DOWNLOAD FESTIVAL 2022 – THE BIG REVIEW!

Photo credit: Ⓒ Beth Miller for Download Festival

WELL THEN. Three whole years since the last proper Download Festival. Yeah yeah there was the Pilot last year, but it’s not the same. This is it, this is the return. Was it triumphant? Let’s discuss.

Donington Park opens its doors for the hoardes of giddy metalheads on Thursday, with the newly situated campsites filling from West Carpark quickly. Let’s have a moment for the new site layout; the campsites are now located considerably closer to the arena (they used to be at the opposite end of the racetrack) and the arena is accessed by travelling through the brand new Village area which is now on hard-standing.

There are a few things to note about this arrangement though. If you’ve managed to park in West Carpark, you are indeed only a shortish walk to your camping. However, once this is full the East and North Carparks are utilized and they are predictably – on the other side of the racetrack, a journey of epic proportions to your campsite. I suppose the question is, would you rather walk further to the arena every day, or have to cart all your camping stuff further on the way in and on the way out?

It must also be noted that whilst quiet camping does still exist, they’ve chosen to back the brand new (and considerably larger) Doghouse stage onto it. With music going on until 3am, it seems sort of redundant but hey, hopefully you brought earplugs.

The Village itself is a thing of beauty. Despite this being a rare good weather Download rather than a washout, it really is just such a good move to have the entire place on a tarmac surface. Immediately as you enter the area there is an enormous pop-up Co-Op selling practically everything you might need for the weekend, including fairly priced crates of beer and the cheeky sandwich meal deal which costs about a third of the price of a soggy burrito from the arena. Even for non-campers this is a short walk from the arena to keep your costs down, and I think its really important to stress that this is a great way of ensuring that people aren’t entirely priced out of coming to this festival, when food and drink prices seem set to continue to rise exponentially.

As for entertainment, this year we have an entire arcade replete with coin machines and Dance Dance Revolution, as well as the traditional fairground rides such as minor-whiplash-dodgems and possibly-the-worst-ghost-train-in-the-world. The new Doghouse is the real MVP though, a huge square post-apocalyptic shipping container park with a stage and a bar. It’s worth noting that this whole move really improves accessibility for everyone. RIP and Disability Camping guests are no longer miles from the night-time action, and the tarmac makes getting there much easier, a huge step towards making Download a much more inclusive festival.

For morning people you can give yourself a boost by joining in with some Rockfit, frame trampolining or rock aerobics – flashback to Download’s at-home content during Lockdown in 2020. In the evenings there’s stand up comedy in The Sidesplitter, and then the infamous Doghouse clubnights returning with a bang. I must give a mention here to Thursday night’s Punk Rock Factory who honestly I’d love to see hitting up the main arena next year, a punk Disney cover band. There is just something joyous about seeing a group of big burly dudes belting out songs from Encanto, truly they absolutely slap, and seemed to have the full support of a packed Doghouse.

Aside from this we also have another attempt at implementing a cashless festival, thankfully without a return to the RFID fiasco of a previous Download, though it does seem most of the shops are still accepting cash regardless. We also have renamed stages for 2022 – Apex and Opus in place of various previous names such as Lemmy and Dio, but let’s face it, everyone calls them Main and Second anyway.

Friday

It’s Friday, the gates are open and the sun is shining. Not packing a raincoat feels absolutely reckless for this festival, but the weather app assures me that everything will be ok so sun-cream it is. As seasoned Download goers, we head straight for a merch tent because everyone knows they can and absolutely will sell out of stuff. As per usual nothing has changed and there are simply too few staff to appropriately manage the volume of people queuing, and we wait a solid hour and a half to get our stuff. I think I’ve said this in every review but really, just drop more staff on for the first day, I beg.

The merch options are outstanding though, apart from the regular tshirts and such, there is a plethora of weird shit you can buy and I am HERE FOR IT. Download Monopoly for campsite mornings? Got you covered. Cafetiere and laser engraved wooden cups? No problem. We also love the fully embroidered denim jacket, the extremely handy new tote bags, and of course the plushie deranged Download Dog. There’s also a whole section for babies/kids which is nice, considering there seem to be a lot more of them in attendance this year. Mini metalheads everywhere you look – this is the next gen, teach them well.

Luckily the queue for said merchandise is situated right alongside the hill-top Dogtooth Stage, where we manage to catch a sweaty but brilliant set from The Scratch. Acoustic Irish folk music overlayed with heavy metal and a dedication to getting the crowd involved, makes for a unique and undeniably fun experience. Yelling “…if you’re really confused about what we’re doing, that’s fine, we’re confused as well… but we can still have fun” the band really sum up how it is to watch their show. I would absolutely go and see them again.

Over to Kris Barras on the Opus stage for some melodic rock and roll in the sunshine, playing bluesy summery riffs to a huge crowd. It’s perfect beer-drinking, feel good summer music that makes you feel like you’re in an 80’s TV show driving the Sunset Strip.

Skynd’s unique ‘true crime’ industrial rock sound is testament to the expansion of genre Download have been working towards over the last few years, something a little unusual and interesting, with songs named after infamous death events. Skynd’s unusual vocal style ranging from effeminate cheerleader-esque chanting to deep rasping creep is really something different, and sets the tone for how many new and challenging female artists we’re about to see this weekend.

Bury Tomorrow pull off a convincing enough set, but hero vocalist Myles Kennedy over on the Opus stage is just beyond compare – I genuinely believe he’s one of the best rock voices of all time. Dead Poet Society on the Dogtooth stage play to a jammed tent, and even spend a little time after their set taking photos with fans.

Firmly established Download regulars Black Veil Brides are tearing up the Apex stage to a mass of sweaty face-paint melting goths and some early crowd-surfers, but it’s Skindred who take the crown for band of the day with their energetic and powerful set. Whilst it’s true that we see them pretty much every year at least once, they never seem to disappoint. Benji always has a fun outfit, this time a lightning bold studded red leather set with a plumed hat, and they roll through a mix of old and new making sure to hit the highs of ‘Pressure’ and ‘Nobody’, as well as joking around with extremely British singsongs of “if you’re happy and you know it clap your hands”. “2 years without any fucking music” as Benji puts it, is enough time for everyone to get really amped up for ‘Kill The Power’ in which they also voice support for Ukraine, and a right old rowdy Newport Helicopter of windmilling tshirts during ‘Warning’. Oh Skindred, we’ve missed you.

Photo credit: Ⓒ James Bridle for Download Festival

Over on the Opus stage, the Aussies are at it again. Reckless wonders Airborne, who were once lambasted by security for climbing the stage rigging at Download sans harness – for shits and gigs, yell out “…if we’re still here, and you’re still here, metal still exists…”. Which when you consider their death-wish antics, is perhaps not the most solid flex.

A Day To Remember blast punky metal across the main stage area as the sun shines, before Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes take on the Opus stage with their classic punk rock sounds and social commentary. Frank, ever the cheeky chap shouts out “Moment of silence for all the bands that we just murdered” before clambering out onto the shoulders of fans to continue singing.

