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!

DOWNLOAD FESTIVAL IS BACK WITH PACKED LINE UP FOR 2022

Download Festival, the world’s premier rock event, is coming back with a bang in 2022. The first major festival of the summer will be headlined by the mighty KISS, Iron Maiden and Biffy Clyro, with other huge acts on the bill including A Day To Remember, Deftones, KORN, The Distillers, Funeral For A Friend and many more. As the first full-capacity Download Festival since 2019 and following last year’s phenomenal Download Pilot, which paved the way for the return of live events, it’s pulling out all the stops for 2022 with a gargantuan line-up of the world’s most exciting bands in rock, pop punk, hardcore, metal and much more. 

Announced today are 14 new acts joining the packed bill, including the likes of Skindred, YONAKA, Will Haven, Kid Brunswick, Bimini and Dana Dentata. The three-day festival takes place on 10-12 June 2022 at the spiritual home of rock in Donington Park, LeicestershireTickets are now on sale via www.downloadfestival.co.uk/tickets.

Iron Maiden, hailed as one of the greatest live acts of all time, will return to Donington to headline Download Festival on Saturday night, in what will be one of only two UK festival shows in 2022, while the legendary KISS will storm the stage on Friday night to perform their only UK show of the summer. After their fantastic headline set in 2017, Scottish rock titans Biffy Clyro will also be making their highly anticipated return to headline the festival on Sunday night, showing off tracks from ‘A Celebration of Ending’, which topped the UK charts in 2020, and their most recent studio album, the critically acclaimed ‘The Myth of Happily Ever After’. 

Joining the already confirmed likes of The Distillers, The Pretty Reckless, Ayron Jones, Lacuna Coil, Loathe, Malevolence, Normandie, Static Dress and more, it is announced today that Download live favourites Skindred will be back to tear things up after an epic performance at the Download Pilot in 2021, having been described by many as their highlight of the entire weekend. The Welsh reggae metal band will be bringing back their iconic ‘Newport Helicopter’ and are guaranteed to have the crowd going wild once more.

Skindred frontman Benji Webbe says: “Playing the Download pilot after being locked down for a year and a half was an amazing experience so being invited back to our favourite festival and spiritual home to play alongside the likes of KISS and Maiden is a dream come true. Plus we have some amazing rockin’ new tunes which we cannot wait for you all to hear.”

Brighton rock band YONAKA also made a splash at last year’s Download Pilot, and that was just the beginning, as they’ll be causing chaos once again this year. Frontwoman Theresa Jarvis says, “Aghhhh Download! Some of us have been going since we were 14 so it’s an absolute pleasure to be performing there again. The energy is always amazing and such an exciting lineup of music.”

Drag sensation Bimini rose to fame on Ru Paul’s Drag Race and released their punk non-binary anthem God Save This Queen last year. That was only the first step on their musical journey, because Bimini will be gracing the crowds of Download with their presence in 2022 for the very first time.

Also added to the bill are Canadian rap-rock-horrorcore artist Dana Dentata, self-described grunge lord Kid Brunswick, industrial rock band SKYND, Oregon stoner rock band Red Fang, legendary Californian noise metallers Will Haven, Swedish melodic death metal band Orbit Culture, Australian five-piece Banks Arcade, Colorado retro revisionists The Velveteers, UK heavy music newcomers Heriot, LA rockers Dirty Honey and Scottish swashbucklers Alestorm.

Highlights across the weekend include the previously announced Spiritbox, one of the hottest bands in the world at the moment, who have been upgraded to the Avalanche Stage due to huge demand. Post-hardcore break-out stars As Everything Unfolds have also upgraded and are now set to bring their invigorating take on the genre to the Avalanche stage on Friday 10 June.

Download is THE place to see the brightest rising stars. Other ones to watch at Download 2022 include the hell-raising Wargasm, nu-metal pop provocateur Cassyette, Liverpool nu-metallers Death Blooms, pop punk trio Meet Me @ The Altar, as well as Holding Absence, Those Damn Crows and Venom Prison all flying the flag for rip-roaring rock from South Wales.

With more than 100 acts already confirmed to return to Donington in 2022 for the first major festival of the season, Download Festival could not be more ready to reunite with its incredible community for the first time since 2019. For further information, please visitdownloadfestival.co.uk


ANNOUNCED TODAY

Alestorm
Banks Arcade
Bimini
Dana Dentata
Dirty Honey
Heriot
Kid Brunswick
Orbit Culture
Red Fang
Skindred
SKYND
The Velveteers
Will Haven
YONAKA

