So…Download happened. The historic weekend hit it’s 15th birthday this year, with a truly stacked bill of younger talent as well as displaying a genuinely diverse breadth of genres across all the four stages. Before we fully dive into the review, someone needs to give thanks to whatever black magic occurred over the weekend to make sure no rain fell, as the sun made the weekend infinitely more enjoyable without the fear of trench foot and soggy clothing. So with those initial thanks out of the way, let us begin…
Download has come back round once again. It is indeed that time of year again, when the people begin to pray for sunshine and salivate over the once again stacked line up for the Donnington weekend. If you are struggling to find all the bands you should be seeing, that’s understandable, the line up has something for everyone and even some hidden gems as well, that’s why we’re here to help! We’ve got a list of all the bands we are gonna be seeing over the weekend with a few words to help sway your decision. These are in no particular order cause there are quite a lot of bands we wanna go see…
A Day To Remember
In the middle of a world tour it’s surprising that A Day To Remember have found time to perform at Download this year. The festival regulars should find a great crowd responding to their strong setlist, if the rest of their tour is anything to go by. A Day To Remember represent the heavier side of pop-punk in a very mixed line up for 2017, and performing on the headline stage should be fantastic exposure for their latest album, which peaked at no.6 in the UK album charts back in September. Supporting them on tour were Moose Blood, who are also performing on Sunday on the Avalanche Stage.
The Swedish power metallers are making a pit stop in the UK for Download, before continuing on to France for Hellfest. Also performing on the headline stage on Friday alongside the likes of Mastodon and System of a Down, it’s great to see such an underrated band do so well in the UK. The group are currently coming off their USA/Canada leg of their world tour, which will end in August with the Sabaton Open Air festival.
Having silently dropped an absolute belter of an album in Mesmer, Northlane swiftly reminded everyone why they are such an exciting band. Bringing their sound to the main stage this year, it’ll be the perfect litmus test to find out just how capable they are to take that next step towards the bigger stages. Expect huge choruses, oddly timed riffs and a lot of energy.
Riffs, beers and a lot of smoke is just a few of the key ingredients that make Orange Goblin such a formidable yet hugely enjoyable band. Their stoner metal roots mean that there is always a strong groove present but the pace that Goblin put into their music means its just a cut above the rest. If you like having fun and headbanging till your can’t look up any more then be sure to see Orange Goblin.
Mastodon are a tricky band to pin down. Across their lengthy career the group have been many things; heavy, progressive, intricate, and always impassioned. From the cryptic notes of Crack The Skye through the rock-driven power of Once More Around The Sun to the impressive new album Emperor of Sand, they have more than enough material to drive a whirlwind set. The band are no strangers to Donington Park, and they will be returning to the main stage to deliver their craft to the masses. Those who have seen the band play live before will know there is something for everyone in their performances, from the most dedicated fan to newcomers who will revel in the power of these experienced musicians. Don’t skip on Mastodon.
The last year or so has seen Creeper move from shock-rock wannabe’s to a sensational crowning jewel of British alternative music. With their self-identified cult following, the band have developed a spellbinding, ephemeral live performance which cannot fail to draw in the listener. Their recent debut album Eternity, In Your Arms saw the Creeper play their largest shows to date and make each stage their home, and Download’s Main Stage promises to be no different. With a powerful concept weaving through their discography, catch Creeper on Saturday to watch a story come to life in an awe-inspiringly powerful way.
Zippo Encore Stage
Being one of the most consistent brilliant bands on the circuit today, Baroness bring a beauty to their often monolithically heavy sound, and with their most recent album Purple they were able to prove once again why they’re just utterly fantastic. Expect their set to be deafeningly loud but still not to be missed as the band display their incredible tightness as a band and also their stellar back catalogue.
The hardcore punk rock legends released their 13th album World Gone Mad last year and are still very much in the swing of touring it. With their trademark energy and attitude coupled with classic tracks like Institutionalized and War Inside My Head it’s likely to go off like stale milk, so don’t miss out.
Hailing from Norway, Kvelertak fuse together the party attitude of old school rock and roll and fuse with the seething anger and intensity of black metal for a frighteningly potent mixture. Sure to be bringing all the riffs they can muster along with a few owls for good measure, check them out for something a little bit different in your weekend.
Maybe a controversial one, but despite their huge flop of an album that resulted in massive backlash back in February but you cannot forget that this band is still a ironclad behemoth of the metal world. With a back catalogue as fierce as any of their stable mates, their added fuel from the controversy seen earlier this year could result in an incendiary performance.
