FESTIVAL REVIEW: Download Festival – Saturday 11th June

If you didn’t read yesterday, Distorted Sound Magazine headed over to Download Festival last weekend and reviewed some pretty cool bands. Have a read of what we thought of Friday right here, but for now here is the reviews from Saturday’s acts from Jessica Howkins, Tim Redman, Dean Martin, Jack Fermor-Worrell and Zoe Gale!

Black Sabbath – Headliner – JH

Photo credit: Ben Gibson, Download 2016
Photo credit: Ben Gibson, Download 2016

As the thunder rolls in and the echos and pouring rain surrounds the crowd, you can only expect that it’s going to be another dosage of rain that has been hovering over Download Festival, but of course, to the tens of thousands of metalheads out on the field, it can only be the one, the only, BLACK SABBATH.

In 2012, the heavy metal pioneers graced Donington for their reunion, only four years later, the band have decided that they have been able to give the full goodbye that they have wanted, meaning this year was the final time BLACK SABBATH would ever stand before us at Download ever again, this thought alone, sends chills down the spine.

Just hearing the sound effects of Black Sabbath, the amount of sheer excitement that erupted from the crowd was enough to put grins on the faces of the men who inspired and crafted an entire genre. Unfortunately, for the first ten minutes of BLACK SABBATH‘s set, there was technical issues and front-man Ozzy Osbourne sounded out of tune and at one time, forgot the lyrics to one of the bands most iconic songs, War Pigs.

Despite the above, nobody cared because for one last time they was seeing the Godfathers of heavy metal. Until of course, it wasn’t just the intro to Black Sabbath anymore and the rain really did come battering down once more. It was an unfortunate shame that a noticeable portion of the crowd left due to the rain, either needing to get home before their cars were stuck in mud or to salvage what was left of their soggy tents. For the ones that stayed though, the decision was correctly made. Going from doom SABBATH of Into The Void to the upbeat yet diminished tones of the guitars to Paranoid and Children of the Grave.

Regardless of the problems that happened at the beginning of their set, nothing mattered towards the end. The Download farewell performance was enough on its own to bring an entire community of people together to just stand, watch and honour the men who helped craft a genre, men who had it not been for them, we might not have been stood in a field united.

Rating: 8/10

Deftones – Lemmy Stage – JFW

Photo credit: Jen O'Neill, Download 2016
Photo credit: Jen O’Neill, Download 2016

 You’d think that a Saturday evening slot sandwiched between MEGADETH and BLACK SABBATH might be a daunting prospect for a lot of bands to take up. Luckily for themselves, DEFTONES aren’t like most other bands. The Sacramento alt-rockers are hot off the release of one of their strongest albums of recent times, in the form of Gore, and are out to give Donington Park a good kicking. Opening with a furious run-through of Rocket Skates is exactly what the Download crowd needs at this point, and to follow up with both My Own Summer and Be Quiet and Drive is nothing short of a ludicrously strong musical statement. The rest of their set might as well play out as a greatest hits compilation (confusing omission of Back To School notwithstanding), and the enjoyment of both the crowd and the band members is plain to see. DEFTONES as a band have always had an etheric quality to their sound, managing to blend crunchy guitar riffs to soaring melodic vocals and deafening screams, but it’s perhaps most evident today on the two cuts aired from Gore – lead single Prayers/Triangles and closing track Rubicon both sound utterly titanic this time round, and Chino Moreno’s vocals are a joy to behold. Watching tens of thousands of people collectively lose their minds to the furious riffing of set-closer Engine No. 9 is, alone, one of the highlights of the entire day – and that’s no mean feat considering the day’s bill.

Rating: 8/10

Megadeth – Lemmy Stage – JH

Photo credit: Jen O'Neill, Download 2016
Photo credit: Jen O’Neill, Download 2016

Unfortunately MEGADETH have always been a marmite band to some of the crowd at Donington, but the people who love them, really love them. There seemed to be a sense of respect in the air the second MEGADETH came on stage and erupted into Hangar 18. Not just for the band but a lot of fans that were watching the Big Four band were paying their respects to one of the best and most iconic drummers MEGADETH ever saw, Nick Menza, who passed away this year.

Despite not actually paying any respects on stage, you could tell that there was an air about Dave Mustaine as he played tracks from the four albums he shared with Menza. If you have seen MEGADETH before, you would have noticed the change in the amount of power he gave out to each song.

MEGADETH did play a fair few songs from their new album Dystopia and often, the bands new albums can be a hit or miss but this one certainly came across really well with the crowd at Download Festival. The sound was spot on to what fans of the band enjoyed from their previous albums. Without a doubt, MEGADETH put in their all, especially with their new line-up.

One of the most memorable highlights was when hell froze over and Dave Mustaine introduced Nikki Sixx to the stage for SEX PISTOLS classic, Anarchy in the UK. The entire crowd erupted and chanted the anarchistic lyrics back at the stage.

As always, they’re never 100% spot on, but that is what makes the band so great to watch live, they’re not flawless, they have plenty of rough edges but that is a sign of hard work, determination and a band that has aged well through the years.

