LIVE: Download Festival @ Donington Park (Saturday – 14/06/2014)

Date: June 14th, 2014
Venue: Donington Park, Donington
Website: www.downloadfestival.co.uk
Facebook: www.facebook.com/downloadfest
Twitter: www.twitter.com/downloadfest

Rating:

Gallery:
None available

Known far and wide for the hallowed grounds on which many of rock’s heroes of the past, present and in time future have walked and played on, Donington’s Download Festival is the UK’s most prestigious rock and metal festival. Back once again, as it is every year, equipped with a line-up that draws in an impressive crowd, we got into the thick of it for the whole weekend for what could arguably be the best weekend in music all year long.


MAIN STAGE:

DYING FETUS – 8/10
Thanks to a social media campaign after Avenged Sevenfold‘s selection as headliner, US death metal band Dying Fetus are bizarrely selected to open main stage on hangover Saturday. They thoroughly piss everyone off with their crunching tones and rhythms, playing such delicate songs as ‘From Womb To Waste’ and ‘Your Treachery Will Die With You’. To the amusement of bassist/vocalist Sean Beasley, a dismembered infant doll is tossed on stage. Dying Fetus refuse to be treated as a joke and, despite the nature of their addition to the festival, they provide a solid snapshot of themselves. [MS]

FOZZY – 7/10
Fozzy shake things up with their hard hitting metal. Frontman Chris Jericho clearly makes use of his talents as an entertainer to get the crowd going and behind them. Luckily, this isn’t just a wrestler’s vanity project, as Fozzy actually have some tunes on their shoulder. Songs like ‘God Pounds His Nails’, ‘Sandpaper’ and ‘Enemy’ all sound huge from the main stage and make for a killer show. [JK]

BURY TOMORROW – 9/10
The UK should be proud of bands like Bury Tomorrow. Currently on the crest of a wave, they clearly love what they do and that transfers over into a highly enjoyable live experience. Despite the rugged nature of their music, Bury Tomorrow absolutely command the main stage audience to erupt into a frenzy to hits from their relatively brief career. The newer ‘The Watcher’ and ‘Of Glory’ pump everyone the fuck up alongside staple hits ‘An Honourable Reign’ and ‘Knight Life’. The band keep it fresh with a number of gimmicks, including square pits, a female only mosh pit, and a ‘lie the fuck down’ part. Bury Tomorrow are hot on the coattails of Bring Me The Horizon, and have surely plugged the hole that the Sheffield lads have left in the metal world. [MS]

WHILE SHE SLEEPS – 8/10
With today’s main stage appearance being While She Sleeps‘ first UK appearance since frontman Lawrence Taylor had vocal problems and had to undergo surgery at the beginning of the year. Indeed, with this in mind, it’s understandable that some may be sceptical as to how rusty the Sheffield quintet may be. However, once they walk onto the stage and kick right into opener ‘Death Toll’, it’s almost like they never went away. Admittedly, Mat Welsh‘s backing vocals are lost in the mix to begin with, and WSS at times look a bit unsure with what to do with all of the stage space, but as the set progresses and we work through ‘The North Stands For Nothing’ and ‘Our Courage, Our Cancer’, we’re left waiting for album two to finally drop. [ZR]

BOWLING FOR SOUP – 10/10
Fact: it’s physically impossible to not have fun at a Bowling For Soup show. Anyone that has tried it has immediately come down with a case of the giggles. Bowling For Soup provide as much enjoyment through their stage banter than they do from their music. Songs like ‘Punk Rock 101’ and ‘My Wena’ are almost a side show to the onstage shenaningans, including the execution of a giant inflatable sheep by a chap dressed as a knight. Messers Reddick, Burney, Chandler, and Wiseman know how to entertain, be it when they’re singing, dancing, or downing beer. It’s such a shame that they said they’d never be returning to the UK. Wait… [MS]

KILLSWITCH ENGAGE – 8/10
There aren’t a lot of ways metalcore legends Killswitch Engage‘s set can go wrong. They have a brilliant back catalogue of circle pit anthems and the sun is shining upon their set. However, one of the few ways it could go wrong does; Adam Dutkiewicz‘s guitar breaks within opener ‘Fixation On The Darkness’ and is intermittent throughout the set. Despite this, KsE still play and drink as hard as they can. They play a blinding set featuring ‘Rose Of Sharyn’, ‘This Fire Burns’ and many tracks from their latest slab of metalcore, ‘Disarm The Decent’. The new stuff holds its own live, even up against some of their more career defining songs. During set closer, ‘End Of Heartache’, Adam D gives up on his faulty guitar and runs into the crowd screaming “beer” and drinking with their fans. [JK]

