to set-closer I Will Be Heard to close the deal.
A triumphant return for a band that has, for many, become a Bloodstock favourite.
Kreator were one of the most eagerly anticipated bands of the entire festival, a feeling that became abundantly clear during the mad scramble to get from Ohhms set at the Sophie Lancaster stage to the main stage in the moments before the German thrash veterans came on.
Entering to a sea of red confetti and loud cheers from the crowd, the band launched straight into Hordes Of Chaos and did not pause for seven songs.
Mille Petrozza strutted around a stage set-up that suited the mood perfectly, complete with giant coffin lids and an impressive array of pyrotechnics.
We were treated to Phobia from 1997’s Outcast, Satan Is Real from new record Gods Of Violence followed by the title track from that album.
The new stuff is arguably Kreator’s strongest material in years and it sounded great live, mixing in well with thrash classics like Total Death from 1985’s Endless Pain.
Phantom Antichrist and Fallen Brother saw the crowd go ballistic, while at one point Petrozza marched to the front of the stage and addresses Bloodstock with a machine gun – one that fired nothing more dangerous than smoke, I hasten to add.
Enemy Of God had the crowd belting out the chorus as what is likely to be one of Bloodstock 2017’s most energetic circle pits was formed.
Violent Revolution followed before finale Pleasure To Kill – hands down one of the greatest thrash songs of all time.
It is hard to believe it was written more than 30 years ago.
In metal circles there is understandably a lot of respect given to those genre pioneers that keep on keeping on through the decades.
But Kreator showed they have far more to offer than simply a lesson in longevity.
Swedish six-piece Ghost are the epitome of metal’s pomp and splendour and provided a live sermon that was made for a big outdoor setting like Bloodstock.
Darkness had fallen over Catton Park by the time Papa Emeritus and his merry band of nameless ghouls entered the stage to deliver a performance that was part rock show and part theatre.
They opened up with Square Hammer from the Popestar EP, with Papa’s beckoning call “Are you willing to swear right here, right now before the devil?” setting the tone for the night.
From The Pinnacle To The Pit followed, before the sprawling Con Clavi Con Dio sees Papa - sporting black and white face make up and a papal hat - dispensed incense to the massed congregation.
Next we were introduced to the ‘sisters of sin’, a group of 20 women dressed up as nuns who stretched from one end of the stage to the other before being ordered down to the front of the crowd to dispense ‘a very symbolic gift’.
While they performed what appeared to be some kind of barbed holy communion, the band ploughed through Body and Blood from Infestissumam, a song Papa introduced as being about ‘eating flesh and drinking blood’.
Instrumental Devil Church led into the amazing Cirice from third album Meloria, a song that comes across as a rock opera condensed into a single track complete with metal stomp, synth parts and a killer mid-song guitar solo.
Crowd favourite Year Zero followed, as smoke, fire and shards of light sprayed up from the stage, and next was the haunting ballad He Is – which for reasons I can’t explain always strikes me as having the potential to be metal’s next winner of the Eurovision Song Contest.
Ghost are a band that command fierce devotion from their fans, as could be seen by the impressive number of people in the crowd imitating Papa’s panda face make up.
Yet a large part of the band’s charm is that they don’t take themselves too seriously, meaning that at times sections of their live show begin to border on Spinal Tap territory.
This was their first Bloodstock, coming on the back of a year that has seen line up changes and legal battles, and few in the crowd wouldn’t welcome them back to the festival with open arms.