Bloodstock 2021 Festival Preview

By Dave Stewart

If you’re an avid metalhead and you wish that you could be somewhere for days on end cramming as much glorious heaviness into your ears as possible, then you need look no further than Bloodstock Festival – the UK’s biggest home to pure metal mayhem. With an insanely diverse line-up spread over a whopping five days this year, a first in Bloodstock history, the festival is a who’s who of the metal world, championing new talent alongside some of the most iconic acts in the genre.

After an unintended and unavoidable year off, this year’s festival is more highly anticipated than ever, with weekend tickets completely sold out far in advance. As the festival looms and the masses begin frantically planning their days, we thought we’d do the same. Whether you want to find your new favourite band or have your mind blown by legends, peruse our selection of must-see acts and see where the weekend takes you.


Raised By Owls

If you’re one of the lucky folks that will be turning up to the metal fest right from day one, get all your mates, head to the Sophie Lancaster stage to watch Raised By Owls, and get yourselves ready for a good old laugh. Chances of you hearing of these internet metal jokesters is pretty high. Formed in Derbyshire, rooted in extreme metal and moulded by the desire to poke fun at pretty much anything and everything, they’ve taken social media by storm – especially over the last 18 months. If you’re a fan of light hearted fun with an energetic and riff-heavy accompaniment, start your weekend off right. Start it here.



There’s no way to describe Urne’s sound other than heavy. Melt everything from their towering debut album ‘Serpent and Spirit’ down – the rage-fuelled screams, the gigantic guitar work, the thundering drums – and you’ll be left with an object so heavy, you won’t be able to lift it. It’ll also look so menacing that you won’t really want to touch it at all. Just don’t melt it in the first place, leave it as it is. Leave it alone, then put your wellies on, trot on over to the Sophie Lancaster stage, and watch them perform it in all its aggressive glory. If you like Mastodon, Alice In Chains, and Death, you’ll LOVE this.


Glaswegian death metal crew Godeater have been steadily adding gasoline to their fire for the last few years, and they’re just about to light the match that’s going to turn it into a raging blaze. Their unrelenting debut album ‘All Flesh Is Grass’ is a piercing display of exactly what they’re capable of, seeing them take the stage at Tech Fest in 2019 to rave reviews. Bloodstock is the next stop on their journey to absolute domination, and with the strength of their latest black metal-drenched single ‘A Pale Shadow’, they’ll be achieving that very soon. Go and get them in your ears.


Grime-metal innovators Hacktivist are getting bigger by the year, and their new record is shaping up to be their best yet. Formed back in 2011 and immediately making an impression with their seamless and impactful merging of genres, they’ve steadily been on the rise ever since, and after a handful of line-up changes they’ve found their most potent formula. Their raging new album ‘Hyperdialect’ is out now, a staggering display of deadly rhythmic blows and feral vocal onslaught that’s primed for the festival stage. It just so happens that this is the first festival stage it’ll grace.



If you haven’t heard of Bristol’s devastating and beautiful metallers Svalbard yet, where on Earth have you been? Actually, don’t answer that, you’ve been stuck at home like the rest of us – sorry, let us bring you up to speed. With one of 2020’s most applauded releases ‘When I Die, Will I Get Better?’ in their arsenal, Svalbard have firmly cemented themselves as rising stars and are sprinting past every milestone in their path. Bloodstock is the next one on their agenda, and you’re going to want to make sure you’re in attendance for their post rock, black metal masterclass — they’re moving up, and they’re moving fast.


There are many bright sparks in British metal’s future, many of them on this weekend’s line-up, and Loathe are one of the brightest. Having steadily grown from local secret to global phenomenon in a few short years, they’ve built themselves a reputation for not just being genre-bending innovators, but also for being one of the most intense and devastating live acts in the country. With the critically acclaimed ‘I Let It In And It Took Everything’ under their belts, Bloodstock will serve as their biggest UK show since its release. If you’re planning on being anywhere near the pit when they play ‘Gored’, we’ll write you a nice obituary.


If you want to inject a spot of dreamy, doomy majesty into your weekend, then make sure you catch Garganjua. The Leicester-based four-piece have been quietly blowing minds with their magnificent gloom-ridden epics, with their latest record ‘Toward The Sun’ providing just shy of 50 minutes of transcendent post-metal delight. With the likes of Kerrang describing their music as “weightless yet absolutely colossal”, make sure you pop over to the Sophie Lancaster stage to witness them for yourself; it’s going to be one hell of an experience.

