We’re counting down the days until the Mecca of music festivals makes its way back to the UK. The world-renowned Download Festival is less than a month away now, and the pre-festival excitement has begun to sink in. The summer months are full of festivals all over the globe, and this is really just the beginning. But there really is no other music festival like Download, which we’ve never covered before here at Metal Recusants. That changes now.
The historic Donington Park grounds are widely recognisable if you’re a MotoGP or Formula One fan. But, having famously hosted the Monsters of Rock festivals in the ‘80s to the mid ‘90s it established itself as a favoured site for many fans and implementers of rock, namely with Ozzy Osbourne calling it his favourite music festival in the UK. After a brief recession period of shows in the late ‘90s, Live Nation begun promoting this as-yet-unproven festival, and in 2003 Download was born.
Under that festival moniker, attendees have been blessed with a plethora of memories and have witnessed some of the biggest names in rock and metal such as Iron Maiden, Metallica, AC/DC, Guns ‘N Roses, Dio and Judas Priest among so many others. They have witnessed heartbreak as bands play their last UK festival shows (Motley Crue, 2015), or pay tribute to industry legends (Lemmy (Motorhead), 2016) but also pave the way for the next generations of alternative music to make a name for themselves, whilst boasting a very fan-friendly atmosphere and vibe that really cannot be replicated anywhere else.
Over the years Download has transitioned from a 1-day event with 2 stages featuring a surplus of rock bands, to a 3-day extravaganza with 5+ stages, with no genre boundaries, cross-promotional non-musical experiences and special Download Festivals in France and Spain beginning to gain traction. Download itself has prospered into a namesake within rock and metal that transcends a festival at face value, and it has developed such a high-profile value to its name that words really don’t do it justice.
If we’re talking about marketing, public relations and logistics, which is what I do as a day job, Download could very well be the trendsetter, with the vision behind it that others should take notice of. But much like some of my previous preview articles, I’ve gone off on a tangent and drifted from the point.
I’ll be doing previews of each day of Download, scanning the as-yet-incomplete lineup and picking out the vast array of acts on display, that aren’t purely within the confines of rock or metal. Whilst the lineup can sometimes cause drifts and be reason for some to moan, this year is no different and might not please everyone. But everyone who goes will still be blessed with memories, moments to cherish and good times to be had, as only Download can provide.
Check out the aftermovie from last year’s festival and tell me that doesn’t look fun:
FRIDAY 9TH JUNE
Headlining the main stage on Friday of Download this year is none other than System of a Down, whose immaculate oddball, unique and iconic sounds, with brutal lyricism and cross-genre magnificence makes them a perfect headliner. Still without a definitive new album that has been long-rumoured for some time, with the songs of the past still at their legendary status’, SOAD will set Download alight into a choral frenzy from start to finish.
Sub-headlining to SOAD are rap rock supergroup Prophets of Rage, whose members formerly of Public Enemy, Cypress Hill and Rage Against The Machine cement them as exactly what you would envision them to be – a myriad of hate-fuelled verses and intrinsic rhythmic riffs.
Complementing the very inimitable Friday lineup are Las Vegas metal heavyweights Five Finger Death Punch, who have begun something of a resurgence in the metal stratosphere with their groove-focused vitriol, and Atlanta sludge metal leviathans Mastodon (no pun intended). Mastodon’s new album Emperor of Sand might be one of the best albums this year so far, and they continue to unleash a prophetic hybrid of ideas and visions through compelling and vivid music that still cements them as defiers of doubt and incredulous writers.
Swedish power metal icons Sabaton are perfect to soak in as the alcohol continues to flow mid-Friday afternoon, and metalheads within the vicinity will find it hard not to chant along to those expected anthemic choruses. Nu-metalcore bruisers Motionless In White, fresh off releasing new album Graveyard Shift (Roadrunner Records) play second right after Australian metalcore mob Northlane, also having released new album Mesmer. These two bands mark a perfect duo to set the tone for the rest of the day on the main stage, with plenty of gargantuan riffs and euphoric choruses to soak up alongside your first couple of beers.
