It was the anniversary of a metal decade for Download Festival, another amazing edition but not with less problems than earlier ones. It’s been three days filled with cold and mud, amazing music and people, and all washed up by large amounts of alcohol and rain. Seriously, even for Download, this year was extremely muddy, the landscape very much resembling the trenches of WWI.
On Friday things kicked off with the arena opening 2h later than announced and with two of the main stage bands, Cancer Bats and Rise to Remain not being able to perform because of the tight schedule.
First band I got to see were Canadian Billy Talent. Before the festival, I hadn’t listed to them in a long while, therefore, I really didn’t know any of their new stuff, such as their soon to be released 2012 album and the one prior to it. In the meantime, they have seemed to change their style slightly, though still remaining the same upbeat punk rock band. They left me with a very good impression, bringing memories from the time they were on repeat on my IPod .The songs I managed to recognize, jump and sing my heart out were Devil in a Midnight Mass, Try Honesty and obviously, Red Flag. And they surely earned a gold star in my book, which I am sure is very important for them, for letting Cancer Bats play one song during their recital time.
Next one was American band Machine Head and one hour of pure metal. I must admit I wasn’t such a big fan of Machine Head, I knew an album or two by name and recognizing no more than 5 songs probably. However, they completely blew me away and converted me to a full-time fan. From their amazing performance I knew Halo and Locust and I enjoyed their good interaction with the public, masses of people shouting Machine Fuckin’ Head and moshpits everywhere. Frontman Robb Flynn encouraged the crowd to break the 22 moshpits record from Sonisphere 2009. I’m not sure if they broke the record, but it really doesn’t matter, they were awesome anyway.
Afterwards I went off to the second stage to see Nightwish, the Finnish symphonic metal outfit. Even though the public didn’t seem to know them, they enjoyed the band with their fire and lights show , a pretty, warm and talkative frontwoman – Anette Olzon, as well as catchy tunes. I used to be quite into this band so I knew most of their songs, among them Amaranth, Nemo, Wishmaster or Storytime.
Later on, I had a hard time decide whether to stay for Slash or return to the main stage for Prodigy. I caved in for the latter, who I’ve seen a few years ago and deeply missed. And I’m glad I did, even though they left us waiting for them for over 20 minutes. The public was ecstatic, dancing, jumping and screaming for the whole performance. The show was, as usual amazing with its lights, lasers and fire blending in perfectly with Breathe, Spitfire, Omen and so on, proving a sounding end to the first night.
On Saturday I woke up quite late due to hmm, unknown circumstances, so I got into the arena around four, just in time to see Steel Panther. They were their usual selves, very talkative and funny. The public loved them, especially the girls who didn’t hesitate a second to take their shirts off, gesture very much appreciated by the band and the male audience. Songs they played included Eyes of a Panther, Party all day and Community Property but the highlight was Corey Taylor joining them on stage for Death to All but Metal.
Tenacious D filled in quite well with their good humour and their light sound, while the popular Scots from Biffy Clyro prepared the scene for the headliners, Metallica. They were exactly just like 2 and 4 years ago when I saw them last (in very different circumstances), flawless and professional, but impersonal. The public loved them especially since they played the entire Black album, not really my favourite but the most popular and accessible for the wide public.
Sunday started early, at half past 1 being already at the Pepsi Max tent for Reckless Love. I got there 10 minutes before they played and I didn’t expect the PEPSI MAX tent to be so crowded. I was really hoping to get close to the stage but unfortunately had to watch a shirtless Olli Herman from quite a long distance. And I have myopia. FML :(. They were quite good anyways, with their catchy pop tunes, colourful presence and provocative moves.
I left again for the Zippo Stage to see Sebastian Bach, the former glory of Skid Row which was very much alive and kicking, in an amazing shape, singing his heart out along with the public on the good old tunes of I remember you, 18 and life and Youth Gone Wild.
Going back to the main stage, I watched Lamb of God from the distance, being a bit tired and valuing my full-working limbs a bit too much to accidentally get caught into one of the countless moshpits.
Next on were Megadeth with their usual not the most talkative frontman in the world, Dave Mustaine, which rocked our world, again as usual, with hits such as Holy Wars, Peace Sells or Symphony of Destruction. Seriously, why does he look so grumpy all the time?
Following were the grunge icons from Soundgarden. They were as static as Megadeth, but they did their job very well with Chris Cornell’s great vocals (and good looks), performing Jesus Christ Pose, Spoonman and the all-time hit Black Hole Sun, just as the sun came out from the clouds.
Living legends Black Sabbath, the most eagerly awaited band of the festival, did not disappoint. Though not in the 1970s anymore and not as dynamic or as badass as they were, but just as skilled and can still sure as hell move the crowd. Short films illustrating their long years of fame on the screens alternated with the band members close ups, their warm smiles and their hits perfecting the end of Download this year and a once in a life time experience for the spectators.
Words: Black Cat