In a bold but timely statement Frank says “This is a ladies and non-binary only moshpit for this song. Fellas on the sidelines, protect this space. This is a safe space for those people to have a good time without getting groped or punched. For too long rock and roll has been unequal. I’m sorry I didn’t have the mindset to do this sooner, in 10 years time I promise you this will be a very different space for our children”. Whilst this may be somewhat performatory in practice (it’s one song in a weekend of bands), it does send a message that people are listening and beginning to take notice of what female and NB metal fans have been saying for years. Though generally pit-etiquette is known to be good at Download, it’s really refreshing to see how the festival is evolving into a more inclusive space for everyone to enjoy the music.

Frank also takes a jab with “This song is about Rishi [Sunak] telling me to get a fucking job. I’ve got two you bastard, how many am I supposed to have?” as massive ticker-tape explosions flutter over the crowd. It’s been an interesting set, and I’m all for artists using their platform to highlight important issues – it’s punk’s legacy.

After hitting up the legendary Bunnymans Bunnychow for dinner (South African firey chilli shoved into half a loaf of bread, the stuff of festival dreams) the Apex hill is filling up in anticipation of tonight’s headliner KISS.

The stage is draped with an enormous KISS banner, the sides flanked with KISS ARMY insignias, and the roof a hive of ring shaped lighting like something from sci-fi. Giant inflatable metallic effigies of the band members stand either side of the stage, blowing in the wind threatening to squash the puny worshippers below. As a tape begins to roll on the screens, of the band making their way through dressing rooms and corridors to get to the stage, I can’t help but giggle. We’re in a field, miles from anything solid, with only tents and tour buses back there. It’s all part of the KISS schtick though isn’t it.

“You wanted the best, you got the best!” yells Paul Stanley, aka The Starchild as a rain of sparkly pyro falls from the centre of the stage and the banner is dropped. As usual, they are dressed to the nines in, well, quite possibly bigger than nine-inch platform shoes and their signature shiny glam get-up – and there’s a part of me watching this, that is just a bit sad that nothing comes after this. We won’t witness this level of ridiculousness again, it’s an ending era. KISS are known for keeping it strictly performance. They have a script and they rarely step outside of it, which is professional I guess, if a little wooden sometimes. “This song is about putting something in your mouth…” comes before they drop into ‘Lick It Up’ but it’s the same sentence we heard last time we saw them here. I’m not sure whether I enjoy this from a nostalgia perspective – like re-watching your favourite movie when you feel down – or if I wish they’d break character just once, for this one final time.

‘Calling Dr Love’ is followed by ‘Tears Are Falling’ and then the more recent ‘Psycho Circus’ pulls up to a long drum solo from The Cat, who is raised up onto a giant platform. Presumably giving the other band members a much needed breather. I don’t hate it, it isn’t obscenely long… but the following instrumental really is. The solo is another thing from an older time, new bands don’t do it, or it’s a few seconds while someone grabs a drink. Another nail in the coffin of what it meant to be a headliner.

Luckily the band put on a great show regardless, Gene Simmons bleeding from the mouth whilst flapping his monumentally long tongue is an image burned into the rock retina for life. Jamming his iconic axe shaped bass whilst high up on a platform amongst the mysterons covered in images of his own face… you can’t get more Gene than that really.

“It’s the last time we’re gonna be together… and because it’s the last time, I’m gonna come out there and be with you. But you have to invite me… count to three and say my name…” calls Stanley, despite the fact that this is precisely the same way it went down the last time they played here, which obviously many of the fans remember all to well. Regardless, it is really fun to see him whizz from the stage to the sound tent on a circus ring zip wire to play ‘Love Gun’, and the epic ‘I Was Made For Lovin’ You’, amongst the sparkly light of a giant projected disco ball.

Closing out with three song encore, the end finally comes with ‘Rock and Roll All Nite’. Big inflatable KISS branded beach balls are thrown into the crowd, ticker tape explosions go off, and fireworks erupt from the top of the stage as they lament “We’re gonna miss you so much, we bow to you. It’s so special every time we come here”. Now, plenty of bands have said it’s their ‘final show’ before (cough, Aerosmith, cough Black Sabbath). KISS have been one of them… over 19 times according to Steve Tyler. This time though, it really does seem like they’re done. Some of the vibrancy was missing, it was too rehearsed.

It’s testimony to their skill as musicians and performers that the show was still great, and I will be forever sad that my child won’t get to remember seeing one of, if not the most iconic bands in the world, but maybe it is time to open the gates for new things. KISS have done thousands of gigs, sold millions of records and have the weirdest and most diverse collection of merch on this earth (KISS condoms anyone?) so… fair play to them. I’m glad I was here for the last show… probably.


SATURDAY

Opening the Apex stage this morning are The Raven Age, good hearty metal despite the thin arena at this time, but Cassyette edges them out as the Opus stage opener with an absolutely huge crowd. Swinging her long blonde Pippi Longstocking braids as she thrashes around the stage, you can see exactly why she’s been booked – what a bloody epic voice. Again, it’s awesome to see more women hitting the big stages at Download this year, and absolutely smashing it. Those Damn Crows keep the vibe going, but there’s definitely an element of crowd fatigue in this heat – us pasty Brits are just crap at sunshine.

Sheffield lads Malevolent come in with their full force, pulling out all the stops in their exceptionally heavy set. “This goes out to anyone who has ever told you, you can’t do something because of how you look or who you are” says frontman Alex Taylor, before they muster up three massive circle-pits in the crowd.

Ice Nine Kills may have a bit of a gimmicky schtick when it comes to band theme, rocking up in suits to mimic American Psycho’s Patrick Bateman, these guys are a self-professed Horror Metal band. However, there is nothing gimmicky about their musical talent, these guys absolutely kill it – if you can excuse the pun. Yeah sure they have some Alice Cooper-esque snuff theatre going on, stage knives and a creepy clown… but I defy anyone to try not to join in with the likes of ‘Hip To Be Scared’ and ‘The American Nightmare’. They’ve gone straight to the top of my post-Download playlist.

Photo credit: Ⓒ  Sam McMahon for Download Festival

Black Label Society, owners of very lush hair, gather a huge crowd at the Apex stage. With Zakk Wylde’s signature sound resonating across the arena, this just feels like peak Download. There are so many memories tied to that sound at this event. Later Shinedown absolutely tear it up, yelling “Ladies and Gentlemen, we made it, we are here and we’re all alive” and treating us to the hits we want to hear ‘Second Chance’ and ‘Cut The Cord’. The “Freedom” refrain really has some topical context for this crowd, after a couple of years of strict lockdowns and Covid worries.

Deftones are predictably great but we’ve been round the block a few times and I’m really only in it for ‘My Own Summer’ at this point, so it’s time to take a walk around the site and grab some food. One thing I really want to mention is that the quality of stuff you can buy from Download shops is actually really exciting. You can grab your next pair of skate trainers for a fraction of the cost of online stores, get hold of some unusual patches for your battle jacket, and there’s the likes of Mysticum Luna selling some  beautiful jewellery. If that’s not your jam, you can queue up in the morning to book yourself a tattoo slot at Old Sarum – I wonder how many people now have a Download Dog tattoo?

On the Opus stage Megadeth have the most ridiculous set of mega-stacked amps (there is no way at least half of those aren’t just for show, come on now) and Funeral For A Friend are bringing back those nostalgic emo kid vibes on The Avalanche stage. Sepultura play to a bursting at the seams Dogtooth tent, it’s hot, it’s heavy, it’s everything it should be – I just wish I could get further into the tent than the gate.

