Don­ing­ton park, Derby

Metal Hammer (UK) - - Hammer Contents -

A7X, Guns N’ roses and ozzy bring delir­ium to Down­load, plus Nine Inch Nails, Stone Sour, Zeal & Ar­dor, Wolves In The Throne room and more!


The an­nual pil­grim­age to Don­ing­ton Park reaches its 16th year un­der the Down­load moniker, over­tak­ing Mon­sters of rock in terms of longevity in the process. And 2018’s line-up per­fectly rep­re­sents the past, with a Main Stage full of le­git­i­mate le­gends, and the present, with some of our world’s most ex­cit­ing new bands pep­pered on the smaller stages. There are few more sav­age ways to kick off pro­ceed­ings than EM­PLOYED TO SERVE [8]. hit­ting the Avalanche stage, the an­gu­lar barbs and mas­sive chug of I Spend My Days (Wish­ing Them Away) epit­o­mise the sin­gu­lar path they’re carv­ing through the UK scene. With an en­tranc­ing com­bi­na­tion of modern rock and lush at­mo­spher­ics along­side chanteuse Anna Mur­phy’s ethe­real vo­cals, Swiss sto­ry­tellers CEL­LAR DAR­LING [7] strike a bom­bas­tic chord with the ap­pre­cia­tive Dog­tooth stage crowd. on the Zippo Stage, melodic met­al­core mob MISS MAY I’S [7] acer­bic bel­liger­ence res­onates with the hun­gry masses. riffs are plen­ti­ful and their “Down­load, are you with us to­day?” war cry is re­warded with cheers. he’s rarely fully clothed dur­ing live per­for­mances, but Jonny hawkins and NOTH­ING MORE [7] are hardly bereft of pas­sion or con­fi­dence; their set brims with soul-stir­ring melodies and hook-filled ear­worms.

The first Ham­mer-friendly band on the Main Stage this week­end are AVATAR [7] who draw a huge and en­thu­si­as­tic crowd. Vis­ually, they look the part but the sound is still swirling around the field. DRAGON­FORCE [6] fol­low them and fare lit­tle bet­ter, with the sig­na­ture gui­tar histri­on­ics drop­ping in and out at reg­u­lar in­ter­vals, al­though they do leave with a tri­umphant Through The Fire And Flames. com­bin­ing NYhc swag­ger, hip-hop bounce and the im­me­di­acy of Good­night Alt-Right, STRAY FROM THE PATH [8] have a full house when it comes to get­ting a packed Avalanche tent to eat out of their hands. MAR­MOZETS [9] play a blinder of a set over on the Main Stage with their glo­ri­ous new ma­te­rial re­ceiv­ing a rap­tur­ous re­cep­tion, nes­tled in amongst mathy adren­a­line shots like Par­ti­cle and Vi­betech.

Do peo­ple still wanna party hard, get wasted and bloody their noses? Judg­ing by the joy­ous sin­ga­longs, AN­DREW WK [6] the an­swer is ‘Yes!’, as he brings the feel­good fac­tor to the Zippo stage. SAV­AGE MES­SIAH’S [7] meat’n’pota­toes thrash is al­ways en­joy­able on record, but on the Dog­tooth stage they re­ally step up and de­liver a set wor­thy of their in­flu­ences. The find of the day, though, are LOATHE [8], who look ev­ery inch the part, with each mem­ber hav­ing their own dis­tinct vibe on­stage, and their gobby, ur­ban tech-metal sounds in­hu­manly mas­sive.

VOL­BEAT’S [7] Main Stage crowd bel­low and boo­gie along to ev­ery word of their metal-meets- Johnny cash rock’n’roll. It’s cer­tainly en­er­getic, cho­rus-driven fun – if you can abide front­man Michael Poulsen’s irk­some vo­cals. A huge crowd greets CANCER BATS’ [8] un­con­trol­lably po­tent set, with liam cormier cov­er­ing ev­ery each of the Avalanche stage as the riffs cel­e­brat­ing 10 years of Hail De­stroyer det­o­nate around him. Sadly the crowd thins out con­sid­er­ably for THE BRONX [7], whose emo­tion­ally charged set de­serves bet­ter. Korn tal­is­man JONATHAN DAVIS [8] is on stun­ning form, delv­ing into ma­te­rial from solo opus Black Labyrinth while synths, sitars and surg­ing drum rhythms col­lide on Queen Of The Damned sound­track hit For­saken.

