Bloodstock Open Air 2009 - Saturday
15 August 2009
Catton Hall, Derbyshire, UK

With a plethora of European bands to follow prior to closers Cradle Of Filth, it was down to the Bloodstock Unsigned video competition winners Uncle Rotter to fly the flag for Britain. Quite frankly this was an embarrassment. Uncle Rotter won their spot fair and square, but there are so many more deserving bands that could have taken this slot. Last year we had the equally bizarrely dressed Evil Scarecrow, but at least they were funny. I guess we’re supposed to laugh at the outrageous lyrics of the likes of Fist Your Sister, but few did and I have no idea why it requires three guitarists to piece together such basic punky rock tosh. Another triumph for those who had a lie in.

Uncle Rotter set list:
Alien Sex Farm / Fist Your Sister / Don’t Smoke Crack / Auto Asphyxiation Circle / Fit Goth Chicks

To be fair Battlelore seemed to be struggling in the sound department at the start of their set, but being someone that finds them a bit bland, it wasn’t long before the morning hunger pains started and the only quest I was following was one for food.

Battlelore set list:
Storm Of The Blades / Third Immortal / We Are Legion / House Of Heroes / The Great Gathering / Sons Of Riddermark / Journey To Undying Lands

If one band deserved another appearance at Bloodstock it’s Wolf. Their 2007 appearance was marred by technical gremlins and today they had the chance to put things right. With the whole band sporting Anvil t-shirts, their old-school metal roots were evident and it was that sound that the Swedes ably recreated and delivered. There had been no reinvention in the Swedes sound since their last appearance, although tracks from their latest album Ravenous possessed some tighter guitar lines and impressive hooks. For Genocide, Wolf invited four members of the crowd on stage to headbang which was both a nice and amusing touch. Whilst not a band I often cue up on my ipod, there’s an undeniable feel good factor about a Wolf live show and today’s certainly banished the memories of two years ago.

Wolf set list:
Speed On / The Bite / Hail Caesar / Voodoo / Genocide / Evil Star

Last year the Björler brothers graced the Bloodstock stage with the reformed melodic death metal pioneers At The Gates. This year afforded them another appearance, this time with The Haunted, the band they put together following the demise of At The Gates. Often the success of a set by The Haunted can be gauged by the mood of frontman Peter Dolving and today, even at this early hour, he seemed on form. Stalking the stage, the heavily bearded Dolving has the ability to easily rub people up the wrong way, but it’s laughter he draws on asking if there are any members of the Anglican Church here, then instructing them to leave, prior to the “Sick, sick, sick” refrain of Moronic Colossus. However, something appeared to be missing for much of the set, until Alex Hellid of Entombed walked on stage during 99 and readjusted a microphone to point at one of the guitar amps. Suddenly we were hit with a roaring guitar sound that lifted the end of the set and had you wishing it had been set correctly from the start.

The Haunted set list:
Little Cage / The Drowning / Trespass / The Premonition (intro) / The Flood / The Medication / Moronic Colossus / 99 / Trenches / Dark Intentions / Bury You Dead

Knowing how to get a huge guitar sound is something Alex Hellid needs to know well since becoming the sole guitarist in Entombed in 2006. Whilst for the most he does a sterling job in that role, I still feel a partner on six strings would thicken the band’s sound, particularly when solos are played. That niggle aside, Entombed put in a storming performance this afternoon. By third song When In Sodom, frontman LG Petrov was already drenched in sweat and his grinning face and hunched frame has him more and more appearing like the death metal Ozzy. With Nico Elgstrand’s wife expecting, Victor Brandt of Dominion, Necrocide and sometime live Satyricon bassist, ably filled his shoes. The crowd were appreciative and their response has LG pointing to the hairs stood up on his arm during Chief Rebel Angel.

Entombed set list:
Serpents Saints / I For An Eye / When In Sodom / Damn Deal Done / Like This With The Devil / Chief Rebel Angel / Demon / Wolverine Blues / Out Of Hand / Masters Of Death

The heavy doom of Candlemass completes an embarrassingly strong run of four consecutive Swedish bands. Of course frontman Robert Lowe is actually from the other side of the pond, but for those still bemoaning the lack of Messiah Marcolin, Candlemass can’t be blamed. They tried with him, it failed and Lowe has stepped in, not as a replacement, but in his own right. This is echoed by the lack of reliance on Candlemass’ rich past. The number of Lowe era songs matches those of the classics and the two eras sat well together. I’ve said before the band seem more relaxed now and it came across in a fluid 45 minute set. Where Messiah was the mad monk, Lowe is more a demon preacher, striding around the stage and pausing to roll his eyes back in his head with arms outstretched. The only disappointment came at the conclusion, when Candlemass chose to play a cover of Rainbow’s Kill The King, rather than something from their own catalogue.

