Open Air 2014
Bands: Rotting Christ, Dimmu Borgir, Triptykon, Primordial, Entombed A.D., Emperor, Carcass, Children Of Bodom, Lacuna Coil, Orphaned Land, Decapitated, Shining, Evil Scarecrow, Megadeth, Amon Amarth, Saxon, Orbituary
Location: Walton On Trent, DerbyshireDate: 7th, 8th & 9th August 2014
Entombed A.D opened the day with a powerful performance battering their way through a bunch of Entombed covers such as Supposed to Rot, Revel in Flesh and the stunning Left Hand Path. Not just reliving past glories, new songs from the bands upcoming release ‘Back to the Front’ also slotted nicely into the set. Next up Primordial got straight down to business opening with ‘No Grave Deep Enough’. Unfortunately, only having time to play five long songs their set was over too soon but it was enjoyable nonetheless.
Triptykon took to the stage early evening and sounded menacing from the first note to the last. Never being known as one to speak much, vocalist/guitarist Tom G Warrior let all the music do the talking for him. One band that I really wanted to catch over the weekend was Dimmu Borgir who were sadly plagued by sound issues before they even began. Starting half an hour late was not ideal, forcing them to cut out a good part of their set. However, for the 40 minutes or so they did play, Dimmu were fantastic and hearing the finale of ‘Mourning Palace’ was simply sublime.
All of Friday for me personally, was a warm up to the Sophie Lancaster stage headliners Rotting Christ. I cannot emphasize enough how brilliant they are live and everyone should see them if they get the chance. They delivered one of the most exhilarating performances of the entire weekend. From the opening song '666', the hairs on the back of neck were standing up and I had a huge smile on my face for the entire hour and a quarter the Greek black metal titans played. Closing fittingly with the anthemic ‘Noctis Era’, Rotting Christ made my weekend before the festival had even barely begun.
My biggest surprise of the weekend came with Saturday’s main stage openers Evil Scarecrow. They were the first band on at 11am and managed pulled in a crowd that just about matched what the headliners had for each night. Opening with a metal rendition of the ‘Thundercats’ theme was spectacular and it only got better from there. ‘Crabulon’ incited 10,000 metalheads to shuffle in synchronicity with their ‘crab claws’ high in the air (see YouTube video) and the finale of ‘Robototron’ had everyone imitating the moves of a robot prop! Evil Scarecrow completely smashed the main-stage and they are definitely one band I would love to see again in future.
It was a performance that Shining could not follow regardless of what they did. Getting back to business, Decapitated were brilliant and brutal as f**k slamming their way through crushing death metal riffs at super sonic speeds. Orphaned Land sounded very mellow in comparison to the aforementioned but were mesmerizing nonetheless. Hearing the emotive ‘Brother’, ‘Sapari’ and the anthemic ‘Birth of Three’ were my personal highlights. Lacuna Coil followed and sparked off plenty of head-banging with an abundance of sing along gigantic choruses. Lapping up the audience the Italian Gothic metaller’s were reveling in every minute of their performance.
It was not long till Finland’s finest melodic death metal outfit Children of Bodom graced the main-stage. Blasting their way through a fast and lively hour of old and new material, the Finnish quintet left the stage just as quickly as they took to it. Carcass were untouchable and towered above every band that had been on before them. Opening with ‘Buried Dreams’ set the tone for the evening with frontman Jeff Walker on fine and humorous form. Just as the band were kicking it up a gear with ‘Cadaver Pouch Conveyor System’ they were abruptly stopped when an audience member collapsed, grinding them to a halt. After a short delay Carcass were back on and ripped their way through many classics such as ‘This Mortal Coil’, ‘Reek of Putrefaction’ and ‘Captive Bolt Pistol’ before closing with the superb ‘Heartwork’. It was a truly brilliant performance worthy of a headline slot but there was still more to come.
I have now had the pleasure of seeing Emperor live twice in the space of three months and they just completely blew me away. Playing the same set as they did at Hellfest, the black metal titans tore their way through the entire of the ‘In the Nightside Eclipse’ album along with demo material from the EP ‘Wrath of the Tyrant’. Additionally, with Bloodstock being a headline performance Emperor closed with fitting tribute to Bathory playing a rendition of the majestic ‘A Fine Day To Die’, which rounded off Saturday night perfectly.
Unfortunately from about 6am Sunday morning till about 4pm it absolutely p*ssed it down on a biblical scale so I had to skip a few bands. All was not lost though as my party was well covered by a large gazebo and a drink-fuelled session saw us through the morning/early afternoon nicely! Anyways, when the sun came back out I stumbled my way back along to the main-stage to catch the remainder of the days bands. First up were Florida’s death metal legends Obituary who were mercilessly heavy and this encouraged some serious head-banging.
British legends Saxon put on another one of the festivals best performances playing an array of material from their recent albums as well as many of their greatest hits such as ‘747’, ‘Crusader’ and ‘Motorcycle Man’. The highpoint was when Dave Mustaine from Megadeth joined the band onstage to jam through a prolonged version of ‘Denim and Leather’. Amon Amarth were absolutely incredible and had the weekends biggest stage show that featured giant dragons with tons of pyrotechnics. Many of their songs sounded so anthemic making their set even more enjoyable especially with fist pumping tunes like ‘Father of the Wolf’ and ‘Cry of the Blackbirds’.
The finale of the weekend was Megadeth who were celebrating the 20th anniversary of the ‘Youthanasia’ record. Now when I read this I assumed they would be playing a bunch of songs from that record, which they didn’t. Instead the California thrashers played through a crowd pleasing greatest hits set that featured a few of their latest songs. It was a good show but not the most convincing Megadeth performance I have seen. Nonetheless they wrapped a superb weekend nicely and I will certainly be returning next year.
Review by: Rob Herald
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