Arts and Culture

Bloodstock Festival 2023: Bloodyard and Wolfbastard bring the morning festival-goers to life

Opening the stage at a festival is an unenviable task; you’ve probably just woken up, the crowd is sparse and apathetic, and it’s your job to set the tone for the rest of the day.

So when groove metal group Bloodyard burst onto the Sophie Lancaster stage at 10:30am on Friday at Bloodstock Festival, the odds were stacked against them.

Formed in 2010, the North-West group has Donna Hurd on vocals, Nick Adamson on guitar, Dave Cowley on bass, and Matty Lee on drums. 

They have some notable accolades, having previously won the 2015 Metal to the Masses, playing at many top metal festivals and even appearing on Scuzz TV.

They started their set by bursting through three tunes consecutively, and they were playing well, coupling their tight, driving groove with influences from hardcore and death metal.

However, frankly, some of the groggy few in attendance at the start of the set could not have cared less – Bloodyard were victims of circumstance.

As the tent began to fill though, the band started to win the crowd over – their big heavy breakdowns were turning heads, with the charisma and stage presence of their bassist and, in particular, their vocalist also bringing attention to themselves.

Said vocalist, Donna Hurd, was a brilliant frontwoman, with excellent showmanship. A man in the crowd loudly remarked that she was “brutal as f**k”, and he wasn’t wrong. Hurd had a great look, a natural charisma and was funny with the crowd.

It was thanks to her and Bloodyard’s impressive sound that, by the end of the set, they had not only packed out the tent, but it was bouncing with energy too. They had totally turned around the set.

They received a long, spontaneous ovation towards the end of their set, and it was entirely deserved; one of the best bands of the whole weekend had made the best of their difficult spot.

They have a new album out this Autumn, their second record after their 2020 debut, Orchard of Corpses.

The next band were impressive too, though they couldn’t quite keep the same presence and energy going.

Manchester’s Wolfbastard are a three-piece which features members of other metal outfits Foetal Juice and Burial.

They’ve supported some popular names in metal such as Municipal Waste, and have played at other underground festivals in years gone like Hammerfest and Break the Chains.

They were very fun, and very heavy.

Wolfbastard’s style is a mix of black metal and “d-beat punk” – a form of punk with distinctive driving, aggressive drumming and a generally distorted and hardcore sound.

This is exactly what we got from them at Bloodstock, as they did a good job of combining the bleakness and atmosphere of black metal with their hardcore-style punk.

They were also unashamed in their dirty, abrasive nature, and successfully encouraged circle mosh-pits and a wall-of-death in their set, which is always fun. A good set all round from the Manchester band.

Wolfbastard have three albums of material released on streaming platforms, including their most recent 2022 album, “Hammer the Bastards”.

Images used with permission from Bloodstock Open Air Festival.

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