Download 2016: Day Three Review

Iron Maiden's Bruce Dickinson
Iron Maiden's Bruce Dickinson (Image credit: Kevin Nixon)

Day three dawns, and after a late morning visit to Crumble Shack for a hearty, pudding-based breakfast, we’re ready do go. For it’s the final day of another successful Download, and while the weather may have tested our patience — and our footwear — our spirits remain undampened.

“We’ve brought the sun with us from South Wales,” says Buck & Evans singer Sally Ann Evans, cheerfully peering through the downpour. “This one’s called Sinking.” The band ease the festival into Sunday morning with half an hour of apparently effortless blues-rock, guitarist Chris Buck one of those rare musicians whose instrument seems like an extension of his body rather than something he’s been obliged to learn. He delivers a series of goosebump-inducing solos, with Ain’t No Moonlight - a hybrid of fluid Hendrix fretwork and feisty Wonder funk - a highlight. (FL)

Monster Truck’s recent Don’t Tell Me How To Live video saw the band playing atop an oil rig in a storm, and today’s main stage set has a similar kind of feel, the band fearlessly battling the elements armed with nothing more than a bucketload of riffs and and an obvious penchant for driving rock’n’roll. From opener Don’t Tell Me… onwards Jon Harvey’s soaring voice cuts through the murk as guitarist Jeremy Wideman wheels about the stage punching out the riffs, dressed in double denim and bare of chest. You get the feeling they’re the kind of band who chop their own wood. (NK)

If you enjoy the likes of Blackberry Smoke and The Cadillac Three, Whiskey Myers really need to be on your radar too. Spread across the Encore Stage like a young Lynyrd Skynyrd, they inject gritty depth and energy into warm Southern rock sounds – complete with soaring guitar solos and bluesy riffs. Watch out for their new album Mud later this year. (PG)

Whiskey Myers

Whiskey Myers (Image credit: Kevin Nixon)

Amon Amarth approach their midday slot like seasoned headliners. Smoke-breathing dragons, lashings of fire and a non-stop barrage of killer metal anthems. Raise Your Horns is one of their greatest sing-along yet and Download laps it up despite the shitty weather. Headliners aside, no one else comes close this weekend. (DL)

Amon Amarth

Amon Amarth (Image credit: Marie Korner)

Grand Magus should never have clashed with Amon Amarth, but they triumph anyway, raising heavy metal spirits with a glorious Varangian and ending with a truly thunderous Hammer Of The North, like true metal gods. When the aforementioned Swedes take JB’s crew out on the road this Autumn it will be a glorious statement on behalf of the servants of steel. (DL)

By the time Brit rockers The Temperance Movement hit the Lemmy Stage, the whole field looks like a missing scene from the Old Testament – exhausted punters traipsing through mud in droves, like zombies in ponchos. Undeterred, frontman Phil Campbell bounds out with his best Cookie Monster metal growl, “WE ARE THE TEMPERANCE MOVEMENT!”, and they dive into a (very non-metal) set of stylish, revitalizing rock’n’roll. A couple of early technical glitches aside, it’s flatteringly reflective of how more much gravitas they now carry – with two excellent albums under their belt. Cuts from latest record White Bear zing with life, and the older likes of Pride and Ain’t No Telling are greeted like classics. (PG)

Temperance Movement

Temperance Movement (Image credit: Kevin Nixon)

Visibly startled by the size and enthusiasm of the crowd they’ve attracted, The King Is Blind are a vicious, marauding joy, replete with feral blasting and frontman Steve Tovey’s infectious grin. The underground is full of great bands like this, but TKIB are one of the best by far. (DL)

With their penchant for crass and wholly offensive lyrics, it’s something of a surprise that Atlanta’s Attila don’t actually sound too bad on the Maverick Stage. Their chugging party metalcore is rife with cliché, but seems to rouse the crowd from their Sunday afternoon stupor. Not too shabby, right? Unfortunately, Chris ‘Fronzilla’ Fronzak has to sing over them. It’s as if he’s taken inspiration from every poor punter whose tent has been flooded with sludge this weekend – every other word is fuuuuck. We get it, lads, you enjoy being obnoxious. It’s just a bit boring. (TDG)

You’ve got to feel for any band having to play in such appalling conditions, and Periphery certainly deserve more than the sparse and sodden crowd that greets them. The djent trailblazers sound as pitch perfect as you’d expect and have an endless arsenal of mind-melting, mathy riffs. In baking sunshine and a dry field, the likes of The Bad Thing would almost certainly have caused a riot. As it is today, they are the victims of unfortunate circumstance as the pissing rain and rivers of mud smother the atmosphere. A great band, but not their greatest day. (SH)