The best way to avoid vanilla rock bands at Down­load is to plunge into the in­sane world of IGORRR [8]. Death metal meets opera meets synapse-bust­ing electronic­s, and ev­ery­one in the Dog­tooth tent is si­mul­ta­ne­ously be­wil­dered and ex­hil­a­rated.

Fol­low­ing a few ca­reer mis­steps, it seemed un­likely BUL­LET FOR MY VALEN­TINE [7] would ever head­line Down­load now. But armed with new slick, arena-ready ma­te­rial, it seems they’ve fi­nally re­gained their swag. Though un­able to com­pete with the vigour of their younger peers, BAD RE­LI­GION [8] per­form punk clas­sics Amer­i­can Je­sus and Sor­row with the same con­vic­tion and ef­fort­less skill they’ve man­aged for nearly 40 years. NA­PALM DEATH [9] are on blis­ter­ing form to­day. So no change there. From the sem­i­nal In­stinct Of Sur­vival to a cli­mac­tic and gen­uinely ex­hil­a­rat­ing Nazi Punks Fuck Off, Bar­ney and the boys have sel­dom seemed more nec­es­sary. We are fi­nally see­ing TESSERACT [9] turn into the band that many pre­dicted they could be; tonight the new songs from Son­der dec­i­mate the Dog­tooth tent. Don’t bet against them head­lin­ing a larger stage here one day.

When AVENGED SEVEN­FOLD [8] head­lined Down­load in 2014, some ques­tioned their clout to step up to the top spot. This time, the oc boys seem less starry-eyed by the pres­sure, buoyed by ma­te­rial from The Stage, they de­liver a stomp­ing, con­fi­dent and pyro-packed per­for­mance that ce­ments their bona fide head­liner sta­tus.


Af­ter steadily creep­ing up the bill, LAWNMOWER DETH [8] have fi­nally con­quered Down­load’s sec­ond stage. As joy­ously chaotic and cack-handed as ever, they’re ac­tu­ally get­ting re­ally fuck­ing good at this. And Egg Sand­wich is a tune. The Pep­per Keenan-led COR­RO­SION OF CON­FOR­MITY [8] are on im­pe­ri­ous form, re­mind­ing ev­ery­one how to do huge riffs and hay-chew­ing Sab­bathian splen­dour prop­erly. They play Clean My Wounds and


met­al­heads of a cer­tain age shed joy­ful tears. BURY TO­MOR­ROW [8] seem to be on ab­surdly early con­sid­er­ing their huge crowd and con­fi­dent show­ing. “You can blame Axl rose for that,” laughs Dani Win­ter-Bates from the stage, but BT slay all the same.

The in­trigue around SLEEP TO­KEN [6] en­sures a throng of Dog­tooth on­look­ers ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a gen­uinely odd set that’s part per­for­mance, part oth­er­worldly in­vo­ca­tion. SHVPES [5] have all the bounce, en­thu­si­asm and sin­cer­ity to be ideal fes­ti­val reg­u­lars. Sadly, what their rap metal needs in or­der to be rel­e­vant is con­vinc­ing songs.

