Bloodstock Open Air 2005
25 June 2005
Catton Hall, Derbyshire

Saturday dawned with no hangover which was a good job since that`s the last thing you want to contend with when Fourwaykill are due to start proceedings. However first was a delay while the stage was persuaded it wanted to stay where it was and not take off across the fields due to the wind. With the rear of the stage removed leaving a backdrop of trees and straps fitted to provide an anchor, Fourwaykill finally kicked off with 24 Hours To Die, vocalist Chris Neighbour waving a flag like he was leading his troops into battle.

Chris explains that the prospect of "The Kill" gracing the stage made it collapse and with tunes as brutal as the staccato Trigger he may not be wrong. Bassist Podge who had apparently gone AWOL the previous evening was bearing no signs of hangover either as he attacked his bass strings through Removing Face, introduced by Chris as a nice ballad.

Anti-all gave everyone something to shout along to, even if you didn`t know it, with Chris leading us through the Born To Suffer refrain. This is not to say that the sound problems didn`t effect Fourwaykill as Jay Walsh`s guitar went absent on a few occasions. A brutal start nevertheless.

Fourwaykill set list:
24 Hours To Die / Aggressor / Trigger / Deadweight / Removing Face / Anti-All / Discipline

Humanity`s entrance caught me out whilst taking a quick trip back to my tent hence I missed a portion of their set. However, I returned to see Simon Shedwell pacing back and forth across the front of stage whilst the rest of the band battled the P.A.

In truth what I saw of Humanity`s set I found a bit disorientating. The band have moved on considerably and now play little from debut When Silence Calls. The band don`t write instant crowd pleasers, but material that requires a few listens before the hooks get under your skin. Hence faced with a plethora of material I`d only heard once at their recent London gig, it was more with measured appreciation that I enjoyed their set.

Hopefully those new songs will be committed to CD soon as on the evidence of Humanity`s recent performance it seems they`re moving up a gear.

Humanity set list included:
Faded Sky / Serenity / The Price You Have To Pay

It felt great to be proved wrong by Masterplan. Prior to their set I was bemoaning the fact that, despite liking their recorded material, they`ve left me cold in the environment. Well it was hardly warm outside today, but Masterplan cooked up a veritable storm on stage.

In the past I`d wondered whether Masterplan would benefit from a second guitarist, but perhaps the limitations of the P.A. worked in the band`s favour today as Roland Grapow`s guitar filled out the available sound to the max.

Having one of the best rock voices in your band doesn`t hurt either and Jorn Lande oozes quality. His usual microphone stand twirling was somewhat hampered by being given a pivot stand, with Lande comically waving it limply in the air whilst complaining "this mic stand is not German construction."

The set selection was shrewd with I`m Not Afraid getting the crowd clapping, Jan Eckert indulging in a bit of gurning to Enlighten Me and the trees blowing in the wind behind the stage providing a suitable backdrop to the brooding Soulburn. Mission accomplished for Masterplan then.

Masterplan set list:
Crimson Rider / Crystal Night / Wounds / Kindhearted Light / I`m Not Afraid / Enlighten Me / Soulburn / Heroes / Crawling From Hell

At Bloodstock last year Evergrey stole the show with an awesome mid afternoon slot. The sound limitations meant that this was never going to happen today but they left nobody disappointed.

Opener Blinded sounded rather muddy and the twin guitar harmonies of End Of Your Days battled bravely to be heard.

Mainman Tom S Englund told us that this was the band`s third visit to the UK and they`ve yet to be interviewed. "Are we really that boring?", he jokingly enquired. Absolutely not was of course the answer as Evergrey proved once again.

This is the fourth time in the last couple of months I had caught Evergrey and it`s difficult to find different superlatives to describe the live experience. The set was based around a similar core of songs, though this time the band stuck to just their new millennium releases.

Englund`s eventual dispute with the soundman seemed to pay dividends however, with the later half of the set improving considerably and the band finishing on a high with A Touch Of Blessing.

Evergrey set list:
Blinded / End Of Your Days / More Than Ever / Rulers Of The Mind / Watching The Skies / Mark Of The Triangle / I`m Sorry / Recreation Day / A Touch Of Blessing

In a sea of power metal bands, what really sets Edguy apart is vocalist Tobias Sammet who could have an alternate career in stand-up. Bounding on stage wearing a horrendous Hawaiian shirt and headband Sammet, resembling The Darkness` Justin Hawkins, declared tongue in cheek that there wasn`t much time for talking, which was fine as he doesn`t like to say much.

