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Download 2005: VF's Top Tips!

07 June 2005

With over 100 bands across four stages, over three days, Download is set to be the UK's biggest and loudest rock festival ever when it goes off at Donington Park this weekend. Here are 30 bands you mustn't miss!

Please click on a photo to enlarge it...

If you're at the festival on Thursday, we've organised some entertainment of our own in the Campsite Entertainment area. Get to the 5-a-side footy pitch for 5pm, to support VF as we take on 3 other teams that include the organisers and fans. We're also hosting a Giant Combat Twister game, same time and place!

This is where you'll find us this weekend at Donington:

Underoath - Friday, Snickers Stage
Christian metalcore band from Florida sells its soul to become a fluid, dynamic and energized rock group that adeptly blends emotive melody and charged punk rock rhythm...

Hurricane Party - Friday, Napster Stage
Picking away at the threads that wove 70's and 80's rock into such a rich and resplendent tapestry, this lot put the GRRRRRRRRR back into Rock, most notably in their explosive live performances.

The Bled - Friday, Snickers Stage
An electrifying, brutal metal/hardcore five-piece from Tuscon Arizona, famous for their intense live shows.

Megadeth - Friday, Main Stage
Rock's equivalent to Brian Harvey, frontman Dave Mustaine doesn't have much luck. After being sacked from Metallica, he formed Megadeth, but success was marred by alcoholism, drug abuse, arguments, suicide attempts and injuries - resulting in countless line-up changes and eventual total collapse (when Mustaine finally wrecked his left hand and was rendered unable to play guitar). But, alas, he's back, so catch him before the next disaster!

Dinosaur JR - Friday, Main Stage
The band who put the grunge guitars into 90's indie and then split up before pay-day are back to tell the kids that they invented Nirvana goddamit, and they deserve your respect!

Garbage - Friday, Main Stage
They had so much promise when they first started... Well, according to the reviews of their recent American tour and new album 'Bleed Like Me', they've got their demon back. Rolling Stone told us: "Garbage 2005 are a high-speed bouquet of rusted-razor blade guitars and singer Shirley Manson can smell her own blood on these tracks. You hear it in high vicious fidelity." Count us in!

Napalm Death - Friday, Snickers Stage
Birmingham's Napalm Death are simply one of the most important and influential bands of the past 20 years, famous for their trademark punishing, aggressive, and all-round relentless sonic assaults. Their formula, although tried and tested by many, is equalled by few and broadly consists of beating life out of your instruments as quickly and loudly as possible!

Billy Idol - Friday, Snickers Stage
Anyone who helps Adam Sandler out with love issues (The Wedding Singer) is alright by us and, to boot, Billy's rubber-faced faux punk sneer is as much an institution as Slash's top hat. We'll be the ones dancing most wildly to Mony Mony, Rebel Yell and, of course, White Wedding. Po-faced doom metallers need not apply, Billy Idol is just for fun.

Trivium - Saturday, Main Stage
Hotly tipped for the big time, thrash metal quartet Trivium are one of the most exciting, and undoubtedly youngest metal acts of the modern day scene. Expect a historic and potentially name-breaking set at Download.

Mad Capsule Markets - Saturday, Main Stage
Certainly one of the most innovative acts to appear at Download, cult Japanese trio Mad Capsule Markets layer crashing punk and metal guitars over the top of an aggressive electronic backdrop of industrial, techno, and drum'n'bass rhythms. Not for the unadventurous.

Panic Cell - Saturday, Napster Stage
One of the most exciting and seriously heavy metal bands to emerge from the UK scene in some time, this five-piece bring huge hooks, riffs and catchy choruses to the fore, playing with the raw intensity of classic bands like Metallica and Pantera. They blew the living bejesus out of us at our Virtual Festival last month, so we'll be in the front of the mosh pit for the Cell at Download!

Meshuggah - Saturday, Snickers Stage
Because everyone should listen to music that contains a simultaneous polyrhythm of five different time signatures. To the layman, that's a complex form of metal that combines the sweeping adverturism of math rock, the oddball tempos of experimental jazz, and brutality of thrash metal. Indeed, this is the most technically proficient band you'll see at Download (possibly anywhere!).

Bullet for My Valentine - Saturday, Snickers Stage
When they originally formed in 2002, who'd have thought that an identikit nu-metal band called Jeff Killed John would end up playing at Donington? Well, a few sensible changes to the blueprint (including name and musical direction) later, and here they are!

Anthrax - Saturday, Main Stage
These speed and thrash metal pioneers from NYC are up there with Metallica and Megadeth in the metal hall of fame, plus they once appeared in an episode of US sitcom Married With Children! More exciting than that, the band are re-forming after a hefty sabatical, with their original line-up of original line-up of Joey Belladonna, Scott Ian, Frankie Bello, Charlie Benante and Dan Spitz!

Lamb of God - Saturday, Snickers Stage
If such a thing as 'pure American death metal' exists, then this band are definitely it. And if you're after rock n' roll credentials, how's this: they're banned from performing at the legendary Forum in Los Angeles, because the venue's owners (the Faithful Central Bible Church - who sound even scarier than the band) objected to their former name (Burn The Priest). Party on, Wayne!

HiM - Saturday, Main Stage
Despite some serious opposition from the metal community, who dismiss them as a pop band, Goth revivalists HiM (His Infernal Majesty) made a big impact on Download last year. We say give 'em a chance! They'll never ask you to put your "hands in the air, Donington!", but they take their job very seriously.

