DOWNLOAD 2018: The Big Review!


Would it even be a Download weekend if there wasn’t at least the threat of rain? It’s grey but holding off as we head into the arena for a day of pure rock and metal shenanigans. The first notable difference is the somewhat extreme, and numerous bag checks. We’d been warned via the site and social media that only A4 sized backpacks and smaller would be allowed into the arena, but didn’t realise that there would also be multiple check-points between the car-park and actually getting in to see the bands. Not to worry though, the checks are pretty quick and efficient, and soon we are cresting that hill for the first amazing sight of the arena.

I’d also like to do a quick shout-out at this point to Download’s ever evolving experience enhancements. Big plastic tracks have been installed around the second stage area making both walking in general and getting to the Accessibility platform via scooter or wheelchair easier than ever, and they have employed professional BSL music performance interpreters for the Main and Zippo Encore stages, giving even more fans access to this incredible event. They have also increased accessibility shuttles from the campsites, provided a wheelchair charging station and increased their accessible portaloos by 50% on last year. This continual thought and attention to feedback is impressive, and Download is one of the few festivals out there who seem to be really improving access year on year, in all kinds of different ways. Bravo.

So, the Arena. If you’re a rock or metal fan and you haven’t been to Download before, all I can say is, it’s like coming home. All the beautiful freaks are right here with their astral hair, their pleather and fishnets, jackets covered in patches and piercings in every available inch of spare skin, tattoos blooming from black tshirts and ripped jeans. Oh and at this point in the day, approximately half of them are jammed in a never-ending queue to buy merch. Bah. Tips for next year DL – employ at least twice as many staff for this please, it was obnoxious.

Extortionately priced t-shirts in hand, we stride down the hill to catch up with the mighty Dragonforce who have gathered a massive crowd for ‘Cry Thunder’, prophetically as the rain begins to spit. Thankfully that’s where the correlation ends, but it is still pretty ridiculous when they yell “We are Dragonforce… we come from right here in sunny England…”. Frontman Marc Hudson also lets us know that they “…are filming every single song of this set… so the rest of the world sees how fucking crazy the UK is” which obviously sparks a frenzy for the next song, only to fall foul of technical difficulties. If sod wrote a law, the page would be titled ‘Dragonforce’ today. Laughing “It’s so great when your mic cuts out in front of thousands of people…” they deal with it gracefully and end on a high with ‘Through the Fire and Flames’. Oh and no, I’m still not over Herman Li’s majestic hair swishing. Werk.

Yorkshire band Marmozets fronted by enigmatic Becca Macintyre are straddling the line of hipster rock, almost too current-cool for Download but they certainly know what they’re doing. Yelling out “Last year I was camping with you lot” Becca hops around in bright pink trousers whilst a Darth Maul in the crowd is going absolutely mental with his inflatable lightsaber.

Over on the Zippo Encore stage, self-professed king of the party Andrew WK has amassed an army of bemused onlookers, if not actual fans. Yes he’s kitschy, yes he rocks up in pre-dirtied white jeans and yes he pulls faces like a more demonic Jim Carrey, but well, he’s our weirdo. The rock community is strangely proud of him. Fan fave ‘She is Beautiful’ is silly and fun and I really rate a dude who can build anticipation with the line “…and now it is time… for me to play a guitar shaped like a slice of pizza”. No really, damn I love that pizza guitar. As if he wasn’t margarita-cheesy enough he calls “It’s not Andrew UK… it’s Andrew DOUBLE UK, double the power!” and then proceeds to do an actual 100-1 countdown for anthem ‘Party Hard’. It is frankly ridiculous that everyone likes this terrible track so very much. I of course am bouncing around with them.

Now for something completely different, in the form of Danish metalheads Volbeat. Now Volbeat are no strangers to DL but they never seem to be hyped up either, someone you know but wouldn’t flock to. Not so today my friends, Volbeat are here to slay. The enormous crowd that has surrounded the main stage is singing along to ‘Lola Montez’ and frontman Michael Poulson’s Elvis-esque lilt is refreshingly different to your standard screamer vs. power vocal camps. As if to highlight the difference in fact, Barney of Napalm Death fame (who have a set later on) is brought in for a quick collab on ‘Evelyn’ with his distinctly unintelligible shrieking, but oh we do love a bit of Barney don’t we. ‘Still Counting’ goes down a storm for their last song and honestly, I think they are arguably the band of the day for me.

