DOWNLOAD FESTIVAL 2022 – THE BIG REVIEW!

Photo credit: Ⓒ Beth Miller for Download Festival

WELL THEN. Three whole years since the last proper Download Festival. Yeah yeah there was the Pilot last year, but it’s not the same. This is it, this is the return. Was it triumphant? Let’s discuss.

Donington Park opens its doors for the hoardes of giddy metalheads on Thursday, with the newly situated campsites filling from West Carpark quickly. Let’s have a moment for the new site layout; the campsites are now located considerably closer to the arena (they used to be at the opposite end of the racetrack) and the arena is accessed by travelling through the brand new Village area which is now on hard-standing.

There are a few things to note about this arrangement though. If you’ve managed to park in West Carpark, you are indeed only a shortish walk to your camping. However, once this is full the East and North Carparks are utilized and they are predictably – on the other side of the racetrack, a journey of epic proportions to your campsite. I suppose the question is, would you rather walk further to the arena every day, or have to cart all your camping stuff further on the way in and on the way out?

It must also be noted that whilst quiet camping does still exist, they’ve chosen to back the brand new (and considerably larger) Doghouse stage onto it. With music going on until 3am, it seems sort of redundant but hey, hopefully you brought earplugs.

The Village itself is a thing of beauty. Despite this being a rare good weather Download rather than a washout, it really is just such a good move to have the entire place on a tarmac surface. Immediately as you enter the area there is an enormous pop-up Co-Op selling practically everything you might need for the weekend, including fairly priced crates of beer and the cheeky sandwich meal deal which costs about a third of the price of a soggy burrito from the arena. Even for non-campers this is a short walk from the arena to keep your costs down, and I think its really important to stress that this is a great way of ensuring that people aren’t entirely priced out of coming to this festival, when food and drink prices seem set to continue to rise exponentially.

As for entertainment, this year we have an entire arcade replete with coin machines and Dance Dance Revolution, as well as the traditional fairground rides such as minor-whiplash-dodgems and possibly-the-worst-ghost-train-in-the-world. The new Doghouse is the real MVP though, a huge square post-apocalyptic shipping container park with a stage and a bar. It’s worth noting that this whole move really improves accessibility for everyone. RIP and Disability Camping guests are no longer miles from the night-time action, and the tarmac makes getting there much easier, a huge step towards making Download a much more inclusive festival.

For morning people you can give yourself a boost by joining in with some Rockfit, frame trampolining or rock aerobics – flashback to Download’s at-home content during Lockdown in 2020. In the evenings there’s stand up comedy in The Sidesplitter, and then the infamous Doghouse clubnights returning with a bang. I must give a mention here to Thursday night’s Punk Rock Factory who honestly I’d love to see hitting up the main arena next year, a punk Disney cover band. There is just something joyous about seeing a group of big burly dudes belting out songs from Encanto, truly they absolutely slap, and seemed to have the full support of a packed Doghouse.

Aside from this we also have another attempt at implementing a cashless festival, thankfully without a return to the RFID fiasco of a previous Download, though it does seem most of the shops are still accepting cash regardless. We also have renamed stages for 2022 – Apex and Opus in place of various previous names such as Lemmy and Dio, but let’s face it, everyone calls them Main and Second anyway.

Friday

It’s Friday, the gates are open and the sun is shining. Not packing a raincoat feels absolutely reckless for this festival, but the weather app assures me that everything will be ok so sun-cream it is. As seasoned Download goers, we head straight for a merch tent because everyone knows they can and absolutely will sell out of stuff. As per usual nothing has changed and there are simply too few staff to appropriately manage the volume of people queuing, and we wait a solid hour and a half to get our stuff. I think I’ve said this in every review but really, just drop more staff on for the first day, I beg.

The merch options are outstanding though, apart from the regular tshirts and such, there is a plethora of weird shit you can buy and I am HERE FOR IT. Download Monopoly for campsite mornings? Got you covered. Cafetiere and laser engraved wooden cups? No problem. We also love the fully embroidered denim jacket, the extremely handy new tote bags, and of course the plushie deranged Download Dog. There’s also a whole section for babies/kids which is nice, considering there seem to be a lot more of them in attendance this year. Mini metalheads everywhere you look – this is the next gen, teach them well.

Luckily the queue for said merchandise is situated right alongside the hill-top Dogtooth Stage, where we manage to catch a sweaty but brilliant set from The Scratch. Acoustic Irish folk music overlayed with heavy metal and a dedication to getting the crowd involved, makes for a unique and undeniably fun experience. Yelling “…if you’re really confused about what we’re doing, that’s fine, we’re confused as well… but we can still have fun” the band really sum up how it is to watch their show. I would absolutely go and see them again.

Over to Kris Barras on the Opus stage for some melodic rock and roll in the sunshine, playing bluesy summery riffs to a huge crowd. It’s perfect beer-drinking, feel good summer music that makes you feel like you’re in an 80’s TV show driving the Sunset Strip.

Skynd’s unique ‘true crime’ industrial rock sound is testament to the expansion of genre Download have been working towards over the last few years, something a little unusual and interesting, with songs named after infamous death events. Skynd’s unusual vocal style ranging from effeminate cheerleader-esque chanting to deep rasping creep is really something different, and sets the tone for how many new and challenging female artists we’re about to see this weekend.

Bury Tomorrow pull off a convincing enough set, but hero vocalist Myles Kennedy over on the Opus stage is just beyond compare – I genuinely believe he’s one of the best rock voices of all time. Dead Poet Society on the Dogtooth stage play to a jammed tent, and even spend a little time after their set taking photos with fans.

Firmly established Download regulars Black Veil Brides are tearing up the Apex stage to a mass of sweaty face-paint melting goths and some early crowd-surfers, but it’s Skindred who take the crown for band of the day with their energetic and powerful set. Whilst it’s true that we see them pretty much every year at least once, they never seem to disappoint. Benji always has a fun outfit, this time a lightning bold studded red leather set with a plumed hat, and they roll through a mix of old and new making sure to hit the highs of ‘Pressure’ and ‘Nobody’, as well as joking around with extremely British singsongs of “if you’re happy and you know it clap your hands”. “2 years without any fucking music” as Benji puts it, is enough time for everyone to get really amped up for ‘Kill The Power’ in which they also voice support for Ukraine, and a right old rowdy Newport Helicopter of windmilling tshirts during ‘Warning’. Oh Skindred, we’ve missed you.

Photo credit: Ⓒ James Bridle for Download Festival

Over on the Opus stage, the Aussies are at it again. Reckless wonders Airborne, who were once lambasted by security for climbing the stage rigging at Download sans harness – for shits and gigs, yell out “…if we’re still here, and you’re still here, metal still exists…”. Which when you consider their death-wish antics, is perhaps not the most solid flex.

A Day To Remember blast punky metal across the main stage area as the sun shines, before Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes take on the Opus stage with their classic punk rock sounds and social commentary. Frank, ever the cheeky chap shouts out “Moment of silence for all the bands that we just murdered” before clambering out onto the shoulders of fans to continue singing.

In a bold but timely statement Frank says “This is a ladies and non-binary only moshpit for this song. Fellas on the sidelines, protect this space. This is a safe space for those people to have a good time without getting groped or punched. For too long rock and roll has been unequal. I’m sorry I didn’t have the mindset to do this sooner, in 10 years time I promise you this will be a very different space for our children”. Whilst this may be somewhat performatory in practice (it’s one song in a weekend of bands), it does send a message that people are listening and beginning to take notice of what female and NB metal fans have been saying for years. Though generally pit-etiquette is known to be good at Download, it’s really refreshing to see how the festival is evolving into a more inclusive space for everyone to enjoy the music.

