Bloodstock 2021 Review

Can you believe it? After waiting 2 years… it’s over. Bloodstock 2021…. The 20th anniversary of the festival and the 1st to take place since 2019 because of you know what. It’s happened, it’s gone and we eagerly await 2022 where we will once again step foot on the hallowed grounds of Bloodstock.

Did we have a head-banging time? Oh, hell yeah. Did we see as many bands as we’d have liked too? Oh, hell no. Such is life when you have to interview, eat, sleep and so on. However, we did see a fair few and we’re about to tell you what we thought of them below.

Regardless of score, it has to be said that we didn’t see a single bad band over the weekend. Even if it was for 10 mins or 60 mins, every band we saw was kicking ass. You guys are the stars of Bloodstock 2021.

Wednesday

Brendan – Anakim

The first band of the weekend and the first live show for fans in some time was already going to be special. To be unfair to Anakim, they could have just bashed their instruments against their heads and most people would have been rapturous just for being there. Thankfully they didn’t, instead warming the festival crowd up with an excellent display of punchy, aggressive but catchy death metal. The perfect starter. Score: 7/10

Carl – Anakim

I’m not going to give Anakim a score because I literally only caught the final track (wrapping up an interview) but man, was that shit brutal. The band are amazing on record and the brief bit of music my ears got to hear in the tent was just as good.

Brendan – Ward XVI

A real treat for the eyes and something a little different for the ears, Ward XVI will have made themselves a plethora of new fans after there excellent performance. The effort with their stage craft and set up is and was appreciated and the music rocks too. I thoroughly enjoyed the set and look forward to seeing where they go with this. They certainly have the talent and will have caught the eye of many, many new fans. Kudos for the first pyro of the week too in Burn the Witch. Score: 7/10

Carl – Ward XVI

It’s been a long time coming and I will admit I was very excited and a bit merry by time the group took the stage. An imaginative stage show, pyro to warm the heart and singe the eyebrows, a killer set of songs… 30 mins flew by in a blur. Ward XVI did not disappoint. Score: 8/10

Brendan – Onslaught

Wow. I went along to see the thrash icons more from a bucket list perspective as I had never seen them previously. My first thought after their set was, how have I not seen them before followed by a quick “that is how you headline”. Onslaught were amazing. Maybe I shouldn’t be surprised but wow. They sounded perfect, engaged the crowd, were funny, had the stage show and musically absolutely killed it. What a performance. Score: 9/10

Carl – Onslaught

Blistering. I did not expect to hear one of the best bands of the entire weekend on the very first night but Onslaught were incredible. A band that is getting better and better as they go on and live, they are a force. Score: 9/10

Thursday

Brendan – Tortured Demon

I didn’t so much see Tortured Demon as hear them seeing as the Jaeger stage was absolutely surrounded by an army of eager watchers. I think I saw a fringe once and maybe the head of a bass. They sounded strong though and the hordes surrounding them were enjoying it. These guys have a big future ahead of them and I look forward to actually seeing them on a bigger stage soon. Score: 7/10

Carl – Tortured Demon

There was no getting near that stage if you weren’t there 15 mins before Tortured Demon were due to start. Which really speaks volumes about the young band’s future. What I did hear (way at the back) and couldn’t see was frenzied heaviness that put a big smile on my face. Score: 7/10

Brendan – Pemphigoid

Hard, heavy and punishing metal from the popular underground band. It was enjoyable while not exactly being awe inspiring or game changing. Just a good solid blast of extreme metal to rip into you and get your adrenaline rushing. And that they did. Good effort. Score: 7/10

Carl – Pemphigoid

I asked for mean and meaty death metal and that was what I got with Pemphigoid. No nonsense heaviness with a live clarity that made them even more exciting. I loved it. Score: 8/10

Brendan – Ashen Crown

Starting off a trio of excellence in a row in the SOPHIE Tent, Ashen Crown were phenomenal showcasing energy and aggression in spades and thrilling every single onlooker. Watching a keen crowd turn suddenly into a swirling pit was special and testament to the quality Ashen Crown were offering. They were fantastic and deserve all the accolades we heard being thrown at them for the rest of the weekend. Score: 8.5/10

Carl – Ashen Crown

Another first-time seeing band for me and one I’ve been a fan of for a while now. I expected heavy energy but what I didn’t expect was to see a band more than ready to step it up an extra gear. I’m telling you, in years to come this band will be head-lining this stage. Score: 9.5/10

Brendan – Luna’s Call

Part two of the three in a row came from Luna’s Call. It was another sublime performance putting the rubber stamp on what we probably already know off the back of Void. Luna’s Call are going to be huge. They sounded great and kept the crowd fully engaged despite losing a member through illness in the build up to the show. It was barely noticeable though as the band did nothing less than impress a grateful audience. Score: 8/10