Looking at the arena tonight, it’s pretty clear there are a lot of day-ticket holders here specifically for this. It’s twice as packed as last night, people shoulder to shoulder right to the back of the hill and spilling out both sides around the sound tent. To say Iron Maiden are an institution at Donington would be putting it mildly. We’ve been waiting three years for this, let’s go.

As the traditional UFO ‘Doctor Doctor’ heralds them onto the stage, we take our first look at the set up for this ‘Legacy of The Beast’ tour, which centres on Japanese/Shinobi imagery due to their newest released ‘Senjutsu’. The stage is all green-roofed pagodas, Nikko’s brand new drum set is covered in the beautiful album artwork, and as the band take the stage we note that Bruce has gone full top-knot presumably in a nod to the theme. Rocking some almost spray-on leather pants (he does it better than Ross Geller though) Bruce is immediately and unwaveringly as brilliant as ever. If you think there’s a more iconic vocalist in metal I can’t hear you over the sound of Bruce belting the living shit out of ‘The Writing On The Wall’. You’d think after 34 years playing here, and the 7th inning as headliners, that something would eventually dip… the speed, the sound quality, the theatricality, the energy. No. Not our Iron Maiden. They are the lifeblood of this festival and all those before it on this hallowed ground, and they truly sound better than ever.

Eddie makes a surprisingly early appearance dressed as a Samurai, in order to go about executing the band members with a giant katana, and Bruce quips “You alright? That was bit fucking casual… you alright?” as the crowd warms up a bit from their viewing stupor. If you haven’t seen Maiden before, it’s a lot to take in. If you have, it’s a lot to take in.

Multiple set changes are expected with Maiden for sure, but wow is it slick tonight. Using curtain structures to create background sets means they basically drop away in seconds to be replaced by another – something that really just adds to the magic of their show. This next one is a full on church, replete with stained glass windows and flaming chandeliers.

Calling out “The last three years of all our lives, has been largely fucking shit. In this field is where it fucking stops. We’re one big family, the Maiden family. We don’t care what colour, size or anything you are… you are our Blood Brothers” they drop headfirst into the anthem. Not to get too corny, but there is something so uplifting, so uniting about hearing this after the hard couple of years we’ve just been through.

Now, Bruce has always been known to be a bit… extra. But tonight he really doubles down, in a floaty veiled cape, he capers about the stage brandishing a giant disco cross for ‘The Sign of The Cross’ and then in a bonkers turn of events, trying to brandish a Ghostbusters style dual flamethrower, AND his mic beneath an enormous winged angel for ‘Flight of Icarus’.

Fear of The Dark has always been my favourite, since I saw Maiden for the very first time at the very first Download festival in 2003. My friend lifted me up from our spot 10 or so rows from the front, so that I could look across the crowd at the sea of lights. At that time it was proper lighters, not blue phone screens, and it is one of my most magical memories. Tonight, I was watching from the side, much further back, with my 2 year old daughter – doing a small cry, thinking about how grateful I am to be back here, after everything, and it was perfect.

‘Hallowed Be They Name’, ‘The Number of The Beast’ and the eponymous ‘Iron Maiden’ are just beyond reproach, it’s ridiculous how Iron Maiden manage to gut punch us every time, they just get into your bones. There’s a giant inflatable beast Eddie… everyone is singing, everyone is headbanging, everyone thinks they’re in the band too… “Scream for me Donington!” elicits the monumental roar of thousands of metal fans in their element.

The stage lights dip, but no-one moves an inch. The encore is spectacular, with Bruce admitting “Wish I was down there with you, it’s fucking cold up here” into the amazingly clear moonlight night, before donning the signature Redcoat and flag for ‘The Trooper’, and the return of Eddie for a duel.

‘The Clansman’ (another chance to yell FREEDOM into the sky) and ‘Run To The Hills’ are magnificent, but there’s nothing quite like the closing gem ‘Aces High’ complete with a fucking massive Spitfire flying, in my opinion, terrifyingly close to their heads, on stage. Bruce gives it his full force, rocking a flying cap and goggles as the band wheel around the stage delivering the most powerful, energetic performance you can imagine. They are just such pros, I genuinely don’t know what we’ll do when they finally call time. With their outro of Monty Python’s ‘Always Look on the bright side of life’, there is a collective sigh and we all begin to leave the arena. The hour plus queue to leave the car-park tells you that everyone stayed for this, what a bloody amazing night.

SUNDAY

Kicking things off for today at the Apex stage are homegrown electro-rock duo Wargasm, who sponsor a pretty brutal circle pit for so early in the morning. Two guys dressed as bananas are gleefully smashing into each other, as Milkie Way kicks and screams her way through the excellently named ‘D.R.I.L.D.O’ and ‘Backyard Bastards’. A live debut of ‘Fukstar’ and an N*E*R*D cover of ‘Lapdance’ also go down well with the crowd.

Photo credit: Ⓒ Sam McMahon for Download Festival

On the Dogtooth stage, drag artist Bimini serves us a fucking stunning outfit and an equally fun mash up of The Prodigy’s ‘Breathe’ and Britney Spears’ ‘Toxic’ gone metal. It’s very very weird, and I like it. “This is my first festival… You know what, we’re a queer fucking band, and we’re gonna fuck it up” they say, with new music being debuted ‘Don’t Fuck With My Groove’ which is undeniably outside of what we are used to hearing at Download. A cover of Peaches sends us over the edge, I want to see Bimini bring a bigger, more extravagant show next time. Spotted in the Bimini crowd: Zoe London, having an excellent time!

We’ve decided to sit down and have some lunch at the main stage, which means catching Alestorm today. Somewhat unwillingly. If you haven’t heard about their recent controversy over leaked group chat messages which highlight some pretty stark racism and misogyny – just take it from us, it was not ok. These messages were authenticated/claimed by lead singer Chris Bowes at the time, and apologized for, but when you’ve been talking about competitions to see who can sleep with the most barely legal fans on tour… it’s gonna fuck up your reputation as a fairly wholesome fun band.

It’s actually a bit of a surprise that they were still booked for Download following this. There’s a bit of a disconnect between what looks like the purposeful move to give more female artists stage time, and having Alestorm back on the bill. Between bands Download has opted for screen messages about consent and respect all weekend, a purposeful effort towards changing the culture of festivals and making them safe for everyone – which I fully endorse and applaud. So yeah… it’s strange.

They’re on stage anyway, giant inflatable duck in tow, yelling “We’re only here to have fun” and while there is a decent crowd, it’s markedly less than I would expect them to pull at this festival. They play their hits (indistinguishably all about drinking, it’s the schtick) ‘Mexico’ and ‘Fucked With An Anchor’ to a sea of crowd surfers, but there’s definitely a flatness to the performance compared to other times we’ve seen them. Around us a lot of people are looking unimpressed, and it’s probably not just to do with the show.

Conversely, The Hara absolutely rip it up on the Avalanche stage, with their really interesting tech fuelled set. As a three-piece alt rock outfit, I did not expect their sound to be so complex, but with all the extra electronic fills, it is a serious sucker punch. I totally expect to see more of them at Download in the future.

Rise against are coming back with a new album, but the familiar punk-rock feels we love, “…this is a song about what we’ve all been doing the last two years… it’s called Survive” and closing ‘Saviour’ in the sunshine is just bringing us all happiness as we sing along.