Frank also takes a jab with “This song is about Rishi [Sunak] telling me to get a fucking job. I’ve got two you bastard, how many am I supposed to have?” as massive ticker-tape explosions flutter over the crowd. It’s been an interesting set, and I’m all for artists using their platform to highlight important issues – it’s punk’s legacy.

After hitting up the legendary Bunnymans Bunnychow for dinner (South African firey chilli shoved into half a loaf of bread, the stuff of festival dreams) the Apex hill is filling up in anticipation of tonight’s headliner KISS.

The stage is draped with an enormous KISS banner, the sides flanked with KISS ARMY insignias, and the roof a hive of ring shaped lighting like something from sci-fi. Giant inflatable metallic effigies of the band members stand either side of the stage, blowing in the wind threatening to squash the puny worshippers below. As a tape begins to roll on the screens, of the band making their way through dressing rooms and corridors to get to the stage, I can’t help but giggle. We’re in a field, miles from anything solid, with only tents and tour buses back there. It’s all part of the KISS schtick though isn’t it.

“You wanted the best, you got the best!” yells Paul Stanley, aka The Starchild as a rain of sparkly pyro falls from the centre of the stage and the banner is dropped. As usual, they are dressed to the nines in, well, quite possibly bigger than nine-inch platform shoes and their signature shiny glam get-up – and there’s a part of me watching this, that is just a bit sad that nothing comes after this. We won’t witness this level of ridiculousness again, it’s an ending era. KISS are known for keeping it strictly performance. They have a script and they rarely step outside of it, which is professional I guess, if a little wooden sometimes. “This song is about putting something in your mouth…” comes before they drop into ‘Lick It Up’ but it’s the same sentence we heard last time we saw them here. I’m not sure whether I enjoy this from a nostalgia perspective – like re-watching your favourite movie when you feel down – or if I wish they’d break character just once, for this one final time.

‘Calling Dr Love’ is followed by ‘Tears Are Falling’ and then the more recent ‘Psycho Circus’ pulls up to a long drum solo from The Cat, who is raised up onto a giant platform. Presumably giving the other band members a much needed breather. I don’t hate it, it isn’t obscenely long… but the following instrumental really is. The solo is another thing from an older time, new bands don’t do it, or it’s a few seconds while someone grabs a drink. Another nail in the coffin of what it meant to be a headliner.

Luckily the band put on a great show regardless, Gene Simmons bleeding from the mouth whilst flapping his monumentally long tongue is an image burned into the rock retina for life. Jamming his iconic axe shaped bass whilst high up on a platform amongst the mysterons covered in images of his own face… you can’t get more Gene than that really.

“It’s the last time we’re gonna be together… and because it’s the last time, I’m gonna come out there and be with you. But you have to invite me… count to three and say my name…” calls Stanley, despite the fact that this is precisely the same way it went down the last time they played here, which obviously many of the fans remember all to well. Regardless, it is really fun to see him whizz from the stage to the sound tent on a circus ring zip wire to play ‘Love Gun’, and the epic ‘I Was Made For Lovin’ You’, amongst the sparkly light of a giant projected disco ball.

Closing out with three song encore, the end finally comes with ‘Rock and Roll All Nite’. Big inflatable KISS branded beach balls are thrown into the crowd, ticker tape explosions go off, and fireworks erupt from the top of the stage as they lament “We’re gonna miss you so much, we bow to you. It’s so special every time we come here”. Now, plenty of bands have said it’s their ‘final show’ before (cough, Aerosmith, cough Black Sabbath). KISS have been one of them… over 19 times according to Steve Tyler. This time though, it really does seem like they’re done. Some of the vibrancy was missing, it was too rehearsed.

It’s testimony to their skill as musicians and performers that the show was still great, and I will be forever sad that my child won’t get to remember seeing one of, if not the most iconic bands in the world, but maybe it is time to open the gates for new things. KISS have done thousands of gigs, sold millions of records and have the weirdest and most diverse collection of merch on this earth (KISS condoms anyone?) so… fair play to them. I’m glad I was here for the last show… probably.


SATURDAY

Opening the Apex stage this morning are The Raven Age, good hearty metal despite the thin arena at this time, but Cassyette edges them out as the Opus stage opener with an absolutely huge crowd. Swinging her long blonde Pippi Longstocking braids as she thrashes around the stage, you can see exactly why she’s been booked – what a bloody epic voice. Again, it’s awesome to see more women hitting the big stages at Download this year, and absolutely smashing it. Those Damn Crows keep the vibe going, but there’s definitely an element of crowd fatigue in this heat – us pasty Brits are just crap at sunshine.

Sheffield lads Malevolent come in with their full force, pulling out all the stops in their exceptionally heavy set. “This goes out to anyone who has ever told you, you can’t do something because of how you look or who you are” says frontman Alex Taylor, before they muster up three massive circle-pits in the crowd.

Ice Nine Kills may have a bit of a gimmicky schtick when it comes to band theme, rocking up in suits to mimic American Psycho’s Patrick Bateman, these guys are a self-professed Horror Metal band. However, there is nothing gimmicky about their musical talent, these guys absolutely kill it – if you can excuse the pun. Yeah sure they have some Alice Cooper-esque snuff theatre going on, stage knives and a creepy clown… but I defy anyone to try not to join in with the likes of ‘Hip To Be Scared’ and ‘The American Nightmare’. They’ve gone straight to the top of my post-Download playlist.

Photo credit: Ⓒ  Sam McMahon for Download Festival

Black Label Society, owners of very lush hair, gather a huge crowd at the Apex stage. With Zakk Wylde’s signature sound resonating across the arena, this just feels like peak Download. There are so many memories tied to that sound at this event. Later Shinedown absolutely tear it up, yelling “Ladies and Gentlemen, we made it, we are here and we’re all alive” and treating us to the hits we want to hear ‘Second Chance’ and ‘Cut The Cord’. The “Freedom” refrain really has some topical context for this crowd, after a couple of years of strict lockdowns and Covid worries.

Deftones are predictably great but we’ve been round the block a few times and I’m really only in it for ‘My Own Summer’ at this point, so it’s time to take a walk around the site and grab some food. One thing I really want to mention is that the quality of stuff you can buy from Download shops is actually really exciting. You can grab your next pair of skate trainers for a fraction of the cost of online stores, get hold of some unusual patches for your battle jacket, and there’s the likes of Mysticum Luna selling some  beautiful jewellery. If that’s not your jam, you can queue up in the morning to book yourself a tattoo slot at Old Sarum – I wonder how many people now have a Download Dog tattoo?

On the Opus stage Megadeth have the most ridiculous set of mega-stacked amps (there is no way at least half of those aren’t just for show, come on now) and Funeral For A Friend are bringing back those nostalgic emo kid vibes on The Avalanche stage. Sepultura play to a bursting at the seams Dogtooth tent, it’s hot, it’s heavy, it’s everything it should be – I just wish I could get further into the tent than the gate.

Looking at the arena tonight, it’s pretty clear there are a lot of day-ticket holders here specifically for this. It’s twice as packed as last night, people shoulder to shoulder right to the back of the hill and spilling out both sides around the sound tent. To say Iron Maiden are an institution at Donington would be putting it mildly. We’ve been waiting three years for this, let’s go.

As the traditional UFO ‘Doctor Doctor’ heralds them onto the stage, we take our first look at the set up for this ‘Legacy of The Beast’ tour, which centres on Japanese/Shinobi imagery due to their newest released ‘Senjutsu’. The stage is all green-roofed pagodas, Nikko’s brand new drum set is covered in the beautiful album artwork, and as the band take the stage we note that Bruce has gone full top-knot presumably in a nod to the theme. Rocking some almost spray-on leather pants (he does it better than Ross Geller though) Bruce is immediately and unwaveringly as brilliant as ever. If you think there’s a more iconic vocalist in metal I can’t hear you over the sound of Bruce belting the living shit out of ‘The Writing On The Wall’. You’d think after 34 years playing here, and the 7th inning as headliners, that something would eventually dip… the speed, the sound quality, the theatricality, the energy. No. Not our Iron Maiden. They are the lifeblood of this festival and all those before it on this hallowed ground, and they truly sound better than ever.