Periphery (Image credit: Kevin Nixon)

“When I say scream you fucking scream!” Hell yeah. Halestorm singer Lzzy Hale is in stern dominatrix mood, channelling the spirit of Joan Jett in her leather trousers and bejewelled stiletto heels. A rare and welcome female-fronted act at Download’s testosterone-drenched sausage-fest, Halestorm’s hard-slamming post-grunge sound is not especially original, but it does provide an exhilarating cattle-prod jolt to the weekend’s weary closing stages. Living proof, yet again, that women do cock-rock so much better than men. (SD)


Halestorm (Image credit: Marie Korner)

Frank Carter and The Rattlesnakes are one of the most compelling punk bands in the UK today. Irresistible blues-infused hardcore riffs chug along under Frank’s cockerney vocals, and he’s also doing his best to cheer up the damp and mud-caked crowd. After instructing them to form a tent-wide mosh pit, he laughs as he relays a story involving a festival gig, a mosh pit, a scaffolding pole and a broken nose, and advises the audience to avoid making the same crunching mistake. Juggernaut is a shit-kicking anthem that gets the whole tent singing, and Frank shows off an impressive croon with the ballad Beautiful Death. Their set highlight is Devil Inside Me, which has the entire tent bouncing to its elastic riffs. (TDG)

Mark Tremonti brings a touch of star quality to the Maverick Stage with his Tremonti project. The Alter Bridge/Creed guitarist is known to millions for his stadium rock chops, but today he proves to be a top notch frontman in his own right, and a man capable of writing some genuinely neck -napping riffs. As soon as opener Another Heart kicks off you’re struck just by how heavy and metallic Tremonti are, owing far more to Pantera or Metallica than his usual day job. If there was to be a criticism then there isn’t much in the way of a stage show, Mark might have the voice and the ability of Myles Kennedy but he doesn’t quite have the style or panache. It’s fairly earnest and rudimentary in that respect, but musically Tremonti is perfect festival fare. (SH)


Tremonti (Image credit: Marie Korner)

Our sarcastic, smart-ass British side really doesn’t want to like Shinedown. As strapping frontman Brent Smith revs everyone up with He-Man levels of butchness (his commands of “this is your moment!” and “when I say jump, you jump!” have become something of a live formula) a couple of punters near us laugh “he’s so cheesy!”. He is so cheesy, and so utterly sincere. Yet when he says ‘jump’, everyone jumps. When he tells us to shake hands with our neighbours, we all do. From the fist-thumping likes of Enemies to pretty, singalong ballad I’ll Follow You (dedicated, without a trace of irony, to “all the lovers”), Shinedown have us in their hands. (PG)


Shinedown (Image credit: Kevin Nixon)

Making their Donington debut two weeks after playing London for the first time, Breaking Benjamin’s heavy-emo bro-metal feels like a good fit for Download, drawing a broad youthful congregation to the Encore stage. Between sing-along peaks like Follow and I Will Not Bow, Benjamin Burnley expresses so much gushing appreciation for the band’s warm reception that it eventually starts to grate. Friendly tip, Ben: this is the English Midlands, we prefer rockers with a dash of deadpan sarcasm. Next time: less gratitude, more attitude. (SD)

Breaking Benjamin

Breaking Benjamin (Image credit: Kevin Nixon)

Festival sound doesn’t favour the traditionally crushing likes of Electric Wizard but the Dorset doom squad still pummel a huge crowd into red-eyed submission. Jus Oborn even looks like he’s enjoying himself, which is something of an unexpected novelty. Again, however, they should be much higher up the bill than this. (DL)

David Draiman’s floor-length black cloak is a bit silly, but his trademark screech is working fine. It’s impossible not to nod along to Disturbed’s in-your-face riffs, no matter how hammy they are. Arms are in the air from the moment they open with 10,000 Fists, and The Game has the muddy mitts of Download grasping the air. For The Sound Of Silence, which has become a set staple, David Draiman takes to a stool and delivers an earnest and heartfelt rendition, accompanied by a violin and cello. It’s not the only cover of the set – Lzzy Hale joins them for U2’s I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For, before they conquer the main stage with powerful renditions of Baba O’Reilly and Killing In The Name. Fair play, Disturbed – that set deserves several fire emojis.


