Sunday brings a “Breed Breakfast” courtesy of Gibraltan flamenco metallers and the cpicurean’s Download stage openers Breed 77. And after the passion, the power courtesy of Hatebreed, whose thundering taste of their new album in the form of ‘To The Threshold’ shows they’ve lost none of their power to conjure up circle pits from thin air.
The swords are out for Dragonforce, but it’s only tribute to the power of a band who’ve single-handedly brought orcs and all metal back from the dead, and all while making shrill nu-metal survivors 36 Crazyfists look lacklustre in comparison.
Squeezing an 8 album career into 35 minutes is no mean feat, but for In Flames it means a set of solid metal gold. To crown the first half of the day, it’s Lacuna Coil and Cradle Of Filth; the former an angelically heavy twin vocal assault to wee Dani Filth’s scuzzy poetic darkness. It’s a close call whether the it’s CoF’s sexy rope dancers or Cristina Scabbia’s tightly enclosed chest who wins out on the male audience vote, though it’s only Dani who suffers a vicious attack by an apple, of all things, thrown from the crowd.
It’s startling just how far Bullet For My Valentine’s star has ascended in the last twelve months. Their current support slot to Guns ‘N’ Roses shows, as they blast through the magnificent ‘All These Things I Hate’ with a showmanship that belies their youth. Fellow countrymen Funeral For A Friend brush off the bottling with ease, and the thundering intro of ‘Streetcar’ sees guitarist Darran Smith claiming the front of the stage, with boy next door frontman Matt Davies not far behind him. Whatever the G’N’R fans make of them, you’ve got to give FFAF credit for the only band with the balls to get their entire audience to stick up two fingers at them for triumphant anthem ‘History’. An admirable close to their final dates of the year.
The most anticipated set of the festival, Guns N' Roses live up to their unpredictable reputation by turning up early, to the dismay of The Prodigy who are standing by in reserve, should they turn up too late, or not at all. Kicking off with 'Welcome to the Jungle', Axl looks a lot more like his old self than the Mick Hucknall-does-Vegas he has resembled more recently, in leather biker's jacket and jeans. He sounds magnificent - pitch perfect but with with the spine-tingling power that sealed his legend. It's all going great guns until, rather more predictably, he gets a bee in his bandana and storms off-stage, humiliated because he slipped over on a slightly wet stage. He then demands the entire stage is carpeted on the spot (it is) and misses the joke when new guitarist Bumblefoot plays a solo version of 'Don't Cry' whilst the carpeters do their stuff around him.
The next hour is pretty hit and miss with the guest appearances of original GNR guitarist Izzy Stradlin and former Skid Row singer Sebastian Bach providing a brief refrain from the pub-rock coverthon the set has disintegrated into. The last third of this two hour 25 minute extended farce does, however, provide moments during 'Nightrain' and finale 'Paradise City' that recall tiny flashes of the original band's untouchable glory back in 1992. The droves of people flocking away from the arena before the end of the show are clearly unmoved by these small flecs of nostalgia and we wonder what planet Rose must live on to demand we stop throwing bottles, when he is pissing on his own legend from such a great height. How the mighty are fallen.