What better to wake up on a Saturday morning than jumping in a mosh pit soundtracked by sick unstoppable riffs. That’s exactly what New Zealand trio Alien Weaponry bring with them to the Main Stage, along with many charitable call-to-arms moments in the Eastern Polynesian language of Māori.
All three of the band tag team vocal duties through songs like ‘Holding My Breath’, which comes complete with an air raid siren. Alien Weaponry are the band on everyone’s lips after today’s phenomenal opener.
Crowning themselves proudly as the first Nepalese band to play Download, Underside deliver a thrilling early-afternoon set on The Dogtooth Stage. The band’s fiery metalcore hits hard across the packed-out stage with tent-wide circle pits erupting.
Joined onstage by a creature born from Nepalese folklore, complete with horns Amon Amarth would covet, Underside bestow destruction to The Dogtooth Stage. Ending posing for a picture with the Download faithful, it’s clear Underside have fulfilled more than just a childhood ambition today.
Over on the Avalanche Stage, powerpop upstarts Hot Milk are here to inject some fun directly into the veins of Donington. Opening with dynamic new track ‘Candy Coated Lies’, the energy doesn’t let up from there as they power through tracks from their killer debut EP ‘Are You Feeling Alive?’.
Dual vocalists Hannah Mee and Jim Shaw leap around the stage, getting the crowd jumping along to the infectious chorus of ‘Take Your Jacket’. Closing on the anthemic, ‘Awful Ever After’, Hot Milk end on a high as they prove they’re definitely ones to watch.
Packing more pyro than a fireworks shop, Behemoth arrive on stage masked and ready for action and quickly rip into to the desolate, ‘Wolves ov Siberia.’ Front man Nergal has the crowd obeying his every command getting everyone rowing merrily together mid-set to the chilling chant of ‘Hail Satan!’.
Newer tracks such as ‘Bartzabel’ go hand-in-hand with stone-cold classics like ‘Ov Fire And The Void’. A chorus of cheers echoes around the arena as Nergal proudly announces that this is their biggest UK show of all time.
‘Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel’ is screamed word-for-word by the crowd as a testament to Behemoth’s sheer power.
Globe Of Death
The SINDROME once again brings shock and awe to their stage with the Globe Of Death. A motorcyclist enters the lime green caged ball, standing high at the top of the hill in the Main Arena, and instantly has mouths agog as he defies gravity. Racing around inside the ball at speed it’s a thrilling spectacle to watch and one of many in The SINDROME.
Vocalist Asami commands the crowd to throw and pump their fists at her command. With an impressive range, you’d struggle to find someone who can hit some almost inhuman high notes like she can. Guitarists Midori and Miyako also provide an onslaught of galloping riffs that alone would make the band’s set worth its weight in gold.
Download favourites and ragga-rock legends Skindred, draw one of the Main Stage‘s biggest crowds. Opener ‘Sound The Siren’ brings the bouncing, but it’s old-school follow-up ‘Pressure’ that gets the crowd singing endlessly, song-by-song and word-for-word.
Enigmatic front man Benji Webbe is on fine form, teasing the crowd as he pits left against right in practising their woah-oh’s and conducting the most metal version of ‘If You’re Happy and You Know It’, you’ll ever hear.
Reef’s Gary Stringer joins the Skindred posse for ‘Machine’, whilst a mash-up of ‘Kill The Power’ with The Prodigy’s ‘Out Of Space’ brings the rave – acting as an emphatic tribute to the late great, Keith Flint.
‘Nobody’ erupts the Main Stage into a sea of mosh-pits, whilst the legendary Newport Helicopter during closer ‘Warning’ has everyone spinning their t-shirts in the air. Leaving the stage triumphant, Skindred prove once and for all why they’re one of the UKs funnest live bands.
Hunnu rockers The Hu brought a taste of Mongolia to The Dogtooth Stage. Steeped in Mongolian traditions and melded with the spirit of heavy metal, The Hu combine Mongolian throat singing with stories of Genghis Khan.
Playing to a packed tent the in-demand band deliver their Mongolian folklore with passion and power. ‘Wolf Totem’ has the crowd chanting the choruses of “Hu Hu Hu” word-for-word and echoing magically. The Hu could well be Download’s new favourites.
Front man Matt Heafy remembers their Donington debut well too, reminiscing the carnage that ensued back then, and demands that they beat their record of seven circle pits during ‘Pull Harder On The Strings Of Your Martyr’.
