LIVE: Download Festival @ Donington Park (Saturday – 11/06/2016)

Date: June 11th, 2016
Venue: Donington Park, Donington

It would come as no surprise if the 2016 run of Download Festival would be known forever going forward as the year of Drownload. Easily the wettest Download Festival to have happened, with storms and torrential downpours happening throughout almost the whole weekend, it’d be impossible to be mud free, even if you were only catching one band. Thankfully, we had wellies and warm waterproof clothing well equipped. Download, let’s be ‘aving ya!


Sadly, we were unable to catch this set.

It’s crazy to think that less than 3 years ago Beartooth was literally just frontman Caleb Shomo, writing the songs, performing and recording all the instruments, and hiring in some pals for live performances. Today, they’ve got an EP and two albums under their belt, the latest release ‘Aggressive’ getting notable chart placements across the world, a solid line-up, and obviously a main stage set at Download. It’s pretty early, but that’s no excuse for no moshing, with limbs flying and pits opening for the likes of ‘Body Bag’, ‘Hated’, and ‘Beaten In Lips’, and, despite the band’s infancy, Shomo and co. look more than comfortable up on the big stage. [ZR]

ATREYU – 7/10
They’ve been away for a few years save a couple of small shows and an appearance at Reading & Leeds Festival last summer, but now with a return to form record in last year’s ‘Long Live’, it feels like Download is finally ready for the Orange County metalcore mob. Though the fresh cuts are all well and good, it’s hits like ‘Ex’s And Oh’s’, ‘Right Side Of The Bed’, and ‘Lip Gloss And Black’ that get the fists pumping and the crowd singing along. Their cover of the Bon Jovi classic ‘You Give Love A Bad Name’ even pulls a few passers-by in for a short while, and frontman Alex Varkatzas gets down to the crowd for a little while to join the action. Welcome back, boys. [ZR]

SIXX:A.M. – 3/10
Californian metal legends Mötley Crüe may be done and dusted, but bassist Nikki Sixx is far from down for the count, only this time his once side-project Sixx:A.M. has now become his main focus. They bring a slight change of pace from the double metalcore thwack from Beartooth and Atreyu, but unfortunately their more hard rock package is bland, insipid, tedious, and ultimately flaccid. The likes of ‘When We Were Gods’, ‘Prayers For The Damned’, and ‘Life Is Beautiful’ are uninspired and paint-by-numbers, and, as a result, Sixx:A.M. leave a bit of a pothole in the momentum of today’s main stage line-up. [ZR]

Sadly, we were unable to catch this set.

Sadly, we were unable to catch this set.

Sacramento (ex) nu-metal legends Deftones need absolutely no introduction. Since ‘Adrenaline’ came out back in 1995, the band have gathered an absolutely ravenous and loyal fanbase despite regularly reinventing their sound, and it has always seemed as if they could do no wrong. That was, at least, until the release of ‘Gore’. The outfit’s latest record has split fans right down the middle, and this polarisation could be the reason that the set today is quite shy of new material; the band opting instead to stick to the fan favourites. Not that this is a bad thing, of course, as Deftones have no shortage of absolute bangers. The opening 1-2-3 combo of ‘Rocket Skates’, ‘My Own Summer’, and ‘Be Quiet & Drive’ takes everyone’s breath away, and the splicing of ‘Engine No. 9’ with Cypress Hill’s ‘How Could I Just Kill A Man’ is a stroke of genius. Still, it would have been nice to hear maybe one or two more cuts from ‘Gore’ to show that the band have confidence in their new material. Considering how well ‘Prayers / Triangles’ goes down, it’s unlikely the crowd would have minded. [LK]

This is it; the beginning of the end. By this time next year, Black Sabbath, arguably the most influential band in heavy metal history, will be no more. So, understandably, the expectations are high, as for a lot of people this will be the last time they ever get to hear these songs live. After a short video with demons, fire, monster eggs, and all sorts of crazy crap, the unmistakeable bass intro for ‘Black Sabbath’ creeps forward from the darkness. For most bands, it would be an unusual opener, as it isn’t exactly the most immediate of tracks, but the crowd seems to revel in the build-up. The set overall is mostly made up of tracks from the first three studio albums, and all the expected numbers are there, including ‘War Pigs’, ‘Iron Man’, and ‘Paranoid’, but lesser known tracks like ‘Fairies Wear Boots’ and ‘Snowblind’ go down just as well with the rain-soaked masses.

