It is sadly the final day of Download, the fans are shattered but still going strong and having the time of their lives and the sun has come out strong again for the final day of rock!
It was all about the girls to kick off the final day with Charlotte Gilpin and her Welsh band Dream State kicking off the Avalanche Stage today with their bouncy brand of emo/pop-punk being quite the polar opposite to the deranged, unhinged antics of Arrow De Wild from Los Angeles punks Starcrawler. Some see the band as the future of rock n’ roll those in attendance on the Zippo Stage today were left quite uncertain about what they’d just witnessed.
Speaking of big things, next up on the Zippo Stage was Greta Van Fleet a band who are building up quite a buzz with their Led Zeppelin inspired sound. Fronted by the hypnotic Josh Kiska, those in the know are predicting big things for these Michigan rockers and, judging by the crowd who were singing along to every word, the quartet have got a very bright future ahead of them. Norwegian rockers Turbonegro have to follow that and, given their flamboyant outfits, certainly grab the attention of the crowd who lap up this splash of camp rock.
Even in his role as frontman for US alternative rock titan Faith No More, Mike Patton has always had a love for the weird and his current project Dead Cross is no different. Teaming up with former Slayer drummer Dave Lombardo, Dead Cross certainly blow away the cobwebs on the Zippo Stage with their chaotic noise.
German thrash legends Kreator follow up Patton and Co. with a more palatable set of thrash anthems. Delving into their hefty back catalogue, Mille Petrozza announces this is the first time the Germans have ever played at Download before plunging headlong into the kind of neck-snapping thrash that has kept them as one of the most potent bands from the European scene for the last thirty plus years. Nice to see Download finally recognised this and gave them a chance to break necks on the Zippo Stage.
Ice Muthafuckin’ T and his henchman in Body Count were up next and instantly won the crowd over by opening with the vicious rendition of “Raining Blood” from Slayer. It was a thumping statement of intent from the US artist and instantly had the crowd on his side. The band followed this up with passionate words about racism and a thunderous set of hardcore/metal. As nails as fuck!
A quick trip to the Avalanche Stage was next on the agenda to see Milk Teeth, a relatively young, and fresh faced punk band from the UK, who, today, announced that they were celebrating their 5th year as a band. It was clear from their performance that they still love what they do and revel in any live stage show they perform. Their energy was high with guitarist / vocalist Billy Hutton at one point scaling the scaffolding to the side of the stage with worried looks of security looking on. Lead singer / bassist Becky Blomfield encouraging the audience to join their birthday celebrations with circle pits and a mini wall of death.
Thrice are one of those bands that made their mark on the scene without little fuss which was pretty much the best way to sum up their Download set. Fans turned up in their droves to catch the band who didn’t disappoint with an abrasive set of post-hardcore including favourites from their catalogue like “The Artist and The Ambulance”. Swedish tech-metal giants Meshuggah were next up on the Zippo Stage and made the earth move with their punishing extremity. Thoroughly enchanting to listen to, the onslaught of brutality was quite literally breath-taking. Their set may have been a real test of stamina to those who had spent all day basking in the June sun but, trust us, it was worth it.
Next up saw a quick trip over to the Main Stage for a bit of the glam metal / hard rock favourites Black Veil Brides, however, my presence here was short lived. It may have been where I was stood, but the sound was quite poor, however, credit to the band as their stage presence was amazing with lead singer Andy Biersack ensuring the crowds participation.
The evening and Download 2018 was starting to head into the home straight starting with the best sounding band of the festival, Shinedown. The band were tight and, from the very first song, “Sound of Madness” all the way to the last, “Devil”, they had the audience eating out of the palms of their hands. Lead singer Brent Smith interacted with the audience encouraging unity, friendship and understanding. Although it is refreshing for such positivity coming from the stage, it was a little contrived and overdone with unnecessarily long speeches between songs. It was as shame as their 11-song set could have been so much longer if Smith had toned down a little.
Elsewhere, more big-hitters were being wheeled out on the other stages too. Now it’s been quite a while since Canadian post-hardcore band Alexisonfire have played at Download and judging by the way they exploded on to the Zippo Stage, they’ve been waiting impatiently to show the Download crowd what they’re made of.
Wandering to the Avalanche Stage, it was nice to see that, despite the event heading into the bigger acts, there were still full houses for the raucous thrashings of Jamie Lenman who delivered what he described as “the heaviest fucking song you will hear at Download all weekend, followed by the pop-rock bounce of A and a slice of ska-punk fun from Less Than Jake whose childish banter and infectious bag of tunes was definitely a highlight of the day.
Taking to the stage next was Marilyn Manson. Having seen him live on several occasions in the past, it is sad to say his performances had unfortunately taken a bit of a nose dive, however, this time around the man had clearly upped his game. Although the stage setting was not as extravagant as his heyday, it still encapsulated the essence of the God of Fuck himself with a smoking altar to the side. His set started off with some slightly less popular songs building up to “mOBSCENE” where the fans quite literally lost their shit! A fan managed to make it to the stage for “Kill4Me” holding a flag stating ‘I would kill for you’, I fear for any of Marylin Manson’s enemies! We were also treated to epic covers of “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of These)’ by the Eurythmics and closing the set with a very sinister cover of Gerard McMann’s “Cry Little Sister” with Manson was even joined on stage for “The Beautiful People” by Dani Filth.
Although Ozzy has been on stage at Download before with Black Sabbath this was his first time with Zakk Wylde playing in his own right making it another lifetime experience to see them both on stage together. It’s difficult to draw on exactly what made this so special, the intro of “O Fortuna” by Carl Orff with shots of past shows and great Ozzy moments set the mood for the show to come. With the man himself taking to the stage and welcoming the audience before kicking off the set with “Bark at the Moon” followed by “Mr. Crowley” the remnants of Download would prove they could still be as loud an audience even if a large percentage had started their trip home. Despite his age, Ozzy proved he will never not have it and enhanced my belief that he will actually live forever in some form. Of course, Ozzy knew the audience would be hungry for some Black Sabbath and he obliged this with covers of “Fairies Wear Boots”, War Pigs and the mighty “Paranoid” during the encore.
This year’s Download will be one I remember for all the right reasons, the weather was fair, but didn’t destroy me, I saw bands and artists I never expected to see in my lifetime and, as always, I was felt strangely rejuvenated from the stresses that life drops.