Live Review: Bloodstock 2018

Taking place from the 9th to the 12th August 2018, Bloodstock is the UK’s premier rock and metal festival and once again it delivered an exceptional experience. As an event, the four days are one filled with a real family feel. We’re all Bloodstockers.

This year’s Bloodstock boasted some of their biggest headliners to date in Judas Priest, Nightwish and Gojira but the undercard was just as strong. Not only that, the New Blood and Jägermeister stages had some of the best young and upcoming bands we’ve ever seen.

We did the best we could, dashed between stages and spent more time watching bands then eating or drinking but at the end we still missed far more then we wanted. Who we did see though was worth every minute…mostly.




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Thursday

Hundred Year Old Man

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Carl: Coming off the back of a massive line-up change (3 out of 6 of the members) and an incredible album release (read our review here), opening the entire festival is a massive deal for the post-metallers. They more then step up to the challenge though putting on an incredible performance that leaves ears ringing. (8/10)

Brendan: First band of the weekend and Hundred Year Old Man absolutely smash the coveted festival opening slot. Supremely heavy, intricate, clever metal visibly excites the crowd. For my first time seeing them, I was blown away by how tight the group were, especially with all the recent line up changes. Imagine how good they are going to be once the band are more settled? (8/10)

Fire Red Empress

Carl: The last time I saw Fire Red Empress at Bloodstock they had a completely different vocalist but the energy is the same. Not the most popular band to be booked by some of the more idiotic ‘hardcore’ Bloodstock fans, Fire Red Empress work hard to win over those in attendance and certainly come away with some new fans! (6.5/10)

Brendan: I have never seen Fire Red Empress before and I wasn’t overly keen on seeing them but, well, it’s the Thursday so what else are you going to do? To be fair, I came out having enjoyed them much more than I thought I would. They throw out a lot of catchy hooks and melody and have tons of infectious energy. I just found myself getting a little bored by the end of their set. (5/10)

Bloodshot Dawn

Carl: Due to the call of food, I only caught the last 20 minutes of Bloodshot Dawn but what a 20 minutes it is! The melodic death metallers are on fire and leave the heaving crowd sweaty and happy! You can read our review of their latest album, Reanimation here. (7/10)

Brendan: Bloodshot Dawn really pummel the onlookers with a fast and heavy set. Coming after the slow down of Fire Red Empress, it took them very little time to get the crowd warmed back up and the pits moving. Impressive. (7/10)

Arkona

Carl: Closing out the opening night, Arkona’s folk metal sound is the perfect way to end Thursday. The sound is spot on and visually, front-woman Maria “Masha Scream” Arkhipova is a sight to behold. Her movements and stage presence is awesome. (8/10)

Brendan: I went in to this show enjoying a few Arkona tracks and came out feeling immense admiration. Masha has stage presence to rival any front man or woman and a voice that moves from deathly growls to sweet tones at will. Musically the band are sound and they found the right balance between folkish ditties and blazing heavy metal to wow the onlookers. (9/10)

Friday

Democratus

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Carl: After a busy morning of interviews the first band I’m able to check out are the Welsh Metal 2 The Masses winners, Democratus. Their 30 minutes on the New Blood stage is used to its fullest and the band seem to be loving every minute of it. Frontman/Vocalist Steve Jenkins is throwing himself around with complete abandon, encouraging singalongs, pitting and head-banging! Amazing! (9/10)

Brendan: One of the bands of the weekend for me. Democratus put on a viciously impressive show. They have real stage presence and exude confidence but have the tunes to back that all up. Frontman Steve Jenkins had the crowd eating out of the palm of his hand by the end. They aren’t a band, and that wasn’t a set, I am likely to forget any time soon. (9/10)

Fahran

Carl: I wanted to love Fahran, I really did but after a strong start their brand of melo-metal starts to sound a bit samey and by end I was feeling a bit bored. (5/10)

