Paul Castles lifts the lid on Bloodstock 2015 and peers inside to discover what treats await the nation’s metal hordes when they make their annual pilgrimage in August to the nation’s favourite outdoor metal festival. Now get those horns up.
Three days in deepest Derbyshire enjoying music at its most challenging, creative and corrosive isn’t a bad way to spend a few days of summer. In fact, for the majority of the pilgrims who descend on the Midlands’ metal mecca it’s what summer days were created for.
This year’s Bloodstock Open Air Festival has attracted its usual eclectic mix of headline acts, rising stars, screwballs and young up and coming talent.
So who’s on the Bloodstock bill this year? And what ‘must-not-miss’ sets do you need to lodge in your memory bank? Here’s a little taster of what you can look forward to at – so start planning your festival now.
To be fair, the best laid plans can often turn to dust at Catton Park, where the attractions on the main Ronnie James Dio Stage can regularly be usurped by something equally as appealing over in the Sophie Lancaster tent or even across at the Young Blood Stage.
Equally as day turns to dusk many weary metalheads prefer to languish on the lawns with an ale while precariously trying to keep the contents of their noodles on the paper plate rather than toppling to the ground!
The first full day’s action – Friday 7 August – sees Trivium headline the main stage. They have been regular visitors to the Midlands for many years and their feisty thrash anthems will feel like old friends to most Bloodstock punters.
An early diet of thrash will also be served up by New Jersey giants Overkill and in between the fret fest Swedish rabblerousers Sabaton will generate plenty of fist pumping action with their melodic battle cries.
A satanic curtain of filth will be drawn across the festival landscape when Austrian agitators Belphegor hit the main stage earlier in the day for what is likely to be one of the visually most impressive sets of the festival. The satanic warlords release their new album Conjuring the Dead in Bloodstock week so expect to hear some new stuff along with a few pummelling blasts from the crypt.
Enslaved’s technically assured darkened delivery will be another highlight with the Norwegians’ latest album In Times being one of the best of the year so far. Their esteemed countryman Ihsahn, who turned in one of the performances of the festival when fronting black metal giants Emperor here a year ago, returns as a solo artist this time. The Norwegian king is still guaranteed to produce a captivating set and, who knows, there may even be the odd Emperor song thrown in for good measure.
Bloodstock is about much more than just the bigger names performing on the main stage – expect to burn up plenty of calories as you race over to the Sophie tent to catch the likes of sludge serpents Bast and Mersey doom crushers Conan.
On the Hobgoblin sponsored New Blood Stage, Mutagenocide’s aggressive death metal onslaught will help clear up any ear blockages.
Bloodstock has a smorgasbord of metal entertainment away from the stages too. There’s a massive metal market where you can spend hours rummaging for a much sought after album or t-shirt.
There’s enough food and drink stalls to feed a small army and a few funfair rides if you’ve got the stomach for it – but perhaps not after a bowl of chilli!
Symphonic sounds will echo around the Sophie tent on the Saturday with the return of Fleshgod Apocalypse but before the well-dressed Italians arrive there will be plenty of great bands to enjoy undercover including the likes of Mordred, Godsized and Greek giants Planet of Zeus.
Saturday’s main stage headliners are Within Temptation who while maybe not everyone’s idea of an extreme metal act, the atmospheric Dutch outfit at least know what it takes to put on a spectacular stageshow.
Mikael Akerfeldt is one of Bloodstock’s favourite sons and is almost as entertaining in between songs as when actually performing them. Expect Opeth to draw an equally massive crowd to the main stage which earlier in the day will also resound to the lively cries of fiery Finnish folk metalheads Korpiklaani – just don’t get too close to the fellas with the horns of frothy ale – Things can get messy!
Anyone fancying something a shade heavier will be down in the pit earlier to welcome the timeless grind pioneers Napalm Death – always worth seeing just to witness Barney’s trademark dancesteps!
Moving from one Birmingham band to another… and it will be great to see local doom diamonds Alunah play the festival for the first time. Bloodstock’s all about having a great time together in celebration of metal. But a slab of gothic doom to keep things in check won’t harm anyone. And of course, where else but the Sophie stage would Soph and the boys’ deliver their Sunday sermon to the Bloodstock parishioners?
They will be followed by the not so mysterious ‘Old Rake’ in other words Oli Rake, former frontman with northern thrashlords Evile and now venturing out with some projects all of his own.
The main stage on the Sunday is headlined by notorious gore fiend Rob Zombie and so if the panto style antics are for you then you’ll have a ball. Otherwise sit back – not literally of course – and enjoy metal legends Sepultura, get the stone samples from the vivacious Orange Goblin and prepare to have your senses twisted by the timeless US death metal crushing machine Cannibal Corpse.
If you’re still able to function coherently after those three days then you deserve a metal medal of honour!
For full Bloodstock running orders, along with latest travel and ticket information click here