Eddie makes a surprisingly early appearance dressed as a Samurai, in order to go about executing the band members with a giant katana, and Bruce quips “You alright? That was bit fucking casual… you alright?” as the crowd warms up a bit from their viewing stupor. If you haven’t seen Maiden before, it’s a lot to take in. If you have, it’s a lot to take in.

Multiple set changes are expected with Maiden for sure, but wow is it slick tonight. Using curtain structures to create background sets means they basically drop away in seconds to be replaced by another – something that really just adds to the magic of their show. This next one is a full on church, replete with stained glass windows and flaming chandeliers.

Calling out “The last three years of all our lives, has been largely fucking shit. In this field is where it fucking stops. We’re one big family, the Maiden family. We don’t care what colour, size or anything you are… you are our Blood Brothers” they drop headfirst into the anthem. Not to get too corny, but there is something so uplifting, so uniting about hearing this after the hard couple of years we’ve just been through.

Now, Bruce has always been known to be a bit… extra. But tonight he really doubles down, in a floaty veiled cape, he capers about the stage brandishing a giant disco cross for ‘The Sign of The Cross’ and then in a bonkers turn of events, trying to brandish a Ghostbusters style dual flamethrower, AND his mic beneath an enormous winged angel for ‘Flight of Icarus’.

Fear of The Dark has always been my favourite, since I saw Maiden for the very first time at the very first Download festival in 2003. My friend lifted me up from our spot 10 or so rows from the front, so that I could look across the crowd at the sea of lights. At that time it was proper lighters, not blue phone screens, and it is one of my most magical memories. Tonight, I was watching from the side, much further back, with my 2 year old daughter – doing a small cry, thinking about how grateful I am to be back here, after everything, and it was perfect.

‘Hallowed Be They Name’, ‘The Number of The Beast’ and the eponymous ‘Iron Maiden’ are just beyond reproach, it’s ridiculous how Iron Maiden manage to gut punch us every time, they just get into your bones. There’s a giant inflatable beast Eddie… everyone is singing, everyone is headbanging, everyone thinks they’re in the band too… “Scream for me Donington!” elicits the monumental roar of thousands of metal fans in their element.

The stage lights dip, but no-one moves an inch. The encore is spectacular, with Bruce admitting “Wish I was down there with you, it’s fucking cold up here” into the amazingly clear moonlight night, before donning the signature Redcoat and flag for ‘The Trooper’, and the return of Eddie for a duel.

‘The Clansman’ (another chance to yell FREEDOM into the sky) and ‘Run To The Hills’ are magnificent, but there’s nothing quite like the closing gem ‘Aces High’ complete with a fucking massive Spitfire flying, in my opinion, terrifyingly close to their heads, on stage. Bruce gives it his full force, rocking a flying cap and goggles as the band wheel around the stage delivering the most powerful, energetic performance you can imagine. They are just such pros, I genuinely don’t know what we’ll do when they finally call time. With their outro of Monty Python’s ‘Always Look on the bright side of life’, there is a collective sigh and we all begin to leave the arena. The hour plus queue to leave the car-park tells you that everyone stayed for this, what a bloody amazing night.

SUNDAY

Kicking things off for today at the Apex stage are homegrown electro-rock duo Wargasm, who sponsor a pretty brutal circle pit for so early in the morning. Two guys dressed as bananas are gleefully smashing into each other, as Milkie Way kicks and screams her way through the excellently named ‘D.R.I.L.D.O’ and ‘Backyard Bastards’. A live debut of ‘Fukstar’ and an N*E*R*D cover of ‘Lapdance’ also go down well with the crowd.

Photo credit: Ⓒ Sam McMahon for Download Festival

On the Dogtooth stage, drag artist Bimini serves us a fucking stunning outfit and an equally fun mash up of The Prodigy’s ‘Breathe’ and Britney Spears’ ‘Toxic’ gone metal. It’s very very weird, and I like it. “This is my first festival… You know what, we’re a queer fucking band, and we’re gonna fuck it up” they say, with new music being debuted ‘Don’t Fuck With My Groove’ which is undeniably outside of what we are used to hearing at Download. A cover of Peaches sends us over the edge, I want to see Bimini bring a bigger, more extravagant show next time. Spotted in the Bimini crowd: Zoe London, having an excellent time!

We’ve decided to sit down and have some lunch at the main stage, which means catching Alestorm today. Somewhat unwillingly. If you haven’t heard about their recent controversy over leaked group chat messages which highlight some pretty stark racism and misogyny – just take it from us, it was not ok. These messages were authenticated/claimed by lead singer Chris Bowes at the time, and apologized for, but when you’ve been talking about competitions to see who can sleep with the most barely legal fans on tour… it’s gonna fuck up your reputation as a fairly wholesome fun band.

It’s actually a bit of a surprise that they were still booked for Download following this. There’s a bit of a disconnect between what looks like the purposeful move to give more female artists stage time, and having Alestorm back on the bill. Between bands Download has opted for screen messages about consent and respect all weekend, a purposeful effort towards changing the culture of festivals and making them safe for everyone – which I fully endorse and applaud. So yeah… it’s strange.

They’re on stage anyway, giant inflatable duck in tow, yelling “We’re only here to have fun” and while there is a decent crowd, it’s markedly less than I would expect them to pull at this festival. They play their hits (indistinguishably all about drinking, it’s the schtick) ‘Mexico’ and ‘Fucked With An Anchor’ to a sea of crowd surfers, but there’s definitely a flatness to the performance compared to other times we’ve seen them. Around us a lot of people are looking unimpressed, and it’s probably not just to do with the show.

Conversely, The Hara absolutely rip it up on the Avalanche stage, with their really interesting tech fuelled set. As a three-piece alt rock outfit, I did not expect their sound to be so complex, but with all the extra electronic fills, it is a serious sucker punch. I totally expect to see more of them at Download in the future.

Rise against are coming back with a new album, but the familiar punk-rock feels we love, “…this is a song about what we’ve all been doing the last two years… it’s called Survive” and closing ‘Saviour’ in the sunshine is just bringing us all happiness as we sing along.

Over on the Opus stage, Baroness as expected put on a fantastic show, and on the Apex stage Volbeat give us what we want with ‘Lola Montez’ and ‘Still Counting’ as well as their cutesy ‘I Only Want To Be With You’ Dusty Springfield cover.

Up next Korn give a blistering performance worthy of a headline slot, Jonathan Davis careening about the stage in leather pants is giving us the big 90’s nostalgia. There are bagpipes, there’s a snippet of ‘We Will Rock You’ in ‘Coming Undone’, they serve up ‘Falling Away From Me’ and ‘Freak On A Leash’ at an eardrum bursting level. It’s such an energetic performance, mirrored in the sheer number of crowdsurfers who are heading towards the front, and it seems like the whole crowd is into it.

Photo credit: Ⓒ David Dillon for Download Festival

Steel Panther are divisive. They started off as a joke band… but they have some catchy hits… they’re clearly joking… but the type of jokes they make are tired and largely misogynistic…

Yelling “That crowd reaction was pretty good for a Hoobastank concert” garners a laugh from only those old enough to know who Hoobastank are, but the zebra leggings and 80’s hair never fails to make me smile. “England is my second home. I speak the language. My Grandma is from here in Leicester, she used to cook for the whole family… crystal meth” is exactly what we expect from them, as well as their penchant for pulling ladies from the audience to dance with them. They do in fact have 17 girls for ’17 Girls In A Row’, and they are joined by guest Justin Hawkins of The Darkness – who just played the other stage – for ‘Party All Day’. ‘Asian Hooker’ and ‘Death To All But Metal’ are meant to be silly, but that’s part of the charm – it’s possibly the most packed this stage has been all weekend.

