Bloodstock 2015 was truly the Goldilocks festival of the year for me - everything was just right (and admittedly a lot of hairy men can be mistaken for bears in the dying light). What is truly hard to comprehend is the UK's leading Heavy Metal festival sends you home unable to function not because you are broken but because you are so damn relaxed. That's right relaxed. I put this down to the atmosphere the festival has fostered over the last 11 years which isn't just family friendly, it is a family full stop.
Set in the pleasant, and far enough from the rest of humanity, setting of Catton Hall, Derbyshire, Bloodstock had its usual layout boasting four stages, a delightful smattering of good food, tea stalls the WI would be chuffed to put on, the RAM Art Gallery and shopping for those black leather studied metal essentials you just can't find on the High Street. The compact site means even those of us allergic to exercise can amble around retaining enough energy to mosh when the mood takes us. And the weather, blue skies and sunshine (but keeping in the Goldilocks theme it wasn't too hot).
Hang on you ask, are you going to witter about the setting all day Beki, at any point are you going to mention, you know bands?
Bands there were aplenty of all the metal genres you could throw a stick carved to look like a skull at. Admittedly, pre-arrival the line-up felt a little odd in places - mainly because you could read the logos of the headliners. The Metal world thankfully has enough humour and self-awareness not to become precious about logos; we are all aware that a great many look like a spider has had an epileptic fit on a blob of ink. Indeed, there is an unspoken rule that the more manic the logo the more manic we expect the guitars/violins/flugelhorns to be. However, with the headliners being Trivium, Within Temptation and Rob Zombie the top of the poster was positively readable but don't assume this means Bloodstock went soft. Whilst the line-up did feel to be lacking the Viking-Vampire-Atheist-Gnome hybrid bands of the past (there was plenty of black and white make up left on Sunday night), it didn't lose spirit.
All three headliners held their own and even if they did feel a little demure for your tastes the Sophie Lancaster Stage served up a fine choice in Delain, Fleshgod Apocalypse and Godflesh as an alternative. As you know I do not score/review bands - I likes what I likes and this is what I liked.
Rob Zombie was the perfect closing act. Having been disappointed by his afternoon appearance at Download Festival a couple of years ago it was wonderful to see him on top form in a setting more to his liking. There were no robots, fancy-schmancy video screens of his own shows, just him, his band and seemingly boundless energy. Even a sofa was crowdsurfed to the front proving he had the power to raise the furniture if not quite the dead. He was also, I have to mention it, a teensy bit sexual. Rob moves in a way that make the most confidant of vamps quiver and hide their blushing checks behind their fan whimpering 'Oh, Mr Zombie!"
That girly flush aside, prior to Mr Z it had been Black Label Society and Zakk Wylde had also taken the top form memo to heart. Whilst some of the guitar solos edged into self-indulgance he's allowed to do that because he is Zakk Wylde and it was worth the push to the barrier to be up close for it.
1349 placated my need for some painted Black Metal, Sabaton upped the stage presence with a tank (vehicle not fish) and Sepultura proved that after 30 years they are aging well like fine brandy. Some interesting snippets of bands on the Jagermeister Stage have me cursing why I never make a note of who is who but do look out for The Mighty Wraiths (a touch of Midlander bias there I admit!) Elsewhere friends were raving about Onslaught, Cannibal Corpse and Mordred.
And to round it off the organisers tantalised us with two bands locked in for 2016, Venom and Behemoth. Behemoth you say? Let me just go seal my black and white face paint so it doesn't dry out...
Let us know who you loved this year, who you want to see next year and check out our gallery courtesy of the super Natasha Rudkin and let us know if you spot yourself. See you in '16 family dearest.