Bloodstock Open Air - Catton Hall, England, 18th August 2007
|Event:||Bloodstock Open Air 2007|
|Written by:||Baz Anderson|
Bloodstock Open Air - Catton Hall, England, 16th-18th August 2007 by Baz Anderson (129)
I was awoken in the tent by something you really don't want to hear at a festival. Rain. That's right, we could say goodbye to the sun as we were never going to see it at the festival again. It rained in the morning and pretty much kept raining throughout the day. One positive thing happened though, as like I stated earlier in the review, the camp site was total chaos and we were in the middle of cars and tents, unable to get out without waiting for other people to move first. Well a group of people moved off and so we took the space and packed the tent away as we planned on leaving straight after the last band, what with a wet field and a wet sleeping bag to sleep in. Still, regardless of the weather, the show was to go on and so I latched myself to the front barrier nice and early to ensure my place for this ultimate day of fantastic metal bands.
Beyond All Reason
A four piece local band playing some kind of music. I can't say it was particularly metal, it sounded to my limited knowledge similar to My Chemical Romance and such bands with whiney vocals and really lame guitar riffs. For the first time watching a band live I actually looked at the floor and behind me more than the band. My opinion was shared by a few people I feel, these were just not suited to be here, come on - I know death metal bands that would love the opportunity to go and play at Bloodstock and get paid less than they probably did. Worst band of the festival.
Rise To Addiction
So that was one band out of the way, I just needed to survive this set and I was on the home straight, band after band that I wanted to see. Rise To Addiction wouldn't let it be that simple though, I had to stand for half an hour through their set of slightly groovy hard rock before I could taste the delights of Freedom Call and such bands. The set was much better than the set of the first band, but this was still not my sort of music and I was just waited for it to pass. The band were much more comfortable on the stage and the audience showed more appreciation for them, but our minds were quite frankly more on the forthcoming bands.
Truthfully Freedom Call were the band I wanted to see most out of any on the festival's line-up, more than Testament, more than Korpiklaani and Nevermore and all the band to play after, so you can imagine my excitement as I was stood there in the rain waiting for Freedom Call to take to the stage. I had wondered why Freedom Call were on so early in the day, as this was the band's second visit to Bloodstock, and they are also bigger than a few of the next bands to come, and so because they were on so early I was worried they would not get so much crowd interaction, but thankfully this worry was soon put to rest. It would seem I was not the only one that was super excited to be seeing these super cheeses of the power metal world. The band took the stage and as if by magic the rain stopped for the forty minutes they were there. The band looked happy to be back and seemed very happy by the audience's contributions in the form of singing along in the bits we were supposed to. The set was mostly compiled of material from the "Eternity" and the new "Dimensions" album, with just "Freedom Call" from their second album and shockingly nothing from the debut album or "The Circle Of Life". We kicked off with "Warriors" and then weaved out way though such songs as "United Alliance", "Metal Invasion", "Mr. Evil", "Blackened Sun" and the aforementioned "Freedom Call". But all too soon they were having to say goodbye and the set was over. Still, we got a good old sing along session during "Mr. Evil" and an overall fantastic set, I must say I feel that much more complete now after seeing this band live but I just wish they had longer, forty minutes was just not enough!
Next up were Birmingham's straight up death metallers Benediction. Unfortunately the rain was unrelenting but this did not stop the band or the audience having a good time. I must say I was expecting a more intense show than we got, but after a slightly shaky start the band got into a really good swing and delivered a good, old style death metal set. This band has been "Killing Music" since 1989 and vocalist Dave Hunt made sure we knew about that and made sure we knew a few other things as well. He told us how important this Bloodstock festival was for English metal, we originally had Monsters Of Rock, but then they stopped that and brought it back as Download festival for "pop bands and little kids" as he put it, this seemed to divide the audience, half cheering, half booing as you may be able to imagine. But I liked him, it was good to have someone honest on the stage telling us exactly what he thought. The set seemed to pick up more and more speed and intensity towards the end leaving us having heard a good old death metal show, they certainly made a few new fans that's for sure.
Legion Of The Damned
At last I was about to see Legion Of The Damned, the last time I was going to see them was on the Celtic Frost/Kreator tour and they ended up being cut from the bill because of an apparent curfew set down by the venue. Alas, like all bands they were introduced to the stage but the introduction was a little more lively for this band as the audience were told they were in for a real treat. It seemed like most of the audience had never heard of this band before, and there I was thinking there would have been some cocky person shouting out "Occult" or something. But still, the audience didn't have to know them to have a fantastic time because the band really ripped through us. Manic double bass drums going almost constantly, of course the rapid guitar work and extreme vocals all made this a brilliantly modern sounding death metal show. Since the band were first introduced onto the stage they had the audience in their hands, and rightly so as well because if you've heard the CDs, you only know half of what you are going to be in for, the live set is that much more extreme, more intense, faster, everything you would want to hear. "Sons Of The Jackal", "Malevolent Rapture", "Werewolf Corpse" and the finishing "Legion Of The Damned" are just a few of the names they squeezed into their set. Leaving after their forty minute set this band had put on a really superb show and made a ton of new fans, it's just I fear there might be a bit of the old Dragonforce syndrome here as well. All the songs sound very similar to each other and even though they are initially very entertaining, I don't know how long people will keep thinking this is interesting if they don't mix up their sound a little in the future.