Venom Prison

There seems to be something in the Welsh water that brews intense and unique bands, and Venom Prison are no exception. The uncompromising and unforgiving death metal unit, fronted by the commanding force that is Larissa Stupar, have been relentlessly touring and leaving devastation in their wake with their bludgeoning 2019 album ‘Samsara’ steering leagues of avid metal fans to the dark side. With some tasty new music in the oven, their monolithic rabid noise will welcome even more into the shadows; ‘Slayer Of Holofernes’ will get its live debut and the band will take a big, bold step into their new chapter. Beware. But, like, don’t be too wary. You NEED to see this band.


It goes without saying that Skindred are a band built for the festival stage. Conducted by one of the most captivating leading men in the game, Benji Webbe, the Welsh metal-ragga-crossover crew are bringing the party and you’re going to want to make sure you’re front and centre for every single glorious moment. With the posi-vibes power to command blazing sunlight on the dreariest of days (see their recent performance at the Download Pilot) and armed with endless bangers like ‘Stand For Something’, ‘That’s My Jam’, ‘Kill The Power’ and the timeless ‘Nobody’, get your best t-shirt waving arm at the ready; the Newport Helicopter is preparing for takeoff.

Devin Townsend

Technical wizardry, toilet humour, other-worldly metal epics, coffee addicted aliens – they aren’t things that look like they usually go together, but if you add Devin Townsend’s name to the cocktail then it makes perfect sense. The progressive metal virtuoso is one of the most loved and admired talents among both fans and peers, and he’s so appreciative and dedicated to playing this festival that he’s assembled an entirely British crew and band to enable him to perform an incredibly special, one-time-only ‘By Request’ setlist. With a wildly varied repertoire that spans ambient, glam, thrash, melo-death, industrial and pretty much every metal sub-genre in existence, prepare yourself for an unforgettable spectacle like no other. Also probably a few butt jokes.



Picture this – it’s Saturday morning, you’re incredibly hungover with vague memories of running around the campsites with a viking and someone in a toga, and you need a sharp shake to bring you back down to Earth. Conjurer can provide that shake for you, and so much more. Bursting onto every metalhead’s radar with their gloriously murky debut album ‘Mire’, earning them awards nominations and a place on tonnes of 2018 Album Of The Year lists, it’s no secret that they have new material ready to unleash. They boldly opened their Download Pilot set with a new song, so who knows what they’ll do at Bloodstock? Start your day right. Start it here. If you are hungover though, don’t look at the bassist too much, his hypnotic endless windmilling might make things worse.


If you aren’t familiar with Irish differs Bailer, consider changing that. Their spirited and rabid brand of metalcore is infectious, expertly showcased on their debut self-titled EP and ‘Crawl Back’, a four minute-long brawler that makes their intentions crystal clear: cause carnage whenever possible. Drenched in feedback, teeming with anger and endlessly hovering at boiling point, their Bloodstock set is going to be a definitive moment in their blossoming career. With a reputation for a frenzied live show and a debut album in the works, Bailer are a hidden gem on Saturday’s bill. Make sure you’re one of the many that uncover them over the weekend.


Former Heart Of A Coward vocalist Jamie Graham has been very busy the last few years. Not only did he start his label Unique Leader Records, but he’s been lending his ferocious screams to death metal outfit Viscera, and they are criminally underrated. If you’ve not seen the name before and you’re wondering how they sound, the clue is in the name – intense and feral aural punishment, designed to both stun and destroy. After appearing on the 2020 Faces Of Death tour that was cut short due to that which shall not be named, expect to see them pick up exactly where they left off and cause havoc in its purest form.


Nu-metal is officially back (like it was ever really gone, am I right?) and London racketeers Wargasm are ensuring you don’t miss the revival. Making songs they describe as “angry songs for sad people”, their volatile and highly combustible music is the soundtrack to chaos at its finest, delivered with certified style and infectious finesse. Picture Godzilla covered in blood, holding a giant chainsaw, wearing glittery cowboy boots and moonwalking across cityscapes – their sound is absolute aural carnage, but you just won’t be able to take your eyes off the action. The big riffs will suck you in and the huge hooks will hold you firmly in place. You might be sad when you start listening, but you definitely won’t be by the time their set is over.

While She Sleeps

The Sheffield metalcore crew are a charismatic, bellowing voice of a generation, and there’s no stage they can’t make their own. Blessed with the ferocious power to incite riots within milliseconds and five albums worth of fuel for the fire, their live performances are non-stop eye candy, with cathartic, feel-good energy being exerted at every possible opportunity. Expect to hear the likes of ‘Hurricane’ and ‘YOU ARE ALL YOU NEED’ being passionately sung back at the stage. Expect to see the likes of ‘Brainwashed’ and ‘ANTI-SOCIAL’ cause absolute carnage. But most of all, expect to experience what it’s like to be a part of The Sleeps Society.

