Bloodstock Open Air 2007
Friday 17 August 2007
Catton Hall, Derbyshire

Exploder were back on stage at the un-rockly hour of 11am to open day two of Bloodstock Open Air. Reunited with their own drummer and material, the band faired much better than the previous day and were cheered on by a loyal bunch of Brummie fans. With vocals much more suited to Exploder`s greasy brand of rock/metal, frontman Dirty Von Donovan looked much more comfortable on stage today, although given the band`s name and artwork, I was expecting the rest of the band to be a little more in the crowd`s face.

Von Donovan`s amusing admission that "You don`t need to know words, you just need to know Woah-oah" encouraged a few more to join in with the faithful. At times, with that refrain, Disturbed playing first album Almighty songs sprang to mind. An enjoyable thirty minutes to start the day.

Exploder set list:
Taking Over / Sympathy Love / You Burn Me Up / Fast & Wild / A Kind Of Evil / Heartbreaker

Voodoo Six were last minute additions due to the withdrawal of Damage Control after guitarist Robin George sustained an injury walking his dog! Offering something a bit different on the mainstage, Voodoo Six`s hard rock was a refreshing change of pace. The band`s rhythm section, together with Zakk Wylde look-alike guitarist Ritchie Faulkner, had been part of the band Dirty Deeds that Iron Maiden`s Steve Harris had championed about 10 years ago. As Voodoo Six, with vocalist Henry Rundell and guitarist Matt Pearce, the likes of Crawl offer something with a bit more groove.

Walking On Nails and album title track Feed My Soul offered high points in the band`s short set. Whilst hardly setting the festival alight, Voodoo Six put in a good solid performance.

Voodoo Six set list:
Crawl / Slip Inside / Walking On Nails / Faith / Feed My Soul / No Friend

Following their cancelled appearance at Prog Power UK this year, I was delighted when Scar Symmetry were confirmed for BOA. It was such a disappointment then that when the band appeared on stage, the soundman had appeared to have gone AWOL The mix for Reborn was all over the place, with Christian Älvestam`s vocals barely audible, then drowned out by the backing vocals of Jonas Kjellgren. Fortunately, it appeared that a good proportion of the crowd that had gathered were familiar with the band and were able to decipher what they were supposed to be hearing.

Either my ears got used to it, or things did improve, but regardless the band`s performance could not be faulted. Älvestam announced that this was the band`s "first time on English soil" and the likes of Mind Machine and the audience participation of Retaliator, drew a positive response. Unsurprisingly, Scar Symmetry wrapped things up with The Illusionist, who`s video rotation assured the biggest reception of the set and lets hope the Swedes ten feet will be stepping on our shores again soon.

Scar Symmetry set list:
Reborn / Slaves To The Subliminal / Chaosweaver / Abstracted / Mind Machine / Underneath The Surface / Retaliator / The Illusionist

If Scar Symmetry had it tough, that was nothing compared to fellow Swedes Wolf. Losing Johannes Losbäck`s guitar was only the start of things when the whole power shut off during second song The Bite. The band are often compared to early Iron Maiden and suffering the same problem as Maiden did at Earls Court last December, Wolf`s reaction was similar in not leaving the stage. Losbäck sat on a monitor and shrugged his shoulders as frontman Niklas Olsson encouraged the crowd to scream for him. Tobbe Kellgren filled some time with a drum solo, but it was a relief when the power came back on as a striptease had been taking place!

Remarkably the crowd did not thin through all this and Olsson thanked us "From the bottom of our metal hearts". Eventually resuming their set, Wolf entertained with a set which, yes I agree, recalls early Maiden, none more so then Genocide. Olsson`s helium like vocals are reminiscent of Kai Hansen on the first Helloween album and as he led the band through Evil Star, Wolf had successfully turned things around and left many a grinning face.

Wolf set list:
Steelwinged Savage Reaper / The Bite / Electric Raga / I Will Kill Again / Wolf`s Blood / Children Of The Black Flame / Genocide / Evil Star

I`d never heard of Memfis when they were confirmed for Bloodstock, but a visit to their myspace page had me buying their album, The Wind Up, before the first track had finished. It did appear that they remained unfamiliar to most, however, with the crowd very thin on the ground. Opeth are the obvious name-check when considering Memfis. Whilst Memfis write much shorter songs, they do ebb and flow in a very similar manner to their fellow Swedes, with Mattias Engström switching between growls and clean vocals much like Mikael Åkerfeldt. A very impressed friend commented they remind him of Extol, before we even noticed bassist Henrik Eriksson was wearing that band`s t-shirts.

The non-traditional nature of Memfis` songs meant I struggled to note the setlist but, safe to say, the bulk of the band`s Wind Up album was aired. Guitarist Daniel Grahn obviously also found title identification difficult when he introduced Breathless before the band played something entirely different! Despite all my comparisons, it`s true that the complexity of this style of metal has ensured the market is not flooded and Memfis are a very welcome addition.

