And here… we… go. Download 2015 is off, and while the weather has decided to throw a paddy once again, you just can’t dampen the spirits of the Donington masses.
While ALL THAT REMAINS  and HELLYEAH  make a loud if generally unemphatic racket on the main stage, AT THE GATES’** ** obvious delight at being fully back in action continues at Download in a shower of razor-keen death metal sparks. LACUNA COIL  are as slick as ever, but, the still gorgeous Heaven’s A Lie aside, their monotone plod never threatens to tempt the sun out. There is no such thing as a bad CLUTCH  show.
The Maryland mavericks bombard us with classics, peaking with a butt-shaking DC Sound Attack. BEARTOOTH  mark one of the weekend’s first true spectacles with a tent-shattering display of emotive metalcore might on the third stage. They are going to be fucking massive, people.
Rapidly turning into the people’s metal band, FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH  dispel recent split rumours with a rampaging display of everyman chug’n’choon on the main stage and there are few things more joyously metallic than JUDAS PRIEST  on good form and with Rob Halford in fine voice. Painkiller has rarely sounded more vicious. Fuck the rain. This is SLIPKNOT’s  turf, and they rule it with nine rods of flaming iron. Anthems galore, total fucking chaos, supremacy reaffirmed. Most here would happily watch them every year.
With the weather finally getting its shit together, NEW YEARS DAY  already look like the real deal over on the fourth stage. Ash Costello is a Halloween dream and a supernova of a rockstar in the making. CREEPER  add more fuel to the fire currently feeding the hype machine around them, and with tunes as good as VHS in their back pocket, the goth-punk south-coasters have the material to back it up. It seems like the third stage is the place to be today, with UPON A BURNING BODY’s  tent-filling Tex-Mex party slammers getting people up on shoulders and throwing alcohol all over the place – a stark contrast to the more serious but beautifully orchestrated, djent-core leanings of the majestic NORTHLANE , who captivate the crowd.
You don’t really need us to tell you how good EVERY TIME I DIE  in a tent is, do you? Good. A solid if uninspiring showing from CROWN THE EMPIRE  is followed by a rip-roaringly fun romp from BODYCOUNT , which itself is punctuated by a bizarre rant against “pussies” from Ice T. ANDREW WK  does the honours to close out the tent with his one-song-repeated-50-times shtick somehow, against all odds, showing no signs of getting boring yet. Party on!
Meanwhile, on the second stage, a one-two knockout of metal veterans TESTAMENT  and CARCASS  keep the old-schoolers happy, and it’s a far cry from the macabre glitz and glamour of MOTIONLESS IN WHITE , who sneak in a nice surprise thanks to New Years Day’s Ash guesting for a rollocking Contemptress. FAITH NO MORE  bring sharp white suits, a bewildering floral display and acres of class to the main stage, those shiny new songs more than matching the big hits.
A typically showy and tight-as-bumholes offering from BLACK VEIL BRIDES  is followed by a MARILYN MANSON  set that, refreshingly, isn’t just not shit but is actually pretty fucking good. Some much-needed fire from the Double M himself and a few choice older cuts (Lunchbox! Angel With The Scabbed Wings!) offset a rather misguided joke or two at a watching Ice T’s expense. Poor bastard.
PARKWAY DRIVE  don’t do bad shows, and even a swampy site can’t muddy their ability to get everyone in front of the main stage going bananas. A DAY TO REMEMBER  plaster shit-eating grins on the faces of just about every-one, keeping the rain at bay with those unfightable, arena-sized anthems.
With grey skies still threatening to turn shit nasty, a smattering of heavier bands pick up the scraps on the final day. Bafflingly attracting one of the largest third stage crowds of the weekend, EVIL SCARECROW  remain as entertaining as always with a mixture of ludicrously naff props, homemade ‘pyro’/loads of hay and some thoroughly stupid sci fi-metal ragers. While the unofficial-but-basically-official classic rock Sunday takes over the main stage, an on-form IN FLAMES  and a standardly brilliant LAMB OF GOD  bring some much-needed heavy to the day over on stage two. Still Echoes and 512 already feel like keepers and Redneck sends an already violent pit into limb-threatening overdrive. Metal magic. Meanwhile, while Vince Neil typically seems to be hellbent on singing whatever the hell he wants in whatever tone he fancies, MÖTLEY CRÜE  are still far too fun to have it held against them. They bow out of Donington folklore in standardly lairy style. KISS , somehow, have managed to pack even more pyro into their arsenal, and close out another unforgettable Download weekend with a set so fiery and full of spectacle that it’s impossible to know where to keep your eyes glued. Oh, and they have some tunes, too, the closing Rock And Roll All Nite a rapturous command. See you all next year? Except you, weather. You’re not invited.