Bloodstock 2021: What happened on the Saturday
Saturday sees a smattering of rain, victories for legends, challenges from newer heroes, and some of the biggest pits Bloodstock’s ever seen. And Loz from While She Sleeps really not being very health and safety. But where would the fun be in that?
Main stage: Conjurer
There are heavy, heavy skies over Derbyshire as Conjurer ascend Bloodstock’s main stage on Saturday morning. It’s fitting. Coming on with the untamed force and bristling darkness of some uncontrollable force of nature, they mercilessly punish the hungover crowd, with frontman Brady Deeprose’s taunt to “Wake the fuck up Bloodstock!” backed up by some of the heaviest riffs this field has ever seen. ‘There is no shelter!’ portends awesomely pummelling highlight Retch as the skies properly open for the first time all festival. There’s no dampening of spirits either, mind, with the pit constantly picking up momentum as wave after wave of heaviosity pile on. By the time Titanic closer Hadal sends bassist Conor Marshall headlong into the pulsating throng and the mosh into overdrive, there’s not a metalhead here unwilling to bow at their cracked altar. Expect far higher billing when Conjurer inevitably return. (SL)
Pic: Steve Dempsey
Sophie stage: Video Nasties
Why aren’t Scouse horror-metal misfits Video Nasties playing on Friday the 13th? Missed opportunity there, but this isn’t a chance the band are going to let get past them. Their violent fuzz is a horrific wake-up call so early on a Saturday morning, blasting away the cobwebs while putting up a few of their own. Nobody has ever had more fun playing their instrument than perma-grinning bassist Rick Owen, and their Kvelertak-ish rock’n’roll moments are the perfect way to get a day of metal partying started. When they return, the sequel will, for once, be even better than this killer first instalment. (NR)
Pic: Katja Ogrin
Main stage: While She Sleeps
Despite living an hour down the road, Sheffield metalcore heavyweights While She Sleeps have never made it to Bloodstock before. It feels like they’re making up for lost time this afternoon. With an imposing, headliner-standard production, one of the largest crowds of the weekend, and a lean, mean setlist tightroped between metal edge and modernist experimentation they prove themselves more than worthy. “Bloodstock, I need everyone here to take a second, and acknowledge every single person stood around you,” demands frontman Loz Taylor, emphasising this weekend’s importance not just to the heavy music community, but to the broader world at large. The singer confesses that he himself is still struggling with the aftereffects of a recent bout of COVID, but attacks latter-day bangers Sleeps Society, Anti-Social and You Are We with defiant verve. By the time he sprints through the cloud to climatically swing from the top of the sound desk, it feels like the final word in a convincing audition for a higher billed return further down the line. (SL)
Pic: Katja Ogrin
Jagermeister stage: Lowen
London-based Middle Eastern progressive doomsters Lowen (an Anglicised version of the German word for Lion) insist on waiting for legendary Halifax miserabilists Paradise Lost to finish on the main stage before commencing their ear-catching set in the Jägermeister tent this afternoon. It’s the first sign of confidence and uncompromise in a performance full of them. Combining the identity and experience of vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Nina Saeidi as a second-generation refugee in permanent exile from Iran, and the sci-fi-inflected stylings of guitarist Shem Lucas, they weave soundscapes that feel immediately alive with loss, adventure and that ingrained ache of diasporic dispossession. With Nina in an almost trance like state as Shem cranks out sandstone-hewn riff after riff, an impressive crowd flock to their cause, drawn by the abyssal weight and timeless mystery, happy to fall into their depthless canyons of sound. Expect to hear much more as their momentum properly picks up. (SL)
Main stage: Cradle Of Filth
Cradle Of Filth have a hell of a history with Bloodstock Festival. From 2009’s infamous gobstopper incident to a host of more victorious memories down through the years, they’re ingrained into the fabric of August’s major metal outing, but this evening’s high-octane subheadline burns with particular purpose. “Next week we could be vomiting through our eyeballs somewhere,” announces frontman Dani Filth with devilish mischievousness, “so let’s make sure it’s worth it!” With a stage wreathed in ivy and flame, they deliver an early-evening masterclass in midnight gothic metal. Thirty years into their existence, the likes of all-time bangers Blackest Magic In Practice, Nymphetamine, Cruelty Brought Thee Orchids, and From The Cradle To Enslave pack as much serious sexy/scourging quality as ever. It’s the corrupt excellence of new music like Crawling King Chaos from upcoming thirteenth album Existence Is Futile that stands out most, though: a bloody promise of even deeper darkness on the horizon. Huzzah! (SL)
Pic: Katja Ogrin
Main Stage: Kreator
Teutonic thrash legends Kreator give Bloodstock a resolutely old-school kicking on Saturday night. Keeping a promise to come back and headline this stage made to the crowd in 2017, Mille Petrozza and his not-so-merry men are led out by a couple of Violent Mind zombies igniting flame-pits at the stage sides, but after that vaguely pantomime display, it’s an exercise in ruthless German efficiency. Violent Revolution, Extreme Aggression and Phobia whizz by in a blur of full throttle riffage, “eins-zwei-drei” count-ins and dangerously banged heads, as drummer Jürgen “Ventor” Reil, lead guitarist Sami Yli-Sirniö, and bassist Frédéric Leclercq hold their ground like battle-hardened annihilators.
Pyro singes the roof of the enclosure. A massive circle pit duly spins into life. The bangers just keep coming, too, from relative newbies like Hordes Of Chaos and Enemy Of God to time-tested classics Endless Pain and Flag Of Hate. Dani Filth even pops in to yelp all over Betrayer. There is a moment of particular poignancy when Fallen Brothers is dedicated to the plethora of rock legends lost during the silence of lockdown: Neil Peart, Riley Gale, L‑G Petrov, Alexi Laiho, Joey Jordison… Yet by the time Pleasure To Kill inevitably draws proceedings to a close, it’s just a case of (devastating) business as usual. Hail to the kings. (SL)
Pic: Steve Dempsey
Read this next:
All the highlights from Leeds and Hatfield as Slam Dunk 2021 closes festival season in heroic fashion…
System Of A Down frontman Serj Tankian believes that “being vaccinated helped minimise my symptoms and suffering” after testing positive for coronavirus.