Over on the Opus stage, Baroness as expected put on a fantastic show, and on the Apex stage Volbeat give us what we want with ‘Lola Montez’ and ‘Still Counting’ as well as their cutesy ‘I Only Want To Be With You’ Dusty Springfield cover.

Up next Korn give a blistering performance worthy of a headline slot, Jonathan Davis careening about the stage in leather pants is giving us the big 90’s nostalgia. There are bagpipes, there’s a snippet of ‘We Will Rock You’ in ‘Coming Undone’, they serve up ‘Falling Away From Me’ and ‘Freak On A Leash’ at an eardrum bursting level. It’s such an energetic performance, mirrored in the sheer number of crowdsurfers who are heading towards the front, and it seems like the whole crowd is into it.

Photo credit: Ⓒ David Dillon for Download Festival

Steel Panther are divisive. They started off as a joke band… but they have some catchy hits… they’re clearly joking… but the type of jokes they make are tired and largely misogynistic…

Yelling “That crowd reaction was pretty good for a Hoobastank concert” garners a laugh from only those old enough to know who Hoobastank are, but the zebra leggings and 80’s hair never fails to make me smile. “England is my second home. I speak the language. My Grandma is from here in Leicester, she used to cook for the whole family… crystal meth” is exactly what we expect from them, as well as their penchant for pulling ladies from the audience to dance with them. They do in fact have 17 girls for ’17 Girls In A Row’, and they are joined by guest Justin Hawkins of The Darkness – who just played the other stage – for ‘Party All Day’. ‘Asian Hooker’ and ‘Death To All But Metal’ are meant to be silly, but that’s part of the charm – it’s possibly the most packed this stage has been all weekend.

So, right up front I have to note going into this headline review, that the arena is stunningly under-filled already. You can basically walk to the front in a couple of minutes from either side. This shouldn’t happen for headliners.

Scot-rock stalwarts Biffy Clyro are no strangers to Download Festival, having headlined here in 2017. Given the fact that we’ve been in Covid central for a couple of years, this actually feels more recent than the five years it has actually been. There’s no doubt that the band are musically brilliant, and the stage set up is impressive in its own way, but perhaps overshadowed by the previous two nights of high production headline sets.

The hometown crowd is representing at the front with giant Scottish flags flying, and ‘Wolves of Winter’ is a soaring masterpiece which absolutely deserves a place here. Yelling “We’ve waited three years for this, I know you have too. It’s wonderful to be back together again” frontman Simon Neil is clearly having an excellent time up there, but I can’t help but see the crowd is thinning even further. I wonder if they can see this from up there, and feel a little sad for them.

‘Space’ and ‘Bubbles’ come before an encore of ‘The Captain’, ‘Cop Syrup’ and ‘Many of Horror’ – all of which are performed beautifully and confidently, but it obviously isn’t hitting with a huge proportion of the Download crowd who are opting to be elsewhere. The band finish up with a set of stage top fireworks, but it’s not the crowning finale it should have been for this, the triumphant return of Download festival. If Download wants to sell enough tickets next year, those headliners had better be closer aligned to the main formula than Biffy were this weekend.

In other entertainments, The Doghouse is bumping for another few hours yet with the likes of Lais MW & Lauren Cornelius serving up fun bouncy mixes and Limp Bizkit dance renditions. Here we’ll leave everyone to the wild abandon of the final night at camp.

Round-up

So what did we think of Download festival 2022?

Firstly, we were served an unusual dose of good fortune with the weather being dry. This festival is no joke when it’s wet, so it was nice to not have to think about boots and raincoats this year. The new site changes are a huge step in the right direction to making this festival more inclusive and accessible, as well as just generally better for everyone. It would be great to see some companies like Vodafone with their Haptic suits there, to deliver unique experiences of the music to deaf fans in the Download audience in the future.

There were a lot more kids this time around – a lot of lockdown babies and toddlers in attendance, which yes, changes the vibe a little sure, but ultimately this music is for everyone – and that includes parents without childcare options. There’s nothing like indoctrinating the youth into metal anyway.

In the news following the festival it has sadly been reported that two men have died (in unconnected incidents) and police are appealing to contact a man who had helped one of them. Contact details can be found on the BBC website if you have any information. The deaths are not being considered suspicious at this time, our thoughts go out to them and their families.

Next year is the huge 20th anniversary of Download and Andy Copping has stated that all headliners have been booked already – an unusual feat. The anticipation and anxiety over who it will be is already gut wrenching. With a lot of the big legacy bands shutting up shop, I simply can’t imagine how this will play out, but for myself – I’m hoping for a Rammstein return, and the yet-to-play rock legends Pearl Jam.

I’d also like to mention that every staff and security member we came across this weekend was friendly, helpful and genuinely nice. It really makes a difference to how smoothly the weekend runs. On top of that, the general effort into turning Download into a more green space, and a more diverse space is really good to see. It’s time for the rock and metal scene to evolve into something more inclusive – and I don’t think Download loses any of its integrity as one of the worlds’ best rock festivals by doing so.

In summation, this weekend has been characterised by a return to familiarity, pure joy and a feeling of freedom. There has been something intensely healing about being back at Donington, for a lot of people I spoke to over the weekend. It has indeed been three years of shit, but thanks in part to Download Festival – I feel like I’m on the road to recovery. Roll on the big anniversary in 2023, see you there!

More acts added for DOWNLOAD 2020!

Download Festival, the world’s premier rock event, has announced further acts including ALTER BRIDGE, BOWLING FOR SOUP, FRANK CARTER & THE RATTLESNAKES, MASTODON, THE DISTILLERS, SEPULTURA, MOTIONLESS IN WHITE and FUNERAL FOR A FRIEND, to join headliners IRON MAIDEN (Legacy of the Beast Tour)KISS and SYSTEM OF A DOWN this summer. NXT UK is returning to deliver more knockout entertainment over the weekend, and Kerrang! Radio will host FINDING FRESH BLOOD for another year – searching for the best emerging acts in the world of rock to perform on The Avalanche Stage.

Download takes place on 12 – 14 June 2020 at the spiritual home of rock in Donington Park, Leicestershire. Tickets are on sale now at downloadfestival.co.uk/tickets.

The Main Stage just got even better with a host of new names which are sure to stir the crowd into a frenzy. US heavyweights ALTER BRIDGE will return to Download with their breed of blistering and technical rock completed with incredible showmanship courtesy of Miles Kennedy.

Mark Tremonti from Alter Bridge said:
“We are very proud and honoured to be a part of the 2020 lineup.  Download has always been the highlight of our touring schedule over the years, thanks for another opportunity to perform for some of the best rock fans in the world!”

The brilliantly chaotic FRANK CARTER & THE RATTLESNAKES will wreak havoc at Download, with pit-starter anthems such as ‘Juggernaut’, ‘Crowbar’ and ‘I Hate You’. MOTIONLESS IN WHITE are staggeringly heavy, with a good dosage of theatrics that will no doubt fuel a memorable performance. Also performing rare Australia’s ferocious THY ART IS MURDER, rising Florida metalcorers WAGE WAR, and melodic Brit metallers THE RAVEN AGE.

Chris Motionless from Motionless In White said:
“Playing Download is an accomplishment that bands of every level still write home about. It is THE festival to be a part of, and I’m so proud to announce that we will be making an appearance again for the first one of the new decade. See you in a few months!”