Like I mentioned with Korpiklaani, the fans in England really do love their folk metal these days, and so you can imagine the interest surrounding the following set. As you could have expected the audience exploded when the band took to the stage and kicked things off with the first couple of tracks from their new album "Ur Jordens Djup". If you saw them earlier in the year like I did, then you probably wouldn't have found any surprises in the set as they delved down into all of their full length releases to give us what we wanted, but it wasn't until the song the band will be forced to play for the rest of their careers, "Trollhammaren" hit the speakers that the audience really went totally crazy. Martin Walkyier joined the band on the stage for this number as well helping craze the audience even more when they were already in the highest gear. It may be an unpopular thing to say though, but I think Finntroll are better just to listen to on CD, but of course when live you get the whole experience of a swarm of people around you all showing their appreciation for the same thing. Unlike Korpiklaani the band use keyboards for most of the extra instruments while really takes the reality of their performance away from what you might have first imagined when you first listened to that "Nattfödd" album. But still, the band put on a really energetic set, better than earlier in the year. They played more of the bouncy, up-beat songs than earlier in the year, and this is what people really want to hear when they go to see Finntroll live, so we all ended up getting what we wanted. Forty minutes once again seemed too short but there's nothing we can do about that now.
It was time for some self-proclaimed Swedish farmer metal from the one and only Dream Evil. The rain was still falling, it had been falling all day but this was not going to stop me enjoying this set at all. I don't think as many people in the audience knew or appreciated Dream Evil as much as the previous band, but there were definitely people who knew all the lyrics in there as well. On the night of the first day I was laid in the tent and I could hear a bunch of people singing along to "The Book Of Heavy Metal", so there were obviously people here for Dream Evil as well. The show kicked off and already the second song was my personal favourite, "Blind Evil" where the line in the chorus "waiting in the pouring rain" had never been so appropriate before. "United", "Fire! Battle! In Metal!", a delve into the first album for "The Chosen Ones" and finishing with the now classic "The Book Of Heavy Metal" are just some of the songs the band managed to fit in their forty minute set. The band moved around well on the stage, it all sounded very good, they were keen to get eye contact and seemed rather pleased indeed when they saw people singing along with everything, that must have been some kind of a surprise. Both band and audience had a fun time during this set, I can't help thinking they would be happy to entertain the idea of returning to this island to do some more shows, I know the fans would certainly like that. Probably one of my top five performances of the festival, great stuff indeed.
Thankfully from here on the bands had more than just the forty minutes the previous bands had, and good job as well because English thrash metal legends Sabbat were about to take the stage. Martin Walkyier emerged in typical form, holding a staff in the air, wearing his cool clothes all complete with his black and pink eye shadow around his eyes. Now I was really looking forward to this having chosen to see Falconer over Sabbat at Wacken and by the end of the set I was questioning whether that was really the best choice, but still there is no need to reflect on my yesterdays like that. Martin is such a demanding frontman, he is constantly walking up and down the front of the stage making eye contact getting people to show him their fists and chant or punch the air or whatever he feels like. He really has the stage presence to command the audience and has the fantastic band to back him up as well. Martin Walkyier is one of best frontmen I have ever seen for a number of reasons, not only does he look the part and command the crowd but also he explains the songs and talks to up in-between songs so we can really get a picture of what it is all about. His views are of course highly pagan and went well down with the audience when we was telling us what that next song was about. Not only telling us what the songs are about in-between songs though, during the songs he is one of a very few vocalists who I can understand what he is singing, and it made it even more potent after he had dedicated "For Those Who Died" to his recently deceased father, whom he would apparently meet in Valhalla some time, and you could really see him thinking about what he was singing. Andy Sneap is such a talented guitarist, most known now as as producer of course but this is where he started. Riff after riff after riff, this is what makes Sabbat so great, the constant tempo and riff changing really make Sabbat stand out from the others, that and of course the fantastic lyrics that Martin managed to squeeze in there. They played more from the "History Of A Time To Come" album but we still visited "Dreamweavers" for a few, including the fantastic "The Clerical Conspiracy" and "Do Dark Horses Dream Of Nightmares?". "A Cautionary Tale", " Hosanna In Excelsis", "Behind The Crooked Cross", "I For An Eye", "For Those Who Died" and "The Church Bizzare" all from the debut made this one of the very best shows of the festival. Nothing will beat the sheer excitement I felt when Korpiklaani sprung onto the stage, but I can say that the Sabbat set was the set I will most fondly look back on during the whole festival. These veterans really showed Arch Enemy and In Flames how to do it, Arch Enemy were even standing at the side watching the set, and must have felt they had a mountain to climb following that.