Brendan: I enjoyed watching Fahran to a point. Obviously a hugely talented bunch of guys with a bright future and though the set was good, there were a lot more bands hitting “great” that weekend. (6/10)

Godthrymm

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Carl: Holy shit. What an absolute amazing show Godthrymm put on. The Sophie Lancaster Stage is far emptier then it should be but for those who did turn up, the doom/death metallers do not disappoint. One of the best bands of the entire weekend. You can read our review of their latest release, A Grand Reclamation here. (9.5/10)

Brendan: A strong showing by the doom metal outfit. Very heavy, very aggressive,  making for a really enjoyable set though I am struggling to see anything about them that makes them stand out from the pack just yet. They have talent in abundance so I am sure it will come. (7/10)

Bloodbath

Carl: Only catching a little bit of the blackened death metallers set due to clashes, what I saw was perfectly solid if not a little lost on the main stage. (6/10)

Seven Hells

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Carl: Back over to the New Blood stage for Leicester Metal 2 The Masses winners, Seven Hells. The five-piece show exactly why they won and deserve their spot. These guys are going to be huge! You can read our review of their latest release, Prologue here. (8/10)

Brendan: Seven Hells were absolutely fantastic. So much energy and enthusiasm pours off of the band. Their set flies by in seconds as you get lost in the crunchy riffs and powerful vocals. They exude confidence and ability and look like a band really going places (9/10)

Lovebites

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Carl: Flight/Custom issues means Suicidal Tendencies are late to the fest so the Japanese metal band, Lovebites have been moved to the main stage. Thankfully I was in the right place at the right time to realise this change had occurred so didn’t miss a blistering showcase. The band didn’t seem lost up there, instead making a strong case for having been booked there instead! You can read our review of their latest release, Battle Against Damnation here. (7/10)

Brendan: I hate to say this but I am not completely sold on Lovebites just yet. They are amazingly talented and play some solid thrash/power styled metal. The guitarists are amazing and the singer has real power in her lungs. I was also really impressed with how well they took to the main stage. So why am I not sold on them? By the end of their set I was starting to feel a little Dragon Forced. You know, that affliction where you feel a little frazzled as a band turns almost every song into a huge guitar duel with squealing and screaming over the top. I don’t know, maybe it was just my hangover. They have a ton of potential but I want to hear more before I say the girls are the next big thing. (6.5/10)

Sertraline

Carl: Clashes means I’m only able to catch a little bit of the Lincolnshire Metal 2 The Masses winners but it’s a fun, bouncy and exciting showing. Their is a lot of promise here. (7/10)

Brendan: Sertraline are another band with a big future ahead of them. Crunching riffs and pounding drums mix with clean vocals and catchy hooks. Very enjoyable and one to watch. Read our review of their most recent release here(8/10)

Kamelot

Carl: 40 minutes of Kamelot and I’d have been satisfied, an hour? It starts to wear thin. They’re good but their is an argument for them not having enough appeal to be so high up on the main stage. (6/10)

Brendan: Yeah I have to admit I got bored through Kamelot. They sound pretty good and I like the style of music but it just didn’t have that magic in a live environment. It is hard to quite put a finger on why it didn’t work for me but it didn’t. (5/10)

Kamikaze Test Pilots

Carl: It was a big ask for any band to better Godthrymm today but Kamikaze Test Pilots come damn close. The tiny Jäger stage is packed for good reason. So exciting, so unique…these guys deserve to come back in the future and play far higher! (9/10)

Brendan: Quite possibly band of the weekend for me. Joint with one or two others maybe but these guys blew me away. I have listened to them a fair bit before Bloodstock but you don’t know if it will definitely work in a live environment. Boy, does it. A short but powerful set showing off their quirky, unique take on metal had the whole festival talking afterwards. These guys could and should be huge.  (10/10)