Looking towards The Zippo Stage, Atlanta’s finest MASTODON have garnered a reputation as a formidable live force, and their performance at 2020 is sure to be enormous. Fronted by the infamous Brody Dalle, THE DISTILLERS are a household name in modern punk and make their anticipated return to Donington. THE DARKNESS are also set to bring a healthy dose of classic rock and roll bombast., Italian goth icons LACUNA COIL, melodic rockers AMARANTHE, bondage-punks HATARI and rock n roll revivalists THE GLORIOUS SONS. They’ll be joined by Mississippi rock stalwarts 3 DOORS DOWN.

Justin Hawkins of The Darkness said:
 “UK festival appearances are like children – so precious and impossible to pick a favourite. This year though, my number 1 child is our Download slot! I have a pair of pyjama bottoms designed to look like jeans with tickets for Monsters of Rock 1991 hanging out of the pocket, and that tells you everything you need to know about my excitement levels.”

Following their disbanding in 2016, Download are beyond excited to reveal that Welsh post-hardcore and crowd favourite FUNERAL FOR A FRIEND will make their euphoric return to the festival by headlining The Avalanche Stage. Joining them are Texan troopers BOWLING FOR SOUP who are sure-fire to get Donington singing along to their tongue-in-cheek pop punk anthems.

Ryan Richards from Funeral For A Friend said “As a band, and as individuals – we’ve made some incredible memories at the hallowed grounds of Donington through the years, so it’s going to be nice to come back and make a few more together. Those trademark black fringes are a bit greyer/balder these days, but we’ll still be able to show these young ‘uns a thing or two!”

Jaret Reddick from Bowling For Soup said:
“Download Festival is always something special for Bowling For Soup. So many of the stories we share with other bands and family members back home come from our time spent playing or hanging out at this festival. Very much looking forward to making more memories this summer…and of course bringing something special to our show, that only BFS can get away with!”

Elsewhere on the Avalanche Stage are Philadelphia’s THE MENZINGERS who will draw a monstrous crowd with their honest melodic punk, Woking’s brutal EMPLOYED TO SERVE, anonymous collective SLEEP TOKEN, garage punk outfit PRESS CLUB, Welsh post-hardcore band HOLDING ABSENCE, Liverpool prog-metallers LOATHE, mysterious emo rapper SULLII, London ska-punks THE SKINTS, alt-pop-rock Mancs THE HARA, Northern Californian pop-rockers CEMETERY SUN, and Brighton indie punks GENDER ROLES. They’ll be joined by punk trio MILK TEETH.

Headlining The Dog Tooth Stage are genre defining heavy music titans SEPULTURA who are set to be a crowd pleaser with huge songs such as Roots Bloody Root and Refuse / Resist.

Derrick Green from Sepultura said;
“We are ecstatic about our return to Download Festival. It’s an honour and pleasure to be a part of a festival with such a rich music history. We look forward to rocking out with you all!!”

Also on The Dog Tooth stage are Sydney metalcore innovators NORTHLANE, alongside bruising Leeds hardcore collective HIGHER POWER. If that wasn’t enough, further Dogtooth Stage additions are London progressive rock band HAKEN, virtuosic Texan quartet POLYPHIA, Sacramento noise metallers WILL HAVEN, the hotly tipped KILL THE LIGHTS (featuring members from Bullet For My ValentineStill RemainsThrow The FightGlamour Of The Kill and Threat Signal), self-proclaimed ‘Satanic doo wop’ trio TWIN TEMPLE, Texan hardcore outfit FIRE FROM THE GODS, Bristol post-punks HEAVY LUNGS, NYC rockers TEMPT, Peterborough melodic hardcore act MODERN ERROR, brutal Holy Roar signees London five-piece RENOUNCED, mesmerising alt rock artist JJ WILDE, and Brummie metalcore pack SHVPES.

Download Festival are pleased to announce the return of WWE NXT UK to this year’s festival. The first round of Superstars to be announced are title-holders WWE NXT UK Champion WALTER, NXT UK Women’s Champion Kay Lee Ray, and NXT UK Tag Team Champions Gallus. The first-ever WWE United Kingdom Champion Tyler Bate, and his Tag Team partner Trent Seven, will no doubt bring a stunner of a show. Also set to perform is Finn Bálor’s protégé Jordan Devlin, the highflyer Mark Andrews, and his Tag Team partner Flash Morgan Webster. Toni Storm is also confirmed, alongside powerhouse Piper Niven – both of whom will bring the energy to Donington Park. NXT UK has made a massive impact at Download in previous years, full of tense moments and adrenaline-soaked performances, it’s the ultimate spectacle for fans of loud music and even louder sport.

In addition, Kerrang! Radio will once more host Finding Fresh Blood, the search to bring the hottest emerging talent to Donington. 2019 was its inaugural year and grime-punks PENGSHUi triumphantly opened the Avalanche Stage. UK acts can now upload their tracks online to be in with the chance of playing this year’s festival on the same stage. To apply, and for more information please visit their website. The chance to apply closes on 1st March at 23:59, and winners will be announced in April.

Kerrang! Radio’s Alex Baker said:
“Playing at The Download Festival is a benchmark moment in any bands career, it is the most important festival in the country for alternative music and a performance on any of the hallowed stages can catapult your career as a musician to new heights. I only like working with people who share my unyielding spirit for supporting new artists, and the absolute dedication that Andy and the team from Download have in this field is truly inspiring. When Pengshui walked out on the Avalanche Stage last year, the atmosphere on the stage, in the crowd AND in the wings was absolutely electric – it is a moment that will never be forgotten.”

Download Festival is the home of rock music and takes place on the sacred grounds of Donington Park, which have been associated with rock since the eighties. The festival attracts icons of rock and metal to its main stage, plus some of the best and hottest new acts in the world.

Review: Bloodstock Open Air 2015

An entire weekend of sunshine is an absolute rarity during British summertime, but a weekend at Bloodstock Open Air where you’re not at risk of trench-foot even more so. This year’s BOA, hidden in the depths of Derbyshire at Catton Hall is awash with lobster-faced metalheads having a ruddy good time, and the kind of lineup that is set to shake your bones.

Taking a little tour of the arena shops and eateries you can get your hands on pretty much anything your little black heart desires, from limited edition vinyl to second hand band tees to support The Teenage Cancer Trust or a huge portion of brisket-inna-bun from The Texas Smokery. People are whizzing around on fairground dodgems or being shot up into the air in a bungee cage with unrivalled glee, it’s just a shame for Sophie Stage Bands that have to compete with the blaring music coming from the rides. One such band is German power metallers Messiah’s Kiss who’s tight-pants, crimped-hair and solid rocking set is unfortunately overshadowed by the twister ride’s expulsion of Welcome to the Jungle.

Donning the traditional black metal corpse paint the indiscernible growling of Belphegor is pretty one-dimensional overall, though die-hard fans crowd the front, the main contingent of the arena is set on lounging around with ice-creams, hitting each other with blow up guitars or having a good old nap. Enslaved come with a rockier shred-heavy edge yelling to the sunbaked crowd “We are Enslaved from Norway, Hello Bloodstock England!” before Ihsahn (of Emperor fame) takes to the main stage with his own brand of black metal prog. For such an unassuming quiet sort, he certainly knows how to captivate a crowd, but unfortunate technical difficulties (or is it perfectionism?) seem to put him on the back foot from the off, it’s clear he’s not happy with the sound.

