LIVE: Download Festival @ Donington Park (Saturday – 13/06/2015)

Date: June 13th, 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.


Sadly, we were unable to catch this set.

Welsh rockers Funeral For A Friend have majorly fallen under the radar following their spike in popularity during the mid to late 00s. The band are, however, able to pull a respectable sized crowd at the early slot of 12pm. Their decline in popularity in recent years is reflected in their setlist, as the band play just the one track ‘1%’ from their latest LP. Despite getting the whole crowd to dance and fist pump in unison, they feel a little weak and boring, and lack any real excitement. Before exiting the stage, frontman Matt Davies grins, “Cheers for the last 14 years, you beautiful fucks”. [KH]

This year’s performance proves just how far Mallory Knox have came as a band over the last few years, from playing the much smaller Maverick stage in 2012, to pulling a huge crowd at the main stage. Frontman Mikey Chapman’s vocals are extremely strong and powerful. He thanks the fans for coming out to see them in the rain by going out and standing in the downpour himself. “Reach for the sky” shouts the frontman before diving into the excellent ‘Ghost In The Mirror’. Despite finishing slightly under their time slot, the band demonstrate a great deal of improvement from their Download debut. [KH]

Bloody hell, remember Hollywood Undead? The band who made a big deal about wearing masks while writing dreadful nu-metal rip-offs that wouldn’t even make it as a Linkin Park b-side? The same band who made and even bigger deal about getting rid of those same masks after an album then started ripping off shit rap? What? They played the main stage? Are they even worth reviewing?

They are. Of course they are. Just know that I’m not happy about it. It’s not because they’re rap, it’s because if Download wanted a rap outfit to play main stage, then why pick someone whose sound is closer to The Lonely Island than it is to Cypress Hill? At least The Lonely Island have a sense of irony; Hollywood Undead play the whole show as if no one has ever told them how ridiculous they are. What? They take themselves seriously?! You could’ve fooled anyone really with their trashy (trash, definitely not thrash) songs like ‘Everywhere I Go’. Body Count it is not.

You’ll either agree or think that this piece of writing was a waste of time, and if it’s the latter then now you know what a Hollywood Undead set feels like. We now feel what people who grew up with Iron Maiden must’ve felt like when they saw Limp Bizkit… fucking old. [JK]

Sadly, we were unable to catch this set.

Sadly, we were unable to catch this set.

Packing an obscene amount of pyro and a highly unexpected cover of Oasis’ ‘Champagne Supernova’, A Day To Remember remain exciting and are quick to catch fans off guard. “This is for everyone who grew up listening to heavy music” shouts frontman Jeremy McKinnon before slamming into ‘Mr. Highway Thinking About The End’. The real highlight of the set is the band’s signature acoustic ballad, ‘If It Means A Lot’, which works as a nice change of pace from the speedy pop-punk riffs and hard breakdowns littered throughout. [KH]

In 2009, the year Slipknot first headlined, Faith No More were also headlining, and considering they’ve now got an entire new album’s worth of material, some would think that they’d be headlining again. It doesn’t matter though, it really doesn’t. You could have put Faith No More on the Wednesday when only the early birds were there and they still would’ve stolen the show.

First of all, there’s this attitude with Faith No More; it’s their complete lack of modesty rolled in with their sense of humor. Rather than be a band who jokes about being bad, why not exaggerate your ego because you do know you’re good… better than good, you’re Faith No fucking More. In the muddiest year since 2012, FNM stand atop a pure white stage in clean white robes and ask “How’s the mud?” without a sliver of irony.

If you have a beer (or anything stronger) in your hand for opener ‘Motherfucker’ then it’s the sing along of the weekend, straight into hit and bonafide banger, ‘Be Aggressive’. Roddy Bottum’s keys are not only essential, but blindingly plaid. After their hit ‘Epic’, singer Mike Patton manages to find the one person at the front not having a good time and rip them for it before drummer Mike Bordin smoothly goes into new song, ‘Black Friday’. Some may have been mumbling “what a dick” to themselves, but, quite frankly, you wouldn’t be able to hear it from the laughter at the front. Bordin nails every odd percussion challenge he’s set himself on record, especially on tracks from new offering, ‘Sol Invictus’. It’s sometimes hard to remember they have but one guitarist in Jon Hudson, whose writing input on tracks like ‘Ashes To Ashes’ really shines. Of course, we can’t talk about FNM without talking about how solid and funky Bill Gould’s basslines are. As soon as the thick bass of ‘We Care A Lot’ hits, people lose their minds.