Heafy jumps off the stage and down to the barrier to the crowd in the opening moments of ‘Strife’ During set closer, ‘In Waves’, the band has the crowd sit down and pounce off of the ground as soon as the song explodes into full force. “It’s good to be home”, says Heafy and we wholeheartedly agree.
In recent years, emo rap has bubbled out of the underground and has steamed its way into the mainstream. This is largely in part to its Boston, Massachusetts based forerunner, nothing,nowhere. (aka Joe Mulherin).
‘Clarity In Kerosene’ sounds much more vibrant in a live setting than it does on record. ‘Dread’ documents Mulherin’s ongoing struggles with depression and anxiety. It’s brave and admirable to be so exposed, especially in front of huge crowd, but it’s one that’s abundantly important.
‘Hammer’ kicks the tempo right back up and gets everyone bounding. ‘Nevermore’ brings the set to an electric close where, in its final moments, nothing,nowhere. pounces onto the barrier and sings face-to-face with the die-hards on the front row.
Pennsylvania’s Halestorm are certainly no newcomers to Donington and the huge crowd that they pull in for their evening set is certainly a testament of how much they’re welcomed back.
It’s no secret that front woman Lzzy Hale has one hell of a voice, but hearing her on record just doesn’t give her talent justice. She could stand toe-to-toe with the best of the best as she wails to ‘Chemicals’, complete with a wave of fans clapping along. The almost vocal-only opening for, ‘Familiar Taste Of Poison’, allows her voice to truly take centre stage.
Things take a bizarre, yet fun, turn when Arejay Hale is offered a few minutes for a drum solo. Out of nowhere, he pulls out some massively oversized drum sticks and still absolutely slays behind the kit.
The surprises don’t quite stop there as Lzzy invites out Asami from Japanese power metal band, Lovebites. In an unforgettable Download moment, Asami sings along with Lzzy to the Halestorm song her band took their name from, ‘Love Bites (So Do I)’.
Simple Creatures, aka Mark Hoppus and Alex Gaskarth of Blink-182 and All Time Low, deliver a set filled to the brim with sing-along sessions, party anthems, and Dad jokes in their Avalanche Stage headline set.
Shaking off the sound of their day jobs, opener ‘Drug’ has the crowd erupting like a volcano to the synth-laden pop jams. There’s a real tongue-in-cheek vibe to their set, with Mark teasing the crowd with Blink-182 riffs and Alex bringing up some unicorn-clad dancers from the crowd for new song, ‘Special.’
A mid-set cover of Depeche Mode’s Personal Jesus has the crowd singing from front to back, whilst ‘Ether’ provides the ultimate arms-in-the-air moment.
Closing the show with the anthemic, ‘Strange Love,’ Simple Creatures plead with the crowd to start a wall of hugs and high-fives to which they passionately oblige as confetti sprayed out triumphantly.
Slipknot’s name is draped across the entirety of the Main Stage as fans stand waiting with baited breath. Suddenly, a clip of the unsettling ‘Iowa’ opener ‘(515)’ plays over the speakers, and before we know it the veil drops and the masked nonet finally show their faces (well, kinda).
Right off the bat they launch into a pummeling aural assault with a triple whammy ‘People = Sh*t’, ‘(sic)’ and ‘Get This’. Seriously?’. It’s one of the heaviest opening headline sets Download has witnessed and, thankfully, it doesn’t end there.
Their latest cut of material, ‘Unsainted’, sounds anthemic and larger-than-life, complete with with its creepy yet grand choir section. ‘Before I Forget’ is also a massive highlight as percussion duo, Clown and the unnamed new member, along with drummer Jay Weinberg, batter us with beats. Corey Taylor’s screams send us into hell in the verses of ‘Psychosocial’, before sings us right back into heaven for its legendary chorus.
What makes Slipknot one of the most supreme metal acts you’ll ever witness live – along with their impressive catalogue of bangers and how tightly they’re performed – is watching the many moments of mayhem that unfold onstage. One of these moments comes during ‘Duality’ as Clown leaves his raised collection of drums carrying a bat that’s covered in flames and smashes it against a keg. You’ll be hard pressed to find any other band doing that.
Of course, in true Slipknot tradition when ‘Spit It Out’ comes along it’s time for the crowd to sit down and bounce on command for the song’s mid-section . Even before Corey tells us, everyone from the front to the back of the field, crouches to the floor. As he roars “jump the f**k up”, it’s a mind-blowing spectacle as everyone jumps to their feet.
Before the set closes, Corey in a moving speech shares with us how playing Download is always an honour and that Download will always be home. As the band walk offstage with Clown taking a final bow, tonight the honour has been all ours.