Bloodstock Open Air Festival 2019 - Day 3

Bloodstock Open Air Day 3 finally arrives, and as with any festival on its last legs, the time to go home feels much closer than it probably is. So, after awakening in my blistering hot tent and feeling rough around the edges one last time, I headed to the arena to check out what the UK’s premier metal event had left in store. Expect Death metal, Doom metal and Dad metal abound.
Bloodstock Open Air Festival 2019 poster
After two days of unpredictable weather and slowly growing mud, the heavens finally opened on Bloodstock Open Air’s final offering of heavy to see Belgian death metal figureheads Aborted play the wettest set at the festival thus far. While the circumstances were not ideal for anyone, Aborted saw fit to do what bands performing at festivals ought to; play their biggest hits and some sprinklings of new material here and there. While the brutal death metal sound can get a bit samey in the live environment after a while, the band managed to raise Catton Park’s spirits with some filthy slam-worthy breakdowns, killer solos and a huge vocal performance by Sven de Caluwé. A forty-minute sledgehammer of a show.
 
When listening to Fallen Temples, one knows that they are listening to a set list of classics in the making. Representing and fulfilling the musically blessed tradition of the nation of Wales, they walk a perfectly balanced wire of heavy rock and metal. They seamlessly blend catchy melodies with gritty vocals and drums just verging on thrash. Lead singer, Adam, held the audience in the palm of his hands with a commanding stage presence and his, and the rest of the band’s definite bright future, eradiated from him. Fallen Temples are a band who clearly value their bass hooks, the sound mixing enabled the bass to tremble within you and shake the tent. Each song distinct, each rift hard hitting. Fallen Temples pass on their same energy to you and leave you with no question as to how they will be supporting Skindred on their 2020 tour. Ffycin ffantastig!
 
One particular set of the day which Bloodstock ought to have promoted more, in my opinion, is the game-changing performance of Ross The Boss, who not only does not play the UK very often, but also brought a metal legend along for the ride in the form of KK Downing, in his first public performance in over 10 years. After a welcome delivery of several classic Manowar covers, Downing walked out on stage to a crowd which, judging by the screaming, missed him dearly. Despite not being anywhere near as mobile as many metal legends from the 70s once were, Downing’s rock star energy and ability to play guitar have not faded in the slightest. We can only hope as a result of this moment in history that he may once again return to the stage with Judas Priest. A likelihood I suspect.
 
Ross The Boss setlist:
Blood of the Kings
Kill with Power
Sign of the Hammer
Fighting the World
Battle Hymn
Hail and Kill
Hail to England
The Green Manalishi (With the Two Prong Crown)
Heading Out to the Highway
Breaking the Law
Running Wild
 
After that double dose of melody and brutality, I went with a friend of mine to the Sophie tent yet again to catch a band he was eager to watch that landed more on the crunchier side; Wigan’s post-metal foursome Boss Keloid. A band criminally not known to many outside the borders of the UK, but are well worth checking out based on their sludgy, heavy, psychedelic-tinged sound which bears comparison to acts like Conjurer. Some awesomely trippy visuals accompanied a great set which naturally, was short due to the length of monolithic tracks like “Lung Mountain”. A heavy and epic performance which I suspect will win them an early Ronnie James Dio stage slot in the coming years.
 
If you were to tell me upon his announcement that one of the best sets of the whole festival overall would be Dee Snider’s solo project, I probably would have laughed in your face. I have never been a fan of glam metal, not because of any fundamental objection to the sound being considered “real metal”, due to its commercial intent, but aside from the three Twisted Sister songs I know, there wasn’t much for me to enjoy beyond Sister’s charmingly old school energy when they performed their final UK show at the festival back in 2016. However, I must commend Jamey Jasta of Hatebreed, for allegedly challenging Dee Snider to write a true metal album, as Snider’s new material sounds heavy and modern in the live environment as anything put out by an over-compressed death metal project. For instance, the sound of the breakdown in the flag-waving anthem “For the Love of Metal” towards the end of the track was ecstasy to my ears. Though I felt Dee could have been a bit kinder to whoever was dealing with the sound backstage, I cannot deny that the resulting performance was the work of a man and a band who understand after many years of gigging, how to choreograph a good show. As Dee knew exactly when to make a joke, when to interact with the audience, and when to play the old hits, denying anyone of getting bored or going for a piss. A pleasant surprise across the board.
 
