The final day of Download 2019 was a day of momentous occasions. Tool returned to headline the Main Stage for the first time in 12 years and thrash legends Slayer played their last ever UK show headlining the Zippo Encore Stage.
Grunge-punks Dinosaur Pile-Up storm the Zippo Encore Stage for a rapturous fast-paced set early in the day. Opening with the adrenaline pumping, ‘Pouring Gasoline’, Dinosaur Pile-Up play a high-octane set of choice cuts from their new album ‘Celebrity Mansions.’
An early airing of 2015’s fan-favourite, ’11:11′, opens up the circle pits with head-banging riffs. ‘Round The Bend’ is a fuzzed-up nineties-dyed banger that has the crowd chanting along, whilst the electrifying punch-up of closer ‘Back Foot’ leaves the crowd craving one more song.
If breakdowns and sweet hooks all rolled into one are your thing, then a dose of I Prevail is just what you’re after. ‘Bow Down’ set things off and sees the vocal trade-off of both Brian Burkheiser and Eric Vanlerberghe in full force. Later track ‘Paranoid’ adds a bit of a nu-metal and almost-trap pop tinge to their post-hardcore palette.
Brian even braves the set with a cast on one of his legs, but he prevails to reach the bombastic closer ‘Come And Get It’ with his fellow bandmates. Today, I Prevail showed just why they warrant such attention amongst their contemporaries right now.
The last time Floridian favourites Underoath played Download was way back in 2005. After taking a few years out on an indefinite hiatus, they’ve finally returned to Donington with fresh minds, fresh passion, and some fresh songs too.
During newer cut, ’ihateit’, front man Spencer Chamberlain jumps down to the barrier and spends most of his time during the song with the crowd. Whilst ‘One My Teeth – taken from the band’s most recent album ‘Erase Me’ – is a ferocious statement of intent from one of post-hardcore’s most prolific names.
The set is brought to a close with golden oldie, ‘Writing On The Walls’, which honestly doesn’t sound like it’s aged one bit since it was originally released 13 years ago. Please boys, never leave us again.
Over the past three years Brighton’s own Black Peaks have regularly been tipped as one of the best bands that Britain has to offer at the moment. Watching today’s set on The Avalanche Stage, it’s not at all surprising to understand why.
Before evening play the first note of ‘Can’t Sleep’, the quartet are already standing before an almost packed out tent. ‘The Midnight Sun’ holds some vibes of tonight’s headliners Tool and, if that wasn’t quite epic enough, they bring out the pyro to see the track out too.
The fire just keeps on coming into the gigantic anthem that is, ‘Say You Will’. The track really showcases how fantastic Will Gardner’s voice is as he holds the most insane high-pitched screams, like it’s the easiest thing in the world.
With a few more albums and sets like this, there’s no reason why these boys couldn’t be sitting comfortably on Main Stage line up in a few years from now.
The sun’s shining, the pyro’s burning and the Download Family is out in full force to raise their horns to Viking metal giants Amon Amarth on the Main Stage. With a stage production to make even a headline band jealous – including a larger-than-life horned helmet drum riser – it’s going to be a set few will forget.
Vikings battle fiercely on stage as the ferocious ‘Way of the Vikings’ plays out, whilst new song ‘Crack The Sky’ send the crowd moshing towards the sky. Fan favourite, ‘Guardians Of Asgaard’, is a spectacle of its own. The crowd opens up to sit and row, whilst the Amon Amarth symbol on stage bursts into flames and the band toast victoriously from Viking drinking horns.
Amon Amarth make their final claim for having the biggest show production of the day by bringing out an actual dragon for closer, ‘Twilight of the Thunder Gods’. Downloaders, raise your horn!
WWE NXT UK LiVE
Since their 2016 debut WWE NXT have brought awesome live wrestling action to Donington Park from some of the biggest names in the game. This year is no different as the wrestling giants have switched it up a gear with the debut of WWE NXT UK, a move into the Main Arena, and the announcement that all the grapples and suplex cities are being filmed for a weekly show on the WWE Network for the first time EVER.
It’s non-stop body slamming action all weekend, but today Downloaders go ring side to watch as Deonna Purrazzo battle it out with Shayna Baszler as the crowd chant, “Shayna’s gonna kill you”. Kassius and Mark Andrews – also of the pop-punk band, Junior -fight both in and out of the ring. Whilst, Wolfe Walter and Aichner Barthel deploys a tag team effort against Tyson T-Bone and Saxon Huxley.
NXT Women’s Champion Toni Storm invites Kay Lee Ray to try and take her title. Kay Lee Ray raises the tension by saying to Toni, “I’m going make you wait”, and until then she’s going to make her life “a living hell”. This all happens before they jump back in the ring for a tag team battle alongside Jinny, Jazzy Gabert, Xia Brookside, and Piper Niven.
