LIVE: Download Festival @ Donington Park (Friday – 12/06/2015)

Date: June 12th, 2015
Venue: Donington Park, Donington


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.


For the past couple of years, Download have kicked off with a young up-and-coming band, proving that they have what it takes to rock the main stage at Donington. In contrast to youthful and exciting acts like Miss May I and the recently disbanded Rise To Remain, this year All That Remains began the festivities… a 15 year old band who now put out more moronic and questionable statements than they do moronic and questionable metalcore. Regardless, they deliver a standard but extremely forgettable set; there’s nothing exciting about it. New tracks like ‘This Won’t End Well’ and ‘What If I Was Nothing’ are tolerable at best, and even older material like ‘Six’ (which admittedly wasn’t that exciting even when it came out) feels like a dud. In the past Download opening bands got you excited about what was to come, but All That Remains’ set just makes you regret what’s already happened. [JK]

Sadly, we were unable to catch this set.

There isn’t much to appeal to the extreme metal fan at this year’s Download, but the heavy gems scattered across the line-up are definitely worth catching. One of those gems is Swedish melodeath innovators At The Gates, whose crushing sound is the heaviest to come out of the main stage all weekend, despite initial sound problems. Once the sound tech figured out how death metal should sound, they’re unstoppable. Their setlist is mostly composed of their last two albums, but considering ‘Slaughter The Soul’ came out almost 20 years ago (11 of which the band were broken up), it’s been long overdue to hear tracks like ‘Cold’ and ‘Blinded By Fear’. Death metal hasn’t been represented much on the 2015 bill, but At The Gates make sure it’s fucking heard. [JK]

Ask yourself this – if Lacuna Coil’s Cristina Scabbia wasn’t in the band, would you give a shit? If they had to get by on their songwriting alone, they would barely be able to get a place on second stage, let alone a place above genre innovators on the main stage. But alas, Cristina Scabbia is in the band so people eat it up, despite the fact that all of their songs sound like they’ve been written by a 14 year old who’s just discovered metal and moody lyrics. People eat it up despite the fact that their lyrics and stage banter keep outdoing themselves in cliche and cringeiness. In their defence, Lacuna Coil write god awful songs but play them well; Scabbia has a passable voice (which is more than you can say for co-vocalist Andrea Ferro), and the band do play with passion, but there isn’t enough passion in a Michael Bolton love letter to make songs like ‘Spellbound’ and ‘Heaven’s A Lie’ entertaining. [JK]

Sadly, we were unable to catch this set.

2015 will surely go down as the year of Five Finger Death Punch, with a Wembley headline show lined up this November and with new album ‘Got Your Six’ soon to fall. Filling the enormous field infront of them and providing one of the weekend’s best performances, it appears increasingly obvious that the band will be a strong choice as future headliners. Vocalist Ivan Moody pulls three young fans onstage from the front of the crowd, inviting them to sing and dance along to ‘Burn MF’ before yelling, “say hello to the next generation of heavy metal”. The band’s classics ‘Never Enough’ and ‘The Bleeding’ feel right at home on the Download stage. [KH]

Before the first ever band to identify themselves as ‘heavy metal’ comes on the stage, there’s a man in the audience screaming the opening lyrics to ‘Rapid Fire’. Every minute or so “POUNDING THE WORLD, LIKE A BATTERING RAM” could be heard, promptly followed by “Judas fucking Priest!”. This very ecstatic and very drunk fellow is only significant because his excitement is shared by everyone else close to the main stage. For some it’s their first time seeing Priest, for some it’s their fortieth, but the level of excitement is the same.

The metal gods step onto the stage and burst into ‘Dragonaut’ from their last album ‘Redeemer Of Souls’, (a risky choice considering the record was perceived as a little dull), but live Preist make it sound so much punchier. This vigour makes ‘Halls Of Valhalla’ sound like a classic, and even the snoozefest title track sounds killer live. The current line-up shreds too; he’s not KK Downing, but guitarist Richie Faulkner nails it and proves that he’s worthy of the gig. The most impressive performance though goes to the now 63 year old heavy metal godfather Rob Halford, who proves that he still has the most powerful highs in metal. The man pushes himself again and again with scream after scream, each time getting higher and heavier. Needless to say he seemed exhausted after every song, but never let it affect his performance. The term ‘giving 100%’ is thrown around a lot, but Rob Halford genuinely put everything he has into every song. The initial set ends with the huge ‘Hellbent For Leather’, in which Rob is able to catch his breath whilst riding a gorgeous Harley. After the barrage of bangers, of which Priest’s arsenal is endless, is an encore of ‘Painkiller’ and ‘Living After Midnight’. After a set like that, the whole crowd is as buzzing as the shouting fella. Judas fucking Priest! [JK]