Candlemass set list:
Emperor Of The Void / Samarithan / If I Ever Die / Hammer Of Doom / At The Gallows End / Solitude / Kill The King

Enslaved needed good sound and thankfully they got it. Their backdrop might have been the smallest of the weekend, but the expanse of their sound was immense. From their black metal roots, Enslaved have grown into one of the most inventive bands from that genre and with everything played today posy 2003’s Below The Lights, it’s a set packed with nuances. Guitarist Ice Dale might be the one with bare chest pulling guitar hero poses, but it’s a truly collaborative effort with each member of the band equally contributing to a lush wall of noise. Knowing they were following a whole load of their neighbours, the Norwegians pointed out the many different countries flags being flown, before spotting a Swedish flag and comical declaring, “That’s not a flag”. Understanding this is a partisan crowd, Grutle Kjellson’s suggestion that “You may know this one” prior to closer Isa is confirmed by a strong response.

Enslaved set list:
To The Coast / Fusion Of Sense And Earth / Ruun / As Fire Swept Clean The Earth / Ground / The Watcher / Isa

It was surely just a matter of time until Kreator were finally confirmed for a Bloodstock festival and today they became the final band of the big three of German thrash to grace its stage. Obviously highly anticipated, the crowd had swelled with both old and new thrashers as the familiar Choir Of The Damned intro played. With an impressive stage presentation, Kreator are veterans of the festival experience and cherry picked a best of set to please fans of all eras. Musically it was a clinical display of thrash, though between songs Mille Petrozza had the tendency to over-egg things somewhat with his rants. His demand, “I want to see you kill each other in the mosh pit”, before Pleasure To Kill, had the desired aggressive result. No casualties thankfully though, save for a trainer flying through the air. However, it was his endless ramblings about his Flag Of Hate that eventually drew sniggers and had he reigning it in a bit they could have squeezed in an extra song. Nevertheless this was a strong performance.

Kreator set list:
Choir of the Damned (intro) / Hordes Of Chaos / Phobia / Enemy Of God / Pleasure To Kill / The Patriarch / Violent Revolution / Extreme Aggression / Coma Of Souls / Flag Of Hate / Tormentor

Holding a “once was enough” feeling from seeing Apocalyptica at Sweden Rock a couple of years ago, I departed as the cellists opened their set with Metallica’s Wherever I May Roam.

The first of Saturday’s co-headliners was Blind Guardian who played an absolute blinder. Frontman Hansi Kürsch usually looks like a member of the crowd who’s wandered on stage and with his new shorter hair cut he looks even more “normal”. Kürsch doesn’t need a rock star persona to win over a crowd, his disarming “one of us” appearance and unique voice are enough and it’s a similar trait with the rest of Blind Guardian who pull in this audience with ease. The setlist is packed with anthems that have the crowd singing from opener Time Stands Still (At the “eye-ron” hill) to closer Mirror Mirror. The band themselves looked a bit taken aback with the warmth of response, particularly when the crowd sing their way through The Bard’s Song. Whilst undoubtedly this is a common event in their homeland, it must have been a pleasing event at a British outdoor festival.

Blind Guardian set list:
War of Wrath (Intro) / Time Stands Still (At The Iron Hill) / Another Holy War / Nightfall / The Script For My Requiem / Fly / The Quest For Tanelorn / Valhalla / Sacred / Lord Of The Rings / Welcome To Dying / Imaginations From The Other Side / The Bard’s Song (In The Forest) / Mirror Mirror

Such a strong performance left fellow headliners Cradle Of Filth with a difficult act to follow and there had been a degree of ill-feeling towards their stature on this bill. From the off it was apparent that the British band were pumped up to prove doubters wrong with an incredibly aggressive opening. However, as can often be the case with black metal, the outdoor sound did them no favours and the repetition of blur of noise with Dani Filth’s screeches wore thin quite quickly. To be honest my attention waivered and was only drawn back when Filth had made some comments about people throwing things. Now however disinterested or unappreciative of a band people are, there is no excuse for hurling missiles. Apparently some idiot was throwing “gob stoppers” the size and weight of a cricket ball and managed to hit guitarist Paul Allender in the back. This resulted in a trip to hospital for the guitarist and the curtailment of Cradle Of Filth’s set. An announcement noted that Bloodstock were “disgusted” with the individuals behaviour and RockersDigest can only echo those comments about an end that spoiled what was another great day at Catton Hall.

Cradle Of Filth set list:
Shat Out Of Hell / Gilded Cunt / Dusk And Her Embrace / The 13th Caesar / Nymphetamine / The Principle Of Evil Made Flesh / Honey And Sulphur / Under Huntress Moon

Bloodstock Open Air