Bloodstock 2019 Festival Preview

By Gem Rogers

It’s almost time for a festival that’s not only one of the very best medium-sized festivals in the UK, but also the best weekend dedicated to all things metal. Showcasing a wide range of artists, from the darkest and heaviest of black and doom, to the most uplifting of folk and headbanging of heavy metal (along with just about everything in between), Bloodstock Open Air is the place to be for three days packed with incredible music both old and new.

Now in its 18th year, Bloodstock is truly an intrinsic part of the metal community, with over 100 bands taking to its stages over the weekend – including winners of their expansive, nationwide Metal 2 The Masses roadshow, providing a platform for the very best in new metal.

Set in the grounds of Catton Hall in the Midlands, the festival’s size means that Bloodstock has a fantastic, laid back vibe – yes, bin jousting still counts as laid back – whilst still drawing big names to the main stage, with rising stars Sabaton and Parkway Drive taking headline slots alongside heavy metal/hard rock legends Scorpions. For those who grow frustrated with the endless hikes between campsite and stage at other festivals, there’s no such issue at Bloodstock – and to top it off, there’s plenty of delicious food on offer, and a significantly superior selection of beers and ciders (especially for those in VIP, with their own ‘beer festival’ style bar).

So with all this to look forward to and only a few more days to wait, here’s our selection of the bands you definitely shouldn’t be missing this weekend!


THURSDAY

Footprints In The Custard

Sophie Lancaster Stage, 19.30

Although proceedings technically kick off on Friday, Bloodstock have seriously upped their game for Thursday evening entertainment this year. The Manchester band are every bit as fun and ridiculous as their name implies, and you don’t need to know their songs to have an absolute blast watching these guys – make sure your tent is up in time to grab a beer and head down to the Sophie Lancaster Stage for this set.

Rotting Christ

Sophie Lancaster Stage, 21.45

A seriously prestigious band to be taking to the stage on Thursday night, Rotting Christ will be one hell of a way to kickstart the weekend. Their often melodic but still utterly haunting (and occasionally borderline horrifying) black metal will send shivers down your spine and blast your eardrums into outer space; their name is metal as fuck, and so are they. This is sure to be an unforgettable hour.

FRIDAY

XERO

Hobgoblin New Blood Stage, 10.30

The first band to take to the New Blood stage this weekend, Newcastle-originating four piece XERO deliver mystical, groove-infused metal topped off with silky vocals from front woman Steff. Super melodic and powerful with a dose of prog to make for an interesting and unique sound, there’s plenty here to appeal to almost all metal fans, and get Friday off to a great start.

Death Angel

Ronnie James Dio Stage, 12.45

Over on the main stage, things are certifiably thrashy, and Bay Area legends Death Angel are taking the crown with a loud-as-fuck early afternoon mosh session. Often mentioned in the same breath as the Big Four, this will be the perfect remedy for anyone still in mourning after Slayer’s final UK show a few months ago. Get your neck brace ready after this one – you’ll need it.

The Hope Burden

Hobgoblin New Blood Stage, 14.15

Heavy on the atmosphere, Oxford’s The Hope Burden describe themselves as “Coldplay for greebos”. An interesting concept. Their post-metal is all at once dreamy and brutal, with Josh Day’s growling vocals adding a layer of despair to their tracks, that build into almighty, overwhelming climaxes. This will be a set well worth the visit to the New Blood stage.

Children Of Bodom

Ronnie James Dio Stage, 16.10

When much of the country spends a good six months of the year in darkness, it’s not too surprising that Finland has produced some of the best and most intense metal bands in history. Faster than a speeding bullet, Children Of Bodom have one of the most instantly recognisable sounds of any band out there, and their live sets are furiously energetic. Do. Not. Miss. This.

Tesseract

Ronnie James Dio Stage, 17.30

When it comes to ultra-heavy, ultra-technical prog metal, Tesseract are among the kings. Atmospheric and deeply moving, they have truly earned this slot on the main stage, and we wouldn’t be surprised to see them topping the bill in the future; last year’s ‘Sonder’, though taking steps in a different direction to previous releases, was a moody, ambience-drenched triumph of an album from a band who are true masters of creating beautiful, soul-grabbing soundscapes. With riffs aplenty, make sure you’re at the main stage for this set from one of the UK’s best.

Sabaton

Ronnie James Dio Stage, 21.15

This Swedish lot are the perfect example of a band you don’t need to have so much as heard of, let alone listened to, before to enjoy live. Their 2015 set here was one of the highlights of the weekend – and if they brought a tank then, what on earth do they have in their bag of tricks as headliners this year? War-based anthems might not sound fun, but in Sabaton’s hands, they’re nothing short of a party – expect big singalongs to the likes of ‘Primo Victoria’, big riffs, and big fireworks, and come down to the main stage for a thoroughly enjoyable hour and a half in the company of one of heavy metal’s young greats.

