So here we have the final instalment of Download Festival coverage, if you haven’t been following, Distorted Sound had a team assembled to go and give you the down low of exactly what happened at this years Donington Park! Jessica Howkins, Zoe Gale, Tim Redman and Dean Martin give their reviews of Sunday!
Iron Maiden – Lemmy Stage – Headliner – JH
IRON MAIDEN, the legacy of the beast, quite literally. After just over 40 years, you would expect them to be slowing down and putting their slippers on, not running around, fighting a huge Eddie and ripping out his heart on a stage at one of the most legendary places in rock and metal, Donington Park.
With their Book of Souls tour underway, it only seemed fitting to have the Book of Souls festival experience and just like every single new theme that IRON MAIDEN have for each tour, you can guarantee, there was goosebumps and there was magic happening. An IRON MAIDEN show is like Disneyland but to metal heads all over the world.
As the atmosphere was set with UFO‘s Doctor Doctor, the amount of excitement that was felt through the crowd was something else. There was a dividing group of people however, the people who just like IRON MAIDEN and the people who would give their souls to see IRON MAIDEN. However, the contagiousness of each person who was watching their favourite band escalated and infected every other person, ready and waiting for the six-piece to run out of every corner of the stage with If Eternity Should Fail.
Of course, there was many complaints that they was playing too much of their new album, well, of course it was the Book of Souls tour, so the complaints were wrongly put in place and unfortunately dulled down the expectations of the crowd who perhaps hadn’t had huge exposure to the latest album. Despite this, whether IRON MAIDEN were playing old or new, they still absolutely put everything into their performance.
Unfortunately, there was many technical problems throughout the show where the microphone of front-man Bruce Dickinson kept cutting out, it was consistently noticeable from start to finish, however everyone took it on the chin, including the band, knowing full well that it had been a generalised problem all weekend long. In fact the age of the band definitely showed with professionalism as they dealt with the technical problems that arose.
One of the most memorable moments of the show however was for encore song Blood Brothers. Bruce Dickinson enlightened the crowd on the events of Orlando, expressing his concern and upset with how the world is in its current state, to hear such speeches are becoming the norm from bands nowadays, it’s a way of spreading the message but the way Bruce spoke, he had the entire crowd transfixed, watching and agreeing, cheering as he expressed his hatred for the amount of brutal killing going on in the world, before erupting into the hit Blood Brothers.
Throughout the entire song, the atmosphere had changed from excitement into something completely unreal. There was a connection between each member of the crowd and IRON MAIDEN themselves. People joined arms and they sang as loud as possible, the one of many things that makes an IRON MAIDEN show so special is the fact they have such a unique ability to unite so many people and they didn’t fail to do just that at Download.
Nightwish – Lemmy Stage – TR
Taking the stage following hard rockers DISTURBED and before the legendary IRON MAIDEN one might have thought that symphonic metallers NIGHTWISH might have a tough time of it, especially given the weather their being forced to perform in. However the band seemingly ignore all of these possible issues and instead just get on stage and perform their hearts out. Compressing a normally much longer set-list down to mostly classic material with a handful of tracks from the critically received Endless Forms Most Beautiful album NIGHTWISH were in full force with vocalist Floor Jansen holding the crowd in the palm of her hand throughout. A surprisingly restrained stage show was all the more effected for its simplicity and allowed the attention of the crowd to be held by the band and their music. With Elan, Nemo and I Want My Tears Back all performed to perfection, NIGHTWISH have confirmed that not only are they the best they’ve ever been but that they aren’t even approaching done yet.
Halestorm – Lemmy Stage – DM
American rockers HALESTORM took over the Lemmy Stage and caught the attention of many people just wandering the field, drawing in a large crowd. Lzzy Hale’s powerful, and sometimes gravelly, voice is one that attracts interest and holds the attention of any crowd. Playing Mz. Hyde and Love Bites (So Do I) from their second album The Strange Case Of… showcases the power and control of Lzzy’s voice. Closing the set with I Miss The Misery was popular with the crowd, being sung from the front to the back of the field, and had an added instrumental section in which the audience was invited to sing along. Arejay Hale’s drum solo was impressive even to non-drummers and his tendency to stand on his kit to interact with the audience was a refreshing change from hidden drummers who are merely a name. A captivating set from a reliably excellent band.
Amon Amarth – Lemmy Stage – JH
The only time any of the crowd thought that they would be needing a boat was for our favourite Swedish Vikings AMON AMARTH. Kicking off with a devilish grin, The Pursuit of Vikings kick started the crowd into frenzies of pits, crowd-surfers and the headbangers.
The band are well known for their heavy riffs, their thunderous drums and the bellowing vocals of front-man Johan Hegg powerful enough to summon the thunder Gods themselves. Their performance at Download was nothing less than expected and satisfying to see as after last time, the melodic death metallers only got to play a couple of songs due to the technical problems.
Tracks such as First Kill from their latest album Jomsviking went down extremely well with the crowd, showing that the band are only getting stronger with each release and each live performance that they put on. Wherever you are, on the shores, in a field, on a long boat, AMON AMARTH are not to be missed at a live performance. For a bunch of vikings, they bear only grins and a horn full of beer, the rest is pure talent and passion.