Bloodstock announce new charity partner & reveal six more acts for 2020

BLOODSTOCK has another six bands to announce for this summer’s best metal weekender. Not only that, the festival has a brand new charity partner this year. Read on for the latest news…
First of all, BLOODSTOCK is pleased to reveal that Louisville, Kentucky’s SAVAGE MASTER will be opening the Ronnie James Dio main stage on Saturday, waking you up with a concrete slab of traditional heavy metal! The group released their latest record ‘Myth, Magic & Steel’ in October. Check out the title track here.
Jetting in from Italy, blackened-death metal demons BLASPHEMER stride onto Sunday’s Sophie Lancaster stage to unleash unholy hell, no doubt including a few new tunes from their latest opus, ‘The Sixth Hour’, released last month via Candlelight Records. A concept album, themed around ‘The Way of the Cross’, explore ‘The Deposition’ here.
Joining them on Sunday’s Sophie stage, are modern hard rock crew, LIBERTY LIES. Citing influences such as Biffy Clyro, QOTSA, and Coheed & Cambria, this West Midlands squad finally dropped new album ‘It’s The Hope That Kills You’ last November. Have a listen to their latest, chilled-out single ‘Letters’, released on Valentine’s Day, here.
Also performing on the Sophie stage on Sunday, are BLACK TONGUE. Hailing from Hull, and bringing some down-tempo doom, the five-piece have added their most recent album ‘Nadir’ to their YouTube channel in its entirety, so you have until August to make sure you know it back to front, if you don’t already. Get started here.
In addition, Bury based riff juggernaut PIST are added to the Sophie Sunday bill. The band released their latest album ‘Hailz’ last November through APF Records. It’s a record that will grab the attention of fans of Orange Goblin, Kvelertak, Motörhead, Entombed, Uada and Black Breath, elevating PIST to one of the standout bands in the current UK underground heavy scene. Have a listen to ‘Mind Rotter’ here.
If that’s shaping up your Sunday viewing nicely, why not add SHARKS IN YOUR MOUTH to your must-see Sophie list on Saturday. Offering up their take on post-hardcore and djent, the Italian outfit released their second full-length ‘Sacrilegious’ in 2019 and you can watch the video for their newly released single ‘Gone’ here.
BLOODSTOCK is very pleased to share that this year’s charity partner will be the mental health charity Mind. Mind provide advice and support to empower anyone experiencing a mental health problem, and campaign to improve services and raise awareness. 1 in 4 of us will experience a mental health problem every year and Mind won’t give up until everyone experiencing a mental health problem gets both support and respect. In addition to guestlist donations, raising funds on behalf of Mind on site at BLOODSTOCK will be festival attendee Michael Lacy, with his PATCH AMNESTY initiative. Bring your old, spare, or new patches to donate, browse patches to buy, or even just stop by for a chat. All proceeds go to Mind. Please look out for PATCH AMNESTY / Mind signage and stop by his stand in the main arena to give your support.
Maria Khosla, Community Fundraising Manager for Mind, says : “We are grateful to the organisers of Bloodstock Festival and to Michael Lacy from Patch Amnesty for choosing to support Mind at this year’s event. One in four of us will experience a mental health problem every year so their support in raising funds and awareness means we can continue to make sure that no one has to face a mental health problem alone.”
BLOODSTOCK’s 2020 main stage headliners are DEVIN TOWNSEND (Friday), BEHEMOTH (Saturday), and JUDAS PRIEST (Sunday). The festival also welcomes HATEBREED, PHILIP H. ANSELMO & THE ILLEGALS, SKINDRED, PARADISE LOST, LIFE OF AGONY, BURY TOMORROW, BLACK DAHLIA MURDER, DIAMOND HEAD, JINJER, VIO-LENCE, SACRED REICH, GLORYHAMMER, DARK TRANQUILLITY, BUTCHER BABIES, CATTLE DECAPITATION, BLOODYWOOD, MEMORIAM, RAMAGE INC, GREEN LUNG, BOSSK, CONJURER, ORANGE GOBLIN, THE NIGHT FLIGHT ORCHESTRA, UNLEASH THE ARCHERS, SAXON, SYLOSIS, TOXIC HOLOCAUST, NECTOR, WINTERFYLLETH, EXHUMED, NEKROGOBLIKON, THE CRAWLING, RAISED BY OWLS, ANAKIM, ACID REIGN, SVALBARD, IDLE HANDS, SOEN, VISCERA, DOG TIRED, & BAILER so far. Many more bands performing over the weekend are still to be announced! Unsure what to expect? Watch a trailer all about BLOODSTOCK here.
BLOODSTOCK 2020 takes place at Catton Park, Derbyshire from 6th-9th August 2020. For more info, click to www.bloodstock.uk.com.