Emperor

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Carl: Years before I saw Emperor play In the Nightshade Eclipse in full, my favourite work of theirs. This year it’s Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk in full and it is just as incredible. The only real flaws with it isn’t exactly the bands fault. Emperor’s music is suited for the darkness and the bright sun makes it all seem a bit odd. Still, Emperor deliver a fantastic showcase of black metal and a reminder of why they’re so loved. (8/10)

Brendan: To be honest I could just watch Ihsahn standing still for an hour and still have the time of my life. I would have preferred a mixed set than the full play of Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk but this is Emperor. They can play anything they want and it will be powerful, tight and impressive. A bit of darkness and fire would have been great but it was also quite nice to be able to see the whole band so clearly in the daylight.(8/10)

Judas Priest

Carl: The Priest are back. Legends. Icons. Whatever you want to call Judas Priest, no one can deny just how important they are to metal. Halford may not be able to hit a few of the high notes he could but the man is 66 and still sounds so good! Ritchie Faulkner has seemingly re-energised the band and the new stuff sounds as good as the old. The lack of a visual show (beyond the usual if you’ve seen Priest before) is a tiny bit disappointing but that’s forgotten when Glenn Tipton emerges to play out the last few songs. A genuinely touching moment. Priest came, Priest conquered. You can read our review of their latest release, Firepower. (8.5/10)

Brendan: This was my first time ever seeing Judas Priest live and they didn’t disappoint. Age seems to be no barrier to this guys vocals as he belts out rocking tracks, old and new. I was also hoping for a big, fiery pyro show, what with them being headliners but if anyone can get by without it, it is Halford. Multiple costume changes throughout the set and the appearance of Tipton for the encore topped off a great evening. (8/10)

Saturday

Orden Ogan

Carl: Here at GBHBL we felt that Orden Ogan should have been playing higher but the size of the crowd who have rocked up to the main stage is heartening. The German power metallers are on fire from the moment they begin and for 45 minutes they don’t miss a beat. Big smiles, pyro and plenty of energy makes this one of the best sets of the weekend. (9/10)

Brendan: I am convinced these guys should have been near the top of the bill and the large watching, singing and fist pumping crowd seem to agree. They were fantastic, ignoring their lower than normal position and bringing a show full of crowd sing-alongs, blazing guitars and a bit of fire. Helped also by a funny and charismatic front man, Orden Ogan will surely have won over a load of new fans and could return in the future much higher up on the bill. Read our review of their latest release, here(9/10)

Dead Label

Carl: The Irish metalcore mob bring one of the most intense wall of death the Sophie stage has ever seen and for 30 minutes, it’s impossible to not bang your head along to the heaviness. Also they come out to the epic soundtrack of The Last of the Mohicans! (7/10)

Brendan: Starting to The Last of the Mohicans soundtrack was the perfect way to get me into a show. The music that followed was hard, heavy and full of bouncing rhythms. I was very impressed (7.5/10)

Conjurer

Carl: I’m not alone in being super-excited to see the young post-metal sludgers here at Blooodstock. It has been an incredible year so far with the release of one of the best albums of 2018 (read our review of Mire here) and those who might be watching out of curiosity will have come away understanding why they’re being called one of the best bands in the UK right now. Amazing. (8.5/10)

Brendan: They did what was expected and hit Bloodstock hard with their intricate, dirty down tuned metal. Insanely heavy at times, intriguingly melodic at others, Conjurer continue to catch the eye of everyone in metal. Conjurer certainly live up to the hype. (8/10)

Alpha Omega

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Carl: One of the best things about watching Alpha Omega, beyond the pure intensity of it all, is how the crowd slowly grows and grows. People were drawn in by a fantastic showing. (9/10)

Brendan: Alpha Omega don’t mess about. 30 minutes of unfiltered raging hard thrash that would impress Slayer, they were one of the surprises of the weekend. Starting to just a handful, purely by their own playing power they ended to hundreds with a mosh pit and every head banging furiously. Really pleased for them. (9/10)