Memfis set list included:
The Wind Up / Dead Ends / Breathless / Forever Discounted / Eternal Failure

To say Korpiklaani got the party started was an understatement. The crowd swelled massively before the Finns appearance and came to life as Journey Man kicked things off. When I previously saw Korpiklaani supporting Dream Evil in London, I`d found them enjoyable but somewhat restrained and perhaps over serious. This had obviously gone right out of the window with much more onstage movement and frivolity. It was a wonder guitarist Cane`s floppy hat remained on his head as he charged backwards and forwards across the front of the stage.

From behind his elk horn music stand, Jonne Järvelä conducted us through a variety of beer drinking anthems with fans swinging each other around. Jakko Lemmetty switched between violin, flute and bagpipes throughout the set and, with accordianist Juho Kauppinen, pinned the folk end of Korpiklaani`s hybrid metal down. For closer Beer Beer, Järvelä dispensed with his guitar to run round the stage and the energy was mirrored in the crowd which descended into total mayhem.

Korpiklaani set list included:
Journey Man / Korpiklaani / Tervaskanto / Happy Little Boozer / Wooden Pints / Hunting Song / Tuli Kokko / Beer Beer

With the second stage running a little late, I opted to head into the tent to catch the reunited Cerebral Fix rather than see Epica, who just aren`t my cup of tea. Devastatingly though, the usual treacle thick guitar lines of Unity For Who? were reduced to sounding like they were coming through cheap transistor radios and whilst I stuck around for the accompanying Enter The Turmoil, not wanting to tarnish memories of Cerebral Fix, I decided to exit and catch them again under more favourable circumstances.

Cerebral Fix set list included:
Unity For Who / Enter The Turmoil

Nevermore had been a popular request for Bloodstock and the 2007 Open Air saw them finally make an appearance, well, three-fifths of them anyway. Steve Smyth has been a long-term absentee from the band`s ranks with illness and his usual replacement Chris Brodrick of Jag Panzer was back ably handling the second seven string. Unfortunately, Warrel Dane`s long term partner in crime Jim Sheppard was also missing, with I understand a friend of the band, Tim Johnston, handling bass.

If this sounds like a build up to a bad review, it isn`t, as the band were on blistering form and their set whizzed by. It wasn`t just the stand-ins that were looking unfamiliar as Dane had arrived with his trademark blonde hair dyed dark. What hadn`t changed was his exceptional vocals, with amazing controlled power. Jeff Loomis also turned in a star performance, but it`s the strength of the band`s songs that ensured this was a winning performance. Climaxing with Born leading into the majestic This Godless Enedeavor, closer Enemies Of Reality is a triumphant sing along with much action in front of the stage.

Nevermore set list:
Medicated Nation / The River Dragon Has Come / I, Voyager / Inside Four Walls / My Acid Words / Final Product / Deconstruction / Born / This Godless Endeavor / Enemies Of Reality

On paper I would have billed Nevermore above Dark Tranquillity, but with both receiving an equal one hour slot, the schedule worked well. Aside from frontman Mikael Stanne, Dark Tranquillity can appear a bit faceless and hence the light show added atmosphere to their performance, and actually having the lights behind them suited them.

The set itself leaned heavily on latest album Fiction, with the uplifting The Lesser Faith and catchy Focus Shift particularly strong. Crowd favourites The Treason Wall and The Wonders At Your Feet were both well received and whilst still belonging to this millennium represent two of the oldest tracks aired. The oldest however is Punish My Heaven from 1995`s The Gallery, which really emphasised how much Dark Tranquillity have changed as it sounded like a song from a different band. The large number of people sporting new Dark Tranquillity hoodies was noticeable following this set.

Dark Tranquillity set list:
Terminus (Where Death Is Most Alive) / The Lesser Faith / The Treason Wall / The Wonders At Your Feet / Blind At Heart / Final Resistance / Misery`s Crown / The Endless Feed / Focus Shift / Punish My Heaven / My Negation

My liking of Lacuna Coil seems to have diminished with each successive album, so its something of a surprise how much I enjoyed their headline set, which featured mainly and most of their latest album, Karmacode. Constant touring has made Lacuna Coil into a very slick and confident outfit, with unsurprisingly Cristina Scabbia the focal point. The fact that they have a second singer in Andrea Ferro seems somewhat forgotten and if you`d asked me a few years ago I would have been certain that his role would have eventually become surplus to requirements. As it is, he continues to add shade to Cristina`s light and gives the band an underlying aggression that keeps them clear of the band people like to compare them to, Evanescence. There`s no competition based on that band`s lacklustre performance at Download and Lacuna Coil`s tonight.

Senzafine was our oldest history lesson, whilst the Depeche Mode cover, Enjoy The Silence, pleased those less familiar with the Italians. The encore however was planned to hit the home run, with Daylight Dancer preparing the way for Heaven`s A Lie and Our Truth. Planning to at least check Lacuna Coil out I was left wanting to hear more.

Lacuna Coil set list:
To the Edge / In Visible Light / Swamped / Within Me / Senzafine / Closer / What I See / Fragments of Faith / Fragile / Enjoy The Silence / Daylight Dancer / Heavens A Lie / Our Truth

Lacuna Coil
Dark Tranquillity
Cerebral Fix
Scar Symmetry
Voodoo Six