BRING ME THE HORIZON – 6/10
Following a band that helped invent and change metalcore are modern innovators, Bring Me The Horizon. This is one of the biggest crowds BMTH have ever played to, and a test before they headline Wembley Arena later this year. Whilst their stage show has drastically improved, unfortunately their sound seems to be lost and messy. Frontman Oli Sykes‘ vocals seem quiet and fading whilst their guitars and electronics are fighting to be heard. Oli also seems to be suffering from the Robbie Williams condition of getting the crowd to sing more than he does, perhaps aware of the aforementioned sound issues. However, by the time the second half of the set comes in with ‘And The Snakes Start To Sing’, the mix seems to level out a bit and Oli is back in command. It’s a small hiccup to say the least, but you can still see why they’re headlining Wembley when they have an entire field of people singing ‘Sleepwalking’ to close. [JK]

FALL OUT BOY – 9/10
Now that Chicago’s Fall Out Boy are back from their hiatus to save rock and roll, they’re finally granted permission to perform at Download Festival. Making the most of the opportunity for their fans, the pop-rock quartet keep between song chat to a minimum and shoot through a set of fan favourites and cuts from their new album, ‘Save Rock & Roll’. It’s not often you see a band with a career as long as FOB‘s have as big of a reaction to newer material like ‘Death Valley’ and ‘Just One Yesterday’ as much as their staple classics such as ‘Thnks Fr Th Mmrs’ and ‘Dance, Dance’, especially following a 4 year hiatus. Frontman Patrick Stump‘s voice is flawless, right from the beginning of ‘The Phoenix’ right the way through to the closing moments of ‘Saturday’ which, hey, they played on a Saturday. [ZR]

LINKIN PARK – 8/10
Back in 2000, Linkin Park released their debut album, ‘Hybrid Theory’, an album that set an unbelievable benchmark for all bands to follow for the next decade and beyond, and helped to catapult nu-metal into the mainstream alongside their genre crafting peers Korn, Limp Bizkit and Slipknot, to name but a few. It makes sense then, especially with the fact that for many in attendence today would name ‘Hybrid Theory’ as one of the first albums they fell in love with, or even owned, that the band’s one-off performance of the album in full from start-to-finish is a huge drawing point for this year’s Download Festival weekend.

Following a short video on the stage screens, showing the band discussing the album and their excitement for being album to perform it in its entirety, the field erupts into screams the band jump right into ‘Papercut’. The waves of nostalgia hit track after track, performing some tracks that they haven’t played live for over a decade such as ‘Forgotten’ and ‘By Myself’, and it sounds just a fresh as it did 14 years ago. The vocalists are clearly so proud of what this album has achieved for them and what it means to all of their fans, with Mike Shinoda even commenting on how Oli Sykes (of Bring Me The Horizon) confessed just before they hit the stage how it has impacted him and his choice of a career in music with upmost sincerity.

Admittedly, once the playthrough of ‘Hybrid Theory’ is all over and done with and they press on with their standard set, the nostalgia is washed away for the most part and we’re returned to the anthemic rock Linkin Park of present day. Though ‘Wastelands’ and ‘What I’ve Done’ are more main stage headliner catered, ‘Hybrid Theory’ was the main drawing point and highlight of today. Don’t expect this to ever happen again. [ZR]


ZIPPO ENCORE STAGE:

PRESS TO MECO – 3/10
Press To Meco play what you could label ‘technical pop punk’, playing music similar to the likes of Neck Deep and Gnarwolves, but with a more skillful (as far as pop-punk goes) focus on the instruments. Whilst they do have great technical ability, the English three-piece’s set opening the second stage lacks any memorable songs or hooks, and that combined with awkward crowd banter leaves much to be desired of the first band of the day. [JK]