Disturbed (Image credit: Marie Korner)

Don Broco frontman Rob Damiani looks more and more like Action Man every time we see him with that chiselled jaw and gym-honed physique. The only thing missing are those blue plastic pants. He prances about the stage with a charisma he’s been cultivating since the start of the Bedford quartet’s career and coaxes the crowd into singing along to their singles like Fire. Their older, heavier song Thug Workout – whose lyrics can only be described as Dapper Laughs getting pwoper nawty on a stag do – seems to please the crowd, but it sounds a bit try-hard next to their newer, disco-influenced tracks. They might do well to consign that to the dustbin of YouTube history. (TDG)

Don Broco

Don Broco (Image credit: Kevin Nixon)

Few bands have the ability to generate the levels of adulation and excitement that Gojira have increasingly commanded over the years. Today they return to Download as conquering heroes, with new songs like Stranded already getting the kind of reception normally afforded to established classics like the blistering Backbone and the always startling L’Enfant Sauvage. The high point in an all-too-brief set comes when the epic Flying Whales erupts, threatening to suck the entire tent down into some Lovecraftian tectonic maelstrom of our own infernal making. It’s brutally heavy, musically incentive and, most unusually, hugely powerful on an emotional level. And you don’t get that from All-Time Low. (DL)

On the Zippo Encore Stage, Billy Talent don’t give the crowd any opportunity to feel miserable despite the fact that the swamp underfoot is almost knee deep. Instead, they’re running on full energy from the start, dropping This Suffering and new song Louder Than The DJ earlier in the set, followed appropriately by Rusted By The Rain. Alexisonfire’s Jordan Hastings does a fine job of filling in on drum duties while Aaron Solowoniuk recovers from a MS relapse; vocalist Ben Kowalewicz tells the crowd he knows his bandmate will “win the fight”. The Canadian quartet have one of the biggest crowds this stage has seen this weekend, and they deserve it; their raw, punchy punk-rock sounds as relevant now as it did when they first hit the scene 13 years ago . The singer knows the audience is struggling, too: “I know you want to go home and sit in the bath and jerk off and watch Game of Thrones – so do I!” he laughs. There’s a man who really understands his fans. (TDG)

Billy Talent

Billy Talent (Image credit: Marie Korner)

Nightwish know how to put on a show better than most in the modern age. Opinion will always be divided about whether symphonic metal is a refined delight or a load of empty bombast, but the Finns are firmly in the former camp, taking Download into less muddy and more imaginative realms with an hour of knowingly preposterous bluster and the effervescent charm of those elaborate but often subtle arrangements. Throw in the eye-melting light show and the increasingly confident and charming presence of singer Floor Jansen and Nightwish could hardly do more to cement their status as one of modern metal’s biggest and most distinctive bands. (DL)


Nightwish (Image credit: Marie Korner)

Three decades and multiple comebacks since they first launched alt-metal icons Jane’s Addiction, Perry Farrell and Dave Navarro both still radiate an effortlessly exotic rock-star cool. Resplendent in Huggy Bear suit and panama hat, the snake-hipped singer brings a dash of jive-talking retro-pimp glamour to the soul-sucking mudfest of Download, mooching and grooving to the funky clatter of Mountain Song, the syncopated shudders of Been Caught Stealing and the lysergic sunshine reverie of Jane Says. This compact hour-long set is oddly reminiscent of U2 in places, especially when Navarro breaks down his riffs into syncopated shimmers. Their straight cover of Bowie’s Rebel Rebel is a welcome addition to the set list, albeit a little too flatly reverential. A troupe of semi-naked dancing girls also provide visual spice, grinding against Farrell and swinging on harnesses high above the stage. Wrong on so many levels, of course, so why does it feels so right? (SD)

They may be approaching pension age but Saxon still have the fire. Tonight they take the tent apart with style, tearing through recent gems like Battalions Of Steel and Sacrifice and an unbeatable run of vintage classics, from a joyous 747 to a genuinely fiery Motorcycle Man. When they close with Princess Of The Night and the entire audience goes berserk, you may be caused to wonder why Saxon aren’t second on the bill to Maiden and being regarded with a similar level of reverence. Either way, Biff and the boys smashed this one out of the park. (DL)

The rain has stopped by the time Iron Maiden hit the stage. As weary as Download indubitably is, there’s something so ageless and invigorating about the Maiden live experience that even though plenty of folk here don’t seem to know new songs from The Book Of Souls, a giant gathering is eventually won over with ease. Of the new songs, Speed Of Light is an outright live gem already and The Red And The Black is unashamedly dramatic and bursting with sing-along hooks and razor-sharp dynamics. But it’s the classics that festival crowds want more than anything, and with everything from The Trooper and a simply stunning Powerslave through to an astute triple-headed encore of The Number Of The Beast, Blood Brothers and a truly euphoric Wasted Years, Maiden once again prove that they are the ultimate headliner for events like this. Bruce is in fine voice and looks fitter than several fiddles, and if nothing else, that was well worth standing in eight inches of murky, cold shite to see. (DL)

The Download Festival Pub Quiz '16