Black Veil Brides announce 2023 UK tour
Black Veil Brides will return to the UK next February for a nine-date headline tour – see the full dates here.
As always, Kerrang! are on-site at Donington Park to catch all the action – from massive headline sets by KISS, Iron Maiden and Biffy Clyro, to what's going on with Download's awesome community of fans, to plenty of backstage action with all the best bands on the stacked line-up.
This very page will be the hub of it all, so get stuck in and keep coming back for more throughout the weekend!
"Has it been five years already? So, this is Biffy Clyro's second turn headlining Download, and what an occasion it is, too. Even the unusual spectacle of Simon Neil WEARING A SHIRT for the first few songs, the Ayrshire gang are on their usual incredible form tonight. If previously there was a question mark that they were A Download Headliner (which they effortlessly rubbished), tonight with their feet under the table, they are simple astonishing…"
Read the full review: What happened when Biffy Clyro headlined Download 2022
Satan's A Woman. She's also against "racism, homophobia, transphobia and all forms of ignorance." Because Satan, she isn't a dick. She also has the very best tunes. In the case of Twin Temple, it's basically a diabolic version of Grease, all Elvis hair and doo-wop sass. Even given that the Dogtooth Stage has already hosted a drag act today, they're still by some distance the most camp thing in this tent this weekend. It's fucking brilliant. It's also completely irresistible.
"Let's Have A Satanic Orgy!" comes the titular suggestion. It's a goof, but it's also a signal: to life, to joy, to remembering how to have a fucking laugh riot. Twin Temple are Satan's dinner music, but they're also his most stylish, horny and cool cheerleaders. We'll drink to that. (NR)
Despite being on the smallest of Download’s stages, YONAKA’s entrance is anything but small. After they walk on bathed in glowing red light, their opening track Ordinary soars, and the momentum remains stratospheric throughout. Their half-hour set comes across as a robust statement of who they know themselves to be – a slick, feisty, and bristlingly modern collective bringing rap rock into the 21st century. The thumping Punchbag and braggadocious Seize The Power feel like more natural companions than ever when played live, despite being part of separate eras, and Theresa Jarvis' defiant attitude and sharp vocal prowess make her a truly powerful frontwoman. “It feels so fucking good!” she cries triumphantly, and it’s a feeling that seems like it’s shared by the whole audience. If you haven't understood what YONAKA are about up until this point, watching this set could well be enough to change your mind. (EW)
There are many at Download 2022 who believe that Korn are far better equipped to close the festival than actual Sunday headliners Biffy Clyro. As the Bakersfield baddies level a site-spanning crowd under Sunday's setting sun, it feels those nu-metal fanatics might well have a point. Without keystone bassist Reginald 'Fieldy' Arvizu (who's still back home tackling some lingering personal problems), however, there's just a little of their normal gut-thumping heft lacking this weekend.
Of course, the obliterating, elasticised likes of Dead, Falling Away From Me and Got The Life absolutely smash us. Start The Healing salves our weekend-long wounds. Cold erupts, somehow, as a serendipitous breeze whips across site. Shoots & Ladders rolls off Jonathan Davis' brilliant bagpipe solo into its endlessly creepy nursery-rhyme tangle. But though Freak On A Leash, A.D.I.D.A.S. and Blind bring something feral out in every millennial metalhead in attendance, there's something lacking that won't be back ’til the slapmaster supreme return to the fold. (SL)
Trash Boat are regulars at Download, and vocalist Tobi Duncan bounds across the stage, spitting out lyrics to the high-energy Silence Is Golden and Vertigo. Bizarrely, he hits out at “bad entertainment bullshit”, documenting a rushed anecdote tied to a fragrance and Russia (yeah, we’re not too sure either). The crowd, however, are captivated by the singer’s impassioned speech and rewards the band with forcefully loyal pits and cheers. A burst of bright lights and an eruption of screams later, the easy-going festival spirit is restored by an appearance by WARGASM’s Milkie Way for That’s Entertainment. The duo roam across the stage nurturing the crowd’s cheers, which is exactly the vibe we wanted for a late afternoon last day Download show. (EW)
Malala Yousafzai’s voice ricochets across Donington Park on what Rise Against frontman Tim McIlrath dubs a “political Sunday”. The sentiment is not a far cry from his band’s own agenda; a rallying cry for acceptance and empathy for all. As their defiant band logo flickers behind them, Tim ditches his mic for a megaphone to holler lyrics through. Satellite, too, is tastefully performed for fans to throw up fists in solidarity. The air of camaraderie is electric, but it’s Rise Against’s sentiment that is the most potent. “We sing songs about revolution. There is no racism in revolution,” Tim echos to the swarms of fans. By the time they reach final track Saviour, the atmosphere is amped up and we’re all christened radicalists ready to take down the system. (ZR-S)
"The weight of at least two years' worth of momentum rests upon Spiritbox's shoulders. This is not only their first time at Donington Park, but their first ever show in the UK. After a rapid ascent propelled almost exclusively by the power of the internet (live music was essentially banned globally on the grounds of public health for over a year), this show was practically predestined to be a historic moment. From the looks of the size of the crowd, spilling out from the sides of the tent, everyone wants to witness that moment. And holy fuck, what a moment this is."
