The sun is beating down and it’s Download Festival time. CackBlabbath are ready and eager to get stuck in and we’ve got that excited tingly feeling you used to get at Christmas (before you discovered festivals like this!)
An epic and varied line-up as ever has been put on by the Download team and we want to absorb as much as we can. So as soon as the music starts we’re ready to get stuck in. Off we go then…
The band to pop our Download 2015 cherry is Counterparts over on the Maverick stage. A ferocious bomb blast of a start to the day it is too. The band are beaming as they can’t help themselves and admit that this is the biggest crowd they’ve ever played to; a lot of people have packed into the tent for this one and the Counterparts chaps don’t disappoint. They are livewires onstage as they pound out some hardcore breakdowns with some big old grooves too.
A few pits erupt for the final songs of the set and we’re well and truly up and running.
As we’re walking up to the Jake stage, we get a chance to soak up the sunshine with Hellyeah. The Texan’s are a perfect fit for a hot and humid afternoon like this. Their BBQ and beer inspired metal is made for festivals and we have the added bonus of 50 burgers vans and a bar in every direction to complete the experience.
Hellyeah’s debut album has never been bettered by Vinnie Paul and co. so a big sing-along to ‘You Wouldn’t Know’ is just what we need before we move on…
From Hellyeah to God Damn then… We have a soft spot for noisy duos here at CackBlabbath and God Damn are one of our favourites at the moment. Thom and Ash are, of course, delighted to be playing the festival and Download is so prestigious that even Thom’s mum knew it was a good one to be appearing at.
Thom does his own version of the ‘Angus’ duck walk between his brace of microphones, he almost has the shorts for it too, and can’t resist a quick trip down to the front row half way through the set. Ash may be restricted to the drums but he’s as animated as drummers come too, grinning and gurning as he beats his drums close to the limit.
Scuzzy guitars, clattering drums and a whole load of noise; God Damn tick all the boxes in our simple tastes!
Back out to catch some Main stage action and it is At The Gates time. It’s a bit of an odd booking for the big stage really. We’d take a guess that they’re not the vast majority’s cup of tea, but considering Slipknot are headlining tonight, it’s a good a day as any to subject people to some mid-afternoon Gothenburg Death metal.
To be honest, they look at bit out of sorts on that massive stage in the blazing sunshine. Their usual colossal impact is lost a bit on the summer breeze. The dark confines of Damnation festival is likely to be a better setting for At The Gates.
It’s back into the tent for The Wild Lies now. Big old rock and roll; cooked just how we like it. We cross paths with these fellas quite regularly and they never disappoint. Always a great show from Matthew and the boys and Zak treats us to our first big guitar solos of the weekend. Bigger stages await this band in the near future.
The Raven Age are new ones on us. We’re not too sure what to expect from the Harlow lot but we get a pleasant enough surprise. Melodic and heavy, these chaps seem capable of penning some proper modern metal tunes and should do alright at this lark. Shades of Trivium shine through at times and a little bit of BFMV too, in the ballad territory.
Defeater are up next on the Maverick stage. A band we don’t know too much about either but it seems everyone else does. Bundles of energy and a screamo punk blast of noise.
Okay, we’ve caught up with you all, not too shabby… but erm, nothing to write home about.
Wow, we’ve seen the name Beartooth being banded around but we’ve never properly investigated them. No need to now as they well and truly introduced themselves with their huge choruses and spazz-out breakdowns. One of those proper big grin moments, when you totally get taken by surprise by a band you’ve never listened to before.
Right, we’ve allocated ourselves a break after all that excitement. The camera is in the bag and we’re off for a double header of Clutch and Corrosion Of Conformity with a cold pint of Guinness. Heaven.
Clutch are first, and they are on the Main stage, where they deserve to be. They’ve been on a steep upward trajectory ever since they released the incredible ‘Earth Rocker’ album and they seem to be in unstoppable form. Neil Fallon isn’t exactly a cheerleader when it comes to crowd titillation but we don’t think he’s ever had any designs on being the next Paul Stanley. Dirty great tunes like the ones Clutch possess are enough to keep us happy and that black stuff slips down nicely to the likes of ‘Electric Worry’
A leisurely 500 yard stroll to the Zippo stage (via the bar again) gets us front and centre for Corrosion Of Conformity. It doesn’t seem five minutes since their reunion tour but we’re thrilled to have them back so soon.
COC are a real bare bones rock band. They don’t even have a back drop today because they “Left it at home” and the state of Woody’s old faithful guitar makes the average tramp look like a gearhead. They play todays set in a relaxed manner, from the opening jam of ‘These Shrouded Temples’ to the more immediate rouser of ‘Vote With A Bullet’ it all seems like one long immersion into riff heaven.
We’ve said it plenty already this year but… It’s great to have this COC line-up back on the road. They look like they’re enjoying themselves up there, and there are plenty in the crowd lapping it up too. Twenty years on from their Donington debut they still absolutely kick ass!
Back to work, we’ve got Dragonforce to photo… and it seems everyone else wants to snap them too. We didn’t realise they were so popular these days!
Pummelling power metal that you just can’t help but clench a raised fist to. Razor sharp riffs and still the fastest solos out there; Dragonforce are a pleasure to witness in full flow. It seems that not everyone is here just to witness Totman and Li duelling guitar licks however… There’s whisper that they have some special guests coming on to join them:
Whatever you’re politics regarding Babymetal, you can’t deny that at least in a short dose like today, they are entertaining. They come on to superstar level screams, do their dancing metal karaoke thing and depart like heroes. Dragonforce then hit us with the ‘Through The Fire And The Flames’ treatment to make sure everyone sticks around to see them finish instead of watching the Metal Gods on the Main Stage.
Judas Priest made it rain. A lot. For a long time.
All bloody weekend in fact.
Back indoors for Fightstar now and the Maverick stage is packed full and at risk of tearing apart under the ear piercing screams to welcome the band onstage. We had no idea Fightstar were this popular and to be fair against all expectations from CB, they were quite good.
Bombus impressed us earlier this year on the Monster Magnet tour with their hard rock/heavy metal show so it would be rude not to check them out again. They are in the tent too, so we can delay the hyperthermia setting in a bit and dry off!
Again, they impress us and their customary closer of ‘Into The Fire’ is an epic and drawn out masterpiece. Bombus are ace.
Young Guns are the first of the (not very) secret sets of the weekend, even if Babymetal have already made a brief appearance beforehand. They’ve come full circle having started off on Download’s smallest stages and more recently played the Main stage; so this intimate little show is quite a treat. When did Young Guns become Download veterans? That makes us feel a bit old…
And finally: “Slipknot is home” headlining “Downpour 2015”
Another humungous show from the Iowa clan; they have indeed made Download their home over the years as they continue to be the heaviest of festival headliners we’re ever likely to see at Donington. Nothing is ever going to top the occasion of their first Download headline performance but they can come back every year if they want to as they completely mesmerise the gathered masses yet again.
Thousands of soaked maggots with beaming grins on their faces tell you that Slipknot pulled it out the bag yet again.
Band of the day? Predictable as we can be… Corrosion Of Conformity.
Now let’s see if we can survive possibly the vilest night of weather you can imagine with nothing but a pop-up tent for shelter.
We are sailing, we are sailing…