Truly the band just get on with things, playing solid metal whilst Sammet treats the stage as his personal playground. A Swedish flag tossed on stage reminds him of one review where they were referred to as a "Sissy gay band from Sweden". Sammet retorts that this was not true as they are actually a "Sissy gay band from Germany".

Following Babylon, Sammet informs us "By the way we are not gay." Though as the intro of the song progressed he jokingly quips, "not that there`s anything wrong with being gay!."

Thus the set progresses with further hilarity and perfect comic timing from Sammet as he ticks the crowd off for clapping out of time to Vain Glory Opera. Prior to this he had scaled the side of the stage whilst singing Lavatory Love Machine.

From a sense of fun and crowd participation Edguy put in the set of the day without question.

Edguy set list:
Under The Moon / Navigator / Babylon / Land Of The Miracle / Lavatory Love Machine / Vain Glory Opera / Chalice Of Agony / King Of Fools / Tears Of A Mandrake / Out Of Control

Apparently Nick Holmes` banter when Paradise Lost last appeared at Bloodstock didn`t make many friends in the audience. The grey skies today however, seemed to match Holmes` dour Northern sarcasm which had the crowd laughing along rather than taking offence.

Opening with Enchantment from Draconian Times didn`t hurt either, with the sorrowful guitar melody of Gregor Mackintosh providing the perfect accompaniment to the bleak weather. Indeed the conditions seemed to play right into Paradise Lost`s hands. The band don`t move about much but facing straight in to the wind with the trees blowing behind them the scene was set perfectly.

It`s wasn`t the warmest place to be stood apparently, as Holmes quipped that his hands were so cold he could have a wank and it would feel like somebody else!

Paradise Lost`s latest self titled release, which Holmes jokes will be out in the UK in 2010, blends recent electronic deviances with their more metal past and not surprisingly the band are keen to air a few tracks from it. Grey and All You Leave Behind working particularly well.

Sound problems reared their head however with the vocals too low in the mix. Crowd chants at the sound guy went largely unnoticed by the man in question, but the band took great amusement in the abuse.

Unsurprisingly, confronted with a very metal audience it`s the older heavier material such as As I Die, True Belief and the majestic Hallowed Land that gets the best response. The fact that I have been digging out my old Paradise Lost albums post Bloodstock testifies that the band certainly hit the mark.

Paradise Lost set list:
Enchantment / Grey / Mystify / Hallowed Land / Redshift / All You Leave Behind / True Belief / Erased / As I Die / Say Just Words /

As said at the start of this review, the extremes of how to deal with an under powered P.A. were at the beginning and close of the festival. In an attempt to gain perfect sound it seemed, Children Of Bodom had no intention of overloading the speakers and hence, whilst their sound was the clearest of the weekend, it was as about as loud as if I was playing a CD in my car on the campsite. Obviously that`s an exaggeration, but when you are able to hold a conversation with no effort over the top of the likes of Hate Me, it just doesn`t seem right.

As usual Alexi Laiho was the centre of attention throwing guitar hero shapes and there was no denying the band were technically spot on.

However, a combination of the sound, party spirit and the fact that I had seen near enough this same set a few times already, with the exception of new song Knuckleduster, my attention began to wander somewhat and the bar beckoned.

Children Of Bodom set list:
Sixpounder / Silent Night, Bodom Night / Hate Me / Chokehold / Knuckleduster / Needled 24/7 / Everytime I Die / Bodom After Midnight / Bodom Beach Terror / Hate Crew Deathroll / Angels Don`t Kill / Kissing The Shadows / Downfall / Warheart

Whilst the turnout was modest, though expected as a first year, Bloodstock Open Air provided a great weekend of metal and was the outdoor festival I have enjoyed most in 2005. Plans are already being made for 2006 with a probable July date and the possibility of a second stage. Hopefully with the ball now rolling this event can continue to grow and provide the UK with something to match what our cousins in mainland Europe are treated to every summer.

Childreen Of Bodom
Paradise Lost