BLOODSTOCK CONFIRM SEVEN MORE BANDS; ANNOUNCE ON SITE GAMING ARENA & CELEBRATE 100K YOUTUBE SUBSCRIBERS

As the number of months left to BLOODSTOCK 2020 reaches the half-way point, festival HQ shows no signs of slowing down with booking bands and making plans to make BLOODSTOCK’s 20th anniversary year the biggest and boldest yet! With a YouTube 100k subscriber milestone achieved this month too, there’s a brand new competition you can win weekend tickets in, as well as news about the exciting gaming arena debuting at BLOODSTOCK this year, and go on then, seven more bands to announce as well…
Brit thrash luminaries, ACID REIGN are set for a Friday slot on the Ronnie James Dio main stage!  Having rebooted the band in 2015 after a 24 year hiatus, frontman H tells us, “Anyone who witnessed our 2016 show on the Sophie stage knows exactly how much we love playing BLOODSTOCK.  There is a lot of excitement in the AR camp right now, we finally got a new album out after all these years (29 to be exact) and now we get to put a BLOODSTOCK sized cherry on the top of that cake. Can’t wait to see you all there!”  The band released that long-awaited album, ‘The Age Of Entitlement’ in August last year. Check out the video for ‘The New Low’ from that release here.
Also appearing on Friday’s main stage, are Bristol’s hardcore punk crew SVALBARD. Signed to Holy Roar Records, their topical and furious last album ‘It’s Hard To Have Hope’ surfaced in 2018, and was described by Kerrang! as “a grand declaration of war, on everything wrong with the modern world, set to a truly brilliant, visceral soundtrack.” See if you agree; watch the video for ‘For The Sake Of The Breed’ from that album here.
Goth-soaked metal newcomers, IDLE HANDS will open the main stage on Sunday!  The Portland-based band are hot off their recent US support slot to the mighty King Diamond and the release of debut album, ‘Mana’ via Eisenwald Records.  View the retrotastic video for ‘Give Me To The Night’, taken from that release here.
Swedish progressive rock collective, SOEN crash straight into Friday’s special guest slot on the Sophie Lancaster stage. Reformed by frontman Joel Ekelöf and former Opeth drummer, Martin Lopez back in 2010, SOEN are four albums deep into their career, having released current album, ‘Lotus’ in early 2019.  Investigate the sublime title track from that opus and its accompanying video here.
VISCERA earn themselves a Sophie stage slot on Saturday.  The band, featuring former members of Heart of a Coward, Abhorrent Decimation, Martyr Defiled, Nervecell, and Surfaces, blend their influences (Pantera, Meshuggah, At The Gates, The Black Dahlia Murder and Killswitch Engage) with modern tech/death and deathcore flavours.  They release their debut album, ‘Obsidian’ this Spring via Unique Leader Records, but in the meantime, take a look at the video to ‘Lamb To The Slaughter’ taken from that release here.
Edinburgh’s riff squad and former BLOODSTOCK ‘Metal 2 The Masses’ alumni, DOG TIRED also land a slot on Friday’s Sophie stage. Since landing a slot in the New Blood tent in 2014, the band have been honing their stagecraft, playing with the likes of Skindred and Raging Speedhorn.  We’re happy to welcome them back with step up to the Sophie Stage in 2020. Get a taste for their sound with the video of ‘Dagoth’s Nine’ here.
BAILER join Saturday’s Sophie stage line up.  Metal Hammer inform that “Sometimes you hear a new band that make you want to drive a motorbike through a wall. BAILER are that band.”  Discover something new and make up your own mind by checking out ‘Long Gone’, featuring guest vocals from Adam Carroll here, and catch ‘em at Catton Park in August.
Consider yourself a bit of a gamer, or always fancied a go?  This year, BLOODSTOCK is pleased to introduce the Nordic Spirit Game Arena, where you can try to beat your mates on a range of games on XBox and PS4 consoles. Prefer your games on your PC?  Don’t worry, there’ll be a couple of gaming PCs as well, plus a few arcade machines from Jagermeister and Redbull, for starters. Best of all, play is absolutely free!
There’s just two weeks left to sign up to BLOODSTOCK’s very popular ticket deposit scheme, which allows you to spread your standard weekend ticket purchase over 5 instalments.  Be sure to make your first payment of £29 + booking fees before 28th February, then after that, your instalments break down as follows: Payment 2 – £29 (debits your bank account on 27/03/20), Payment 3 – £29 (debits 27/04/20), Payment 4 – £29 (debits 26/05/20), and then your Final Payment – £29 + postage (debits 26/06/20).  Please note VIP and child tickets are not eligible for the deposit scheme. Sign up at the ticket store.
BLOODSTOCK is also delighted to welcome the 100,000th subscriber to its official YouTube channel! To celebrate the milestone, BLOODSTOCK will randomly select two winners from channel subscribers to receive a pair of weekend tickets to 2020’s event. If you’re already subscribed, you’re already entered to win! If not, head over to the YouTube channel here and sign up! All new subscribers registered before the end of February 16th will also be entered. The lucky winners will be announced on BLOODSTOCK’s Facebook page in due course.
Not visited BLOODSTOCK’s YouTube channel before? You’ll find a host of cool and exclusive content from BLOODSTOCK, including interviews and live songs (or even whole sets) of a wide range of bands throughout the years. Didn’t get to watch Parkway Drive headline the main stage in 2019? Watch it on YouTube! How about Gojira the year before?  Also on BLOODSTOCK’s YouTube! New content is added regularly; make sure you stay subscribed so you don’t miss out and be the first to see brand new, thrilling live clips from classic, explosive, and downright headbangin’ sets at BLOODSTOCK!
BLOODSTOCK’s 2020 main stage headliners are DEVIN TOWNSEND (Friday), BEHEMOTH (Saturday), and JUDAS PRIEST (Sunday). The festival also welcomes HATEBREED, PHILIP H. ANSELMO & THE ILLEGALS, SKINDRED, PARADISE LOST, LIFE OF AGONY, BURY TOMORROW, BLACK DAHLIA MURDER, DIAMOND HEAD, JINJER, VIO-LENCE, SACRED REICH, GLORYHAMMER, DARK TRANQUILLITY, BUTCHER BABIES, CATTLE DECAPITATION, BLOODYWOOD, MEMORIAM, RAMAGE INC, GREEN LUNG, BOSSK, CONJURER, ORANGE GOBLIN, THE NIGHT FLIGHT ORCHESTRA, UNLEASH THE ARCHERS, SAXON, SYLOSIS, TOXIC HOLOCAUST, NECTOR, WINTERFYLLETH, EXHUMED, NEKROGOBLIKON, THE CRAWLING, RAISED BY OWLS, & ANAKIM so far.  Many more bands performing over the weekend are still to be announced! Unsure what to expect? Watch a trailer all about BLOODSTOCK here.

BLOODSTOCK reveal four more for Ronnie James Dio main stage

As Halloween approaches and Autumn rolls in, BLOODSTOCK is delighted to reveal four more amazing bands joining the heavy metal shenanigans in Catton Park next August as well as details of this year’s Rock Society memberships.

PHILIP H. ANSELMO & THE ILLEGALS will be bringing their much lauded ‘A Vulgar Display of Pantera’ set to the Ronnie James Dio main stage on Friday. Bound to be one of the ‘Do Not Miss’ sets of the weekend, performing a slew of Pantera classics, we suggest you grab your mates and get down the front early.  For a taste of what’s to come, check out this clip of a similar set earlier this year, in Brooklyn, NY’s famous St Vitus bar – https://youtu.be/Mx2VIEGeWRQ.

On Saturday, PARADISE LOST fans are in for a treat, as the gothic-doom overlords will be performing their much loved fifth album ‘Draconian Times’ in full!  Released in 1995, it spawned singles ‘The Last Time’ (https://youtu.be/uuh-Ui_ZKTk) and ‘Forever Failure’ (https://youtu.be/gVgIW_pBcdI).  Now signed to Nuclear Blast, the band unveiled their fifteenth studio album, ‘Medusa’ in 2017 and hit the studio at the end of October to record the follow up.

BLOODSTOCK is pleased to share that LIFE OF AGONY will be joining us on the Ronnie James Dio main stage on Sunday. New album ‘The Sound Of Scars’, released by Napalm Records just 11 days ago, serves as a sequel to their seminal 1993 debut ‘River Runs Red’. Watch the video for new song ‘Scars’ at https://youtu.be/Z0hyh0yTdaU.

