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Saturday, 24 August 2013

View From The Sunny Field: Bloodstock Day 2

Bloodstock Festival, Catton Hall, Burton On Trent Day 2

So day two and the sun was still shining (and the hand still hurting) so after another round of bacon (from our endless supply) we venture once more into the arena.

Beholder

Firstly we gathered to take in Bloodstock's resident house band who stormed the main stage bringing their brand of hard hitting British metal to the early crowd. Simon and his merry men proceeded to crank out the riffs and stomp through the grooves providing some lunchtime aggression that drew a hearty crowd. With most of the songs coming from their new record it was tracks like Killing Season, Toxic Nation and the clarion cry of Liar that got the fist pumping and hopefully politicians running! A great heavy start to the day on day two. 8/10

3 Inches Of Blood

Now I didn't watch much of them as Cam Pipes voice irritated me but I heard their cover of Heaven And Hell and it was dire, however they committed a bigger sin by covering Tom Sawyer which made at least of my group completely dumbstruck and in considerable physical pain. So unfortunately they can only score. 0/10 

Hell

This was better! Full blown pomp and circumstance of British heavy metal. After the orchestral intro the band strode on bedecked in their paint and all black stage costumes and the riffage started the tri-headed riff machine of guitarists Kev Bower (with the dreadlocks), the freshly shorn Andy Sneap and the goblin-like Tony Speakerman all driving things along with their razor-sharp riffage that twisted and turned through tracks from their debut album, in the instrumental sections you could see that the band, backed by drummer Tim Bowler, were technical, rocked like anything. However as usual it was David Bower who was the star of the show as he strode around the stage giving off an aurora of authority, pouring emotion into every line, zipping around the stage like a cheetah and adding an air of Shakespearean gravitas to the proceedings. As well as being a great performer and a singer he also had a few new tricks up his sleeve, coming to the stage as mighty version of the hooved-beast himself he unleashed his firework shooting trident which left the crowd in awe and this combined with his self-flagellation and exorcisms of the front row combined to make hell (no pun intended) of a show. The final strains of Save Us From Those Who Will Save Us ended the band received a massive ovation from the huge crowd that had gathered for the mass ritual, the faces of the departing people was enough for any fan of metal to feel buoyed by (some were even brought to tears), the crowd loved it truly a band that should be headlining soon as they encompass everything heavy metal is about! Joyous! 10/10

After the experience of Hell it was time for a break before we returned to the arena for French bowel splitters Gojira

Gojira

Due to some British airline mix ups (sabotage?) Gojira were missing their backdrop and most of their kit however they still managed to come out and completely level BOA with their unrelenting heaviness. Things kicked off with Explosia which speaks for itself before The Axe and Flying Whales followed. Fighting against some sound problems that had dogged the main stage Gojira managed to make their sound even heavier with hardly any let up in the brutal pummelling Backbone came next where Randy Blythe received a massive cheer for helping out on vocals. the crowd were weakened by this onslaught and Gojira hadn't even got going. Watching this band at work is like a test of mettle for metal fans they are a bit of a tour de force that were dampened a little by the technical hitches but still managed to blow some eardrums with their metal beating. 7/10

Sabaton   

Sabaton too were victims of flight funniness as Joakim Broden came to the stage belting out evergreen opener Ghost Division not wearing his trademark vest. However all was not right in the Swede's camp as they hampered by technical issues which meant there was 10 minute break in their set in which Joakim did a heroic job of filling in cracking jokes and telling stories and borrowing a fan's vest to wear for the set. They then resumed with Gott Mit Uns and Carolus Rex. This was followed by another break before more songs from the new album was followed by a run through of classics with 40:1The Art Of War and Metal Crue all followed in quick succession. Their set did seem a bit disjointed but Joakim kept it going and the songs spoke for themselves. Not the best I've seen them but a heroic set from Sabaton. 7/10

