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Bloodstock Open-Air

- Bloodstock Open-Air - Aug. 2010 - Walton-upon-Trent (GB) -
- Bloodstock Open-Air - Aug. 2011 - Walton-upon-Trent (GB) -


Bloodstock Open-Air 2011
- August 12th-14th - Walton-upon-Trent (GB), Catton Hall -

Friday 12th August

The first day when the bands kicked off, and it was an all-round good day. The weather was fine - not too cold, not too hot - and there were few problems on the stages. The bands performed in top form, and it was thoroughly enjoyable.

Opening their midday set with Evil Star, Wolf got off to a great start. They then played The Bite and Skull Crusher, both played with accuracy and precision. Full Moon Possession, Voodoo and K121 Kursk were the next three songs on the Wolf setlist, before they finished their fantastic set with Hail Caesar. Although Wolf came across as somewhat whiny at times (when the technical side of things did not always go to plan), but overall they were a good, relatively-early-festival band, and they were well-received by the crowd present. (SM)

Doubtless most people would not consider one o'clock in the afternoon a good time for thrash metal, but Forbidden's Bloodstock set could easily prove them wrong. The first song of their show was March Into The Fire, and the obvious fans in the audience made it clear that the band had started off well. Step By Step, Forsaken At The Gates, Omega Wave, Twisted Into Form and Through Eyes Of Glass made up the body of the set, with Chalice Of Blood being the icing on the cake. For one of the earlier bands on the main stage, Forbidden made their time on stage worthwhile, and it was a show full of energy and life that was definitely worth seeing. (SM)

Playing on the Sophie Lancaster stage where the sound was not exactly as good as it could have been, Cerebral Bore's set was inconsistent - in the sense that it started off quite poorly, but by the end it was truly fantastic. Simone Pluijmer's vocals were brilliant, and the audience gave obvious shouts of approval. There were incredibly boisterous and violent mosh pits which took up a considerable portion of the audience area. On the whole, it is safe to say that Cerebral Bore are perhaps one of the best brutal death metal bands out there at the moment. (SM)

Starting with a gloomy Procreation Of The Wicked that seemed to gather in quite a crowd, Triptykon's set lacked the moody, night-time atmosphere that suits them so well. Goetia was the next song on the list, and they played it well enough. Afterwards, in the slight rain, they played Circle Of The Tyrants, before finishing with The Prolonging, starting and finishing just as they had the previous week at the Wacken Open Air in Germany. Overall, one could hardly complain about the set: it was well played and the band knew what they were doing, and the exuberant audience probably did a good job at making the band feel welcome. (SM)

Italian heavy metal band Arthemis graced Bloodstock for the second time this year and what a triumphant return it was! They set the Sophie Lancaster tent ablaze with riff-laden metal and frenetic lead guitar work. Fabio D proved himself a more than capable frontman who captured the audience and didn't let them go until the very last note had died. A forthcoming UK tour with Freedom Call means that Arthemis may soon be at a venue near you. You'd be a fool to miss out! (MT)

I'd been looking forward to seeing Byfrost since I reviewed the band's new album earlier this year. I didn't know what to expect from a Byfrost live show and I must admit, I was a little disappointed. The performance seemed rather lacklustre with the band seemingly uninterested. The sound in the Sophie Lancaster stage wasn't the best, truth be told, and Byfrost's performance was not bad by any means, just not memorable in any way. (MT)

Kreator's Bloodstock show was hardly their best, but, as usual, it was delightful in comparison to the majority of performances that most thrash metal bands could even dream of delivering. Inaugurating with Hordes Of Chaos, and then somewhat blasting their way through Warcurse, Endless Pain, Pleasure To Kill, Destroy What Destroys You and Voices Of The Dead, the stage show was excellent, and the sound on the Ronnie James Dio stage was perhaps the best that it had been all day. The audience lapped up Enemy Of God, Phobia, Reconquering The Throne, Violent Revolution and Betrayer before the band ended their allotment on stage with a brutal rendition of Flag Of Hate and Tormentor. This was maybe one of the best bands all day, and it felt as though they certainly deserved more than an hour slot. (SM)

Without question, this show was certainly cosmic. Launching with By Your Command, Devin Townsend and his band sent the audience on an unholy journey of both abhorrence and admiration. Supercrush! was performed to a fascinating standard, and even by Kingdom, Devin Townsend was still as wacky and wild as he was during the first song. Stand was the next song on the list, followed by Juular and Truth. One could not possibly describe a performance of Devin Townsend to a heathen who has never seen him live, for his mind-bending and mind-blowing show truly has to be seen to be believed. Unfortunately, Devin Townsend Project had a slight clash with Lawnmower Deth (this was hardly to be the last inconvenient clash at the festival) - the set went far past 'Truth', but that song shall be as far as this review goes... (SM)

As blasphemous as it may seem to fans of Devin Townsend, leaving early for Lawnmower Deth was just...so worth it. With Sumo himself making a special guest appearance on stage for Sumo Rabbit & His Inescapable Trap Of Doom, the band reminding the audience why the Sophie Lancaster stage had been renamed that and Satan's Trampoline being accompanied by a man in an orange floral dress and bullet belt wearing a Satan mask actually jumping up and down on a trampoline, how could anybody complain about this show? The whole band were friendly and funny, and apart from a slight blunder on drums, the music was performed wonderfully, and the band truly deserved the surprisingly large and welcoming audience that they received. After all these years of their thrash antics, Lawnmower Deth have still got it. (SM)

Saturday 13th August

The Ronnie James Dio stage had prepared a feast of black, heavy, folk, prog, epic, death and symphonic metal for the lucky Bloodstock goers today, and what a feast of impeccable standards it was! Again, there were some technical difficulties, but nothing that the overall excellence of the day could not overshadow.