THE DIRTY YOUTH – 3/10
UK female fronted outfit The Dirty Youth are put in charge of the Zippo Encore stage for a while, but they fail to really make an impact. It’s commendable that they appear at all after replacing drummer Phil Edwards with Freddie Green only four days prior to their appearance. There are a couple of glimmers of interest in the likes of ‘Darkest Wedding’ and ‘Fight’, but it’s an otherwise underwhelming set. [MS]

CHEVELLE – 8/10
Chevelle are the sort of band that can command a crowd with only the power of their catchy music. Beginning with ‘The Clincher’ leading into ‘Send The Pain Below’, they sound fantastic, even if they look like they truly don’t give a shit about being here at all. Their five songs are excellent for those not paying attention to the lack of visual experience. Chevelle tour the UK this Autumn in support of new album, ‘La Gargola’. Hopefully they’ll have cheered the fuck up by then. [MS]

THE BOSS HOSS
Sadly, we were unable to catch this set.

TWENTY ONE PILOTS – 9/10
Ohio’s Twenty One Pilots are one of the few curveballs for this festival. Imagine this: a field mostly full of heavy metal fans who haven’t heard of this band before are welcomed to two gents in ski masks, one playing the piano and the other playing drums, who essentially sound like fun. with rapping. It’s a strange choice, but TOP deliver an upbeat, energetic and, most importantly, enjoyable performance. Frontman Tyler Joseph‘s stage and rap character is interesting and unique whilst their music is (mostly) happy and light-hearted, songs like ‘The Run And Go’ are lovely for the sunny weather. Twenty One Pilots knew they were the outsiders in this situation, but they still come out as one of the best bands of the weekend. [JK]

SKID ROW
Sadly, we were unable to catch this set.

ORANGE GOBLIN
Sadly, we were unable to catch this set.

MONSTER MAGNET – 8/10
Monster Magnet are a very easy band to glaze over on the Download line-up, and that was exacerbated somewhat with their timeslot clashing with Bring Me The Horizon. This just means that the mob assembled to watch them are a little older. Their set really centres around hit ‘Space Lord’, with lead singer Dave Wyndorf convincing the crowd to singalong with “sometimes it just feels really good to shout “mother fucker” as loud as you can”. In the waning evening sun, they pull off an excellent set, despite Bowling For Soup‘s claims that they’re “not the nicest guys in the world”. [MS]

THE WILDHEARTS – 5/10
Cult heroes The Wildhearts are often a must-see band at Download thanks to frontman Ginger‘s entertaining stage banter. Today, however, there’s very little backchat from the Geordie as The Wildhearts focus on just playing their hits. It’s a little disappointing for a band with such a reputation to come off as a little dull, even with everyone singing along to ‘I Wanna Go Where The People Go’ and ‘Sick Of Drugs’. With age comes wisdom, but it’s a shame that it’s happened to Ginger as one of the best lead men in rock. [MS]

TWISTED SISTER
Sadly, we were unable to catch this set.

STATUS QUO
Sadly, we were unable to catch this set.


PEPSI MAX STAGE:

ICEMAN THESIS – ?/10
Announced late in the going, there surrounds a considerable amount of speculation as to who, or what, Iceman Thesis really are. Added into the mystery are the fact that they’re opening third and fourth stages at the same time. They reportedly sent a abusive letter to festival promoter, Andy Copping, demanding a five minute set to open Saturday. In the run-in to the festival, a track surfaced on BBC Radio 1‘s Rock Show, ‘Return To Harmony’, that sounds rather like Gallows or Day Of A Thousand. Iceman Thesis come on stage dressed all in black with balaclavas covering their faces, play their one song, and then fuck off. Three sacks containing a VHS of their video are thrown into the crowd, and a mannequin dressed in band attire is crowdsurfed back, breaking apart in the process. Everyone leaves none the wiser. [MS]

COLLIBUS – 5/10
Much the opposite of Iceman Thesis, in which you have no idea what to expect, Collibus are everything you would expect from a small band playing Download. They play straight forward, very predictable heavy metal. Whilst it’s standard, at least they have some guts and energy when they perform, despite the lack of any amazing songs. [JK]