It’s only been two years since they last headlined, but as soon as they announced their latest album ‘.5: The Gray Chapter’, everyone knew that Slipknot would be headlining Download 2015. In those two years, the band have experienced their first major line-up change, released the record, and done a jaw-droppingly huge tour. For anyone who happened to catch them on that, it was very much the same kind of show, (and, if you saw them both, this set and that tour, then you may have a few gripes, but it’s still Slipknot) they’re still the most important metal band of this generation headlining the festival they championed back in 2009.

‘XIX’ proves to an energy building intro with all the maggots in Donington screaming “Don’t let this fucking world tear you apart!”. Guitarist Jim Root brings in the slow intro of ‘Sarcastrophe’ as the nine men take their positions on a stage, two of which are complete strangers to something that has almost become ritual for Slipknot. Clown and Chris Fenn’s drums arise as other guitarist Mick Thomson drops a chord heavy enough to sink an anti-airship, which ignites the chaos. Corey Taylor comes out spitting venom with his screams, and never have we seen a musician have such a strong connection with an audience and festival; “Ladies and gentleman, Slipknot are home!” the singer announces after a blistering rendition of ‘Heretic Anthem’, which goes great with the giant goat head looming above them all.

They continue to spoil us with a great selection covering at least one song from every album, newer tracks ‘The Devil In I’, latest single ‘Killpop’, and the brilliant ‘AOV’ all go down a storm live. The band are truly on form the whole set; Jim Root and Mick Thompson are the two most consistent guitarists in metal, bar none. DJ Sid Wilson is like the gas-mask child from Doctor Who on coke, constantly running around the stage only to leap back to his turntables or pull a creepy face, and after watching him it isn’t surprising that he once broke both his legs. They drop classics all over the place too, with ‘Vermilion’, ‘Wait & Bleed’, ‘Before I Forget’, ‘Eyeless’ all taking their place, and, of course, ‘Duality’ was, as usual, the biggest sing along of the festival. After the usual “Jump the fuck up” moment in ‘Spit It Out’, Corey begins what will definitely become yet another tradition for the Slipknot family, commanding the whole of Download to sing the “Do-do-da” intro of huge new song ‘Custer’, and the pulsing chorus sends Donington into a frenzy.

If you’re going to do an encore, why not start your encore with the greatest intro of all time, ‘(sic)’, taking the crowd back to 1999 momentarily. It’s mind boggling how nine musicians can be so aggressive, yet remain as such a tight unit for so long. ‘People = Shit’ and ‘Surfacing’ bring the homecoming to a close, and god damn it’s good to have them back again. [JK]


Sadly, we were unable to catch this set.

Sadly, we were unable to catch this set.

Sadly, we were unable to catch this set.

Sadly, we were unable to catch this set.

Sadly, we were unable to catch this set.

This needs to be said: Corrosion Of Conformity are fucking underrated. Their sound is a gorgeous blend of grunge tones and stoner metal riffs, their songs are catchy, full of riffs, and get heavy as balls, so why don’t more people love this band? After a recent tour celebrating the return of Pepper Keenan, a man who is no stranger to Download due to his stints with Down as well as joining Metallica onstage in 2006, but to see the COC line-up that gave birth to their finest albums onstage is truly something else. They burn through a setlist made of songs from their Keenan albums, including gems like ‘Broken Man’, ‘King Of The Rotten’ as well as more well known (but still not known enough) tracks like ‘Albatross’ and an extended riff o’rama rendition of ‘Clean My Wounds’. [JK]

Sadly, we were unable to catch this set.

Sadly, we were unable to catch this set.