Carl – Luna’s Call

One of the most anticipated bands of the weekend for me and I think they did as brilliantly as possible considering the missing member! Props to Luna’s Call to go ahead and play as a 3-piece, it was still excellent. Score: 7/10

Brendan – Urne

Anyone flagging after the excellence of the previous three bands suddenly found themselves reenergised and compelled to let loose again as Urne absolutely nailed their set. One of the highlights of the weekend were words we heard from many, onlookers and other bands, and I fully agree. The only negative was that it had to end but it has thoroughly excited me for the future of the band. Score: 9/10

Carl – Urne

Talking of anticipated bands… I freaking love Urne and I will be very surprised if their latest album isn’t in the number 1 spot for best of the year come the end of 2021. I had no doubts that they would deliver live and Jesus fucking Christ did they. Music this heavy and intense shouldn’t make me emotional but it did. It’s shows like this that remind me why live music is so important to me. Score: 10/10

Carl – Famyne

I managed to catch just a bit of these doom-mongers and it sounded fantastic. Always capable of delivering, they’re a band that once again make me see bigger stages in their future. Score: 8/10

Carl – Elimination

A last-minute addition turned out to be one of the best sets of the weekend. Elimination came in at short notice and short a member to smash the Jager Stage and it confirmed what we all already know; this band are on absolute fire at the moment. Score: 9.5/10

Brendan – The Crawling

Oh my! My joint favourite performance of the whole week, The Crawling where a marvel to watch. The catchiness embedded in their hard hitting riffs, the vitriol in the vocals and drums that leave you shaken to the core topped off with the stagecraft and fire to make it even more memorable. I cannot say it enough and have been sure to tell everyone so, once again, The Crawling were faultless. Amazing. Score: 10/10

Carl – The Crawling

What the actual fuck? Was it stupid of me to not expect to be blown away? I know The Crawling are great, I’ve been listening to them for years but I had never seen them live. For me, the band of the entire weekend. Words can’t do this set justice and I hope the band are proud of what they accomplished on that stage. Even now, thinking back, it puts the biggest smile on my face. Transcendent stuff. Score: 11/10

Brendan – Punk Rock Factory

Okay so I went along to this with the missus and a friend who can sometimes get a bit bored with all the death metal I drag them to. I though, well let’s give them this one and I will stand there looking disinterested. Unfortunately, instead I found myself laughing, smiling, and singing Moana songs. A real energy drink of a set that was just fun, fun, fun. Score: 8/10

Friday

Brendan – Foetal Juice

While Foetal Juice don’t really set my world alight, I can appreciate the energy and aggression and there was plenty of that to shake off the early morning blues. A good set and a good band to wake a hungover festival up for sure. Score: 6.5/10

Carl – Foetal Juice

This was an early morning blast that I really didn’t think would be as fun or as interesting as it was. It was the perfect ‘cobweb blower’ and I thought they belonged on the main stage. Score: 8/10

Brendan – Divine Chaos

Well, I’m a fan anyway so I knew they would be good, but they were even better than good. Sounding like a band that are full of confidence, they owned the stage and hooked in all passers by with their hard riffs, melodic leads and aggressive beats. Great job. Score: 8/10

Carl – Divine Chaos

Half the set for me because of interview commitments but they were great. Enough so that I felt the desire to get down nice and close for it. Score: 7/10

Brendan – Svalbard

A band I have slowly got into as Bloodstock neared; I was intrigued to see how they would sound live. Especially on a big stage outdoors with music that seems suited for more claustrophobic environments. To their credit, they sounded really good other than a few notes lost to the wind if you stood further back. They are a likeable band with the singer’s smile being infectious and their songs both hit you hard with their heaviness and their song topics. Score: 8/10

Brendan – Agrona

A rare bit of black metal at Bloodstock meant I had to go and check Agrona out. The plan was to catch a song or two and then head off to see someone else but that proved impossible as they were so damn good, there was no way I was leaving. The set was great, sounding vicious and heavy with just enough variety to keep you constantly interested. This was a real treat. Score: 8.5/10

Carl – Agrona

Epic black metal from a band that didn’t just look comfortable on stage, they looked like they were in complete control of that crowd. Score: 7/10

Carl – Sail

Running around and trying to do everything I could meant I could only watch about 10 minutes of Sail but I wish I could have seen more. The energy and excitement was like a hot blast of air to the face. Score: 8/10

