Bloodstock - Saturday
3 September 2005
The Assembly Rooms, Derby

On hearing vocalist Harry Armstrong had departed Rise To Addiction I had thought that the band would struggle to find someone with a suitable set of lungs to replace him. When the not very metal looking Leigh Oates strode onto the main stage I still had my doubts until he opened his mouth. Oates possesses an incredibly strong voice with similarities to both Armstrong and Chris Cornell.

Oates also proved to be a great front man, making sure the Bloodstock crowd was awake with an obsession that they should be clapping along at every opportunity. Playing Sabbath`s Children Of The Grave as a second song certainly helped in that respect. Elsewhere the whole Rise To Addition EP made an appearance with new songs similarly big on riffs and hooks.

Rise To Addiction set list included:
Cold Season / Children Of The Grave / Everlasting Wave / I Follow / To A God Unknown / Falling As One

A very brief view of Osmium left me feeling that perhaps their billing today would be the peak of the bands career. Workmanlike metal, often seen down your local rock pub.

Osmium set list included:
Love Is Gone

The only band to make a return appearance from Bloodstock 2004 was Season`s End who were making the transition from Darwin to Main Stage. The intro alone showed the band were up for it. Becki Clark appeared alone bathed in atmospheric blue lights singing with only the backing of the keyboards, before explosions heralded the arrival of the band and the opening number kicked in.

Previously I have found the band rather static, but they were clearly loving being on a stage big enough to accommodate some stage movement. Perhaps too much in bassist Tom Nichols case, who`s leap from the drum riser during Ghost In My Emotion nearly saw him end up in the photo pit much to the rest of the band`s amusement.

Season`s End really grasped the opportunity given to them today and impressed a lot of people.

Season`s End set list included:
Touch / Forever More / A Ghost In My Emotion

I was concerned at the non appearance of Pro-Jekt`s stuffed raven that usually frequents their monitors, until half way into opener Evilution he was thrown by a roadie onto a box next to synth player Alistair Middleton and spent the set lying there on his side. "He is stiff, bereft of life. This is an ex-raven!"

Vocalist Mick Witham asked us if we were ready for something different and that something was an amalgam of electro, goth and metal. Quite enjoyable it was too when the drum machine was loud enough and we weren`t being assaulted by feedback. The Next World saw everything come together for a catchy dancefloor anthem and the band certainly added some variety that was perhaps lacking the previous day.

Pro-Jekt set list included:
Evilution (Version) / Mistrust Matters / The Next World / Day After Never / Tonight We Drown

Suidakra weren`t bad, but they weren`t hugely exciting either. Much of their set was simply not memorable, though when they get it right on Reap The Storm or Decibel Dance they sound like a band with potential.

A jam of a Celtic jig actually got the best reception of the band`s set with Matthias Kupka getting the crowd shouting along. It was in fact Kupka`s final performance with the band and wearing an England shirt he looked more like he should be in the pub over the road awaiting the kick-off of the Wales game than on stage in a German heavy metal band.

Suidakra set list included:
Reap The Storm / Darkane Times / Decibel Dance

Mfkzt. No vowels, no tunes, no talent, no f**king clue what they were doing at Bloodstock and neither did the empty Darwin Suite.

Mfkzt set list included:
Sockmouth / Wanker

Yesterday Kai Hansen had played a few songs that Iron Savior frontman Piet Sielck had helped pen, but there was no appearance from Sielck`s former bandmate today. Not that he was missed, as Sielck led his band through a strong set of no-nonsense metal.

There`s no showmanship from guitarist Joachim Küstner and bassist Yenz Leonhardt, who just get on with playing the songs whilst Sielck holds the crowds attention. Drummer Thomas Nack set a blistering pace as the band raced through a sped up Titans Of Out Time and other stand out moments included Battering Ram and Condition Red.

Iron Savior set list included:
Atlantis Falling / Protector / Titans Of Our Time / Battering Ram / Mindfeeder / Condition Red / I`ve Been To Hell / Break The Curse / Iron Savior / Watcher In The Sky / Coming Home

I barely saw a song by Dreadnought and the only conclusions I drew were that they were very young and very enthusiastic. Actually they were so young that most of them were probably still in nappies when I last saw Raven sixteen years ago. You would expect a band to have physically eased up a bit after that period but there`s none of that in a performance that can only be described as outrageous.

John Gallagher`s use of a head set mic gives him the full run of the stage and together with brother Mark the whole show is a blur of activity. All the more surprising when Mark`s knee gave way during second song Live At The Inferno causing him to fall to the ground, but without missing a note and continuing to play the solo on the floor. He then heroically got up and played out the rest of the set with just as much energy.

Drummer Joe Hasselvander completes the trio and whilst he obviously can`t join in and run round the stage he is a powerhouse of a drummer putting a similar amount of energy into pounding his kit.

Break The Chain closed the set with the band inserting a manic medley of well known covers. Raven`s performance had me grinning from ear to ear and was the highlight of the weekend for me. I refuse to wait sixteen more years to see this again!

Raven set list:
Seven Shades / Live At The Inferno / All For One / Gimme A Break / Speed Of The Reflex / Mind Over Metal / White Hot Anger / Break The Chain (including medley of covers)

By the time I made it to the Darwin Suite I had already missed Kingsize Blues, though reports from friends were very positive.

