Sun and Floods, Mud and Metal: Worship Metal Does Download 2016
Despite the massive amounts of mud and ground water we woke up to, the weather as the camp came to life remained hot and humid. It almost didn’t rain for a time and decent quality burgers and Jagerbombs for breakfast, followed by real ale in the Backstage Guest Area, were sufficiently nutritious for the day we had in mind.
And so to Round 2.
These boys are exactly why it’s worth being up early in the day and exploring bands you aren’t familiar with. Fronted by Chris Clancy, who sports a formidably well trained set of pipes, the band is elevated above the norm by the creative input of one Andy James on guitar. This man’s feel, note-choice and tasteful technique gave Wearing Scars’ clanking syncopation and epic melodies a classy sheen and won them my personal ‘guitar solo of the weekend’ award! Trophy is in the post lads.
Back over to the Zippo Encore stage for yet another voyage into the unknown and yet another random celebrity sighting. This time it’s Keith Lemon impersonating Robert Plant backed by an early Guns N’ Roses covers band. Well, something like that anyway.
Inglorious’ vocalist is an excellent singer with a register high enough to make Axl Rose reach for the extra tight trousers but their brand of 70’s style hard rock, with sprinklings of 80’s sleaze, though competent, is hardly inspiring. They came over well enough and held our attention for their allotted 40 minutes but if I’m honest, this is not the kind of band I care to see at what is, after all, fundamentally a metal festival.
The biggest surprise with Tesseract was just how faithful to their recorded material they sounded live. Expecting a harder, dirtier take on their chuntering mechanics and soaring vocals, they instead accurately reproduced the ethereal and hypnotic feel that sets them aside from most of the Djent crowd. Daniel Tompkins vocal sounded flawless as it stretched out over the music, as did the accuracy of their Meshuggah-lite rhythms.
Tesseract opened with the awesome “Dystopia”, took in part of the “Concealing Fate” suite, before punching out with “Of Mind – Nocturne” which we just managed to squeeze in before making another mad dash/mud-ski across the arena to hook up with a very old flame…
Back at the Maverick stage – that was the blue tent to those who were on the ground – there was a party going on and everyone was invited! Lawnmower Deth shared the stage with clowns, Jesus (probably not the real one), inflatable toys, that dude from Evil Scarecrow and a full grown man dressed as a sheep. Just when things couldn’t get any weirder, they were joined on stage by 80’s babe Kim Wilde!
Yes that’s right, the Kim Wilde, who proceeded to batter through a couple of classic Lawnmower Deth tunes (including the microcosm mirth of “Egg Sandwich”) before wheeling out the obligatory “Kids in America”, their commercial high point and, today, a moment for which the expression WTF? was created.
Outside the target demographic of Earache Records in their heyday, Lawnmower Deth never really were that big. But their recent crowd-funded campaign to repress the classic Ooh Crikey It’s… Lawnmower Deth plus an airing of their “Crazy Horses” cover on Radio 2 has brought them firmly back to the attention of the metal community.
Today, rightfully, felt very much like their moment.
This was about the first time in the weekend when I saw the Somme-like conditions start to wear people down. During the opening moments of Muncipal Waste’s set there was a (minor) punch up in the crowd, something I’ve never seen before at Download. Security intervened. No casualties.
That aside, Municipal Waste are exactly the kind of band who belong at Donnington. While they’re more DRI than Metallica, they do fit in perfectly with the current thrash metal revival and their hardcore tinged songs and irreverent lyrics are more or less guaranteed to ignite any crowd with a pulse. Refreshingly old-school in their approach to everything – at one point they had three separate pits going within the Dogtooth Stage’s modest walls – they battered us with keg-party classics like “Sadisic Magician” and the awesomely titled “Headbanger Face Rip!, a tune that frontman Tony Foresta tells us is about, “tearing your face off… while listening to Municipal Waste!”
“Municipal Waste is going to fuck you up!” I doubt that, but we sure as hell had a party!
Having been a fan of Chino and Co. since Adrenaline – along with Korn’s debut – subtly co-authored metal’s mid-90’s stylistic shift, I had surprisingly never seen them live until today. So, it is with heavy heart that I can report that a rather self-indulgent set-list favouring their more textural material, an introverted delivery from Chino and punishingly heavy rain sucked much of the life out of what should have been a near-religious experience.
“Rocket Skates”, crashed abruptly into “My Own Summer (Shove It)”, “Be Quiet and Drive (Far Away)” then “Swerve City”. They all kicked ass. But then suddenly we were listening to “Rosemary”, “You’ve Seen the Butcher”, “Diamond Eyes” and on and on into the abstract.
Now, I know that you’re supposed to laud the Deftones for doing their own thing regardless but Stephen Carpenter seems to think he’s auditioning for Meshuggah at times. He isn’t – and lets be blunt – he probably couldn’t. Dude, you don’t need 8 strings. You just about had a handle on 6, just fucking floor it, like you know you should!
A heart-felt “Knife Party”, “Change (In the House of Flies)”, landing on “Around The Fur” and then an incendiary “Engine No. 9” pushed in the right direction but by that time much of the crowd looked (and sounded) beyond resuscitation. Shame.
The Sabbs want you to know they are very, very serious about bowing out next year. So, for many of us, this is effectively our last chance to witness the band who, to all intents and purposes, started it all. What a pity then that it had to be under these conditions as rivers of molten mud streamed down the famed Donnington hill, looking far grimmer and more imposing than Sabbath’s intro. Accordingly, hundreds upon hundreds of beaten metal heads could be seen leaving the arena, running for the camp site and in some cases, I suspect, the nearest lift home. Worship Metal, on the other hand, had dry feet and a military grade Gore-Tex top layer.
I’m going to commit heresy here and say right now that Ozzy, great vocalist though he is, really doesn’t have any banter to speak of. He only has two gears and those are either yelling, “Let me see your fucking hands in the air!” or to demand ever more raucous cheers for the various members of the band. That irritation aside, Sabbath sounded absolutely incredible on the Saturday night. The sound of Geezer Butler and Tony Iommi together at this volume basically is heavy metal and with the line-up rounded out by Tommy Clufetos (apparently dressed as Bill Ward from the 70’s) and Adam Wakeman they sounded majestic, enormous and awe inspiring. There were a few unexpected moments in their set in the shape of a psychedelic “Into the Void”, “Behind the Wall of Sleep” and a grindingly lurid “Dirty Women”, but it was on their premium material like “War Pigs” and a slowed-up “Iron Man” that they truly resonated.
The Black Sabbath boys may have the combined age of Tutenkhamun’s Mum, but they are still the undisputed Monarchs of the Kingdom we call heavy metal. This was a night to remember.
Awesome review on BABYMETAL. Glad you guys liked it.
Just a little note, when the girls leave the stage the extended intro of the band is for “Catch Me If You Can” not for “Megitsune”.
Thanks Maik! Noted. Cheers \m/