WWE NXT UK Live at Download was once again a knock out addition.
Lamb Of God
If Download wasn’t heavy enough already, Virginian groove metal kings Lamb Of God lay waste to the Main Stage. Opening with the earth-shattering ‘Omerta’, Lamb Of God treat us to a greatest hits set spanning their entire career paying close attention to 2004’s ‘Ashes Of The Wake’ and 2006’s ‘Sacrament’.
‘Walk With Me In Hell’ is received with rapturous applause as the entire crowd scream the title in harmony. Elsewhere, ‘Now You’ve Got Something To Die For’ and ‘512’ opens up the Main Stage for a wave of chaos, from mini circle pits to synchronised head banging.
Dedicating the devastating ‘Laid To Rest’ to Zippo Encore Stage headliners Slayer, Lamb Of God receive the loudest cheer of the day. Closer ‘Redneck’ is the nail in the coffin, smashing expectations as the crowd once again chants passionately along.
Prog-rock veterans Dream Theater deliver a masterclass in technical wizardry on the Zippo Encore Stage. Built around the band’s 14th album Distance Over Time’, released earlier this year, the set list cherry-picks the albums highlights, including the dreamlike ‘Fall Into The Light.’
Guitar guru John Petrucci plays with such prowess that the crowd is practically floating into the sky marveling at his mesmerising fretwork. Keyboardist Jordan Prudess plays with unrivaled intensity, whilst front man James LaBrie delivers a stunning vocal performance.
Surprises are aplenty throughout the set as a handful of deep cuts from the Dream Theater history books are thrown into the mix. ‘The Dance Of Eternity’ from the band’s classic 1999 album, ‘Metropolis Part 2: Scenes From A Memory’, turns the crowd’s already sky-high mood into euphoria. Closer ‘Pull Me Under’ is a powerful closing statement, cementing Dream Theater’s place in the Prog Hall of Fame.
UK Air Guitar Championship Final
All weekend Downloaders have taken to the SINDROME stage to entertain us with their furious licks and flamboyant showmanship to be crowned the UK Air Guitar Champion.
Three contestants have made it through to today’s nail biting final hosted by DR HAZE and the Circus of Horrors. Before the contestants take to the stage last year’s winner, Sven Spandex, is back to whip the crowd into a frenzy with his band Dirty Rose, featuring special guest and World Air Guitar Champion, Nanami ‘Seven Seas’.
Bestowed with the heavy honour of choosing today’s winner are Head Judge, Rev Dr Clive Jackson of Doctor and the Medics. Joining him is WWE NXT’s Eric Bugenhagen who instantly impresses the crowd with his own sick air guitar moves soundtracked to Queen.
First contestant Van Valentine rocks out hard to Def Leppard’s ‘Gimme Me All Your Loving’, but the judges show him little love awarding him a low two and three out of five. Third contestant, Long Dong Silver instantly impresses by ripping off his clothes to reveal a one piece lace bodysuit, plus other accessories that would make the Download Dog blush.
But, it’s the second contestant Two Faced Mary who steals the show with her rioutous riffs and pure passion. After a quick confab, Two Faced Mary is crowned winner of the UK Air Guitar Championship! Her prize includes VIP tickets to Download 2020 and the chance to compete in the UK Air Guitar Championships in Finland this August.
Start practising your air guitar, Downloaders – next year this could be YOU!
The Smashing Pumpkins
The iconic lacerating riff of ‘Zero’ slashes open the start of The Smashing Pumpkins‘ long-awaited Download debut. The super stellar speed of ‘Solara’, taken from the band’s recent album ‘Shiny and Oh So Bright’, maintains the velocity of ‘Zero’, before the buffers are put on for the apocalyptic haze of ‘Knights Of Malta’.
Standing centre stage front man Billy Corgan – flanked by original members guitarist James Iha and drummer Jimmy Chamberlain – has the aura of a intergalactic preacher poised to deliver his sermon. His magnetism is at his peak when he performs the band’s 1993 classic track, ‘Disarm’, with an intensity that ripples out across the arena.
Just over half-way through the set, Billy shares that as it’s Donington Park they’re going to do “something special” that they don’t do at other shows. Danish musician Myrkur joins the band onstage and they rip into a haunting yet heavy cover of Black Sabbath’s ‘Snowblind’.
Closing with euphoric raw riffs of Siamese Dream opener, ‘Cherub Rock’, The Smashing Pumpkins have us ready for lift off.
Opening up with the intense ‘Burn It’ and ‘We’re Coming In’, the energy is seriously high from the very beginning of Fever 333’s set on The Avalanche Stage. Jason Aalon Butler runs around the stage screaming his lungs out and, at one point, he tries to clamber into a barrel – yes, a barrel – as he surfs across the crowd. Guitarist Stephen Harrison also can’t keep still for a second and even drummer Aric Improta has a bit of trouble sitting at his kit.
