Saturday – the moment Iron Maiden fans have been waiting for. Thousands of you came to the Apex Stage to witness their epic Legacy Of The Beast show.
When it comes to Death Blooms, you know you’re in for a good time. In a flare of yellow lighting and a growl of rage, opening track ‘Life Is Pain’ urges the crowd into motion; and it’s impossible not to find yourself screaming along.
Death Blooms’ music has previously been labelled ‘aggressive, explicit-riddled and disturbing’, and that’s exactly what the crowds love about them – screaming along to brutal nu-metalcore is the perfect way to let loose. As ‘One Release’’s cries of “PIT, PIT, GET IN THE PIT!” come into play, somehow managing to make the pit even wider, the love for Death Blooms is evident. Who doesn’t love a good mosh, eh?
Last year Cassyette took to Donington Park for her first ever festival, the Download Pilot, playing to a modest number of fans in our tent. Fast forward a year later and she’s skyrocketed to playing the Opus Stage, with thousands of fans chanting her name, reciting her lyrics, and flinging themselves into pits.
Cassyette opens her set with ‘Mayhem’, shortly followed by grungy-gothic single ‘Dear Goth’. “Are we ready to rage?!” she shouts before conjuring some deep vocals to belt out her slogan “scream, die, hate” – Cassyette’s edgier alternative to “live, laugh, love”. The melodic ‘September Rain’ sees her play with gentle vocal delivery, husky tones gracefully accompanied by the beaming rays of sunshine. Ending on singles ‘Petrichor’ and ‘Prison Purse’, the enthusiastic pits emerging around the stage show Cassyette is well on her way to rock superstardom.
Holding Absence are turning the Avalanche Stage into a technicolour dream. As opening track ‘Curse Me With Your Kiss’ bursts into life, the crowd is immediately enraptured, under the spell of vocalist Lucas Woodland. His ethereal vocals are as pristine as on record, and the fans delight in singing along with him, every word stitched into their hearts – at times even overpowering the sound of Lucas’s mic.
New track ‘Aching Longing’ is met with equal levels of enthusiasm – and guitarist Scott Carey knocks out some impressively fierce screams. By the time ‘Wilt’ hits, fans clambered atop shoulders, it’s clear that this set has been something special. And Holding Absence fans are in for another treat later on too, as the band take to the stage in the Doghouse for a not-so-secret acoustic set.
Ice Nine Kills
“Welcome to Horrorwood,” murmurs a doomed voice-over as Ice Nine Kills make their way onto the Opus Stage. All suited up, with masks made of faux burnt wood, Ice Nine Kills bring business-horrorcore to Donington. Frontman Spencer Charnas’ microphone is propped with a skeletal body, and as they open their set with ‘Welcome to Horrorwood,’ Ice Nine Kills beckon the depths of Donington park into their wild and dystopian universe. “I wanna see some crowd surfers!” Spencer screams – and of course, the crowd is happy to oblige.
Nobody does theatrics like Ice Nine Kills. Grabbing an axe prop, Spencer beheads an actor on stage during ‘Hip To Be Scared’. ‘Stabbing in the Dark’ sees a clown waltz around band members, whilst ‘SAVAGES’ sees Spencer unleash a huge chainsaw.
Penultimate track ‘Funeral Derangements’ is their heaviest one yet, and is later followed with annihilating riffs as the group transition into concluding ‘American Nightmare.’ “Sweet dreams, Download,” Spencer whispers.
Electronic music booms on Apex Stage, fans scream with excitement as Shinedown make their way on, each wearing the same jumpsuit, with slightly alternated fits. Bursts of flame erupt from the stage as the band hit Donington with ‘The Saints of Violence and Innuendo.’
Following is ‘Devil’ and there’s no waning of excitement in the crowd. Spitting some positive words of affirmation, frontman Brent Smith tells, “Your legacy is not going to be about your failure, your legacy is going to be about the fact you didn’t give up. Download, let’s get them.” The crowd roar in approval, and the band slam into ‘Get Up’.
Asking the audience if they want a new track, or a throwback, an encore of screams fill the open air as a range of fans vocally wrestle over the two options. Beginning with ‘Unity,’ Shinedown keep all their fans hyped as they play through some of their most acclaimed hits. Commanding the crowd to jump – a common command across Download – Brent insists that everyone must get UP. No, not just headbanging. No, not just bouncing on your tiptoes. Brent commands you to jump UP, Donington, and that’s what you’re going to do.
Bringing out some obligatory smoke, Shinedown launch into the guitar heavy ‘Sound of Madness’, bringing an end to a truly awesome set.
When thinking of Creeper, it’s impossible not to think of their diehard fanbase – and there’s a reason why. As frontman Will Gould takes to the stage, charging to the front and striking a pose before bursting into ‘Hiding With Boys’, their charm is obvious.
Will’s taste for melodrama oozes out of every track, strutting back and forth as his devilishly brooding vocals dominate every track. The set’s selection truly highlights the range Creeper are capable of. From ‘Cyanide’’s cool western twang, to the soulful ‘Thorns of Love’, fans delight in screaming along to every blessed word.