The first band of the day on the Ronnie James Dio stage, Skeletonwitch got people headbanging and moshing before noon, which is an achievement to be proud of, quite frankly. They opened the day with Upon Wings Of Black, and already it was obvious that this was going to be a good show. For the entirety of their performance, Skeletonwitch were absolutely marvellous, and their audience interaction was commendable, engaging the more tired people out there and being generally amicable and pleasant. Their final song was a sensational display of Within My Blood, before Chance Garnette closed their set with his immortal words of, "Drink beer, smoke weed and eat pussy." (SM)

The band suffered from some technical difficulties to start off with, although Grave Digger put on a mighty and unforgettable performance. Their first song was the amazing Paid In Blood, and from there on in things only got better. The Dark Of The Sun was played well, but it was Hammer Of The Scots and Rebellion (The Clans Are Marching) that threw the crowdsurfers to the front. By Ballad Of The Hangman, things had lightened up slightly, but then the band played a conglomeration of songs including Twilight Of The Gods that sent the crowd wild again, and following that up with Excalibur did little to help matters. Grave Digger ended their set with Heavy Metal Breakdown, and it was a shame to see it come to an end. Chris Boltendahl's vocals were awe-inspiring, Axel Ritt proved to be a fantastic guitarist and the entire band were amusing - for insane Germans acting like Scotsmen, Grave Digger are a pretty good band to see live. (SM)

Wings Of Darkness commenced Tarot's 40 minutes of mayhem, and it was obvious from the first song that they were going to do a talented production. Ashes To The Stars and Crows Fly Black were played extremely well, and between songs, with Marco and Tommi occasionally throwing some smut out there. Tarot's cover of Blue Öyster Cult's Veteran Of The Psychic Wars was also awesome, and when Tarot got to Pyre Of Gods, they naturally had to make some anti-Christian comment, and it got perhaps a slightly stronger cheer than the smut. Hell Knows and Spell Of Iron came after that, and then the band concluded their show with a good performance of Traitor. (SM)

Opening with Solsagan from their last album, Nifelvind, Finntroll were off to a fantastic start. The sound was great and the audience were better. Slaget Vid Blodsälv and Rivfader were the next two songs, going back to the beginning of the band's career, and after that they played Nedgång and Nattfödd. They blew the audience away with a stunning performance of Vätteanda, and then the crowdsurfers went wild as they played possibly their most famous, and probably the fans' favorite, song, Trollhammaren. However, they still had some time left, so they took the opportunity to play Under Bergets Rot/Kummitus and Mot Skuggornas Värld/Samiricon, ahead of wrapping up their set with what could well have been one of their best ever performances of Jaktens Tid. Since Finntroll last played in the UK, they certainly improved, and this proved to be a superb show overall, and the crowd certainly gave their approval. (SM)

The Barren Lands was to be the start of this spectacular. Ihsahn continued his set with A Grave Inversed and then Unhealer, interacting little, if at all, with the audience between songs. Just when it seemed as though things could get no better, the musicians played the superb Called By The Fire and hard-hitting Misanthrope. The entire show just improved from beginning to end, and there was no better way to end than with Frozen Lakes On Mars. Ihsahn seemed a rather introverted man, and he spent most of his time focusing on his music. Some artists have to cover up their mediocre music or poor sound with friendliness and liveliness, but Ihsahn never had to do this for one second. (SM)

As harsh as it may sound, Wintersun were vastly overrated. They opened with Beyond The Dark Sun, which was played adequately. Battle Against Time and Sleeping Stars were slightly better, and the crowd seemed to be having a gargantuan time in any case. The setlist was a good part of Wintersun's set, with the following songs being Winter Madness and The Way Of The Fire. The final song was Starchild, which certainly got a good reception, yet for how much applause and cheer that their set received, it just felt as though Wintersun did not even attempt to perform their best. (SM)

With a hauntingly beautiful Sitra Ahra, the metal opera was underway. Hellequin, Nifelheim and The Perennial Sophia were all absolutely stunning, and it became obvious that this was going to be a show of Therion's more recent works. Clavicula Nox', Call Of Dagon, Typhon, Ljusalfheim and To Mega Therion continued Therion's symphonic masterpieces, Thomas Vikström, Snowy Shaw, Lori Lewis and Linnéa Vikström providing a quartet of vocals that were absolutely out of this world. To top it all off, they concluded their tale with the brilliant opening piece from the Vovin album, The Rise Of Sodom And Gomorrah. (SM)