Brendan – Venom Prison

No matter how much I want to absolutely adore Venom Prison, I can’t help just finding them good, not great, and I felt the same in this set. Musically good, vocally good, I enjoy the riffs, the heaviness and the melodic edge but again I came out of another Venom Prison show thinking that was good and I am still waiting to be blown away. I enjoyed it so don’t take this as a negative. I just want more from a band who are on the cusp of greatness. Score: 7/10

Carl – Venom Prison

Last time I saw Venom Prison on the main stage at Bloodstock, I thought they seemed a bit lost. Not this time, not at all. This band has come a long way in a short amount of time and if they continue like this, they will be head-lining this festival one day. Brutal, heavy and always fascinating. Overall: 9/10

Brendan – Evile

The revitalised thrashers were a band that I wanted to check out and again ended up so caught up in their set that I stayed for it all and felt dejected when it ended. Evile were nothing short of amazing. It genuinely was one fo the joint best sets of the whole weekend full of amazing moments like the duet between old and new singers. The music is high energy, they sounded fantastic and the banter with the crowd was on point. Mind blowingly good. Score: 10/10

Carl – Evile

Evile are fucking back. I was planning to watch half of Evile then go check something else out. It was so good; I didn’t dare leave the tent. Time flew by and they gave me the ache I still feel in my neck. Wow. Score: 10/10

Carl – Conan

I’m a big fan of this band and live, they always deliver. This was no different. Coming off of Evile, it was a little harder to get into but not through any fault of the band. They haze and fuzz was just what I needed in the end. Score: 8.5/10

Brendan – Devin Townsend

Ah Devin, I wish I could remember more than 4 songs from your set. I Was drunk. Very and had an absolute blast. His smile alone warms the soul but add in the stage performance, songs like Spirits Will Collide, confetti, singing Happy Birthday to Bloodstock and of course the elephant. It was an absolutely perfect headlining performance and I feel thoroughly grateful to have been there. Score: 10/10

Carl – Devin Townsend

So… I may have got a bit drunk here. I can remember bits of it and those bits were amazing. As a guy who doesn’t really get drunk that often, the excitement and joy felt watching Devin play live certainly played a part. I had so much fun and that is what matters. Score: 9/10

Saturday

Brendan – Borstal

A new band on the main stage? May as well check them out. I don’t love hardcore. I don’t even like a lot of hardcore so this was more of a quick look but again we ended up there for the whole show as it was really good. I know the band are made up of experienced members of other bands and that experience shone through. I love the old school punk delivery of the vocals and found them to be a really nice surprise. Score: 7/10

Carl – Borstal

Very, very good. Surprisingly considering it was their first show but that probably shouldn’t have been considering the calibre of the band members. I loved this honest, heavy hardcore noise. Score: 7/10

Brendan – Video Nasties

I was really looking forward to this one and they didn’t disappoint. Aggressive death metal to really blast your face off. The front man has some serious vocal power. The music is disgustingly heavy. They impressed me and the swirling/raging pit suggests I am not alone in being impressed. Score: 8/10

Carl – Video Nasties

Bloodstock… you broke my heart putting this band on at the same time as Conjurer. How did I pick? I went with the band I had never seen live before… Video Nasties and I didn’t regret it. Aggressive and high-octane heaviness from a band who make it seem far easier than it should be. Score: 9/10

Brendan – While She Sleeps

While She Sleeps impressed as they usually do. Having seen them many, many times, I wonder how amazing this show was for people seeing them for the first time? For me, I really enjoyed it even if the song choice isn’t necessarily what I would have wanted. I am delighted for the band and seeing their energy and effort, especially from Loz who may not be able to song everything anymore but can certainly still rival professional climbers. Score: 8/10

Carl – While She Sleeps

Their energy and excitement is infectious and you have to wonder how this band hadn’t appeared at this festival before. If there were any doubters before, there aren’t now. My only complaint is a common one with Sleeps these days and that’s the song choices but man, are they good to watch. Score: 7.5/10

Brendan – Hanowar

I only caught the last couple songs by Hanowar but it was everything I expected. A jam packed tent full of smiling people with toy swords raised in the air, party poppers being let off and genuinely just a really nice feeling of positivity and happiness. Score: 7/10

Brendan – Mountain Caller

Very enjoyable musically. It was hard to catch sight of them on the tiny Jaeger stage but I was camped out and banging my head along with the tight musicianship. As was everyone else around me. Score: 7/10

Carl – Mountain Caller

I saw very few bands in full on the Jager stage over the weekend but of the ones I did, Mountain Caller were one of the best. High energy, heavy when needed, good time rock… killer shit. Score: 9/10

Brendan – Cradle of Filth

Marmite band for some but I never understand why. Cradle are never not good at least and here they were great. The new song sounded epic, the old songs were raging. Dani was on good form and his vocals were the best I had heard them in a few shows. They are such a tight unit these days and always bring their A game. A plethora of fire and smoke mixed nicely in with the haunting and heavy black metal masters to make an unforgettable show. Score: 9/10

Carl – Cradle of Filth

I don’t know why I ever doubt this band.