When legends like Metallica and Megadeth cite them as an influence, you know they’ve earned their spot.  DIAMOND HEAD pick up a slot on Sunday’s main stage bill and will show exactly why they’re considered one of the leaders of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal movement. Formed back in 1976, but still creating new music, their latest album ‘The Coffin Train’ dropped in May. Get into the title track at: https://youtu.be/YFsC6M7x32g.

Finally, BLOODSTOCK’s Rock Society memberships go on general sale at 9am on Thursday 31st October.  The Rock Society is effectively BLOODSTOCK’s ‘Members Club’, offering not only a 10% discount on your weekend ticket (on top of the early bird discount when you purchase the ‘Rock Society membership + ticket bundle’ option), but all sorts of other cool benefits like priority signing tent access, access to the VIP Serpents Lair bar, special tours of the backstage & production areas seeing ‘behind the scenes’, a Rock Society laminate, a dedicated hangout area in the Rock Society tent on site and plenty more besides.  Full details can be found at http://www.bloodstock.uk.com/pages/rock-society.  Memberships are limited to just 300 and sell out almost immediately.  Priced at £75, memberships are available on a ‘first come, first served’ basis, so be ready in the ticket store at 9am on Halloween if you want to join this exclusive club!

BLOODSTOCK will be headlined on Friday by DEVIN TOWNSEND and is also set to welcome SKINDREDBLACK DAHLIA MURDER, JINJER, VIO-LENCE, SACRED REICH, GLORYHAMMER, DARK TRANQUILITY, and BUTCHER BABIES so far.  BLOODSTOCK’s remaining two headline acts and many more bands performing over the weekend will be announced in due course.

BLOODSTOCK reveals first headliner and more…

BLOODSTOCK HQ is a hive of activity as a slew of bands confirm slots for the 2020 event.  2020 also sees the festival celebrating 20 years of BLOODSTOCK, so expect some special treats to celebrate at Catton Park next August.

Without further ado, coming to us with an exclusive UK show for 2020, DEVIN TOWNSEND is set to headline Friday on BLOODSTOCK’s Ronnie James Dio main stage!  The show will be a very special set for fans, with more detail on the nature of the set to be revealed in due course!  Here’s Devin to tell you the news: https://youtu.be/noN0RK4LedA.  He also tells us: “OK, folks…wow.  So where should I begin?  Ever since I was a kid, being able to headline a festival as fantastic and forward thinking as Bloodstock has been a dream of mine.  As some of you may know, I’ve been working on several live ‘bands’ lately, from acoustic, to prog and orchestral, with some really artistic and improvisational aspects.  However for Bloodstock, my intention is to do something quite different, and consequently kick ass in every possible way. I am putting together a VERY SPECIAL one-off show for Bloodstock, with a heavy band, playing the very best material for an outdoor festival from my entire catalogue, from SYL up to Empath.  I have always felt that if I was given one shot to knock it out of the park, I wouldn’t hesitate. And my friends, this is the shot! I have listened to what people have been asking for from my catalogue, and with a show like this, a production like we are planning, and the players who have agreed to be involved, this will surely be one of the pinnacle moments in my career.  My intention over the past few years has been to find ways to use different aspects of my work (that fall on opposite ends of the creative spectrum), to ultimately make something really beautiful. Something unified. This show is meant to bring it all together after 25 years of doing this.  Thanks Bloodstock for choosing to rock with me. I can’t wait to see you all there!”

JINJER are also set to make their BLOODSTOCK debut with a slot on Saturday’s main stage.  The Ukrainian metal squad, fronted by Tatiana Shmailyuk, have been making waves in recent years with their heavy progressive sound.  Check out them razing Wacken to the ground earlier this year with ‘Perennial’, a track taken from their recent ‘Micro’ EP; https://youtu.be/bxi3i9wzQBk.  The band are currently readying their brand new studio album, ‘Macro’ for release late October.

Power metallers GLORYHAMMER land a Sunday spot on the Ronnie James Dio main stage.  The band’s current album, ‘Legends From Beyond The Galactic Terrorvortex‘ is out now via Napalm Records.  Remind yourself of their maximum power metal points by watching the video for ‘Gloryhammer’; https://youtu.be/tKlVYJTSzuU.

BLOODSTOCK is also set to welcome the previously announced SKINDRED, BLACK DAHLIA MURDER, VIO-LENCE, SACRED REICH, DARK TRANQUILLITY, and BUTCHER BABIES.  BLOODSTOCK’s remaining two headline acts and many more bands performing over the weekend will be announced in due course.

Download Festival welcomes WWE NXT UK to Donington Park for 2019

Download Festival, the champion of rock events, is pleased to welcome WWE NXT UK to the hallowed
grounds of Donington Park across 14-16 June 2019, as well as SEVENTEEN further bands including
supergroup Simple Creatures, The Wonder Years, and Dinosaur Pile-up.

WWE United Kingdom Champion Pete Dunne, NXT UK Women’s Champion Toni Storm, and Tyler Bate will
be among the NXT UK stars parading thrilling displays of dynamic athleticism during the bonafide full-scale
ring bouts in the festival arena, which for the first time ever will be taped and aired as part of the weekly
NXT UK show on the WWE Network. Superstars Trent Seven, Walter, Rhea Ripley, Jordan Devlin, NXT UK
Tag Team Champions The Grizzled Young Veterans, Travis Banks, Gallus and many more to be announced,
will descend upon Download for a weekend of high flying maneuvers, action-packed matches and
unexpected surprises. NXT has made a massive impact at the festival in previous years, performing to
capacity crowds throughout the weekend, featuring impressive debuts, shocking returns and exciting
moments. This is the ultimate win for wrestling fans!

