Dutch prog metallers After Forever prove worthy in Derby.

With the rising popularity of other such female fronted bands as Nightwish and Within Temptation, and of course these band's well known reputation for putting on a sterling live act, Dutch progressive metal band After Forever have a lot to match up to. Coupled with the fact that this is the band's first ever show in the United Kingdom, they certainly needed to pull out all the works at Bloodstock 05, the good news is - they most certainly did.

Opening their set with "Beautiful Emptiness" off of 2004's 'Invisible Circles' you could immediately tell what sort of show this was going to be. The band was firing on all cylinders mixing heavy progressive metal riffs with atmospheric keyboards all topped off with the sheer appeal and charisma of front woman Floor Jansen's operatic vocals and emphatic head banging. As well as playing songs off of 'Invisible Circles' and some older tunes including a fantastic rendition of 'Forlorn Hope' the band also took the opportunity to highlight the tracks 'Come' and 'Being Everyone' off their forthcoming album 'Remagine'. Usually the playing of tracks unfamiliar to the audience would perhaps dampen the atmosphere but if anything the enthusiastic throwing of the horns by the audience only grew.

As well as playing great tunes with charisma, this band also knows how to have fun. A fantastic rendition of Iron Maiden's classic track 'The Evil that Men Do' off their 'Exordium' EP was an obvious good choice and sends the Bloodstock crowd wild! Combined with the keytar wielding antics of keyboardist Joost Van Der Broek (and later on, a keyboard solo!) and the readily apparent enthusiasm and joy of the band to have received such a welcome reception to the UK, this makes for an energetic and memorable set. The only downside is that the set was cut slightly short and was delayed due to an overrunning set by Bob Catley but this cannot be faulted to the band as they still made a hell of a good show regardless of time difficulties.

This was simply a fantastic set and the most memorably highlight of the festival for myself, and I imagine for many others too. With their tunes, energy and enthusiasm it can't be too soon that After Forever return to these shores.