Bloodstock Open Air 2010: Day Three - Catton Hall, Derbyshire

10:30am on a Sunday morning is a definite struggle for everyone, and Bonded By Blood have drawn the short straw to be first up on the main stage at this ungodly hour. Despite the effort they put into their generally very good set of proper old school thrash, you can’t help but feeling that it all falls a bit flat, which is a shame and tad unfair on the boys. Numbers begin to swell by the time the legendary Suffocation hit the stage with their murderous brand of brutal death metal. It is an utter travesty they are on so early, and vocalist Frank Mullen struggles to remember that it is indeed only lunchtime, but this fails to lessen the fact that the band are in blisteringly form and absolutely destroy in the meagre half hour they are allotted.

At first glimpse, Holy Moses might appear to be some sort of cheap Arch Enemy rip-off, until you realise that they’ve been around for nearly thirty years. Yet this is only their second trip to these shores, and it’s not difficult to see why... the decidedly boring thrashy metal barely raises a devil horns from the bemused throng watching on in a mass comatose state. You have to hand it to Doro, after all these years the Heavy Metal Queen still has it; she works the crowd magnificently with a highly pleasing set filled with loads of hard rocking and sing-along choruses that without fails attracts a vast number of voices. And in a throwback to her first time in the country 25 years ago she rolls out a fine cover of Judas Priest’s ‘Breaking The Law’ for all to enjoy.

They may sound like a band doing a bunch of very, very twisted children’s songs, but you cannot help but smile and bop along to Korpiklaani; getting several thousand metalheads to do some strange amalgam of headbanging and folk jigging in a vague sort of unison is no mean feat, and having the massed (and increasingly drunken) throng to welcome accordions and fiddles is nothing short of miraculous – but ‘Happy Little Boozers’ proves to be an instant, and somewhat appropriate, hit that does somewhat sum up the weekend in four very happy minutes.

Seeing Gwar live is a very strange experience indeed; it has left me feeling a little queasy, slightly disturbed, and very confused. The fact that the whole show was so completely over the top comes as no surprise, but I wander away feeling as if I really haven’t enjoyed those 45 minutes of warped madness. It is all about the dramatics in the end, as truth be told, the music is unadventurous and unexciting pseudo death metal, and ultimately that comes through as the most disappointing element of this all-talk-no-walk band.

Gojira on the other hand are fantastically heavy as they bound through a brilliant set played with such finesse and elegance. In Joe Duplantier they have a frontman of the highest quality who can play and sing meticulously and have such a dominating stage presence that you are instantly and irrecoverably drawn to him; whilst the rest of the band are like Duracell bunnies maniacally bouncing around the stage with so much energy and so obviously enjoying themselves immensely as they blast through highlights of the last two rather spectacular albums.

This is Bloodbath’s first UK show (and only their eighth in total), and this death metal super group are just that – super. Their hour long set is effectively a blood-stained love letter to the late ‘80s death metal scene in Stockholm, yet the tracks have infused in them a class and rawness that most of those pioneers could not achieve when they were so young. Hearing the entire crowd belt out the line “My one desire, my only wish is to be eaten” is a true festival moment and a perfect ending to a perfect weekend for me. So as I troop off back to London with the screams of Cannibal Corpse fading into the background, the countdown to BOA ‘11 begins...

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