Joining headliners Slipknot, Tool and Def Leppard and a host of acts already announced for the annual rock
spectacle, are SEVENTEEN other amazing acts. In a UK Festival Exclusive is supergroup Simple Creatures,
comprising of blink-182’s Mark Hoppus and All Time Low’s Alex Gaskarth, who will headline the Avalanche
stage on the Saturday night. Known as legends of the pop-punk scene, the pair will give an unmissable
exclusive and first UK Festival performance at this year’s Download. Already releasing two infectious singles
‘Strange Love’ and ‘Drug’, Simple Creatures will release their debut EP Strange Love on March 29th.
Simple Creatures said: “An evening of Trash-Pop reverie awaits you at Download Fest. There will be
Creatures. They will be Simple. There will be singing and dancing in a big tent. What more could you possibly
want?”

Also added are Dinosaur Pile-up who have spent the better part of two decades as purveyors of riff laden
ginormous rock and are well versed in whipping the crowd into a frenzy, the powerhouse blend of
psychedelic with grunge from Allusinlove, and Liverpool’s Queen Zee who are ready to cause a commotion
with their inspiring anthems through their fluid expression of brash queer punk. The Wonder Years will
smash a punk shaped whole through Donington with a raucous set of anti-suburban anthems, and they will
be in good company with UK pop-punk upstarts Roam, known for their energetic and frantic live shows.

Norway’s Kvelertak are on their way to lead the crowd through a relentless onslaught of exciting ‘black n
roll’ and join this year’s line up, as are the aptly named Hot Milk who are one of the hottest upcoming names
in UK rock, Finland’s own thrash prodigies Lost Society bringing with them their relentless insanely fast metal
for head banging aplenty, the grime meets punk London duo Nova Twins, and dirty blues rockers The
Picturebooks. Graveyard will be making their welcome return seamlessly blending rock, soul, 60’s acid fuzz
and of course a big dash of heavy metal into an infectious musical stew, alongside Mongolian internet
sensations The Hu which is a genre you didn’t know you needed in your life. Goodbye June, Vambo, Cloud
and Kim Jennett also set to play.

First DOWNLOAD 2019 Announcement!

DOWNLOADERS! It’s time, your first announcement is here and we’re hyped to reveal that your #DL2019 headliners are Def Leppard, Slipknot and ToolPlus, SEVENTEEN of the most awesome bands in the world including Slash featuring Myles Kennedy and The Conspirators, Whitesnakeand Rob Zombie are also coming to rock Donington Park to its metal core on 14th-16th June 2019.

Classic rock powerhouse Def Leppard are making a spectacular return to headline the Main Stage on Friday at Download and we cannot wait.

In what will be their ONLY UK appearance of 2019, the Sheffield legends will be playing their seminal album ‘Hysteria’ in full and more.

Def Leppard front man Joe Elliott has said: “We are delighted to be going back to headline Download in 2019! The festival has a very special place in our hearts and it’s such a great place to play. We will be playing Hysteria in full – yes, in full! – plus a load more of the hits, and we are going to put on a very special show for our UK fans. Can’t wait to see you all there!”

The forerunners of the new wave British heavy metal movement, Def Leppard have sold over 100 million records. Donington is going to be the ONLY place in the UK this year where you can watch them rip through a full-throttle stadium-sized show and scream along to classics like ‘Pour Some Sugar On Me’, ‘Love Bites’, ‘Rock Of Ages’ and countless more.

So, get set to rock like an ‘Animal’ as it’s going to be unforgettable Main Stage headline set for the Download family.

Meet your next headliners, the mighty masked metallers Slipknot! One of the most defining acts of the last two decades, the sheer power of Slipknot’s live sets have gone down in Download legend.

With a back catalogue of rock club classics – ‘Duality’, ‘Spit It Out’, ‘Before I Forget’ and ‘Psychosocial’ – Iowa’s sickest sons are going to bring the mosh for their Saturday headline set.

An appearance thirteen years in the making, we are totally psyched to announce that Tool will be making their grand return to headline Sunday at Download.

The Grammy award-winning, multi-platinum, prog-metal titans are set to take you on a grandiose career spanning journey of classic albums ‘Undertow’, ‘Lateralus’, and ‘10,000 Days’.

If those legendary headliners weren’t enough we’ve got SEVENTEEN more bands to announce today.

After slaying the Main Stage with Guns N’ Roses at #DL2018, living guitar god Slash couldn’t stay away and is riffing his way back to Donington for #DL2019 with Alter Bridge frontman for Slash featuring Myles Kennedy and The Conspirators.

Fresh from releasing their phenomenal third album ‘Living The Dream’, Slash and Myles Kennedy and The Conspirator’s set is going to have you wailing to signature slick solos and out of this world rock anthems.

“Here I go again on my own, Goin’ down the only road I’ve ever known!” is going to ring out loud and proud over Donington Park as Whitesnake are coming to Download 2019.

Whitesnake front man David Coverdale said: “Once again, we’ve been honoured to be invited to participate in the legendary DOWNLOAD 2019…Can’t Wait To See You All & Kick Arse Together!!!…So Ready 2 Rock!!!”

If metal is your lifeblood, get ready for a large transfusion as Rob Zombie is once again going to turn Download into his own twisted carnival with a set bursting with stomp-laden classics and new tracks.

Plus, Trivium will be taking Donington by the horns to turn your stomachs with their roaring metal, Swedish death metallers Amon Amarth are going to pack a deadly punch with their Viking inspired cinematic metal and Carcass will remind you why they’re the gore-grind forefathers.

Still want more? Dutch outfit Delain, led by the world-class frontwoman Charlotte Wessels, will be a must-see for all of you symphonic metal fans. Whilst, in a Download first Die Antwoord will be getting you bouncing hard to their Zef style hip-hop.