So, right up front I have to note going into this headline review, that the arena is stunningly under-filled already. You can basically walk to the front in a couple of minutes from either side. This shouldn’t happen for headliners.

Scot-rock stalwarts Biffy Clyro are no strangers to Download Festival, having headlined here in 2017. Given the fact that we’ve been in Covid central for a couple of years, this actually feels more recent than the five years it has actually been. There’s no doubt that the band are musically brilliant, and the stage set up is impressive in its own way, but perhaps overshadowed by the previous two nights of high production headline sets.

The hometown crowd is representing at the front with giant Scottish flags flying, and ‘Wolves of Winter’ is a soaring masterpiece which absolutely deserves a place here. Yelling “We’ve waited three years for this, I know you have too. It’s wonderful to be back together again” frontman Simon Neil is clearly having an excellent time up there, but I can’t help but see the crowd is thinning even further. I wonder if they can see this from up there, and feel a little sad for them.

‘Space’ and ‘Bubbles’ come before an encore of ‘The Captain’, ‘Cop Syrup’ and ‘Many of Horror’ – all of which are performed beautifully and confidently, but it obviously isn’t hitting with a huge proportion of the Download crowd who are opting to be elsewhere. The band finish up with a set of stage top fireworks, but it’s not the crowning finale it should have been for this, the triumphant return of Download festival. If Download wants to sell enough tickets next year, those headliners had better be closer aligned to the main formula than Biffy were this weekend.

In other entertainments, The Doghouse is bumping for another few hours yet with the likes of Lais MW & Lauren Cornelius serving up fun bouncy mixes and Limp Bizkit dance renditions. Here we’ll leave everyone to the wild abandon of the final night at camp.

Round-up

So what did we think of Download festival 2022?

Firstly, we were served an unusual dose of good fortune with the weather being dry. This festival is no joke when it’s wet, so it was nice to not have to think about boots and raincoats this year. The new site changes are a huge step in the right direction to making this festival more inclusive and accessible, as well as just generally better for everyone. It would be great to see some companies like Vodafone with their Haptic suits there, to deliver unique experiences of the music to deaf fans in the Download audience in the future.

There were a lot more kids this time around – a lot of lockdown babies and toddlers in attendance, which yes, changes the vibe a little sure, but ultimately this music is for everyone – and that includes parents without childcare options. There’s nothing like indoctrinating the youth into metal anyway.

In the news following the festival it has sadly been reported that two men have died (in unconnected incidents) and police are appealing to contact a man who had helped one of them. Contact details can be found on the BBC website if you have any information. The deaths are not being considered suspicious at this time, our thoughts go out to them and their families.

Next year is the huge 20th anniversary of Download and Andy Copping has stated that all headliners have been booked already – an unusual feat. The anticipation and anxiety over who it will be is already gut wrenching. With a lot of the big legacy bands shutting up shop, I simply can’t imagine how this will play out, but for myself – I’m hoping for a Rammstein return, and the yet-to-play rock legends Pearl Jam.

I’d also like to mention that every staff and security member we came across this weekend was friendly, helpful and genuinely nice. It really makes a difference to how smoothly the weekend runs. On top of that, the general effort into turning Download into a more green space, and a more diverse space is really good to see. It’s time for the rock and metal scene to evolve into something more inclusive – and I don’t think Download loses any of its integrity as one of the worlds’ best rock festivals by doing so.

In summation, this weekend has been characterised by a return to familiarity, pure joy and a feeling of freedom. There has been something intensely healing about being back at Donington, for a lot of people I spoke to over the weekend. It has indeed been three years of shit, but thanks in part to Download Festival – I feel like I’m on the road to recovery. Roll on the big anniversary in 2023, see you there!

Bloodstock Open Air 2017 – REVIEWED!

FRIDAY

It’s day one of BOA 2017 and we’ve got our obligatory black band tees on, grabbed our wristbands and are headed into the arena for a weekend of pure metal fun.

Friday sees Swedish metallers Soilwork take to the main stage with classics ‘Nerve’ and ‘Stabbing the Drama’ but the sound doesn’t seem quite settled yet and most of what you can hear is distortion and cymbals. Luckily the Kraken tiki bar is on hand with cocktails and you can get your mitts on a Black Kraken ice-cream again, but be warned, it stains your teeth like you have scurvy. Maybe pirate emulation is the point? There’s also a pretty extensive merch stand this year at BOA, taking a leaf out of the Wacken book perhaps, you can now dry your bits with a Bloodstock towel… drink from a Bloodstock flask… don some fabulous branded leggings… the list goes on! This of course is in addition to BOA’s Exploding Ape collab which includes gym wear and an onsite Strongman/Strongwoman competition.

Over at said competition, a whole host of incredibly hench and serious looking women are taking turns lifting incredible amounts of weight to see who can complete the most clockwise rotations on the turnstile. It looks insanely tough and there’s a decent crowd cheering them on. Just to the side we spot The Motley Brew – which is possibly the most British thing ever. A tea tent, serving almost every tea under the sun (and free biscuits, bonus) out of proper mugs, with puns everywhere. We drank ours out of “Sweet Chai of Mine” and “Love in a Percolator” mugs… narf.

Nearby on the Sophie (Lancaster) stage, Denderq are busting out melodic but heavy harmonies and shout out to the BOA crew for “such a well run festival”. Following them, another UK band (and veteran Bloodstockers) Season’s End take the stage after an extremely long hiatus. It doesn’t seem to have done them any harm however, and lead vocalist Becki Clark is absolutely belting it, their symphonic style is fairly rare in UK bands so it’s nice to see them back on the scene.

Over on the main stage a guy dressed as a bloody Patrick Bateman is staring blankly into space and starting to creep the security guards out, but it’s time for Cali thrashers Testament to take control of the arena. Now, I always take it as a good sign if a metal band decides to rep their own tshirts and Testament have no problem doing just that, tick one for Metal-bingo. They’re also playing what can only be described as just good solid chuggy metal, to a pretty huge crowd, who are more than happy to jump around a bit as it is absolutely bloody freezing outside now. Goth girls in jorts are freezing their goosepimpled pale legs right off, and I bet come nighttime they actually have a faint eerie glow being almost translucent. In contrast there seem to be a lot of men rocking a leggings/fur coat combo, looking extremely pleased with their fashion choices this weekend. Bloodstock welcomes all. Testament are a testament (geddit) to old school metal, there’s loads of hair-windmilling and epic guitar solos, and one extremely tiny child with bunches and a mini battle-vest is bopping around to them as if it was tots tv.

On the Sophie stage, Shrapnel are getting all screamy with a crowd ready for some rioting, and the penultimate main stage band Blind Guardian come to the fore with an electric blue-lit entrance. They’ve always been a band with a lot of presence, but I will never not giggle that lead vocalist Hansi Kürsch is so unassuming that he looks like he could be doing your taxes or offering you legal advice. Nevertheless their uniquely symphonic sound is well received here at Bloodstock and the crowd joins in when asked “you will be our backing vocals… we have full trust in your skills… this one’s called Nightfall”. Kürsch is also keen to add “We are going to dedicate this one to Amon Amarth because it’s thanks to them we are here, we lost all our stuff” as the band is playing on entirely borrowed equipment.