On the zippo stage, Hell is for Heroes have about 30 people down the front watching them, which is kinda sad actually as they were by no means awful at all, and their cover of The Cure’s ‘Boys Don’t Cry’ was decent. However, I think they definitely fell foul of their timeslot – everyone seems to be getting their food and booze situation sorted before tonight’s headliners.

That’s something we should really mention actually, the food. It’s been getting steadily better every year at DL but this year was off-the-charts excellent. An incredible variety but also quality, gone of the days of rat-burgers and CMOT-Dibbler style saugages-inna-bun. Truth be told, you can still buy a box of suspect noodles if you want the real Doningtons-past experience but why would you? We instead grabbed ourselves a stack of butter-milk chicken in a brioche bun and a side of poutine. Effing decadent.

In the Avalanche tent Bad Religion are shutting it down, rocking on to an intro of ‘My Sharona’ and looking decidedly less punk than they used to. No worries though, they sound exactly as good as they ever have with the likes of ‘Recipe for Hate’ and Tony Hawk Pro Skater hit ‘You’. Yelling “Everyone gearing up for a big weekend huh? I got some bad news… we can’t stay for the whole weekend… there was a backstage clause, Axl kicked us out…” the band head into the excellent ‘Anesthesia’. ‘Infected’ is the sound of the 90’s and the packed out crowd is straight up loving it.

As we head back out to the main arena for Avenged Sevenfold, as huge crowd has already gathered and though we are donning toastier clothing for the chilly night, we’re still damn thankful for the minimal rain today. To read what we thought of A7X’s headline show, click the link below!

Read our full Avenged Sevenfold review HERE


Weather report: still holding, patches of sun spotted but we’re keeping quiet because we don’t want to jinx it. Still packed a poncho.

Monster Truck are providing the heavy rock sounds as we head into the afternoon, already drunk people are taking enormous risks with their phones on the high-flying sky-swing (do it for the ‘gram y’all) and lunchtime calls for another foray into the plethora of nourishment offerings. Seriously, vegan sushi, paella, duck fat roasted potatoes, a bowl of crumble and ice cream, wings, burritos, tapas, full roast chicken dinner? You want it, they have it. Oh and the now famous Motley Brew are serving up an array of hot beverages in real mugs, and they even have seats. You can take your Coachella VIP champagne and caviar and shove it up yer arse, we’re British. We like a CUPPA and a GOOD SIT DOWN.

One very notable thing on walking/squeezing around the arena today – it is RAMMED. Day sales for G’n’R must have been good this year because it is truly packed. Local lads The Struts give it big on the main stage shouting “You know we used to live in Derby just down the road… and we used to come to this festival and stand where you’re standing now… it’s incredible to be up on this stage” to a roar from the crowd. We love a hometown hero, but I’m less convinced on their actual show. I mean, they’re not bad as such, just a bit wet compared to everything else I’ve seen this weekend. The Temperance Movement however, muster all the southern soul a grey afternoon needs to get with the programme, and indeed they seem to bring out the sun a little. ‘Trouble’ and ‘Midnight Black’ are phenomenal and it’s more than a little hard to believe boho frontman Phil Campbell, with his maracas and tambourine, swaying in a lace shirt – is actually Glaswegian.

Thunder step on stage to AC/DC track, er, Thunderstruck. Well, why wouldn’t you. ‘Wonder Days’ and ‘River of Pain’ are pretty epic, it’s so great to see a band who are just absolute pro’s at what they do. Joking “Hands up who wasn’t even born in the 90’s” makes for disturbing viewing (thanks for that, Thunder, so kind) but they are absolutely killing it so I’ll let them off.

Over at Zippo Encore, there is no longer any visible section of floor. This is the busiest I’ve ever witnessed this arena without it being a headliner for sure. It seems like Babymetal’s fan base is a lot larger than anticipated and to be honest, sheer fascination seems to be driving a large portion of people in rather than actual fandom. Podium platforms for dance showcase the three firecracker leads who are sporting gold and black Xena-warrior-princess style outfits. Yeah it’s super kawaii nonsense but the music is actually decent and hit ‘Chocolate’ is both ridiculous and annoyingly catchy. I sort of love them.