And, punk rock covers supergroup Me First And The Gimme Gimmes, featuring members of NOFX, Foo Fighters, Lagwagon, Swingin’ Utters, are going to have you and your mates gasping for breath shouting along to their rapid-fire covers.

If you’re looking for a one way ticket to prog paradise, Sweden’s Opeth are going to deliver a set filled with classics and tracks from their 2016 acclaimed album, ‘Sorceress’.

New-school thrashers Power Trip are going to make their Download debut and get you headbanging to tracks from their sophomore album, ‘Nightmare Logic’.

And, Californian ska-punk heroes Reel Big Fish will get Donington bouncing to some solid rocksteady riffs.

Download Festival favourites Skindred are going to shake the Donington hills with their ragga metal. The unmatched energy and exuberance of frontman Benji Webbe is sure to see the return of the Newport Helicopter originating at Download 2011.

Hotly-tipped sci-fi, conceptual rockers Starset also join the line up with an ambitious, gigantic rock set that is destined for the stadiums in the future. And, Tesla will serve up classic hard rock anthems in mammoth portions for you to sink your teeth into.

Ready to give us a surefire singalong are Queensland metalcore veterans The Amity Affliction with syrupy hooks, melodic metalcore and ferocious breakdowns.

And, finally open your arms wide to welcome back post-hardcore pioneers Underoath as the trailblazers make their first appearance back at the festival since 2005.

Bloodstock Open Air 2017 – REVIEWED!

FRIDAY

It’s day one of BOA 2017 and we’ve got our obligatory black band tees on, grabbed our wristbands and are headed into the arena for a weekend of pure metal fun.

Friday sees Swedish metallers Soilwork take to the main stage with classics ‘Nerve’ and ‘Stabbing the Drama’ but the sound doesn’t seem quite settled yet and most of what you can hear is distortion and cymbals. Luckily the Kraken tiki bar is on hand with cocktails and you can get your mitts on a Black Kraken ice-cream again, but be warned, it stains your teeth like you have scurvy. Maybe pirate emulation is the point? There’s also a pretty extensive merch stand this year at BOA, taking a leaf out of the Wacken book perhaps, you can now dry your bits with a Bloodstock towel… drink from a Bloodstock flask… don some fabulous branded leggings… the list goes on! This of course is in addition to BOA’s Exploding Ape collab which includes gym wear and an onsite Strongman/Strongwoman competition.

Over at said competition, a whole host of incredibly hench and serious looking women are taking turns lifting incredible amounts of weight to see who can complete the most clockwise rotations on the turnstile. It looks insanely tough and there’s a decent crowd cheering them on. Just to the side we spot The Motley Brew – which is possibly the most British thing ever. A tea tent, serving almost every tea under the sun (and free biscuits, bonus) out of proper mugs, with puns everywhere. We drank ours out of “Sweet Chai of Mine” and “Love in a Percolator” mugs… narf.

Nearby on the Sophie (Lancaster) stage, Denderq are busting out melodic but heavy harmonies and shout out to the BOA crew for “such a well run festival”. Following them, another UK band (and veteran Bloodstockers) Season’s End take the stage after an extremely long hiatus. It doesn’t seem to have done them any harm however, and lead vocalist Becki Clark is absolutely belting it, their symphonic style is fairly rare in UK bands so it’s nice to see them back on the scene.

Over on the main stage a guy dressed as a bloody Patrick Bateman is staring blankly into space and starting to creep the security guards out, but it’s time for Cali thrashers Testament to take control of the arena. Now, I always take it as a good sign if a metal band decides to rep their own tshirts and Testament have no problem doing just that, tick one for Metal-bingo. They’re also playing what can only be described as just good solid chuggy metal, to a pretty huge crowd, who are more than happy to jump around a bit as it is absolutely bloody freezing outside now. Goth girls in jorts are freezing their goosepimpled pale legs right off, and I bet come nighttime they actually have a faint eerie glow being almost translucent. In contrast there seem to be a lot of men rocking a leggings/fur coat combo, looking extremely pleased with their fashion choices this weekend. Bloodstock welcomes all. Testament are a testament (geddit) to old school metal, there’s loads of hair-windmilling and epic guitar solos, and one extremely tiny child with bunches and a mini battle-vest is bopping around to them as if it was tots tv.

On the Sophie stage, Shrapnel are getting all screamy with a crowd ready for some rioting, and the penultimate main stage band Blind Guardian come to the fore with an electric blue-lit entrance. They’ve always been a band with a lot of presence, but I will never not giggle that lead vocalist Hansi Kürsch is so unassuming that he looks like he could be doing your taxes or offering you legal advice. Nevertheless their uniquely symphonic sound is well received here at Bloodstock and the crowd joins in when asked “you will be our backing vocals… we have full trust in your skills… this one’s called Nightfall”. Kürsch is also keen to add “We are going to dedicate this one to Amon Amarth because it’s thanks to them we are here, we lost all our stuff” as the band is playing on entirely borrowed equipment.

Last up, Swedish Viking metal in the form of the mighty Amon Amarth, with an absolutely amazing headline show. They have fire, they have drinking horns, they have ever so much hair… they have a giant headbanging serpent on stage and dance moves (yes, I am claiming the rowing as a dance move) but above all else they are just furiously brilliant at what they do. Click HERE to read our complete headline review.

SATURDAY

Saturday sees the tiny but loud Jager stage fired up with UK scamps Bangover who have gathered a frankly massive crowd then incited them to create a circle-pit around the entire stage, only to then crowd surf (well you know… be ceremoniously carried) from there to the main stage at the end of their set.

Annihilator are rowdy good fun on the main stage, yelling “We are from that racist terrible country called… Canada… I know I’m sorry, I’m sorry eh” and joking “Our money has the Queen on it, so thanks for that guys”. With an album due in November it’s nice to hear some new stuff too “…finally back to early thrash roots… it’s called Twisted Lobotomy” which is absolute shredsville and the crowd is clearly loving it.

