Drownload's opening day is very British in nature

Download Festival 2012 review

published: Wed 13th Jun 2012

Friday 8th to Sunday 10th June 2012
Donington Park, Leics, England MAP
weekend and camping options sold out, £75 a day ticket for Friday or Sunday only
daily capacity: 111000
last updated: Wed 23rd May 2012

"Drownload" was the unofficial title being given to those that were heading up to Donington park for the 10th Download festival. A combination of rain, heavy machinery and footfall in the thousands meant that this party was going to be well lubricated. Following torrential downpours for the days leading up to the festival, the site was decidedly boggy and trench foot was a risk to those without sturdy wellies. However, there was little that could be done to put a dampener on the atmosphere of the event; a party to celebrate the great time that thousands of people have each year on this hallowed turf.

Following issues with getting into the grounds due to the weather, Cancer Bats were rescheduled to appear later in the day. So it was left to Fear Factory to open the main stage with only half of it opened up; the overview camera showing how surreal it must be to play to half a main stage crowd. Opening with 'Shock' the industrial institution struggled with their sound - the drums sounding particularly drowned amongst the samples and guitar. However, with 'Edgecrusher' bringing those that had braved the mud a taste of brutal precision and the first glimpse of sun, the group found their stride. They played a selection of songs old and new; 'Linchpin' and 'Demanufacture' drawing the majority of applause. The new material from Mechanised and new album The Industrialist fitted in well, suiting Burton's voice which was strained throughout the performance.

Over on the Pepsi Max Stage, Absolute Power provided those that had turned up with the best Rob Halford impersonation of the weekend. The difference in ages between the musicians and singers seemed a little uncomfortable at times, although their lead guitarist managed to play every inch of a power metal guitarist. Being quite confused by the whole thing, I ventured over to the main stage, finding myself in increasingly boggy mud as the arena filled with hordes of already tired and mucky people.

Machine Head were nothing short of astounding. Rob Flynn seemed quiet and moody when they took the stage but quickly realised how much the band meant to the thousands of people that were singing along to every single word from their latest albums. 'Imperium' was devastating; the band encouraging people to break the circle pit record that they had set at Sonisphere previously. It was smashed apart, with people rushing hell for leather through mud and dirt. Dave Mclane was a juggernaut, utilising every inch of his kit with arms that seemed to blur across the 3 floor toms they used to ensure everyone was completely destroyed by the time that 'Halo' came on.

Ryan Coombs is back in Soil, and this is a good thing. Playing material exclusively off of their debut album 'Scars' the crowd welcomed him back from his stint in Drowning Pool with a pulverising rendition of 'Breaking Me Down' to kick things off. He prowled the stage with his signature radio mic and brought the whole nostalgic set to a close with a version of 'Halo' that had everyone inside and out of the tent singing along to what is a certified metal anthem.

AxeWound pulled a huge crowd, the excitement of seeing Matt Tuck from Bullet for my Valentine and Liam Cormier from Cancer Bats in such intimate surroundings. Considering the band haven't released any material yet, they insisted on getting people to "sing along" which is quite difficult when no one knows any of your songs. However, they sounded colossal - a mixture of heavy beatdowns and intimidating stage presence.

Devin Townsend played it safe- playing several of his poppier numbers from Addicted and several of his singles, including 'Vampira' which was a treat for this Devin fan. However, the sound was again a huge letdown, his vocals and guitar seeming to be lost in what should be the acoustically best stage. Ziltoid number 'By your Command' sounded huge as did set closer 'Bad Devil' getting people in the party mood. The mood was jubilant despite the audio problems, and Devin has fun with every single person in the tent with him, asking them to "drown out the Prodigy with a love song", before playing acoustic number 'Ih-Ah!'.

The first day was, ultimately, very British in nature: Soggy, windy, but with sheer determination from the crowd to flock to a field to spend time drinking, catching up with old friends, making new ones, and having a time that you can't have anywhere else.
review by: Steve Roberts

photos by: Luke Seagrave

Friday 8th to Sunday 10th June 2012
Donington Park, Leics, England MAP
weekend and camping options sold out, £75 a day ticket for Friday or Sunday only
daily capacity: 111000
last updated: Wed 23rd May 2012


latest on this festival

Download Festival 2021
festival details
last updated: Fri 12th Jun 2020
tickets on sale for Download Festival 2021
last updated: Fri 12th Jun 2020
Download Festival 2020 cancelled
last updated: Thu 26th Mar 2020