Download Festival: Sunday Main Stage
Photographer: Sara Bowrey15 June 2007
A few months ago, we sent them Iron Maiden. They sent us Parikrama. With songs inspired by the Lord Of The Rings trilogy, and stratosphere scraping vocals, their anthemic metal eases us into the morning nicely.
Reuben have no interest in making it easy for the late risers, storming right into the pounding ‘Stuck In My Throat’ with its discordant heaving groan; churning out the kind of raucous cacophonous noise you would not credit to a mere three people.
Things accelerate up a few notches when Chimaira hit the stage, sounding like an ironworks factory set to music. Their thundering grindcore leaves pits pockmarking the crowd like impact craters.
With the nu-metal tag still hanging on them wherever they go, there’s more pressure on Papa Roach to justify their main stage slot than most. Thankfully there’s a reason why Jacoby Shaddix and co. got a deal in the first place; Shaddix is still as hyperactive and charismatic a frontman as ever, as the band bash out sweet melodic metal behind his perma-grinning spiky bonce. Hell, he’s even made his peace with ‘Last Resort’, making for one of the best closing moments of the weekend.
Before the kings of British metal take the throne, it’s time to see what the other side of the channel can come up with. Mastodon create huge monolithic slabs of Southern-tinged epic rock that either propel punters through the pit with breakneck speed or bulldoze them into stunned awe.
“This sight gives me hope that metal is back and it’s here to stay,” roars Lamb Of God frontman Randy Blythe over the Download crowd. Well mate, it’s the least we can do in response to ‘Black Label’, with its whirling downtuned noise and crash of thunder drum rolls. “Pure American metal”? Lamb Of God are 100% proof.
For an opener, Europe’s ‘The Final Countdown’, is one hell of an indicator of a band’s metaphorical musical girth; yet on the evidence of this Stone Sour undoubtedly have the balls to back this up. This may be supposedly Corey Taylor’s “mellower” side project, but the bouncing riff of ‘Made Of Scars’ is an underrated equivalent of a starting pistol for the pit.
“Anybody thirsty? Well you might wanna buy some water,” cheekily quips Howard Jones. It might be a bit late by this point in untouchable metalcore godfathers Killswitch Engage’s set, as they round off the States’ bloodier contribution this evening in style. The sun may be setting behind the hills of Download, but there’s still time for ‘My Last Serenade’, perfectly showcasing KSE’s talent for melodic metal anthem and furious crunching beatdowns. There will be crowd surfers rolling over the barrier several minutes after Jones has left the pit.
And then it's time for something completely different. To call Evanescence's position on the bill "controversial" would be an understatement, but to their credit Amy Lee and co. weather the bottling with ease. Prancing round in an outfit that's part Cyndi Lauper, part four year old who decided to dress herself this morning, Lee belts out the likes of 'Bring Me To Life' with a power that'd make classical diva Lesley Garrett shake in her shoes. Unfortunately as a precursor to the legendary Iron Maiden, Evanescence are more the calm before the storm than a real warm up and no amount of protestation about how stoked the band are to be there can make up for it. At least they can thank their lucky stars that they didn't go on before Slayer.
There's no better way to celebrate your 25th birthday than soaking up some metal in the sun. However, when that anniversary happens to be for Iron Maiden's seminal album 'Number Of The Beast', then it's got to be Download. With four visits under their belt to Donington, Iron Maiden are as much a part of the Download festival as the beloved Download Dog, so it's no surprise that tonight they've brought out the big guns - quite literally, as it will turn out.
In the meantime, less than 30 minutes in, the thundering beat of 'Wrathchild' has already knocked the wave of dancing right back up the hills while later 'Fear Of The Dark' will witness the debut of the Download Festival Guitar Voice Choir (aka you lot!), belting out the anthemic lead riff before the vocals even kick in. In celebration of this monumental occasion, we're also treated to a rare live rendition of the measured 'Children Of The Damned' from 'Number Of The Beast', alongside, of course, the title track in all its screaming glory, with a little cameo from Beelzebub.
Not even one punter who gets a little carrried away by the between band bottle throwing can bring down frontman Bruce Dickinson, who sends away the young pup with a flea in his ear. Dickinson himself is still a hyperactive ball of energy, runing around and pulling star jumps, with even his mellower moves shaking the stage's hefty searchlights. He's more than matched by his bandmates, with Dave Murray, in true rock'n'roll style, taking umbrage with his guitar even before the encore gets under way.
However, the last word, as always, goes to Eddie, as the stage set suddenly turns into a giant tank, with the zombie mascot scanning the audience from his gun turret; surveying the carnage as once again Iron Maiden lay waste to Download festival. Departing with hints of their own festival event next Summer, and a new DVD including footage of tonight's show, Maiden are quite simply the perfect end to yet another storming year at Download Festival. We'll see you down the front in 2008.