By Rich Hobson

In metal, you adapt, or you die. The genre has evolved continually since the first howling notes of ‘Black Sabbath’ wailed into the world (and if we’re honest, long before that too) and so with it the scene has had to grow ever more adventurous and expansive. Naturally that means that its festivals too must grow and evolve – so Bloodstock’s move to book Parkway Drive feels both entirely natural and like an enormous gamble on their part. But then, if you don’t play, you don’t win.

With that said, here are our picks for the Saturday of Bloodstock 2019…

Swallow The Sun (Ronnie James Dio Stage)

Finnish death-doom might not be the natural choice for an outdoor festival in the full swing of summer, but Swallow The Sun offer an enormous smorgasbord of epic tunes that’ll put a grin on every metalhead’s face. Majestic and grand whilst also heavy as an imploding supernova (thus the name), Swallow The Sun will bring goth-tinged atmospherics to Derby next month.

FFO: Paradise Lost, My Dying Bride, Nailed to Obscurity.

Evil Scarecrow (Ronnie James Dio Stage)

It’s ironic that a festival which attracts so much flak for deviating even slightly from traditional heavy metal would also be the spiritual home for some of the genre’s most ridiculous champions. Case in point Evil Scarecrow bring a level of ridiculous unmatched in the metal world yet will doubtlessly attract absolutely enormous crowds for their main-stage offering as they blast through roarers like ‘Hurricanado, ‘End of Level Boss’ and ‘Crabulon’ (complete with mass dance moves).

FFO: Psychostick, Cradle of Filth, Lawnmower Deth.

Red Method (Sophie Lancaster Stage)

Close your eyes and listen to Red Method and you could be forgiven for thinking Bloodstock had managed to sneak Slipknot in under the radar. Drawing decidedly on Iowa-era Slipknot, Red Method possess the same nervous energy and melodic hooks that gave Slipknot massive success almost 20 years ago (jeez, that long?!), hoping to replicate that formula in their own way at Bloodstock this year.

FFO: Slipknot, Death Blooms, Devildriver.

Dust Bolt (Sophie Lancaster Stage)

Thrash is big business on Saturday at Bloodstock, new blood revivalists rubbing shoulders with legends like Anthrax to show there’s still plenty of lifeblood in the genre yet. You can’t go wrong with the traditional stylings of Dust Bolt, a Napalm Records signing with more than a whiff of Slayer to them turning the clock back to 1984 with sheer enthusiasm.

FFO: Slayer, Evile, Sanctity.

Voidlurker (Hobgoblin New Blood Stage)

Midlands finest filth, Voidlurker are a reliable source of downtuned nastiness. Having supported the likes of Dopelord and Saint Vitus in the past, this is a band with legs sunk deep into the mires of doom/sludge, the sounds of a human being clawing through their own legs to escape the mire.

FFO: Saint Vitus, Weedeater, Dopelord.

Helheim (Sophie Lancaster Stage)

Norwegian black metal with roots stretching right back to the movement’s very beginnings, Helheim have had nearly three decades to perfect the art of black metal fury. You can expect blasts of arctic hatred and absolutely enormous war-drum style percussive sections from this lot, alongside all the hallmarks of truly accomplished, brilliant Norwegian black metal. The inclusion of songs with mostly clean vocals on the band’s latest release certainly spells some interesting developments within the band, too…

FFO: Ihsahn, Satyricon, Solstafir.

The Wildhearts (Ronnie James Dio Stage)

A late booking, everybody’s favourite Geordie-fronted punk/metal mashup band were booked as a replacement for hardcore contenders Code Orange. Long requested for the festival (which seems to be the case for anywhere in the UK that The Wildhearts turn up) fans more familiar with the band’s punkier punches will likely think they are an ill-fit, but anybody familiar with Ginger’s Mutation project knows there’s some massive fangs hiding under the addictive hooks – as ably demonstrated on this year’s much more visceral ‘Renaissance Men’.

FFO: Metallica, Venom, The Ramones.

Generation Kill (Sophie Lancaster Stage)

There’s some serious thrashing going on over in the Sophie Lancaster tent at this year’s Bloodstock, Generation Kill leading in for a three-pronged thrashing assault alongside Anthrax and Skeletal Remains (below). Thrash metal like they made it in the 80s, this is revivalism at its finest, given fresh piss and vinegar to really get up the nostrils.

FFO: Death Angel, Exodus, Gama Bomb.

Skeletal Remains (Sophie Lancaster Stage)

If you’re worried that Bloodstock’s booking of Parkway means there’s less heavy to go around, you’ll definitely need to have your face melted off by this furious lot. Part thrash, part death metal and filled with demonic sounding guitars and guttural snarls, Skeletal Remains are here to remind metal fans that just because bands like Power Trip have achieved mainstream recognition and success, that doesn’t mean thrash metal doesn’t still have its firm underground champions.

FFO: Skeletonwitch, Power Trip, Gatecreeper.

Parkway Drive (Ronnie James Dio Stage)

Saturday night headliners Parkway Drive were a… controversial choice, to put it lightly. High-tops firmly planted in modern metalcore, the band are worlds away from traditional heavy metal, but also just so happen to be possessed of some of the biggest metal anthems in the game right now and a stageshow that has seen them go from hopeful up-and-comers to serious contenders. Last year’s Download Festival appearance proved the band could fill massive spaces with flames, roaring choruses and riffs aplenty, so we should expect something very special from this mob when they hit Catton Hall, proving that modern metal should be championed just as loudly as the classics.

FFO: Killswitch Engage, Slipknot.

We hope this has whetted your appetite and given you some food for thought about what to expect on the second full 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 Sunday.

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