Overkill

Hyperactive Jersey boys Overkill were a huge hit last time they graced BOA and this year is no different, coming in loud and confident they proceed to blast through their brilliant screechy eighties thrash set yelling “We are your cousins from Jersey, whether you like it or not!” and doling out some serious face-melting guitar solos. I am I with former Dragonforce vocalist ZP Theart gather a decent crowd on the Sophie Stage, but it’s Swedish extroverts Sabaton who take the prize for best of the day on the main stage, with their huge stage set. What’s not to love about a band who sets their drummer atop a tank which actually fires pink pyro? With matching camo-trousers, black ops vests and mirrored aviators they could have walked right out of a 90’s Smash Hits boyband centerfold but luckily for all involved they sound considerably better and it’s a wave of flame cannons, ticker tape explosions and full throttle heavy metal. Joking around the crowd chant of ‘Ikea’ is quickly picked up as frontman Joakim Brodén tries to sell his bandmate “If you want this guy, you can find him in the Ikea catalogue. He comes this big… and you fold him out. He comes under number 666 I guess…” before dropping into fan favourite ‘Swedish Pagans’. Following Sabaton’s explosive finale, as has become BOA festival tradition, the first band of the 2016 line-up is announced to be homegrown heroes Venom, to a massive roar from the crowd.

Sabaton

As hot day turns into chilly night, Trivium hit the stage to an intro of Maiden’s iconic Run to the Hills, giving everyone a chance to air guitar it out and warm up a bit. With twin creepy skull things hovering above the stage (they sort of look like Frank the dead bunny from Donnie Darko…) and blasting smoke cannons, the sound is the clearest it has been all day, and Trivium give a good solid, if not exactly awe inspiring mix of old hits and new material. Technical difficulties cause havoc for guitarist Corey Beaulieu who misses playing the first two songs due to “getting electrocuted by [his] microphone” and soon after throws the mic stand claiming “my face is getting shocked to shit!”. Despite the setback ‘Becoming the Dragon’ and ‘Strife’ get a small circle pit going and they finish strong on ‘Pull Harder on the Strings of Your Martyr’ to cheers, despite the fairly thin crowd in front of them.

Saturday sees another corpse-painted posse 1349 bring some doom and gloom to an otherwise sunny day, everyone seems to be loving ‘Atomic Chapel’ but it’s all a bit hard to take seriously in the nice weather and I kind of want someone to tell them it looks like they haven’t rubbed their suncream in properly. Plenty of panda-faced people with yesterday’s sunburn and hangover-applied mascara actually look sort of similar. Finnish folk-metallers and lords of the extraordinarily tight-pants, Korpiklaani are unashamedly fun and upbeat. You can’t beat a good silly jig around in a field with your mates, toasting with ales from hollowed out horns, and Korpiklaani bring exactly that to the party. With a giant inflatable football making its way across the crowd and super catchy ‘Vodka’ (or Wodka as they seem to say it) they just put the life back into the arena after a sleepy afternoon.

Korpiklaani

Local lads Napalm Death always bring the noise, frontman Mark "Barney" Greenway looks like a toddler having a rage tantrum but the sentiment is as usual anti-establishment for ‘When All is Said and Done’ and ‘Scum’ and it is pure gritty energy. 25 years after their last time in the UK, thrashers Dark Angel lead some sweaty circle pits with doom riffs and serious shredding a pretty big crowd has turned out to hear them play and give some crowd-surfing a go.

Last time Opeth played BOA, there was a definite lack of spark and a pretty sparse turnout, but today, this is the aligning of the powers that be and they are joined on stage by the perfect sunset for their eerie but beautiful music. Opeth greet the mesmerised crowd “Good evening… er where are we… Derby. Good evening England. We came all the way from Stockholm Sweden to play for you… which takes a long time if you’re walking like we do.” and joke about a night out after mixing their record here some time ago, and getting fish, chips and a glass of milk. Countering, the crowd keep up the earlier joke of chanting ‘Ikea’ only to hear back “Are you saying Ikea? It’s Swedish… is that what they’re saying? Why not, I have a shitload of Ikea furniture at home. You know Volvo too? Also Swedish…” and they finish up with epic ‘Deliverance’.

Back in the olden days (ten long years ago) when Bloodstock was a little metal fest held in the Derby Assembly Rooms, tonight’s headliner Within Temptation blew our metaphorical socks off. Back tonight with an epic stage set and a number of costume changes the symphonic melodic metallers soar to new heights. Dressed in a white PVC bustier, black pleated skirt and some sort of binbag-esque cape, Sharon headbangs her way through the set with so much energy it’s amazing that she never breaks song once, the vocals are immaculate and when she stops to mention that guitarist Stefan “…had an accident last week, he has a bruised rib. He’s trying his best, he’s here for you tonight” a roar of approval is elicited from the now densely packed crowd. ‘Our Solemn Hour’ and the refrain “Sanctus Espiritus” have even the clueless chanting along and the energy the band exudes is infectious. With the full force of ‘Stand My Ground’ ringing through the arena, bursts from flame cannons and an elevated platform for lead vocalist Sharon to run around on top of, it’s clear this band mean business. With the addition of some fringed arm gauntlets, a cellist and the help of some smoke cannons the band sail through their jam packed set, with Sharon pausing to ask “This is a male dominated festival… where the girls at?”. Whilst she could of course be talking about the sea of people in front of her, it is a good question raised at the overwhelmingly male dominated main stage acts this year.

Unfortunately a massive sound blunder befalls the unlucky band as they try and fail to start ‘Ice Queen’ once, twice and then “You wanna try for a third time? You sure? Okay, third time it goes otherwise I’m going to skip it… maybe this song is cursed!” yes, you guessed it – on the drop for the third time the PA completely loses its shit again. Of all the places for this to happen though, Britain absolutely love an underdog. The crowd cheers on through a massive drum solo and stick it out for massive finale with ‘Covered by Roses’ and the incredible ‘Mother Earth’. Floating above the stage in a billowy white cape Sharon calls out “We waited ten years to come back here, thank you so much for having us”, and we hope it won’t be another ten years before we see them here again.

You could definitely do worse for your hangover than starting Sunday off with a big old heap of Orange Goblin, who rock the cobwebs right out of your dusty ear-holes, but its Pro-Pain’s chuggy steam roller metal that instantly blows a speaker with their heavy riffs. It’s a pretty good sized crowd in the arena but the effects of possible liver damage and sunstroke seem to be weighing heavy today. Luckily Sepultura are on hand to deliver a downright dirty and dark set, with rolling drum and a celebration of their thirty year anniversary.

Finnish fury Ensiferum take to the stage with a melodic Viking style intro and proceed to windmill their hair in dangerous ways, but the ever creepy Cannibal Corpse really dig deep into the weirdness, singing songs about “shooting blood from your cock” and growling at the crowd “Don’t sit around rubbing your girlfriend’s tits and ass, she’s not here to look at you… she’s here for ME!”.

With all the dark and heavy stuff that’s graced the stage this weekend, it’s a nice change of pace to have Black Label Society providing the rockier edge, and Zakk Wylde sporting a signature flamboyant guitar is as ever shred-heavy and brilliant. Following BLS Bloodstock’s second band announcement for 2016 is revealed to be epic 2012 headliner, Behemoth.

