Bloodstock 2010 Review – Saturday

With bands starting as early as ten thirty at this year’s jam-packed Bloodstock, Sonic Abuse appear bleary eyed and bereft of sleep at eleven fifteen at the New Blood stage to check out the mighty Echoes Fall and discover that it was well worth the trek. A five piece act from Ipswich, Echoes fall have talent, aggression and a healthy sense of humour, provoking not only a frantic mosh pit but also a brutal wall of death in a display of showmanship that many bands take years to acquire if they manage to do so at all. Singer Jamie Bennett behaves like a seasoned pro and even when his microphone fails he takes the whole thing in his stride effortlessly switching to one of the backing vocalist’s microphones until the problem is resolved maintaining the show’s momentum and proving that the band have had enough stage time to handle any little difficulty that fate may throw at them. Aside from a phenomenal stage presence for a band playing the unsigned tent (and here’s hoping that they’ll be snapped up soon) Echoes Fall also have the songs to separate them from the mass of heavy bands treading the boards these days. Tracks such as “ignite the fury” (the title track from their debut EP) and “Jamie’s cock” (no, really) set the pit alight while “killing Lucy” is a powerful statement of intent from a band destined for greater tings than stirring up metal’s bravest, early-morning warriors. A fantastic performance from a band who simply shine on stage (and, indeed, off the stage when Jamie causes security to have palpitations by walking into the crowd to stir up a final wall of death for the band’s set) Echoes Fall are a band to watch and you can check the band out here

Back over on the main stage, Leaves’ eyes play to a large and enthusiastic crowd. Singer Liv has an amazing voice – crystal clear and with a wide range, but the band, while entirely capable, lack that spark of originality, largely bringing to mind early Within Temptation (before they phased out the death metal vocals) and while there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with Leaves’ Eyes, they need to develop a more unique sound if they wish to rise out of the pack of symphonic metal. Nonetheless, the crowd love it and they receive a warm Bloodstock welcome showing that the band have a growing fan-base here in the UK.

Evile, by contrast, are practically children of Bloodstock having been signed off the back of their first appearance at the festival (and been rapturously received in 2008 when they played once again) but it is an especially poignant performance that they put in today playing on the Ronnie James Dio memorial stage while mourning the loss of their own bassist (Mike Alexander) who tragically passed away in the October of last year. However, despite the undoubted sorrow of the band, Evile have decided that the best way to pay tribute to their fallen comrade is to develop their playing, tighten up their performance and take Evile to the next level, something that they successfully do bringing heavy thrash to a mud soaked  field just after the stroke of noon. Successfully overcoming the unfortunate sound on their intro,  not to mention an irritating downpour, Evile hammer out classic after classic including the evergreen “infect the nation” and a storming “we who are about to die”. The band put on a great show, interacting well with an audience who are just happy to see the guys back on stage, and the tribute to Mike is so perfectly phrased and heart-breakingly honest that there’s barely a dry eye on the field when the band launch into “metamorphosis”, a track they’ve only played three times before, and a brutal “enter the grave” brings things to a juddering conclusion after an all-too-short set that saw everybody on the field nodding their heads to the band’s brutal and enthusiastic take on thrash.

With so many bands to check out, it is new SonicAbuse reporter James who catches Onslaught, a legendary band who play thrash the way it’s supposed to sound – grimy, nasty and vile yet sounding awesome. Captivating a decent crowd despite the incessant rain showers, Onslaught add a touch of old-school class to the day’s proceedings and maintain the pace set by long-standing tour-buddies Evile.

Edguy draw the largest crowd of the day thus far, facilitating a mass sing-along to their cheesy yet exhilarating anthems, The band have a great sound mix, both powerful and clear, and their stage presence – honed through many years of attacking the live circuit – is the envy of many a band who wonder how a band can work the crowd so effortlessly and the audience are left breathless and exhausted after bellowing along to classic after classic of Edguy’s ludicrously entertaining power-metal.

