This Bloodstock Open Air article was written by Jack Press and Shannon Lockett, GIGsoup contributors

With the sound of bugles, flutes, and violins floating through the many campsites of Bloodstock, the faithful rise for the final day of the festival featuring two of the big four of Thrash right at the top of the bill. Can Anthrax and Slayer top their show-stopping 2014 sets?

Walking around Bloodstock 2016 and overhearing Ghost Bath on stage, you may begin to think: “What on earth is going on?” – Which is exactly what we all thought when approaching the stage. Through the melodic, beautiful and atmospheric guitar work, vocalist Dennis Mikula, produces harsh vocals that give the feeling of extreme pain and upset. This is a strange concept to grasp, however the conceptual style really allows you to interpret the music in your own way. Ghost Bath definitely bring new ideas to music being subjective. They have also been described as depressive suicidal black metal, which definitely comes through their sad-core music. (SL)

Thank the lord than for Milton Keyne’s crew Heart of a Coward who woke everyone up at Bloodstock’s main stage bringing elements of hardcore, metalcore and groove/tech metal to the festival. The breakdowns in their songs surely got the whole crowd moving and sparked brutal circle pits. With similarities to Slipknot, Northlane and Parkway Drive, this band are certainly one to watch, after beating the odds as outsiders to the Bloodstock faithful and delivering a slick crowd-pleasing set. The band played the first four songs off of their latest album ‘Deliverance’, then went straight into songs from previous albums, including ‘Deadweight’ from their 2013 album ‘Severance’, which got the whole crowd chanting “I don’t give a f*ck.” Frontman, Jamie Graham, also got the crowd doing headbangs in-sync by asking people to put their arms around each other’s shoulders, bringing the metal community together in waves. Overall, this performance was very impressive. (SL)

Heart of a Coward

Heart of a Coward – Photocredit thisistomrussell.com

Following on from Heart Of A Coward, Unearth was on paper the perfect follow up as their sound has some hardcore and metalcore similarities, differing slightly with more of a heavy metal approach. Their melodic and distinct riffs make each song stand out individually and memorable. However, they did not get the crowd going as much as Heart Of A Coward, whether that be to do with less breakdowns or something else but they were not quite as impressionable, as if sub-consciously suggesting it’s time to pass on the torch and make way for the new. (SL)

With two of the ceremonious Big 4 of Thrash Metal topping today’s mainstage bill, it’s no surprise that the rest of the lineup is riddled with the children of that genre. Extreme thrash five-piece Divine Chaos celebrate ten years of creating divine chaos with a head-pounding punch-to-the-face deliverance of their thrash-meets-death leant to them ever so closely from tonight’s headliners Slayer. Whilst the Sophie Lancaster stage is brimming with fans ready to commit themselves to a never ending onslaught of circle pits, their fever for pitting is quashed with too-loud-to-hear bass-tunings – a shame for a set so eagerly anticipated. (JP)

The bloodstock faithful gather for mid-afternoon mass at the Ronnie James Dio stage courtesy of bass-wizard Mark Menghi’s Metal Allegiance, a revolving door of heavy metal heroes playing karaoke style versions of their own heavy metal heroes’ legendary works. Armed with members of thrash legends Anthrax, Slayer, Testament, and Death Angel, the walking jukebox runs through cuts from Motorhead, Iron Maiden, and Black Sabbath. Whilst the sentiment is honourable, the outcome fails to land like the Iron First its originators landed with, and run-throughs of their own original material – ‘Can’t Kill The Devil’ and ‘Pledge Of Allegiance’ – falling even flatter on the faces of the faithful than they had probably hoped. (JP)

The sun is beating down on the backs of the Bloodstock faithful as patience runs out in anticipation and pure wait for Guitar Hero bosses and Power Metal favourites DragonForce’s set on the Ronnie James Dio stage as their crew battle tooth and nail with an array of technical issues. When the sextet finally grace the stage twenty minutes late to the sound of Holding On, the crowd are both dispersing to catch other bands and frothing at the mouths for the fantasy-fighting instrument-maestros. Whilst the band’s shortened set sees them stumble at first through swamps of stodgy sounds and a struggle with a clearly crazed crowd, they find their footing when they use the force of a dragon (see what we did there?) to conquer us all with ‘Cry Thunder’ and end on a dramatic, climatic, and utterly enjoyable ‘Through The Fire And The Flames’ – crowd chants, air guitars, and head-banging included. (JP)