As the skies darken on the final night of Bloodstock 2015 and the painted up zombies come out to play, the stage comes alive with the monstrous legends of film on huge backdrops for headliner Rob Zombie. Whilst this isn’t the stage sets we’ve become accustomed to seeing at bigger festivals, it allows Rob to really showcase himself as the attraction. With some serious dance moves, a good bit of lunge-work and some fairly seductive gyrating, he’s a force to be reckoned with. The rowdy frontman rocks hobo-chic in a way that makes you think vomiting in your own dreadlocks and sleeping in a bog look like it might actually be a good fashion choice, but the music is what’s really pulling us in tonight. No-nonsense gut busting drums, huge riffs and dirrrrty lyrics is what takes Rob Zombie from comedy metal to genius, and absolutely everyone is going full throttle mental for ‘Living Dead Girl’. Especially the female zombies in the audience who actually are living dead girls tonight. A little bit of James Brown funk thrown into the mix does no harm “You can’t listen to metal all day right?” says Rob (and really, who doesn’t want to see Rob Zombie studio-54 it up whilst singing about being a Sex Machine?). Rob is also suitably impressed at the calibre of crowd surfing in the UK “That’s some crazy fucking crowd surfing using a couch… I remember when it was a chair, now it’s a sofa?!”.

Mass crowd pogo-ing, chants of “We wanna fuckin party” and LED lit guitars all add to the spectacle, but it’s being told that “The past few years doing shows in the UK have been some of the most fun we’ve had in twenty fucking years” that really gets us to put our hearts on our sleeves for Rob Zombie, we know Rob, we know we’re awesome at metal. You’re welcome.

Kicking out big blow up balloons into the crowd and dropping a cheeky Ramones cover (Hey Ho, Let’s Go – Blitzkrieg Bop obviously) is great but still doesn’t hold sway against classic (and Guitar Hero favourite) White Zombie song ‘Thunder Kiss ‘65’ as the call goes out for “All the young people, put your hands in the air. Now turn around and wave at all the old people in the back. Remember when you used to stand in front?”. A little snippet of fellow gore loving metal icon Alice Cooper’s ‘School’s Out’ is snuck in alongside a huge guitar solo, played on the tiniest guitar ever and after a short encore Rob Zombie return for an encore in matching Union Jack trench coats to a massive roar of appreciation from the crowd. We might not be the most outwardly patriotic of countries, but damn do we love it when those treasonous scallywag Americans decide to rock our flag.

Closing out the night with firm favourite ‘Dragula’ is the perfect note to end on, and happy little rotten-to-the-core metalheads go forth into the night satiated after rounds of raucous applause and chants of ‘Zombie’. It’s been an incredible set, night and weekend for Bloodstock-goers and with next year’s tantalising announcements, there are sure to be immediate ticket sales during tomorrow’s early bird release. So it’s with a heavy but happy heart that we doff our caps/bandanas/horned helmets and Stetsons to the BOA organisers and look forward to more exciting announcements about next year’s lineup.

Bloodstock Open Air – Three weeks to go!

BLOODSTOCK HQ is a-buzz with activity with just over three weeks to go!   There’s still more bands to announce and we also welcome the return of the brutal-yet-amazing ‘Battle Of The Nations UK’ historical fighting team!

 

The New Blood stage on Friday sees a brace of additions; Hertfordshire melodic death metal outfit and Luton ‘Metal 2 The Masses’ finals winner, COUNTLESS SKIES (www.facebook.com/countlessskies) and Gothenburg, Sweden’s WE ARE THE CATALYST (www.facebook.com/WATCofficial) – who also won DELAIN’s competition with Metal Hammer magazine to win a support slot on the Dutch symphonic rockers’ UK tour.  Joining the New Blood bill on Saturday are Midlands-based prog metallers, MARTYR DE MONA (www.facebook.com/martyrdemona, groove metal outfit and Norwich M2TM winners, SOULBORN (www.facebook.com/soulborn) and self-proclaimed ‘hobo sludge’ gang and Reading’s M2TM winners, VICTORIAN WHORE DOGS (www.facebook.com/VWDBAND).  Sunday welcomes London death metallers SKARTHIA (www.facebook.com/skarthia), hard rock funk/schplunk metal men and London final M2TM winners, WRETCHED TOAD (www.facebook.com/wretchedtoad) and lastly, the winners of the ‘Metal To The Masses’ Hobgoblin online video upload competition, Newcastle groove metal beasts, TOMBSTONE CROW (www.facebook.com/tombstonecrowofficial).

 

Over on the Jagermeister Stage on Friday, hard rock four-piece CITY OF THIEVES (www.facebook.com/cityofthievesuk) join the fray.  On Saturday, the blues-based rockers PIG IRON (www.facebook.com/pigironmc) grab a slot, as well as stoner/sludge squad, MORASS OF MOLLASSES (www.facebook.com/MorassOfMolasses) and straight out of Valhalla, the truest of true cover bands, HANOWAR (www.facebook.com/Hanowartruemetal); a bit like Manowar, but…well, you do the math!  Lastly for this announcement, Sunday sees horror-metal punksters, THE HELL PUPPETS (www.facebook.com/hellpuppets) join the Jager bill.  Final additions to all stages will be announced next week!!

 

There’s plenty more on site to see and do besides watching the awesome bill!  Returning this year for Friday-Sunday are the very popular BATTLE OF THE NATIONS UK historical fighting team!  These guys have to be seen to be believed.  Catch their regular ‘demonstrations’ (read: ‘full-on’, no-holds-barred fighting with broadswords, maces and plenty of other historical weaponry) in their designated pen in the main arena.

 

All these stellar bands are on the bill!  Friday’s headliner TRIVIUM and special guests SABATON, Saturday’s headliner WITHIN TEMPTATION and special guests OPETH, Sunday’s headliner ROB ZOMBIE and special guests BLACK LABEL SOCIETY, plus CANNIBAL CORPSE, IHSAHN, SEPULTURA, ORANGE GOBLIN, DEATH D.T.A, NUCLEAR ASSAULT, 1349, NAPALM DEATH, DARK ANGEL, ARMORED SAINT, BELPHEGOR, OVERKILL, ENSIFERUM, AGALLOCH, KORPIKLAANI, PRO-PAIN, ENSLAVED, RAGING SPEEDHORN, XERATH and WOLF.  Over on the Sophie Lancaster stage, there’s headliners DELAIN, FLESHGOD APOCALYPSE, GODFLESH and ARNOCORPS, LAWNMOWER DETH, MORDRED, ETHEREAL, ONSLAUGHT, OAF, CONAN, PLANET OF ZEUS, GODSIZED, plus many many more.

Download Festival announce Bring Me The Horizon and more

Amongst these additions is one of the most complex and genre defying acts to come out of British rock and metal in the last decade, Bring Me The Horizon. This will be their first Donington appearance since the release of their savage beast of a fourth album, Sempiternal.

Oli Sykes said: We’re over the moon about playing Download. Before we got confirmed I had already asked for guest list as there was no way I was going to miss Linkin Park play Hybrid Theory in full. When we were offered to play on the same day and on the same stage just a few hours before, it was a no brainer. I’m crowd surfing to papercut, mark my words!