A little punky, a little rocky, a little classic metal… Spyder Byte on the Jager stage are just downright decent and judging by the crowd they’ve gathered, they could really play a bigger stage next year with no problems. Municipal Waste are determined to smash shit up with a giant circle-pit from the outset, even before they’d dropped a note, screaming “We’re Municipal Waste and we’re fucking back!”. Calling out “I’m all fucked up on buckfast right now… we play buckfast thrash” and the topical slew of hatred “Fuck Donald Trump! This song’s called ‘I wanna kill the president” only serves to amp up the already rowdy crowd even more, and a record 711 crowd surfers were recorded going over the barrier during this set alone.

Florence Black have pulled a decent crowd over on the Sophie stage, but we’re off in search of sustenance. Yet again Bloodstock have upped the ante when it comes to food, for a small festival there really is a more than decent offering. After looking into stalls selling Paella, Ostrich burgers, Vegan wraps, smoked meats Texas-style and some heart-stoppingly sugary doughnuts, we settle on a gigantic chicken offering from Burrito Boys which was fantastic.

Back at the main stage, Hatebreed enter to the laid back Bad Boys theme to emphasise the juxtaposition of their immediately screamy harsh metalcore flow. Lead vocalist Jamey Jasta stops for a breath and to say “You guys never disappoint man… this is why people come from all over the world to Bloodstock! Thanks for the positivity guys” as a pack of fluffy unicorn people march through the crowd throwing horns.

As the sun goes down you could be forgiven for thinking that the stage was being set for a headliner, but no – the insane amount of props and settings belong to penultimate act – Kreator. Heralded onto the stage by two demonic people brandishing red flares and a giant explosion of red tickertape, it’s clear Kreator mean business. There is a bit of unfortunate-ness with the curtain snagging on the giant devil horns at the back (a man dutifully tramped out with a ladder about halfway through the first song to unhook it… so rock n roll) but the band are absolutely killing it. There’s tonnes of pyro during ‘Satan Is Real’ and the massive church windows are actually screens providing more visuals to light up the stage, it really is a huge undertaking for a non-headline set. ‘Violent Revolution’ and ‘Pleasure to Kill’ go down a storm and it seems like the arena is shoulder-to-shoulder packed, as a huge silver and white streamer explosion rains down over the crowd.

Kids wrapped like tiny Egyptian mummies are streaking around the place as Bloodstock gives their two headline announcements for 2018, Gojira elicits an enormous roar of approval but the reaction to Nightwish is mixed at best.

Onto the actual mainstage headliner for Saturday – Ghost. Despite a technically good set, and a hardcore set of fans down the front they just don’t have the wow-factor we just experienced with Kreator, it’s maybe a shame for them that they followed such a great show. Read our full review of Ghost’s headline show HERE.


SUNDAY

Sunday finally brings the sun and we’re on the hunt for the best tattoos of BOA 2017 – check out our gallery on Facebook to see if we snapped yours! Possessed and Obituary are both shouty good times on the main stage, and Prognosis are absolutely ripping up the New Blood Stage, to a packed tent.

Local Derby lads HELL are predictably mad, with their stained glass window backdrops, crown of thorns and underlings lighting burning sconces. After a little technical difficulty with his headset, vocalist David Bower, armed with a handheld mic is now creeping around the stage amongst the eye-watering amount of pyrotechnics criss-crossing the pit area, calling out “How’s it going bloodstock? It’s been awhile…”. After a brief exit he returns to the stage dressed as a demonic Mr. Tumnus (read: Narnia meets the ninth circle) clicking his hooves as he sermonizes the crowd with a flaming trident. It’s all very surreal, particularly when he makes the ultimate metal Dad-joke “You should have told me bloodstock you were wearing black… we would have changed”. Groan.

Welsh ragga-metal band Skindred are much beloved by the UK metal scene and they absolutely do not disappoint, heaps of banners and backdrops do nothing to distract from the fact that they are completely unique and amazing at what they do. With a tribute photo of Roger Moore on the drumkit, mash-ups of the Imperial March and Benji’s signature spiked sunglasses you could be forgiven for thinking Skindred are all about the gimmick, until you hear them bust out the likes of… er… “If you’re happy and you know it clap your hands”… oh.

No worries though, Benji soon yells “we stand together as people who love fucking rock music right now… this song is about people coming together and living as one… Doom Riff” which is exactly the kind of wild, raucous metal we came here for. With a barrage of strobe lighting for ‘Sound The Siren’ he asks “…you like the new songs? Yes or no don’t fuck about!” before launching into ‘Pressure’ which gets everyone up and bouncing. Benji jokes about “Anyone want a tshirt? On this side? Twenty five fucking quid go and buy one you cunts” before getting serious mentioning the death of a friend, and noting “…none of us are promised tomorrow, just like Sophie (Lancaster)” and urging everyone “if you love someone go and fucking tell them”.

‘Kill The Power’ is huge, but it’s the firm favourite ‘Warning’ featuring a mass twirling of tshirts… bras… one giant inflatable t-rex… for the Newport Helicopter, which is really impressive. Skindred walk that fine line between being cheesy Butlins comedy and just really fucking awesome. Obviously as Brits we love everything about that.

Up next, Arch Enemy destroy the stage with vocalist Alissa White-Gluz, who is a force to be reckoned with. Her Frozen-esque locks, shredded leather and fringed jacket make her look like some kind of ethereal warrior, and that raw bloodcurdling roar earns her a mark of respect amongst the death-metal crowd. As three people on microlights soar above the arena, Alissa addresses the crowd “This is a very special show… about 3 years ago ae released an album called War Eternal… since then we’ve been touring, we’ve done about 300 shows…and this, Bloodstock, is the last one of this War Eternal cycle!”.

