Ah Donington Park Motor Speedway. We have a lot of history this place and I. The first time I ever set foot on Metal's Hallowed Ground was in 1986. I've been a lot since then, including last year's 'Drownload' or 'Brownload' or whatever you wanted to call it...
But the purpose of this year's Download? Let's celebrate Iron Maiden's first appearance at Donington Park (back in 1988) and the 25th Anniversary of one of history's most iconic gigs. Not many bands can say they Headlined the Monsters of Rock and are still going strong. AC/DC (not so much of late), Ozzy Osbourne (no-one quite knows how), Bon Jovi and Aerosmith. Pretty good company to be in for any band, but longevity isn't something you see so much these days...
I digress. It's Friday at Donington Park and, well, it's raining...
After what can only be described as one of the longest walks in the history of ever, we made camp relatively quickly and headed straight for the arena. By the time we'd managed to accomplish all of this Papa Roach had hit the Main Stage. I've never been the greatest PR fan and if I'm honest, I've always thought they were a bit dull. I've seen them live now. Scratch that dull thing. I'm pretty old school and I do love a good sing-along, and while I don't know too many of their songs, I found the foot-tapping and the head bobbing along to some newer stuff along with their staples. Couldn't miss out on Last Resort. That would be criminal.
What I had been interested in seeing was In This Moment. After a four year absence from the UK, smoking hot blonde Maria Brink and the crew did something I've literally never seen before in my life. Seamlessly merging smooth vocals, theatrics, screams, pounding riffs and anthemic pulse-pounding music In This Moment were absolutely brilliant. They don't oversell it. Perfectly blended and utterly brilliant. The only negative I could find in their performance was that someone decided to put them in a bloody tent. Shame on you Download, put yourself on the naughty step and hang your head in shame. If ever there was a band fit for one of the main outdoor stages it was In This Moment. If you missed them, you missed out. And she's pretty hot too. Did I mention that?
Phil Anselmo is no stranger to Donington Park. Back when, Pantera played the main stage and today it was Down's turn. Smooth southern bourbon-fuelled rock. Simple as you like. Down were what you've come to expect from them at this point. Nothing short of epic, and the perfect set-up for what was to come next... Korn. Re-united.
There's been a lot of chatter in the run-up to this years appearance from JD and particularly the return of founding guitar player Brian 'Head' Welch. Were Korn going to be like Korn used to be or just a shell of their former selves? Well, when the bass reverberated through my chest for their opening to 'Blind', question answered. Korn were fucking superb. If there was a time machine around, I've always thought I'd like to go back and see Korn again, only this time doing some of their newer stuff mixed in with the classics. Only problem has been, when I've seen them over the last few years, I've been honestly disappointed. Whoever invented my magical time machine, thank you. I don't know if it's Head's return or whatever is going on, but Korn had the place bouncing and rightly so.
Nobody pricked my curiosity at this years Download more than The Algorithm. Toulouse based Rémi Gallego and Monuments drummer Mike Malayan took the Red Bull stage by storm. I can't remember the last time I saw someone that excited me that much. Apparently he is quite well known for mixing electronic music with various elements of metal music, like metalcore, mathcore and progressive metal. Something along the lines of what Korn and Skrillex did in late 2012. Only so much better. While there are no vocals, none are needed. This young man is the future of things to come in terms of musical and technological progression. Utterly mindblowing.
The issue that I normally find I have with Download is the set-up and stages. Why put so many bands on that clash with each other. Especially on the two main stages. I really wanted to see Gogol Bordello. I really did. But I had two choices. 1) Go watch Gogol and stand further back for Slipknot. 2) skip every other stage in the place and get a spot for Slipknot.
Sorry option 2 every time.
May I just say; good choice...
I've thought long and hard about how to write what they were like. How to illiterate to anyone who didn't go see them, or wasn't at this years festival. I've tried all my GCSE in English literature and experience in life and writing would allow me. I mean, how do you explain all of the older songs, the broken barrier, the amazing command Messrs Taylor and Co. have over 90,000+ people. How they're so good, when they commanded it, it actually started to rain (again). I can only explain the following:
I've seen Slipknot before, not like this. I distinctly got the impression that while Maiden may be the Masters of Donington Park, Slipknot are quintessentially Download Festival. And they wanted everyone in the place to know it. This is their turf, their ground, their show. And what a show it was. Opening with Liberate. Ripping through Duality, Wait and Bleed, Sulphur, Psychosocial, Heretic Anthem, Sic, Before I Forget, Eyeless, Left Behind, Everything Ends. Slipknot were truly truly on top form. Surfacing, People=Shit & The Blister Exists seemed to be over too quickly as Corey, Clown, Sid et al ripped up the stage. But one of the greatest moment I've seen at Donington Park was this show, without a doubt. Slipknot were so brutal and got the crowd into such a frenzy they broke the barrier. Twice. Then, when the band just stopped, they asked everyone to take a step back while the security fixed the barrier and every single person in attendance did exactly that. Even those all the way at the back. Everyone obeyed. After all, it's Slipknot and, as a maggot, you must do as you are told.
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plus A Day To Remember, Deftones, Korn, Frank Carter, Killswitch Engage, & many more