Cradle Of Filth

If you’ve ever wondered what it might feel like to be amazed, disturbed, mesmerised and unsettled all at the same time, make sure you’re at Cradle Of Filth’s main stage performance. Having recently announced their forthcoming album ‘Existence Is Futile’ and delightfully punishing first single ‘Crawling King Chaos’, they’re set to captivate and obliterate the minds of everyone in earshot. Masters of showmanship known for their fervent approach to extreme metal, they fearlessly replicate the theatrical elements of their music on the stage and it’s honestly a spectacle that needs to be witnessed; descriptions do not do them justice. Expect pyrotechnics, dazzling lights, leather, corpse paint, metal spikes, more leather, maybe a cape or two… did we mention leather?


Strangle Wire

If you’re a fan of pulverising death metal and you’ve yet to discover Strangle Wire, this is the perfect opportunity to acquaint yourself. With the riffing power of Machine Head, the sonic barrage of Fear Factory and the blood-curdling growls of Cannibal Corpse, their brutish intensity is set to tear the Hobgoblin stage to shreds. With a debut album in the bag and a back catalogue of punishing material that’s earned them spots at Madrid’s Decimation Fest and the Las Vegas Death Fest, prepare to witness these Irish extreme metallers unleash total carnage.


There’s so much emerging talent on this weekend’s line-up, and one of the loudest and most in-your-face examples is Vexed. If you’re a fan of grimace-inducing riffs, bone-crushing drums and nightmarish guttural vocals, then you won’t want to miss this opportunity to bathe in their malevolence. Having worked with CJ McMahon from deathcore giants Thy Art Is Murder and with new album ‘Culling Culture’ turning heads, their Sunday set will serve as a first opportunity to showcase their brutality to the masses. They’re on the verge of blowing up, and this is an explosion that you’re going to want to be in the radius of.

Black Tongue

When you think of demonic blackened deathcore you generally don’t think of Hull, but that’s exactly where Black Tongue hail from. Formed in 2013 by the two founding members of internet death metal sensations Infant Annihilator, their music was the polar opposite, made up of low and slow grooves that are enveloped in absolute darkness. 2018 saw them reveal a change in direction as they released ‘Nadir’, a record so inherently evil that it sounds like it was written and recorded in the depths of Hell itself. If you’ve ever wondered what a satanic ritual might sound like in musical form, this is as close as it gets. Go and witness them summon demons and pry open the gates to the underworld – that’s basically what they do with their live shows. Not even kidding.

Diamond Head

If someone screams “AM I EVIL” in your face on Sunday morning, there are two possible answers. The first is “sorry mate, I’ve only just met you but I don’t think you are”, which is the wrong answer. The other is screaming back “YES I AM”, followed by high-fiving each other and then charging over to the main stage to watch Diamond Head – that’s the right answer. Originally part of the NWOBHM who can count Metallica and Megadeth among their fans, they didn’t meet the same level of commercial success as their peers but their influence has lasted the test of time, still standing tall as an integral part in making metal popular in this country. Make sure you grab a beer and go to pay your respects to these thrash heroes.

Bleed From Within

Scottish metalcore crew Bleed From Within have grown into a force to be reckoned with in recent years, and their live show has blossomed along with them. With an almost inhuman level of precision, plus pyrotechnics, boundless energy, and mind-melting music, they need to be on your must-see list for the weekend. Latest record ‘Fracture’ is a furious whirlwind of pure unadulterated rage and its combustibility translates to the live environment perfectly. Expect to witness tracks like ‘The End Of All We Know’, ‘Night Crossing’ and the monolithic ‘Pathfinder’ cause relentless chaos as they prove yet again why they’re one of the UK’s best.

Judas Priest

A legendary band and household name, Judas Priest don’t really need an introduction here at all; you know how much of an icon Rob Halford is, you can hear their songs in your head, you can picture the motorbikes and studded leather in your mind. What definitely does need saying, however, is that their set at Bloodstock will be a celebration of fifty years of them being a band. Fifty. Five-zero. HALF A CENTURY. That, my friends, is incredible. Regardless of whether you’re a fan of them or not, festivals like this wouldn’t exist without bands like them paving the way for generations upon generations of heavy metal bands, and the knock on effect of their influence can be seen on these grounds. A bill that spans four stages and five days, full of countless sub-genres and influences, all stemming back to where it began: with them. You won’t be breaking the law if you don’t catch their unbelievable milestone performance, but we will be disappointed in you.