It’s a le­git­i­mate case of “brace for im­pact” over at the Avalanche stage as ROLO TOMASSI [8] dec­i­mate the bay­ing throng savour­ing their blend of po­tent ag­gres­sion and emo­tive in­ten­sity. Soon af­ter come Jason Aalon But­ler’s THE FEVER 333 [9], whose ‘sur­prise set’ is a high­light of the whole week­end. en­er­getic, ur­gent and un­pre­dictable, there are barely five sec­onds where any one mem­ber stands still. Im­mense. Swathed in shoot­ing plumes of dry ice, ASK­ING ALEXANDRIA [7] quickly en­gage the au­di­ence with the rock star bom­bast of newer ma­te­rial, but the set is let down by sound grem­lins. Naysay­ers con­tin­u­ing to dis­miss youth­ful up­starts BABYMETAL [8] as a gim­mick, be ad­vised: to­day’s joy­ous J-Pop-meets-thundering power-metal set rages like an ab­so­lute beast at the Zippo stage. one of the most ag­gro sets of the week­end comes from MALEV­O­LENCE [8], who beat seven shades of shit out of the Dog­tooth Stage with their beat­down-heavy, Pan­tera-tinged met­al­core. BE­ING AS AN OCEAN’S [7] at­mo­spheric posthard­core might stick out, but leaves an in­creas­ingly size­able mark with each rolling wave, not least new song Alone.

“You guys aren’t fuck­ing about, are you?” says front­man Win­ston Mccall of the enor­mous mass of bod­ies at the Zippo stage. From the crunch of Crushed and Bot­tom Feeder to the pyro, fire and spin­ning drumkit, PARK­WAY DRIVE [9] do ev­ery­thing to pen­cil them­selves in as fu­ture Main Stage head­lin­ers. When cJ McMa­hon isn’t au­di­tion­ing for Aus­tralia’s Most of­fen­sive co­me­dian, THY ART IS MUR­DER’S [8] sheer fe­roc­ity goes head to head with Axl & co with a death­core ren­di­tion of Du Hast steal­ing the night. Play­ing right be­fore GN’r and there­fore to a hu­mon­gous crowd, BLACK STONE CHERRY

[8] milk the op­por­tu­nity. This is the band at their best: groovy, in­fec­tious and swag­ger­ing.

Af­ter two pre­vi­ous Don­ing­ton ap­pear­ances – one a tragedy and one tragic – we fi­nally get some­thing close to the GUNS N’ ROSES [7] we de­serve . True, its three-hours-plus is padded out with end­less so­los and un­nec­es­sary cov­ers, and Axl has sounded bet­ter. But when they chuck out Night Train, You Could Be Mine or Civil War they are un­touch­able.


The blis­ter­ing sun clashes nicely with the pierc­ing scream, swear­ing and dad jokes of Dani Filth, but it’s a dis­ap­point­ingly short time al­lot­ted for CRA­DLE OF FILTH’S [7] Main Stage machi­na­tions. A few years ago PUPPY [8] had the songs but not the stage pres­ence to com­mand the Zippo encore Stage. To­day they look like they be­long there, and their ec­cen­tric pop-rock sounds the part. ev­ery fes­ti­val would ben­e­fit from HATE­BREED’S [8] blend of ag­gres­sion and re­lent­less pos­i­tiv­ity, with even those limp­ing away from the pit still de­ter­mined to sing along to ev­ery word. The stage the­atrics of IN THIS MO­MENT [5] are cer­tainly unique, but it’s un­bal­anced when the mu­si­cal high­light of their ster­ile metal is the in­tro of For Whom The Bell Tolls dur­ing a cos­tume change.

What do you ex­pect from a band in­clud­ing Mike Pat­ton and Dave lom­bardo other than ex­per­i­men­tal, bat­shit vi­o­lence? DEAD CROSS [8] de­liver in­cen­di­ary hard­core on the Zippo stage that revels in its cere­bral com­plex­ity. KREATOR [9] are stag­ger­ing to­day. An eye-fraz­zling, ear-shag­ging erup­tion of vis­ceral heavy metal fury, they tear through a hand­ful of clas­sics, end­ing with a ver­sion of Plea­sure To Kill that’s so vi­cious it should prob­a­bly be muz­zled and neutered. Yikes. Ice T might have some less than ‘woke’ opin­ions, but BODY COUNT [8] are a great fes­ti­val band. Their own ma­te­rial is get­ting pro­gres­sively stronger, and any band who opens with Rain­ing Blood de­serve a thumbs up.

