Ah yes, that time of year has come around once again. For three days the lush fields of Donnington will become swamped with masses of studded leather jackets, combat boots, tattoos, piercings and pretty awesome hairstyles. The underbellies of society come out from the darkness as they claim what is rightly theirs; heavy fucking metal. The first day of Download is always full of anticipation, full of hiding cans of cider down your shorts, and (this year, at least) full of sunshine, and sets the tone for the rest of the weekend.
Check out our round up review below of what Friday at Download festival 2014 had to offer.
Stage: Main Stage
Time: 1.50 – 2.20
With new album ‘APOCALYZE‘ making waves in the UK, Crossfaith were unsurprisingly met with absolute pandemonium when they took to the stage for their prestigious main stage slot.
Their eclectic mix of metal and dubstep is impossible to dislike, capturing the most exciting and popular aspects of music today in a musical-pokeball, and Crossfaith, we choose you! Tracks like ‘Eclipse’ are dance-inducing power-plays that the audience go fucking mental for, as vocalist Ken keeps the energy high with his intense stage presence.
A cover of The Prodigy’s Omen is the final nail in the success-coffin of a more than memorable day-time main stage set. How often can you say that? We predict a Crossfaith takeover very soon.
Stage: Main Stage
Time: 3:35 – 4:00
Notoriously known for their musical fusion of heavy metal and reggae, punk rock and jungle, hardcore and ska, this four piece are enough to confuse the heavy metal minds of even the most darkest of souls.
Their upbeat set teamed with the energy of frontman Benji Webbe is impulsively infectious, and it’s not long before he’s got thousands of metal heads swaying and swaggering to Skindred’s dancehall beats.
Their set included their popular hits Rat Race and Pressure as well as hits from their latest album Kill The Power who’s title track led to a sea of clenched fits and fixated eyes as Donnington chanted.
The band were joined by none other than Crossfaith‘s frontman Kenta Koie for their Union Jack album hit Warning which went down a storm as flurries of heavy riffs and deafening drum fills tore its way through Download’s main stage.
A cover of Prodigy’s Breathe was nothing short of a huge success. Having headlined main stage back in 2012, Download crowds are no strangers to Prodigy.
It’s hard to resist when Benji, accent and all, is shouting down upon Downloaders “hello people of England” or “dance for me English people”. Who are we kiddin’, we love it.
Of course, for anybody to have their intro music set as Star Wars Imperial March, it’s always gonna be a good show ain’t it?
Artist: Royal Blood
Stage: Pepsi Max Stage
Time: 5:55 – 6:25
Despite the scorching heat that is mercilessly beating upon the fields of Donnington, people are still eagerly crowding inside the Pepsi Max stage to catch a glimpse of the latest craze in rock; Royal Blood. What this humble two piece lack in numbers, they certainly make up for attitude as they smash song after song onto the unsuspecting crowd.
Having only released one four track EP earlier this year, the band seize the opportunity with both hands and play a balanced mix of both well known hits and a taste of new music. But the crowds really came to life on Little Monster, and their latest smash Come On Over
Their stage show is discrete to say the least, with ample lighting and no effects. Vocalist and bassist Mike Keer hasn’t quite filled his boots as the charismatic frontman, but having only formed last year, the pair still have plenty of time to grow.
If Friday’s performance was just a little taste into the flavourful palette of Royal Blood’s talent, they won’t be playing side stages for much longer.
Time: 7:20 – 8:20
Stage: Main Stage
“It’s sunny and bright and I don’t like it” growls horror metal legend Rob Zombie as he menacingly paces up and down main stage, scowling into the sun.
His stage show is something to behold, with its skeleton mic stands, fiery back drop and costumes ranging from military-death to hippie-death, all with the addition of a kaftan. The downside to the burning brightness of the sun, aside from Rob’s disappointment, is that the light show on stage is barely visible; horror metal doesn’t quite have the same appeal when played in the cheery sunshine.
Opening on Teenage Nosferatu Pussy, Rob Zombie’s set is an eclectic array of new and old, with the odd White Zombie song thrown in here and there, as well as their Bride of Chucky masterpiece Living Dead Girl.
And of course, it wouldn’t be a support act without your typical crowd-splits. If there’s anywhere in the world that you will find one half screaming ‘ROCK’ and the other screaming ‘MOTHERFUCKER’ it’s going to be at Download festival. And if there’s anybody who has the power to do that to thousands of people, it’s Rob Zombie.
Having headlined second stage back in 2011, it’s good to finally see Rob Zombie up their on main. However, having used most of his energy on running the length of the stage (which, at the age of 49, is still pretty impressive), he lacks with his vocals, singing one beat behind throughout the majority of his songs towards the end. Hearing the crowd sing back your lyrics must be great, but to have them lead the way is not that impressive, however much we appear to love it at the time.
Artist: Avenged Sevenfold
Stage: Main Stage
Time: 9:00 – 10:50
Now it’s time for the show we’ve all been waiting for. Everything else you have seen before was just a mere warm up for Friday’s grand finale. So where the hell was everybody?
With their intro music as AC/DC‘s Back in Black the five piece roared on stage into their first song Shepherd of Fire of their 2013 album Hail To The King. It didn’t take long from there for everybody to realise who had taken control of main stage before the crowds flocked in their heavy metal masses, yearning for their long-awaited, anticipated A7X fix.
M. Shadows, sporting a new haircut, gnarly voice scratched the speakers and projected onto the crowd and we couldn’t get enough. The rawness of his vocals is only emphasized by the handiwork of Synyster Gates and the brutal guitar rhythms of Zacky Vengeance.
Their setlist included massive timeless hits such as Critical Acclaim, Bat County and Afterlife. Even songs from their latest album may be lesser known still received a mad reception, which only became magnified when the opening scream to Nightmare rippled across the fields of Donnington.
A7X wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for their loyal fans, and they repeatedly express their appreciation throughout their set, the cuties. They also wouldn’t be here without their legendary late drummer The Rev and dedicated their encore song Seize The Day to his life. As M. Shadows raspy voice cracks a little when speaking of his lost Avenged brother, the respect and fierce loyalty the crowd give back to the band is astounding, as a sea of devil horns are raised to the stars in his honour.
But a 13 track set and a 2 track encore just isn’t enough for Avenged or their fans. Confused faces turn to each other, unsure whether this is the end and gradually people wonder back to their camp. Only for the intro music and video to light up main stage as the five piece run back to thousands of hungry screams to perform the long-term favourite A Little Piece Of Heaven. The 16 track set drew to a gradual close on old school Unholy Confessions.
All measures of A7X fans, new and old, left satisfied as the legendary five piece pleased crowds with songs from a massive variety of albums, as well the hits that made A7X who they are today; heroes.