Paul Castles give us a preview of what’s to come at Catton Park in a handful of days time.
Buckle up people its BLOODSTOCK OPEN AIR FESTIVAL.
While some people jot down anniversaries and birthdays in a diary at the turn of a year any extreme metal followers would simply skip to August – ring the relevant three days – and scrawl ‘Bloodstock!’
If you’ve a got a taste for the more extreme side of metal whether its death, black, thrash, doom or something in between then this three-day outdoor festival just north of Lichfield is not one you would ever want to miss.
With well over a hundred acts performing across three stages over three full days there are usually a few stories to be found. This year you don’t have to look hard to find it.
Slayer top the bill on the closing Sunday night, making their first UK appearance since the sad passing in May of their legendary guitarist Jeff Hanneman.
Although the thrash legends have not suggested they’re ready to jump off the thrash treadmill yet, with vocalist Tom Araya having had serious health issues of his own to deal with, you can only wonder how many more times the legendary Californian crushing machine will make it across the Atlantic.
Certainly their Bloodstock set is sure to be an ‘I was there’ moment and one bristling with emotion when those both on stage and off it will carry Jeff in their hearts.
When this beast explodes at Catton Park, be sure the great man will be looking down with the devil horns up in salute.
Thrash fans won’t have to wait long to get their medicine at this year’s festival with Bay Area legends Death Angel appearing on the main Ronnie Dio stage on the Friday. These guys have been round the block more often than Mo Farah but they’re still one of the fastest crews around.
Those who walk on the dark side will be anticipating something special from Dark Funeral. One of Scandinavia’s most notorious Black Metal acts, these Swedes have undergone plenty of line-up changes down the years but their reputation has remained intact. The corpsepaint will be slapped on thick for these savage satanic swordbearers.
While Dark Funeral are celebrating 20 years, prog icons Voivod make them look like babes in arms having chalked up the big ‘30’. Obviously band members have come and gone, some sadly for good, but the current line-up released a new album in Target Earth this year and their set promises to be one of the most interesting on the opening day.
Headliners on the Friday are the metal mavericks King Diamond who have enjoyed a colourful career stretching back over three decades.
Saturday headliners Lamb of God are playing their only UK show of the year and significantly the first since Randy Blythe underwent his personal trial trauma in the Czech Republic. British fans rallied behind the singer during his time in a Prague courtroom and the Virginia rampagers will be keen to repay their British fans with a pulverizing set.
The Bloodstock diehards should be completely pumped up by the time Randy hits the stage with the likes of French firebrands Gojira and rabble-rousing Swedish warmongers Sabaton appearing earlier in the day.
Sunday sees a studded powerhouse of metal at the top end of the bill with the likes of Devildriver, Anthrax and Exodus performing before Kerry King is let loose to bring down the curtain Slayer-style. There had been some speculation about the long term future of Exodus a few months ago but Gary Holt will be there to dispel them in style. Check out this classic Exodus live clip to assess their juggernaut power
Aside from the main stage there are more treasures than the Staffordshire Hoard to be found lurking in the Sophie Lancaster tent, none more so than blackened Austrian Lucifer lovers Belphegor and New York death metal gods Dying Fetus.