This was Rhapsody Of Fire's first ever, and perhaps last ever, UK performance, so the band certainly had a lot of standards to live up to. Soon, Christopher Lee's voice could be heard in the background, and when the band appeared on stage and began to play Triumph Or Agony, with an almighty cheer from the crowd, any high expectations that first time live witnesses of Rhapsody had were instantly met without question. Fabio Lione's powerful voice bellowing the lyrics of Holy Thunderforce echoed throughout the festival grounds, and Village Of Dwarves took the band down a slightly different path. The amazing guitar mastery of Luca Turilli seemed to really shine through with On The Way To Ainor, and the crowd showed off their own musical 'talent' (if it could be called that) as they sang along to Dawn Of Victory. A short Italian lesson was next with a beautiful act of Lamento Eroico, which was followed by more recorded narration by Sir Christopher Lee for Unholy Warcry. After an all-round wonderful show so far, it was time to ride, die and sacrifice with an unforgettable execution of The March Of The Swordmaster. Rhapsody would not stop there however - oh no: such a breathtaking performance deserved nothing less than an encore. The unmistakable sounds of Liber Scriptus, Liber Proferetur could be quietly heard in the background, as it was time for Reign Of Terror. It was only natural for Rhapsody to finish with a classic, famous song of theirs, and they chose, probably wisely judging by the reaction of the audience, Emerald Sword. What an excellent, magnificent, superb performance! Rhapsody fans had been waiting well over a decade, almost fifteen years, for this performance. Was it worth the wait? Definitely. Rhapsody Of Fire, the true Steelgods of the Bloodstock Open Air. (SM)

To understand the fermenting anxiety in the minds of British Immortal fans, it is important to remember that it had been just under a mere ten years since Immortal had last played in the UK. Always bear this in mind - it just might help you to understand the mentality of the audience. As a ghastly fog shrouded the stage and moon in mystery, the grim sound of All Shall Fall leaped out and clawed off the faces of those present. Immortal had many treats lined up for their fans this evening, including the sequential song, Sons Of Northern Darkness. Sticking with the theme of darkness which the band love so much, they played The Rise Of Darkness, followed by Damned In Black and The Call Of The Wintermoon. They played with absolute prowess, and the sound was outstanding. Solarfall was the next song, and after that In My Kingdom Cold. Something that Immortal definitely proved during this show was that, surprisingly, they actually have a sense of humour. Yes, really - believe it! Amongst the hilarity and interaction, the band pumped out Tyrants, One By One and Blashyrkh, remaining kvlt at all times (note: there is nothing more kvlt than crab walking). No Immortal show would be complete without Grim And Frostbitten Kingdoms, but they were hardly about to stop after that. Withstand The Fall Of Time was the final Immortal song...for a while. After some technical difficulties they had with so-called Apollyon's bass, the band were still up for an encore, as were the audience. Immortal survived showers of firework pyrotechnics to play Beyond The North Waves and The Sun No Longer Rises to the ravenous crowd that was amassed in front of the stage. 'Mindblowing' could never do Immortal's performance justice. This show was 'mindfrostbiting'. (SM)

Sunday 14th August

The final day of the festival had quite a few good acts lined up, from the internationally famous to relatively new bands. The weather had become a bit more chilly, and there was even a little bit of rain. The people were more tired than they had been all weekend, but that was no excuse to stop rocking out.

A fairly new band hailing from Manchester, Wolfcrusher played on the New Blood Stage. This talented bunch of musicians were surprisingly impressive - at times it was dizzying trying to watch the guitarists' playing! Overall, they played incredibly well and much better than expected. The audience started off rather small, but by the end of the show, a sizeable number of people had amounted. Singer Gary Harkin was all over the stage, full of energy and his vocals were clear and controlled. The bass seemed rather quiet, which was a shame considering bassist Chris Mitchell-Taylor seemed to be putting an awful lot of effort in. (SM)

A lot of black metal bands just seem to churn out monotonous riffs and lack any sort of presence or skill on stage, but not 1349. They opened with a song from their first album, Riders Of The Apocalypse, and it sounded quite good despite some slight sound problems. Next they played I Am Abomination and it was excellent. Chasing Dragons was quite sublime, and they performed an impressive rendition of Serpentine Sibilence. When I Was Flesh was not the best song so far, but they made up for it with Sculptor Of Flesh. The final song was Atomic Chapel, and it was a nice end to quite a short set that left its mark. Olav 'Ravn' Bergene's microphone did temporarily cut off at some point, and despite the silly (yet admittedly typical) black metal get-ups, the band made good use of the main stage. 1349 put on a memorable show, and it was just a shame that they did not have a bigger audience. (SM)

This was interesting - the review shall explain why... Primordial started their set with No Grave Deep Enough, and it sounded absolutely brilliant. Every member of the band was wonderful, and the audience were enthusiastic enough. However, after they had finished their first song, disaster struck...Alan Averill lost his voice. You read that correctly, and, according to his words, it was the first time that it had ever happened. To tell the truth, it was cringe-worthy and embarrassing, but it was also quite beautiful: the band carried on regardless, and occasionally Alan would attempt to sing again. They played As Rome Burns, Bloodied Yet Unbowed and Empire Falls as instrumental pieces, and the members of the audience who knew the lyrics sang in Alan's place. By their final song, The Coffin Ships, Alan gave one last try, and for the end of the song, it really did look as though he was giving his all, which really did just make this particular Primordial show uniquely heavenly. (SM)

The band opened their set with Strong-Arm which came across as an intense wall of sound. Unchallenged Hate, Continuing War On Stupidity and Next On The List were to follow, and Barney interacted quite respectably with the audience between songs - oh, and his pink and flowery towel was simply delightful! Napalm Death continued to break eardrums with When All Is Said And Done, Lucid Fairytale, Social Sterility, Diktat and Lowlife. The show went on, On The Brink Of Extinction, Scum, Life?, Control and M.A.D. being the next lot of songs. The sound was still awful by the time the band reached You Suffer, Nazi Punks Fuck Off and Suffer The Children, but Napalm Death put a bit more energy into their final song, Instinct Of Survival. As a whole, the show was pretty average and the sound was far from fantastic, but the raw on-stage energy on Napalm Death made them worth seeing, as usual. (SM)