The sound tonight is absolutely monolithic. Tony Iommi truly is the riff lord he is made out to be, and the rhythm section of Geezer Butler and relative newbie drummer Tommy Clufetos is as tight as it’s possible to be, but Ozzy just isn’t much of a frontman these days. Vocally he’s a bit off, which can be forgiven as the songs are timeless either way, but his between-songs banter is virtually non-existent. Every song is introduced with the words “Here’s a song called…”, and we get virtually nothing else out of him. Yes, he’s old, but charisma is so important in this game, and he’s severely lacking. It’s sad to say, but it’s probably for the best that Black Sabbath is calling it a day. After all, it’s better to bow out with your dignity still intact than to become a parody of the legends that you once were. [LK]


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.

Southampton based heavy hitters Bury Tomorrow have not had many breaks on the touring circuit since they dropped their sophomore effort ‘The Union Of Crowns’ in 2012, and this extensive time on the road has certainly moulded them into prime cuts from the metalcore meat of today. The quintet stick to numbers from latest LP ‘Earthbound’ for the most part; opener ‘Memories’ and ‘301’ sticking out as major set highlights, and frontman Dani Winter-Bates is a screaming and roaring powerhouse. It’s set staple ‘Lionheart’, however, that stands strong as the crowning moment, with pits birthing left, right, and centre, and the crowd singing strong to its infectious chorus. Bury Tomorrow are ongoing stalwarts of UK metalcore, and this set proves why. [ZR]

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.


SHVPES – 7/10
They’re still yet to put an album, or even an EP to their name, but Birmingham’s SHVPES have steadily been gaining traction since their name change (previously Cytota) in 2014 and the recruitment of new vocalist (and son of Iron Maiden’s Bruce Dickinson), Griffin Dickinson. With the lack of recorded material, their popularity has to be down to their live shows, and rightfully so. Dickinson’s vocals seem near flawless as he’s pouncing about the stage, and even to the barrier, to sing and scream along to ‘God Warrior’ and ‘State Of Mine’, to name a few. A debut album has to be on the cards soon, and once it drops, expect SHVPES to skyrocket. [ZR]

Brighton mob Black Peaks may be on at what most reasonable people would consider to be lunch time, but that doesn’t stop them powering through 30 minutes of angular, challenging post-hardcore like it’s a Friday night at Wembley Arena (which, by the way, they did a week prior supporting the mighty Deftones). ‘Say You Will’ and set closer ‘Saviour’ sound absolutely gigantic; all pummelling drums and frantic riffs. The real star of the show is frontman Will Gardner and his almost inhuman vocal range. His melodic vocals are impressively powerful, but his screams are indescribable to the point that even the front of stage security were looking at each other with “bloody hell” in their eyes. If there was any doubt that Black Peaks are the most interesting young band in Britain right now, then consider it extinguished by this set. Outstanding. [LK]

If you look up the dictionary definition of the word “fun”, you’ll see a picture of Turbowolf. This band is a festival favourite, and it’s easy to see why; their psychedelic garage rock is 100% positive energy and 0% pretentiousness. Chris Geordiadis is as flamboyant a frontman as they come, and from the moment he makes the crowd sit down before launching into opener ‘Ancient Snake’, he has them eating out of the palm of his hand, and this grasp doesn’t let go ’til well after the last note has long rung out. The only criticism is that the first half of the set feels a bit quiet and the sound doesn’t fill the tent in the way that it should, but that doesn’t stop crowd surfers galore, lots of jumping, and a massive conga line snaking its way through the crowd. [LK]

“My name is Danko Jones… but you can call me… delicious.” Canada’s sexiest rock star (sorry Chad Kroeger) is greeted by rapturous applause as he and his band burst into ‘Play The Blues’. Much like their Maverick Stage predecessors Turbowolf; the Danko Jones ethos is all about having a good time. Their sexually charged blues rock keeps the party spirit very much alive, and fan favourites like ‘Cadillac’ and ‘Lovercall’ go down an absolute storm. It’s not exactly ground-breaking, but it’s so much fun that it’s difficult to criticise, and the crowd (who by this point have shaken off their hangovers and started drinking again) absolutely eat up the music and the titular frontman’s smooth talk. 20 years into their career and still rocking harder than most – a lot of bands could learn a lot from Danko Jones. [LK]