In a year where Paul Stanley, Billy Idol, Rob Halford, and Corey Taylor all stepped on the stage, to call Mike Patton the best frontman of the weekend is a big shout, but it still doesn’t really do him justice. He taps into a vicious animalistic state for songs like ‘Separation Anxiety’ and ‘Gentle Art Of Making Enemies’ before turning into the classiest and funkiest singer for songs like ‘Evidence’ and their gorgeous cover of ‘Easy’. Versatile doesn’t even cover it. Despite the unmodest pedestal he was standing on, he jumps off the end of the runway he was ever so timid to walk down and allows a fan who’s being taken away on a stretcher to sing the last couple of notes. It was probably worth injuring himself just for that, Hell, this set would be worth breaking your neck for. [JK]

MUSE – 10/10
Arena rock heavyweights Muse have stolen plenty of best live band awards over the years and have penned some of the best alternative rock hits of the last decade. So, it’s fair to say expectations are exceptionaly high right from the start. With Slipknot drawing a huge crowd and dominating the stage the previous night, there’s a lot for Muse to follow up to. Crashing in with recent single ‘Psycho’, the British rock trio keep up the intensity from the very start and unleash hit after hit on the tens of thousands of attendees. A major highlight is the improvisation between bassist Chris Wolstenholme and drummer Domonic Howard, demonstrating their chemistry and musical flair. Western flavoured smash hit ‘Knights Of Cydonia’ closes their excellent set, causing the crowd to explode and move uncontrollably. Well done, Muse. You can come back anytime. [KH]


Sadly, we were unable to catch this set.

GEYSER – 6/10
The most notable thing about Geyser is the fact that they have two sets of drums, but, to be honest, if you just close your eyes you can just imagine that they have one really good drummer. It doesn’t seem to really add much apart from a slight niche appeal to their setup. Their sludgy hard rock songs start out a bit wobbly with questionable songwriting and uninteresting lyrics, but towards the end of their set they’re able to throw out some tasty riffs. At least they’ve got an actual band for this slot rather than a boring version of Postmodern Jukebox. [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.

CARCASS – 7/10
Carcass are one of the few extreme metal legends scattered across the line-up; a band whose span of influences covers grindcore as well as early death metal. Whilst most modern metal bands would want their sound coming out clear and precise, Carcass’ music has so much gore and grit in it that even whilst the sound guy is adjusting to them the blast of bloody death metal still sounds brutal. What truly shows the versatility of the Liverpudlian veterans is that even once the sound cleans up they still nail it, from the intricate neck scales of ‘Unfit For Human Consumption’ to the soaring notes of ‘Heartwork’, with Jeff Walker providing thunderous bass and vocals consistently throughout. Every sadistic song is pulled off spectacularly. [JK]

A strong contender as the creepiest act at this year’s festival, alongside Marliyn Manson and September Mourning, Motionless In White prove that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. Frontman Chris Cerulli thanks the fans for their support, as just two years ago they were playing the much smaller Maverick stage. Set highlights include previous hits ‘Break The Cycle’, ‘Abigail’, and ‘Devil’s Night’. [KH]

Sadly, we were unable to catch this set.

Sadly, we were unable to catch this set.

In recent years, people have been apprehensive about seeing Marilyn Manson live. Rumours of his live shows getting worse than his limp albums, and him being too unhealthy to sing properly came flooding out of his shows. But there was hope, latest album ‘The Pale Emperor’ has easily been his best in years, and people were saying that his live shows were on the mend too. What better time or place than Donnington for one killer show to re-crown himself the god of fuck and the antichrist superstar that he was in the lates 90s and early 00s?

After a very long and drawn out intro, newer single ‘Deep Six’ is a bit underwhelming, especially with its repetitive verses, but it has a good punchy riff, and Manson seems to be on top of his vocals. Only one song in and it takes a turn. As Manson throws out a slur of words that ends in the words “disposable”, we can only assume this is how he introduces ‘Disposable Teens’ when he’s wasted. It’s downhill from there really, with the entire gig becoming a tug of war between artist and audience. Manson fades in and out of trying his hardest (which still isn’t much because he seems shitfaced), and just arguing with the audience and not caring. It’s a shame it became so awkward and a struggle, because his setlist is tasty, with hits like ‘mOBSCENE’, ‘Rock Is Dead’, as well as rarities like ‘High End Of Low’s lead single ‘No Reflection’, and even 1994’s ‘Lunchbox’. A die-hard Manson fan would’ve loved it for the songs, and maybe even defend Manson’s frustration of not being appreciated, but even when he stands atop his podium for his ‘Personal Jesus’ cover, he can barely stand leaning on it.

He also keeps bringing out Ice-T (who stood there awkwardly smiling) and making weird jokes about skin colour. It was at these points one would look up to the stage and wonder what happened to the man who once scared the world with his music and live shows. People used to picket Manson gigs, saying that all those who enter will go to hell, but there’s nothing dangerous about this show. It’s more pitiful than scary, and it pains us to write that. By the time he had rushed his way through ‘The Beautiful People’, both audience and Manson seem relieved that it’s all over. [JK]


Opening to a near empty stage, most likely due to the hideous torrential rain suffered from the previous night, Aussie rockers In Hearts Wake kick off the Saturday with a bang. Packing hits from recent double concept albums ‘Earthwalker’ and ‘Skydancer’, the band prove that they’re among the best of the growing number of Australian bands at this year’s festival. Dual vocalists Jake Taylor and Kyle Erich complement each other perfectly, mixing gritty and clean vocals. [KH]

Sadly, we were unable to catch this set.

