Bloodstock Open Air // Ronnie James Dio // Mainstage // Friday // August 11th 2023

The sun is well and truly shining, and it’s the first full day of Bloodstock 2023! It’s thankfully not as hot as yesterday and especially not as hot as last year so we’re all geared up and ready to go for all the wonders that year’s lineup has to offer.

Following a slightly delayed start, it’s time for the main stage to open with the Doom metallers, Witchsorrow. Kicking things off with some dark-inspired riffs, these guys are not here to play around and are prepared to give us some charged metal. The trio play on a heavily smoked stage to an impressive crowd first thing in the day and take it all in their stride. From the wailing guitar solos to the deep bass, these guys know exactly what message they want to portray with their music and put this into their performance. As singer/guitarist Necroskull, leads the band through the set, his love and Obsession for the genre come through in his performance. Emily Witch supports him at the front of the stage as she moves as one with her bass, all while being backed by drummer Wilbrahammers, steady and controlled beats. While we’re used to something a little heavier to get us started, this slower, sludgier sound makes a great change.

Dropping by the VIP bar for a quick coffee, there are a few families not quite ready to face the music as they prepare for the day watching today’s family film of Labyrinth. There is some extra excitement however as the mediaeval warriors come marching through the tent in full formation to make their way to the arena and the first event of the day.

There’s more to come on the main stage today with our second band of the day, Wytch Hazel. These religiously ladden, mediaeval metallers are ready to take things up a notch as they make a striking appearance dressed all in white. Right off the bat these guys have the crowd clapping along with their melodic and catchy riffs. The beaming smiles on the band’s faces, continue throughout the set as they enthral the crowd. For a live performance, these guys have it all from crowd participation to a commanding stage presence which you can’t take your eyes off. There’s more singalongs to come with hits like “Archangel” from their third album ‘Pentecost’ as well as lots of nodding heads and fist pumping throughout the audience. Similar to the style of band’s such as Ghost, with their funkier sound and darker lyrics, these guys are certainly something different from the heavier metalcore and thrash usually taking place on this stage.

In a change of pace, the next band up are Black and Death metallers, Hate. Gone is the pure white of the last band and we’re back to black with a good heaping of corpse paint to match. Having recently released their twelfth studio album, these Polish rockers are well seasoned to the stage and their performance today reflects that as they immediately have the crowd pumping their fists in solidarity. Their fast and dark sound combined with deep guttural vocals and plenty of encouragement quickly gets the crowd worked up. Watching the fretwork of the guitarists, there’s clearly a lot of talent that comes into making this bands sound and it’s all done with a good dose of headbanging and flying hair. As the afternoon gets going, these guys have given us all a good dose of excitement and dark metal to pep us up.


Photography: Mark Ellis 

Review Emmie Ellis