Read the full review: What happened when Spiritbox made their UK live debut at Download 2022
Nobody across the entire weekend is having as much fun playing their instruments as Baroness. Leading the crowd in a banterous sing-along to their intro music, W.A.S.P.'s Animal (Fuck Like A Beast), the only thing bigger than their joyous grins are their untouchable riffs. Through Take My Bones Away, Chlorine & Wine and a jubilant Shock Me, they are as musically intelligent as they are bathed in delight. In Gina Gleason, they have a true guitar hero, and her and John Dyer Baizley's dual-lead licks are fucking brilliant in the late afternoon sun. Not only do they have the best riffs, the best songs and the best players, they also sound huger than everyone else, even coming through the smallest of amps. "This stage has a special place in our hearts and minds," announces John. "This is where Gina played her second ever show with us." As special returns go, even Maiden should probably have their guard up. A truly spectacular set from a band without peer. (NR)
Modern Error want to be immersive. Their recent debut Victim Of A Modern Age is built upon a carefully constructed narrative designed for listeners to get lost in, and when they bring the songs from that record to the stage, they threaten to hypnotise. Every layer to their music – guitars, synths, rumbling drums – shines through beautifully, with the likes of Error Of The World and the stormy It’s Just A Feeling enveloping the audience in wonderful noise. Frontman Zak Pinchin remains a compelling performer even though he spends the majority of the set behind a mic stand – he seems deeply connected to his own music, almost in a trance. Gradually, as they go on, more members of the crowd shuffle forward, as if magnetically drawn in by the spectacle, and their reactions leave Zak admitting to feeling speechless. Today, Modern Error have fulfilled their massive potential. (EW)
The Dead Man's Fingers distillery recently fell victim to Phoxjaw, as the hometown heroes stormed through for Bristol's first ever K! Pit. But how do that wilfully unwieldy collective fare when thrust onto Download's far bigger festival stage? Pretty fucking well, it turns out. Literally dancing into the Dogtooth tent, their unkempt fusion of anything and everything from jangling indie to serrated black metal is perfect for a Sunday afternoon crowd looking to sample flavours other than the regulation meat and potatoes. From the Pixies-inflected alt. mastery of Infinite Badness to Half House's sledgehammer demolition job, its the kind of esoteric, faintly glam buffet that falls just on the right side of the divide between weird and compelling. And, with vocalist/bassist Danny Garland leading from the front, the crashing likes of Teething and Trophies In The Attic (complete with impromptu 'wall of love') ensure that no-one here will forget the experience any time soon. (SL)
It’s Sunday lunchtime and the tent is overflowing with people here to watch RuPaul’s Drag Race UK star Bimini slay her first ever festival appearance. The set is a mixture of originals and covers – her own songs, such as God Save This Queen and Sex, Drugs, Pissed Off shimmer with the disco-rock energy of a band like Soft Cell, and they’re better suited to this environment than it would seem on paper. Vocally, they’re more consistent than the covers, although props must be given to the genius idea of mashing up Britney Spears’ Toxic with Girls Aloud’s No Good Advice, and Bimini’s delivery is periodically flat. As the set goes on, the once-heaving tent begins to empty slightly, but the fans are more than appeased, and Bimini leaves to resounding cheers. (EW)
It’s Sunday morning and if anything will wash away the slog of Download day three it’s a full-throttle Static Dress show. “I know it’s fucking early,” frontman Olli Appleyard barks. “Side to side, front to back, let’s go.” Encircled by a wave of dedicated fans, the post-hardcore band ferociously let rip into the joyously noisy safeword and Push rope. As each song steamrolls by, the they relentlessly amp up the energy. The charged atmosphere peaks as mosh-pits break loose (featuring a panda-hatted punter) and Olli lobs his mic stand into the air during Di-SinTer. Yet for all their efforts, it's slightly marred by technical issues. As later tracks sweet. and Courtney, Just Relax funnel through the speakers, Static Dress’ uneven sound set-up becomes hard to overlook. Olli’s quieter vocals are overwhelmed by the band’s thrashing instruments. Despite a couple of setbacks, Static Dress sludge on leaving a solid impression on the Avalanche crowd. (ZR-S)
Like a spoonful of Marmite on your Sunday morning toast, chances are you'll either love or loathe main stage openers WARGASM. Tearing on with the chaotic obnoxiousness of campsite lunatics who've not bothered going to bed, Sam Matlock and Milkie Way don't give a shit about our bangovers. Instead, they demand every ounce of attention, cranking their thumping mash of unapologetic vulgarity, singalong sloganeering and scattergun pop-culture pulls to maximum volume.