Making an extremely impressionable start to the festival, Canadian rockers Counterparts deliver a fiery set of abrasive metalcore. This is the band’s Download debut and their biggest show to date. This wasn’t obvious, however, as they were clearly able to own the performance as if they frequently played to similar crowds. Set highlights included fan favorites ‘Burn’, ‘Collapse’, and ‘The Disconnect’. [KH]

No longer should Krokodil be known as “that band with members of Gallows, SikTh and A” (yeah, seriously, A). Since their live debut at Download 2013, they’ve smashed sets at many other festivals, supported Mastodon and released one of, if not the most impressive debuts of last year. Krokodil are doing fucking well, and they’re not about to start slipping, not at Donington. They come out ready to spit venom; Simon Wright is a furrocious frontman who seems to be getting more and more professional with every performance. The album ‘Nachash’ has also added a great amount of familiarity to the setlist, with tracks like ‘Shatter’ and single ‘Riders Of The Sun’ as some of the strongest performances of the weekend. [JRK]

“You alright, sausages?” laughs frontman Thom Weeks, making his band Gnarwolves feel even more out of place at the predominantly metal festival. The punk three-piece’s set isn’t off to the best start as it proves to be pretty boring and encounters a few technical difficulties. The band, however, fortunately picked things back up in the latter half, leaving the crowd to frantically chant their name. [KH]

After unfortunately having to cancel their performance last year due to singer Derek Archambault’s psychical illness, Defeater certainly atone for their absence. “We’ve been to this country for the last 6 years, and, in all honesty, we love playing England” smiles Archambault before packing everything he could give into their 30-minute set. Unfortunately, his voice starts to go mid-set, and he struggles to continue delivering the powerful and raw edge that fans have grown to love. Beartooth vocalist Caleb Shomo storms onstage and gives a helping hand during closer and highlight, ‘Dear Father’. [KH]

“This is going to be the wildest craziest show of your lives”, exclaims vocalist Caleb Shomo, boasting great potential for the band’s first UK festival show. Security are constantly on edge during the Ohio rockers set, as tens of fans surf their way towards the stage in hopes of high-fiving Shomo. Fan favorite ‘In Between’ sends the audience into a frenzy, chanting along and dancing uncontrollably. Shomo’s demand for the audience to “sing at the top of your lungs” is answered as the hundreds of fans that fill the Maverick stage chant along to ‘The Lines’. [KH]

Sadly, we were unable to catch this set.

Sadly, we were unable to catch this set.

Returning back to the stage for the first time since 2010, Fightstar still prove to be extremely popular, packing out the Maverick stage and leaving tens of fans to huddle outside in the rain. Charlie Simpson’s hybrid of singing and screaming is an extremely powerful mix, and seamlessly alternates between within tracks like ‘Palahniuk’s Laughter’. Charlie invites his brother William Simpson to take guitar duty during the monstrous ‘Deathcar’, allowing him to get up close and personal with the packed crowd of fans. [KH]


Sadly, we were unable to catch this set.

Sadly, we were unable to catch this set.

Sadly, we were unable to catch this set.

Sadly, we were unable to catch this set.

Sadly, we were unable to catch this set.

After making a name for themselves as one of the most promising upcoming bands in the UK, Allusondrugs hit Download for the first time during their string of summer festival shows. Vocalist Jason Moules absurdly demands the busy crowd to pull out of their smart phones, to stick them on record and yell “herpes” at the top of their lungs. This was ignored by many as they laughed and shrugged off the incredibly absurd demand. Tracks ‘I Should Have Gone To Uni’ and ‘Nervous’ unite the packed Jake’s stage in chanting along with the extremely bizarre quartet. [KH]

Sadly, we were unable to catch this set.

DECADE – 8/10
Despite being known as the home of rock and heavy metal, this year’s festival isn’t short of promising pop-punk bands, with ROAM, Trashboat, and Decade, just to name a few. Decade pack an energetic set of brisk beats, jangly riffs and soaring vocals, offering a sharp contrast to the much harder music being concurrently played across the site. Set highlights include hits ‘Brainfreeze’, ‘Callous’, and ‘British Weather’. [KH]

Sadly, we were unable to catch this set.

Sadly, we were unable to catch this set.

Sadly, we were unable to catch this set.

Sadly, we were unable to catch this set.

Written by Jack King [JK], and Kieran Harris [KH]