ZOAX – 9/10
Despite being around for just about a year now, London’s Zoax have already made quite an impression on the rock circuit, and with a show like this it’s pretty easy to see why. Looking all dapper in a shirt, trousers and some braces, frontman Adam Carroll is a charismatic and confident frontman, running across the stage and making friends with some of the security staff. That is, of course, when he’s not face-to-face with the front row or crowd surfing his way into the midst of the action. Not only are they fun, but when they’re packing songs like ‘Jekyll Meets Hyde’, it’s only a matter of time before Zoax are bunked up a stage or two. [ZR]

LAWNMOWER DETH – 7/10
Offered an extended set due to Upon A Burning Body being forced to pull out last minute, part thrash metal part punk rock outfit Lawnmower Deth have some extra time to treat their fans. Mid-set, frontman Pete Lee asks “Are there any Kerrang! readers here? Because you probably won’t like us.” Maybe they have some form of beef with the magazine, or maybe (and most likely) the fact that they’re not a modern favourite they know they’re not going to draw in their mostly younger readers. Unleashing a batch of bouncy green balls into the crowd along with an ongoing battle between a janitor and a man dressed as a warrior princess on stilts, even those not too keen on the tunes can find some visual value in it all. [ZR]

MARMOZETS – 8/10
Yorkshire punk rockers Marmozets may be one of the youngest bands on the entire festival line-up this year. Ditching all of their more sporadic and spazzy work from their EPs and instead focusing on their one-off singles/forthcoming debut album cuts, maybe this is a look into a slightly more mature and less absolutely bonkers Marmozets to be. Becca Macintyre‘s voice has really strengthened, especially with new single ‘Captivate You’, and the packed out tent pogos away to the hook filled ‘Why Do You Hate Me?’ and ‘Move Shake Hide’. Still, a closing fretboard frenzy of ‘Vibe Tech’ still leaves us in wonder of what exactly we’ll see come the day we finally hear their debut album. [ZR]

LONELY THE BRAVE – 8/10
The buzz band on everyone’s lips at the moment are Lonely The Brave. Seemingly the most popular band ever without having released an album, they’re extraordinary in many ways. David Jakes‘ non-confrontational vocal style has been talked about plenty, but the rest of the band’s energy completed by Edgeley, Trotter, and Bushen is enviable. Their set is made up mostly of songs from their upcoming debut album, ‘The Day’s War’, including new track ‘Victory Line’ and fan favourite, ‘The Blue, The Green’. It’s disappointingly devoid of ‘Backroads’, and only includes ‘Black Saucers’ and ‘Trick Of The Light’ from their previously recorded material. Get ready for September 1st, the day that Lonely The Brave take their place on the throne of the rock world. [MS]

ARCANE ROOTS – 9/10
London’s Arcane Roots are probably best described as a mix between two of Britain’s greatest alt rock trios, Biffy Clyro and Reuben. Much like what you’d expect from a hybrid of these two UK rock outfits, Arcane Roots are as spectacular as they are varied, delivering a mixture of hard hitters to make you mosh as they do sing along temptations. Frontman Andrew Grove‘s voice is on top form on the likes of new single ‘Over & Over’, and set closer ‘Million Dollar Que$tion’ cements Arcane Roots‘ right to be at this year’s Download Festival. They may be only one album into their career, but expect these guys to catapult once they have another two or three under their belts. [ZR]

BLESSTHEFALL – 7/10
It’s been a while since they’ve been over to the UK, but that’ll explain the almost packed out tent ready to greet post-hardcore favourites, blessthefall. From early on in the set, frontman Beau Bokan manages to get a rather impressive sized circle pit going for ‘What’s Left Of Me’, and bassist Jared Warth‘s screams are as demonic as ever. What cannot be questioned is the band’s ability to deliver hard hitters like ‘Hollow Bodies’ and ‘You Wear A Crown But You’re No King’, but the band are still working on climbing to the top of what is without a doubt an oversaturated pile of peers. [ZR]

VAMPS (JPN)
Sadly, we were unable to catch this set.