Where do you begin to describe a band like Lawnmower Deth? They’re punk, they’re thrash, they’re… where did all the beach balls come from? Why is that man dressed as Jesus? Who invited those clowns? Anyone happening upon this bizarre event would be forgiven for questioning their own sanity, but these Nottingham crossover veterans are all about weird, and it’s wonderful. They smash through choice cuts from their back-catalogue, and even invite a couple of guests to join them on stage. The first is Evil Scarecrow frontman, Dr. Rabid Hell. That’s probably not his real name. The second, and this is where things get really odd, is Kim Wilde. Yes, 80s wank fantasy Kim Wilde of ‘Kids In America’ fame. She does that track, of course, but also tries her hand at a few Lawnmower Deth songs, which is so fantastically strange to witness that it’s impossible not to enjoy. In terms of memorable festival moments, this has to be somewhere near the top. [LK]

After watching some of the other bands on offer today, some of which are among the most innovative and creative acts currently in circulation, Escape The Fate fall a bit flat. Their saccharine-sweet post-hardcore is well executed and polished, but predictable and bland. Frontman Craig Mabbitt says all the right things and the band look the part, but the whole thing just feels a bit forced. The crowd still sing back every word to tracks like ‘Alive’ and ‘One For The Money’, but looking through you can see it is made up of Download’s younger attendees; the older crowd likely off watching someone more interesting on one of the other stages. [LK]

ANTI-FLAG – 9/10
Anti-Flag are probably not what you would call a “Download band”, but with NOFX and Pennywise also playing today the punks are definitely attendance, and good job too as they get to witness what is undoubtedly one of the best sets of the day. Their politically charged punk rock is just what the doctor ordered to wake up a crowd that have started to flag after watching bands since 11am. ‘Fuck Police Brutality’ ignites a circle pit that almost touches the poles holding the tent up, and from there onwards Anti-Flag are unstoppable. The anthemic ‘Die For Your Government’ rings out from the audience like a war cry, and a cover of The Clash classic ‘Should I Stay Or Should I Go’ has everyone dancing and smiling. Very few bands can channel so much rage and vitriol and turn it into such a positive and fun experience, but Anti-Flag are one such band. [LK]

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.

Sadly, we were unable to catch this set.

Sadly, we were unable to catch this set.

Bringing back grunge rock from its death in the mid to late 90s with a vibrate punk rock edge, British grunge revivalists Milk Teeth have climbed from the underground circuit into serious up-and-coming contenders to keep a close eye on. Even before the band proceed into set opener ‘Brain Food’, the tent is packed out with a serious struggle for newcomers to make their way in. Bassist and vocalist Becky Blomfield is really shaping into a notable front woman, and with cuts like ‘Swear Jar’ and ‘Brickwork’ and the right push, Milk Teeth could easily ascend to a higher spot on a much bigger stage by this time next year. [ZR]

Sadly, we were unable to catch this set.

SLAVES – 7/10
The career of Slaves thus far, incase you haven’t been too aware of it, has been turbulent to say the least. Of course, this comes unsurprising if you consider frontman Jonny Craig’s track record, but despite all but two members leaving, both Craig and bassist Colin Vieira, credit must be given where credit is due; they’ve recruited some temporary live members, taught them the set, and carried out their European dates as scheduled and agreed. The tent is almost packed out, and Craig definitely maintains his reputation as a vocal powerhouse. Despite the rocky conditions, the likes of ‘Drowning In My Addiction’, ‘My Soul Is Empty And Full Of White Girls’, and ‘Running Through The ¡6! with My Soul’ sound solid and are met with major cheers and applause. Slaves clearly have potential, they just need stability to see it come to fruition. [ZR]

CANE HILL – 8/10
The rise of Cane Hill in the UK for the past few months has been somewhat overwhelming. They’ve only got one EP to their name, and a debut full-length titled ‘Smile’ on the way, but already they’ve garnered a steady following and also very recently won a Kerrang! award. They have very much a Korn junior vibe to the whole thing, especially with Elijah Witt’s vocals emanating the same painful and cathartic struggle that Jonathan Davis has portrayed throughout the years. ‘Gemini’ and ‘Sunday School’ see the pits start to open up, and fresher offerings like ‘True Love’ and ‘You’re So Wonderful’ prove that the Korn-esque qualities are far from a one-off try. With the explosive climax of closer ‘Time Bomb’ seeing things escalate to near carnage, Cane Hill could very well see a prosperous future very soon. [ZR]

Sadly, we were unable to catch this set.

Sadly, we were unable to catch this set.

Written by Zach Redrup [ZR] and Liam Knowles [LK]

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