Onto something we can pretty much all agree on. Kentucky kings Black Stone Cherry are Download’s biggest love story. A band championed by fans ever since their first showing here back in 2008, a decade of repeat requests for their billing, and it’s no wonder why. They are honestly flawless, vocalist Chris Robertson is arguably one of the best rock and roll singers going, he soars through ‘Blind Man’ in the now blazing sunshine, and everyone around us is singing their hearts out alongside him. Thankfully this time ‘Rain Wizard’ doesn’t coincide with a hideous downpour, as it did a few years ago, and ‘Me and Mary Jane’ has the entire crowd bouncing. A cover of Hendrix’s ‘Foxy Lady’ is made for this Wayne’s World worshipping crowd – yes, we did dance like Garth, yes it was magical. ‘Like I Roll’ and ‘Blame it on the Boom Boom’ see crowd-surfers flailing towards the front and ‘Lonely Train’ is just, incredible. Closing up with ‘Family Tree’ from the new album, this has been yet another epic showing from BSC and we hope to see them back again soon.

With a huge chunk of time before Guns’n’Roses we lope off in search of sustenance, beer and portaloos as the evening draws in. It’s been an incredible day here at Donington and we are suitably amped up for the closest we’ve ever been to a full G’N’R lineup…

Read our full Guns’N’Roses review HERE


WOAH. It is HOT today. Not England hot, like equatorial hot. Everyone either has the sheen of well slathered sunblock or is already burnt to a crisp and the whole place after three days of booze and no showers, smells like an armpit. A rowdy afternoon starts with the likes of Turbonegro and Kreator on the Zippo Encore stage and Hatebreed are throwing down on the main stage, yelling “This is for Dimebag, Lemmy, Chris Cornell, Chester (Bennington)… I wanna see every fist in the sky” for ‘Perseverance’. It is at this moment that a small bi-plane flies overhead with a banner reading “Jesus loves every 1 of U” and the fists become horns. Hard to tell whether it’s a joke or we’re actually the subject of some local zealot’s fear, but either way everyone is laughing and trying to take poor phone photos of it.

In This Moment bring the strange and unusual next, with everything from priestess costumes, skulls and pentagrams to choral music and interpretive dance. I don’t really know what to make of them if I’m honest. They sound like metal-Bjork. Is it a good thing? I mean I do like the toilet-paper costume, but their mini cover of Metallica’s ‘For Whom the Bell Tolls’ is a little upsetting. I did laugh at the Game of Thrones Cersei-style ‘Shame’ poster situation, but there is a nice sentiment behind it all; “…this is what I was told when I was just a girl, that I would amount to absolute shit, that I would become nothing at all… this last song is about rising above other people’s perceptions” – for ‘Whore’, accompanied by huge white balloons being batted around the crowd.

Black Veil Brides sport pyrotechnics and screaming, standard. It’s decent but they are eclipsed by next up: Shinedown. Super appropriately it is scorching hot right now and they are smashing their way through some straight up great rock and roll. Motivational as ever, frontman Brent Smith invites everyone to shake hands with a stranger next to them, and hit ‘State of my Head’ goes down a storm. “Take a look at the history you’re making this afternoon… ladies and gentlemen you look absolutely spectacular today” yells Smith, and I must sincerely disagree, we look fried, tired, sweaty and smashed. But I do appreciate the love.

Over in Avalanche, happy pop punk legends A are playing to a packed out tent, which is suspiciously full of pale people avoiding the sun-monster. Riffing on their age “hands up if you’re over the age of 30… hands up if you’ve got 2 properties… you know when bands re-form and they’re like 20 years older and you’re like why are they bothering? We just really fucking enjoy this” the band speaks to a place in all of us, who are genuinely here for the same reason – even if we’re sort of proper grown ups now. Oh and they start an over-30’s circle pit, cause it’s funny to go home to your office job with two black eyes, right?

Now, was anyone else truly alarmed by the sight of Marilyn Manson in daylight? I was. I thought he was going to spontaneously combust, burst aflame, incinerated by the power of sunlight. I mean he’s so pale as to be almost translucent – at one point he turned sideways and I swear I could see a passing plane through his face. However, it’s an absolute treat to have the master of the macabre here at Donington and he does not disappoint, rolling in with ‘Irresponsible Hate Anthem’ backed by a giant inverted monochrome crossed American flag.

Sporting a knuckle-duster mic and a long black trench, it takes all of about two minutes before he looks as though he’s sweating his ass off and has to ditch the look, pogo-ing down the runway he calls “Thank you for coming out in daylight… it’s like the opposite of our lives… do you like daytime? I don’t… we’re kind of stuck here together with daytime… let’s deal with it” perhaps displaying a little animosity towards the scheduling. It’s true, his show and music both lend themselves to a dark and brooding atmosphere, it’s a little hard to get caught up in the bloodlust when the big tattooed bloke standing next to you is eating a 99 with a flake.