Time-tested bangers like Salma Hayek (dedicated, wishfully, by Milkie to her "wife"), along with their now-trademark cover of N.E.R.D.'s Lapdance duly delight the faithful. It's the glimpses of fresh material from upcoming full-length debut Explicit: The Mixxxtape that prove more intriguing, though, with the likes of D.R.I.L.D.O. somehow even more abrasively steroidal than what we've heard before. By the time they launch into gleefully gobby closer Spit. (with an obligatory blast of Metallica's Fuel) everyone watching's been either beaten into submission or torrentially swept along. (SL)
"As long as we have Iron Maiden, everything is going to be alright. Thirty years on from their iconic Live At Donington recording – and 34 since their headline debut – they have done more than anyone to build what was once simply a motorsport circuit into the spiritual home of heavy metal. Spectacularly, even on their seventh turn at the top of the bill, they're still stubbornly tightening the bolts and raising the game…"
Read the full review: What happened when Iron Maiden headlined Download 2022
Towards the end Saturday evening's Opus Stage headline set, Dave Mustaine reveals that Megadeth have a new album – their 16th – called The Sick, The Dying… And The Dead coming this September. Anyone alarmed by that fatalistic title needn't worry, though, because the LA thrash legends have long since proven that they've years worth of fuel left in the tank. Having first touched down at the UK's home of heavy metal all the way back in 1988, Dave and the boys know that classics like Hangar 18, The Conjuring and Sweating Bullets are ingrained in the fabric of the place at this point. Peace Sells and Symphony Of Destruction, too, remain compositions as fine as any over which fans here have ever thrown horns and spilled beers. Naturally, the messy removal of founding bassist Dave Ellefson in 2020 remains a talking point for many in the massive crowd. But, by the time we're throttling towards the finish line at 500mph – via the magnificent Holy Wars… The Punishment Due – that feels like a discussion for another day. Truly mega. (SL)
This show should have been perfect. It could have been perfect, if Welsh post-hardcore icons Funeral For A Friend's mix didn’t sound quite so terrible. There’s little more than a washed-out undercurrent of guitar to be heard, and frontman Matt Davies-Kreye is oftentimes difficult to hear, particularly during Roses For The Dead. The crowd, however, does not give a flying monkeys. They’re just happy to have the band, whose posters they had on their wall growing up, right in front of them, in the flesh, their sing-alongs seemingly carrying FFAF along when technology has failed them.
Matt’s stage patter makes up for a little – “Hands up to my fellow hayfever sufferers out there! Pollen, get the fuck out!” he quips at one point, and introduces She Drove Me To Daytime Television with a casual “fuck you” to Rupert Murdoch. And there’s a breakthrough near the end, with Juneau finally sounding as jubilant and full-bodied as it deserves to. Everyone in the tent is still in high spirits, but it’s frustrating to think of how triumphant this set could have been if only the sound was better. (EW)
Tonight, Download plays host to a long-standing, much-loved anchor of British metal. And after Napalm Death, Iron Maiden are on. From the word go, it is an eruption of anger, joy, frustration and love, as a massive pit kicks off as soon as the Brum grindcore kings strike the first note.
There are two sides to Napalm Death. There's the "unrepentant, unapologetic fucking noise from Birmingham", and the loveability brought by frontman and grindcore labrador Barney Greenway. You can't hear a fucking word he's saying during the songs, so his between-song remarks about "people who think they have the power to say a human being is illegal", and declaration of "refugees welcome" offer a sense of having a brain amongst the mayhem.
