Bloodstock Open Air 2006

14 July 2006

Catton Hall, Walton Upon Trent

An absolutely scorching weekend welcomed a larger crowd to the second Bloodstock Open Air. The festival had also gained an extra stage in the beer tent and whilst I saw snippets of bands over the weekend I did not see enough to properly review them. Thumbs up however to what I saw of Beyond All Reason, Pitiful Reign and Black River Project. Although I didn`t see them myself, friends also reported back on strong showings from Kyrbgrinder, Evile and Headless Cross.

Over on the main stage Pyramaze kicked off proceedings in fine style. The change in P.A. from 2005 was immediately apparent with The Birth being crisper and louder than anything heard last year. The band is fronted by Lance King who is no stranger to Bloodstock having trodden the boards of the indoor festival with Balance Of Power. King spent the set working the crowd and his high pitched vocals mixed with the band`s slick musicianship made them reminiscent of Kamelot at times.

Guitarist Toke Skjønnemand was also throwing himself into it with numerous guitar shapes and this energetic performance couple with the catchy hooks of What Lies Behind and Souls In Pain made for a first class start to the day.

Pyramaze set list:

Era Of Chaos / The Birth / What Lies Beyond / Sleepy Hollow / Melancholy Beast / Souls In Pain / Legend / The Bone Carver

Over their 20+ year career, Rage may not have been regular visitors to the UK, but they receive a warm welcome today and it wasn`t difficult to see why. Mainman Peavey Wagner has bags of experience of playing festivals and the well paced set, which managed to cram in ten songs, flew by with only a small technical hitch slowing things down. Still, with a guitarist as good as Victor Smolski on hand, that hiccup didn`t spoil the set, with the six stringer entertaining us with some very impressive tapping as Mike Terrana`s drums are fixed.

For a three piece the band don`t lack charisma, with Peavey managing to gesticulate with his hand between every pick of his strings. With a large back catalogue, Rage cherry pick a few from their latest album such as title track Speak Of The Dead and the orchestral No Regrets, whilst also diving back to classics Don`t Fear The Winter and Higher The Sun.

Rage set list:

Speak Of The Dead / No Fear / Down / The Soul Survivor / Don`t Fear The Winter / Baby I`m Your Nightmare / No Regrets / War Of Worlds / Human Metal / Higher Than The Sun

Sweden`s Nocturnal Rites are a band who had rarely grabbed my attention on record, but not only where they very popular today, but they put in a very strong set which will have me revisiting their back catalogue in a different light. Mainman Jonny Lindkvist`s soulful vocals set the band apart from being standard power metal and that classic rock quality he injects into the performance brought back memories of Masterplan`s strong showing last year.

The powerful opening of Fools Never Die and Never Trust set a high water mark which the Swedish Vikings comfortably sailed across throughout their set. Peaking with Against The World, which I nearly sung myself horse too, Friday of BOA was proving to be a day of constant highs.

Nocturnal Rites set list:

Fools Never Die / Never Trust / Shadowland / Deliverance / Awakening / The Iron Force / Against The World / Afterlife

It couldn`t last and much to my dismay, the quality came crashing down with the band I had most anticipated Atheist. Alarm bells had been ringing when news that the reunion line-up`s only remaining original guitarist Randy Burkey had bowed out and apparently the gods continued to strike vengeance on Atheist with their gear not turning up.

Compounding this, and whilst understanding Atheist are be no means the most straight forward of bands, the soundman was wrestling and losing with the mix. "What are they doing to Atheist?" is a question asked that sticks out in my mind as Tony Choy`s bass drowned everything out. Excusing the sound, it was not until Retribution that the band appeared to be gelling, by which point it was too late to save a set which I will not hold cherished memories of. I`ll check them out again at Wacken with the hope they can redeem themselves.

Atheist set list:

Unquestionable Presence / On They Slay / Mineral / Unholy War / Retribution / I Deny / An Incantation`s Dream / Mother Man / ? / Piece Of Time

I heard mixed reports of Metal Church`s previous visit to the UK with this line-up, which had coincided with my own holidays so missing them. Today however the band could not be faulted and put in the set of the day. The penultimate slot would seem to be the prime slot at BOA (see Turisas review tomorrow). With the crowd getting their second wind, what was needed was some quality classic metal and Metal Church`s set was packed with it.

Latest vocalist Ronny Munroe seemed to handle with ease the material from the David Wayne era, such as Ton Of Bricks and Start The Fire, as well as the Mike Howe era tunes Badlands and Date With Poverty. Whilst the bands latest two albums may not match up to those early classics, they do contain a few gems with A Light In The Dark and Leave ‘Em Behind particular strong. The band`s heart and soul, Kurdt Vanderhoof, was beaming from start to finish and his guitar crunched away with Jay Reynolds to great effect. Awesome.

Metal Church set list:

A Light In The Dark / Badlands / Ton Of Bricks / Start The Fire / Leave ‘Em Behind / Watch The Children Pray / Mirror Of Lies / The Dark / Date With Poverty / Gods Of Wrath / Beyond The Black / Metal Church

By this point plenty of beers had been quaffed and there was flag waving to be done so who better to close the day than Edguy. They may have been simply the support act to Dragonforce on their last UK visit, but the band`s experience on the continent sees them more than comfortable to close today`s show. Live is where Edguy is at and with their charisma, coupled with the benefit of the full stage lights in the dark, an enjoyable ninety minutes passes by.

More mature songs like Sacrifice and Tears of A Mandrake mix it up with the bonkers Trinidad and Lavatory Love Machine. Tobias Sammet his all high kicks, whilst Status Quo style synchronised stage moves are adopted by Sauer, Ludwig and Exxel and we even see BOA`s first ever stage prop with a gargoyle spreading open it`s wings. I had my doubts that Edguy could pull of this slot but mission was accomplished.

Edguy set list (not in order):

Catch Of The Century / Sacrifice / Babylon / Tears Of A Mandrake / Trinidad / Superheroes / Save Me / Avantasia / Vain Glory Opera / King of Fools / Mysteria / Lavatory Love Machine / Fucking with Fire




Metal Church


Nocturnal Rites