‘Disposable Teens’ is obviously solid gold but it’s more than a little amusing that due to there being no option to control the lighting, we get to see people rush on an off stage during the show to dress Manson in various different outfits. More amusing still is that it is genuinely too hot for any of it and he keeps having to peel it all off himself within minutes. He’s clearly frustrated about it too “It’s very difficult, but together we can accomplish it… like having sex with the lights on”.

‘mOBSCENE’ comes with a vampiric Manson backdrop and during ‘Kill4Me’ he drags a crowd-surfing mega-fan on stage with him. She’s head to-toe Manson-merch and is sporting an “I’d Kill 4 you” flag, obviously ecstatic to hug him as he slaps her ass and sends her on her way, before togging up in an enormous Howl-like (of Moving Castle fame) black feathered trench-coat. Think, demonic Big Bird.

Talking to us as he emerges from a corner of the stage “I was just having a moment with my personal physician, with my eyesight and the sun…” it’s not clear whether that’s a joke or he’s ahem, getting medicated, but it seems extremely apt that we head into ‘The Dope Show’. ‘Sweet Dreams’ is breathy and brilliant, there’s some writhing around a smoking podium which looks rather uncomfortable, and a little bit of using drum sticks to hit a bass guitar. It’s a bit off, and I can’t put my finger on why. Dani Filth joins the action for ‘The Beautiful People’ and unfortunately he finishes up a little slow with ‘Cry Little Sister’. I’ll be honest – Download have definitely seen him better, and I hope next time we can at least give him the night.

Closing up the Avalanche for the weekend are Sweden’s mischievous mayhem peddlars – The Hives. We’ve seen them in white suits, we’ve seen them in black suits, and today – they’ve sown them together for half and half suits. Aesthetic on point. Yelling “Did you miss us? It’s good to see again isn’t it? Did you miss this face?” it’s clear they are here for fun, and they have lost absolutely none of their famous energy and life. ‘Die, Alright’ is awesome and ‘Hate To Say I Told you So’ brings back a wave of college memories, of afternoons in dingy pubs and cover bands. “We have come to the part of the show where we expect way more applause than we are getting…” garners a massive roar from the absolutely packed tent, and “…this is reparations for all the shit we stole from you in Viking times… we’re giving it back in the form of musical treasure!” makes everyone laugh. They are an unstoppable force, jumping from amps and swinging mic stands around their heads with wild abandon, they just look like they’re having the absolute best time, and so are we.

As the sun begins to set we head back to find a spot in the main arena, cover up our burnt bods and grab a beer before our final headliner – Ozzy Osbourne. It has been yet again an incredible weekend and if you’ve never experienced Download before, I can scarcely describe it to you without gushing. It’s a well-oiled machine and you don’t get this kind of bang for your buck anywhere else, I have witnessed a host of the best in rock and metal, in a field with my friends. Does it get better than that?

Read our full Ozzy Osbourne review HERE

© Image courtesy of Download Festival: Kyle McLoughlin

Slipknot to headline Friday at Download Festival 2015

The seven time Grammy-nominated Iowa nine have become one of the most iconic live acts in the musical world thanks to their extraordinary musicianship and dramatic, instantly recognisable aesthetic. Frontman Corey Taylor adds:

Being invited back to Download always feels like coming home. Headlining Download, for the 3rd time, feels like the culmination of a life's dream. It's an honor, a privilege and we're all looking forward to it.

Main support comes from locally-bred Metal Gods Judas Priest. The Birmingham rockers played the first Monsters of Rock in 1980 and come to Download for a second time, having previously played in 2008.

Priest are ecstatic at the prospect of renewing their longstanding acquaintance with Donington:

35 years ago Judas Priest took the stage for the first Monsters of Rock at Castle Donington!

We are thrilled to be performing at Download 2015 as the band continues its 40th anniversary 'Redeemer of Souls' World Tour that brings us home to see and hear the roar of our #priestfamily.