Last up, Swedish Viking metal in the form of the mighty Amon Amarth, with an absolutely amazing headline show. They have fire, they have drinking horns, they have ever so much hair… they have a giant headbanging serpent on stage and dance moves (yes, I am claiming the rowing as a dance move) but above all else they are just furiously brilliant at what they do. Click HERE to read our complete headline review.

SATURDAY

Saturday sees the tiny but loud Jager stage fired up with UK scamps Bangover who have gathered a frankly massive crowd then incited them to create a circle-pit around the entire stage, only to then crowd surf (well you know… be ceremoniously carried) from there to the main stage at the end of their set.

Annihilator are rowdy good fun on the main stage, yelling “We are from that racist terrible country called… Canada… I know I’m sorry, I’m sorry eh” and joking “Our money has the Queen on it, so thanks for that guys”. With an album due in November it’s nice to hear some new stuff too “…finally back to early thrash roots… it’s called Twisted Lobotomy” which is absolute shredsville and the crowd is clearly loving it.

A little punky, a little rocky, a little classic metal… Spyder Byte on the Jager stage are just downright decent and judging by the crowd they’ve gathered, they could really play a bigger stage next year with no problems. Municipal Waste are determined to smash shit up with a giant circle-pit from the outset, even before they’d dropped a note, screaming “We’re Municipal Waste and we’re fucking back!”. Calling out “I’m all fucked up on buckfast right now… we play buckfast thrash” and the topical slew of hatred “Fuck Donald Trump! This song’s called ‘I wanna kill the president” only serves to amp up the already rowdy crowd even more, and a record 711 crowd surfers were recorded going over the barrier during this set alone.

Florence Black have pulled a decent crowd over on the Sophie stage, but we’re off in search of sustenance. Yet again Bloodstock have upped the ante when it comes to food, for a small festival there really is a more than decent offering. After looking into stalls selling Paella, Ostrich burgers, Vegan wraps, smoked meats Texas-style and some heart-stoppingly sugary doughnuts, we settle on a gigantic chicken offering from Burrito Boys which was fantastic.

Back at the main stage, Hatebreed enter to the laid back Bad Boys theme to emphasise the juxtaposition of their immediately screamy harsh metalcore flow. Lead vocalist Jamey Jasta stops for a breath and to say “You guys never disappoint man… this is why people come from all over the world to Bloodstock! Thanks for the positivity guys” as a pack of fluffy unicorn people march through the crowd throwing horns.

As the sun goes down you could be forgiven for thinking that the stage was being set for a headliner, but no – the insane amount of props and settings belong to penultimate act – Kreator. Heralded onto the stage by two demonic people brandishing red flares and a giant explosion of red tickertape, it’s clear Kreator mean business. There is a bit of unfortunate-ness with the curtain snagging on the giant devil horns at the back (a man dutifully tramped out with a ladder about halfway through the first song to unhook it… so rock n roll) but the band are absolutely killing it. There’s tonnes of pyro during ‘Satan Is Real’ and the massive church windows are actually screens providing more visuals to light up the stage, it really is a huge undertaking for a non-headline set. ‘Violent Revolution’ and ‘Pleasure to Kill’ go down a storm and it seems like the arena is shoulder-to-shoulder packed, as a huge silver and white streamer explosion rains down over the crowd.

Kids wrapped like tiny Egyptian mummies are streaking around the place as Bloodstock gives their two headline announcements for 2018, Gojira elicits an enormous roar of approval but the reaction to Nightwish is mixed at best.

Onto the actual mainstage headliner for Saturday – Ghost. Despite a technically good set, and a hardcore set of fans down the front they just don’t have the wow-factor we just experienced with Kreator, it’s maybe a shame for them that they followed such a great show. Read our full review of Ghost’s headline show HERE.


SUNDAY

Sunday finally brings the sun and we’re on the hunt for the best tattoos of BOA 2017 – check out our gallery on Facebook to see if we snapped yours! Possessed and Obituary are both shouty good times on the main stage, and Prognosis are absolutely ripping up the New Blood Stage, to a packed tent.

Local Derby lads HELL are predictably mad, with their stained glass window backdrops, crown of thorns and underlings lighting burning sconces. After a little technical difficulty with his headset, vocalist David Bower, armed with a handheld mic is now creeping around the stage amongst the eye-watering amount of pyrotechnics criss-crossing the pit area, calling out “How’s it going bloodstock? It’s been awhile…”. After a brief exit he returns to the stage dressed as a demonic Mr. Tumnus (read: Narnia meets the ninth circle) clicking his hooves as he sermonizes the crowd with a flaming trident. It’s all very surreal, particularly when he makes the ultimate metal Dad-joke “You should have told me bloodstock you were wearing black… we would have changed”. Groan.

Welsh ragga-metal band Skindred are much beloved by the UK metal scene and they absolutely do not disappoint, heaps of banners and backdrops do nothing to distract from the fact that they are completely unique and amazing at what they do. With a tribute photo of Roger Moore on the drumkit, mash-ups of the Imperial March and Benji’s signature spiked sunglasses you could be forgiven for thinking Skindred are all about the gimmick, until you hear them bust out the likes of… er… “If you’re happy and you know it clap your hands”… oh.

No worries though, Benji soon yells “we stand together as people who love fucking rock music right now… this song is about people coming together and living as one… Doom Riff” which is exactly the kind of wild, raucous metal we came here for. With a barrage of strobe lighting for ‘Sound The Siren’ he asks “…you like the new songs? Yes or no don’t fuck about!” before launching into ‘Pressure’ which gets everyone up and bouncing. Benji jokes about “Anyone want a tshirt? On this side? Twenty five fucking quid go and buy one you cunts” before getting serious mentioning the death of a friend, and noting “…none of us are promised tomorrow, just like Sophie (Lancaster)” and urging everyone “if you love someone go and fucking tell them”.

‘Kill The Power’ is huge, but it’s the firm favourite ‘Warning’ featuring a mass twirling of tshirts… bras… one giant inflatable t-rex… for the Newport Helicopter, which is really impressive. Skindred walk that fine line between being cheesy Butlins comedy and just really fucking awesome. Obviously as Brits we love everything about that.

Up next, Arch Enemy destroy the stage with vocalist Alissa White-Gluz, who is a force to be reckoned with. Her Frozen-esque locks, shredded leather and fringed jacket make her look like some kind of ethereal warrior, and that raw bloodcurdling roar earns her a mark of respect amongst the death-metal crowd. As three people on microlights soar above the arena, Alissa addresses the crowd “This is a very special show… about 3 years ago ae released an album called War Eternal… since then we’ve been touring, we’ve done about 300 shows…and this, Bloodstock, is the last one of this War Eternal cycle!”.

Next up on the Jager stage, Voodoo Blood are giving a belting classic metal show to an increasingly large crowd, but as they finish up the arena is filling for finale headliners Megadeth. What a way to close Bloodstock 2017 – Megadeth are true masters of their genre and the crowd is loving them, out with a raft of Marshall amps and some serious shredding they are the perfect sound to end what has been an exceptional weekend. Check out our full Megadeth review HERE. The Bloodstock blues will hit hard next week but for now we are riding out on a serious high, this festival really is family, and it seems pretty strange to be going back to our normal lives for another year. With two announcements already down, we can’t wait to see what else BOA has in store for 2018.

All photographs © A. Hyams – Do not use without permission

Finale headliner Megadeth close Bloodstock 2017!

Someone said all good things must come to an end, and sadly it is the final night of Bloodstock Open Air for another year. On the plus side, tonight sees the mighty Megadeth return after headlining the festival last in 2014, this time as part of their Dystopia World Tour. The LA thrash idols fronted by Dave Mustaine, known for their political commentary and lyrics, are sure to have something to say about the current events in America unfolding this week – adding to the overwhelming anti-Trump sentiment coming from many of the bands both last year and this.

