By Rich Hobson
Rapidly growing since its first iteration in 2005, Bloodstock has grown to become the UK’s most beloved metal-specific festival, attracting both legends and up-and-coming titans in its quest to put on some of the hottest festival bills in the business. The 2019 edition of the event looks set to push the festival further than it has ever gone before, moving away from more staunch underground/traditional heavy metal acts to encompass massive behemoths from the modern metalcore/hardcore movement. That in mind, Über Rock are here to help you navigate the (not so) treacherous fields of Derbyshire to find the best acts at this year’s festival…
We kick things off with Friday, the thrashtastic first day of the festival that plays on Bloodstock’s strengths. A metal festival through and through, Friday 9 August sees heavy metal’s old guard rub shoulders with fresh blood and slightly more contemporary cuts, each band united in their multifaceted love for the genre that unites us all. With that in mind, it’s hardly surprising we’re picking out a good swathe of the mainstage acts for Friday in our choices – spoilers! – but read on to see exactly why…
Xero (Hobgoblin New Blood Stage)
One of the most interesting bookings for the new crop joining Bloodstock 2019, Xero don’t sound anything like your average Bloodstock band. Self-described as alt metal, there is an air of prog and post-metal to this band that pushes them into strange territories that sit somewhere between Dillinger Escape Plan’s most angular material and the soaring melodies of a band like Black Peaks. A curiosity with some real oomph to their sound.
FFO: Tesseract, Azusa, Black Peaks
Incite (Ronnie James Dio Stage)
The Cavalera blood flows strong in the voice of Richie, his throaty growl more than a little evocative of his dad Max. Of course, that’s by no means a bad thing when paired with the right level of rhythmic assault. Incite have that in spades, offering up a modernised take on groove metal that feels like it picks up the torch from the likes of Slipknot or Devildriver to create something both anthemic and heavier than being rolled over by a tank. Appropriate name for a band that will set main stage proceedings off like a riot.
FFO: Ektomorf, Hatebreed, Slipknot
Xentrix (Ronnie James Dio Stage)
The first full day of the festival isn’t pulling any punches in diving headlong into riffs, riffs motherfuckin’ riffs. Sometimes called Britain’s answer to Metallica, the truth is that Xentrix are underground through and through, much more in keeping with the bloodsoaked fury of Slayer than the genre’s more mainstream aspirations would allow. The band’s 2019 record ‘Bury The Pain’ is their first in 13 years, so expect a decade-plus worth of venom and fury to come flying out the speakers when this lot hit the stage.
FFO: Slayer, Exodus, Evile
Death Angel (Ronnie James Dio Stage)
Death Angel earned cult status in the 80s as one of thrash metal’s underground heroes, the three-record run of ‘The Ultra Violence’, ‘Frolic Through The Park’ and ‘Act III’ hallmarks of the genre’s early style. What’s funny though is that somehow the band have managed to come back and release even better material since 2004’s ‘The Art of Dying’, souping up their sound and giving it production values that really let their mastery sing. Expect a very, very sore neck after this set.
FFO: Exodus, Power Trip, Anthrax
BongCauldron (Sophie Lancaster Stage)
Sludge metal taken to its logical (and filthy) extreme, Bongcauldron are staunch champions of the fuzzy, downtuned riff and growled vocal arts. Stick some big boots on and get ready to trudge through oceans of filth when watching this lot and prepare to shotgun a few dozen beers once the riffs come out in full force.
FFO: Weedeater, High on Fire, Crowbar
Blind Divide (Hobgoblin New Blood Stage)
Ultra-technical modern metal stylings from Cardiff, this band pack some serious heft and already have some excellent tunes in the bank despite only having a four-track EP out thus far. Ones to keep an eye on for sure, with a bright future ahead if the self-titled EP is anything to go by.
FFO: Lamb of God, Death Blooms, Gojira
Soulfly (Ronnie James Dio Stage)
The heavyweights from Brazil, Soulfly have it in them to put on one of the most muscular and powerful displays of groove-thrash crossover this side of Pantera. Combining tribal beats and Max Cavalera’s distinctive throaty growl (oft-copied, seldom repeated) is always a winning formula, but the fact the band are coming back to the UK in support of a stellar new release means this set will shape up as a chance for the old reliables to get a mid-afternoon workout.
FFO: Alien Weaponry, Fear Factory, Korn
Countless Skies (Sophie Lancaster Stage)
Taking the blueprint of melodic death metal and giving it a symphonic retooling, Countless Skies fit in extremely well with the likes of Soilwork, Children of Bodom and Dimmu Borgir alike. Theirs is a sound which is stirring and epic, full of bombast and potential that is sure to ignite excitement in traditionalist heavy metal fans’ hearts. It’ll also be interesting to see just how much the band’s symphonic elements work in the live environment – outdoors to boot.
FFO: Dimmu Borgir, Soilwork, At The Gates
Children of Bodom (Ronnie James Dio Stage)
There’s no shortage of notable names hitting Ronnie James Dio stage across the weekend of Bloodstock 2019, but the Friday feels particularly stacked so far as more contemporary metal goes. While Children of Bodom’s 26-year career certainly counts them out so far as newcomers go, CoB aren’t slouches in the energy department and had an active participatory role in shaping the sound of metal flooding in from the continent. Expect a whole bunch of massive anthems from this lot, mixed in with fresh cuts from this year’s ‘Hexed’ release.
FFO: In Flames, Wednesday 13, Soilwork
Widows (Hobgoblin New Blood Stage)
No slouches in the riff department, Widows sit in the rich soil between sludge metal and stoner rock, roaring the whole way with a case full of great tunes. Its no coincidence this lot are on the hobgoblin stage – this is a band that you’ll want to drink and headbang to like a maniac, laying down blood, sweat and spit at the altar of heavy riffage.
FFO: Orange Goblin, High on Fire, Raging Speedhorn
Raging Speedhorn (Sophie Lancaster Stage)
Where Raging Speedhorn go, bruises are sure to follow. The furious sludge/nu bruisers from Corby made a lasting impact on the metal scene when they first arrived, carving out a niche that many bands still inhabit whilst never escaping the shadow of the progenitor. This will be something furious to behold in the tent, the atmosphere sure to be dripping in violent glee as only Raging Speedhorn can conjure.
FFO: Crowbar, Lamb of God, High On Fire
Powerwolf (Ronnie James Dio Stage)
With Sabaton headlining the Friday night of this year’s Bloodstock, you can absolutely guarantee that heavy metal theatrics will be out in full force to kick this year’s festival off proper. Directly before though are wonderfully madcap German metal overlords Powerwolf. They might not have tanks, but their insanely catchy choruses make for enormous heavy metal anthems – just what you need on a Friday night.
FFO: Ghost, Grand Magus, HELL
Grand Magus (Sophie Lancaster Stage)
Its serious love for heavy metal bombast that characterises Bloodstock’s Friday night, and as soon as Sabaton have completed their all-conquering run on mainstage its up to the medieval stylings of Grand Magus to bring the night to a roaring close. Massive choruses are sure to ensue, powered along by the thundering war machine that is Grand Magus’ rhythm section to offer up a very modernised take on the classic heavy metal tropes.
FFO: Manowar, Amon Amarth, Orange Goblin
We hope this has whetted your appetite and given you some food for thought about what to expect on the first day of this year’s bloody battlefield at Catton Park. Check back tomorrow when we’ll guide you through what we believe will be the highlights and “must see” acts of the Saturday.
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