It’s been quite an afternoon already with plenty of established bands. Of course, one of the highlights of Bloodstock each year is the New Blood stage, packed full of emerging bands, keeping the scene alive. One such band is I Fight Bears, winners of the South Wales Metal 2 The Masses heat.
We caught up with singer and bassist Drew Hamley in the media tent, chilled and relaxed after his set, where the band had performed half an hour of intensity over six songs, repeating the set that won the contest. Plenty of variety and super tight, there were atmospheric periods, solos, and huge breakdowns for everyone to freak out to.
Drew is delighted with the reaction. “We’re still taking it in,” he says. “It was awesome. Seeing that amount of people up there, you kind of have this thing in your heads that not many people will show up, but you go out, and there are loads of people, vibing, having a good time.”
I Fight Bears have found their story with their unique blend of in-your-face edgy Metalcore, and it’s winning then new fans with every appearance. Drew tells us that there are some big shows coming up and then a return to the studio for at least a new EP. For right now, he’s loving being here and looking forward to some special Bloodstock highlights. “Everything about this festival has a great feeling,” he says. “Me and Scott, the drummer, are going to have a go on the dodgems in a minute.”
Come with us now to the Sophie stage, where Eyehategod are right at home in the heady swampy atmosphere. The sludge Metallers hail from New Orleans and bring an air of doom. Tortuous and miserable, in all the right ways, their debut performance here at BOA brought ecstasy to their followers making great use of feedback and detuning. Singer Mike Williams, standing out with his hair streaked bright silver, gave a commanding performance.
Following EHG, Avatar continued their breakthrough progress by presenting a polished industrial set at breakneck speed in places. Industrial and precise, the Swedes looked stunning as they brought the crowd under their spell, visually and sonically providing stunning entertainment.
It was the clash of the titans as following Exodus to the RJD stage, fellow thrash giants Testament continued to decimate the masses. With the twin guitar shredding machine that is Alex Skolnick and Eric Peterson, Steve Digerogio’s hammerhead bass, Chuck Billy’s voice of doom brought the fury, and on drums, Dave Lombardo provided the block flattening percussion that has become his trademark.
It was a set that mixed new with old, the crushing power of new tracks from the Titans Of Creation album and classics from their storied back catalogue hit with equal power. The blistering pace of the set meant it flew by, and the primal elements that have spoken to generations came to devastating life. When you have heavy hitters such as Trial By Fire in your armoury, immortality is assured.
It was down to headliners Behemoth to top that, and the Polish quartet brought their thirty-one-year climb to the peak of the mountain in no uncertain style.
The blackened extreme Metal they have made their world-beating own is just as brutal and uncompromising as it ever was. There are no half measures here as they brought hell on earth during their time on stage, the pyro of giant tongues of flame reaching up to the heavens, threatening to obliterate the show of the Perseids meteor shower overhead.
For them, Conquer All is not just another track in their abrasive and all-consuming set but a focus of intent, backed by the decibels to make it happen. There are no bystanders, Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer and Off To War! sounding like the apocalypse had arrived, the face make-up and scowls of Adam Darski and his wrecking crew caught under the red lights offering no shelter from the destruction.
It’s a miracle that this scorched earth policy left anyone standing, but those left made their way to the Sophie Lancaster stage to be wrapped in the warm embrace of Sleep Token. The juxtaposition of what had come before and their indie rock chill-out style couldn’t have been more profound. It’s hard to adequately describe their music, a wonderful blend of calming and thrilling. Having made a seismic impression this year at Download and carrying on with their extraordinary appearance tonight, it seems like the world is theirs for the taking.
Bloodstock 2022 will be held over the long weekend of 11-14 August 2022. MetalTalk’s Liz Medhurst, John Inglis and Paul Monkhouse will be reporting from Catton Park.
VIP and campervan tickets are sold out. Standard weekend camping tickets (just £145 + fees for 4 days of Heavy Metal glory) plus day and child tickets are also available. Children under 4 can come for free.
You can read all the MetalTalk Bloodstock coverage at metaltalk.net/tag/bloodstock-2022