Stuff from latest album Throes Of Joy In The Jaws Of Defeatism prove for the millionth time that this is a band constantly on the cutting edge of extreme musical creativity, while the traditional cover of Dead Kennedys' Nazi Punks Fuck Off with its hauntingly prescient reminder that 'In a real Fourth Reich you'll be the first to go' is a belligerent political full-stop. Devastating and delightful, in equal measure. (NR)
It’s not the easiest task opening for one of the biggest heavy metal bands of all time, but nobody can deny the pure joy of Deftones in the sunshine. “Welcome back, thank you for having us back,” grins Chino Moreno, commanding a sun- and beer-soaked crowd of Download die-hards, before launching into the alt.metal rallying cry Be Quiet And Drive that acts as a clear reminder of why the Sacramento heavyweights are still so adored.
While they could have opted for a hard and fast setlist to appease the Maiden hordes, Deftones fully lean into being themselves, bringing their trademark mix of bombast and etherealism to Donington. Although clearly missing the signature crunch of Stef Carpenter – who has stayed at home for this run – and the wind eating a chunk of the sound on the vast Apex PA, a career-spanning masterclass of My Own Summer, 7 Words and Diamond Eyes is proof positive of the power of Deftones. Come back again any time. (LM)
If anything is made clear when Creeper bring their goth punk circus to the Avalanche Stage, it’s this: this band are utterly adored. The tent is heaving, and the crowd seems willing to cheer for them whenever Will Gould so much as breathes in (in fact, sometimes they cheer without him having to do anything at all). This adoration is a welcome reward for a tremendous sounding set: Cyanide oozes sultry charm, Annabelle is gloriously anthemic and closer Misery, as ever, is a thing of heart-wrenching beauty, buoyed by an almighty sing-along led totally by the crowd, a capella. And when Will says, “What a great show! You’ve made this so cool!” to the Creeper Cult before him, he’s almost being modest. This is far, far better than great. This has been truly special. (EW)
On the face of things, Mastodon's latest opus Hushed & Grim isn't best suited to summertime festival shenanigans. A sprawling set of songs about grief and failed relationships, the bruised double-album explores the sort of agonising, real-world subject-matter many punters come to Download to try to escape. And yet, the Atlantan metal masters seem on unusually energised form this afternoon.
Anguished opener Pain With An Anchor will never be an ode to joy, but its textural complexity is an ideal showcase of their layered genius. Crystal Skull's shattering attack effortlessly bowls us over. The gleefully tangly Megalodon still blows minds almost two decades down the line. Where his bandmates go about their business with a sense of hammer-down professionalism, too, a freshly buzz-cut Brent Hinds teases the not-so-genteel British crowd about whether they fancy going for a cup of tea. Most importantly, while time-tested bangers like Black Tongue and Blood And Thunder continue to hit the mark, it's the newer cuts that really capture the imagination. From The Crux's suffocating desperation to the forlorn bargaining of More Than I Could Chew, today's on-point execution proves that, even at its most sombre, Mastodon's music is full of depth and detail dying to be unleashed. (SL)
Someone fucked up logistically when they decided to book Bleed From Within in Download's smallest tent after their Main Stage-incinerating set at last year's Pilot. Cue crowds 10-bodies deep unable to even get inside and photographers yanked out of the pit after just one song for their own wellbeing. It's just as well, then, that the indomitable Glaswegians blow the roof off the place. "This is fucking mind-blowing..." gasps frontman Scott Kennedy as a concussive Pathfinder rips through. "We don't have a lot of time today, so we're going to keep moving, but we need to see you moving, too."
