Bloodstock Open Air - Saturday

13 August 2011

Catton Hall, Derbyshire


“I know it’s early and we got here 10 minutes ago, but its never too early to drink beer and have a good time”, announced Chance Garnette at the un-rocking hour of 11am as Skeletonwitch took to the stage. The Ohio band had failed to ignite my interest on record but live it all made sense.Relentless and infectious, Skeletonwitch oozed metal and by third song Crushed Beyond Dust, Garnette was commending the crowd on, “The earliest circle pit I’ve ever seen.”Actually the pit was pretty entertaining to watch in itself, particularly the dude with the skullet who looked like he didn’t mean to be in there, running for cover at any opportunity.Crab dancing in a circle pit during Within My Blood must also be commended as must Skeletonwitch who were responsible for waking us up and putting everyone in a great mood.


Skeletonwitch setlist:

Upon Black Wings / Submit To The Suffering / Crushed Beyond Dust / Reduced To The Failure Of Prayer / Beyond The Permafrost / Sacrifice For The Slaughtergod / Strangled By Unseen Hands / Infernal Resurrection / Choke Upon Betrayal / Within My Blood


Skeleton Witch Skeleton Witch


By contrast Grave Digger were just plain awful.Chris Boltendahl appeared to be singing out of time during opener Paid In Blood and for a man releasing records since 1984 he had precious little stage craft.The Serpent’s Lair bar beckoned!


Grave Digger setlist:

Paid In Blood / The Dark Of The Sun / Hammer Of The Scots / Rebellion / Ballad Of The Hangman / Medley (Twilight Of The Gods / Circle Of Witches / The Grave Dancer / Twilight Of The Gods) / Excalibur / Heavy Metal Breakdown


 Gravedigger Gravedigger Gravedigger


Tarot playing the Dio Stage:

Tarot Tarot

I’m not sure I’ve seen a more packed photopit than in the Sophie Tent as Dripback took to the stage.Hardly surprising when you consider bassist Adam Sagir organises the press for the festival, but Dripback thoroughly deserved that gathering on this display.The band’s debut EP Inhaling The Ashes impressed and it’s that EP that forms the bulk of the set.With similarities to the more recent, catchier, Napalm Death material, Dripback channel aggression with groove and a punky swagger.


Dripback setlist:

On The Cross / No God, No Master / Stig / Whimper / Kick Out Time / Distrust / High / Dilapidated Soul / Under The Floor


 Dripback Dripback Dripback


Finntroll playing the Dio Stage:

Finntroll Finntroll Finntroll

 Few remained in the Sophie Tent, which was practically empty when the seemingly unknown Blake took to the stage.In fact the Finnish band boast five albums which are well worth investigation.Playing a blend of catchy stoner rock which takes in influences from early Kyuss via Danzig to Clutch, Blake just keep dropping instantly likeable songs on a slowly growing crowd.Marking their first show in the country, “or sort of anywhere else in Europe” noted frontman Aaro Seppovaara, Blake threw in an impressive cover of Black Sabbath’s The Wizard.It’s a real shame more people weren’t aware of, or check out Blake as they proved to be one of the high points of Saturday.


Blake setlist:

Son Of Fire / Two Ways / Fresh In The Grave / The Wizard / Death Tripper / Snow Factory / Come Dawn / Spirit Of Cain / My Machine


 Blake Blake


Ihsahn’s set in London straight after Bloodstock 2010 was one of the highlights of last year but for me today it didn’t quite transfer to the festival environment.Not to say that this was a bad performance but the progressive nature of the material lends itself better to a more intimate experience.Backed by Leprous, Ihsahn studiously took us through songs from his three solo releases.The question marks in my setlist below however are testament to me losing focus at certain points.Scarab and Called By The Fire were particular highlights, though I do feel Ihsahn missed a trick by omitting a crowd pleasing Emperor cover.


Ihsahn setlist:

The Barren Lands / A Grave Inversed / Scarab / ? / ? / Called By The Fire / ? / Misanthrope / Frozen Lakes On Mars


 Ihsahn Ihsahn Ihsahn


Wintersun fans have been waiting a long time for the band’s second album Chinese Democracy, sorry, Time, to see the light of day.It’s now five years since I last caught the band and today’s set list and a very familiar feel to it.In fact this is probably identical to the set we would have received here two years ago had the band not cancelled to complete their Time album…OK where is it Jari?Evidence is provided in the form of one new song The Way Of The Fire which indicated no major change in style.I may be a little unkind here as in fact Wintersun’s set was pretty enjoyable and hopefully proves to be a refresher prior to some new material being released.