Along with the extreme and incredibly live performance, what sees Fever 333 stand out amongst their peers is their message of unity. Today when dedicating ‘Made In America’ to the black and proud community, Jason speaks about how countries and cultures are taken advantage of to solely prosper others. And, before breaking into ‘One Of Us’ he calls for the need to break down gender inequality.
Fever 333 was truly a captivating and thought provoking set for all of the right reasons.
St. Albans’ quartet Enter Shikari have the honour of closing off The Avalanche Stage for this year and they know what this crowd want most – their heaviest cuts – and the band enthusiastically obliges.
‘The Appeal & The Mindsweep I’ sets off the spark that ignites the crowd into a full-on adrenaline fueled frenzy for the hour that follows. ‘Quelle Surprise’ follows soon after, complete with a bunch of pyro and ‘Mothership’ is a delightful blast from the past. Whilst, ‘Slipshod’ is a full-on punishing couple of minutes and ‘Take My Country Back’ is a statement that’s all too relevant in a song that’s all too brilliant.
Introducing the song, ‘Arguing With Thermometers’, front man Rou Reynolds explains the track is about climate change denial, which he believes is reality denial as it’s something that’s happening before our very eyes. Enter Shikari have always been a band that’s not afraid to approach and discuss topics that affect us worldwide, on social levels and environmentally, and that’s a part of what makes them such a unique band.
To ensure every moment of their time onstage isn’t wasted, they perform a quick-fire blast that melds ‘Sorry, You’re Not A Winner’, ‘No Sleep Tonight’, ‘The Last Garrison’, and ‘…Meltdown’ together into one complete monster unit. Bowing out to ‘Live Outside’, Enter Shikari are still one of the best live bands in Britain today.
Whether you’re a Slayer fan or not, a thrash metal fan or not – the fact that the legendary hard-hitting quartet are calling it a day is pretty monumental in the world of heavy music. Slayer are one quarter of The Big Four (completed by Metallica, Anthrax, and Megadeth), all of whom helped to solidify and push thrash metal to the forefront. Tonight’s set at Download is a bittersweet landmark in their history as it marks their last performance on UK soil.
Understandably, the biggest crowd of the weekend at the at the Zippo Encore Stage gather for their farewell show. Together with their fans, Slayer celebrate their almost 40 year long career with a field of fans new and old.
‘Repentless’ is blast of pure raw fury right out of the gates, before they take it all the way back to 1983 with ‘Evil Has No Boundaries’ to cater to both the old fans and the new. ‘Seasons In The Abyss’ is an indisputable highlight, complete with mammoth sized riffs that sound like they were carved and created in hell themselves.
It almost goes without saying that the sinister ‘Raining Blood’ gets one of the biggest reactions throughout their blistering set. Axeman Kerry King proves yet again why he’s one of the most prolific guitarists that heavy metal has ever had to offer.
Set closer ‘Angel Of Death’ still sounds as diabolic and larynx-destroying, thanks to frontman Tom Araya, as it did way back when in 1986. As the last notes ring out, he bids his farewells to the crowd – “Thank you very much. Goodnight. Goodbye” – sounding like he’s almost struggling to utter those words to their UK fans for the final time. We’re not crying, you’re crying.
After 12 years away, 2006 Headliners Tool return to the UK to close Download with a visually kaleidoscopic assault on the senses. With just the alternative metal alchemists symbolic heptagram hung above the stage, the atmosphere is palpable as the crowd buzzes with anticipation.
Appearing on stage elusively, Tool begin with the brooding, building, and blistering ‘Ænema’, as a Mohican-sporting mascara-clad frontman Maynard James Keenan pulses back and forth on his platform. Leading the crowd lyric-by-lyric through the haunting anthemic intro to the spiralling ‘The Pot’, it’s clear to see Tool’s return will be memorable from the outset.
The psychedelic art-rock of ‘Parabola’ is the first of copious curveballs throughout the set. The band air their first new material in 13 years in the shape of the tantalising, ‘Descending’ and ‘Invincible’. All the while the band deliver a stage presence that is simultaneously warm and welcoming as well as hauntingly dangerous.
Falling in line with Tool’s legendary anonymity, the Main Stage screens display nothing but their hallucinatory artistic visuals that warp the senses as the sounds of the ancient deep cut, ‘Part Of Me’, wrap around the crowd.Speaking on only one of two occasions, Maynard jests that those in the crowd under 27, weren’t even born when they wrote this early Tool cut.
The adrenalised riffs of ‘Vicarious’ have heads banging and voices singing as the hair-raising visuals illuminate the crowd. A creeping, dizzying rendition of ‘Stinkfist’ brings the exhilarating and intimidating set to a close, Tool leaving the stage as illusively as they entered it.
It may have been twelve years in the making, but it was worth every second. Tool’s return will go down as one of Download’s most iconic moments.