The most spine-tinglingly exciting coverage of Download 2004 on the web!
[r-zone1]It seems like decades ago since Ricky Warwick graced the stage with The Almighty. Back in the early nineties, they were a serious force to be reckoned with, disbanding at the tail-end of their peak to little fanfare. Thankfully, Warwick kept his guitar tuned and polished, working on a more countrified blend of rock that is more in tune with Social Distortion‘s Mike Ness than Metallica. It’s the sound of a man who’s not just matured with age but developed a neat sense of melody that grips the scattered Almighty fans with a tense fervour.
[l-zone2]Silvertide are one of those bands who you can imagine saying they were among the first to re-live the sound of AC/DC and the Black Crowes style of rock n’ roll. Although their influences are obvious, and even though they will never live up to AC/DC they can certainly rock out in their ever present style. Good guitar solos and a bouncing stage show makes Silvertide more of a band to see live than to listen to without squashed chips and empty beer cups under your feet.
Hoobastank have certainly built up a very respectable fanbase for being a nu metal band in a time where nu metal isn’t around so much. The days of Papa Roach are long gone. You could say that it’s hard to differentiate Hoobastank and Incubus from oneanother, but Hoobastank come out and rule the stage where the latter would bore people to tears. Reasuring their fans that nu metal is still about and despite some guitar faults at the beginning and end of the set, the performance is faultless.
New York’s kings of chug-tastic hardcore metal, Hatebreed, provide a wonderful afternoon appetiser for the heaviness to follow. They exemplify perfectly why they’ve had the likes of Slipknot and Machine Head salivating over their brutal, foot-stomping approach. Showcasing tracks off their latest album alongside crowd favourites ‘Not One Truth’ and ‘Before Dishonour’, with its lyrics, “everyone has a destiny / I’ll choose my own / I will not be a victim” being pretty much the benchmark for the whole hardcore ideology, Hatebreed are a band capable of inciting the most intense of reactions from a crowd. And judging from the dirtstorm being created during their set this was probably one of the most intense performances of the day.
[r-zone3]Nikki Sixx, badly behaved Motley Crue bassist and his wedding party graces the stage in a hail of big hair and clichéd rock n roll wardrobe, much to the adoration of a pretty good tentful at the Snickers stage. Opening with album opener ‘Shut The Fuck Up’, they stalk the stage aggressively, Sixx grimacing from under his overgrown mane. They’re poppier than the average Crue fan would expect and there’s definitely an undercurrent of comedy running throughout the set. Although Sixx and Lords are obviously stage veterans, there’s a fine line between pop genius and shameless recycling of bad music, using your fame to launch yet another pointless band. They manage to fall either side of this line several times and it’s clear that the fans just want to see Sixx and Lords because of who they were, rather than wanting the brides. Many will disagree, but this was unoriginal and really rather bland music.
[l-zone4]What followed was surely going to be one of the most anticipated sets of the weekend. Life of Agony, reformed with original singer Keith Caputo following his short-lived solo career, back on the stage where they should’ve remained. But it takes an unfortunate accident in the pit to cut their set short after just a few songs with the band walking offstage just after the sing-a-long grooves of ‘Underground’ to allow paramedics to treat the injured. Thankfully the guy concerned is quickly stretchered away, allowing the band to return for a blazing run through of ‘River Runs Red’.
Recently-crowned Kings of modern-day emo-core (well, in the eyes of the 200,000 or so kids who parted with their pocket money for their ‘Tell All Your Friends’ debut) Long Islanders, Taking Back Sunday have at least a few hundred of the aforementioned kids in the palm of their hand this afternoon. It’s an awesome sight. The chemistry between their two guitarists shines in the likes of ‘You Know How I Do’, while bassist Matt Rubane (having worked with artists such as Lauryn Hill pre-TBS) exemplifies a talent that drives the band with a fierce passion throughout. Far more exciting than most of the Thursdays and Funeral For A Friends put together. TBS are set for the big time.
[r-zone5]Eventually, Slayer turn up on stage (although it’s not the Main one as billed). Bizarrely far down the list on the official line-up, they’re effectively sharing the support slot with Korn now after slot swapping shenanigans. And they feel a much more natural warm-up. Slayer simply don’t do bad shows. Obviously smashed and feeling rough, their hyper-speed brutality pummels convincingly. ‘South of Heaven’ and ‘Jesus Saves’ fly by in half the time they should, with Kerry King’s hands literally fly up the fretboard.
The genius of Slayer is only to be seen properly live, when they speed songs up, change solos and play in different scales. Unbelievably, after ‘Dead Skin Mask’ they step up into another gear. ‘Raining Blood’ and ‘Angel Of Death’ storm through the crowd like a hail of barbwire coated iron bars. As sweat pours down from the roof of the tent and Slayer stalk off into the darkness, everyone looks forward to the upcoming double headline tour with Slipknot.