Headlining the second stage on Friday are Kentucky hard rockers Black Stone Cherry. Last year’s secret band return for a full set following the success of their titanic Magic Mountain album and hugely successful UK arena tour. Speaking on their return to Donington Park, guitarist Ben Wells said:

Getting the opportunity to not only return to one of our favourite festivals, but to come back as headliners of the 2nd stage, for the 2nd time is just UNREAL!  After the recent tour we just finished in the UK, we didn't know how to come back in a bad ass way and thanks to our friends at Download and the fans who keep us going, we'll be back to rock your ass and give you the best show we can!  Thank you all for this opportunity. We love you and we'll see ya in June!

Marauding alt-metallers Five Finger Death Punch also add their musical muscle to the line-up, coming to Donington for the first time since the release of last year’s blockbuster two-parter, The Wrong Side of Heaven and the Righteous Side of Hell.

Download has become a key part of guitarist Zoltan Bathory’s live music calendar:

Playing Download Festival is always a highlight for us as it is a bona fide global Rock n' Roll destination everyone travels to and brings their A game to….Both the bands AND the audience. You rarely see crazy crowds like this. In fact, it is vividly etched into our memories since it was the place where we may have broken the record for biggest crowd surfing in recorded history.  I think the migration of Atlantic salmon took second place.

Download Festival 2013 – Friday Review

Avid weather watching and ultimate festival preparation was indeed necessary for this year’s Download Festival at the legendary Donington Racetrack, as the masses were simultaneously sunburnt and soaked, we thank the grand old British climate for a mostly acceptable atmosphere in which to rock. In it’s eleventh year, Download Festival draws in the metal hordes, clad in anything black, denim, ripped and studded, for a weekend of extraordinary music and warm beer.

Heading into the arena on Friday, the familiar sights and smells wash over us (portaloos, expensive burgers, eau de camping) with one particular very obvious addition – the zipline. Even at this time people are queuing up to spend fifteen smackers for thirty seconds of extreme wedgie, it’s baffling. I suppose the view is good from up there though. At the Zippo Encore Stage nearest the arena entrance, legendary hard-rocker heroes Uriah Heep draw an absolutely massive crowd and play a storming set that would have you think you’re at the ’82 heyday Monsters of Rock, not 2013 Download. Screaming “Where were you back in nineteen seventy seven?” frontman Mick Box smiles at the blank stares of all those who weren’t born yet, and pushes on with ‘Gypsy’ and some serious shredding. Despite the very recent and death of bassist Trevor Bolder, the band put on a great show and leave the stage with an outtro of ‘Land of Hope and Glory’ just to cement their homegrown status.

Over on the main stage, Yorkshire metalcore kids Asking Alexandria spin damp fans in the rain into a frenzy, whilst London based power metal heavyweights Dragonforce are beset with shoddy sound for the first few songs. Despite this they ride rambunctiously through ‘Through the Fire and Flames’ and new track ‘Cry Thunder’ is punchy enough (and almost ironic enough, in the current conditions) to gain instant earworm status. Herman Li’s frankly beautiful hair blows in the wind as he and Sam Totman shred harmoniously in their distinctive style and the crowd joins in for the chorus. Main stage emotions are running high as Papa Roach create circle-pits and drive the hits ‘… To Be Loved’ and ‘Last Resort’, and the second stage area is awash with Swedish flags for Stockholm rockers Europe. After a hugely entertaining and musically engaging set, the inevitable party-piece ‘The Final Countdown’ is final-ly rolled out, to which the crowd goes wild. It’s more comedy than it is song now, but boy do we Brits love a good cheesy anthem.

Korn, though intensely self-aware and at times quite comical, are actually rather good and manage to draw the largest crowd of the daytime. Head honcho Jonathan Davis’ looks like he’s having a fit whilst dancing/headbanging through ‘Blind’ and ‘Falling Away From Me’, but it’s ‘Coming Undone’ that really gets the audience thrashing. An unnecessary ten minute bagpipe interval (of which Davis really only plays a few notes, it’s like… if Deep Purple went highlander…) leaves a lot of confused faces, and more than a few people groan when the dubstep part hits, however, fan favourite ‘Freak On A Leash’ brings them back.

3 Doors Down do a sterling job making the afternoon light with their particular brand of American Rock, with a fun cover of Megadeth’s ‘Symphony of Destruction’ and Gypsy Punk crazies Gogol Bordello have everyone up and skanking to their weird and wonderful accordion packed sound, also rainbow stripes don’t really make a balaclava any less menacing, but we appreciate the oddity of it.

