And we reach the end of the list! ROCKFLESH's final pick of those bands to seek out this weekend. And let's end with the big one and the reason that I suspect half of us will be at Donington park, Tool. It's been twelve long years since they last appeared on UK soil. I've moved house three times and had four different jobs since then but here we are, about to witness the majestic return of a band that can only be described as the Heavy Metal Radiohead.
How things change! For thirteen long years, Rob Zombie seemed to forget Europe even existed. However under a decade later, as he slides effortlessly into his fourth Download appearance since 2011, Rob Zombiehas inconceivably become the festival's modern day house band. And the reason he keeps getting asked back? Well, Monsieur Zombie brings the party each and every time. It's a slutty, debauched fetish party where every night is Halloween (the hallowed original, not his soulless remake), but it's a party all the same.
I love my Metal pretentious, I love it complex and I love it challenging. However there are times, you just want total sugar overload, to wallow in commercial pleasures that are smothered in melody. Lovebites are a saccharine bomb of sing along lyrics, catchy hooks and memorable tunes. Their sound is big, bold and accessible. Each and every track welcomes you in with choruses that you could land a plane on.
Whitechapel get a berth on our list on the virtue of having released one of the albums of the year and the excitement of hearing those tracks live (well as many as their half hour slot on Sunday in Dogtooth allows) makes them for me a must see. “The Valley” is a masterpiece of brooding, emotional and intense Metal that moves Deathcore forward like nobody before them.
Trivium are a band in transition. 2019 marks their twentieth year as a unit but it feels that they are only now finally transcending from upcoming young bucks and the next big thing, to being viewed as an established mainstay of the Metal hierarchy. The stadium filling festival headlining status that was long predicted for them has failed to materialise and most probably now will never happen. However instead Trivium have morphed into a highly dependable and pretty decent mid-table proposition that are comfortable in their own skin.
When I submitted my list of the 30 must see acts at Download 2019 to his satanic majesty who sits atop of ROCKFLESH towers, he raised a fiery eyebrow and bellowed "Whitesnake? Whitesnake? Whitesnake? Really???" And the answer is yes, for one reason and one reason only, this will be the mass outdoor karaoke moment of the entire festival.
There was a time when Skid Row were huge, proper unit shifting and arena bothering huge. They were the last of the Hair Metal bands to go stellar before the extinction event when grunge came along and forced metal back underground. They were also one of the bands that crumbled first and fell furtherest. As they didn't have the back catalogue or solid fanbase of say Mötley Crüe or Aerosmith to fall back on, their audience disappeared over night.
I still find it hard when Grunge is lumped in with Classic Rock and acts from the early nineties alt rock boom are labeled veterans, as for me they still young upstarts with a new fangled sound that frankly knocked me for six. They may seem now to be fairly standard alternative Rock but at the time, The Smashing Pumpkins were ground breaking as they united lovers of indie and heavy shit like never before.
At Download 2010, I made the mistake of consuming five pints of Hobgoblin in a short space of time and then heading to the pit for Lamb of God. Needless I say, I was quite ill after, but boy did I have a good time. I have a number of other similar anecdotes of other Lamb of God appearances at Download and the vast majority involve the furiosity of their pit, and alcohol.
There are those who point fingers at Download booking policy and say their choices are safe and conservative. I, however would argue that there are a number of interesting and intriguing leftfield additions this year. This is none more illustrated than by the inclusion of Behemoth in a prestigious mid-afternoon main stage slot. This is a self proclaimed Satan worshiping Black Metal monolith released on an unsuspecting hundred thousand people waiting for the inoffensive rock reggae of Skindred.
Slayer are Metal and Metal is Slayer but pretty soon their furiosity and brutality will become but folk law, the stuff of legends as within months (not years, months!) they will lay down their instruments and cease to be. So this is last chance, city folks, the final ever UK show. Roll that around in your minds, one solitary finite opportunity to see the juggernaut that is Slayer on our shores.
Some band’s rises are stratospheric, going from nothing to public adornment seamlessly overnight. Others take the long way around, slowly but surely honing their art and bit by bit building a fanbase by the weight of sheer hard work. Delain are very much in that category as seventeen years into their career they are still a mid afternoon second stage booking.
It is only as I write these short vignettes that I fully comprehend the treasure trove of metallic riches that this year's Download bill is. With so many nuggets of wonderfulness that clashes, difficult choices, partially seen sets, a lot of running around are sure to be the order of the day. There are some bands though who I will watch every second of, who will trump anyone else that happens to tresspasse onto their timeslot.Opethare one such band as they are nothing short of magnificent.