Breaking Benjamin – Zippo Encore Stage – DM
A rare UK tour for the American rockers so Download is an obvious choice to include on their list. This drew an enormous crowd to the Zippo Encore Stage on Sunday afternoon and a lot of excitement buzzed through the fans whilst waiting for them to begin. It’s fair to say, their first ever performance at Download Festival was a success with nearly every word sung along with and the field completely packed. A very clean and professional performance, the members were cohesive on stage, although it was a shame that the vocals were a little unclear throughout and the production of the sound was poorly mixed with the drums drowning the rest of the instruments. However the audience was completely won over by a mix of BREAKING BENJAMIN songs, and crowd favourite The Entertainer. Whilst there was never any doubt the set would end with The Diary of Jane, prior to the opening rift, fans all over the field were calling for it to be played.
Periphery – Zippo Encore Stage – ZG
Hugely celebrated within the progressive scene, PERIPHERY took to the Zippo Encore stage at Download. Minutes beforehand, members of the band were caught looking slightly worried at their rig, talking to the sound technicians and pressing numerous buttons – a negative pointer to a performance that relies heavily on technology. The worry of the audience that their set may have been cut shorter than anticipated was quickly blown away however by their punctual start.
To a PERIPHERY fan, their set unfortunately did not live up to their previous shows, their sound resembled a slight blur and the energy simply was not there.
Through no fault of the band, the audience seemed lifeless to PERIPHERY’s poly-rhythmic riffs and Spencer Sotelo’s asks of ‘I want to see you move!’ was unfortunately only heard by a handful of people in the middle of the crowd. The atmosphere was very dead for music so lovely, thus having an impact on the way the whole experience should have been interpreted, becoming boring rather quickly.
Festivals should never be the most conclusive way to judge – the huge sound spillage, crowds being built up of dwellers, dawdling until the headliners arrive, and the intimacy that comes with contained gigs is taken away. However, a performance is a performance.
From what could be deciphered, PERIPHERY were on point; playing a mixture of old and brand new music. Witnessing Matt Halpern’s musicianship on Make Total Destroy and Misha Mansoor’s technicality on Icarus Lives will always be an impressive sight to behold. It was extremely pleasing to see Adam ‘Nolly’ Getgood as part of the line-up after PERIPHERY announced he would be departing as a touring member. Midway through their set, PERIPHERY performed their most recent single, The Price is Wrong, off their upcoming album, Periphery III: Select Difficulty, however it was an unfortunate wasted effort and did nothing to spark the crowd’s interest. Such a strong group of musicians within the metal scene that failed to show their potential as a festival band.
Electric Wizard – The Maverick Stage – TR
Packed into an overfilled Maverick stage tent with the rain pouring down outside and a distinctly herbal smell in the air four black clad figures took the stage and so begun ELECTRIC WIZARD‘s half hour set. Leaving no time for any sort of stage interaction the foursome instead blended their songs together into one continuous wall of doom laden sound where recognition came through a riff cutting through the haze to announce itself. Dopethrone, Witchcult Today and The Satanic Rites of Drugula all appeared to a great response from the crowd. With the tent filled further by the influx of people seeking to escape the rain by the time ELECTRIC WIZARD bowed out with Funeralopolis the atmosphere inside gave of an inescapable feeling that perfectly complimented one of the best Doom bands in the world today. A brilliant performance.
Atilla – The Maverick Stage – DM
ATTILA, like any potentially offensive music, comes with its own parental advisory label as their performance backdrop. It was quickly warranted as frontman Chris Fronzack assured the audience that ‘every penny spent on merch goes on drugs and alcohol, it all goes to a good cause’ and encouraging every member of the audience to ‘put those middle fingers up if you don’t give a fuck’. The American metalcore/nu metal rockers are known for their swearing, anti-regulation attitude, and all round desire to have a good time. And their audience seemed to agree as, when the first few bars of their opening track sounded, a pit immediately opened up with more energy and enthusiasm than is seen at many rock gigs. Audience participation continued through singing along, especially to Party with the Devil and Middle Fingers Up, and even playing catch with a hot dog between Chris and the audience. ATILLA are exactly the kind of band to see on a rainy Sunday morning in June because the entire tent was bouncing throughout their set and, for a while, everyone forgot about the rain outside. Whilst ATILLA could be considered a bit of a Marmite band, a mix of rap style lyrics and metal influences are your thing, then you’ll love ATTILA.
The King Is Blind – The Dogtooth Stage – TR
Featuring some familiar names to anyone who’s been around in the UK metal scene for a while THE KING IS BLIND took the stage full of energy and clearly enthusiastic to be out performing. The bands brand of Death/Doom metal clearly went down well with the packed tent and elicited a mosh pit, to the delight of the band, for the second half of their all too short set. Hugely aggressive and clearly not in the mood to take prisoners THE KING IS BLIND made a massive impression and will no doubt have garnered many a new fan from their performance.
Witchsorrow – The Dogtooth Stage – TR
With the rain mercifully letting up the only people in the Dogtooth stages tent for WITCHSORROW where those interested in catching a slice of doomy goodness from one of the UKs most exciting new bands. With only twenty five minutes to ply their trade the three piece avoided stage banter for the most part, instead focusing on hammering through as much of their impressive recent release No Light, Only Fire as possible. Stacked full of riffs and with a rock ‘n’ roll energy lacking in many modern doom bands WITCHSORROW certainly announced themselves as a band to continue watching into the future.
So there you have it, all three days of coverage from the Distorted Sound team!
Don’t forget to get in touch with us and let us know who your favourite band was over the weekend! The rain might have dampened some of our moods and we can now admit on the last day, made two of us hide in a portaloo when the rain come down but we had a whale of a time!