Bloodstock Open Air 2010: Preview

author EW date 11/08/10

Download and Sonisphere have come and gone for 2010, the corporate sponsors have been well satiated and the fair-weather fans have got their fill of metal til next summer; at last it is the turn of Britain's only full-on real Heavy Metal festival to soil our land, pollute our landscape and show that metal is best conducted well away from the mainstream, in the Midlands of England where it all began four decades ago. Bloodstock Open Air 2010 springs ominously into life on Friday 13th August and here I belatedly offer a short preview article to skim over before hitting the motorways, train stations and even airports for a weekend of heavy metal hedonism.

Those blessed with a good memory (or the ability to click this link) will recall my positive response to Bloodstock 2009 as against all this writers' previous experiences at British festivals the weekend passed without major logistical or organisational cock-ups (at least on behalf of the festival...), and aside from one inbred retard selfishly causing an abrupt end to Cradle of Filth's set with the highly accurate usage of a gobstopper, a collection of excellent performances from the strongest line-up ever assembled for the event. So, I hear you ask, what do we have to look forward to in 2010?

The best line-up gathered in the history of Bloodstock, that's all, even with the tragic withdrawal of Heaven & Hell earlier this year (RIP Dio). BOA may not match Wacken for its iconic status, Metal Camp for its majestic scenery nor Hellfest for its unparalleled eclecticism, but when you have big names from the lands of prog, death, black, classic/heavy, Viking/folk and power metal alongside rising stars from each of these leagues and a cosy 'small festival' feel to boot, it's very hard to think of anything better you could do with your weekend.

Having analysed old preview articles on Rockfreaks.net of our recommendations and assessments of the bigger bands on festival bills, it seemed a good idea this time to introduce some of the lesser lights to be found on the billing circa 2010. Opeth? You should know them, but how about Desecration? We all know Twisted Sister's classic "We're Not Gonna Take It", but what about Powerwolf? Cannibal Corpse and Bloodbath, yes, but Benediction and Shrapnel no? There are too many bands to assess them all, but read on for an introduction to a few acts I think all attendees should be highlighting in pink on their running order in that traditional pre-festival preparation. You're not going? Don't worry, myspace links are helpfully provided. There really is no excuse for not checking this lot out...

So, in alphabetical order, my ‘Top 9 Bands You May Have Heard Of But Probably Haven’t And Should Check Out If You Can Be Bothered This Weekend At Bloodstock’ list. Catchy, eh?

Benediction

Having gained some prominence in recent times following reformation and the release of the band's 7th full length "Killing Music" in 2008, brummy death metallers Benediction are a long-time stalwart of British death metal, forming alongside the much more revered Bolt Thrower in Birmingham in the late 80s. Their style has always been more a more straight ahead DM concoction but with Dave Hunt (of Anaal Nathrakh fame) as frontman they are nothing if not engaging in the live arena. Noone would argue Benediction rival Bolt Thrower and fellow brummies Napalm Death but since when did some solid death metal ever hurt anyone? Thought not.

Black Spiders

Black Spiders' rapid progress in recent times, highlighted by a hand-picked support slot for one Ozzy Osbourne in London recently, has seen fit for them to gain a slot on the lower reaches of the Ronnie James Dio stage this year. Their addition looks set to bring a nice diversion to the overwhelming Metalness of the RJD stage as their stoner heavy amalgamation of bluesy rock recalls the Sabbath and Purple of old imbued with a tough punky vibe that it's fair to say, from the listening of their Myspace material, has enough about it to appeal to fans of classic metal, stoner doom and even those of a grunge persuasion. Listen to see what it was Ozzy saw in them in...

Desecration

Extreme metal is full of bands fighting on against all the odds year after year with little to show for it. Step forward Welsh death metallers Desecration who have been bringing the gore since 1992, and now with 7 full lengths behind them look as unlikely as ever to 'make it'. Much to band leader Ollie Jones' disappointment I'm sure, though Desecration's underground reputation is high having has been fostered over years of hard work, hitting the toilet venues of Britain with a frequency few will ever match and time spent in other notables such as Extreme Noise Terror and Amputated. For a dirty dose of brutality over Bloodstock weekend you could do worse than check out these Welsh boys.

