DOWN­LOAD FES­TI­VAL

VENUE DONINGTON PARK DATE 09 – 11/06/2017

Prog - - Intro - FRASER LEWRY

While the rain breaks with long-held tra­di­tion by fail­ing to lash down, this year’s Down­load Fes­ti­val is stricken by an­other foe: the wind. For much of the week­end, west­er­lies whip across the site, and while this might not af­fect some of the more mu­si­cally straight­for­ward acts, it plays havoc with the sound of any­one on the out­door stages whose ou­vre is nat­u­rally more com­plex.

On the main stage, Mastodon suf­fer as much as any­one, and it’s only six tracks into the set, when the thun­der­ous Black Tongue rises like a weary mon­ster from the murk, that the au­di­ence is per­mit­ted to hear the band as they should.

The Con­tor­tion­ist fare bet­ter as they’re play­ing un­der can­vas, but their set clashes with Friday’s main stage head­liner, and only a cou­ple of hun­dred fans wit­ness a set that’s strong on stut­ter­ing rhythms, mixing mo­ments of tense an­tic­i­pa­tion with in­tense, ex­plo­sive fury.

SikTh pro­vide one of Saturday’s first com­mu­nal mo­ments with a shat­ter­ing Skies Of The Mil­len­nium Night, but again the wind is a fac­tor, and some of the band’s wild com­plex­ity is whisked off on the breeze to­wards the wrestling arena. Singer Mi­kee Goodman does his best to com­pen­sate, dom­i­nat­ing the run­way and ded­i­cat­ing Flog­ging The Horses to “hate­ful, war­mon­ger­ing fucks”. The lurch­ing grind of Golden Cuf­flinks also works well.

Over on the sec­ond stage, Co­heed And Cam­bria open with the churn­ing Wel­come Home as the skies be­gin to broil, but the rain never comes and the lovely, wind­ing solo on The Willing Well IV: The Fi­nal Cut is one of the week­end’s high­lights.

The band’s only words are to in­tro­duce them­selves be­fore their last song, but

Devin Townsend makes up for it by be­ing ex­tremely chatty, even pro­vid­ing a run­ning com­men­tary on his own run­ning com­men­tary. “A smat­ter­ing of ap­plause,” he notes, af­ter in­tro­duc­ing the mon­strous Su­per­crush!. “The crowd goes mild,” he adds, be­fore draw­ing at­ten­tion to an in­flat­able doll in the crowd.

Bru­tai open the fi­nal day by ask­ing the crowd to sing along with the crunch­ing Deep, but it’s ev­i­dently too early in the day for such fri­vol­ity, al­though Flood does fea­ture some great syn­chro­nised head­bang­ing.

Both Anath­ema and Opeth fare bet­ter, the for­mer by pro­vid­ing some much-needed light and shade with singer Lee Dou­glas’ grace­ful voice, the lat­ter through Mikael Åk­er­feldt’s nat­u­ral charm and stun­ning ver­sions of Cusp Of Eter­nity and De­liv­er­ance, a song Åk­er­feldt de­scribes as be­ing “three weeks long”.

The week­end ends in chaos as The Dillinger Es­cape Plan play their fi­nal UK show, the band’s fu­ri­ous, me­tal­lic in­tri­cacy matched only by a com­plete dis­re­gard for their own per­sonal safety.

Same time next year then? Per­haps it’ll snow…

“DEVIN TOWNSEND PRO­VIDES A RUN­NING COM­MEN­TARY ON HIS OWN

RUN­NING COM­MEN­TARY.”

THIS CHARM­ING

MAN: OPETH’S MIKAEL ÅK­ER­FELDT.

MASTODON BASSIST TROY SAN­DERS: A PROG

METAL WHIRL­WIND.

STICK­ING HIS NECKS OUT: CO­HEED’S CLAUDIO SANCHEZ.

SIKTH AP­PEAL: THE BAND ARE WARMLY EM­BRACED.

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