Let the hammer fall, as they say: the...metaphorical...hammer of music...that HammerFall always wield, that is. Yes, let's go with that. Having first played Bloodstock in 2005, HammerFall seemed to be a welcome band. As soon as they opened with Patient Zero, they were fantastic. Their setlist comprised of a fantastic and popular collection of songs with the band playing through Any Means Necessary and B.Y.H. with an astounding reaction from the audience. Blood Bound, Last Man Standing and HammerFall kept the audience going strong, the band sociable, the music surprising. They got the audience banging their heads with Bang Your Head and some more modern HammerFall in the form of One More Time proved to be popular. The spectacular Hearts On Fire was performed to the highest standards, and HammerFall topped off an absolutely magnificent show with none other than Let The Hammer Fall itself. (SM)

For a band that has been going since the 80s, Exodus showed no signs of being bored or uninterested in what they were doing. Beginning with The Ballad Of Leonard And Charles from their latest album, they were immediately off to a good start. They then went on to the next song of the album, Beyond The Pale, and the audience were insane throughout. A Lesson In Violence took the crowd back an album, and the whole band were doing a grand job of keeping up the attitude. Blacklist was a frightening spectacle to behold, and getting to watch Exodus play Bonded By Blood live - their first song from their first album - was an honour. The Toxic Waltz was Exodus' final song, and there could have been no better way to end such a memorable display. (SM)

A quick dash to the Sophie Lancaster stage for Power Quest followed the end of Exodus' set! With the storming Blood Alliance album currently endearing Power Quest to melodic metal fans across the globe it was time for them to unleash it live on the Bloodstock crowd. The set was marred somewhat by the always atrocious Sophie stage sound but that could not detract from the fantastic performance that Steve Williams' mob put in. Most of the set was made up of songs from the latest album, including the opener Battle Stations and Steve Williams introduced some songs with some well thought out speeches, including an attack on the pathetic legions of rioters that had rocked several major cities in the UK mere days before. The large crowd cheered this before the band launched into Better Days. The highlight of the set was, of course, Blood Alliance itself. An awesome display from the London quintet, from which I am sure they have garnered many more fans. (MT)

It is safe to say that Morbid Angel certainly received a lot of criticism for Illud Divinum Insanus (the title of the album itself being dreadfully translated Latin), but this particular show was really quite satisfactory. They started with one of their earlier songs, Immortal Rites, yet the crowd seemed unimpressed. Fall From Grace, Rapture and Maze Of Torment did little to pick up the atmosphere, and Existo Vulgoré, Nevermore and I Am Morbid were hardly well-received, although the crowd were slightly less objectionable than one might expect. Angel Of Disease really was played considerably well, as were Chapel Of Ghouls and Where The Slime Live. God Of Emptiness was perhaps borderline beautiful, and Morbid Angel probably did their best to close with World Of Shit. For a band that had fluctuated in acceptance and popularity recently, Morbid Angel still put a lot of effort into their show and clearly tried their best to enjoy it, regardless of whether or not the festival-goers did the same. (SM)

This band has an exorbitant fanbase, and, with it, high standards to live up to, but this performance was lacking in so many areas. Iron Fist was Motörhead's initiation which set the mood for the majority of the show. Stay Clean, Get Back In Line, Metropolis, Over The Topand One Night Stand were boring and verbose, and Lemmy's talk seemed (and probably was) to be constructed of set phrases and unenthusiastic jabber. Rock Out was subpar, as were The Thousand Names Of God, I Know How To Die, The Chase Is Better Than The Catch and In The Name Of Tragedy, the latter of which was graced by a respectable drum solo from Mikkey Dee, improving things somewhat. Just 'Cos You Got The Power made a change for the better, and Going To Brazil and Killed By Death were perhaps two of the better songs of the night. It was obvious that Motörhead would not do a show without playing Ace Of Spades, which they naturally reserved for their encore, although it sounded painstakingly awful. Although they supplied some entertainment such as a fire show, Motörhead's performance was, quite frankly, unfit to be a headline act, with many of the bands at the festival having performed to a much better standard, even bands with considerably less fans. Motörhead may not have been the best way to end things, but their shoddy performance could never overshadow the absolutely stunning performances delivered by so many bands at this festival, and on the whole this was a truly unforgettable weekend. (SM)

Stephanie Malin & Mike Thompson


Bloodstock Open Air 2010
- August 12th-15th 2010 - Walton-upon-Trent (GB), Catton Hall -


We arrived at the festival about 1pm expecting a repeat of last year's epic queue. Well, I can honestly say it was a really nice surprise to turn up this year and find that the organisers had taken on board all the criticism of last year's queuing debacle and pretty much eliminated the queue altogether! We spent about 2 minutes in total queuing up before we were through with our wristbands (which were a much nicer design than 2009) and on our way to the campsites.
The campsites this year were given Viking themed names which, although some complained about BOA being cheesy, I actually thought was a more memorable touch than 'Camp A'. Asgard was very full by the time we arrived (too many fallen Vikings obviously!) so we found ourselves in Midgard, not too far from the Quiet Camp (we felt sorry for them! Haha!).
The ominous rumble of thunder resounded in the distance as we pitched our tents and gazebos and cracked open the first beers. Unfortunately the rain was to play a huge part in dampening the spirits of all at Bloodstock this year as the metal gods decided to test our resolve with almost relentless torrential rain, leaking tents and mud to rival Ypres... but anyway, onto the bands.

