How on earth a seven-piece part-Irish, part punk mêlée can pull off opening the second stage at this years Download is anyone’s guess, but remarkably Flogging Molly manage it with surprising ease. Maybe it’s the band’s resident banjo player ripping out songs at breakneck speed, or the more clichéd anti-Bush mantra of 'Selfish Man'. Whatever, it's an unusual but well-deserved success.
Having dropped the 'Osbourne' from their name, Fozzy should have shaken off the tired Sabbath-cover-band image along with it. Unfortunately the focus has shifted from the music to the presence of WWE Champion Chris Jericho as lead singer -a depressing insight into the self-absorbed wrestler-turned-rock-star world which bares no justice here.
Now imagine all the dark and evil monsters from your childhood nightmares that have suddenly decided to pack in the night job and pick up guitars ... discover Lordi. Thing is, if your demons were properly scary surely they'd come up with something less boring and repetitive than the death metal dressed in cheap rubber suits they churn up here. Twisted latex face gore is all good, but decent tunes are required to fill the wrinkly crags in any death mask.
From hell to heaven, Christian post-hardcore (ok, call it holy screams if you will) six-piece UnderOATH lack divine intervention and the crowd know it, despite a frantic stage presence. Even the band soon understand that goodwill maketh not rock icons - it's one for the fans only and leaves the majority of the crowd longing for less whining and more whamming.
Which is not quite what they get, but Apocalyptica make up for any previous shortcomings with surely the most unique performance of the weekend, something that turns granite hard metal monsters into whimpering, loved up nostalgists craving for five minutes with thier mum. Only half an hour long, only four cellos and a drum kit, deep, orchestral takes on metal classics like Metallica’s ‘Master Of Puppets’ prove not only that the Finnish quartet are one of the festivals most creative and original acts, but that you no longer need guitars to rock out with the best of them.