Bloodstock Open Air
Many have questioned why Skeletonwitch are so low down the bill, and the hungover crowd that has amassed at 11am is a testament to their underground popularity. Despite the grey, murky clouds hovering threateningly overhead, Skeletonwitch help the crowd forget the shitty weather.
Despite pulling a sizeable crowd, Grave Digger get off to a shaky start with dull guitars, causing a small number of fans to head over to the beer tent. However, after a rather uninteresting start Grave Digger pick up the pace and get the crowd chanting and singing along.
There is a hint of anticipation in the air as the crowds gather for Tarot’s first ever UK show (but hopefully not their last). The high of playing to a new crowd seems to invigorate Tarot’s members, in particular front man Marco Hietala and keyboard nutter Tommi Salmela. Despite a small lull in the middle of their set, Tarot received an incredibly positive reaction. And when asked if Tarot should return to the UK, the answer is a resounding “YES”!
Finntroll are one of, if not the, most requested band on the Bloodstock forums. So it is obvious from hoards of fans bundling into the main stage that everyone is here to have a good time. As soon as Finntroll take to the stage, the crowd erupts into a frenzy of moshing, crowd surfing and general beer-induced debauchery. From opener ‘Solsagan’ Finntroll prove that they are a force to be reckoned with and the sheer volume of merry crowd surfers seem to overpower security. This is what metal is all about.
After the mania of Finntroll, it is time for some blackened prog courtesy of Ihsahn. With a set list comprising of all his solo material and none of the expected Emperor covers, it is clear that Ihsahn has left those days behind him. Each song is ambient, dark and melancholic, yet with that progressive edge that always makes his music such an intriguing listen.
The first of two disappointments take to the stage, and whilst Wintersun are making a rare UK appearance, they do not live up to the crowd’s expectations and fall short of the mark. Apart from a few hardcore fans, Therion are the second disappointment of the day. The band seems to think they’re in a rehearsal room, rather than performing at a festival. There is little or no crowd interaction, and which translates to a lack of live presence.
Rhapsody of Fire on the other hand knocks all other bands completely out of the park (or should i say field). Blasting onto the stage with more energy than a raging Dragon, and prove that power metal doesn't have to be cheesy, fast and emotionless. So it’s time to grab your wizard’s hat, round up a few of your closest Hobbits and head into battle. Beginning with an epic introduction courtesy on none other than Christopher Lee himself the band literally grab you by the balls and make you sit up and listen. Incredibly this is their first UK performance, and judging by the reaction from the crowd it won’t be their last.
Then comes the almighty Immortal. A band that has been a major request on the forums for what seemed like an eternity, and every year fans were left disappointed. That all changed in 2010 when it was announced that finally these black metal titans would be heading to our shores for the first time in a decade. It is clear from the amount of Abbath-style corpse paint attempts that Immortal are a much anticipated act. As darkness falls, they take to the stage amidst a backdrop of dry ice. Front man Abbath cuts an impressive figure, even if it is difficult to make out him or the rest of the band due to the stage being obscured by dry ice. However after opening with ‘All Shall Fall’ and ‘Sons of the Northern Darkness’ Immortal do become repetitive and just about pick themselves up for the blistering ‘Tyrants’. But this is just nit-picking at what is a triumphant return, and a definite victory of people power. Bloodstock once again proving it is by the fans, for the fans.