Avantasia

Tobias Sammet's 'other' project made their first ever venture onto British soil. After the Also Sprach Zarathustra the band made their way onto the stage, he has amassed a great band to support him with power metal legends Sascha Paeth and Miro on guitars and keyboards respectively, the other guitars are provided by Oliver Hartmann, drums came from Edguy's Felix Bonhke. Together they opened with Spectres which saw Sammet prowl the stage decked out in his finery and showing of his amazingly powerful voice. This was the final song just to feature Sammet as Avantasia is a metal opera project so it has many guests and Tobi had brought some up with him. First up to bat was the muscular whiskey soaked vocals of Pretty Maids' Ronny Atkins who joined for two tracks before a prelude led to Reach Out For The Light and Breaking Light which showed of the absolutely stunning vocals of former Helloween man Michael Kiske who matched Sammet note for note as they both reached the upper atmosphere, Kiske hasn't lost it at all. What came next was the more AOR section of proceedings with local boy (is boy the right word?) Bob Catley who despite having a great voice Catley didn't seem to have a clue what was going on but he was enthusiastic and delivered his parts excellently before he took his leave and the final guest was Mr Big frontman Eric Martin who preened and pouted through his two songs one of which was the awesome Twisted Mind which led into the final songs which became full ensemble pieces mixing vocalists with Farewell introducing the amazing Amanda Somerville on lead vocals for the first time (she had provided backing vocals all set) before the set ended fully with Sign Of The Cross/Seven Angels. This was a great set from the debuting Avantasia that captured the majesty of their albums in the live setting. It was a real metal party atmosphere that bewitched the crowd, very awesome indeed. 9/10

Lamb Of God (Paul)

 So, a year after Testament hung ‘Free Randy’ banners at Bloodstock, Lamb Of God arrived at Catton Hall to a massive ovation. Given the huge support that Randy Blythe (Check Spelling) received from the metal community during his trial for manslaughter in the Czech Republic, this was always going to be one of the most anticipated sets of the weekend.  As the day wore on, it was clear that a large
number of the crowd had bought day tickets and the arena was rammed by the time the lights dimmed. The omens during the day had not been good. Gojira’s set had been interrupted earlier in the day due to concerns about the strength of the barrier at the front of the stage, whilst Sabaton had endured huge technical difficulties which had resulted in at least two songs being cut from their set.
 As the intro music blasted out, LOG stormed on stage with Desolation from their latest album Resolution. However, it wasn’t long before the gremlins re-emerged and there was a gap after Ghost Walking whilst some of the previously mentioned technical difficulties made an unwelcome appearance. After ripping through Walk With Me In Hell, with Morton and Adler’s twin guitars finally getting some benefit from the mix (which took some time to sort out) the band kicked into Ruin only for Randy to call a halt very quickly. Having earlier asked the crowd to take three steps back, it appeared that the earlier concerns about the barrier had not been resolved and a prolonged break of around 15 minutes ensued whilst emergency repairs were undertaken. A couple of pit survivors were brought through the crowd during this time and it was clear that at the front no quarter was being given.
 Eventually things got underway and Ruin was completed with no further problems. LOG then picked up their game and managed to deliver the remainder of the set without further distractions. Obviously by now they were slightly disjointed and some of their balance had disappeared. Energy levels in parts of the crowd had also dropped which was understandable given the delays and frustrations. I have to say that I am full of admiration for the way the band picked it back up, delivering storming versions of 11th Hour, newbie Undertow and a quite breath-taking Omerta. LOG finished the main set with Contractor; Chris Adler’s drumming resembling a heavy metal octopus. The encore kicked off with In Your Words before Laid To Rest and the unstoppable Redneck led to a brutal Black Label, complete with one of the biggest walls of death ever seen at BOA. LOG were understandably knocked off their stride at BOA. However, they were pretty heroic in the way they battled through the challenges that were presented. I’ve already got my ticket to see them at Bristol in January. 8/10

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