Next up on the Jager stage, Voodoo Blood are giving a belting classic metal show to an increasingly large crowd, but as they finish up the arena is filling for finale headliners Megadeth. What a way to close Bloodstock 2017 – Megadeth are true masters of their genre and the crowd is loving them, out with a raft of Marshall amps and some serious shredding they are the perfect sound to end what has been an exceptional weekend. Check out our full Megadeth review HERE. The Bloodstock blues will hit hard next week but for now we are riding out on a serious high, this festival really is family, and it seems pretty strange to be going back to our normal lives for another year. With two announcements already down, we can’t wait to see what else BOA has in store for 2018.

All photographs © A. Hyams – Do not use without permission

BLOODSTOCK reveal ten more bands for 2017

As Spring creeps into Summer, BLOODSTOCK HQ is a hive of activity.  The ‘Metal 2 The Masses’ finals are well under way and plans are on track for 2017 being the biggest and best BLOODSTOCK yet!  Here’s ten more bands for starters…

 

BLOODSTOCK is delighted to now reveal that nefarious Nuclear Blast group DEVILMENT will join the bill at Catton Park this Summer.  Featuring the unmistakable vocals of Dani Filth, catch the band on the Ronnie James Dio main stage on Friday.  DEVILMENT declare, “Obviously the band are really looking forward to playing the festival, and as a English band it will definitely be an honour to play the main stage on what is tantamount to the best British festival out there. Hopefully festival goers will come and check DEVILMENT out, we intend on putting on quite a raucous heavy metal spectacle!”  If you’re not a loyal disciple already, get to grips with their most recent album, ‘Devilment II: The Mephisto Waltzes’, via their Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/devilmentcorps/ and watch the video for ‘Hitchcock Blonde’ – https://youtu.be/tQbZ-tQycEY.

 

Thursday’s headliner over on the Sophie Lancaster stage will be Helsinki’s own BATTLE BEAST!  With ferocious riffs galore, BATTLE BEAST are both heavy AND metal, perfect for opening night party shenanigans!  Bassist Eero comments, “We're psyched to be taking on BLOODSTOCK for the first time. We had a great time playing in the UK this spring, and it's really neat to be returning there so soon. Looking forward to seeing all our friends again soon!”  Check out the video for ‘Bringer Of Pain’, the title track from their most recent album, at: https://youtu.be/pBpv_pcUEIQ.

BLOODSTOCK can also announce the first batch of additions from the ‘Metal 2 The Masses’ finals!  Friday welcomes Coventry winners DEVIL’S PLAYGROUND, who combine hardcore vocals with power melodies (https://www.facebook.com/devil.playground) and modern metalheads MERITHIAN, who took top prize in the Swindon heat (https://www.facebook.com/MerithianOfficial).  Check out their lyric video for ‘Grow’ at: https://youtu.be/vnsGwZTJMgk.  Also brutalizing Friday are Brighton’s death metal victors ENSLAVEMENT (https://www.facebook.com/EnslavementUK), influenced by classics like Suffocation, Immolation, & Devourment.  On Saturday, Sheffield champions BA’AL add their blackened doom (www.facebook.com/baalsheff) plus Dublin’s top dogs ZHORA bring some progressive sludge a long way from Tipperary (https://www.facebook.com/zhOramusic/).  Sunday sees Slovenian doomsters MIST roll in, as part of the band exchange with MetalDays (www.facebook.com/mist.doom).  Originally all-female, the group builds on the legacy of acts like Black Sabbath, Candlemass, & Pentagram – hear it in ‘Phobia’ at: https://youtu.be/u7QwIwGk28w.  CD application conquerors HEATHEN DEITY join Sunday from the Midlands (https://www.facebook.com/heathendeityofficial).  Get into their esoteric lore and absolute blackness via ‘Gut The Church’ at https://youtu.be/414Y6aG-RUo.  Last but not least, melodic death metallers SHROUDED also join Sunday’s bill (https://www.facebook.com/shroudedband), having clinched first place in Belfast’s final.

 

Planning your travel to BLOODSTOCK yet?  Need a lift or driving there and want cash for your empty seats?  BLOODSTOCK have teamed up with GOCARSHARE again so you can rock out and reduce your carbon footprint at the same time.  Register where you’re travelling to/from, or your route, and then wait for drivers/passengers to get in touch!  GOCARSHARE is integrated with Facebook, so you can check out your possible travel buddies and they encourage travellers to post feedback.  Plus you might even win a pair of tickets for next year!  For full details, head over to http://gocarshare.com/festival/bloodstock.  Prefer to come by coach?  BIG GREEN COACH have 21 departure cities directly to BLOODSTOCK in 2017, from all over the UK.  They’ll bring you, all your camping gear and beer supplies, and drop you hassle free right inside the festival grounds.  Visit http://www.biggreencoach.co.uk/events/bloodstock-festival-tickets-coach-travel.

 

Already announced for 2017 are our three headliners AMON AMARTH, GHOST, and MEGADETH, plus ARCH ENEMY, KREATOR, BLIND GUARDIAN, HATEBREED, TESTAMENT, OBITUARY, KING 810, BRUJERIA, WHITECHAPEL, SKINDRED, POSSESSED, ANNIHILATOR, MUNICIPAL WASTE, HELL, DECAPITATED, SOILWORK, CHELSEA GRIN, MACABRE, INQUISITION, SCARAB, WINTERSUN, ONI, DENDERA, KROH, ABHORRENT DECIMATION, COURTESANS, WRETCHED SOUL, BOSSK, WINTERFYLLETH, GODS, BLIND HAZE, ARTHEMIS, SEASON’S END, BLIND RIVER, ENDEAVOUR, BLAAKYUM, DAKESIS, NORDJEVEL, TORQUED, BLACK MOTH, MANTAR, WOLFHEART, LIONIZE and BROKEN TEETH.  Many more are still be announced!  Stay tuned to BLOODSTOCK’s social media at https://www.facebook.com/bloodstock and https://twitter.com/bloodstockfest for the latest!