Countdown to Catton Park…
If you live and breathe metal then summer spent on cruises, safaris and golden beaches all come a distant second to spending three heady days with like-minded brethren at the Bloodstock Open Air Festival. In this Midlands Rocks preview, Paul Castles highlights just some of the bands set to perform at Catton Park in Derbyshire between August 9-12.
You won’t have to wait long to get your first dose of heavy medicine this year with Bristol axe merchants Onslaught and Midlands titans Memoriam among the first acts to surface on the main Ronnie James Dio Stage. The latter made their bow at Catton Park just two years ago since when they’ve been clocking up the Euro miles at numerous festivals across the Channel, including Hellfest in June. Back on home soil, the death metal virtuosos will not be looking to take any prisoners.
Swedish veterans Bloodbath will keep the bar ratcheted firmly up a little later on while Norwegian black metal legends Emperor are sure to put on one of the shows of the day when they return to Catton Park four years on from when they so memorably performed their masterpiece In The Nightside Eclipse here in its entirety.
Friday headliners are leather and studs icons Judas Priest who will be very much back among friends with this return to the Midlands, their presence at the top of Friday’s line-up maintaining Bloodstock’s admirable tradition of recognising some of the original forefathers of metal who opened the door for others to follow.
There’s no shortage of attractions away from the main stage of course and if the leathers and chains of Priest don’t do it for you then the presence of arguably the First Lady of Metal, Doro, headlining the Sophie Lancaster Stage, promises something special. The German singer has won numerous awards, played to millions of fans around the globe and her 2016 release Doro – Strong And Proud – 30 Years Of Rock And Metal captured something of her lifetime’s work within the metal family.
The Sophie tent will also have its pegs tested by the likes of Welsh death metal crew Sodomized Cadavar, slam kings Ingested and Godthrym, a new name but not new faces with this latest ‘supergroup’ consisting of members of Vallenfyre and My Dying Bride.
Over the three days the Hobgoblin New Blood Stage will host all the regional Metal 2 The Masses winners along with plenty of other emerging talents. Anyone who saw Trivax triumph at the recent Birmingham M2TM final (reviewed here) will certainly be keen to reacquaint themselves with this caustic black metal machine.
Day Two of Bloodstock features two perennial Catton Park favourites topping the main stage in the form of French riff musketeers Gojira and NYC death metal icons Cannibal Corpse. Both will leave you exhausted and exhilarated in roughly equal measure. For those who prefer their metal diluted with a bit more swagger, or stagger, Scottish folk favourites Alestorm will keep the party juices flowing.
Although Septic Tank have been around for many years it’s fair to say that touring has never been uppermost in their plans. This for sure has something to do with the fact that figurehead Lee Dorrian has been busy down the years with the likes of Cathedral and With The Dead, not to mention managing his own Rise Above record label. So with a new album out to boot, Septic Tank inflicting some primal punishment should be something of a rare treasure. Those seeking a double dose of Dorrian should head to the Sophie tent later in the day when he will be performing at a considerably slower pace with his aforementioned wonderful doom ensemble With The Dead.
West Midlands magicians Conjurer have seen their trajectory continue to rise at an impressive rate over the past 18 months, culminating in a finalist slot at the recent Golden Gods Awards. Be sure to catch them ignite a post black metal tornado in the Sophie tent.
Bloodstock traditionally throws a few loose cannons into the manic metal melee and this year that could well come in the form of A Forest of Stars, a an intriguing collective of 19th century vaudeville, classical and burlesque musicians. New Orleans thrash kings Exhorder and spellbinding Middle Eastern favourites Orphaned Land close the Sophie Stage in style, the inspirational Israeli veterans returning to Bloodstock four years after their Catton Park bow.
The final day of Bloodstock 2018 sees Swedes dominant on the main stage from early risers Amaranthe and Evergrey through to later on in the evening when veterans At The Gates hit the stage. In between there’s an eclectic blend of metal ranging from clenched first hardcore venom in the fiery form of the Hatebreed frontman performing under his own name of Jasta through to Californians’ Mr Big who had a new album out last year in Defying Gravity.
In the Sophie tent on Sunday King Leviathian return to Catton Park having performed on the New Blood platform three years ago. While Bloodstock is full of fun don’t expect too much of it when these miserabilists spread some sonic darkness. Another band on the same stage also making their second appearance at Bloodstock are Mumbai’s finest Demonic Resurrection who went down a storm recently when playing at The Hammer And The Anvil in Birmingham. Expect some thunderous riffing from new album Dashavatar.
It may be difficult dragging yourself away from the Sophie tent later with the dual, albeit contrasting, attractions of Arkansas doom giants Pallbearer and the Swedish black metal friends of Satan, Watain, who can usually be relied on to whip up a hellish firestorm. If all that fire and damnation is a bit too hot to handle then the operatic opulence of the Finnish favourites Nightwish, now fronted of course by Floor Jansen, will bring Bloodstock 2018 to a slightly warmer climax. The Finns have just released Decades, a compilation that neatly captures the best of their output over the past 20 years.
As those who return year on year for this most friendly of festivals will vouch for, there’s nothing quite like Bloodstock. Prepare to raise your horns!
- For all the latest ticket, travel and line-up news on Bloodstock 2018 click here.