LIVE: Bloodstock 2021 – Sunday

By Matthew Higgs

Raise your viking drinking horns to the sky and rejoice, Bloodstock is back! After two long years, the UK’s number one extreme music festival has returned to Catton Hall to celebrate its twentieth anniversary. Punktastic couldn’t be happier to see them back in action either and neither can the horde of eager metalheads that have flocked from around the UK to enjoy an absolutely amazing line-up featuring the likes of Devin Townsend, Kreator, Judas Priest, Skindred, Cradle of Filth, While She Sleeps and many, many more…

Words: John Layland; Images: Matt Higgs

Diamond Head

With our tents securely packed away and a fresh dose of caffeine on board, Punktastic are ready for our first band of the day – new wave of British heavy metal legends Diamond Head. When Stourbridge’s heavy metal heroes start things off with ‘Bones’, the crowd in front of the Ronnie James Dio stage is still relatively small. As soon as Karl Wilcox drops into the opening drum roll of ‘Helpless’ a few minutes later, though, it’s as though a ripple of recognition makes its way through the entire arena, and just another few short minutes later the audience has more than doubled in size. This leads to quite a touching speech, as shortly afterwards lead vocalist Rasmus Andersen pauses to thank the audience and explain how even five years after joining Diamond Head, he still cannot believe how lucky he is to be playing in one of his favourite bands here at Bloodstock. It’s a genuine heartfelt moment, and very endearing. In fact, the only thing that tops it is the double bill of ‘It’s Electric’ and ‘Am I Evil’, which absolutely tears the house down – particularly Brian Tatler’s iconic intro to the latter, which the crowd sings back to him as he dances up and down the neck of his Flying V in a festival moment Iron Maiden would be proud of.

Bleed From Within

Next up we’re going from the old school to the new, and it’s time for Bleed From Within. The Scottish metalcore quintet are never to be outdone, either, and put in an absolutely stellar performance – especially guitarists Craig Gowans and Steven Jones, whose picking hands seem locked in with military precision as they deliver riff after bludgeoning riff. Today’s setlist seems mostly focused on material from their most recent album ‘Fracture’, which is no bad thing either; the more melodic hooks really work in a live setting and elevate an already incredible show. The audience simply cannot get enough, hurling themselves over the barrier and even parting ways for a brutal wall of death during ‘Fracture’. Another album or two like this could see Bleed From Within joining the likes of Parkway Drive and climbing much higher up the bill.

Orange Goblin

Since playing the first ever Bloodstock back at the turn of the millennium, doom rockers Orange Goblin have become regular visitors here at Catton Hall, with their brand of Sabbath infused stoner rock always finding just the right spot on the bill. They may not be the heaviest or most technical band here today, but what they lack in savagery they more than make up for with pure fun factor, with pint glasses flying and heads banging uncontrollably as new bassist Harry Armstrong swaggers his way through the thunderous groove of opening track ‘Sons of Salem’. The filthy few from London don’t waste any time, packing no less than twelve songs into a set that runs just under an hour and never once loses its momentum; they stomp their way through a back catalogue that spans nearly 25 years, with vocalist Ben Ward’s Lemmy-esque growls rattling the fillings in the front row throughout.


Therapy? draw a short straw in the running order today with their set coinciding with the first dose of rain of the weekend – nobody at the mainstage seems in the slightest bit deterred, though, as they hunker down, dig out their ponchos and wait expectantly for the lads from Northern Ireland to take to the stage. When they finally emerge and launch into ‘Potato Junkie’, everyone springs into life and bellows back the chorus to Andy Cairns. The lockdown-inspired ‘It’s Ok Not to Be Ok’ goes down particularly well with the slightly soggy audience, and it’s nice to see the band address the issues so many people have faced throughout the pandemic.


After a brief changeover and a fittingly hilarious introduction from the one and only Brian Blessed himself, denim and leather clad British rock icons Saxon are ready to take the reins on the main stage. Unfortunately the heavens open once again and the crowd’s reaction to ‘Motorcycle Man’ and ‘Battering Ram’ is slightly dampened as a result. ‘Wheels of Steel’ pulls things back a little, but the weather does prove too much for some, who retreat to the shelter of the second and third stages. Undeterred, the band continue on as though nothing’s changed, with Biff Byford remarking that he’s more excited than when he had his first shag in spite of the conditions. Fortunately, the downpour begins to ease somewhat around the mid-point of the set and their audience returns, fresh beers in hand, just in time for ‘Never Surrender’. They may be getting on a bit, but Saxon go on to prove they’ve still got a thing or two to teach the younger artists here this weekend, absolutely demolishing the arena for the remainder of their set. Delivering hit after hit, they eventually run out of time and let the audience choose their final track, ‘Princess of the Night’.

Judas Priest

Celebrating their 50th anniversary this year at Bloodstock, it’s obvious that heavy metal royalty Judas Priest have got a treat in store for the 20,000+ in attendance, as a massive illuminated Priest logo descends from the roof of the main stage to signal the start of their show.

Rob Halford and co. have a few surprises up their studded sleeves for us here tonight, too. Not content to bang out a few classics and call it a day, Priest use their extended two hour set to deliver some real gems for their hardcore fans; ‘Rocka Rolla’ for the first time since 1976, the first ever live performances of ‘Invader’ and ‘One Shot at Glory’… The deep cuts come thick and fast, and they sound fantastic – opening track ‘One Shot at Glory’ in particular seems like it should have been a staple for years, judging by the reaction it gets.

That’s not to say those of us that aren’t heavy metal historians aren’t catered for either. ‘You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’’, ‘Painkiller’ and ‘Hell Bent For Leather’ are all still present, correct, and as heavy as ever, with Halford still hitting every trademark high note.

By the time their three song finale of ‘Metal Gods’, ‘Breaking The Law’ and ‘Living After Midnight’ rolls around it doesn’t feel as though two hours have passed at all. The audience are still chanting for more, and they linger long after ‘We Are The Champions’ by Queen begins to play, signalling the end of what will no doubt be remembered as one of the band’s most legendary performances.

Tonight’s set has been proof, if ever any was needed, that Judas Priest aren’t just part of heavy metal history – they’re still making it. We can’t think of a more perfect way to end what’s been an amazing weekend here at Bloodstock.

Click here to view the full gallery for Bloodstock Day Three