Now it is fair to suggest that ‘bad song’ or ‘poor performance’ are phrases that Clutch are completely unfamiliar with. With their infectious bluesy groove and bloody marvellous song writing, Clutch will inevitably tear the house down and deliver a set of the weekend.
Having a history of writing flawlessly brilliant death metal before open their wings and proving to be brimming with melody and intelligent proggy goodness, Opeth are a band that will always be counted on to deliver stunning music. If you are unfamiliar with the Swedish legends, find yourself a copy of Blackwater Park and listen to the perfect marriage of brutality and gentle calm.
Almost Britain’s answer to Opeth, Anathema went from being a punishingly heavy doom band to opening up to more gorgeous soundscapes that have resulted in a varied and epic back catalogue. If, by the Sunday of the weekend, you are tired and require something soothing, beautiful and played with surgical precision, go listen to anathema and rest your weary eyes.
Four Year Strong
Four Year Strong have been touting their easycore style for years now, which means they’ve become damn good at it. The band recently embarked on an extensive tour to celebrate the tenth anniversary of their timeless record Rise or Die Trying. It is quite possibly impossible to avoid having fun with Four Year Strong on the stage. They’re buoyant, energetic and entertaining with some crushing breakdowns. The band’s most recently self-titled album dropped in 2015 boasting huge songs like We All Float Down Here and Go Down In History and the band are just as comfortable with them as they are with the tracks they’ve been playing since they started. Whether you’re familiar or not, rock up to see Four Year Strong blow the crowd away.
Every Time I Die
There isn’t an argument that exists as to why you shouldn’t go watch one of the best hardcore bands on the planet tear the stage a new asshole. Seriously, the moment the Buffalo boys walk on stage that whole tent is erupt into glorious, glorious chaos.
Dinosaur Pile-Up a band that created from the ashes of frontman Matthew Bigland’s former band Mother Vulpine, their named taken from a scene in the 2005 adaptation of King Kong. They have an incredible post-grunge sound with influences such as Smashing Pumpkins, Slayer and The Beach Boys which makes their sound one of a kind. Their third album Eleven Eleven was released in 2015, the title track is filled with heavy riffs and heart felt lyrics. The band are currently on tour in the US supporting on the first half of their tour before heading back to finish it off in July.
Grove Street Families
The Grand Theft Auto-based hardcore act are looking to bring the streets to the big stage! With their main discography being based around strong EP presence, the band have built a strong UK following through the hardcore scene with their boisterous live crowds and with them able to switch up their structure of flows in between songs, whether it be the heavier beatdown style section of Street By Street or the anthemic choruses in Big Smoke And Mirrors, it will showcase something fun and, most importantly, enjoyable about your last day at Download.
Releasing a brutal yet strangely easy to get into album with Forever, the Code Orange kids will be bringing their branded of anxiety inducing hardcore to download. Code Orange are a dominating outfit and their live shows are pretty counter intuitive to dental welfare so watch yourself in the pit.
Not three months on from supporting Yellowcard on their Final Tour, Normandie are currently still touring through Europe. Dropping in on Download before heading back to the Netherlands, Normandie deserve their slot on the Avalanche Stage on Saturday. The heavy alternative group are hugely talented and hopefully performing at Download will give them the exposure they deserve.
The King Blues
The King Blues are an interesting group, a true punk vibe mixed in with the political hatred makes them a popular choice for shows and festivals. With their latest album The Gospel Truth covering subjects like mental health, Brexit and politics – it’s easy to see why they’re doing so well for themselves and why their shows always sell out so quickly. If you fancy getting out some anger or having a sing-a-long then go and check them.
Astroid Boys bring nothing but a giant party. The Cardiff based grime/hardcore collective mix dirty beats and heavy instrumentals layered with a duo of vocalists. With just finishing a headline tour and heading back out again in the autumn with Enter Shikari, it shows that they bring something for everyone. With a new album bound to be announced soon, you’ll most likely get the chance to see a couple of new songs played!
Arguably the best pop-punk band on the planet at the moment, Knuckle Puck write impassioned and clever music for a genre that has been stagnating in creativity for the past few years. Their Copacetic record represented a band that possessed the talent to take the genre to the next level it has been looking for, so be sure to check out the very possible future leaders of an entire genre.
The Dogtooth Stage
If you fancy some death metal fronted by a female, you have to check out Venom Prison. Moving on from the hardcore Wolf Down, Larissa brings her absolute best brutality with Venom Prison and her vocals are second to none. Having just supported Suicide Silence and Deez Nuts on their UK tour, they’ve gained fans all around the country and it’s not hard to see why when you see the energy and passion put into their live shows.
