Judging by the huge swarm of fans that descend on the main stage and the amount of Confederate flags on display, the secret appearance of Down takes few in the packed crowd by surprise. A triumphant set is made all the more poignant as frontman Phil Anselmo dedicates the track ‘Lifer’ to his much missed ex-Pantera bandmate Dimebag Darrell.
Given the protracted nature of their music, the black metal of Satyricon fails to really build momentum in their short allotted time, while Bloodsimple more than live up to their name, with their no frills brutal onslaught winning over a host of new converts to their cause. The sight of Arch Enemy’s enigmatic vocalist Angela Gossow inspiring thousands of fans to pump their fists in unison is an awesome spectacle, and also testimony to their no holds barred display.
Coming onstage just as the England match was getting under way on the big screen at the back of the arena would’ve worked against lesser bands but Stone Sour ploughed through their metallic wares with a focussed charge and energetic presence.
Metal-lickin’ riffs, five-minute guitar solos and full-bodied sing-alongs, Avenged Sevenfold are all about the rock star showmanship today, providing a wonderful precedent to Trivium’s stadium-storming might. With a sound that harks back to the later ‘Monsters of Rock’ years (Metallica, Pantera…) these Floridians shred up a powerful performance that sends the heat levels soaring ever further.
At the end vocalist Matt Heavy waits in the wings for Korn who’ve been forced to ‘do a Metallica’ following the hospitalisation of vocalist Johnathan Davis the day before. Recruiting the talents of Corey Stone Sour, Jessie 10 Years and Dez Devildriver they plunder their most treasured hits, although it’s the likes of ‘Blind’ and ‘Freak on a Leash’ that receive the most cheers.
Fast becoming a Donington institution Metallica returned with an extra special 20th Anniversary performance that saw their classic ‘Master of Puppets’ album played in its entirety! It takes a well-earned break before they return for a handful of their finest songs from their other releases, including the riotous Misfits cover ‘Die, die my Darling” with additional backing vocals from the other main stage acts. Together with some awesome pyrotechnics Metallica once again solidify their reputation as one of metals most invigorating live bands.