Also joining the line-up today is rock’s foremost euphonic metal songstress Sharon Den Adel and Within Temptation, who make their triumphant return after a six year absence. 

The band said of the announcement: We're thrilled to let the beast loose at Download again! We've got such great memories, we can't wait to play the tracks from our new album Hydra and retake the stage at Download. Give us rain, we will bring fire!

Twisted Sister, whose most famous visit to Donington came at Monsters of Rock in 1983, return to the scene to play Download 2014.

The band cannot wait to get back to their spiritual home in the UK: With this year’s performance at Download, Twisted Sister looks forward with great anticipation the celebration of the 30th anniversary of our worldwide, multi-platinum (6 million) album 'Stay Hungry'. Get ready Download because WE WANNA ROCK!

Other prodigal sons of Donington to return this year are Sepultura, the Brazilian Thrash Deities who played the first Download in 2003 are back with a vengeance in 2014.

Download has acquisitioned another ear-bleedingly good headliner in the ghostly form of Behemoth. The Godfathers of occultist Polish extreme metal will take over the Pepsi Max Stage on Saturday night.

Behemoth’s Nergal said: It's a great honour to be part of the bill for this year's Download. It’s one of the most prestigious Heavy Metal events, not only in UK but in the whole of Europe! This summer’s schedule already looks great, but with Download in it we are looking at something truly epic! The UK never disappoints! We owe you and we shall deliver!

Speaking of stage headliners… Since announcing Trivium to the line-up a few weeks back, the internet exploded with a complete outpouring of love from fans. And Download totally took the hint. Trivium will now headline the Zippo Encore Stage on Sunday, giving more fans the chance to experience one of their legendary sets.

Meanwhile, the insane amount of homegrown talent joining BMTH at Download 2014 includes our very own‘Prepubescent Jim Morrisons’ (to borrow a phrase from their biggest fan, Noel Fielding,) The Howling, who will bring their dashing neo-noir power-punk swagger to the Donington stage this June, while London post-hardcore outfit Zoax, will also return.

Having made their Download debut last year, the band is chomping at the bit to make their second appearance: It was one thing to play Download in 2013 so early in our career, but to be asked back again the following year is just a dream come true. That may sound like a complete cliché, but it's complete honesty. These opportunities mean the world to us.  We are aiming to make our set one that the audience will never forget. We are counting down the seconds to this day.

Fellow Londoners Press to Meco will also be bringing back their distinctive infusion of prog-punk-math-rock. Collibus– whose lead singer Gemma Fox adds another powerful and heavy voice to Download’s already-impressive metal siren wail – will also make their bow this year.

Collibus are thrilled to be sharing the stage with so many musical icons: It's an amazing honour to be playing at Download this year. It is a festival known the world over and to be playing on the same bill as so many of our heroes and musical influences will be awesome. Bring it on!

Some of the other young pretenders within touching distance of superstardom include one of Rolling Stone’s 10 New Artists You Need To Know for January 2014 Reignwolf who, along with soulful Missouri punks Radkey and prodigious homegrown shredders Bad Touch will bring some of the heaviest, grimiest blues rock in the entire musical universe crashing into planet Download this June.

So, with punks, bluesmen, metalheads and rockers already satiated by this latest announcement, it’s only fair that prog metallers get a treat as well, and what a treat it is as Monuments’ former FellSilent frontman John Browne will be joining his djent co-pioneers Sikth on the Download 2014 bill.

Browne was delighted to be reaching the apex of live British rock: After being a spectator for years, we're so stoked to finally play this legendary festival. Download is a festival that every rock and metal band aspires to play, and now were doing it. Thanks to Andy and Dave for believing in what we do. Get ready download, it's going to be chaos.

From new Download recruits to the distinctly battle-hardened – WWE and ex-WWF heavyweight Chris Jericho will be breaking down the Donington walls for a third time with his hard rock wrecking ball, Fozzy.

On their return, Jericho said: We are super excited to return to Download and play the MAINSTAGE for the first time ever!  One of our all-time favorite gigs was Download 2012 and we are looking forward to exploding your heads with pure Fozzy rock all over again this year! Do You Wanna Start A War, Download?  We hope so, because here we come! 

Another experienced campaigner is Dan Reed, who will return in 2014 accompanied by his band, the Dan Reed Network.

For, the Dan Reed, the return to the major rock festival scene has been a long time coming: The band members and myself are deeply honoured and thrilled to be a part of this year's Download Festival, which marks our first major festival in over 20 years!

Alongside them come Skillet, the biggest Christian Metal band in the world ready to unleash their epic soaring melodies on the Download crowd for the first time.

Also receiving their Download baptism are 80s rockers Tyketto and Winger, and melodic post-hardcore merchantsWe Came As RomansWCAR vocalist Dave Stephens concurred: We're beyond excited to be on this year's Download Fest. We absolutely love playing in the UK and it's especially amazing to be opening for Linkin Park!

American hardcore legion Defeater will also make an appearance while Cage the Gods will provide a healthy dose of sludgy, balls-out classic rock.

Zebrahead and Twenty One Pilots add an alt-rap twist to this year’s party, which will also play host to some incredible post-metal dreamscapes courtesy of international sensation Skyharbor.

Bloodstock announces Iced Earth and Sepultura

ICED EARTH were born in 1985, formed by Jon Schaffer – a determined, street-tough kid with the drive to create a band to make his heroes Judas Priest, KISS, and Iron Maiden proud. The band released its riff-heavy self-titled debut album in 1990 and never looked back. Nine studio albums – considered masterpieces of metal – cemented the band’s reputation for crafting exceptionally well-made music, the centerpiece of which being Schaffer’s trademark rhythm guitar style and powerful, in-your-face lyrics that often combine themes of self reliance, a healthy distrust of authority, history, and science fiction. He says:

"We are looking forward to returning to Bloodstock in 2012, our second time after 2008. The UK shows we played on our World Dystopia Tour last fall were some of the best on the tour and we cannot wait to bang our heads with the UK minions again!"

Over the years, Schaffer has surrounded himself with some of the finest musicians in the world – including famed vocalists Matt Barlow, Tim Owens, and now Stu Block – to help bring his musical visions to life. This summer Schaffer brings this vision to BLOODSTOCK once more, for their only UK show of 2012, and one of the highlights of the metal festival calendar.

SEPULTURA is one of the major names in metal history. From their humble beginnings 27 years ago, these Brazilians went on to create a legacy, influencing a whole generation of younger bands and becoming a true institution. Despite rough times due to significant line-up changes, nomadic relationships with record labels and various changes in the overall musical environment, SEPULTURA have never backed down, continuously following their path, always re-emerging stronger than ever before.

At their only UK show of 2012, SEPULTURA will remind the BLOODSTOCK crowd why they are South America’s biggest metal export, with a classic set featuring timeless anthems such as “Arise”,  “Beneath The Remains”, “Troops Of Doom” “Refuse/Resist”, “Territory” and many many more.

With tickets selling faster than ever before, BLOODSTOCK 2012 is destined for a sell-out this year. Over 100 bands – the majority of which are exclusive appearances – and a ticket price of only £115 for four days of metal magic INCLUDING camping – BLOODSTOCK offers metalheads the most attractive ticket in the UK. Get yours now fromwww.bloodstock.uk.com