Dee Snider setlist:
Lies Are A Business
Tomorrow’s No Concern
You Can’t Stop Rock ‘n Roll
American Made
Under the Blade
Become the Storm
We’re Not Gonna Take It
For the Love of Metal
Burn in Hell
I Wanna Rock
 
Due to the fact I find the whole drama surrounding the ownership of Batushka off-putting, I decided to skip their Bloodstock set, as their disastrous performance at Download a few months ago did little to convince me to give them another chance. Having been booked initially as a replacement to Dimmu Borgir, and miles ahead of Batushka in terms of their legacy, I am glad that Mother Nature delayed Cradle Of Filth to allow them to take Batushka’s slot back off them. It was a much-needed dose of Dani Filth wails and blast beats that broke the chain of old school metal that was to come. Even more impressive was that the sun was only setting, and yet for the whole hour Cradle played, it felt like I was stood in a dark forest somewhere in Scandinavia summoning Satan himself. With a lot of pyro spurting out of every angle of the stage, it made sense that the wind was the cause of the long delay. However, it was worth sticking the landing for, as Cradle delivered a high-energy set of nostalgic classics like “From the Cradle to Enslave” and “Her Ghost in the Fog” to a delighted audience that knew and sang every word.
 
Cradle Of Filth setlist:
Thirteen Autumns and a Widow
Cruelty Brought Thee Orchids
Malice Through the Looking Glass
Heartbreak and Seance
Summer Dying Fast
Nymphetamine Fix
Saffron’s Curse
Her Ghost in the Fog
 
The penultimate band of the festival for me was American prog-metal legends Queensrÿche, who jokingly referred to themselves as the “one and only” Queensrÿche. As replacement special guests to Dimmu Borgir, having originally been scheduled to play beneath them, I was a bit disappointed with their lack of an elaborate stage show worthy of such a slot, but as prog metal has very little to do with image anyway, I cannot fault Queensrÿche’s overall performance when it comes to the music. Todd La Torre’s vocal register might be a tad lower than Geoff Tate’s, but he had no issue belting out the chorus to “Eyes of a Stranger” or “Jet City Woman” with passion and an 80s rock star energy. The legacy of the band still lives on in the live setting, and while I would have liked to have seen more material from their latest release “The Verdict”, they were nevertheless a solid addition to the festival’s billing and probably are the best version of Queensrÿche currently touring.
 
Queensrÿche setlist:
Blood of the Levant
I Am I
NM 156
Operation: Mindcrime
Walk in the Shadows
Queen of the Reich
Screaming in Digital
Take Hold of the Flame
Jet City Woman
Empire
Eyes of a Stranger
 
To round off a festival with one of the most eclectic and varied bills ever under its belt, the Kraut kings of rock ballads, the Scorpions, ascended to the main stage to ensure the festival was “Going out with a Bang”, and to some extent, achieved this lofty feat. Though opinions across the festival grounds after their performance seemed to be split, I rather enjoyed the experience of watching a band that you would normally see headlining Ramblin’ Man Fair achieve top billing at a heavy metal event. After all, a big part of Bloodstock’s appeal is the variety, and Scorpions are a band with some heavy material, some incredibly dated material and some of the most beautiful ballads ever composed. “Wind of Change”, “Still Loving You” and “Send Me an Angel” were astonishingly good, but this had more to do with the quality of the songs themselves than the way the Scorpions delivered them. They were on reliable form for sure, but aside from a brilliant drum solo by Mikkey Dee, nothing about the show particularly stood out, which is amazing considering the band’s generation-spanning legacy. However, this did not take away from the fact that Bloodstock Open Air 2019 was a wonderful experience overall and an essential mainstay of the UK metal scene. It allows us, the British metal mass, the opportunity to see bands we might not otherwise, while allowing foreign audiences the chance to see what we contribute to the worldwide scene.
 
Scorpions setlist:
Going out with a Bang
Make It Real
Is Anybody There?
The Zoo
Coast to Coast
Top of the Bill/Steamrock Fever/Speedy’s Coming/Catch Your Train
We Built This House
Delicate Dance
Send Me an Angel
Wind of Change
Bad Boys Running Wild/I’m Leaving You/Tease Me Please Me
Drum Solo
Blackout
Big City Nights
 
Encore:
Still Loving You
Rock You Like a Hurricane
 
You will certainly not find any other festival put Aborted and the Scorpions on the same stage.

PS: Words by Michael Miller (expect for Fallen Temples by Ross Goatman) and photos by Ross Goatman (Satyr Media) - Dee Snider photos by Tim Finch Photography and Aborted photos by Steve Dempsey (Down The Barrel Photography)