As the giant screen backdrop explodes into the Megadeth logo, the band enter with an eardrum shattering blast of pure thrash metal for ‘Hangar 18’. Again BOA have absolutely nailed the sound this year, every note is perfect and Megadeth just keep rolling through a rock-solid set. The likes of ‘The Threat is Real’ and ‘Wake Up Dead’ have the entire arena going nuts, the pit is jumping and you can’t move without being thrashed in the face by someone’s wild headbanging hair.

Backed by an absolute wall of Marshall stack amps, the band stop for nothing, not even for a giggle at the guy crowdsurfing the inflatable ducky getting unceremoniously bounced into the pit. The screen visuals are also pretty interesting and topical, with despotic world leaders and killers flipping over and over during ‘Sweating Bullets’, but it’s the incredible acoustic intro to ‘Conquer or die!’ performed by Kiko Loureiro that has us in utter awe. Bathed in orange light centre stage, Loureiro picks alongside strange disembodied hands doing the same on screen, it’s unnervingly incredible to actually be able to see what he’s doing from anywhere in the arena.

It’s the sense you get with this whole show – these are just people who are incredibly good at what they do, and there’s no stage set, costumery or amount of pyrotechnics that can come close without that level of mastery that comes with years of practice. Oh and as any good metal band should – everyone gets a turn, there’s a chance for drummer Dirk Verbeuren to do his thing from his lofty height mid-stage and everyone else takes turns at dueling guitars during ‘Poisonous Shadows’.

Finally on pause, Mustaine calls out “Good evening, are you feeling good? See I didn’t wanna waste your time tonight by talking a lot…” as the crowd jubilantly chant “Me-ga-deth” back at them. Following this he says “…they told me tonight was the biggest Bloodstock ever. Thank you for breaking that record… hopefully we'll beat that next year, and it'll get bigger and bigger and bigger” which, at least for the second half, doesn’t garner much reaction. I think there’s an unspoken hope amongst the crowd that Bloodstock remain a smaller festival, one which is well run and for the most part, avoids the trappings of the larger festivals. It’s why people come here.

Of course ‘Symphony of Destruction’ was going to be huge, but there is nothing like the wallop hearing something so iconic, so anthemic, up close and personal, in the flesh. Oh and if ever there was a more poignant time for this song, I don’t know it. The AV depict bombs exploding, guns, the American flag aflame, and a lot of fat white men sitting around with cigars laughing and to be honest it’s all a little too real right now. Heading into the encore of ‘Peace Sells’ we spot two very happy Megadeth fans in furry clothing who have a primo view of the show, I mean, if you can’t headbang to Megadeth on top of a bin, dressed as a carpet at Bloodstock… when can you?

Closing out with an insanely heavy ‘Holy Wars… The Punishment Due’, Mustaine takes one last chance to address the crowd “Drive home safe tonight… as always you’ve been awesome… and we've been Megadeth!” and with that, it’s over for another year. Megadeth absolutely brought the house down, ending BOA 2017 in a blaze of glory.

All photographs © A. Hyams – Do not use without permission

100 DAYS ‘TIL BLOODSTOCK!

With just 100 days to go, BLOODSTOCK is delighted to welcome Manchester bruisers BROKEN TEETH, as Sunday’s Ronnie James Dio main stage opener.  Signed to Nuclear Blast last year, the hardcore youngbloods are set to wake everyone up and pummel your hangover into submission!  Check out ‘Show No Mercy’ from their debut full-length ‘At Peace Amongst Chaos’ at https://youtu.be/Cppa15f4sFw.

 

Four more talented bands are joining the Last.fm-sponsored Sophie Lancaster stage bill.  Maryland, USA rockers LIONIZE (www.facebook.com/LIONIZEMUSIC/) bring the groove & funk to the party, and have been hard at work on their next record for new label The End (out this Summer), so expect a few new tunes!  Are you familiar with BLACK MOTH (www.facebook.com/themothpit/) yet?  If not, you soon will be!  Hailing from Leeds, Kerrang! describes them, “like Electric Wizard meets Band Of Skulls, in a dungeon.”  Finnish metal outfit WOLFHEART (www.facebook.com/WolfheartRealm/) swoop in to showcase their new album ‘Tyhjyys’, released in March via Spinefarm.  And if black metal blended with doom and punk catches your interest, don’t miss Nuclear Blast’s brutal German duo MANTAR (www.facebook.com/MantarBand/).  

 

After last year’s huge success, the 100%CA strongmen competition returns to the arena even bigger and better, and 2017 adds the women getting involved too!  Friday sees the ladies battling it out for England’s Strongest Woman, boasting an impressive line up of 8 Arnold's and 5 World's competitors as well as Jenny Todd (the reigning middleweight Arnold's champion) and Donna Moore (the current open weight Arnold's champion and World's Strongest Woman)!  Sponsored by XPLOSIVEAPE, there’s a £1200 prize up for grabs, a first for the women's sport.  Saturday brings the return of Europe’s Strongest Man u90kg.  Will reigning champ Rob Ward keep his hands on the title or will Tom Hibbert, Calum Evans, or Davy Wallace knock him off his throne?  Sunday’s finale offers a tiered prize pot of £2500 for the top 5 in XPLOSIVEAPE’s Strongest Man.  See some of the UK’s best athletes, including Graham Hick (current British log press holder, World's Strongest Man competitor, and third at Britain's), fast-rising demon Mark Steele, and current England's Strongest Man, Paul Smith.  Come along, cheer, and snap a photo with the strongest men and women in the country!

 

If that leaves you in need of refreshment, head over to KRAKEN’s Freaky Tiki black spiced rum bar, where you can indulge in dastardly concoctions amongst black palm trees, tiki torches, and shrunken heads. Adorn yourself with a black lei and keep an eye out for the KRAKEN Hunters patrolling the arena. Look for the totem pole, you won’t be able to miss it.

 

BLOODSTOCK’s also pleased to announce the return of the very popular JAGERMEISTER Stage, showcasing some of the hottest up’n’comers in heavy music. Bands performing will be revealed in the coming weeks!

 

If bourbon revs your engine, you’ll be thrilled to hear that BULLEIT are cruising in with their classic Studebaker truck bar, offering their infamous frontier whiskey, along with a host of other BULLEIT goodies! They might have a hair-raisin’ surprise up their sleeve too…

 

Prepare to be dazzled! Bringing their full production, BLOODSTOCK's three headliners for 2017 are AMON AMARTH, GHOST, and MEGADETH. Also already announced are ARCH ENEMY, KREATOR, BLIND GUARDIAN, HATEBREED, TESTAMENT, OBITUARY, KING 810, BRUJERIA, WHITECHAPEL, SKINDRED, POSSESSED, ANNIHILATOR, MUNICIPAL WASTE, HELL, DECAPITATED, SOILWORK, CHELSEA GRIN, MACABRE, INQUISITION, KING PARROT, SCARAB, WINTERSUN, ONI, DENDERA, KROH, ABHORRENT DECIMATION, COURTESANS, WRETCHED SOUL, BOSSK, WINTERFYLLETH, GODS, BLIND HAZE, ARTHEMIS, SEASON’S END, BLIND RIVER, ENDEAVOUR, BLAAKYUM, DAKESIS, NORDJEVEL, and TORQUED.  Many more are still to come!  Stay tuned to BLOODSTOCK’s social media at https://www.facebook.com/bloodstock and https://twitter.com/bloodstockfest for the latest!

BLOODSTOCK announces 10 more, plus the ‘Metal To The Masses’ finals kick off!

BLOODSTOCK has six more bands lined up for the Sophie Lancaster stage and four lucky bands win slots on the New Blood stage to celebrate the start of the ‘Metal To The Masses’ finals.