But that really is the tip of the iceberg, on the Zippo Encore Stage, there are even more acts to go and throw shapes to if the aforementioned seven aren’t your cup of tea. Headlining are punk rock heavyweights Sum 41, whose re-recruitment of guitarist Dave “Brown-Sound” Baksh has seen a newly-inspired energy and passion for the band’s legendary skate-punk songwriting, so much so that songs both old and new continue to ensue chaotic punk rock anarchy in the crowds. Underneath are another old favourite of many, Good Charlotte, whose fairly recent reformation and new album Youth Authority approaching its first anniversary cement them as a band who could be a dark horse among the fold.
Sludge metal is represented again with Relapse’s best kept secret in Baroness, whose recent Grammy nomination qualifies them as being poised for big things, and a high-profile set time to unleash their stoneriffic hellish aura. Californian hardcore punk-thrashers Suicidal Tendencies are known for a live show like no other, not least with former Slayer drummer Dave Lombardo at the helm providing innumerable measures of skill. Completing the Zippo Encore Stage (thus far) are Cleveland rap anarchist Machine Gun Kelly, London metallers The Raven Age and Irish blues-country rockers Blackwater Conspiracy.
It would be impossible to see every single band on the lineup, but it’s worth noting that The Avalanche Stage and The Dogtooth Stage are both stacked full of options. The Avalanche plays host to post-hardcore outfit Sleeping With Sirens at the headline slot, with Four Year Strong providing a boost to the pop punk numbers. Ohio metalcore icons The Devil Wears Prada and Atlanta metal mavericks Issues represent Rise Records in a dynamic way, whose intrinsic riffs and crowd favourites that will certainly grace their sets will add to the hell-raising. But in amongst that chaos are metallic hardcore wizards known as Code Orange, whose latest album Forever, picked up by Roadrunner is as heartless and unforgiving as their live show. Riding current tidal waves of momentum, Code Orange have no intention of taking it easy at Download, so for those who fancy a big mosh, do not miss them.
Meanwhile, if all of that still doesn’t tickle anyone’s fancy, then the Dogtooth Stage is being very generous and giving thrash metal legends Exodus a headline slot; plenty of time to marvel at the shredding wizardry that has long permeated their storied career. Underneath are Indianapolis prog eccentrics The Contortionist who are in the midst of new album writing and touring with Periphery, but who still excel at this whole jaw-dropping riff writing game. Metal supergroup Krokodil (who debuted at Download in 2013) return to their birth ground, whilst Lost Society will instigate thrash overload, right from the depths of their ice-cold Finnish hearts. Venom Prison could very well be band of the day, whose engaging and vicious death metal sets them apart from their contemporaries in numerous ways, from structure to presence to just how everything clicks with their live show, which could adequately be described as a warzone.
Are you still reading? If you are, amazing! Thank you! I would just like to reiterate that these bands are only playing on ONE DAY! And just in case this wasn’t enough, throughout the whole weekend, Download will play host to WWE’s NXT brand, and if any wrestling fans read this, that’s a very good thing. NXT is in the midst of a powerful and innovative movement in the wrestling scene, and there couldn’t be a more loyal and dedicated fanbase than in the UK right now (we have PROGRESS Wrestling, RevPro and ICW to thank for that). So, if you fancy watching NXT Champion Bobby Roode, Kassius Ohno, undefeated NXT Women’s Champion Asuka and many more stars that we can watch on a certain network for a not-at-all-unreasonable price, Download is a place you can go to get lost in the action.
And we still have plenty more exciting acts to take you through. Unfortunately, the Saturday and Sunday previews will be coming in the next few days. But fear not, they will be here soon.
Full lineup poster below:
Download takes place at Donington Park from 9th June-11th June 2017. Weekend tickets and day tickets, including RIP Packages are still available.