Punk quintet IDLES will be showing their one of the best punk acts around at Download festival. With their passionately angry lyrics and ferocious guitar riffs these guys are bringing punk back. You thought these guys were angry already, depending on the election results on 8th June these guys may be 1000 times angrier. Their most popular track Well Done encapsulates the distain at the apparent class divide in England at the moment. The video for Well Done seems plain but captures the simplicity of the lyrics perfectly.
On the back of a sold out tour with While She Sleeps, Fizzy Blood will be bringing their Punk Rock ‘n’ Roll to Donnington Park. Fizzy Blood aren’t strangers to festival appearances after performing at an array of England based festivals such as Sound City, Live At Leeds and Tramlines, as well as international renowned festivals such as SXSW and Korea’s Zandari Festa. Fizzy Blood’s latest single Pawn is jam packed full of everything great about this band, catchy lyrics along with head banging guitar riffs. With an incredible 80’s style music video filmed entirely on VHS this is a perfect contrast to this track. Be sure to catch Fizzy Blood at a number of festival’s this summer, including Camden Rocks, 2000 Trees and Tramlines.
One of the fastest rising post hardcore acts of the last decade are starting to make waves in the festival circuit and with the hype already being around two songs released, the Welsh contingent are definitely turning some heads early before the release of any more material. Permanent and Dream Of Me showcases so far everything you need to know about the band and when you finally see them, you will want to know so much more about this five piece.
I The Mighty
Giving you some more post hardcore for your second day at the festival, this californian quartet are looking to make more of a presence with a new album on the way as well. Their latest album Connector shows off their musical prowess and technical capabilities with their older material as well emphasising what they’re about. The band are able to change from their elegant melodies within tracks such as The Lying Eyes Of Miss Erray that only helps elevate their songs that give more of a punch with aggression. If you have no other band on your schedule, this is a group that deserve your undivided attention.
The punk/thrash crossover genre of the early to mid 80’s was a hugely influential period for metal. Bands such as DRI and Cro-Mags paved the way for many future acts, even influencing the likes of Metallica and Anthrax. California’s Suicidal Tendencies were at the forefront of said movement, releasing undisputed classics such as Institutionalized and even injecting an element of funk into their sound thanks to future Metallica bassist Rob Trujillo. The band, now hailed as pioneers of sort, have returned with album World Gone Mad, their latest since 2013’s comeback record 13 and truth be told, it’s a lot of fun.
Clap Like Ozzy kicks the party off in classic ST style, paying tribute to the metal godfather with hyper-speed lyrics and some well-placed slap bass segments. A hilarious faux-english accent kicks off The New Degeneration – encouraging rebellion in today’s youth over chugging guitars. In the hands of anybody but ST, this could come across a little redundant, but Muir and co turn it into a dynamic war-cry, complete with breakneck shredding from guitar maestro Dean Pleasants.
Living For Life slows things down with sludgey vocals before picking up the pace again in galloping thrash fashion. Speaking of thrash, drumlord extraordinaire and ex-Slayer member Dave Lombardo joins the band on World Gone Mad and it doesn’t go unnoticed. Songs like the riff-heavy title track and storming pit-anthem The Struggle Is Real are given the trademark Lombardo thud, this time around with a scrappier, punk edge. This, along with Ra Diaz’s excitable basslines provides a gritty but rock solid feel to the record.
Its not all glory days and fist-pumping though, as the trippy vibes of STill Dying To Live and Life of Agony-esque closer This World, help the record stay diverse amidst a sea of crossover-thrash stompers. It is a testament to the prowess of longtime frontman Mike Muir, who, from song to song, jumps from skate-punk yelp to breezy Brant Bjork-esque tones with ease. Muir, now in his early 50’s, still able to provide an giddy, youthful atmosphere to the songs on World Gone Mad.
Suicidal Tendencies, and most importantly Mike Muir’s influence can be heard across the metal spectrum, ranging from the party-thrash of Municipal Waste, to the straight up punk of Pennywise. Without them, there would certainly be a hole in the fabric of the genre. World Gone Mad showcases this well and with it’s titanic guitar leads and dominant, rallying vocals, is a fine example of a band who are still able to get the job done. Although this is unlikely to win over any new fans, World Gone Mad is another entertaining slice of vitriolic fun to add to the ST back catalog.
World Gone Mad is out September 30th on Suicidal Records.