If you've never been to Bloodstock before let me take you on a whirlwind tour of three days in a field being blasted with metal and eating suspicious looking food.

Now, where to begin? At the beginning I guess, the entrance to Bloodstock is a small farmers gate at the side of a small road in the middle of nowhere, there are no visual clues you are there until you are right on top of it, then there is a banner. At least if you got there on the Thursday there was a banner, it blew over and lay in the mud for Friday and Saturday so the only clue after that was an A4 piece of paper tied to the gate, hey how could you not see that as you hurtle down a country lane at 60 miles an hour with Dimmu Borgir rattling your windows?

Once safely inside you arrive at the car park (field) where a security hut will ignore you and let you park anywhere you like for free the entire three days, bargain. They were supposed to charge for this but they just didn't.

At first glance Bloodstock is a little underwhelming, there is a very large field with a stage at one end and a row of food, CD and clothing stalls at the other, to each side there are two huge tents, one is the unsigned stage and the other is the beer tent where a beer can be had in exchange for some tokens which you have to buy in advance from yet another tent, it worked out £3 a pint so not exactly extortion, the tokens could only be bought in lots of ten though so you'd have to buy thirty to use them up or did I miss something?

The line up for Bloodstock this year was a cracker and you can find reviews for most of the bands on the site in
the Bloodstock Open Air reviews section, I won't go into performances here but just to name check a few we had Nevermore, Arch Enemy, Testament, Firewind, Dark Tranquillity and In Flames to name just the headliners, then there are the bands that you would never have been able to see like Wolf, Head On, Korpiklaani and Sabbat. Fan-bloody-tastic.

Each day starts at about noon which is a bit odd at first but you get into seeing a band in the middle of the day quite quickly, looking around there is a huge range of audience ages, there were people in their sixties right down to a couple with a baby in a pushchair, I also now have the experience of seeing a little girl on her father's shoulders giving the stage the devil horns, she must have been all of three years old.

Between bands people wandered around the merchandise stalls and bought food, others played football on the grass or lay around watching someone juggle. There was also that great thing you always get at these events and that is the girls who have obviously spent ages ripping their clothes in all the right places and weaving bits of crap into their hair so they can stand around and everyone can look at them, they pretend that they're not bothered if you look or not, they then wander off if they're not attracting enough attention and stand somewhere else, five minutes later they come back to give everyone another chance. They spend hours doing this and if you recognise yourself from this description then stop doing it as it's obvious and a bit sad.

Another standard of festivals are the rubbish toilets and I thought this was going to be no exception, on the Thursday there were huge queues for the things, you needed to know about fifteen minutes in advance that you were going to want to go, however they brought in a portacabin urinal for the guys on Friday and the queue reduced to a couple of minutes, once they started emptying them on the Friday it helped too as they were getting full to the brim by then. Toilets passed the festival test, just.

The food on offer was a surprise, they had Mexican, Chinese, burgers and chips and very posh coffee, it's not very metal to watch a band whilst drinking a latte but you just have to given the choice don't you? The Mexican and Chinese food was pretty good value at £4 for a large bowlful and it failed to kill me or even give me the squits so that was a bonus.

Bad things? Of course nothing's perfect, there was a complete ban on bottles and cans in the arena however due to there being zero security between the car park and the arena field people could just get whatever they wanted out of the boot of their cars and bring it in, there were squashed beer cans everywhere like metal frisbies by Friday night and I dread to think what would have happened if some fool picked one up and threw it into the crowd, Saturday night I even saw a glass wine and whiskey bottle in the mosh pit which gave me the shudders, all it needed was a couple of guys on the entrance to stop people walking in with cans and bottles but that didn't happen until Saturday afternoon when it was far too late. The rules on cans and bottles need to be enforced a bit more or someone is going to get hurt,
The power went off twice for Wolf's set which is just a hazard of playing a festival and although Wolf must have been upset they covered it up nicely by throwing beer to the audience and taking their clothes off.
The unsigned tent seemed a bit of a waste of time, I'm sure the unsigned bands that got to play Bloodstock would disagree with me but they seemed to be pushed off to one side and you'd have had to make an effort to go in and watch one, it was like having a pub band whilst people like Nevermore are playing just 100 yards away.
There were also some DJ's in the beer tent that seemed to spend the entire time just playing songs for themselves as no one was in there listening, go in grab a beer and leave, the end.
The camp site was packed, I didn't stay there but I had a wander through and it looked like a refugee camp by the Saturday, I doubt if anyone got much sleep so I wouldn't recommend it if you're a picky camper that likes their privacy and solitude.

Overall the three days had good sound, every now and again it would be utter pants at the start of someone's set but would come good by the third song, I think sound engineers just wipe the great setup the previous engineer left and start again for ego's sake. The changeovers were pretty slick keeping the whole thing on time apart from the odd hiccup and the weather stayed reasonable apart from Saturday afternoon when it rained for about three hours none stop, it cleared by the evening though and the headliners had good weather and huge crowds.

The people of metal festivals are a friendly bunch, they aren't judgemental so you can be old, young, dressed as pirates or just dressed in cardboard boxes with horns taped to your head, we had all of those. If someone falls in the mosh pit they'd be picked up almost as soon as they hit the floor, you could give the devil horns to a random person and almost certainly get them back. As clichéd as it sounds it's all about the metal and being there together makes you a member of some kind of club, I felt no animosity from anyone in the crowd and I'd take my eleven year old son no problem.

Bloodstock will have a tough one to follow next year, the line up will have to be top notch to beat this year but now it's getting the following it deserves they will have no problem attracting great bands, I'd recommend it to anyone and I can't wait for next year.