Thursday evening's entertainment was a marked improvement on last year. Gone were the talentless Fuel Girls and in their place two of the UK's biggest underground bands; Hospital Of Death and Desecration.

First up were Cheshire thrashers Hospital Of Death whose mixture of Bay Area thrash and classic NWoBHM sounds combined with a hefty chunk of humour proved to be the perfect way to begin the UK's premier independent metal festival. They played on the Sophie Lancaster stage which was twice the size of its 2009 counterpart with a wide array of lighting and overall improved sound. They got the crowd going, as attested by the numerous crowdsurfers! They made all of us forget the lousy weather outside and lifted the mood of the whole festival for the duration of their set. Their shortened version of Rime Of The Ancient Mariner went down extremely well and, although not the greatest showmen I've ever seen, I was quite sad when their set finished (especially as they didn't play their Transformers cover but you can't have everything I guess)!

Next up were Newport's own death metal veterans Desecration who also proved popular with those who braved the elements to get their arses to the Sophie stage! The crowd reaction was, once again, absolutely tremendous with raised horns stretching to the rear of the tent.
It was also nice to hear some honesty from one of the bands as vocalist Ollie Jones called the official merch 'horribly overpriced'... £20 for a T-shirt which is normally £13 (inc. P&P) is a bit of a kick in the teeth to the fans in anyone's book, Bloodstock take note! Hats off to Desecration for that!

Overall an absolutely astounding start to the weekend, showcasing two of the UK's top extreme metal bands and whetting the fans' appetites for the weekend of metal to come! I grabbed some noodles (which were actually very nice) and made my way back to the campsite.


Friday started as Thursday finished... wet and overcast. The toilets were still fairly clean, although the amount seemed to have decreased since 2009 and after relieving myself and partaking of a rather extortionately priced sausage butty (at least I think that was what it was supposed to be) I wandered over to the main stage to see Snakebite.

Now, I don't know where this came from but there was a rumour floating around the campsite that Snakebite were in fact a Whitesnake cover band so, feeling the need to sing Here I Go Again with a couple of thousand other metalheads I was looking forward to this show. As we approached the stage it soon became apparent that our information was wrong, however. Whitesnake covers this was not!
Snakebite are in fact an unsigned band from Bromley, UK, who play a thrashy version of southern metal obviously heavily inspired by Pantera. To many people I know this description would instantly lead to a dismissal of Snakebite as a Pantera clone but if that's the case then give me more Pantera clones like this!
This band was exactly what was needed first thing on a dreary morning. They got the people who were up early enough right in the mood for metal with their strong stage presence and energetic performance. They were technically superb with excellent groovy riffs, well placed solos and a great harsh voice from vocalist Jason Smith. They worked the crowd well, getting an early morning mosh pit going and even a circle pit when they were joined by a guest vocalist (whose name I didn't catch). I think these guys should have no trouble getting signed soon!

We made our way over to the New Blood Stage nearby to check out Under Blackened Skies. Genre wise they are tricky to define due to the sheer mixture of what's on offer, though I'd probably go for math-core tinged blackened death metal. They were solid throughout and showed a lot of potential. (Gaz)

Next up was some classic rock courtesy of Black Spiders who took the stage to the theme tune from For A Few Dollars More. This band have got rave reviews from many magazines and, quite honestly, I think this band could be destined for mainstream success as you can imagine their music being accepted from the stages of Bloodstock to the more commercial festivals like Leeds and Glastonbury.
The first thing noticeable about this band is that they have three lead guitarists! I was expecting something a little different due to this but I'm fairly sure the band would have hardly sounded different with only two lead guitars. They play classic rock, heavily inspired by the big names of the seventies and early 80's; Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, AC/DC, Whitesnake etc. and they really seemed to enjoy playing their music. The drummer in particular is a complete madman on stage with some mannerism's similar to legendary The Who skin-man Keith Moon! They kept the crowd interested and got a good reaction to their songs, especially the "Fuck You Black Spiders" chant was embraced by the BOA crowd!
For me though, the music lacked a little something. However, I don't want to take anything away from the Black Spiders' performance which was really good and got better the longer the set went on. On another day I probably would have loved this music but I just wanted something a little heavier.

Ross The Boss @ BOA 2010 (c) DebUp next, ex-Manowar guitarist Ross 'The Boss' Friedman and his band! These guys were a hit with the gathered crowd as they played a good mix of new songs from Ross The Boss and bona fide Manowar classics!
The first four songs were played with Ross The Boss drummer Matthias Meyer and included Hail To England – a hit with the Bloodstock crowd! For the next few songs the RTB band was joined by ex-Manowar skin-man Scott Columbus and they launched into Kill With Power, Hammer Of Thor, Fighting The World and a heartfelt tribute to the late, great Ronnie James Dio. The final song saw both drummers play simultaneously as the band gave us Hail And Kill. This was certainly a special moment that I'll remember for a long time!
The crowd was ecstatic by this point as they chanted Hail And Kill along with singer Patrick Fuchs! I think Ross The Boss could have played longer but unfortunately it was not to be. Some of the crowd were a little disappointed that Battle Hymn wasn't included in the set list but, that minor gripe aside, it was a really special set that is realistically the closest Bloodstock will get to a Manowar show for a good few years yet! One guy I spoke to even said they were better live than the real Manowar! Certainly no-one I spoke to was disappointed!