This was the band that a lot of the younger people were mainly looking forward to and I wasn't not looking forward to the show either, I used to be a much bigger Arch Enemy fan than I am now but I was still interested to see how they would perform live. As you can imagine we got rather squashed at the front, but still it was nothing compared to Testament on the first day. They opened with the first song on the "Doomsday Machine" album and then straight into "Ravenous" if my Arch Enemy knowledge is holding up. The band moved around the stage well and Angela rather surprised me, listening on CD is one thing but then when you actually see that small woman standing on the stage screaming into the mic, making them sounds you quickly realise this is quite a unique experience. She has so much energy on the stage and is constantly moving around performing her vocal duties perfectly with a lot of weight behind them. The set included "Dead Eyes See No Future", "We Will Rise" and a great version of "Enemy Within" that caught me off guard. The band also gave two songs from the new, unreleased album a go, and these seemed to be received very well just as everything the band performed was. The hour was up way too soon for some people who were enjoying themselves, but eventually the band had to vacate the stage and make way for the headliners of the final day and the festival.
The last show of the festival was upon us and this was also the last date on the In Flames tour, so it was the end of two things after this show. Still, there was an hour and a half of In Flames before we end anything. The band took to the stage and did their thing. If you had asked me before Wacken if I would have been interested in watching In Flames live then I would have probably said no, but after they re-kindled my interest in the band at Wacken I had been rather looking forward to this set to see how they perform at a festival that isn't the biggest in the world. And the answer is quite well, there is always something to bang your head to and Anders is always moving around the stage to let as many people see him as possible. Normally it is easy to understand the mindset of someone on the stage but with Anders I found it a difficult task deciding whether he was enjoying himself or not, a couple of times he said things to us that could have been rather insulting indeed and so quickly altered what he said, and also he said something quite interesting along the lines of "you know you all enjoy this when you are alone in your rooms" as if he knows the band's music isn't the most popular with true metal fans any more. But still, one time when Anders walked over in front of me I pointed at him and he made a nice gesture back, so I would dare say he does still care for his fans. The band put on a great set that seemed to go on and on and on, songs included the usuals; "Take This Life", "Come Clarity" and "Crawl Through Knives" from the new album, "The Quiet Place", a pleasantly surprising inclusion of "Touch Of Red" as they did not play this at Wacken, "Trigger", "Cloud Connected", the great "Pinball Map" and "Only For The Weak" to while he got everyone jumping up and down to once more as well as two older songs again. Anders told us before they played them that the reason they don't play old stuff any more is because we don't move to it, and so on this tour they had been testing with these two songs and if we didn't move and make noise to them they would never ever ever play them live again. These songs were "Episode 666" and "Graveland" and seemed to go down well the the audience obviously trying to make some effort for the band, but it was the same at Wacken as it was here - I don't understand what is so hard about shouting "six six six" in the chorus of "Episode 666", because here as well as Wacken I hardly heard anyone. Oh well. The set finished with "My Sweet Shadow" and instead of fireworks we had people on the stage with huge bags of glow-in-the-dark In Flames plectrums throwing them out into the audience for nice souvenirs of the set I suppose. In Flames may not be pleasing as many of the older fans with the CD releases these days, but live they can still give a fantastic set to remember. If their new CDs put you off I would still recommend you go see them live if you get the chance because they really know how to put on a good show and close a festival.
So that was it, the end of the Bloodstock Open Air 2007 and after the worries of the first day the festival really pulled itself together and worked like a machine towards the end. Even though it rained this final day nearly all day, everyone still had a great time. The problems I raised that came out from the first day of the festival all dispersed by the time of the end of the festival. We had proper security at the front of the stage, the sound was perfect for all the bands after the first couple of the festival and I can even still say the festival had a friendly atmosphere. While waiting in-between sets on the final day I had friendly people all around me to talk with and there was no more behaviour I wouldn't want to see at a festival apart from the usual squashing during Arch Enemy and In Flames but you have to expect that being at the front. This isn't exactly a huge festival and because of this we could all sleep in the field next door just a minute walk away from the front of the stage for super convenience. After we had got back to the car after the In Flames set we were able to set off straight away with no hassle enabling us to sleep in beds for the first time in a few days.
Like I said opening this review, Bloodstock Open Air is England's biggest independent, all metal festival and so if you like metal and live in England you need to come here and show your support for heavy metal in the U.K. and have a great time watching great bands in the process. The festival has bands to fit everyone's metal tastes as well as the stalls and karaoke and disco after the bands have finished well into the night. It is as simple as that, if you want to support real metal in England, Bloodstock is a festival you simply can not miss. I expect to see you all next year.
Written, and photos by Barry Anderson
||Written on 26.08.2007 by Member of Staff since 2006.|
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