If any band are capable of following Edguy’s crazed performance it is the death-metal giants Obituary who hit the stage with the instrumental track “redneck stomp” from their 2005 comeback ‘Frozen in time’ and then proceed to level the field with all the arrogance, self confidence and power of a band who know how to crush heads. Despite the occasional mic trouble, the band fling out classics such as “Frankenstein” and an astonishing “slowly we rot” before leaving a field full of ecstatic death metal fans standing agape at the power of what they’ve just witnessed.  

One of the biggest draws of the festival, Devin Townsend arrives on stage in typically eccentric form and ‘entertains’ the crowd while some irritating sound issues are worked out. A motor-mouth on stage at the best of times (just check out the live at Donnington DVD with the SYL best Of if in doubt), with no music to play and a microphone in hand Devin is in great form and it says a lot about the man as an entertainer that he is comfortable to come out on stage and chat with the eager crowd rather than wait till the gremlins are worked out. Finally ready to rock, the DTP (Devin Townsend Project) play a head scratching, yet awesome mixture of progressive, metal, post rock and shoe-gaze (as well as an utterly nuts choice of song from Ziltoid) to a receptive crowd. Devin prowls the front of the stage like a man possessed but what really shines through is the power and beauty of the man’s voice, the former having shone through in SYL but the latter proving to be an utter revelation.  While the DTP provoke a range of reactions from the crowd, he easily provided one of the festival highlights and it’s clear that he’s thoroughly enjoying his new band and material which can only be a good thing even if he does claim to be an “animatronic Canadian Douchebag” at one point (surely the quote of the festival?!)

Surely one of the festival highlights must be the return of Fear Factory following the skull-crushing grove of new album ‘mechanize’ and the hitherto unthinkable return of Dino to the fold. Tonight, Fear factory seem almost unbelievably focused and reach new peaks of intensity, laying waste ot everything on the stage before them and sending the assembled throng into ecstasy with a perfectly balanced mix of old classics and new material. Opening with the vicious ‘Mechanize’, Burton and co then lead us headlong into ‘shock’, ‘edgecrusher’ (yes!) and ‘smasher/devourer’ from the woefully underrated ‘Obsolete’ which sends old-school fear factory fans into a frenzy. Two cuts from ‘Digimortal’ (‘acres of skin’ and ‘lynchpin’, but sadly no ‘invisible wounds’) are well received before ‘Power shifter’ and ‘fear campaign’ (complete with a soaring lead from Dino who seems better than ever these days) kick everything up a notch.

Opting to go right back to the beginning for ‘martyr’ signals a new level or brutality and there is also a selection of awesome cuts from fan-favourite ‘Demanufacture’, including ‘H-K’ and ‘zero-signal’. A closing rendition of ‘Replica’ sees the crowd cheering for more and the news that Fear Factory will return for a headline tour in December is warmly welcomed – especially if they continue on this kind of form. With a cracking sound and the members of the band so obviously happy to be on stage together, it seems as if Fear Factory are the strongest they’ve ever been and a show such as this reminds you just what a powerful and influential force in metal this band are. Easily stealing set of the day, Fear Factory delivered a show of jaw-dropping brutality and left everyone dazed but with a smile on their faces proving that they were the perfect choice for Bloodstock’s all important tenth anniversary.

Co-headliners Children of Bodom are a great band but they don’t quite succeed in topping the re-energised Fear factory although they offer up a selection of fine songs (and some crazy covers) from their lengthy back-catalogue. A crystal clear sound that maintains the keyboards but places the guitars defiantly high in the mix help and the band tear into songs such as “needled 24/7” with real fire and enthusiasm. Standouts include a run through the amazing “blooddrunk”, a brutal “incoming” and a particularly vicious “hate me” from ‘follow the reaper’ as well as some alcohol inspired lunacy that sees the band roll out the intro to Van Halen’s “jump” (to an amazing crowd reaction) before being ordered to stop by their incredulous leader. An aborted attempt at Bon Jovi is swiftly followed (and redeemed) by a furious rendition of ‘Warhearts’ from “hatebreeder” before the band merrily depart the stage leaving the crowd exhausted after a great day of metal, rain, mud and excitement. Roll on Sunday…

All photos – Jolka Dabek

Words – Phil Stiles

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