By this stage of the Bloodstock proceedings, there’s a spirited debate going on about the heat-absorbing properties of black clothes versus white. We are firmly on the side of it doesn’t make a damn bit of difference, so we are sticking to black, which appears to be the consensus in the crowd too, who display the full range from covering up completely to walking around in virtually nothing. Thankfully for everyone, the press tent is not subject to acres of naked flesh.
Hampshire-based Bury Tomorrow thoroughly deserved the resounding welcome they received. The set slayed the crowd, who melted like a hot knife through butter under their spell. Promoting their new album, Black Flame, the band have gone bigger and bolder, resulting in a massive sound that has exceeded expectations.
There are some really impressive symphonic and melodic moments between the sonic charging onslaught. And top marks for the amount of crowd surfing generated and managing to get a splendid circle pit going.
It seems unbelievable that Tribe Of Ghosts have only been together the merest blink of an eye, their confidence and stagecraft something that would put many veterans to shame. That may be down partly to their youth, but this is not arrogance but a confidence in their own material that is rock solid.
The twin vocals of frontwoman Beccy and guitarist Adam are a wonderful mix of sweet and spicy, the former’s pop-influenced tones providing a wonderful counterpoint to the latter’s growls. Literally throwing themselves into tracks like Hive and False Gods, their own brand of Alt Metal is hard to pin down and even more thrilling for that very point. They may be playing the New Blood stage at the moment, but it’s a very safe bet they’ll be a name on the lips of an awful lot more people before the end of the year.
From new blood to black blood, Dimmu Borgir never do things by half, their total investment in their craft paying dividends and putting them where they are today. From the blistering power of their debut onwards, they’ve totally absorbed themselves and their fans in their own darkened world, today’s set a career spanning run through of their eviscerating and doomy epics.
It’s a place that has its melodies hidden beneath dark veils, but their own Blackened Metal still has the power to chill.
A change of pace again in the Sophie tent, high octane folk rockers Ferocious Dog holding the best party in town. A recent line-up shake has seemingly brought a new turbo-charged injection of fire into their bellies, and the band are enjoying a rise in fortunes that they’ve long deserved. After the sludge and heaviness elsewhere, the chance to dance, jig and even circle pit in a whirling dervish of unbridled joy was too good to miss for the packed crowd.
A highlight was a gentleman whose battle jacket was covered in patches of Motörhead, Venom, AC/DC and Sex Pistols along with the usual suspects but, in his wild abandon as he threw himself around to the fiddles and acoustic guitars, you could just spot an Enya patch at the bottom of his cut-off. Priceless.
Anticipation had greatly built for tonight’s headliners, on their first set of live dates for 23 years. Mercyful Fate are off hiatus and return with their trademark occult Metal. As darkness fell on Catton Park, the masses witnessed a spectacular opening as the stage-sized red curtain dropped to reveal a crimson, white and black tiered set resplendent with a huge glowing upside-down cross.
While King Diamond’s falsetto vocals may be diminished in menace and threat, his stagecraft was magnificent. Starting with The Oath, swathed in a red cloak with huge horned mask, removing this later to reveal an imposing black crown and dramatic corpse paint, the effect was mesmerising.
Eleven songs of classic Danish Black Metal ensued, heavily pulled from the early classic Mellissa and Don’t Break The Oath, and one new song, The Jackal Of Salzburg, giving a taste of the hopefully forthcoming new album. The core of the band revolves around Diamond and guitarist Hank Shermann who are currently joined by Bjarne T Holm, Mike Wead and Joey Vera. The quality of the band’s playing matched the epic lighting and visuals, and the faithful, heretics and sceptics alike, were drawn in.
With a performance of this standard, it is hoped that more new material and a new era is forthcoming as Mercyful Fate deserve to be more than a nostalgia act.
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