 

Landing slots on the Sophie Lancaster stage are Leeds metal trio BLIND HAZE (www.facebook.com/Blindhazeband), Italian power/classic metal outfit, ARTHEMIS (www.facebook.com/arthemis.official/), sludgy groove beasts GODS (www.facebook.com/therealgods), symphonic goth outfit SEASON’S END (www.facebook.com/seasons.end), Bristol progressive rockers ENDEAVOUR (www.facebook.com/EndeavourMetal) and classic rock n’ rollers, BLIND RIVER (www.facebook.com/pg/BlindRiverUK).

 

We’re also thrilled to welcome back Last.fm as sponsors of the Sophie Lancaster stage for 2017.  Check out their Spotify playlist of bands on the Sophie stage and get excited for August!  https://play.spotify.com/user/lastfmofficial/playlist/2mbVU7viKYgRh5CPhhOwl8. 

 

BLOODSTOCK’s ever tenacious search for the best breaking bands culminates soon with the kick off of the ‘Metal 2 The Masses’ finals on 22nd April.  The festival’s incentive to give up-and-coming acts a break by offering slots on the bill at Catton Park has helped give many acts a career launchpad and the finals see the M2TM team narrowing it down and picking their winners for 2017.  This year, M2TM ran in 29 UK regions, plus events in Ireland and Norway to find bands for the New Blood Stage.  Attendees at the finals can also win weekend festival tickets or prizes from our sponsors, Kraken rum and Hobgoblin ale.  The lucky bands winning a slot on the New Blood stage will also be in with a chance of landing extra goodies from our friends at Gibson Guitars, Studiomaster & Carlsbro or recording time with Russ Russell at his Parlour Studios in Northampton (http://www.parlourstudios.co.uk/).

 

Having won a slot on BLOODSTOCK’s New Blood stage in 2016, the Northern Irish band, THE CRAWLING are announced as winners of Metal 2 The Masses’ prize of a slot at the Slovenian festival, Metaldays.  Congratulations to them!

 

BLOODSTOCK is also proud to announce the first bands landing a slot on the Hobgoblin New Blood stage, hand picked from CD and online applications.  Hailing from Beirut, Lebanon are BLAAKYUM (www.facebook.com/blaakyum).  The band’s blend of thrash & groove metal is infused with crushing Middle Eastern percussion and oriental guitars.  Check out ‘Baal Adon’ live – https://youtu.be/6KwsoLIHKVE.  British power-proggers DAKESIS (www.facebook.com/dakesis) also land a slot.  The band’s sound ranges from powerful metal anthems to expansive, progressive instrumental and orchestral soundscapes.  Check out ‘The Great Insurrection’ here – https://youtu.be/a_rcIORrxFo.  Norway’s NORDJEVEL (www.facebook.com/nordjevelofficial) will bring some black metal to the New Blood bill.  Featuring ex-Ragnarok and Marduk members in their ranks, their pedigree is second to none.  Check out their video for ‘Djevelen I Nord’ here – https://youtu.be/zS1YAM7KdvQ.  Lastly, British groove metal animals, TORQUED (www.facebook.com/Torquedband) also win a slot.  They claim they’re here to ‘rip faces and blow gauges’.  Decide for yourself by checking out their set at in August!

 

Bands still wanting to throw their hat in the ring for a New Blood slot can apply via the Hobgoblin video upload platform – https://www.wychwood.co.uk, or by contacting [email protected] for further details.

 

Already announced for 2017 are our three headliners AMON AMARTH, GHOST, and MEGADETH, plus ARCH ENEMY, KREATOR, BLIND GUARDIAN, HATEBREED, TESTAMENT, OBITUARY, KING 810, BRUJERIA, WHITECHAPEL, SKINDRED, POSSESSED, ANNIHILATOR, MUNICIPAL WASTE, HELL, DECAPITATED, SOILWORK, CHELSEA GRIN, MACABRE, INQUISITION, KING PARROT, SCARAB, WINTERSUN, ONI, DENDERA, KROH, ABHORRENT DECIMATION, COURTESANS, WRETCHED SOUL, BOSSK, and WINTERFYLLETH.  Many more are still be announced!  Stay tuned to BLOODSTOCK’s social media at https://www.facebook.com/bloodstock and https://twitter.com/bloodstockfest for the latest!

Bloodstock confirm GHOST as final headliner for 2017

BLOODSTOCK are very excited to announce GHOST as their Saturday night headliner!

This will be GHOST’s first ‘ritual’ at BLOODSTOCK and watching their amazing stage show after dark is sure to be quite the religious experience!  Check out a taster of what might be in store via this clip from Hellfest 2016 – https://youtu.be/JNCbvDIOeT4

A Nameless Ghoul informs us “We are absolutely chuffed to finally be playing at the classic BLOODSTOCK.  Over the years we have heard so many great things about it and now, to be able to headline one of the nights, is a great honour and we are very much looking forward to it.  Thank you all and see you there!"

GHOST, who are hot off the back of their Popestar UK tour, channel the early sounds of Black Sabbath, Pentagram, Judas Priest and Mercyful Fate, as well as elements of prog and late '60s psych rock, so couldn’t be more at home on Catton Park’s hallowed turf.  Papa and the Ghouls current album, ‘Meliora’ spawned the Grammy Award-winning track, ‘Cirice’, the video for which has clocked up almost 16 million views on YouTube – https://youtu.be/-0Ao4t_fe0I.  ‘Meliora’ was followed in September 2016 by their critically lauded ‘Popestar’ EP, featuring the hugely sticky ‘Square Hammer’ – https://youtu.be/VqoyKzgkqR4.   We can’t wait to welcome them to Catton Park in August!

Already announced for 2017 are Friday’s headliners AMON AMARTH, Sunday’s headliners MEGADETH, plus ARCH ENEMY, KREATOR, BLIND GUARDIAN, HATEBREED, TESTAMENT, OBITUARY, KING 810, BRUJERIA, WHITECHAPEL, SKINDRED, POSSESSED, ANNIHILATOR, MUNICIPAL WASTE, HELL, DECAPITATED, SOILWORK, CHELSEA GRIN, MACABRE, INQUISITION, KING PARROT, SCARAB, WINTERSUN, ONI, DENDERA, KROH, ABHORRENT DECIMATION, COURTESANS, WRETCHED SOUL, BOSSK, and WINTERFYLLETH.  Many more are still be announced!  Stay tuned to BLOODSTOCK’s social media at https://www.facebook.com/bloodstock and https://twitter.com/bloodstockfest for the latest!

 

 

BLOODSTOCK unveils their second 2017 headliner

BLOODSTOCK is excited to kick off the New Year by announcing MEGADETH as their Sunday night headliner!

MEGADETH’s mainman, Dave Mustaine tells us “We kick off 2017 by announcing we'll be headlining Sunday night at Bloodstock, one of my favourite, purely metal, British festivals!  Megadeth had a blast last time and I can't wait to bring the Dystopia World Tour to Bloodstock this Summer.  See ya at Catton Park in August!"

MEGADETH were recently nominated for a Grammy in the ‘Best Metal Performance’ category for the title track of their current critically acclaimed ‘Dystopia’ album.  Check it out here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bK95lWHl7js and grab a copy of ‘Dystopia’ here

Also available now is the very popular ticket deposit scheme!  The payment plan helps ease the ‘big lump’ shock of paying for your standard weekend ticket by breaking it up into five smaller, more manageable sums.  You can sign up in the ticket store at any time from now until 28th Feb, with an initial payment of £34.80 payable on sign-up.  Thereafter, four additional instalments of £27.80 will debit your bank account on 1st April, May, June and July respectively.  Get full details over at http://bloodstock.seetickets.com/content/ticket-options.