Second stage headliners Black Stone Cherry, here on merit of a forum-wide plea from fans, play an absolutely stunning set with favourites from the first three albums, and a first ever sneak peek at brand spanking new material from their studio work (see headline review for full details). Main stage masked-bandit headliners Slipknot have ditched the red boiler suits for white (much to the dismay of die hard fans who’ve spend the whole day perfecting their costumes) but other than that, not much is different from their 2009 Download appearance, except that this year they play without late bassist Paul Grey and play ‘Duality’ in tribute to him (the 2009 Download Festival show was his last appearance). Fans are fans though, and twice during the wild night, Corey Taylor called to stop the performance due to crowd surges, yelling “No-one is getting hurt on my watch, I'm not going to let that happen to my family”. Over the two hour set, hits ‘Wait and Bleed’ and ‘Psychosocial’ make for rowdy moshpits and after an extra long pause before the encore, ‘People = Shit’ and ‘Surfacing’ complete the show.

Photo courtesy of Download Festival

Black Stone Cherry, CHTHONIC and more added to Download 2013 lineup

Headlined by Slipknot, Iron Maiden and Rammstein, Download Festival takes place on 14-16 June 2013 at Donington Park. Day tickets are on sale from 9am on Thursday 28 March and are available at Weekend tickets are available now and selling quick!

Back for their fourth epic appearance at Download Festival are American rockers Black Stone Cherry with some loud, hard, in-your-face rock music. The band’s 2011 set left crowds gasping for more with a relentless onslaught of big guitar riffs at maximum volume. Taiwanese group CHTHONIC & The Oriental Orchestra and Norway’s legendary Satyricon will treat fans to some pure unadulterated black metal, while bestowing utter mayhem and full scale metal force at Donington are DragonForceGhost are also confirmed for 2013 having just completed a successful UK tour culminating in a sold out Brixton Academy in London. 

American rockers Masters Of Reality join the bill performing tracks spanning their six studio albums, and ready to ‘Stand Up For Rock N Roll’ are US group Red White & BluesFearless Vampire Killers will tear it up with some theatrical alt-rock, punk rock band of the moment Fidlar will bring their Californian jams to UK shores, and Brit hardcore group Palm Reader are getting ready to churn up the Donington mosh pit.  

Californian‘70s-style blues rockers Rival Sons are also confirmed, they joined Black Stone Cherry on their UK tour last year playing to packed out crowds across the country. American rockers Little Caesar are confirmed for some ballsy rock music, and the new supergroup Krokodil featuring members of Sikth, Johnny Truant, Cry for Silence, Gallows and Hexes will make their first Download appearance as a band.

Pop-punk piece Patent Pending are also added to the bill fresh from their tour with Bowling For Soup. Brit metal heads Idiom also join the bill, fresh from touring with Skindred, and last but by no means least are UK rockers Voodoo Six and Hammer Of The Gods.

18 news acts for Hard Rock Calling 2012

Black Stone Cherry will jet in fresh from their US tour to join the Friday 13 July bill. Also confirmed for this year’s rock spectacular are Welsh rockers Kids in Glass HousesSkindred, combining reggae and dancehall with searing thrash and punk, and indie rockers Life In Film.

Black Stone Cherry

Saturday 14 July sees Scotland’s Amy MacDonald return to Hard Rock Calling. She shot to fame in 2007 with the release of This Is The Life, an album which sold over three million copies. Following a storming performance at this year’s Coachella, Dawes have been added to the bill, as well as the acclaimed savior of blues, Gary Clark Jr, South Carolina’s NEEDTOBREATHE, rockers The Night and American singer/songwriter Jonathan Wilson.

Christina Perri, American songstress and ‘Jar of Hearts’ hitmaker, is back on UK shores and joins the Sunday 15 July lineup. She has recently been on tour with James Blunt and her album lovestrongdebuted in UK Top Ten. Following their 2010 reformation, internationally renowned Scottish rockers Big Country founding members Bruce Watson, Tony Butler and Mark Brzezick will play their first Hard Rock Calling.

Other exciting Sunday 15 July additions include BRIT-nominated indie band Guillemots, progressive bluegrass band Punch Brothers and virtuoso on the pedal steel guitar, Robert Randolph & The Family Band, who were chosen by none other than Eric Clapton to join him on tour. US acoustic country/folk singer songwriter Robert Ellis and London born musician Marlon Roudetten and Marcus Foster also join the bill.

