Review by Jack Arkell
As I Lay Dying kicked off Saturday’s action at Download with their only UK appearance of the summer, with frontman Tim Lambesis proving that the right frontman can get a crowd moving no matter how early in the morning it is. Their melodic metal hit the spot for many, as a sizeable main stage crowd proved to be very receptive to the Californians.
On the subject of vocalists, Fozzy’s Chris Jericho is certainly a well known one due to his professional wrestling career. Though many have chosen to watch Fozzy for this reason alone, the large majority leave very satisfied that the Canadian is worthy of gracing Donington Park on rockstar credentials alone. Tracks ‘Martyr’ and ‘Enemy’ prove popular, with the band reluctant to leave the stage when their allotted time is up.
Halestorm fare even better, launching into their performance with recent single ‘Love Bites (So Do I)’. From there, a slew of captivating tracks impress, with Lzzy Hale’s powerful voice and brother Arejay’s drumming skills particularly astounding. A definite highlight of a stacked Saturday line up.
Over on the main stage, Black Veil Brides receive the hostile reception that many had anticipated. The band stand their ground though, determined to finish their slot amid the opposition and downright idiocy of a percentage of the crowd. A far more effective tactic would have been to go and watch another band, as the supposedly disliked band of five still manage to draw a sizeable crowd.
“We are Trivium, we are a metal band,” states Matt Heafy from the off as the Download success story of 2005 return once again to cause as much chaos as possible. The band seem genuinely appreciative of the reaction they receive, responding by attempting to start eight circle pits simultaneously. Of course, they succeed, as the band behind 2011’s incredible ‘In Waves’ album demonstrate that they are still as relevant as ever.
The sight of numerous punters dressed as 1980’s hair metallers heading towards the main stage can only mean one thing: Steel Panther. Admittedly, there is little chance of a performance peppered with Shakespearean quotes, but the glam rock throwbacks deliver an outing that many would file under ‘guilty pleasure’. Never has a band been so concerned with posing for the cameras, but their good natured buffoonery is somewhat endearing as a break from the heavier tones of a metal festival. A guest appearance by Corey Taylor for the track ‘Death to All But Metal’ produces the highlight, before the satire continues upon the arrival of Tenacious D.
It takes a brave band to open with six new tracks, but Jack Black and Kyle Gass do so. An inflatable, phallic shaped phoenix adorns the stage as the D bring out the heavy artillery later on, with a collection of tracks from the ‘Pick of Destiny’ album setting the mood for the gargantuan ‘Tribute’, with mass participation from the genuinely massive crowd. Never has comedy tinged rock been such a legitimate live experience.
Killswitch Engage are obviously an entirely different kettle of fish over on the second stage, but the performance is equally as successful. With all the signs of a band returning to form, the band display their confidence with a cover of Dio’s ‘Holy Diver’ which is good enough to justify the risk.
Headliners Metallica have become somewhat of a metal festival house band, appearing anywhere you lay down your tent. The extraordinary thing is that the true metal giants are able to mix up their performances enough that they don’t become tedious. During last year’s extensive tour, they dusted off some lesser played tracks in an attempt to satisfy their more knowledgeable fans. This time round, and even more excitingly, the 1991 magnum opus ‘The Black Album’ is played in its entirety, sandwiched between some of the band’s greatest tracks from ‘Master of Puppets’ to ‘Seek and Destroy’. It is every bit as momentous as promised. It’s a credit to the band that what could have been a formulaic performance was actually quite the opposite, with enjoyment etched on their faces, high fiving the crowd towards the end of the performance. For many, this won’t have been the first time they had seen Metallica, but it was extremely memorable all the same, and a true tour de force at that.