Breed 77 - Saturday, Napster Stage
Believe it or not, Breed 77 have been together almost as long as Black Sabbath, but they did form when they were eight years old! They're also from Gibralter and they mix throbbing metal riffs with traditional flamenco rhythms to create some seriously powerful noise!

Velvet Revolver - Saturday, Main Stage
If, like VF, you believe Guns N' Roses were the best rock n' roll band of all time, watching three former members and a passable substitute for a fourth do pretty much exactly what they used to do, this will be a highlight of your weekend. If you don't, you're still in for a treat as the Revolver make their debut UK festival appearance with an armada of riffs, solos, big rock choruses and, of course, Slash!

In Flames - Saturday, Snickers Stage
These Swedish metallers are fast scaling metal's thorny ranks, testament to their list of support tour hosts which currently boasts Metallica, Slipknot, Mudvayne, Soulfly and Slayer. Sounds like a Download band to us!

Black Sabbath - Saturday, Main Stage
Amazing but true: A long time before Ozzy Osbourne had his own sitcom, he was the frontman in metal's most pioneering, dangerous and loud band in the world! Honestly, parents, authorities, hippies - in fact, everyone except teenagers - hated them, but those were the teenagers that grew up and formed bands, from Metallica to Soundgarden to Henry Rollins. No other band has come closer to the embodiment of heavy metal (at least with a frontman who can neither speak nor stand up on his own). If you don't know any of the words (either), we promise you'll recognise the riffs!

Henry Rollins - "Sunday Sermon", Napster Stage, 10am
Now more of a cultural mouthpiece than a punk nutter, Rollins will be holding an hour-long Sunday Sermon at 10am, discussing love, life, music, and whatever else is thrown at him. That's not an instruction. You'll still be asleep in your smelly tent anyway, you teenage waster.

DV8Sunday, Main Stage
They're from Dallas, Texas, and their music is fast and edgy, a combination of 80’s punk, 90’s alternative, and garage band rock. Sound cool? What if we told you they're, like, ten years old! We think they sound great. Download's serious metal community beg to differ. Oh, how the bottles will fly.

Society 1 - Sunday, Main Stage
In the most ingenious act of scheduling since some bright spark put Daphne and Celeste on before Blink 182 at Reading one time, fresh-faced 'butter wouldn't melt' pre-teens DV8 are succeeded by Matt 'The Lord' Zane, suspended from the rafters of the Main Stage by six
meathooks piercing into his flesh as he
 performs an entire set with his band Society 1, aiming to beat the world record he set at LA's Key Club in March 2004.  This will mark his first European "suspension show" and with the Download audience on hand to witness this event, it will also be the most-watched suspension in history!

Nightwish - Main Stage, Sunday
Possibly the most sophisticated goth-inspired symphonic metal band, Finland's Nightwish are fronted by classically-trained opera vocalist Tarja Turunen, whose Morticia Adams face adorns many a pubescent male rock fan's wall. They are also the only band at Download to have entered the heats for the Eurovision song contest (they lost to a pop group who eventually scored 3 points!)

Slayer - Main Stage, Sunday
If you don't know Slayer as the band that defined ‘thrash metal’ as we know it with their no frills punk attitude intertwined with super fast aggressive riffs and drum beats you never thought humanly possible, you'll know them as the most frequently heard festival chant at Donington, uaually accompanied by a devils horn metal salute! Their unwillingness to tow the corporate line or bow down to commercial acceptance has earned them a devout following. Their live gigs are explosive to say the least – none moreso than their ‘surprise’ headline slot in the Snickers Tent at last year's Download. And then there was drummer Dave Lombardo’s little stint on Metallica’s drum stool that same festival...

Slipknot - Main Stage, Sunday
Not because they're 'sick', that they come from Iowa or that they write dark, thought-provoking lyrics, but because they are one of the most visually and sonically stunning bands you'll ever experience at a festival! Slipknot are nine lunatics in hilarious costumes leaping about, hitting things with baseball bats and spitting water everywhere backed by an arsenal of blistering noise, saturated with screams, drums, searing riffs, sampling, scratches and the occasional melody. It's like Stomp at Halloween!

Mastodon, Snickers Stage, Sunday
With their explosive, intense and fearless innovation, Mastodon take it to the edge and back with sheer technical ability and a sinister, brutal blend of metal, grind and hardcore. Be warned: the raw energy of their live set will give you nightmares.

DKT/MC5, Snickers Stage, Sunday
If not for the fact that they laid down the foundations for punk back in 1964 and inspired a generation of politically conscious bands like Rage Against the Machine and Primal Scream to Kick Out The Jams Muthaf**ker, then surely for the fact that they're bringing a fourth ex-member of Guns N' Roses (in addition to the three in Velvet Revolver) to Donington - in the form of guitarist Gilby Clarke.

Motorhead, Snickers Stage, Sunday
Legend has it that frontman Lemmy was once so low after being rejected by a record company that he sat on South Shields beach and ate a cold tin of beans with a comb. For that reason alone, plus maybe the fact that they'll play Ace of Spades twice, they deserve your appreciation.

System of a Down, Main Stage, Sunday
Even if you'd watched all 99 other bands at Download 2005, System of a Down will blow your mind with something truly unique. Mixing Goth and Funk with twists of Armenian folklore, tribal rhythms, hip hop and punk, System of a Down have revived and revitalized heavy music and are living proof that snubbing convention is a profitable endeavour. The beards and have also helped considerably.

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Article by: Steve Jenner

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