While there’s no deny­ing the an­themic clout of songs like Fallen An­gels and The Legacy, by the mid­point of BLACK VEIL BRIDES’ [6] per­for­mance, riff déjà vu has kicked in. There’s a whole lot of love on dis­play for SHINE­DOWN [7] as the Florida rock­ers gleam un­der a scorch­ing mid-af­ter­noon sun. A rare burst of psychedeli­a at Down­load,

ALL THEM WITCHES’ [8] rum­bling camp­fire doom cre­ates its own im­mer­sive bub­ble of ghoulish Amer­i­cana within the Dog­tooth tent. De­fi­antly odd but still armed with great riffs, the Amer­i­cans are one of few left­field op­tions here and all the bet­ter for it. Mean­while, JAMIE LENMAN [8] pulls out his heav­i­est ma­te­rial and screams his face off to a packed Avalanche crowd, who suck up ev­ery last squalling, beast of a note. crack­ing stuff.

Per Nilsson does an ex­em­plary job of stand­ing in for Fredrik Thor­den­dal as MESHUG­GAH [9] mer­ci­lessly pum­mel senses you didn’t even re­alise ex­isted. The per­cus­sive as­sault of Pravus and un­stop­pable avalanche of Demi­urge are enough to make you for­get the ab­sence of stan­dards like Bleed. Still un­like any­thing else at Down­load or in this uni­verse. Ar­guably the big­gest star black metal’s pro­duced since its in­fer­nal hey­day, MYRKUR [8] has pres­ence and mys­tique in vast sup­ply. She also has some in­cred­i­ble songs that send a huge Dog­tooth crowd into rap­tures. The night sky’s the limit. ALEXISONFI­RE [9] de­liver a high­light of the fest, a fiery and emo­tion­ally cathar­tic ex­pe­ri­ence that sees ev­ery­one scream­ing the words to

Boiled Frogs and Cri­sis like life de­pends on it.

De­spite the early eye­brow-rais­ing slur­ring, it’s a hair-rais­ing show­ing from MAR­I­LYN MAN­SON [8] as the God of Fuck stomps through old and new cuts; from clas­sics The Beau­ti­ful Peo­ple and mOBSCENE to SAY10. It’s a ca­reer-defin­ing per­for­mance from BARONESS [9] clos­ing the Dog­tooth Stage. John Bai­z­ley looks gen­uinely thrilled to see the level of love pointed in his di­rec­tion from a crowd clearly be­sot­ted with their beau­ti­fully sub­lime songs. chicago punks RISE AGAINST [8] close the sec­ond stage with a per­for­mance of heart-swelling in­ten­sity. Satel­lite, Saviour and Sur­vive are rev­o­lu­tion­ary punk an­thems that make you think, feel and raise your fists and Tim McIl­rath’s im­pas­sioned mono­logues make sure we all leave feel­ing like we can truly move moun­tains.

There’s only good news when OZZY OS­BOURNE [8] hits the stage. In fine voice and, un­like his last ap­pear­ance here with Sab­bath, con­sis­tently in tune, he’s clearly hav­ing the time of his life right now. Zakk Wylde leads the charge through a hit-packed set, peel­ing off those sem­i­nal so­los with out­ra­geous ease, while his boss grins so much he risks split­ting his face. “I fuckin’ love it!” he yelps at one point. Down­load con­curs. ozzy’s still the fuck­ing man.



An­drew WK wringsthe good timesMaria Brink In This Mo­ment’sit to their crit­ics tries to stick Avenged’s M. Shad­ows de­liv­ersThe Stage from, er, the stage Shine­down can’tFlorida Cut The Cweather, so bring

Dani Filth’s kookytake on kabukiAven­ged Seven­fold on fiery form

cor­ro­sion of con­for­mity’sset leaves a lot of bro­kenmen in the crowd

he’s an awe­some front­man, but Win­ston Mccall’s duck face needs work Noth­ing like are­fresh­ing Ice T on a sum­mer’sdayup, has any­one “roll up, roll guy?”seen our sound

Black Stone cherry keep the GN’r happy with their crowdSouth­ern charm

The God of Fuck came pre­pared for bad weather.ei­ther that or he’s now into flasher-macs…

Ask­ing Alexandria’s Danny wails inthe com­pany of sound grem­lins

love ’em or hate ’em, there’s no deny­ing Vol­beat bring the boo­gie

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