I am a late convert to the church of Clutch. People whose musical tastes I trust have sung their praises for many years but I held out, labelling all the fuss ill-judged and hyper-bole. But with last year “Book of Bad Decisions”, the penny finally dropped and I got what all the fuss is about.
Do I really need to explain why you need to at least see some of Slipknoton Saturday night? Everyone knows they are probably one of the most incendiary and pulsating live acts you will come across. It's Slipknot! Right! simply the most degenerative, ugly and God darn confrontational juggernaut to have become a household name.
From my recommendations so far, you are probably getting a pretty good idea by now that I like my Metal to be interesting and challenging. Well, there is nothing more interesting and challenging than Animals As Leaders. They produce highly technical, intricate and precise instrumental Metal that manages to never stay still.
Ahhh, Dream Theater! the thinking person’s Metal band. The band that the terms pompous, overblown and convoluted were invented for and believe me that they are all meant as high compliments. This is Metal as its most complex, self-indulgent and mind-blowing.
Ok! This is a strange one as there are currently two Batushka in operation and as the band hide their appearance on stage by wearing habits and eastern orthodox schemas, it is unlikely we will ever actually know actually which version turns up at Download.
It wasn't even midday when Power Trip took to the stage at Bloodstock last year and yet they managed to tear the place a proverbial new one. They were the word of mouth hit of the festival with psyched up revellers feverishly asking each other "Did you see Power Trip?".
It is frankly impossible for me to write objectively aboutAt The Gates, so I am not going to try. They are my Iron Maiden, my Metallica, My Slipknot in that they have shaped everything I love and cherish about this musical genre. 1995's “Slaughter of the Soul” is perfect in every single facet. It is direct, venomous and drips with righteous anger. It is also a masterclass in extreme songwriting as every track is defined, melodic and devoid of any padding.
I am old and rather set in my ways, so at Download, I very rarely visit the multicoloured sugar rushtastic bouncy castle of pop punk fun that is the Avalanche stage. However now and again, an act will tempt me to forget my age and aching limbs to skip joyously past the wrestling into the very heart of the young people's neon fortress.
Put aside your assumption of sexually oppressed Norwegians in corpse paint and battle armour as in the right hands Black Metal is a highly emotive and passionate art form. French duo Alcest make exquisitely beautiful music that soars with a euphoric intensity.
I don't even need to be writing this as if you are at Download and not contemplating going to see Anthraxthen you shouldn't be at Download. This is Anthrax, one of Metal greatest survival stories, a band that frankly shouldn't still be here making excellent albums but they are.
If you like your Metal, bold, bombastic, choral and smothered in strings then the late inclusion of Epica would have had you in fits of ecstasy. These Dutch masters don't do subtlety, they are Epic(a) by name and epic by name, producing massive melodic anthems that are operatic in design and ambition.
What's that I hear? You want good time Rock n’ Roll boogie refined through a filter of vintage Norwegian Black Metal? Well you are in luck my friend as I give you Kvelertak, the most fun you will ever have whilst a Norwegian screams at you in, well, Norwegian.
Do you want to go darker? Download every now and again excels in finding the cream of the crop of emerging Extreme Metal acts and shoves them onto the bill primarily to scare the living shit out of the pop punk kids. This year, it is British dark overlords in waiting, Conjurer who peddle a rich and nihilistic blend of Black, Doom and Post Metals.
ast time Amon Amarth played Download, they were magnificent and stole the whole weekend from under iron Maiden, Black Sabbath and Rammstein collective noises. They wandered on to the Main Stage at midday to a crowd suffering from hypothermia and trench foot and gave us a headline show.
We love a trier at ROCKFLESH; not for us those who have achieved instantaneous success. We favour those who diligently and slowly and perseveringly climb up the greasy pole that we call Metal.Heart of Cowardare one of those.
Alien Weaponry are our next must see recommendation for Download. They may be insanely young but they are probably the hottest band you will find on site. And Christ they are young! If you are harassed by some teen to buy them a pint as their ID has been rejected, its probably a member of Alien Weaponry. But God, is there a buzz about them?
OK! Here it goes: well you will have had to be living under a rock not to know that today marks 30 days to Download 2019. We, at ROCKFLESH towers are excited as it is our annual pilgrimage to the Holy land of Donington Park to sample the best in Metal, Rock, Punk and wrestling (to be honest we will probably leave the wrestling to others.