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Bloodstock 2017: Metal For the Masses

Issue #53

Bloodstock 2017: Metal For the Masses Rounding off our music festival coverage for 2017 – the Guitar Interactive Magazine team were on-site at this year's Bloodstock Open Air catching all the sights and sounds from the weekend. Plus, exclusive backstage chat with Megadeth's, Kiko Loureiro and Dave Ellefson, Amon Amarth's Johan Söderberg, Richard Shaw of Cradle of Filth and much more.
Jonathan Graham

Whatever your favorite flavor of metal, be it thrash, death, doom or even pirate, Bloodstock is going to have something to satisfy. This is why for over ten years that BOA has been heralded as the UK's premier metal festival, and with another impressive line-up of brand new acts, mixed with a slew of hard-hitting heavyweights for the 2017 edition, the stage was set for it to be the best event to date.

Friday highlights included Danish alt-metal act, Forever Still kicking things off on the main stage lead by the impressive vocals of Maja Shining. Chelsea Grin, who put on a fantastic set, brought their particular brand of American deathcore to the festival. And Not relying on the deep fan base of metal mainstay's Cradle of Filth, Dani Filth's side project, Devilment easily picked up a bevy of new supporters following their performance, which was one of the strongest of the day. 

Away from the main stage, the Hobgoblin New Blood Stage showcased some of the best new bands across the weekend. Raze the Void, were once such act who fused the best elements of thrash and prog to significant effect. Devil’s Playground, with dual attack male and female vocal where also outstanding on the opening day of the event.

German power metal giants, Blind Guardian returned to the Bloodstock mainstage for a storming set right before Friday's headlining act. The metal pioneers had the enticed crowd locked-in throughout, however, especially during sing-alongs to classics such as; "The Bard’s Song" and "Valhalla."

The kings of Viking metal, Amon Amarth finally got their opportunity to headline Bloodstock following subbing to fellow 2017 headliners Megadeth three years ago at the same event. Complete with a drum kit mounted on giant Viking horns, boats, dragons and masses of fire, the band's set lived up to all expectations and even produced the largest-ever 'rowing pit' during “Varyags of Miklagaard.”

As Saturday rolled on, more Bloodstock records continued to be broken at this year's event, with an inordinate amount of crowd-surfers forcing security numbers at the front of the stage to triple during Municipal Waste’s impressive set. A real stand out for day 2 however, had to be the largest ever crowd at the unsigned stage, as internet sensations, Raised by Owls provided some welcomed comic relief with songs dedicated to their culinary heroes. Highlights included; "Ainsley Harriet Advises You to Give Your Meat a Good Ol’ Rub" and "You’ve Been Mary Berried."

Back on the Main Stage, Winterfylleth and Havok both provided their brands of loud, fast, aggressive and passion filled metal that captivated the Bloodstock crowd in a way very few other bands managed to do over the course of the event. Annihilator also stood out with an impressive set of classic songs, and even a sneak preview of some new brand material from the upcoming album. Sub-headliners, Kreator delivered a headliner level performance as Saturday drew closer to its finale. The quality, the fan response, and the overall feel made it undeniably one of the most significant sets of the weekend laden with pyrotechnic goodness and the menacing sounds of one of Germany’s most significant metal exports.

Ghost initially divided opinion when they were announced as Saturday's headliners. Having never headlined a UK festival the pressure was on the group to put on one of the best performances of their career and silence the naysayers, and from the first note of "Square Hammer" to the final note of "Monstrance Clock," Ghost made it very clear why they were headlining. Ghost provided a perfectly choreographed and performed set that would have left very few in attendance disappointed.

The final day saw more impressive performances from the likes of Venom Prison, Florida death metal legends, Obituary and masked Mexicans, Brujeria. The party really got started however, with one of the UK's finest, Skindred taking to the main stage. A melting pot of brilliant beats and rousing riffs coupled with charismatic frontmen Benji Webbe was just what the doctor ordered three days into the festival, as even if you were too tired (or hungover) to move, you just couldn't help yourself.

Bossk dominated the Hobgoblin New Blood Stagecraft with their unique combination of doomy, stoner riffs with progressive, post-hardcore and ambient musings. The musical dynamic of Bossk sets them apart amongst their contemporaries and is something that they can comfortable translate from album to the stage with great ease. 

With the amount of Arch Enemy shirts on display, it was clear that they were one of the most anticipated acts of the weekend, and for a good reason. This year's Bloodstock was a great showcase in just how far female fronted metal acts have come in the once male-dominated genre, and once again they absolutely nailed it. An overwhelming, powerful and emotive performance that could easily see them headline a future edition of BOA.

Thrash metal legends Megadeth (who truly need no introduction) closed proceedings on Sunday night. One of the big 4 of heavy metal, big Dave and Co. brought their A-game for this one, storming through a set largely made up of band's greatest hits. Kiko Loureiro's blistering solo work was a masterclass in shred guitar throughout and cements him as one of the most exceptional lead guitar players in the history of the legendary band. "A Tout Le Monde" and "Sweating Bullets" were real standout moments. However, even Vic Rattlehead made an appearance on "Holy Wars," which acted as the perfect finale to this year's proceedings.

With 2017's event done and dusted, plans are already well underway for next year's event in Catton Park with headliners, Judas Preset, Gojira and Nightwish already announced!

Standard weekend tickets are currently available at ‘early bird’ prices (just £125 for four days of metal fun) so grab yours now at the ticket store if you want to save £20. The limited allocation of VIP upgrades (for those who've bought early bird tickets) will cost £145.

Bloodstock 2018 will take place at Catton Park, Derbyshire on 9th-12th August 2018.  Get further information over at www.bloodstock.uk.com.

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