The most exciting band you could’ve checked out on the Maverick stage this year is New York’s Stray From The Path, but their bouncy brand of hardcore filled with Rage Against The Machine influences have been worth looking up since their last album, ‘Anonymous’. Even though they’ve been going since 2001, it feels like they’re on the verge of something huge. Frontman Drew York storms onto the stage, spitting the words “Fuck the system” like bile and venom as he stomps across the stage. They have all the energy and grit of an old school DC hardcore band combined with the bounce of the nu-metal they grew up listening to, and it creates a stellar and exciting live sound. Though every song goes down a treat, new song ‘Outbreak’ and the huge ‘Badge & A Bullet’ really set the big blue tent off. Many of the rising bands stepping on this stage today are creating ripples, but with this set, SFTP are riding on the crest of a tidal wave. [JK]

Sadly, we were unable to catch this set.

The Texas metalcore quintet, who have been hailed as ‘leaders of the new metal revolution’ by certain publications, are making up for lost sets they were unable to play due to singer Danny Leal falling ill. They pull off a decent set, despite the fact that the sound desk really couldn’t cope with their very multi-layered tracks at times; if the riffs were clear then the vocals were too quiet or vice versa, and this takes a much needed punch out of their songs (no one is listening to Upon A Burning Body for their technicality or philosophical lyrics, if it ain’t heavy then it ain’t working). They do play through these sound struggles well, but, apart from that, it very much goes through the motions, and they don’t even acknowledge that Ice-T is in the building before their cover of ‘Turn Down For What’, featuring the Body Count frontman (whose voice they just played over the speakers… great). It’s a safe and standard set, despite the hype around the band, and nothing revolutionary. [JK]

Sadly, we were unable to catch this set.

Following an extensive tour of the US, Crown The Empire have ended their tour on a high by hitting up Download. Vocalist Andy Leo’s vocals soar, as he smashes all the high notes and the band deliver a pulse raising set, giving absolutely everything that he’s got. Throwing tracks out from both albums ‘The Fallout’ and ‘The Resistance: Rise Of The Runaways’, the band pleased fans of all eras of their early career. [KH]

One of the best thing about Download is that weekend highlights could easily come from any stage, and with so many bands who may not yet be main stage material, but who still have a huge following, and modern legacy, playing the blue tent it’s more likely to come from there rather than headline sets. Every Time I Die are a band who’ll never headline Download, but they could be booked every year and it’s guaranteed that they’ll play just as hard as anyone topping the bill. They’re 100mph straight away, beginning with the blood curdling screams of “I want to be dead with my friends” in opener ‘Underwater Bimbos From Outer Space’. Frontman Keith Buckley is constantly throwing himself into a frenzy, and at times it seems more like a cathartic therapy session than a show. Contrasting this is Every Time I Die’s happy and excited demeanor, especially their stage banter which shows that whilst Keith is pouring his heart out, it’s still a party. It’s a good thing that songs from the new album ‘From Parts Unknown’ like ‘Thirst’, and ‘Decayin’ With The Boys’ scream PARTY. It’s post-hardcore you can drink to, but you might want to pummel someone and then buy them a beer. The band use up any last fractions of energy they have left during building closer ‘Moor’, proving bands will always be able to play above ETID, but they’ll roll over before they let anyone play harder them. [JK]

After releasing their first album in 8 years last June, Bodycount were back causing hundreds of fans to fight for a place in Maverick stage to catch a glimpse of them. Delivering an enthralling hybrid of rap and metal, the band’s sound is surprisingly fresh despite being now 26 years old. Vocalist Ice-T shocked fans by inviting his son on stage to sing along to hits ‘Manslaughter’ and ‘Drive By’. Another set highlight was a cover of The Exploited’s ‘Disorder’, which is beautifully executed and well received by the 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.

EMP!RE – 8/10
Since they proved that they were one of the finest UK underground bands at Sonisphere last year, Emp!re have been on a warpath doing small festivals, support slots, and tours all over the country. After all those busy months, they’ve come to Donington to make a statement; “The place was Download festival, the band was Emp!re” announces wailing frontman Joe Green. They’ve proved themselves upon the stages of countless festivals this year, and Download is just another. They blast out another successful, tight set filled with their intricate songwriting and soaring choruses of which the tent will see some of its biggest singalongs. After a year of smashing it all over the country, we have to give so much props to Emp!re. Consider us itching to hear new material, and to see what comes next. [JK]

Sadly, we were unable to catch this set.

Sadly, we were unable to catch this set.

ROAM – 7/10
Hitting the Download stage before embarking on their upcoming set of shows with pop-punk legends All Time Low, ROAM pack an impressive half an hour that proves that they’re a young band who are not to be missed. Although their sound may not be totally original, the band make up for it in their stage presence, dashing back and fourth, forcing the audience to join along. [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.

Although merely consisting of guitar and drums, Southampton’s Dolomite Minor sound surprisingly expansive, and their brand of heavy psychedelic indie rock is extremely refreshing. Singer/guitarist Joe Grimshaw uses a whole host of enticing guitar effects, which really fill out the band’s sound, and the chemistry between the two musicians is excellent. The band may have been a little boring to watch, as there’s only the two of them onstage, but what they offer to the festival ultimately makes up for the lack of energy. [KH]

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]