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Download 2014: Rob Zombie

The master of gore and grind comes to Donington

Sub-headlining the main stage of Friday at Download is the horror hero himself, Rob Zombie. With the promise of a spectacle and wall to wall ragers, could he hold up to the hype?

It’s now well over three years since Rob Zombie’s long-awaited return to the UK prompted the kind of gooey-eyed hysteria that normally greets kazillion-selling pop acts, and while it’s undeniable that he’s one of the most unique and recognisable characters to ever join heavy music’s eccentric ranks, it’s hard to ignore the niggling sensation that the bubble has burst. You can’t knock iron-clad classics like More Human Than Human and the evergreen Dragula, but exposed by both the lack of darkness and, much more crucially, the lack of bombast he’s usually associated this is a pale imitation of a Rob Zombie show.

This is the day that Zombie’s back catalogue is cruelly exposed as more filler than killer. A lengthy drum and guitar solo would be eyebrow raising in a headline festival set, so to see both in a sub spot is not only baffling but also slows any momentum to a crawl. Rob’s voice, never the greatest at the best of times, is weak and off the pace more often than not and the whole thing smacks of an average band caked in make up and dressed in weird clothes. They close strongly with Thunder Kiss 65 but it can’t wash away the memory of what’s gone before. A big let down.

Since blagging his way onto the Hammer team a decade ago, Stephen has written countless features and reviews for the magazine, usually specialising in punk, hardcore and 90s metal, and still holds out the faint hope of one day getting his beloved U2 into the pages of the mag. He also regularly spouts his opinions on the Metal Hammer Podcast.