If you have Scuzz TV, check out GOJIRA's incredible full set from BLOODSTOCK 2016 which is being broadcast regularly on the channel!  Watch the trailer here: https://youtu.be/yLZT5Ao7o8M.  The show will be repeated on the channel all through January.

Already announced for 2017 are Friday’s headliners AMON AMARTH, plus BLIND GUARDIAN, HATEBREED, TESTAMENT, OBITUARY, BRUJERIA, WHITECHAPEL, SKINDRED, POSSESSED, ANNIHILATOR, MUNICIPAL WASTE, HELL and DECAPITATED.  Many more are still to come!  Stay tuned to BLOODSTOCK’s social media for the latest!

Four new bands added to Bloodstock 2014

BLOODSTOCK 2014 is thrilled to announce the addition of four more awesome metal bands to the main stage bill.

The very mighty New Orleans sludge metal crew, CROWBAR make a return to Catton Park in 2014 for a UK festival exclusive.  Led by riff lord, Kirk Windstein, who recently stepped down from his longtime tenure with BLOODSTOCK headliners DOWN, to concentrate energies full time on his own band CROWBAR, Kirk and the boys are hard at work on a brand new album set for a 2014 release.  Like many metal artists who’ve played Catton Park before, Kirk loves BLOODSTOCK and is looking forward to a return visit, enthusing; “CROWBAR can’t wait to bring our NOLA doom back to BLOODSTOCK in 2014!  It’s our 25th anniversary, so expect a few surprises in our set.  New record, new bassist and a whole new CROWBAR attitude!!!  Get ready for the heavy!!!”  Meantime, check out their video for ‘The Cemetery Angels’ from 2011’s album, ‘Sever The Wicked Hand’ here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zy5UnS6QSo0.

Florida death metal pioneers, OBITUARY are also set to lay waste to BLOODSTOCK’s main stage. The band have been working hard on their ninth studio record and accompanying documentary. This will be their first new music since 2009’s ‘Darkest Day’ and is set for independent release next year in the wake of a hugely successful Kickstarter campaign (which saw the guys raise more than 6 times their original target).  When not making music, the band are involved with drummer Donald Tardy’s feline welfare programme, Metal Meowlisha, and organise fund-raising initiatives such as ‘Headbanger’s Furball’.  The band say: “We are very excited to be a part of BLOODSTOCK 2014.  It's been 4 years since OBITUARY played the festival and we are looking forward to returning.  We’ve been hard at work in the studio and can’t wait to bring our new album to UK fans and perform some new songs along with all the old classics.  BLOODSTOCK is the UK's true metal fest, so we are honoured to be invited and to bring some Florida Death Metal to our British fans!  Hang on to your ass, this is gonna be fun!!”  For the latest OBITUARY news, keep your eyes on their Facebook page at: http://www.facebook.com/ObituaryBand.

Finland’s CHILDREN OF BODOM are set to play their only UK show of 2014 on BLOODSTOCK’s Ronnie James Dio main stage.  The band released their eighth studio album ‘Halo of Blood’ in June, when Metal Hammer magazine declared, “not only have CHILDREN OF BODOM produced a diverse collection of defiantly brilliant metallic tunes, but also their most accomplished achievement to date.”. And if you’re looking for something extra special, the band have also recently made available a limited run of white or silver ‘Halo of Blood’ vinyl. Check out the video for lead single, ‘Transference’ at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0kQ73UgGIRU.  The five-piece are currently shredding their way across Europe with 2014 BLOODSTOCK compadres, DECAPITATED. Learn about all things Bodom over at http://www.cobhc.com/.

BLOODSTOCK also favours hard-working bands from the UK, and are excited to welcome back the hugely popular EVIL SCARECROW; this time to an opening slot on Saturday’s main stage!  Having packed out the Sophie tent last year, the Nottingham band are more than thrilled at the prospect. ”We are astounded, a little scared, but beyond delighted to have been invited back to BLOODSTOCK, especially as we are returning to the Main Stage which guarantees nobody suffers the discomfort of a full tent!  BLOODSTOCK is the biggest and best UK heavy metal festival and we're truly honoured to be playing the same stage as so many bands who have influenced and inspired us.  The line up this year already looks phenomenal.  We promise to up the Scarecrow game to give BLOODSTOCK’s faithful the best in Evil entertainment!  Bring on the METAL!"   The band are currently plotting their new album which is planned for a 2014 release, and hop over and check out the Pledge Campaign for their 2013 BLOODSTOCK DVD here.  A portion of the proceeds goes to the Sophie Lancaster Foundation: http://www.pledgemusic.com/projects/evilscarecrowboa2013dvd.

With the three 2014 headliners already announced, the event is shaping up to be the strongest yet.  Friday night’s bill toppers are New Orleans sludgemeisters DOWN.  Joining them to head up Saturday night are black metal overlords, EMPEROR and closing out proceedings on Sunday are the mighty thrash legends, MEGADETH.  Also announced so far are SAXON, DECAPITATED, and FLOTSAM & JETSAM.  More bands will be announced shortly.

Megadeth to headline Bloodstock 2014

BLOODSTOCK OPEN AIR FESTIVAL is thrilled to announce that MEGADETH are confirmed to headline the Sunday night slot in 2014.

This will be the thrash icons’ first appearance at BLOODSTOCK.  In a career nearing 30 years and counting, MEGADETH has sold more than 38 million albums worldwide, earning five consecutive platinum albums in the US and numerous accolades along the way, including 11 GRAMMY® nominations.  The band’s latest studio album released in June, ‘Super Collider’, reunites firebrand frontman Dave Mustaine once again with guitarist Chris Broderick, bassist David Ellefson, and drummer Shawn Drover.  The release debuted at #6 on the Billboard 200 and #22 on the UK album chart and notched up Top 40 album chart debuts in a further 22 countries worldwide.

Megadeth

MEGADETH also recently released a live DVD of last year’s ‘Countdown To Extinction’ 20th Anniversary tour.  Check out this video of MegaDave and the guys thundering through the title track: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iYzUIKnGVvk.

MEGADETH’s founder, frontman and visionary, Dave Mustaine comments: “2014 is the 20th Anniversary for ‘Youthanasia’, and we are celebrating that by headlining the Bloodstock Festival in the glorious UK.  Every year MEGADETH and our UK fans get closer and celebrate another year of metal greatness together. This is the beginning of 2014…the best is yet to come.”

Tickets for 2014's event are already on sale at ‘early bird’ prices, £115 for a 4-day weekend ticket with camping.  Don't delay, as once the limited ‘early bird’ allocation is gone, it's gone, and tickets revert to full price.  Pick ‘em up now at http://bloodstock.seetickets.com/.

In other BLOODSTOCK news, the festival is very proud to announce their recent win at the LIVE UK MUSIC BUSINESS AWARDS 2013 in the ‘Best Festival (under 15K cap)’.  The second ‘Best Festival’ accolade in a row, after picking up 2012’s UK Festival Awards gong for ‘Best Medium sized Festival’!   Long may it continue!!

Already announced as Friday night bill toppers are New Orleans sludgemeisters DOWN. Joining them to headline Saturday night are black metal overlords, EMPEROR.  BLOODSTOCK will be the only UK performances for both bands.

In 2013, over 1.2 million fans from across the world logged on to watch the bands on the BLOODSTOCK main stage, via the Daily Motion live link.  This year was BLOODSTOCK’s biggest ever attendance at just shy of 14,000 and with a site licence of 15,000 we are expecting the 2014 event to sell out in advance, so don’t wait too long to get your tickets!

BLOODSTOCK will be held at Catton Park, Derbyshire on 7th-10th August 2014.  Keep up to date with the very latest info on BLOODSTOCK’s official sites at www.facebook.com/bloodstock and www.bloodstock.uk.com.