This year Hard Rock gave fans a chance to have a say in who plays on the Hard Rock Calling 2012 main stage through the Hard Rock Rising global battle of the bands competition. A competition like no other, Hard Rock Rising had more than 12,000 band participants from 86 HardRock Cafe cities across the globe, more than 275,000 fan votes cast and celebrity judges including Hard Rock Calling 2012 performers Steven Van Zandt of the E-Street Band and Fyfe Dangerfield ofGuillemots. The Hard Rock Rising winner will be given the opportunity of a lifetime – a spot on the bill with rock icons at one of the world’s most anticipated music festivals.  Visit for winner announcements.

Committed to supporting music and emerging artists around the globe, Hard Rock International hosted more than 17,000 live music events worldwide in 2011.  The brand continues its dedication to live music and support of up-and-coming artists in 2012 with the Hard Rock Rising Battle of the Bands, providing a forum for today’s hottest new talent.  

"The Hard Rock Rising competition is a great opportunity for bands to be seen and heard – you get to end up playing on the same bill as Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band for a start!, said Fyfe Dangerfield And it's great that it's international – a band from pretty much anywhere in the world could win this. I'm really looking forward to watching the winners play their slot at Hard Rock Calling, whoever they may end up being!"

Complimenting a star-packed main stage will be the Hard Rock Rising stage. New to this year’s festival, the Hard Rock Rising stage showcases Hard Rock International’s connection to the new music scene and commitment to new bands. To bring fans the hottest new artists, Hard Rock again tapped into veteran rockers Van Zandt from The E-Street Band and Dangerfield of Guillemots, who will each curate the Hard Rock Rising stage for a day of the festival.

“It’s great to play a role in giving new artists valuable new exposure and the experience of a lifetime at Hard RockCalling.” said Steven Van Zandt. “As someone who has played the festival before, I know there’s no stage like it!”

Hard Rock Calling takes place 13-15 July 2012. The 2011 shows saw over 150,000 music fans flock to Hyde Park for an unforgettable weekend of live music.

Glassjaw, Hundred Reasons and more added to Sonisphere lineup

Exactly ten years to the date after its original release, Long Island hardcore innovators glassjaw will perform their landmark “Worship & Tribute” album in its entirety exclusively at SONISPHERE. Formed in 1993, glassjaw took their hardcore and punk influences and DIY attitude to create a genre defying sound entirely their own.

GlassjawOver the years the band has brought their art to the public through undisclosed elaborate algorithms and sequential coding which up to now has baffled modern day mathematicians, scientists and fans alike. So, with releases such as 8/8, 9/9, 10/10, 11/11, 12/12, 01/01/11 and 07,07,07, one questions how, 10 years later, another significant sequential date of 8/7 could have been planned out with such accuracy. The Mayan calendar doesn’t have shit on these guys.

Now, glassjaw play the historic KNEBWORTH, a fitting site for this pioneering collective from Long Island, NY with a punk rock ethos and a desire to challenge the boundaries of guitar music.

Another ten year anniversary comes in the form of HUNDRED REASONS’ “Ideas Above Our Station”, which the Aldershot quintet will perform in full in BOHEMIA on the Friday. From the moment the band played their first show at London’s Kingston Peel, it was obvious HUNDRED REASONS were gong to make a name for themselves. Within months they were being offered high-profile support slots, plastered all over Kerrang! Magazine and generally creating a buzz wherever they went.

Earning a Top 10 (#6) chart position on its release in May 2002, “Ideas Above Our Station” is HUNDRED REASONS’ biggest selling album to date. Featuring chart topping singles including “If I Could”, Silver” and “Falter”, HUNDRED REASONS will see a packed out BOHEMIA relive a magical moment in music’s history.

Says guitarist Larry Hibbitt:

“We are galactically excited to be playing Sonisphere Festival 2012. It's been way too long and we can't wait to get back to doing exactly what we do best. See you at the front."

BLACK STONE CHERRY makes their SONISPHERE debut on the APOLLO stage on the Friday. With last year’s “Between The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea” rapturously received by a rock loving public, crashing into number 1 in the UK Rock Charts, the rapidly rising Kentucky quartet shows no sign of slowing down as they kick off a SOLD OUT UK TOUR later this week.

“Now we can check off another goal on the ole BSC "wanna do it" list!” says guitarist Ben Wells. “We can't wait to make our debut at Sonisphere 2012!!”

With gargantuan riffs and even bigger hooks, songs like “Rain Wizard” and “Blind Man” to dish out, SONISPHERE is serving the hottest piece of the BLACK STONE CHERRY pie so far.