Part of it comes from having seen them live so many times before and at this very festival but here I was again, loving every second of it. Cradle of Filth are always great live and the new track sounded immense. Score: 9/10

Brendan – Kreator

I kept telling everyone, Kreator are going to be awesome and they didn’t’ let me down. A band that have worked so hard over a long career took the headline slot and owned it. They were perfect and flawless with hard and heavy thrash, plenty of catchiness loads of fire, sparks, smoke and confetti. Chuck in a special duet with Dani Filth and I left with my mind well and truly blown. Score: 10/10

Carl – Kreator

Ok… honesty time. I just don’t rate Kreator on record and they were not high on my ‘bands I can’t wait to see’ list. So, it being the end of the night almost and being Saturday night, so the last night I could drink (driving Sunday night) I decided to go for it. I got stupidly drunk. Embarrassingly drunk… I think. Ask my wife and son about that. However, I absolutely loved Kreator and can remember most of it. To say they shut me up was an understatement, it was a band proving that they deserved the slot they were given. Score: 10/10

Sunday

Carl – Seidrblot

Curiosity got me to the main stage on Sunday and I can’t say that I loved it. Chilled and interesting but I found myself getting a bit bored. Maybe better in the tent? Score: 6/10

Carl – Sorceress of Sin

They did a stellar job of trying to wake up a tired and hungover crowd… including me. I found myself getting more and more into it as they went on. Score: 7/10

Brendan – Words That Burn

I didn’t know anything by Words That Burn personally but was really keen to check them out and am glad I did. I was really impressed with them and loved the melodic edge to their songs which pack plenty of punch too. They have a nice crossover metalcore sound that could see them step up to big things. They definitely have the ability if this set was anything to go by. Score: 7.5/10

Carl – Words That Burn

Talking of a band that gave me an injection of energy… Words That Burn really went for it and it paid off. The tent got busier, the heads and legs got moving and I found myself encouraged to join them! Score: 8.5/10

Brendan – Bloodshot Dawn

I didn’t see the whole of Bloodshot Dawn but caught a couple tracks on the move elsewhere and they were giving their all as they usually do. Hyper aggressive, heads were banging and the pit was circling – they were really good. Score: 7/10

Carl – This is Endless

I ran once over the weekend and it was from ending an interview in the press area to the New Blood stage. All so I could catch the last 15 minutes of this band. Was it worth it? Holy hell was it. Chaotic and noisy, heavy and intense but with a sincere touch. My favourite band of the Sunday. Score: 9.5/10

Brendan – Gloryhammer

Just good fun. What more can I say? The antics on stage were funny to watch, crowd interaction was next level and even rain didn’t see a single person disperse from a packed crowd which was 50/5 people and 50% inflatable unicorns. Aside from having to avert my eyes regularly from Angus McFife’s own gloryhammer tucked away in his skintight trousers, I thoroughly enjoyed the set. Score: 8/10

Brendan – Ghosts of Atlantis

The band I have been waiting for months to see since hearing they were announced. Ghosts of Atlantis were stepped up to the Sophie Stage from the New Blood, they were a member short and still, sounded absolutely amazing. The wireless mic had a couple issues with cutting out, but who cares. This band are amazing and all that with a missing member. It’s hard to imagine them sounding any better and I cannot wait to see what the future holds for these talented guys. Score: 9.5/10

Carl – Ghosts of Atlantis

A short notice and sudden change of stage put Ghosts of Atlantis on earlier, but we were ready. As were a lot more people happily as the tent filled out nicely. Deservedly so too as this band have megastars written all over them. Epic, even with their own missing member issues, Ghost of Atlantis did not let me down. Score: 9/10

Carl – Necronautical

The last band I really wanted to see of the weekend. Exhausted and looking forward to a 3-hour drive back to my bed, it speaks volumes that Necronautical didn’t just keep me awake but they got me moving and head-banging throughout. The new songs sounded fantastic and again, all I saw was a band destined for bigger stages in this festival. Score: 9/10

Brendan – Saxon

The last band I saw due to needing to get home and I was seriously impressed. It’s a bit old school, a bit Dad rock at times but it was so much fun. It was uncomfortable watching due to the crowd size and those fucking chairs everywhere but the band were amazing, even managing to make the rain stop and bring the sun out when we simultaneously got a rainbow shining over the Dio stage. That felt special. Score: 8.5/10

So there you have it! What were some of your favourite bands of the weekend?