With the summer a distant memory and even the Autumn racked with stormy skies this week, you could be forgiven for wanting nothing more than to hunker down, ignore the world and eat your bodyweight in cheese. However, even in your internest you surely haven’t missed summer 2017’s first big band announcement – Download Festival.
Friday headliners System of a Down, having not been seen at Donington since 2011 are definitely due a triumphant return, whilst the somewhat niche Biffy Clyro headline slot for Saturday seems to have created a bit of forum-controversy already. Topping the bill on Sunday is a farewell op for Aerosmith, who last played the festival in 2014 and are sure to go out with a bang.
Though the day splits won’t be confirmed for many months, a whole raft of other bands have been announced for Download including: Slayer, Prophets of Rage, Rob Zombie, Five Finger Death Punch, AFI, Of Mice & Men, Sleeping With Sirens, Motionless in White, Simple Plan, Every Time I Die, The Story So Far and Fozzy.
So is it love or loathe? What do you think of the first Download announcements for 2017?
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.
A drier Sunday sees festival goers lounging on the hillside whilst watching the writhing madness that is the mosh pits at Five Finger Death Punch, and wassailing with Swedish melodic metallers – Amon Amarth, who play aboard their on stage Viking longship, to a sea of fans’ windmilling hair and guttural yells.
Stone Sour pull off a powerful set to a packed arena with the likes of ‘Say You’ll Haunt Me’ and ‘Mission Statement’. With the words “We are in England, the home of heavy metal. This is where it all started. There’s one band that we all owe our allegiance to… Black Sabbath. This is dedicated to them” they proceed to play a very Stone Sour cover of ‘Children of the Grave’ and frontman Corey Taylor goes on to perform second cover Alice In Chains’ ‘Nutshell’ as a solo. Yelling “I’m going to go on record and say this country is my favourite in the fucking world” Corey gains a roar of respect from the crowd, however he (and countless unfortunate others) cop an eyeful of the buck-naked dude standing atop his mate’s shoulders for much of the second half of the set.
Over on the second stage something odd is occurring, my first encounter with what I can only describe as Papal-Metal, comes at the hands of Swedish eccentrics Ghost. Dressed in cardinal’s robes and misfits style skeleton paint, frontman Papa Emeritus II has a much higher/softer rock vocal than you expect, and the ‘Nameless Ghouls’ (read: rest of the band, dressed in black robes) do a decent job with ‘Year Zero’ and ‘Ritual’ to a pretty large crowd.
Following them, the second stage sees a sudden influx of bodies in preparation for the return of Aussie icons Airbourne, a band who last time they performed were put in the naughty corner for frontman Joel O'Keefe’s rock and roll, rigging-scaling action. Smoke cannons, energetic hopping around and some proper good old windmilling are the mainstay of Airbourne’s performance, and a quick “You’re a fucking sight for sore eyes Donington, it’s great to be back in the U fucking K” puts everyone immediately on side. Joel foregoes the death-defying stunts this year and instead legs it into the crowd with his guitar, meeting fans, playing, and just generally having a nice time for ‘Raise The Flag’. After getting back on stage, the crowd is treated to ‘Live it Up’ and ‘Runnin’ Wild’ with a bit of good old synchronised headbanging.
A much anticipated 30 Seconds to Mars are giving the female festival population ovarian tingles, as frontman Jared Leto (widely enjoyed for purely shallow reasons) turns his wailing on the busy arena. Four guys in coloured balaclavas are for some unknown reason, employed to bang drums steadily behind the band a la Blue Man Group, but much less interesting, and Leto’s inane comments (particularly the weird “We are forty seconds to mars”… we all heard that right?!) are getting a bit hard to swallow. Calling out “You, you in the blue hat and the Cannibal Corpse tshirt, you’re just looking at your dick… This guy is gonna lead the jump for us” Leto continues to make an ass of himself. Dear Jared Leto, despite your penchant for odd outfits and your strange ideas about fan-prizes (see “win a night in my bed” no, really) I actually don’t *hate* the way you sound, but come on… if there’s a guy at your show in a Cannibal Corpse tshirt, he’s either just securing his spot for Rammstein later or appeasing a teenage girl. Take the hint. After arrogantly announcing a forthcoming UK tour (the entire list of dates and locations… *sigh*) and pulling a load of screaming hormonal girls on stage, they close out with ‘The Kill (Bury Me’, ‘Kings and Queens’ and ‘Up in the Air’, to the cheers of all those thoroughly annoyed at having witnessed it.
During the stage-setting break the last few brave souls hit the zipline to the terrifying sight of a crowd gearing up for their descent, with a host of bottles and other miscellaneous missiles to hurl at the unfortunate victims – it makes for interesting sport/entertainment as we wait.
Rammstein hit Donington with everything they’ve got, showcasing their heavy style amidst a plethora of flaming devices from ‘2, 3, 4, Links’ and ‘Du Hast’ to ‘Ich Will’ and ‘Sonne’. Fans are treated to a spectacular show, including flamethrowers, fireworks, bondage and S&M alongside anthemic hits, it’s the show Download Festival has been waiting years for and they certainly do it justice (see the full review for complete details). Closing the night and the festival with the comedic and fairly gross, ‘Pussy’ and a foam-spraying giant penis-cannon, flanked by ticker-tape explosions, it’s been a long time coming (excuse the pun…) but Rammstein know how to put on an epic performance, this has been one extraordinary night for Download Festival and for the history of Donington Park. Who knows what to expect next year…
This will be the third time that Five Finger Death Punch have featured at the event, having made main-stage appearances in 2009 and 2010; For Reckless Love, meanwhile, this will be outing number two, following on from their Download debut in 2010.
5FDP NOW stand as one of America’s most high profile rock acts, with their first two albums now certified Gold in their home country, and latest release, ‘AmericanCapitalist’, well on the way to following suit (300,000 units and rising fast!)
The band have a new single/video released through the Spinefarm label on February 20th; titled ‘Remember Everything’ and drawn from the ‘American Capitalist’ album, the song is already a big hit at US radio, following on from the incredible out-of-the-box success of previous single, ‘Under And Over It’ – the video for which has now clocked up over 3 million hits on YouTube!
March 20th will also see the release of the new single/video from Reckless Love; titled ‘On The Radio’ and taken from the band’s second studio album, ‘Animal Attraction’, out now, the single features the previously unreleasedbonus track, ‘Push’.
Reckless Love will headline The Garage in London on February 2nd (an HMV ‘Next Big Thing’ Event in conjunction with Spinefarm Records), and the following month they head out on tour with much-touted US rockers Black Veil Brides, starting in Wolverhampton on March 24th.