Rage @ BOA 2010 (c) DebGerman heavy metal veterans Rage were up next and had a tough task matching what came before them. But match, and possibly surpass, that they did. Playing mostly songs from the second half of their now 26-year career, their catchy NWOBHM-esque tunes grabbed the crowd and never let up. Singer Peter Wagner was clearly enjoying himself in front of the decently sized crowd, and guitarist Victor Smolski was on fire throughout the entire set. Brilliant heavy metal. (Gaz)

we checked out Credit To Dementia back on the New Blood Stage. This Cornish band were notable for a few things. Firstly, the lead singer may have been the most polite, sedate frontman ever, even (jokingly, we think) asking the crowd to 'simmer down' after a few people went a little nuts for their first song. They also handed out wrist-bands and pork scratchings (?!) to the crowd. Additionally, their lead singer didn't take his own growling seriously, bopping comically from side to side whenever he delivered the lines in that manner. Finally, at the friendliest festival known to man, there managed to be not one, but two fights in the crowd during their set (though I must point out it didn't seem to be the bands fault at all). All in all, they were good entertainment. (Gaz)

Ensiferum @ BOA 2010 (c) DebThe next band I saw was Ensiferum. The kilt-wearing Finnish folk metal quintet went down a storm, as ever really! They played a good selection of songs from their back catalogue, although obviously favouring their recent album, Twilight Tavern. Fan favourites such as Token Of Time, Iron and Twilight Tavern got the biggest cheers. It was highly unlikely that Ensiferum would disappoint as they have been consistently good every time I have seen them and this was no exception. Their uplifting folk metal really brightened the day.
Ensiferum's set was the first where last year's problem of flags in front of the stage made their first appearance. This is something the organisers really need to get a grip on. Fortunately there were only 2 idiots down at the front for Ensiferum but this got worse as the day went on.

Gorgoroth @ BOA 2010 (c) DebGorgoroth was the festival's first taste of black metal this year and, well, they were completely underwhelming. To be honest I don't think this was the fault of the band. The problem was in placing Gorgoroth on the big stage in the daylight. This was, as my friend Rob put it, like telling ghost stories in the dark with a torch when someone switches the light on. The whole black metal atmosphere is completely ruined by putting bands like this on in the daylight. The corpse-painted band members looked ridiculous (when you could see them between the flags) in a way that never really happens when you see them on smaller, darkened stages. I also felt the ferocity of the songs was lost in the open air environment. This was a tragic waste of a talented band that would probably have been better served by swapping with Benediction on the Sophie stage. Perhaps next year Bloodstock could see about setting up a specialist black metal tent similar in size to the Sophie stage?

For the next band I adjourned to the Sophie Lancaster stage to see the Swedish NWoBHM worshippers Steelwing. The performance by these guys was fantastic. Riley's vocal performance was insanely good as he hit notes which Rob Halford would have been proud of!
The show was ruined a bit for me by the incredibly loud sound of the Sophie stage, which could have probably done with being turned down a notch or two, and the flashing white lights that ended up giving me a migraine. However, this takes nothing away from the band who tore the Sophie stage up with their eighties-inspired heavy metal!

Steelwing were followed by fellow countrymen Enforcer; another band that could have been pulled straight from the eighties! The performance from these young Swedes was faultless. They ploughed through a set full of songs from their sophomore album, Diamonds, with an energy akin to AC/DC and Judas Priest combined. Stylistically they are reminiscent of the two aforementioned bands with an extra dash of Van Halen and the sassy strutting of Mötley Crüe. Undoubtedly Enforcer's set was one of the highlights of Bloodstock to this point as everyone I spoke to was overwhelmed by the talent and professional showmanship of this whole band!

Bloodstock's booking team then called upon another stalwart of Finnish metal, with the very melodic Sonata Arctica next up. Lead singer Tony Kakko was pretty wasted, but not so much that he couldn't perform. In fact, it added a whole new level to their performance, with him changing vocal delivery styles on the fly, amongst other things. At one point, he started jigging from side to side, almost like a half-arsed 'twist' attempt. This little movement sparked a whole new approach to moshing at the festival, with groups doing 'Groove pits', whereby people would twist and bang into each other!
For the most part the set was quite chilled out, with a few ballads getting an airing, before a cracking rendition of Paid In Full brought things to a close. What could have been a train wreck ended up being one of the set of the week end. (Gaz)

Powerwolf @ BOA 2010 (c) DebPowerwolf were the Sophie Stage headliners for Friday and holy shit, did they prove themselves worthy of that position! Based on a foundation of fairly standard power metal and kitsch horror makeup, Powerwolf is a band that is far more than the sum of its parts. On CD they are a band that I listen to from time to time, their music enjoyable but a little too repetitive. However, in a live setting this band are nothing less than fantastic!
Powerwolf @ BOA 2010 (c) DebThey make their set into a horror carnival, similar in theory to Alice Cooper (although obviously not quite so extravagant!). This is all about having fun and singing along to songs like Resurrection By Erection, Raise Your Fist Evangelist and Lupus Dei. However, the band is also extremely talented, particularly the vocals of Attila Dorn that resonated clearly around the tent with seemingly no effort on the part of the singer! Keyboardist Falk Maria Schlegel added to the band's magnificent stage presence by stepping from behind his keyboards and exhorting the crowd to raise their hands and clap. Other keyboard players could do well to follow his example!
This was one helluva coup for Bloodstock, delivering Powerwolf to a UK audience for the first time. They got a great reception, probably the best of any band so far, and absolutely loved the Bloodstock crowd. Hopefully it won't be too long before they're back on these shores!