Heaves of fans slip and slide their way through the dispersing crowd of DragonForce fans to fight their way to the front of new-wave sci-fi thrash metal quarter Vektor who land on stage like a spaceship they’re screaming about, pummelling their way through a five-song strong set dominated almost entirely by the best of the best from their latest, and third, album ‘Terminal Redux’. Whilst ‘Charging The Void’ and ‘LCD (Liquid Crystal Disease)’ are powerful slices of thrash, the crowd really get on board during old-school fan-favourite ‘Hungry For Violence’, where frontman David DiSanto taunts the crowd to get the security earning their money and causing utter chaos in the form of mosh-pit crowd-surfing violence. The only flaw in this set is the fact it’s over so soon, when we all could’ve easily witnessed more of their sci-fi epics. (JP)

Bloodstock

Talking of epics, progressive power metal veterans Symphony X grace the Ronnie James Dio stage for an incredibly rare UK appearance, playing an hour set filled with the fruits of their most recent labour, 2015’s conceptual masterpiece Underworld, as well as a miniscule serving of their older goods including the 10,000 strong sing-along to Set The World On Fire (The Lie Of Lies). Band founders Michael Romeo and Michael Pinnella glide through with their guitars and keyboards, mastering each solo with such ease they make it look easier than counting one, two, three, whilst vocalist Russell Allen captures the crowd in his hands, warming them right up for the succeeding thrash metal super bill in the shape of Anthrax and Slayer. (JP)

With their performance on the Ronnie James Dio stage, Anthrax could have been a headliner. The energy within Joey Belladonna exhibited the band’s presence at Bloodstock, running from side to side, involving the crowd in every moment he could, making eye-contact with specific people and bringing the spirit of metal together. As the melodic intro to Antisocial began to play, the crowd were singing along in unison and it gave a great atmospheric vibe. Indians was their final song on the setlist and it seemed to be a crowd favourite with many fans wearing headdresses being pointed out and thanked by Belladonna – who awkwardly wasn’t wearing one for the first time in forever. At one point he even got the camera off of the camera operator sidestage and filmed some of the pits himself! Anthrax all together put on a heavy, thrash metal performance with fantastic energy and sound. (SL)

Pythia have an interesting concept, a mixture of symphonic metal and classical music colliding together beautifully. The harmonic and soprano female vocals by new vocalist, Sophie Dorman, are enough to draw anyone to the Sophie Lancaster stage as they were very impressive and distinct. However, this did get slightly repetitive over the set and I wish there were more instrumental interludes to break up the songs and add more of a heavy style to the show as sometimes the vocal. (SL)

How do you top Anthrax’s crowd-conquering sing-along super-show? You stack as many Marshall Amps as possible in the shape of two inverted crosses that just so happen to shoot out blasts of fire in time to each tectonic thrash beat one after another. If you can’t beat them, burn them right? Whilst Slayer’s Tom Araya lacks the crowd-pleasing charm Anthrax’s Joey Belladonna oozes with, often stumbling through the rare moments he takes to the mic to talk to the crowd, he makes up for it with his better-with-age death-growl howling note-perfect through a rarity-friendly career-spanning tour-de-force of all things thrash metal. Rare fan favourites ‘Fight Till Death’ and ‘Born Of Fire’ go hand-in-hand with cuts from their breath-of-fresh-air 2015 effort ‘Repentless’ whilst early blessings of ‘Hate Worldwide’ and ‘War Ensemble’ crush the crowd as much as late helpings of the haunting ‘South Of Heaven’ and ‘Raining Blood’. Kerry King and Gary Holt hauntingly pay tribute with expert command of their guitars to the late Jeff Hanneman – founder and chief songwriter of Slayer – in the form of an ever poignant, set-closing Angel Of Death. If Anthrax win us over with sing-alongs, Slayer slaughter us with fast-and-furious old school thrash, closing out Bloodstock 2016 in fitting fashion. (JP)

This Bloodstock Open Air article was written by Jack Press and Shannon Lockett, GIGsoup contributors

Bloodstock Open Air - Day Two - Saturday 13th August

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