Back at the main stage, Bob Catley`s fans seemed to be recreating the cover of A Storyteller`s Night at the front of the stage. Bob was today accompanied on acoustic guitars by Vince O'Regan of Pulse and Dave Thompson of Lost Weekend. Apparently a couple of obscure Magnum songs were given the acoustic treatment, but this wasn`t my cup of tea.

Bob Catley set list included:
Moment Of Truth

I only caught the opening song by Jesus Fix for which their bassist / singer apologised for having flu. Sound problems marred the song and for me this was a quick stop of on the way to some much needed food.

Jesus Fix set list included:
Die Again

After Forever had drawn a very large crowd and finding a spot on the balcony, where I had chosen to watch them from, was a difficult task. The lights for the main stage had, as ever, been consistently impressive and the atmospherics created along with After Forever`s symphonic metal was very professional.

However, that was part of the problem for me, as similarly to their cd`s, I found the band`s performance a bit too slick and not to my own tastes. In their defence the band went down very well and singer Floor Jansen was not only drop dead gorgeous but also a front woman with a significant presence.

After Forever set list included:
Beautiful Emptiness / Being Everyone / Between Love & Fire / Follow The Cry / Sins Of Idealism / Evil That Men Do

The Darwin stage had been running a bit late hence I had to take a guess at when to head over to catch Balance Of Silence and unfortunately arrived during their last song Desire In Mind. What I did see suggested the band are well worth checking out and reminded me of a British equivalent of Trivium.

Balance Of Silence set list included:
Desire In Mind

Still in the Darwin Suite, having been very impressed with their Lateral Thinking cd I was very much looking forward to Soliloquy and they did not disappoint. The band play extremely complex progressive metal, which at it`s heaviest brings to mind cult heroes Watchtower, partly due to Pete Morten`s helium vocals. What a whirlwind Morten was too, switching during songs between being an additional guitarist and at times stalking the stage singing.

New song Six Seconds Grace headed into Opeth territory musically with some hypnotic riffing. The band, completed by Mike Gilpin on guitar, Pete Waldock on bass Andy Berry on keyboards and Andi Evans on drums were impossibly tight and put in the best performance of the weekend the Darwin Suite had seen. Someone will undoubtedly sign these guys soon.

Soliloquy set list:
Of Earth & Sky / Corrosive De-Emphasis / Six Seconds Grace / Fractured

Are Amon Amarth capable of a bad performance? Well it seems not as yet another crushing set of Swedish death/Viking metal was delivered with a hammering blow on Bloodstock. A bit of added aggression to the bill worked a treat and with a great sound the crowd were lapping it up.

A shirtless Johan Hegg held a commanding presence roaring out the ancient tales and pausing occasionally between songs for a sip from his drinking horn. Hegg`s beard is such a length that when the band break into synchronised windmilling his head looks like it`s in a washing machine.

At times you wonder whether Fredrik Andersson`s pounding drumming is about to smash through his skins, with the likes of Pursuit Of Vikings a barrage of toms. Amon Amarth certainly turned in one of the best sets of the weekend.

Amon Amarth set list:
An Ancient Sign Of Coming Curse / Pursuit Of Vikings / Releasing Surtur`s Fire / The Fate Of Norns / Thousand Years Of Oppression / Versus The World / For The Stabwounds In Our Back / Victorious March / Death In Fire

Tearing myself away from Amon Amarth I arrive in a packed Darwin Suite as Lee Dorian is leading Cathedral through Stained Glass Horizon. Gaz Jennings pealing off those groove soaked doom riffs with bassist Leo Smee looking like he`s turned up for Woodstock. Tree of Life & Death from new album The Garden Of Unearthly Delights injects a little more pace.

I can understand Cathedral`s thinking behind headlining the Darwin Suite, however I would have liked to have seen them taking a slot on the main stage.

Cathedral set list included:
Stained Glass Horizon / Tree of Life & Death

Finally it`s left to Within Temptation to close the festival. The band seem to have been the most controversial headliner Bloodstock have had with a lot of people expressing their dislike prior to their appearance. Fortunately for me, I do like them, finding them to have just a little bit extra about them then many of the other female fronted bands in their genre. Sharon den Adel has a very strong image, infectious smile and ability to draw you in with added passion in her vocals. OK, the blokes all fancy her and the girls all seem to want her dresses.

Full marks for bringing over the full stage production also, with vine covered pillars and a large screen at the back projected with images to fit the music. The setlist is quite Silent Force heavy, but then when you consider how long the band were touring the Mother Earth album it`s no wonder they enjoy playing something different.

My one complaint with the show was that the sound seemed to be too loud for the P.A. at times causing it to distort. Maybe following Amon Amarth the band felt they needed to crank it up. Otherwise the performance was great with the rest of the band bounding about the stage looking uncannily like it was a Pierluigi Collina look-alike competition.

Within Temptation set list:
See Who I Am / Stand My Ground / Jillian (I`d Give My Heart) / It's The Fear / Forsaken / Angels / Memories / Aquarius / Running Up The Hill / Enter / Caged / Mother Earth / Deceiver Of Fools / The Other Half / Ice Queen

Once again Bloodstock proved to be a great weekend for both metal and socialising. Confirmed dates for next year`s festivities are 14-15 July for Bloodstock Open Air and 29-30 September for the Assembly Rooms.

Within Temptation
Amon Amarth
After Forever
Bob Catley
Iron Savior
Season`s End
Rise To Addiction
Balance Of Silence
Jesus Fix
Kingsize Blues