Dawn of the second day of the festival comes and with it comes the heat. Any hopes of a lie in are dashed as the sun turns tents into portable saunas; fitting for Korpiklaani day, though that thought is lost on me as I struggle to escape the sweat filled tube that is my sleeping bag. The weary are forced outside into the rising the sun, clearly the only way to deal with the heat is more watery lager from the tent supplies. A quick examination shows that half our beer, all the mead and a good deal of rum is gone, times are not desperate yet but we’re heading into the danger zone.
The strain is starting to appear on the faces in the arena, especially following a LOUD performance by 1349. However, in a glorious booking, Korpiklaani appear to shake off the cobwebs. Opening with a new song, Viinamaen Mies, the audience immediately gets down to business. Which at a folk metal gig is dancing with drinking horns while shouting HEY HEY HEY. In a strange move, they play several slower songs midset, which trips up the crowd who are clearly now in a sunny day, folk dance sort of mood. However, they valiantly try to sing along in Finnish (if you’ve never heard a drunk Englishman trying to mumble along to a Finnish song, you haven’t lived) and to their credit, nail the odd chorus or two.
It’s towards the end of the set where the band pull out the big party numbers. Vodka sends the pits wide and the folk dancing comes to an end for traditional beat up your pal time. A surprise highlight for me comes in the form of Wooden Pints which is the song that put me down the folk metal path all those years ago. Ending on Juodaan Viinaa the pits are wide open again for a variety of moves, some favour the traditional pit, others dance in circles, some jump, all sing along with what they can. It might have been a slow midset, but it’s clear we would have all passed out long ago in the midday sun if they had been in full party mode.
The upbeat folk mood is soon to be shattered (along with some poor bastards ankle) some amount of minutes later as Napalm Death lay waste to the drunken folky stragglers left behind. I hear most of the set instead of see as I decide I want to meet Korpiklaani and get a photo (I know, I know, but they’re playing Glasgow in a couple of months so I’ll make up for it then). While waiting in the queue, enjoying seeing arms and legs flailing away in the distant pits, a guy gets carted past white as a sheet on a stretcher. Tales spread through the day about the guy who snapped/dislocated his ankle to Napalm Death, though having played Chinese Whispers as a child, it could have been anything. Did it cause people to be more cautious in the pits though? Did it fuck. It’s been a week and I’m still nursing a sore wrist.
If one were to grow weary of pits though, there’s always the opportunity to watch professionals pound seven shades of shit out of each other. Set a short stroll from the stages are the grounds for the Battle of Bloodstock. At various stages through the day, knights of the various realms smash each other about in full armour, while armed with fairly brutal looking swords. The more drink, the more Game of Thrones quotes from the watching audience. Night time saw the battlefield lit by flame as battle commenced, it doesn’t half the get the bloodlust up anyway.
Having missed Death to All at Hellfest last year, it was good to finally get a chance to see this tribute to one of the most important bands in death metal history. It’s drummer Gene Hoglan’s second stint of the day having performed with Dark Angel half an hour before hand. You wouldn’t know it though, there’s a reason Hoglan is such a legend in the metal world and we’re witnessing it. The man is a machine and keeps the pace through both bands with ease, or apparent ease anyway.
The reception is more than positive for the band, but that could be because we’re all scared of the Terminator disguised as a drummer. Before they performed there were a few dubious faces in the crowd but they seemed to be satisfied by the closing notes of the set. Chuck is suitably paid homage to and that’s what matters.
The setting sun helps set the scene for Opeth. The orange glow is almost perfect lighting for the Swedes as they take to the stage with the comparatively gentle Eternal Rains Will Come and Cusp of Eternity hooking everyone in the crowd. It’s been a while since we’ve heard someone singing nice and gently and it’s like an ear massage at first.
Obviously being Opeth, this doesn’t last forever and soon The Drapery Falls has the sound of death metal vocals filling our heads. The Devil’s Orchard gets an airing to settle everyone down again before Heir Apparent is sent out to wake us all back up. Much like the songs themselves, the set twists from gentle and soothing to full on metal at the drop of a hat meaning one second you’re swaying to a delightful harmony, next second you’re speared from the side as an unseen pit opens up.
It’s Deliverance that really sends the crowd over the edge though, and the final three minutes of dun-dun-dun-dun goodness has air drums and almost comically timed headbangs spreading through the early evening.
In a surprise move, Akerfeldt cuts back on the banter, which is a shame as it’s good to hear a guy not taking it too seriously, though it does mean we have space for more songs which is the overall point.
Rounding off the day are the kings of metal themselves, or a tribute to them at least. Hanowar by this point are midset and have the Jager tent packed out. I dont think I actually see the band but we join the back of the crowd to sing along with some glorious battle hymns and fly the sign of the hammer. Plastic swords are all that can be seen, stabbing some invisble sky foe in time to the beat before party poppers are distributed. Sabaton, take note, no pyro is needed when there are party poppers for popping. We sadly didn’t get close enough for poppers, but followed his advice and gathered a clump of grass to chuck in the air when the song kicked in. Here’s hoping we’ll be seeing the real thing in the not so distant future, as the response for a tribute alone was solid.
With that it’s back to the tents to attack the dwindling booze supplies before heading to what I thought was the start of the post band club, but turned out to be the very end of it. That goes some way to explain why we’re running out of drink anyway. That or I was abducted by aliens. Either way, I’m owed three hours from someone.
The pizza/garlic bread stall is also my home from home. I probably still stink of garlic