Opeth @ BOA 2010 (c) DebThe buzz of an audience awaiting their first headliner is somewhat lulled upon the opening song from their soft Damnation album; Windowpane. A favourite amongst fans, but widely considered an odd choice for a band looking to win over any non-believers, and undoubtedly resulting in a number of grumbling onlookers leaving for an early night. However, singer Michael Åkerfeldt later goes on to acknowledge that the set isn't really festival-suited music; a seemingly stubborn attitude of the band that sparks a combination of both admiration and exasperation in their watchers; in his self-deprecating (to the extent of almost seeming insecure) between-song banter. Heavier songs such as Bleak And Deliverance perk up the set, if the energy does seem a little lost on such a large crowd. However, the highlight of the performance, and for some, the festival, is easily the moving cover of Rainbow's Catch The Rainbow in tribute to original headliners Heaven & Hell's frontman, Dio. In true Opeth style this is an unexpected choice, yet has evidently been thought out and crafted to suit Åkerfeldt's vocals perfectly, and creates a truly emotional, unforgettable experience for all watching. (KE)


First band up were Swedish power-progsters Andromeda, who were pretty good at everything they did without any real stand out songs. Whilst it was quite early for thinking man's metal, they got a decent sized crowd, who received them warmly. A good opener.

Young thrashers Evile made a welcome return to the Bloodstock stage this year for the first time since the death of bassist Mike Alexander in 2009. They only got a short set but managed to fill it with some great thrashing tunes, namely Infected Nation, We Who Are About To Die, Thrasher, Metamorphosis and Enter The Grave.

Veteran British thrashers Onslaught took over from the youthful exuberance of Evile and played a good mix of songs, starting with Killing Peace and finishing with Power From Hell, which the crowd lapped up. Despite a few sound issues in the intro and the fact that they had no pyro this was a good set! (RG)

Edguy @ BOA 2010 (c) DebEdguy put on a great, energetic set covering the most recent albums in their discography. They started with two songs from Tinnitus Sanctus before moving onto crowd favourite Tears Of A Mandrake before finishing with three of their more light-hearted songs – Lavatory Love Machine, Superheroes and King Of Fools. Tobias Sammet's crowd interaction was excellent, despite the fact that he rubbed it in about the World cup result! Definitely one of the best sets of the festival for me. (RG)

Obituary put on an enjoyable set, despite a couple of problems with the mic. Anyway, they played Slowly We Rot so I was happy! (RG)

Veteran UK death metallers Benediction were on the Sophie Stage on Saturday. I recently saw Benediction on tour supporting the mighty Bolt Thrower so I know how good they are live but even a band of their experience cannot contend with poor sound. This was one of the worst sounds on the Sophie stage for the whole weekend! At least it didn't affect Benediction's show though as they played a great set. If only the organizers had had the balls to turn down the volume slightly! The crowd also enjoyed vocalist Dave Hunt having a go at the stage designer for placing a support pillar right in the middle of the stage where it obscured the view of the crowd! (RG)

Amorphis @ BOA 2010 (c) Stacy WebbAfter taking a short break, it was back to the main stage for one of the bands I had most been looking forward to see. Finnish metal band Amorphis cover way too many sub-genres to accurately describe them in just a few words, so I will just go with one: "Brilliant". Playing a diverse set mostly from their newer albums, the 20-year veterans mixed some sublime, drifting tunes with crunching vocals to provide what was nothing short of an amazing set, the highlight of which for me was their ballad From The Heaven Of My Heart. (Gaz)

Devin Townsend @ BOA 2010 (c) Stacy WebbCanadian musician Devin Townsend was next up. After resolving some sound issues that were plaguing their set up and delaying the start time, he got us up and running with Addicted! Sticking mainly to his newest material, Devin played a great set and was entertaining throughout, with By Your Command, and Deadhead being the stand out tracks. (Gaz)

Fear Factory @ BOA 2010 (c) Stacy WebbFear Factory were easily my favourites of the weekend but I know a lot of people weren't sure how they'd be because their sound doesn't always carry well in open air and they've played some pretty poor shows in the past. This time however, everything was spot. I think they had a good balance to their set list too and played a mix of old favourites like Linchpin, Self Biased Resistor, Demanufacture and Replica as well as a couple from the new album too. The crowd was really into it too which made it all the better! (GF)

