Bloodstock Open Air 2018 preview

Bloodstock Open Air 2018 preview

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For a whole generation of young metalheads Judas Priest is a name that they’ve almost certainly heard of but possibly may not appreciate their full historical contribution to the early 1970s burgeoning UK heavy metal scene. Anyone set to catch them back on stage at Bloodstock in August will then be in for an education, little short of a full-on metal masterclass.

And while classic early Priest hits such as ‘Heading Out to the Highway’, ‘Hell Bent For Leather’ and ‘Breaking The Law’ will no doubt get blasted through the Bloodstock sound system, there will be much to admire also from new album Firepower to confirm that this is no purely mere nostalgia trip for the charismatic and pioneer frontman Rob Halford.

It speaks volumes for the UK’s No.1 outdoor heavy celebration that Judas Priest will headline the opening day on Friday August 10. Small enough to retain an intimate non-corporate feel, this family-run friendly festival is treated as little short of a mecca by most UK metalheads – and an increasing number of travelers from abroad as well. Set in luscious countryside, the festival supports four stages with well over 100 bands performing in Derbyshire across the three full days.

With death metal, black, doom, thrash and heaps more on top, if you know and love your metal there are few better places to be than Catton Park when Bloodstock comes around each year.

While Judas Priest headline the main Ronnie James Dio Stage on the Friday, many riffs and blastbeats will have been and gone before Halford and his Brummie crew take to the stage later in the evening. Earlier in the day that same massive platform will play host to death metal demons Bloodbath and Memoriam, black metal icons Emperor and UK thrash demons Onslaught.

The Sophie Lancaster Stage is far from short of attractions of its own, with the likes of Sodomized Cadavar and slam executioners Ingested keeping intensity levels ratcheted high before the arrival of the seemingly indestructible German legend Doro, who has probably navigated her way around the world more than astronaut Tim Peake.

Saturday features a tumultuous double whammy of Cannibal Corpse and Gojira topping off another memorable day on the RJD Stage, both bands no stranger to Bloodstock. The heavy brigade won’t have to wait until nightfall to get their sonic kicks with Dallas destroyers Power Trip bringing the riffs with them while veterans Venom Inc will be painting the walls black with their satanic sorcery, and a heritage in the musical dark arts stretching back across four decades.

Anyone venturing into the Sophie tent on Saturday may need their wellies to wade through some treacle thick sludge when Weight of the Tide are playing. A Forest of Stars are likely to present one of the most visually compelling sets of the day with their distinctive vaudeville goth get-up although for downright depressive doom few will swing as low as With The Dead, fronted by former cathedral guru Lee Dorrian.

While paying homage to much loved bands is all part of the Bloodstock DNA, for many, equal enjoyment comes in seeing and discovering new bands for the first time. The Hobgoblin New Blood Stage is the place to find plenty of young talent and many of these acts have earned their golden ticket to Bloodstock Open Air through the highly regarded Metal 2 The Masses competition.

Heats are staged across the UK, and now even in a few overseas hotbeds too. The depth of talent is frequently astonishingly high and so those acts who ultimately triumph in their own regional qualifier really have earned their ticket to ride to Bloodstock. Down the years, plenty of New Blood acts return a year or so later, with a bigger following intact, to play the larger Sophie Stage.

That’s exactly the case with King Leviathan this year and their electro speed cult attacks will take few prisoners on the Sophie Stage. The rising extreme metal scene in the East will be reflected at Bloodstock by the presence of Nepal’s Underside and Mumbai’s Demonic Resurrection – serious slayers both. Expect the Sophie tent to be packed to the rafters for Sunday’s closing act, Watain, who can be relied upon to deliver a black metal masterclass, but one in which the aural attacks are every bit as powerful as the devilish aesthetics.

Acts on the headline RJD Stage on the final day include Swedish melodic metalcore crew Amaranthe, the Hatebreed frontman Jasta, performing under his own name, and imperious Swedish death metal giants At The Gates. If you’re still standing after an action packed three days of extraordinary metal music then Bloodstock will send you home happy for another year with the symphonic sound of the eponymous Finnish festival closers Nightwish ringing in your ears.

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