Bloodstock Festival 2010 Saturday – 14 August 2010

This is my first Bloodstock, the tenth anniversary of the festival. I’m here alone and in all fairness I’m not off to the best of starts – arriving on day 2! Oh well, onwards and upwards for a couple of days of metal madness.

First band up for me today, on the Ronnie James Dio stage, is Edguy, the german power metallers featuring vocalist Tobias Sammet, creator of supergroup Avantasia. Opening with ‘Dead or Rock’ and ‘Speedhoven’, it’s sounding like bland, generic hard rock, but enough of an audience are out enjoying it. Sammet in his splendid attire is like a spring chicken across the stage. Clearly he enjoys a laugh, suggesting that he won’t mention the football, to follow up with: “We started the war, but you missed the quarter finals!” In addition to the witty banter, ‘Tears of a Mandrake’ and ‘Vain Glory Opera’ are followed by the comedic titled ‘Lavatory Love Machine’. As the anthemic ‘Superheroes’ passes by, I think I’m starting to enjoy Edguy, before ‘King of Fools’ wraps things up. It’s a shame their set is so short, but after a previous nights worth of torrential rain, if nothing else – Edguy manage to bring out the sun, and for this we must all be appreciative.

Florida based, death metal legends Obituary may not be a band I would listen to as avidly as I once did, but being fundamental in the development of death metal – to say I am excited to see these guys today, would be a huge understatement. The Bloodstock crowd go mental to instrumental opener ‘Redneck Stomp’ from the 2005 comeback album ‘Frozen In Time’, followed by the skull crushing ‘On The Floor’. Nothing short of in-your-face arrogance, the Obituary sound is a thick, snarling rampage of the senses, displayed with a confident brutality, that has planted them permanently in metal history. John Tardy’s furious vocal, along with his and rhythm guitarist Trevor Peres’ windmill headbanging is a monstrous sight to behold, as they progress with tracks from their 21 year album history: including ‘List of Dead’, ‘Chopped In Half’, ‘Threatening Skies’ and ‘Slow Death’. Standing the test of time, there are kids here with no idea who Obituary were until today, but after this awesome set – they’re gonna love ’em all the same.  The problem with Tardy’s mic will go unnoticed, and as they finish with a ball-busting rendition of ‘Slowly We Rot’ from the debut album of the same name, the main stage crowd at Bloodstock 2010 is left in awe.

Known for spanning a wide range of genres, Finnish prog/goth/death/folk metallers Amorphis attract a sizeable audience. With the sun shining, frontman Tomi Joutsen strolls onstage to ‘Silver Bride’ engaging his deep, gothic vocal and wheeling his impressive, waist length, dreadlocked hair. Amorphis have evolved quite dramatically since their beginning in 1990, mostly notably in vocal delivery. Joutsen only a member since 2005, delivers earlier melodic death metal material ‘Against Widows’ and ‘Black Winter Day’ along with far more progressive and gothic titles, such as ‘From The Heaven Of My Heart’ from the recent album ‘Skyforger’. By the time ‘My Kantele’ completes the set, I’m really not sure what to make of Amorphis. Consistent proggy keys, capable guitars and bursts of pace interest me, but I find the overwhelming somber and downcast mood becomes somewhat weary – I’m certainly never going to be a fan.

The Devin Townsend Project
A huge, expectant crowd gathers for The Devin Townsend Project. Frustratingly, due to technical difficulties at the start of his set, the Canadian Strapping Young Lad is left to entertain us for fifteen minutes, with an impromptu comedy routine. But to be fair – he does a pretty good job. With no whinging or whining or stomping offstage, DT manages to keep the audience entertained with some funny banter and larking about .. there’s even some interpretive dance! Hats off to the guy for being a natural entertainer and the saviour of whatever is to blame for the delay. Eventually the gremlins are dealt with and Townsend gets to ask “Bloodstock – Are you ready to fuckin’ rock?” The response is resounding in the positive. In all honesty this is my first experience of Devin Townsend so I have no idea what to expect. Opener ‘Addicted’ is certainly an attention grabber. A driving, cruncher of a tune with raw vocal delivery, backed by anthemic samples during the chorus, it’s a weird mish-mash. Moving on with ‘Supercrush!’ and a string of Townsend’s previous solo material, it becomes clear that perhaps I’m not going to quite ‘get it’ this time out. The likes of ‘Kingdom’, ‘Deadhead’ and ‘By Your Command’ are a crazy mix of melodic and dramatic songs, which in places are more operatic than metal, more progressive than heavy. The man himself is a whacky character, his physical presence matching the aural bombardment. However, regardless of my confusion there is a sizeable amount of punters who are clearly up for Devin Townsend and that of his material, and today they appear more than satisfied with his offering.

Fear Factory
A Bloodstock Festival 2010 highlight has to be the return of Fear Factory. For all the disagreements and falling out between one member and/or another – the announcement last year that vocalist Burton C. Bell and original guitarist Dino Cazares had reconciled their friendship, could only be a good thing in taking the band forward once more. Opening up with the title track from their recent album ‘Mechanize’ Fear Factory rip it up in front of the mass gathering of Bloodstockers, as the band quickly gain heavy-as-you-like-it momentum throughout a set of the old and the new. ‘Shock’ and ‘Edgecrusher’ from the 1998 album ‘Obsolete’, ‘Acres of Skin’ and ‘Linchpin’ from 2001’s ‘Digimortal’, more from the recent album, and back to early days with ‘Martyr’ – all brutally intense, as Fear Factory have always been. Perhaps wavering only slightly at the high end, Burton C. Bell’s vocals are in fine form, along with Dino, Gene Hoglan (drums) and Byron Stroud (bass) – the outfit is impressively tight. They complete the set with five from the 1995 classic album ‘Demanufacture’. Firstly the title track, followed by ‘Self Bias Resistor’, ‘Zero Signal’, ‘H-K’ and ‘Replica’. It’s an awesome show – a reminder of exactly how massive and influential they were when they first burst onto the scene.

Children Of Bodom
Finnish extreme metallers Children Of Bodom are Day 2 headliners, with the overwhelming swell in front of the Ronnie James Dio stage suggesting that everybody is out to see them. Fronted by the charismatic Alexi Laiho, it’s a heads down, dark and intense opening with ‘Follow the Reaper’, ‘Hate Crew Deathroll’ and ‘Needled 24/7’. It’s been a while since Children Of Bodom have been in the UK and tonight they intend to enjoy every minute of it. In amongst the serious business of melodic death metal comes some good time party spirit from the boys from Finland. Jokes about Alexi looking like David Lee Roth or Bret Michaels, bursts of Van Halen’s ‘Jump’ and Bon Jovi’s ‘Runaway’ and offers to drink Whiskey with the baying crowd. Even a conga breaks out in the crowd at one point! It’s a lengthy and powerful set from their 6 album history including ‘Everytime I Die’, ‘Living Dead Beat’, ‘Blooddrunk’, ‘Angels Don’t Kill’ and ‘Silent Night, Bodom Night’. Children Of Bodom are an inspired choice of band to finish the day. With a beautifully clear sound, moments of total lunacy and an intensity that will rock many a camper to sleep tonight – the final day of Bloodstock Festival 2010 can’t come quickly enough.

Review & Photography: Steve Johnston

Bloodstock Festival 2010 – Sunday Review