As if there's space for a circle-pit. With sweat pouring and bodies toppling over the barricade, killer cuts like Into Nothing and Levitate literally rock the structure, somehow still almost drowned-out by the roaring masses. Only a climactic The End Of All We Know brings some sort of release, launching us back into the sunlight with a reaffirmed understanding that BFW are about to seriously step up. Massive. (SL)
“I hope he plays that Minecraft song,” a fan quips just as Canadian-American talent grandson launches into his set. A seismic mix of beefed-up beats and cranked-up rock-meets-rap tunes, the 28-year-old artist is setting the Avalanche Stage alight. A firestarter cocktail of angsty political lyrics and jacked-up drums, grandson cooks up a fever fest for radicalists. Chucking in juiced-up tracks Oh No!!!, We Did It!!! and cranking up the brain-breaking Blood // Water, he unleashes a set imbued with non-stop grit, good intentions and, yes, kindness. As pits open up and audiences remained slathered in heat, the singer left with a poignant message to his set: to “have courage” and to be unafraid of being who you truly are. While you might get caught up in the wonderful chaos of grandson’s artistic sound, the singer always leaves space for humanity. (ZR-S)
It’s a sweltering afternoon and Welsh heroes Holding Absence have an absolutely rammed audience. Overwhelmed and ready to storm the stage, frontman Lucas Woodland humbly thanks the crowd for their riotous energy. And it’s obvious why – song lyrics are volleyed throughout the tent and just as quickly met with thunderous applause. Electric hits Afterlife and Gravity are eagerly chewed up and gleefully hollered back by fans. While Lucas amusingly fluffs up (labelling the show as a 2020 success) there’s nothing dated about today’s set. Pulling off an electric stack of songs, the show’s apex remains unquestioned. Once the eagerly-awaited anthem Like A Shadow rolls around, the deafening power of Holding Absence is unleashed. The band won everyone over at Download Pilot and, this year, they’ve done exactly that again. (ZR-S)
Higher Power could have easily cancelled today. Frontman Jimmy Wizard’s got the lurgy. But while many other bands would have, understandably, pulled out, the Leeds hardcore mob have decided to keep calm and carry on. They’ve drafted in Vein.fm’s Anthony DiDio and Static Dress’ Olli Appleyard to fill in behind the mic, and this ambitious crossover event is a treat to watch. Their sunny slant on hardcore is eagerly lapped up and sounds beastly, and both singers seamlessly assume the role of frontman, treating this performance like they’re playing to a crowd twice as big as this. Both expertly start up some of the most savage mosh-pits this tent has witnessed so far. A very bouncy Olli even manages to create mayhem simply by saying ‘circle-pit’ in a very calm tone. If they can succeed like this even without their frontman, Higher Power could be unstoppable. (EW)
Loathe's performance last year solidified them as one of the finest heavy bands in Britain. Today they arrive to a rammed tent, and continue to stun. Their nu-metal-tech-gaze is immense on a stage like this, with every juddering bass thrust and angular but dreamy riff. It's gratifying to see such a huge crowd for them, just as it is to see such a connection with their emotionally intelligent music. Occasionally a Deftones influence shines a bit too nakedly, but when the result is such a sublime display of power as this, it doesn't matter. Main Stage next time, yeah? (NR)
The atmosphere at the beginning of Dana Dentata’s half-hour on the Dogtooth Stage resembles that of a horror film: creepy piano music, the sound of a baby crying, and then the ominous opening lines of Birth. “We gather here today to put Dana to rest.” These are the sort of brilliantly immersive theatrics few artists playing the smallest stage at Download would dare to attempt, and it continues when Dana slinks into view in a clown wig, which she tosses to the ground as she attacks the title-track from recent album Pantychrist. She raps with enough precision and quietly blazing rage to make her live output sound incredibly close to how it does on record, and she’s compelling to watch as she moves like she’s stalking prey. The enraptured crowd is left at the end chanting “ONE MORE SONG! ONE MORE SONG!” – she might just be the dark horse of this year’s Download. (EW)
Two parts high-sheen pop-rock extravaganza to one of schlock-horror pantomime, Ice Nine Kills' Opus Stage appearance is one of the most riotous of the weekend. The Boston boys' perfectly-measured marriage of edgy melodic hardcore to the sort of enormous choruses that would do Fall Out Boy or Panic! At The Disco proud would have them winning even without theatrical accoutrements, but the dedication with which they throw themselves into their horror movie-obsessed gimmick really does take it to another level. Riffing on the likes of American Psycho (Hip To Be Scared), The Evil Dead (Ex-Mørtis) and Psycho (The Shower Scene), we get a host of props, masks, onstage actors and even costume changes for devilishly-handsome frontman Spencer Charnas. And, just in case anyone's unsure about where they lie on the pop/metal divide, a full-blooded The American Nightmare drops curtain with the chainsaw unsubtlety. Terrific. (SL)