Wintersun setlist:

Beyond The Dark Sun / Battle Against Time / Sleeping Stars / Winter Madness / The Way Of The Fire / Starchild


 Wintersun Wintersun Wintersun


Therion’s 5.55pm slot must have clashed with dinner time for much of Bloodstock as the crowd thinned surprisingly for the Swedish collective.Opening with two songs from latest album Sitra Ahra, members flooded the stage with Snowy Shaw quickly taking the role of frontman.Whilst the remainder of the singers retain an operatic restrained persona, Shaw encourages the crowd to respond in a more typical rock fashion.The band is of course Christofer Johnsson’s baby who today looked every inch the Victorian gentleman, complete with top hat.Johnsson had perhaps picked a slightly more obscure setlist than expected for a festival and it was undoubtedly the closing one/two of To Mega Therion and The Rise of Sodom and Gomorrah that got the best response.


Therion setlist:

Sitra Ahra / Hellequin / Nifelheim / The Perennial Sophia / Clavicula Nox / Call of Dagon / Typhon / Ljusalfheim / To Mega Therion / The Rise of Sodom and Gomorrah


 Therion Therion Therion


Things turned a little weird after Bloodstock for Rhapsody Of Fire with the band effectively splitting in two, hence this proved to be the last show of this line-up.Quite ironic then that Fabio Lione pointed out after opener Triumph Or Agony that it was the band’s first time in England.Personally, the Italians became far too overblown for my tastes on record, however I have to say through their first three songs at Bloodstock they were proving very entertaining and impressive.More was the annoyance then that a scheduling clash meant it was time to depart to the Sophie Stage.


Rhapsody Of Fire setlist:

Triumph Or Agony / Holy Thunderforce / The Village Of Dwarves / On The Way To Ainor / Dawn Of Victory / Lamento Eroico / Unholy Warcry / The March Of The Swordmaster / Reign Of Terror / Emerald Sword


 Rhapsody Of Fire Rhapsody Of Fire Rhapsody Of Fire


Whilst some encounters with NWOBHM bands recently have proved to be nothing more than some fun nostalgia, Angel Witch today showed they are a force to be reckoned with.Surrounding himself with a younger band, maiman Kevin Heybourne may pack out Angel Witch’s set predominantly with songs from the bands 1980 self titled album, but his admission that a new album was on the way will certainly spark interest if this line-up can channel the feel of the classics in to it.Heybourne and Carcass/Firebird/Gentlemen’s Pistols’ Bill Steer form a formidable guitar partnership, with Will Palmer’s tight trousers, retro moustache and posturing adding to the onstage spectacle.The tent was packed and rightly so.


Angel Witch setlist:

Gorgon / Confused / Sorceress / White Witch / Atlantis / The Night Is Calling / Dr Phibes / Angel Of Death / Guillotine / Angel Witch


 Angel Witch Angel Witch Angel Witch


Bloodstock answered the fans cries by booking Immortal as a headliner for 2011 and it was the largest crowd of the weekend that awaited their arrival.It was actually nine years since the Norwegians last appeared in this country and that absence has made hearts grow fonder to bump them from the 1000 capacity London Astoria 2 to headlining Bloodstock; somewhat impressive!Gallons of dry ice were continually pumped across the stage with mainly blue lighting presenting a frostbitten atmosphere.The icy cold and razor sharp riffing of All Shall Fall opened the set with Abbath’s traditional croaking vocal resonating across Catton Hall.Unfortunately the sound was nowhere near loud enough and someone really should have sorted out the crackle that plagued Abbath’s guitar throughout the set.Those issues aside this was a hugely enjoyable headline set and easily the best of the three this weekend.Posturing, crab walks and fireworks added to the spectacle and a setlist that touched upon all the band’s albums except Blizzard Beasts was well crafted.


Immortal setlist:

All Shall Fall / Sons Of Northern Darkness / The Rise Of Darkness / Damned In Black / The Call Of The Wintermoon / Solarfall / In My Kingdom Cold / Tyrants / One By One / Blashyrkh (Mighty Ravendark) / Grim & Frostbitten Kingdoms / Withstand The Fall Of Time / Beyond The North Waves / The Sun No Longer Rises


 Immortal Immortal  Immortal