A fantastic line up to start the weekends antics and with the festival continuously growing we can expect many more years of great Bloodstock bills to come. With its 15’000 capacity crowds the site is easy to navigate with the stages being only minutes away from each other. An audience of fun loving metal fans, strong man and strong woman competitions along with way too many tempting merch stalls make this a weekend not to be missed. On Friday we see Amon Amarth headline for the first time after playing the very first year of the festival I’m 2005, whilst a Deathcore double bill starts proceedings with some essential metal bands in between.

Chelsea Grin:

The Deathcore veterans do a capable job as the second band on the main stage and manage to get a few heads banging, yet it seems as though a potentially good band is overshadowed by a lack of identity. They aren’t nearly as bad as some reviews suggest but they do little to set themselves apart from the genres leaders.

Whitechapel:

Speaking of this sub genres leaders, Whitechapel produce a commanding set that demands everyone to take notice of this behemoth of a band. With their hulking riffs backing a powerhouse performance from frontman Phil Bozeman, they show why they are one of the biggest bands in their scene. The previously unfashionable style is now becoming quite a draw at this festival with the best bands maintaining their relevancy in the current metal landscape. You can surely expect to see more Deathcore next year, especially if it’s up to these high standards.

Soilwork:

An underrated gem, the Swedish group get the first sing alongs of the day with the outstanding set closer ‘Stabbing The Drama’. Guitar wizardry and Björn Strid’s presence help make for a highly enjoyable show that gets the audience pumped up for the rest of the day. Some songs are less impactful but the craft is still strong and the portion of the crowed that are here to see them create a frenzied atmosphere.

Decapitated:

The first outstanding set of the day belonged to the Polish Death Metal heroes, they rattle through tracks from their excellent new record ‘Anticult’ with ‘Kill This Cult’ already getting the same levels of rabid reception as their set favourites. They cause carnage with classic songs like ‘Spheres Of Madness’ whilst showcasing some immense musicality. This band are staking a claim to be towards the top of the bill next time out and if they continue in this manner they surely will be.

Testament:

The excitement in the air is palpable as the Thrash Metal legends take to the stage. Much like Kreator, this is a band that is still putting out quality records that are worthy of their legacy. New tracks from ‘Brotherhood Of The Snake’ get rousing applause. The set highlights however have to be from their 2nd and 3rd albums with ‘Into The Pit’ and ‘Practice What You Preach’ stealing the show. Chuck Billy is magnificently commanding as Alex, Eric, Gene and Steve are received like Gods by the Bloodstock faithful; this is Heavy Metal at its best! It does seem as though many in the audience would have rather seen them play before the headliners instead of our next band and with this performance they more than deserved a chance to.

Blind Guardian:

Power Metal is often the most divisive of sub genres but a confident and passionate set from the German legends wins over the majority of the crowed as well as pleasing their legions of fans towards the front of the stage. A ‘Beyond The Red Mirror’ heavy setlist satisfies in both musicality and chorus’s; even the slow and delicate acoustic ‘Bard’s Song’ is well received. ‘Nightfall’ the majestically beautiful swung song causes a brilliant drunken sing along, the high point of the show. The band had been forced to use Amon Amarth’s gear as their equipment had been lost and credit where credits due they still gave a strong performance even though it may not have been the one they had originally envisioned due to unfortunate circumstances.

Amon Amarth:

Everyone is in high spirits and why wouldn’t they be? They’re about to watch 90 minutes of ludicrously brilliant Viking Metal from one of the most beloved bands around! A giant Viking helmet fills the centre of the stage as pyro shoots into the air while Johan Hegg bellows out his trademark powerful vocals; you wanted a headline show, well you’ve got one. Norsemen battle on stage, Loki makes an appearance and the backdrops of awesome artworks sets the scene for an outstanding headline set and yes there is another mass rowboat from the fanatical audience. ‘Runes To My Memory’ and ‘Cry Of The Blackbirds’ produce stirring performances but ‘Raise Your Horns’ gets possibly the greatest reaction of the weekend thanks to its quite spectacular infectious chorus. To see a band at this stage of their career releasing a record with this many set favourites is special indeed. Ending with ‘Twighlight Of The Thunder God’ whilst an actual serpent rises from the stage as lightning fills the backdrop is one of the most unashamedly metal things I have ever witnessed. Ragnarok has come to Canton Hall Park.

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