Children Of Bodom @ BOA 2010 (c) DebChildren of Bodom were a bit late coming on stage and they only played about ten songs or so.. Not to mention Alexi was a bit drunk. However I still enjoyed them and they played some of my favourite tracks..they opened up with Follow The Reaper. Other songs played were Living Dead Beat, Blooddrunk, Needled 24/7, Bodom After Midnight, Hate Me, Angels Don't Kill, In Your Face Sixpounder, Kissing The Shadows and they closed with Downfall. It was all in all a good performance but there was room for improvement. Another thing that gets to me is that Alexi played all the solos and Roope only played a couple of lead guitar harmonies. Does Alexi not let him play or something? It's insulting because Roope is a much better guitarist than Alexi. Oh Well. (VM)


We started off back at the main stage for Bonded By Blood who were perfectly fine, but nothing special, before heading over to the New Blood Stage to check out Neonfly, who had a stand in lead singer. He did a pretty good job considering he had around a week to learn their entire set. Musically, they were perfectly fine and had a bunch of potential. (Gaz)

Staying on the New Blood Stage we checked out HeKz next. After a ropey start from the vocalist (his voice seemed to strain at times, possibly due to nerves), the second half of their set entirely turned it on its head. A great double salvo at the end showed that this band too had some promise. (Gaz)

I managed to catch the first half of Traces, though I seemed to be the only person in our group that rated them, I quite enjoyed their keyboard heavy black metal. (Gaz)

Doro @ BOA 2010 (c) DebRock royalty Doro was up next. The former Warlock singer gave a professional performance, mixing tracks from both her Warlock and solo days, and was received warmly. They did a pretty decent cover of Breaking The Law too. (Gaz)

Korpiklaani @ BOA 2010 (c) Stacy WebbFinally the sun decided to come out! Too late for some people but top those who had battled with the elements for the whole weekend this was a welcome reward!

Perennial Finnish folk metal heroes Korpiklaani graced the Dio stage on Sunday for a great energetic set featuring lots of crowd-pleasers such as Vodka, Cottages And Saunas, Happy Little Boozer and of course Beer, Beer!! The crowd loved them, as ever, and there was quite a bit of jigging going on! (RG)

GWAR @ BOA 2010 (c) Stacy WebbGWAR was a band I was really looking forward to seeing after hearing about some of their stage antics, and needless to say they didn't disappoint! They had the crowd laughing and jeering as much as they had them headbanging! With a fantastic stage show, which included soaking the crowd in various fluids, nobody walked away from their set disappointed! Although the first 20 rows may have needed a shower or three! (RG)

Stone Circle @ BOA 2010 (c) DebWe moved on half way through the GWAR's set and checked out progressive death metal band Stone Circle on the New Blood Stage. It's at this time that I must, in a weird way, thank GWAR - if it hadn't have been for them being underwhelming, then I wouldn't have had to good fortune to check out this excellent band, who were so impressive that I bought their album later that day. Checking them out on their MySpace, they cite Opeth, Amorphis and Katatonia as their main influences, and it certainly shows. At such an early point in their fledgling career, they have begun to learn how to craft good to excellent soundscapes ranging from softened vocals through to death grunts, and light harmonies through to pounding riffs. This band is one to watch, and they need to be signed up now. (Gaz)

Gojira played a great, energetic set with great sound! Nice and heavy, they managed to get me enjoying the songs off the albums I'm not really a fan of! The crowd enjoyed the set and the band seemed to be enjoying performing as well. (RG)

Furyon on the New Blood Stage did a good job of headlining their particular tent, with their slightly grungy melodic metal impressing those in attendance. (Gaz)

Bloodbath @ BOA 2010 (c) Stacy WebbBloodbath, that Swedish death metal super group, was set to be one of the highlights of the festival for many people who were looking forward to one of the group's rare live performances. However, many left disappointed. The sound just seemed completely wrong, not as you would expect them to sound at all. There was some good banter from Mikael Åkerfeldt but the whole impression I got was that the band hadn't really rehearsed. Still, at least they finished with crowd-pleaser Eaten. (RG)

Cannibal Corpse gave me the best pogo I've ever had with biggest moshpit I've ever seen - about the size of a basketball pitch!! (DB) They played a good length set which included crowd-favourites such as I Cum Blood, Make Them Suffer and Hammer Smashed Face.

Twisted Sister @ BOA 2010 (c) Stacy WebbTwisted Sister were just absolutely spellbinding!! Although they are older, it sure felt like 1985 on that stage. They played all of their classics..opening with Come Out And Play. They also played the immortal classics Stay Hungry, We're Not Gonna Take It, The Price and obviously I Wanna Rock! Also from Stay Hungry they also played Burn In Hell and Horror Teria The Beginning and they closed their set (after the encore with S.M.F... I think). They also played You Can't Stop Rock N' Roll and Under The Blade. There was also a blistering drum solo by A.J Pero and the lighting during the show was just killer! Jay Jay French spoke to the crowd a couple of times and well.. you know.. Dee always has something to say to us. They also dedicated a cover song (can't remember which one) to Dio. I'm telling you...they were the best band and they just blew up live having lost none of their fire! I think they will play for us again at some point. (VM)

The entire festival was capped off with the announcement of the first confirmed headliner for 2011... None other than Norway's mighty gods of frostbitten grimness; Immortal! Needless to say this was met with nothing less than ecstatic cheers by the majority of the gathered crowd!

Hats off to the organisers for the best BOA yet, despite the atrocious weather. Roll on 2011!

Mike Thompson

Raised horns to...
Rob Gray, Georgina Forrest, Vinay Mulukutla,
Kate Edwards, David Brix and Gaz.
Stacey Webb & Deb for the photos.

Thanks for the help!


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