If there’s one man capable of getting 60,000 music fans to go loco it’s SKINDRED’s Benji Webbe. The charismatic frontman has led his raga-punk troupe since 1998, earning a reputation as one of the best live acts around today. With an instantly recognisable sound totally their own, their musical mix of metal, reggae, dance and punk is at it’s height, as they headline the sold-out JAGERMEISTER MUSIC tour next month. Says Benji:

“We've built this band on being a solid, tight live act, and what more of a perfect platform can one ask for other than Sonisphere Festival Knebworth 2012. We are so thankful and honoured to be invited back once again! We are gunna get this place rocking. We are gunna get this place bouncing. WE ARE GUNNA GET YOU Bitches! SD crew step up!”

Whether it’s a packed out club or a huge festival field the size of KNEBWORTH, one can be certain that everybody in sight will have no option but to let the music take over, and their set on SONISPHERE’s SATURN stage will be one of Saturday’s highlights.

Legendary post-punk heroes NEW MODEL ARMY join the SONISPHERE cast for a very special late night set on Friday night in BOHEMIA after headliners KISS wrap up the APOLLO stage. Forming in Bradford in 1980, NMA earned a highly dedicated and impassioned fanbase through their combination of angry punk, modern-day protest folk and anthemic political chanting, which included the likes of Brazilian metallers SEPULTURA who covered “The Hunt”. Their set in BOHEMIA will be highly anticipated, and serve to showcase the diversity and wide range of music on offer at SONISPHERE this summer.

Since their formation in 1993, ELECTRIC WIZARD’s name was a familiar one amongst metal underground, but in 2007 – perhaps after a pact with the devil himself – the Dorset four-piece have been riding a black wave of success off the back of their “Witchcult Today” album. 2010’s “Black Masses” has only seen that success continue, with the band poised to play their biggest headline show to date later this month at London’s Forum. Sludgey, heavy, the epitome of doom, let us pray that BOHEMIA’s structure can withstand the WIZARD’s down-tuned onslaught.

A bunch of men travelling around the world selling their wares, plundering booty and devouring rum – the natural merger of touring band and buccaneering pirates has long been inevitable, and leading that charge are Scotsmen ALESTORM. Having just completed a sell out tour of the UK, Describing themselves as “True Scottish Pirate Metal”, these swashbuckling scallywags combine elements of folk and power metal with nautical nastiness and are announced hot off the back of a sold out UK tour. Ideal festival fun, ALESTORM will shiver your timbers and blow you down when they open the SATURN stage on Saturday.

If one day dictionaries have audio examples of definitions replacing the current standard text format, one wouldn’t be surprised to hear CROWBAR’s “Broken Glass” under the “Heavy” entry. Led by Kirk Windstein – now also one of the leading forces in DOWN – these sludge metal pioneers were one of the first bands to show the world that being heavy is not just about playing fast, and in fact that the opposite is true. With heavy hitters like “”All I Had (I Gave)”, “Nothing” and “Planets Collide”, their exclusive festival appearance will test BOHEMIA’s structural integrity to its limits.

Norwegian black’n’rollers KVELERTAK return to SONISPHERE for a second time after their 2010 appearance in the wake of a massive buzz. That a six piece from Stavanger, Norway who sing about Norse mythology and Viking folklore solely in their native tongue, could become one of the hottest and most talked about acts of late is testament to just how awesome their music is, and their only UK show of 2012 on Sunday in BOHEMIA will be a triumphant return.

Alternative rock heroes SEETHER play their only UK festival on SONISPHERE’s SATURN stage on the Sunday. The South African post-grunge trio have enjoyed massive success in the States, making them one of SA’s biggest musical exports, with four out of six records earning gold status. Currently touring with multi-platinum rockers 3 DOORS DOWN, SEETHER are slowly but surely winning over fans on this side of the pond, and their exclusive festival appearance at SONISPHERE will show us why.

The first band to be announced for the RED BULL BEDROOM JAM stage is Kerrang! Introducing stars THE GETAWAY PLAN. "To be able to say that we are a part of the Sonisphere festival this year is an absolute honour.” Says frontman Matthew Wright. “This is going to be our first time to the UK and our first ever show outside of Australia. We're over the fucking moon!" The Aussie rockers make their UK debut at SONISPHERE on the Saturday, giving UK fans the first chance to see why Australian rock fans have ensured chart topping success for the alt-rock four piece.