Blood, sweat and tears. That's what Sheffield savages Malevolence have poured into their decade-plus journey to be here this afternoon, and it's what they wring from the thousands who've turned out to witness their next step up the metal ladder. From the moment an ominous air raid siren/heart rate monitor intro-tape combusts into the title-track from third album Malicious Intent, there's electricity in the air. Life Sentence and Slave To Satisfaction deliver torrents of neck-wrecking riffage and stomach-lurching breakdowns. Self Supremacy and On Broken Glass – the latter introduced by frontman Alex Taylor dual-wielding smoke bombs – see enormous, limb-flinging pits erupt into life. Alex's poignant dedication of The Other Side to the "too many" friends lost to suicide in recent years sees even the most battle-hardened moshers dabbing their eyes. It's an incredible, all-court showcase from a band who're quickly becoming one of Britain's best. By the time cataclysmically cathartic closer Keep Your Distance unleashes skull-busting, tooth-loosening bedlam, there can be no doubt their time has come. (SL)
Will Gould is really something, isn’t he? Donning a black necktie and white cut-off tee, the Salem vocalist bursts onstage bringing theatre and gusto from the get-go. With a goth-rock style for fans of Creeper (duh), Holding Absence and Cassyette, the band churn up excitement and have the crowd bellowing lyrics to Fall Out Of Love in no time. The boys have no shortage of gritty punk rock hits and they know it. The brilliantly titled Draculads earns an enormous chorus chant, while Throat, Doomed For Each Other and Destroy Me go down a treat. Whether you’re a Download tent migrator or a die-hard lyric screamer, Salem have you covered. And, it’s a fact, Will is undoubtedly one of the most effortlessly buzzed up wordslingers onstage today. (ZR-S)
“There’s lots of goths in the sun,” Cassyette observes from her vantage point on the Opus Stage. “That’s never usually a good mix.” She’s right on all counts – there are many, many people here willing to bake in their all black ensembles to see her. The angsty Dear Goth sounds electric in this setting, and the heaviest moments of Behind Closed Doors feel thunderous. It’s a lofty achievement playing the second stage after only making her festival debut at last year’s Pilot, and for the most part, she rises to the occasion. A couple of songs towards the end, Dead Roses and Petrichor, sound a little weaker, her voice occasionally straining during the latter, but it doesn’t dilute the enthusiasm. Aside from a couple of minor hiccups, Cassyette is still leaving this stage a winner. (EW)
"After four and a half decades of crazy, crazy nights playing the biggest of venues, KISS aren’t far off wiping off the face paint for the last time. It means that tonight, their fifth Donington headliner, is to be their last. But this isn’t a funeral – there are moments of gentle sentimentality here and there, but it’s never sickly. Instead, it’s a chance for these legends to hold a masterclass in how rockin’ and rollin’ is really done. It’s meant to be a celebration, and as celebrations go, it’s not half bad…"
Read the full review: What happened when KISS headlined Download 2022
When it comes to counterprogramming, Download has rarely done better than offering the almighty Electric Wizard as an alternative to creaky old KISS. They might be confined to the weirdly off-kilter Dogtooth tent, but held up against those New York legends' cartoonish hard-rock shtick, the Dorset doomsters offer an uncensored buffet of sex, drugs and violence. A packed-in crowd can't help but partake. With EW's trademark lightshow flinging it's assortment of bare breasts and kaleidoscopic colours against the back of the tent, the show is already an esoteric, adults-only affair, but it's the borderline feral festival atmosphere – and the thick, sticky-sweet fug hanging over a packed-in crowd – that make tonight truly special. As Jus Osborn and Liz Buckingham stack up riff after riff, individual songs lose meaning (though the exceptional Black Mass deserves particular mention) and we're all sucked helplessly into the void. Here's hoping we make it out in time for tomorrow… (SL)
The Sleep Token lore – where everything they do is in worship of a mysterious deity named Sleep – is founded on reverence. When they arrive, and their audience sings along to honey-drenched infatuation ode Alkaline word perfectly, they command that exact sense of reverence. They sound phenomenal doing it, too, filling the tent magnificently, with every boom of the drum sounding nothing short of colossal. Vessel’s absorption in the music is a thing of awe, particularly during Mine, which he spends a decent third of close to sobbing, almost wailing the final notes yet still maintaining perfect pitch. After the head-banging blast of The Offering to conclude, and the lights die down, the crowd are left chanting, “SLEEP TOKEN! SLEEP TOKEN!” This is a band worthy of worship. (EW)
