After months of debate and speculation, Bloodstock’s biggest ever talking point finally comes to fruition tonight. Parkway Drive, 21st century metalcore darlings-turned-consummate metal showmen supremes, take their turn to headline the Saturday night of the U.K.’s most metal festival.
It almost didn’t happen. The afternoon has been plagued by gale-force winds that saw Anthrax forced to play a shortened set and Cradle Of Filth’s set pulled entirely.
Even Parkway themselves have to come onstage a good half hour or so later than planned, but come onstage they do, walking through the crowd flanked by torch-wielding monks in a heavy metal procession.
With the main stage screens pulled down for safety reasons, there’s a sniff of Spinal Tap about the whole thing at first - most of the crowd can’t actually see what’s going on - but once the band finally hop up onto the stage and frontman Winston McCall is bathed in spotlights to signal the start of a crushing Wishing Well, we are officially on.
And, inevitably, it’s a hell of a set. Parkway Drive just don’t do bad shows, but since they’ve beefed up their production there’s just that little bit extra swagger and gravitas to what they do, and tonight they easily do justice to a stage previously headlined by metal royalty including Slayer, Judas Priest and Megadeth.
Towering walls of flame, explosions of pyro, moving platforms, a stunning light show, a string quartet...the Aussies throw it all out there tonight, and it makes for one of the most entertaining and dynamic stage shows Bloodstock has ever seen.
Fair’s fair: this certainly isn’t the biggest headline crowd this festival has ever seen (truth be told, Evil Scarecrow got about as many people about four hours earlier), but everyone in attendance is here to move.
Songs like Prey, Vice Grip and Wild Eyes are the perfect soundtrack to such shenanigans, with circle pits erupting all over the place and crowd surfers rising up at Winston’s beck and call.
Downsides? Perhaps a couple: the sound seems a little on the quiet side, meaning anyone more than about 50 metres back will sometimes be left feeling a little disconnected from the pandemonium immediately in front of the stage.
The crowd’s preference for faster songs is also clear from the off, slower cuts like Cemetery Bloom and Shadow Boxing offering convenient breathers rather than atmospheric swells, their impact paling in comparison to the chaos of Bottom Feeder and a particularly savage Karma.
These are small niggles, though: ultimately, Parkway have proved once again that they deserve their seat at metal’s table. You can only assume Download is the next long term target in their sights.