Aonia

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Carl: There was an early clue that Aonia was going to be popular band in the New Blood stage based on the amount of t-shirts sporting their name seen. 30 minutes is no time for such an epically huge band but they’re an absolute treat even if the main stage sound bleed does occasionally distract from the powerful duel vocals. (7.5/10)

Brendan: I thought Aonia were brilliant. I have never heard these guys before and left a huge fan. The powerful dual vocals are amazing to listen to but there is much more to the band. Blazing solos, melodic keys. They really brought back memories of early Nightwish and I plan on following their future very closely. You can read a review of their most recent release here(9/10)

Luna’s Call

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Carl: Another impressive band on the ever impressive New Blood Stage. Luna’s Call exude confidence and it gets the crowd really moving. Exciting and fun. (8/10)

Brendan: Lunas Call were great. Cracking tunes, lots of melody and lots of hard hitting riffs make for a thoroughly enjoyable set. The frontman has a great voice and the whole band work seamlessly together (7.5/10)

Earthbound

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Carl: Closing out the bands on the New Blood stage for Saturday is the thrilling Earthbound. Piles of energy, the short time they’re on stage flies by and it’s genuinely disappointing when they finish. Getting to Bloodstock was one thing but what Earthbound did today will be remembered for a long time. (8.5/10)

Brendan: One of the best bands to perform on the New Blood stage across the whole weekend, Earthbound impressed with their hard brand of metal. Tons of energy and banging tunes made for an enjoyable 30 mins and left you desperate for more.  (8/10)

Gojira

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Carl: Wow. Years down the line the question will be asked…where were you when Gojira headlined Bloodstock? This is the pinnacle of their career with a setlist that took us through their entire history and had some of the most eye-catching visuals such as confetti cannons, fireworks, so much pyro and much more. (10/10)

Brendan: Gojira swatted away doubts of their ability to headline with ease. They even swatted away the rain, such is their power. It was pretty much the most perfect show you could ever possibly see. Amazing music, insane visuals, pyro, confetti and a band that look happier than even the exhilarated crowd do. To everyone who wonders who will take over when bands like Slayer, Metallica and the like all step down. Here they are. (10/10)

Orphaned Land

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Carl: A resurgent band, the new album has breathed fresh life into Orphaned Land. A release that was so good, it reignited my love for them making their late night Bloodstock set one of my most anticipated. Read our review here. Is it as good as I’d hoped? Yes and then some. I almost shed a tear during the amazing vocals of All Knowing Eye. (9/10)

Brendan: I have a soft spot for Orphaned Land. As a band they seem to have come into their own thanks to the most recent release. They were impressive here too. I skipped off for some food in the middle but got back for the last couple tracks and really enjoyed what I saw and heard. (8/10)

Alien Weaponary

Carl: Betraying their ages, if Alien Weaponary are nervous as they come out to the packed Sophie crowd, they don’t show it. The hype surrounding this young metal band is real and deserved, they will be on the main stage next time at Bloodstock. 30 minutes isn’t long enough as the crowd demand one more song. The band want to play it too, trying to negotiate with the BOA crew but alas, it’s not to be. The crowd boo the organisers, not the band who get a rapturous round of applause and cheers. One of the best bands of the weekend. (9.5/10)

Brendan: The hype is real. Alien Weaponry were nothing short of phenomenal bringing back memories of early Sepultura with their tribal brand of metal. You could never have guessed this band were so young either in age or experience. They owned the SOPHIE tent playing to its biggest crowd of the whole weekend and leaving absolutely everybody begging for more. (9.5/10)

Fozzy

Carl: I didn’t catch much of Fozzy as it’s not my bag but while grabbing some food a few songs were watched. They might be generic as hell but their stage presence, in particular Chris Jericho, and glee is infectious. (5/10)

Brendan: The band looked to be having a cracking time, as did the fans. I also only caught a few songs in passing and kind of wished I liked them more so I could have joined in the party. Unfortunately I find them quite bland and didn’t hear nothing to change my mind (4/10)