The set is ram-packed with movement, pits bustling for the anthemic ‘Down Below’, as well as enthusiastic whirling for standout track ‘Annabelle’ as the crowd howl out “God can’t save us!” like their lives depend on it. Closer ‘Misery’ is the final cherry on top, the fans singing back the last verse a capella without a second thought. A truly mesmerising performance – and Gould manages to keep his leather jacket on throughout, despite the sweaty energy in the tent!
Funeral For A Friend
As the choir-like instrumentals ring out, the crowd know that church is in session. Emo legends Funeral For A Friend take to the stage to a clattering of applause and overjoyed screams. For many, this set is a life-long emo pilgrimage, and everyone is more than prepared to bounce along to every beat, croon along to every chord and, of course, scream along to every word.
Opening track ‘This Year’s Most Open Heartbreak’ immediately sets the tone, fans scrabbling for movement and proving just how intimately they know the lyrics. By the time ‘Roses For The Dead’ and the climactic cries of ‘Rookie Of The Year’ ring out, the pit is vibrating with energy.
Standout tracks ‘All The Rage’ and ‘Monsters’ welcome in some of the loudest cries of the evening, crowdsurfers flying and pits kicking it up a notch. The entire set is a surefire sign of the emo legends still having a remarkable spark – words that truly tap into the heart never lose their charm, and the fans’ love never withers.
Returning to Donington Park after 6 years away are the mighty Deftones. Opening their set with ‘Genesis’ taken off their latest album ‘Ohms’, Chino welcomes Donington with his signature screams.
As the band hit the first few notes of ‘Be Quiet and Drive (Far Away)’, fans clamour to get as close to the pit as humanly possible. And just when you think it couldn’t get any better, the band thrash straight into ‘My Own Summer (Shove It)’. Two of their most acclaimed hits and quintessential sounds of their legacy, back-to-back? What did we ever do to deserve such a setlist?!
Chino’s belting out his staple falsetto notes, there are crowd surfers of all ages: this is what a Deftones show looks like. Chino grabs his guitar for ‘Tempest’, then slows the pace down for the opening of the euphoric ‘Sextape,’ which has everyone swaying in awe.
Not forgetting mega tracks ‘Change (In the House of Flies)’, ‘Lotion,’ and ‘7 Words,’ it’s fair to say Deftones return to Download with a setlist of every fan’s dreams.
Headlining the Opus Stage tonight are thrash legends Megadeth. Opening with classic ‘Hangar 18’ from the iconic ‘Rust In Peace’ album, this is clearly going to be a crowd-pleasing set.
Only just getting into Megadeth? Fear not newbies, because they’re here for you too! ‘Sweating Bullets’ is the perfect introduction, a track that sees Megadeth unleash a whirlwind of edging guitar riffs, militant drums and deep vocals.
A rainbow appears in the sky behind the stage as the band wrap up ‘A Mortal Man,’ – very metal, very metal indeed. “Download, Megadeth loves you! Come on, you know this song,” screams Dave Mustaine, and just like black magic, the audience are all clapping along to the pelting of Dirk Verbueuren’s drums. As the band thrash into ‘Peace Sells,’ an apocalyptic looking figure joins them on stage, and jams out with the band. Illuminating riffs follow, causing fans to go into a headbanging frenzy.
As they close their set, Dave reminds us that their upcoming album ‘The Sick, the Dying…and the Dead! ‘ is out later this year. It’ll be the band’s first album in 6 years – prepare for something unholy Downloaders, because this one isn’t for the weak.
Heavy metal just wouldn’t be the same without Iron Maiden. These groundbreaking icons have continued to shift the heavy landscape with every release, never ceasing to strike awe in listeners far and wide. And that’s exactly why so many have travelled just to see them headlining the Apex Stage tonight.
As the remarkable opener ‘Senjutsu’ takes charge, Maiden are in motion. Guitars screech as Bruce Dickinson’s rich, distinctive vocals cry out, and it’s even more magnificent than anyone could have imagined. Bruce’s stage presence is hypnotic, arms waving wildly as his timeless growls are let loose.
As legendary guitar solos ring out, not a chord is out of place. The big screens zoom in on the furious and at time jaw-dropping movement of Steve Harris fingers. The thick atmosphere of legendary bangers is equally captured by awe-inspiring sets and lighting; ‘The Number of the Beast’’s demonically doomy solos are amplified by a rumble of red lights, bloodily drowning out the cathedral backdrop.
The overarching tone isn’t about the music, however. It’s about unity. As Bruce cries out “if you’re part of the family, you’re brothers!” before barrelling into ‘Blood Brothers’, the crowds are ecstatic. The family are back together, and the return of live music is allowing that to happen.
The love for the fans is equally reflected by their mega encore – coming out not once but twice, unable to resist belting out the iconic ‘Aces High’ with a Spitfire onstage. The track undoubtedly leaves things on a ‘high’, and, as ‘Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life’ plays out over the speakers, there’s only one thought in anyone’s minds: Iron Maiden are better than ever.
Come back tomorrow for all the highlights from Sunday.