Frank Carter is all over the place this evening. Whether storming back and forth across the massive Opus Stage, clambering over the heads of the thousands of fans who've turned out to see him, or quarrelling with the security trying to drag him back to shore, the fiery frontman who first played Donington as part of Gallows 15 years ago has lost little of his energy since. "I'm nervous… This has never happened to me before," he admits at one point. The next, he's dedicating a moment's silence to "the other bands that we just murdered". Songs like Take It To The Brink, and a cover of The Distillers' classic Drain The Blood (to make up for that band's cancellation) are delivered with stripped-back, punky aplomb. Others like mega hit My Town come garlanded with ticker-tape, confetti and beach balls. At one point he even video-calls his mum – before launching awkwardly into the darkly confessional Bang Bang. For those of us fortunate enough to have witnessed Frank & The Rattlesnakes' Friday night headline at Download Pilot last year, this riotous showing makes for a compelling contrast. The pre-sunset glow actually better suits their current Sticky aesthetic, and the lack of pressure to anchor the whole event allows for a faster, looser showcase. More than that, though, the opportunity to upstage established icons KISS fuels their fire to new heights. By the time we tumble through a ramshackle I Hate You and into exceptional closer Crowbar, it's clear that Frank and the boys have owned Donington for the second year in a row. (SL)
A staple in the alternative scene, A Day To Remember have earned their keep. With plenty of catchy bangers, frontman Jeremy McKinnon knows exactly how to get a crowd going. Merely seconds into their set, the vocalist grins before dropping the legendary Downfall Of Us All on the audience. Shredding through hits Right Back At It Again, Have Faith In Me, If I’m Made Of Wax… the American rockers put on a show for the die-hard unconverted. “It’s so fucking good to be back!” Jeremy screams. The band are not here to make new fans, but to entertain the ones that have gotten them here. Chalking up a solid set of old and new sing-along moments, A Day To Remember prove their worth. It’s a comfortable, confident set pulled off by the outfit that have done this time and time again. And, as The Plot To Bomb The Panhandle closes out, we’re left hoping for just a little more… (ZR-S)
Last year at Download Pilot, after a year and a bit with the volume turned down, Skindred were the perfect band for a celebration of live music's return. It was phenomenal. Now imagine that in front of five-times the crowd. Somehow, it's even more awesome than that watershed last summer. Benji Webbe is the most banterous, charismatic man ever to be charged with getting an audience to get off their arses and have a fucking good time, and it's a vocation that, here, makes him a God. There is love and togetherness, a sense of shared joy, and it's the perfect way to declare the weekend has properly kicked off. The best festival band ever? It's a photo finish if they're not. (NR)
Iron Maiden, the pride of Download, aren't on til tomorrow. But for Steve Harris, a warm-up before the mane event with British Lion is irresistible. Thus, Dogtooth is stuffed to the gills with Maiden faithful. They're rewarded with a set of big, banging heavy rock. Arry looks like he's already over on the Apex Stage, mouthing every word and putting every ounce of energy into every note. But even he isn't having the most fun here. That prize goes to singer Richard Taylor, whose enthusiasm is of the most infectious, energetic stripe. As a dose of roar power, this is killer. We're not lion. (NR)
For better or worse, you know what you're getting with Airbourne. On the same day that iconic Aussie soap opera Neighbours dropped the shutters after 37 years in production, the Warrnambool bad boys clatter on to the Opus Stage to confirm that their homeland's hard-rock industry faces no such redundancy. There's something almost farcically old-school about the wall of Marshall stacks they roll on, about frontman Joel O'Keefe's freewheeling, shirtless delivery, and about the skull-thudding simplicity of cuts like Ready To Rock, Back In The Game and Girls In Black. A few beers in, however, it's impossible not to be swept along. "I just love shouting, 'DONINGTON!'" Joel grins during a rare pause for breath. "Maybe that's because I grew up watching VHS tapes of Iron Maiden, AC/DC and Motörhead here!" It's an admission that endears them even more to the denim-and-leather brigade losing their shit down the front. And, by the time they crank into Live It Up and off-the-rails closer Running Wild with an actual onstage air raid siren, there's hardly a soul within earshot not reaching for their air guitar. (SL)
Black Veil Brides have brought a prototype arena show for their sweltering Friday afternoon slot. They’ve got smoke, they’ve got fire, they’ve even got some small fireworks, but not everything is so slick. Opener Faithless sounds a bit muddy, and Andy Biersack’s raspy vocals are only just able to cut through. Knives And Pens, however, arrives to save the day, sounding sharper and rousing the crowd for sing-alongs and mosh-pits. Newer cuts such as Wake Up are met less enthusiastically, and this crowd seems to be mostly here for the nostalgia of their earlier days, but a closing one-two of Fallen Angels and In The End sends the energy into the stratosphere. (EW)
Two decades in, Lacuna Coil still aren't really a festival band. Under a glaring midday sun, the legendary Italian goth-metallers seem robbed of some of their vampiric power. The velvety red-and-black banner draped at the rear of the stage lacks a little of its lustre in the open air. Songs like Reckless and Heaven's A Lie drift over the heads of the legions of casual fans. Hell, in ill-judged facepaint, the three band members who aren't co-vocalists Cristina Scabbia or Andrea Ferro even look a little bit like melted ice-creams.
