I woke up on Saturday, realising why I barely drink. Seriously, it felt like a pig shat in my head, or several of them to be precise. Undeterred by the pounding headache, and the need to vomit every 5 seconds, I dragged my sorry carcass down to the Ronnie James Dio stage for a band which have been on a monumental rise as of late. SAVAGE MESSIAH are arguably the biggest name in a new wave of thrash that has hit people in the face like a wet fish in the past few years, and I can safely say that they absolutely killed it. One thing I learned that day, thrash can actually be one hell of a hangover cure if given the chance.


To say things were smooth sailing for XERATH would be about as factual as the moon being made of cheese, or that Sylvester Stallone’s face is in fact made of semi defrosted chicken carcasses. This wasn’t down to any fault of their own, there were major tech issues that led to their set being short, and 10 or so minutes of stage hands fannying about to make things right. This really killed the momentum of where the set was going, as when the planets were aligned, they were unstoppable. I rally commend the way they handled it all though, full marks for professionalism, 10 on 10.


Back to the point I made in part 1, black metal really doesn’t work when the sun is beaming down in its full glory, and unfortunately, the same can be said for 1349. I’ve seen them before, but this was nowhere near that standard this time around. Don’t get me wrong, they were tight and all, but it lacked so many things, and judging by the crowd, I wasn’t the only one thinking this. Wrong place, wrong time? perhaps, it didn’t really stir any emotion, let’s put it that way.


KORPIKLANNI were such a contrast to their predecessors on the RJD stage, mainly because first and fore most, it was fun. So perhaps they could of been a bit better, as some aspects seemed a bit lacklustre at times, but the true MVP’s were without a shadow of a doubt, their accordionist, Sami Perttula, who I could not stop starring at the entire set, seriously, the dude can shred, or whatever the accordion equivalent is.


Being as heavy as an obese single mum from a council estate an all you can eat buffet, NAPALM DEATH were every bit you’d expect from the godfathers of grind, and then some. I was a bit wary about how it’ll all translate on the big stage, but all those fears were laid to rest, as from the pit, they were every bit the tour de force I was expecting. They were just monstrously heavy, but I already mentioned that.


I’m not quite sure what happened when DARK ANGEL hit the stage, all I remember is a maelstrom of flailing arms and sweaty backs, especially one back one particular, but we’ll save that for another time shall we. Anyway, I jest. I was salivating at the fact that I’ll finally get to see Dark Angel live, and needless to, they brought it, and hard. Being one of their first UK shows in a very long time, this was a clinic in how all thrash bands should be, totally worth my face sliding down a guys back after being nudged a little too hard….


Another band to put on a thrash clinic were DEATH DTA, a band which I really should be holding in a higher regard than I have been. What was different though, was an attention to a technical side which you don’t really see in most thrash bands, that I liked. What I also liked, was the respect shown for Death’s fallen founder Chuck Schuldiner, there was an air of sadness from band and fan alike, and even if like me, you weren’t particularly a big fan of the band themselves (my feelings towards them shifted to fandom right there and then by the way) you can’t help but respect one of the most underrated, unsung heroes of metal in general, let alone just thrash.


My only foray into any of the tents that day was for a band which I saw a few weeks previous, and said band literally blew my brain matter out the back of my skull, “What’s their name?” I hear you cry, SUMER that’s who. This time around, there was a sense of grandeur in the air, and I couldn’t help but be in awe of the sheer majesty of the occasion. There’s been a lot of hype about Sumer, and with performances like the one at Bloodstock, its fully deserved. If you like Tool, or anyone else of that ilk, then perhaps you’re going to need these guys (and gal) in your life.


Having built myself a hell of a prog bubble with Sumer, OPETH were the perfect band to maintain it. As the sun was beginning to set, the Swedes kept talking to a minimum. Except for a few choice Swedish/dad jokes (the two are very similar in my opinion) from Mikael Akerfeldt himself, the man himself, accompanied by his most trusted minstrels, showed everyone as to why they’re one of the most important bands for a lot of today’s modern crop. If this was the headliner, then I would of been fully satisfied, but alas, they weren’t.


I’m going to go on record here, and say that I am not a WITHIN TEMPTATION fan in the slightest, but it’s easy to see why thousands of other people don’t share my opinion. There was a definite buzz around the arena, one which was unique to everyone else who played that weekend. Even a myriad of tech and sound issues didn’t dampen the spirits. OK, so perhaps they didn’t sway my opinion on them, but it’s easy to see why they deserve a headline slot. This wasn’t their first time in such a position, and I’m pretty sure it won’t be their last.

– Ryan Spearman

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