THE BLACK DAHLIA MURDER – 8/10
The Black Dahlia Murder bring their modern death metal party to the Pepsi Max tent. Vocalist Trevor Strnad is one of the most commanding yet fun frontmen out there, as well as having a voice that’s equally impressively ranged live as it is on record. Circle pits are formed without him even needing to say so (which is helpful, considering Download‘s new rules forbidding that kind of encouragement). TBDM prove why they’re one of the leading forces in death metal today with this onslaught of brilliant and slick heavy tunage. [JK]

AMERICAN HEAD CHARGE – 6/10
They’ve been out of action for a few years now, especially on UK soil, but industrial metallers American Head Charge are finally moving things forward again, with an appearance at Download Festival today ahead of their first album in almost 10 cheers set to drop later this year. Cameron Heacock‘s vocals are stronger than they’ve ever been, and fan favourites ‘Just So You Know’ and ‘Loyalty’ have a new metallic sheen. As expected, for the most part AHC look like they’re still getting into the swing of returning to the standard of the band they once were, even if the unruly pit action before them suggests otherwise. [ZR]

BEHEMOTH – 9/10
Headlining the Pepsi Max stage tonight is Polish blackened death metal legends, Behemoth, who have released one of the most celebrated albums this year, ‘The Satanist’. Opening with said album’s first track, the slow and doomy chords of ‘Blow Your Trumpet Gabriel’ ring out across and beyond the tent as frontman and our ritual leader for the evening Nergal sets the stage ablaze. A Behemoth gig doesn’t just focus on a good performance, it’s more like a ritual. We later see upsidedown burning crosses, Thuribles, and confetti (black confetti, it’s a metal show after all). Visually, they go so much further than any other band. It feels like every satanic logo, every costume, and everything that’s set ablaze is there for a thousand reasons. Tracks like ‘Slaves Shall Serve’, ‘Ov Fire And The Void’ and ‘Conquer All’ are all some of the finest in extreme music today, and new tracks from ‘The Satanist’ sound brilliant live. Behemoth deliver one of the tightest and most technical performances of the festival, with Nergal showing why he’s one of the most reknowned frontmen in the game. They end it all with an encore of ‘O Father O Satan O Sun!’, and leave their small stage in Donington to burn. [JK]


RED BULL STUDIO STAGE:

ICEMAN THESIS – ?/10
A half dressed mannequin with a sack over its head is all we see on the Red Bull Studio stage, before a group of faceless men dressed in black take to the stage. This enigmatic band is Iceman Thesis, a “band” that have been on the lips of many since allegedly sending threat letters to festival organiser Andy Copping, Metal Hammer magazine HQ and Daniel P. Carter over at BBC Radio 1. They’re also a band who, at the same moment, are performing the same one song at the same time over at the bigger Pepsi Max tent. Who are Iceman Thesis? Are they a band? Are they a rouse? Are they two bands? Are they a one-off publicity stunt? Is one of the two bands a decoy? Is this actually This Is Menace? Who is this Iceman and what is his thesis? We may never know. [ZR]

CYTOTA – 7/10
Birmingham based melodic metalcore newbies Cytota have been making the rounds as support acts and a couple of other festival appearances for the past few months, and Download is now just another badge to sew onto their jacket of what’s already an awesome year for them. Despite a slightly delayed start to proceedings, ‘Absorption’ and ‘Between Jokers & Jesters’ get things back on track, and frontman Joby Fitzgerald‘s screams between making sure his jeans don’t fall down mid-set hit the right spot. They’re still budding, but Cytota definitely have potential for something more. [ZR]

BREATHE IN THE SILENCE – 5/10
Welsh melodic rockers Breathe In The Silence deliver a decent set with their clean cut songs. However, the whole thing is a little too clean cut, there’s no grit or angst or anything particularly interesting. The songs just need a little bit more weight behind them or more hooks, but BITS still perform well and deliver a strong performance. [JK]

COLT 45
Sadly, we were unable to catch this set.

SINNERS HIGHWAY – 6/10
Sinners Highway deliver a decent set of their hard rock tunes. Anyone who’s at all a fan of the more rock ‘n’ roll orientated stuff that Asking Alexandria have put out would definitely like this band. However, again like a lot of the small bands performing at the festival this year, they just lack the tunes to really impress or interest, although they were one of the better boring bands. [JK]

CHASING CADENCE
Sadly, we were unable to catch this set.

COLDRAIN – 8/10
Hailing from Japan, Coldrain seem like they’re going to be another dull and impressionable metalcore band. However, from the second they start playing, they’re nothing short of explosive. There’s more energy in their set than most other bands on the bill. Coldrain also have more determination than any other band this festival, as they promise some time soon they’ll join their brothers Crossfaith by making history on the main stage and, with the show they put on today, it wouldn’t be surprising. [JK]

SKYHARBOR
Sadly, we were unable to catch this set.