Rating: 8/10

Sixx:A.M. – Lemmy Stage – JFW

Photo credit: Ross Silcocks, Download 2016
Photo credit: Ross Silcocks, Download 2016

Following on from ATREYU on the Lemmy Stage are LA hard-rockers SIXX:A.M. – now the full-time project of former MÖTLEY CRÜE bassist Nikki Sixx. Kicking off with fan-favourite track, This Is Gonna Hurt, the band display a clear knack for writing catchy rock anthems that could (and often do) sit comfortably on US rock radio. New single Rise is met with some of the best response from the mud-coated crowd, and its soaring vocal line (aided by backing singers Amber Vanbuskirk and Melissa Harding) is a clear hit with some sections of the audience. That said however, there really isn’t too much substance to the band aside from a few strong choruses. Vocalist James Michael has such extreme charisma, it borders on parody, but his vocals do waver occasionally – reducing the power of songs like Prayers For The Damned to a mere whimper, compared to their studio versions. Guitarist DJ Ashba and drummer Dustin Steinke give adequate performances throughout, but there have definitely been stronger performances from everyone on-stage today. Closing with the pseudo-NICKELBACK sounding Life Is Beautiful also proves a slightly underwhelming end to a set that has on-the-whole been middling in quality. SIXX:A.M. are a band with a lot of star power and some potential, but for now, that seems to be relatively untapped.

Rating: 6/10

Skindred – Zippo Encore Stage – ZG

SKINDRED are no strangers to Download. This was their sixth appearance at the festival and they still continue to be one of the best live experiences in the metal scene today. Fusing Dan Sturgess‘ DJ Skills with ridiculously infectious riffs, SKINDRED know exactly how to create a party atmosphere. Being a part of their crowd is a 24/7 mosh pit: you are consistently thrown, pushed and shoved – in the best way possible! The energy that exuberated from the crowd was insane.

One thing that comes with a SKINDRED show is their predictability. Whilst not entirely a negative attribute, it would be refreshingly interesting to see how their performance would go down without the crowd waiting for the staple party tracks. Tracks such as Rat Race, Doom Riff and Nobody were amongst the set list that drove the crowd into a jumping frenzy.

Benji Webbe is always an incredible front man that keeps the audience entertained through song breaks, working brilliantly alongside Dan‘s DJ set. In 2014, SKINDRED made use of the Harlem Shake trend within their set, this year they opted to play JUSTIN BIEBER‘s Sorry, to which Benji wrapped the audience around his finger, leading an echoing chant of “Heavy! Metal!”.

They end their set with the only way suitable, their song Warning and their obligatory Newport Helicopter. Thousands in the crowd screamed, jumped and felt a sense of release as this was the moment they had all been waiting for.

SKINDRED drain every bit of energy from the crowd. The atmosphere is thick, the crowd is high and the music is intoxicating. As the helicopter and the shirts die down, you know your ears will be buzzing for more.

With SKINDRED, you definitely come for the music, and stay for the party. The absolute highlight of Download.

Rating: 9/10

TesseracT – Zippo Encore Stage – ZG

Branded as ‘tomorrow’s headliner’, TESSERACT continue to slaughter every performance with their captivating sound and claim every stage with their hypnotising stage persona.

Taking to the Zippo Encore Stage for their first ever appearance at Download Festival, the crowd can hardly take the anticipation; chanting ‘TESSERACT‘ and cheering at the slightest indication that the band will make themselves known.

Playing fan favourites Concealing Fate Part 2: Deception and Of Mind – Nocturne, the crowd continually fed off the band and screamed heavenly alongside Dan Tompkin. Dan constantly expressed his thanks to the audience on multiple occasions, exposing how genuine this band really are. His front-man persona has developed immensely through every tour, and leads the audience through every syncopated stab and time signature change with his confident, almost hypnotic body popping.

Jay Postones and Amos Williams are an incredible force together, their talent is emphasised when their songs die down to allow for vocals – they make their instruments look extremely easy to play.

TESSERACT are fluid and precise, aiding in making such a niche style accessible to the masses. The only real gripe being that their ambience is more befitting to an intimate venue. Their multiple layers of effects, the intimacy and their songs need walls to bounce off, to consume your being and their performance at Download just didn’t satisfy that entire craving

Rating: 8/10  

Municipal Waste – The Dogtooth Stage – TR 

Ross Silcocks - Municipal Waste - 5c274190-3083-11e6-af3d-7e5f4a9d322b - Web
Photo credit: Ross Silcocks, Download 2016

Billed to finish just before the legendary BLACK SABBATH take the stage on the Saturday it’s a surprise to see the Dogtooth stage tent as completely packed as it is for MUNICIPAL WASTE. Within seconds of the band taking the stage however a huge space appears in the centre of the tent for those brave enough to venture into the mosh pit. In an all too brief forty five minutes set the band rattles through its back catalogue with Wolves of Chernobyl, Headbanger Face Rip and Sadistic Magician all making an appearance. With the band focusing on making sure that they get as many tracks out as possible in the time they received the only allowances are a toast to recently deceased drummer Brandon Ferrell and the announcement that one of the tracks played is a new one, hinting at an album later this year. Closing with Born To Party MUNICIPAL WASTE certainly made it all too clear that this is a band that’s been gone from these shores for all too long.

Rating: 9/10

Shvpes – Maverick Stage – DM

Opening the Maverick Stage on Download’s second day of music was SHVPES, a rock band from Birmingham, formally known as CYTOTA. Whilst still being a fairly new band, the members all seemed completely at home on stage, having a great time and interacting enthusiastically with the audience. Despite the early morning start, a large crowd was gathered in the tent for their performance and continued to grow throughout their set. Frontman Griffin Dickinson not only engages with his audience, saying things such ‘I’m not saying you should crowd surf, that would be against health and safety regulations, but if you do this beer is yours’ prompting some laughter, but is also becoming known for jumping down into the pits with his fans! Whilst in the search for a new bassist after parting ways with Ollie Pike, friend of the band Josh Levy stepped in for their debut Download performance. Due to the nature of Download, and the opportunity for a lot of people to see SHVPES who otherwise might not, this performance feels like it will be a massive step in their career.

Rating: 7/10

Jessica Howkins

Co Editor-in-Chief for Distorted Sound Magazine, Music Journalism student.