Enforcer



I almost feel like I'm under-selling Enforcer by labelling them a 'small band' given that they currently adorn the cover of Terrorizer, but while they play the Sophie Lancaster stage that can have no arguments. The New Wave of Retro Heavy Metal (or NWORHM if you prefer easy to use acronyms) continues along the same track as the NWOTM scene (see Shrapnel below) but just a few stations behind, and leading this journey are Swedes Enforcer. I wasn't too enthralled with their 2008 debut "Into the Night" however their newbie, "Diamonds" (review coming soon) is a massive step-up and at last a worthy record for the attention they have been garnering. Enforcer's sound drips with references to Maiden, Accept and Priest but crucially on "Diamonds" they’ve made a giant leap towards the creation of a personal identity and with the level of passion so clear in their performance don't expect Enforcer to be propping up 'small' stages next time you catch them at a festival.

H.O.D.

Comedy thrash metal from northern England? Albums freely available for download on Myspace page? A Hospital, Of Death? All sounds ludicrously silly, which is surely a recipe for a fun-packed thrashing show if ever there was one. H.O.D. know they will never set the thrash scene alight for their musical chops or song-writing abilities but they make up for this in attitude - the kind of band who put the 'fun' into 'funeral'. This is a great deal of thrash to be found on this year's line-up with Evile, Bonded By Blood, Mutant, Shrapnel et al; but just don't forget the comedy of H.O.D. when planning your 'bands to watch' list.

Powerwolf



The classic/heavy metal market is a congested one these days. Thousands of bands displaying less imagination than a two-year old in a day care centre with zero points of interest between the lot of them. Thank Satan then for bands like Powerwolf. Last year's "Bible Of The Beast" is a vertible modern day metal classic, full of heavy, addictive, grandiose metal that's more cheesy than Manowar and perfect for the live festival setting to raise a drink to. Powerwolf's delivery on songs like "Catholic in the Morning... Satanist at Night" is done with sterling conviction and a dramatic cathedral-esque organ sound which adds severe gravitas to their sound in a way their typical German counterparts could only dream of. My tip for surprise package of BOA 2010, mark my words.

The Prophecy

In the fashion of all the truest doom bands, The Prophecy's invitation to the big time has seemingly got lost in the post and still not turned up after years of hard searching. Over the course of three highly My Dying Bride and Paradise Lost influenced albums, culminating with last year's "Into the Light", The Prophecy have steadily worked the British scene supporting all manner of bands, many of whom who have reached greater prominence or faded to obscurity, all while they have remained broadly static. A performance on the Sophie Lancaster stage 11 years after formation may not suggest all their dreams have been met just yet but The Prophecy have always delivered the goods in the classic tradition of northern English doom metal and don't that expect to change at surely their biggest show yet on home soil.

Ross the Boss


A penny for the thoughts of Ross 'The Boss' Friedman on the recent direction, both musical and business, of his old band, Manowar. Departing after 1988's ultra-classic (for this writer at least) "Kings of Metal", he sees his distinctly Manowar-esque 'solo' band reaching medium billing while the ol' mates roll out their own festival days and arena shows for vastly inflated sums all the while offering little to the fan in return (oh, hi Joey DeMaio). 2008's "New Metal Leader" was surprisingly good, if a little short of reaching the target of its modest title and given I expect old Manowar classics to be aired watching Ross the Boss (with ex-Manowar sticksman Scott Columbus) will be like seeing the 'Kings of Metal' live, in England (!), without having to starve yourself for a week to afford the experience and sans Joey DeMaio. That is surely a good thing?

Shrapnel

Never mind that numerous other Shrapnel's exist the world over there was no way this was going to stop the UK's first claimant to this the most metal name ever following formation just last year. I am the first to confess of a dwindling patience with many of the new-old-school thrash (are we using "NWOTM" yet?) bands having appeared in recent years, yet despite their unoriginality on record I've yet to see one live who hasn't put a smile on my face. Some might be due to sheer hideousness but with Shrapnel I have every confidence this will be thanks to their burgeoning "Kill 'em All" influenced thrash attack as they continue down the path of finding their own take on the genre.

Considering besides this lot there is the likes of Opeth, Twisted Sister, Children of Bodom, Meshuggah, Cathedral, Gojira, Sonata Arctica, Fear Factory, Devin Townsend Band, Obituary, Evile, Gorgoroth, Ensiferum, Bloodbath, GWAR and Korpiklaani all on the bill lying I was not when stating this is the best line-up yet! So with just 2 days to go pack your sun cream, toilet roll and neck brace and revel in the delights of the biggest Metal festival in the homelands of Heavy Metal itself. Have a great time and see you at the bar!!

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