And yet, there's still an awful lot to recommend. Like some veiled enchantress, Cristina's magnetic star-power remains utterly undimmed. Brighter cuts such as the eastern-tinged Raise Our Truth actually seem to draw power from the wide blue skies. And for those of us who've been there for every step of their storied careers, there's something deeply reassuring about seeing these endlessly accomplished veterans plying their trade after the rocky last few years. Long live Lacuna. (SL)
"Download Festival, I've been dreaming of this day for a long, long, looong time," grins Bury Tomorrow frontman Dani Winter-Bates. "It's been two years of delays and rescheduling and bullshit – and look at us now!" Factoring in the departure of vocalist Jason Cameron last summer, the Southampton metalcore masters endured more upheaval than most over the pandemic period, but an all-action Apex Stage showing is just the ticket to lay those troubles to rest.
With rhythm guitarist Ed Hartwell and keyboardist Tom Prendergast picking up any slack, and flame-towers erupting from the stage, songs like The Grey (VIXI) become grandiose metal anthems. Apparently, security have "forgotten" to prohibit calls for walls of death and circle-pits, allowing "Team BT" to swirl spectacularly into life, while Black Flame sees the band cheer-lead every hurled body, attempting to break their own "unofficial" festival record for crowdsurfers over the top. By the time we crash into unhinged closer Cannibal, they've smashed everyone into submission – and galvanised their rep as one of the UK's bloody-minded best. (SL)
“One band, five girls, get ready to have your effing socks rocked off by [email protected]” a recorded intro booms as Eastside’s most promising pop-punk trio burst onstage. Wasting no time, the Download first-timers launch into rowdy opener May The Odds Be In Your Favour. A vision of sprawling black and green hair, vocalist Edith Victoria claims the stage rattling off moderately impressive vocals and infectious energy. Charging through gloriously, riotous anthems, Mapped Out and a proper good mash-up of New Found Glory, Sweetness, and Lit elicits a roar from the crowd. And, before it’s all over, Meet Me @ The Altar remind us how they’re able to trailblaze – they’re here for a long run. “I love to stay this with all my heart, we are an all-girl band and we would love to see more women play more rock music,” Edith crows. The tent erupts and it’s clear Meet Me @ The Altar did exactly what they came to do. (ZR-S)
“Alright you lot, let’s have some fucking fun then, shall we?” PENGSHUi’s MC-slash-frontman Illaman says to the sizeable audience before him. He speaks like this crowd are going to get a proper good sorting out, and a proper good sorting out they receive. With a glitchy grime-punk sound that might be appetising to fans of Enter Shikari, Bob Vylan and Asteroid Boys, they’ve got tunes made for raging to, and they shine in the live setting they’re clearly engineered for. Break The Law and Eat The Rich have the perfect shout along moments that even someone who’d wandered into the tent by accident, unaware of who was playing, could participate in, and Nobody Cares sparks a monstrous mosh-pit. But for all the rowdiness, their set ends on a wholesome note, with Illaman encouraging people to hug the person next to them, and the moments where they lob T-shirts into the crowd is another nice touch. PENGSHUi came to start a riot, and they got one. (EW)
Melbourne punks Press Club are clearly feeling bold today. By the end of the first song, singer Natalie Foster has already climbed off the stage in an early display of some impressive stagecraft. When she is actually onstage, she fills it brilliantly, impressively, rocketing from left to right as she snarls through the likes of Endless Motion and Cancelled, tossing her hair like she’s in a shampoo advert. Although the crowd, to begin with, doesn’t seem full of diehards, the increasing number of punters nodding along and cheering suggests whatever they’re doing is working. It’s confirmed by closing track Suburbia, where Natalie leads a "jump the fuck up!" from the floor. The energy spikes and she is in the eye of the storm. This crowd’s been sufficiently primed to rock the whole weekend away. (EW)
"Hairy-WOT?" grins one smug looking dickhead, seconds before Britain's most brutal new band Heriot arrive to kick off Download 2022 with their gnarliest steel toecaps. Safe to say, he duly eats shit as the Dogtooth Stage explodes in a blur of dust and tangled bodies. Placing the dual vocals of Jake Packer and Debbie Gough at the centre of their sonic maelstrom, the Midlands maulers are taking no prisoners this afternoon, with a sandpaper set that'd do Nails or old-school Code Orange proud. Dynamite bangers like Enter The Flesh elicit circle-pits 50 feet wide. The title-track to breakthrough recent EP Profound Morality unleashes a nightmarish darkness at odds with its status as the performance's 'lighters-aloft' moment. Bludgeoning closer Cleansed Existence hammers a rammed tent into the dirt with its crushing combination of hardcore attitude and death metal heft. It's all over in a retina-searing flash, but such is their skull-caving impact that you can bet your battle jacket on far higher billing next time Heriot plough into Donington's hallowed turf. (SL)
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The Cover Story
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