NOTHING MORE
Sadly, we were unable to catch this set.

NEW POLITICS
Sadly, we were unable to catch this set.

MARTYR DEFILED – 4/10
Martyr Defiled have become the band to talk about on the deathcore scene now they’ve decided to ditch the all-black t-shirt get up and embrace the fashionable hipster approach. New album, ‘No Hope, No Morality’ is a belting slice of meat that can potentially jettison them to the forefront of the UK scene, but their live show is somewhat disappointing. Lead growler Matt Jones‘ between song chats are uninspiring and reek of repetition. At one point, he asks the crowd to put their middle fingers up and shout “fuck you”. Okie dokie then. Musically, tunes like ‘616’ suffer a little due to a muddy mix. Martyr Defiled clearly have it in them to become one of the best, and it’s a shame that their chance to shine has on this occasion been shrugged off. [MS]

MALEVOLENCE – 10/10
Sheffield sure has a lot of explaining to do about the number of angry, angry bands it has spawned. Malevolence are kind of like Desolated‘s older, less stupid brother, playing beatdown hardcore but mixing it alongside elements of metalcore, thrash, and even death metal. The violence that erupts during their brief appearance centres around their neck-jarring breakdown sections, and it seems that most of the kids in the pit are genuinely trying to kill each other. The show is even stopped after a few songs because of an “incident in the crowd”. Despite the assorted idiocies, you can’t fault how catchy Malevolence‘s music is. Call them old fashioned, but they write actual songs rather than just long breakdowns. [MS]

THE HOWLING
Sadly, we were unable to catch this set.

SIKTH – 8/10
SikTh‘s triumphant return is met with a bumper crowd in the Red Bull Studio tent, despite the clash with Linkin Park. Dual vocalists Mikee Goodman and Justin Hill bounce around like a couple of chaps that have had their haemorrhoids popped. It’s clear that this reunion has been eagerly awaited by many, many people as the tent launches into a massive rave to ‘Bland Street Bloom’ followed by ‘Wait For Something Wild’. If anyone still needed any more convincing that SikTh are well and truly back, it comes in the form of ‘Pussyfoot’. At only thirty minutes after a five year wait, the audience is left wanting much more. Maybe those desires will be satisfied during SikTh‘s hotly announced UK tour. [MS]


JAGERMEISTER STAGE:

ENEMO-J
Sadly, we were unable to catch this set.

DUCKING PUNCHES
Sadly, we were unable to catch this set.

RICHARDS/CRANE
Sadly, we were unable to catch this set.

DAVE MCPHERSON
Sadly, we were unable to catch this set.

TOBY JEPSON
Sadly, we were unable to catch this set.

ANATHEMA
Sadly, we were unable to catch this set.

BOWLING FOR SOUP – 10/10
Three hours after their entertaining appearance on main stage, a heavily inebriated Jaret Reddick and Chris Burney wander onto the Jägermeister stage armed with a couple of acoustic guitars. The next thirty minutes are some of the most hilarious ones spent by the crowd all weekend. Right from Reddick informing us of how smashed he is to the constant chants of “chug!” whenever he goes near a beer can, it’s just one big laugh. Most songs are heavily interrupted by pauses where the pair become fascinated with something arbitrary, like a cone hat or an inflatable dinosaur. Even though the half hour set overruns by an extra ten minutes, the two still only manage five songs, including ‘Two-Seater’ that seems to go on for about 15 minutes, and a rousing rendition of ‘Belgium’. [MS]

GINGER WILDHEART – 9/10
After The Wildhearts‘ disappointing showing earlier on over on the Zippo Encore stage, Ginger Wildheart and Jon Poole head across to the Jägermeister stage for a more intimate setting. What follows is more of what fans wanted to see from the pair, with plenty of Geordie charm and wit. Songs include ‘So Into You’, ‘The Revolution Will Be Televised’, and a brilliant singalong to ‘Geordie In Wonderland’. It has to be the best (sober) set on the Jägermeister stage all weekend. [MS]


Written by Zach Redrup [ZR], MG Savage [MS] and Jack King [JK]

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