Make no mistake, for all their catchiness and command of the big stage, Slipknot are a brutal metal band at heart and tonight’s show is as savage and unrelenting as any in the band’s history.
But when you consider that these bug-eyed maniacs are headlining Download for the third time, the full extent of their collective achievement becomes impossible to ignore. Maiden and Metallica aside, there are simply no other bands that have the authority and vitality to tear an audience of this size apart with such delicious insouciance. Reborn through the vibrant defiance of .5: The Gray Chapter, Slipknot are so joyous and precise tonight that the shitty weather barely registers.
Instead, this is one wild, apocalyptic party, with every timeless anthem received with hysterical intensity and even the more polarising likes of The Devil In I and Killpop getting the kind of reception that suggests that the act of standing in the pissing rain for two hours is eminently manageable and hugely enjoyable. Before I Forget turns the throng into a swirling maelstrom of chaos, Vermillion casts its overpowering macabre spell, Duality makes the ground shake under our feet and a closing triumvirate of (sic), People = Shit and Surfacing threatens to eliminate the ongoing downpour with sheer insolence and rage.
This refreshed line-up is on blazing form right now; buoyed by commercial success, perhaps, but plainly driven onwards by the same collective belief that first made Slipknot such an irresistible proposition. Nothing could ever top the monumental victory of 2009 but tonight Slipknot prove beyond doubt that they are the true heirs to the throne that may or may not be vacated by metal’s principal legends over the next few years. We never doubted them, of course, but the thrill is no less potent as a result and when Corey Taylor solemnly announces that Slipknot regard Download as a home away from home, it’s hard not to feel a little bit smug about how the UK has so consistently embraced and adored this most remarkable of modern metal bands. They promise to return to the hallowed Donington soil and, we suspect, it’s a promise they fully intend to keep.