Dawn of Anubis

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Carl: The Jäger stage this weekend has produced some of the best bands of the weekend and Dawn of Anubis are no different. High energy and heavy as hell. (7/10)

Brendan: Dawn of Anubis put on a high energy, high octane show. Impressive riffing and strong vocals make for enjoyable listening. I like the mix of clean vocals and uncleans used to add more power in the choruses too. Lots to like about these guys. (7/10)

Underside

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Carl: Damn it. It just didn’t come together for Underside. A massive delay kills anticipation as sound issues then plague the set. Disappointing and not the bands fault but it meant we could only watch 10 minutes of their set. (5/10)

Brendan: Long running technical issues plagued the start of the set. That really put a dampener on spirits. To be fair to Underside, they pulled it back and got the crowd excited and into it. I loved the first song, with a little Nepalese culture thrown in but felt it all became a little samey after that. (6/10)

Dead Before Mourning

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Carl: Local lads (for us), London Metal 2 The Masses winners, Dead Before Mourning give it their all to a sparse crowd in the New Blood but are a really enjoyable watch. (7/10)

Brendan: Another New Blood band giving their all and putting on a really strong show were Dead Before Mourning. Strong, powerful vocals backed by hard hitting riffs and drum blasts. What’s not to like? (7/10)

True Believer

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Carl: The last band I would see on the Jäger stage would also make sure I wasn’t disappointed by any that I had seen. True Believer are a unique bunch and the crowd that surrounds the small tent suggest they’ve gained plenty of attention. They’re great, bags of energy and with fantastic songs to boot. (8.5/10)

Brendan: True Believer are another band I was in to before Bloodstock but wasn’t sure how it would go down live. Well, it was brilliant. One of the band’s of the weekend for me, up there alongside Kamikaze Test Pilots, Alien Weaponry and Gojira. They have so much passion and fire coupled with energy, enthusiasm and some damn catchy songs. They were amazing. (10/10)

Devildriver

Carl: Disappointing. I don’t know quite why this didn’t click for me as I’m a big fan of the band. Dez’s vocals don’t sound great and some strange omissions from the hour long set makes this feel a bit of a plod rather then a prance. (5.5/10)

Brendan: Probably the biggest disappointment of the weekend for me here. Maybe my expectations were too high but it didn’t go well, in my eyes. The wind picked up a little and Dez’s vocals seemed to be getting lost. Couple that with a strange set list that omitted some of their best songs and I was left a little frustrated. Still, what they did play, they did well and it was nice to hear Sail. (4/10)

At the Gates

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Carl: No such problem for At the Gates who are phenomenal. The old stuff sounds as great as the new and for an hour the Swedes don’t miss a beat. (9/10)

Brendan: At the Gates were note perfect for an hour crashing out old and new tunes, sitting harmoniously together despite the decade plus gap. Lindberg’s grin consistently throughout is infectious too. They were faultless. (9/10)

SERVERS

Carl: Tired legs means this is the first time I had to sit down to watch a band but it doesn’t detract from the SERVERS experience. (7/10)

Nightwish

Carl: I’m not really a fan and haven’t enjoyed much of their work since the Tarja days but the promise of some bombastic tunes and a potentially impressive show means I have to check them out. It’s impressive as you would expect but baring a few classic tracks it does little for me. Floor Jansen is transfixing through, the way she moves and sings makes for a memorable watch. (6/10)

Brendan: I was a huge fan, then I wasn’t and yes, it is because of the singer changes. Would this change my mind? Nope. While Floor is an impressive vocalist with charisma and presence, I just don’t really like the new music that much. Floor does a good job with the old songs but they are naturally different and I struggled to get into them. They deserve their slot though, they are popular and have a touch of epic about their show and performance that surely impressed many, if not me (5/10)

Roll on Bloodstock 2019!

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