SATURDAY

Cancer Bats

Ronnie James Dio Stage, 11.45

Cancer Bats don’t immediately strike as Bloodstock territory, but if there’s one thing this hardcore mob definitely have in common with the rest of the line-up, it’s their unrelenting loudness and fury. And we mean that in a very good way. They are a powerhouse of a band on stage, and an excellent reason to get yourself up early on Saturday – we can never quite manage to get enough of them.

Lotus Eater

Sophie Lancaster Stage, 12.40

There is no better way to describe Lotus Eater than with the words “Holy Shit”. These newcomers have the air of something incredibly special about them, and seeing them tear up Bloodstock’s second stage will be nothing short of a joy. Their thundering, explosive, and technical sound borders on overwhelming, filling every inch of the surrounding air; if you miss this one, you will regret it. Trust us on that.

Evil Scarecrow

Ronnie James Dio Stage, 13.45

Bloodstock is practically Evil Scarecrow’s second home these days, and they are always hugely popular. Bizarre, captivating, and heavy, these guys are ridiculous in the best possible way and put a lot of effort into making an enjoyable performance. After a day and a half of heaviness, this will be a great way to kick back and have a little fun.

The Wildhearts

Ronnie James Dio Stage, 16.10

One of the most melodic rock acts on the main stage this weekend, The Wildhearts have a special place in the hearts of many a metalhead. Front man Ginger has been a constant in the scene for almost thirty years, and they recently released ninth full length ‘Renaissance Man’ – their first new album in ten years. This will be a wildly popular set, hopefully to be accompanied by plenty of sunshine for a classic beer-in-hand festival singalong.

Parkway Drive

Ronnie James Dio Stage, 21.00

Parkway Drive proved to be a bit of a contentious choice for final headliner when they were announced earlier this year, but if anyone can prove haters wrong, it’s this Aussie lot. By far the heaviest headliner of the weekend, their raucous metalcore is usually accompanied by a stage show that is nothing short of spectacular; they are consummate performers, and it won’t be long at all before they’re headlining the likes of Download. If you’re unsure about this one, head down and prepare to have your mind changed – Parkway Drive are one of the best live bands on the planet, and they’ll be happy to prove it to you.

Taake

Sophie Lancaster Stage, 22.40

The final band on Saturday night to take to the Sophie Lancaster stage shortly after Parkway Drive finish up, and these Norwegian Black Metallers couldn’t sound much more different to the main stage offering. Founded in Bergen at the height of the church burnings – events utterly synonymous with this dark and fascinating scene – Taake are as black metal as it comes. Provocative and often controversial, this set will be a masterclass in the genre.

SUNDAY

Harbinger

Ronnie James Dio Stage, 11.00

This year’s edition sees Bloodstock packing plenty of appeal into the early slots to tempt everyone out of bed early – and though 11am on Hangover From Hell Day (aka Sunday) seems like an immeasurable task, London’s Harbinger will be well worth the crawl from tent to stage. This superb tech metal five piece will melt what’s left of your brain and blow away even the faintest hint of cobwebs – and then maybe early starts won’t seem so bad after all.

Fallen Temples

Hobgoblin New Blood Stage, 12.00

Bringing some sensationally massive riffs to the New Blood Stage, Cardiff three-piece Fallen Temples also come complete with some sublime harmonies and enough groove to get even the most reluctant of feet moving. If your head is still pounding, these guys will ease away any lingering pain and put a smile back on your face.

Soilwork

Ronnie James Dio Stage, 13.45

Melodic death metallers Soilwork have undergone a huge evolution since debut ‘Steelbath Suicide’ was released in 1998. Eleventh album ‘Verkligheten’ – their first release since the departure of drummer Dirk Verbeuren – has a much more classic heavy metal feel than their thrashing early melodeath, echoing front man Bjorn Strid’s ‘The Night Flight Orchestra’ project, but they are no less masterful. Titans of the metal scene, they are unforgettable live – 45 minutes is nowhere near enough time for a band with such a colossal back catalogue of gems, so we’ll just have to headbang all the harder to make up for it.

Dimmu Borgir

Ronnie James Dio Stage, 19.15

Dimmu Borgir are truly unique. Black metal and classical music? Together? Surely not. Nobody does symphonic black metal quite like these Norwegians (of course they’re Norwegian), and it’s as huge and dramatic as you expect it to be on stage. Leaning much more heavily on the ‘symphonic’ than the ‘black’ in recent(ish) years and having released only two albums in the last ten, they are nonetheless an imposing force, and this is guaranteed to be a spectacular hour.

Eluveitie

Sophie Lancaster Stage, 22.40

Winding down the weekend with one of the best folk metal bands around is sure to be a hit this year – there are annual cries for more folk from Bloodstock fans, so Swiss group Eluveitie will be a glorious finale to an exhausting three days. With a frankly mad number of members covering all manner of instruments, including whistles, harps, and violins, this is true and spiritual folk music, pulling heavily on Celtic mythology and infusing it with some heavier elements. If you can battle your exhaustion to make it to this late set, you will be well rewarded.


Both weekend and day tickets for Bloodstock are available¬†here¬†– we’ll see you there!