Reviewed: Download 2017

Well, we went, we rocked and we made it back alive – unlike my camping stool, which finally gave way after five years of supporting my increasingly overweight arse. Oh well, such is life. Anyway, why dwell on the negatives when there were so many great performances at Download 2017? Here’s the story of our weekend at Donington Park…

FRIDAY

We head over to the Avalanche Stage to check out M O S E S – four young guys armed with scratchy, punky tunes and seemingly boundless energy. They certainly make the most of their slot, and manage to part the lunchtime clouds in a way that would make their biblical namesake proud. Pretty handy, as BLACKWATER CONSPIRACY kick things off on the Zippo Encore Stage with the kind of bar room rock n’ roll that tips its hat to the southern US, but sounds just fine here at Donington Park.

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SABATON are quite the spectacle, with their tank-shaped drum riser, and all six members clad in black t-shirts and navy-style combats (vocalist Joakim Broden, in particular, looks like he could command a SWAT team as readily as he fronts his band). Initially, strong winds rob the Swedes’ power metal anthems of much of their power, but the sound improves enough to make the closing ‘To Hell And Back’ a suitably grandiose, none-more-epic finale.

Not your cup of tea? Never fear, because CODE ORANGE could not be more different. We can only fear for the Avalanche Stage tent’s foundations, as they unleash discordant, twisted sludge metal riffs and into a danger zone of a pit, co-vocalist Eric Balderose displaying an impressive disregard for his own safety in the process. One of the most uncompromising bands of the weekend, we leave with sore necks and a sense of unease… but then we wouldn’t have wanted anything less.

MASTODON, of course, are no slackers in the riff stakes themselves, giving the Main Stage PA a stern testing with several cuts from recent album ‘Emperor Of Sand’. We’re in the mood for something faster, though, and SUICIDAL TENDENCIES are just what the doctor order. Having last seen them headline the 3rd stage at Download ’07, we’re pleased to discover that Mike Muir still dances like an octopus trying to fight its way out of a giant blancmange, and when he’s not sharing hard-learned life lessons with us, he’s leading ST (now with Dave Lombardo on drums!) through a barrage of skate-core classics that refuse to age.

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Back to the Main Stage, for the debut UK show from PROPHETS OF RAGE. The RATM/Public Enemy/Cypress Hill super group’s debut ‘The Party’s Over’ EP falls some way short of their ‘main’ bands’ best efforts, but when you bring this kind of talent together, you’re always going to get some magic. They wind back the clock in fine style, focusing mainly on Rage songs, with Chuck D and B-Real trading rhymes as forcefully and skilfully as you’d expect from these seasoned veterans. Download 2017 will surely see more savage pits, but it’s doubtful that any other band will make us bounce and – yes indeed – dance like Prophets Of Rage do today, and the closing ‘Killing In The Name’ is no less powerful for being predictable. A triumph all round.

Friday headliners SYSTEM OF A DOWN don’t come close. They too are relying on old songs, not having recorded any new material since 2005, but turn in a disappointingly workmanlike performance, with bassist Shavo’s occasional grins the only sign of a band remotely enjoying themselves. Full credit goes to the crowd, who go nuts throughout, and almost drown out Serj’s vocals on the likes of ‘BYOB’, ‘Sugar’ and (of course) ‘Chop Suey!’
Overall, though, if this is the best System can do live, then they probably shouldn’t hurry back into the studio.

The night ends on a high, though, as we scamper over to the Dogtooth Stage in time to see EXODUS finish a scorching thrash attack, and make a mental note to check out ‘Bonded By Blood’ as soon as we get home.

SATURDAY

Crossfire wakes up around 10am with a mild headache, a rumbling stomach and not much of a plan. DEAD LABEL’s impressively savage death metal bludgeon soon drowns out the noise of aforementioned stomach, but it is the bluesy hard rock of TAX THE HEAT that really hits the spot. Certainly not lacking in confidence, they draw a pretty decent-sized crowd for this painfully early hour, and the fact that the chorus of ‘Under Watchful Eye’ is still rolling around in our heads as we write this is testament to their appeal.

Okay, so CREEPER didn’t attract the legions of dark minions that we’d predicted, but they’re clearly headed for greater things. Like AFI (who are playing on the Main Stage later today), they bring a sense of drama and theatricality to proceedings, but beyond the epic choruses there are bursts of the kind of full-tilt hardcore that made vocalist Will Gould’s previous band Our Time Down Here such a formidable live force. Of course, few traces of hardcore remain in the AFI of today; here’s hoping that Creeper don’t airbrush it out of themselves. London’s Shepherd’s Bush Empire beckons in December, and on today’s evidence, they’ll easily rise to the challenge.

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Over on the Avalanche Stage, it’s surprising and heartening to see just how many fans TRASH BOAT have gained; and a passionate and energetic bunch they are too. “This is our second show back in the UK after two months with New Found Glory in the States, and it’s great to be back!” declares vocalist Tobi Duncan, following the melodic post-hardcore blast of ‘How Selfish I Seem’, and if they can keep writing songs this good, they could well steal NFG’s crown one day.

A back drop featuring bananas with swan heads and feet? Bass drum skins with a Fray Bentos pie design? Download is about to take a turn for the silly, courtesy of ALESTORM. Their pirate-themed power metal shenanigans would probably wear thin over the course of a headline set, but for today’s forty minutes, we all grin like village idiots and sing along to some of the best drinking songs of the weekend. Arrrr, that feels good!

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Lunch is calling us, so off we go to find it, and return to the Zippo Encore stage in time to see KVELERTAK feed 70s AOR melodies through a hardcore blender. The Norwegians’ triple guitar attack sounds amazing live, and whilst they deserve the pit that forms down the front, this is a band whose music you sometimes have to just step back and feel.

However, if you’re in the mood for going nuts, MAX AND IGOR CAVALERA are more than happy to provide the soundtrack. The Brazilian brothers are re-visiting Sepultura’s ‘Roots’ album today; not their best record in our estimation, but a lot better and more imaginative than the majority of the nu-metal crowd they were lumped in with at the time. Whipping up a storm with the opening ‘Roots Bloody Roots’, they don’t let up in intensity throughout their set, and a turbo-charged cover of ‘Ace Of Spades’ (in tribute to Lemmy, natch) leaves us breathless.

Time now for something more intricate, in the form of THE DEVIN TOWNSEND PROJECT. We’re more familiar with Mr Townsend’s work as the frontman of industrial/prog/death/whatever merchants Strapping Young Lad, but whereas the latter’s music engulfed you like a sonic tidal wave, the Project slowly draws you in with a heavy yet somehow ambient sound that soothes and punishes in equal measure. Holding our attention as if we’re caught in a musical tractor beam, the band mesmerise without veering off into musical self-indulgence, in part thanks to Devin’s razor-sharp and lightning-quick wit. Superb stuff.

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Biffy Clyro may have drawn the lion’s share of the festival for their Main Stage headline set, but ROB ZOMBIE has brought his trashy industrial metal party to see out the Zippo Encore Stage for the day, and that’s an invitation we can’t refuse. With video screens spewing twisted visuals across almost the entire stage, a generous helping of pyro and riotous renditions of ‘Living Dead Girl’ and ‘More Human Than Human’, this is one hell of an assault on the senses, and Mr Zombie is the consummate band leader of his own frazzled parade. One minute he’s lobbing inflatable aliens into the crowd during ‘Well, Everybody’s Fucking In A UFO’, the next he’s balanced atop the crowd for ‘House Of 1000 Corpses’. Shame he finishes about 10 minutes early, but after a Terminator-strength finale of ‘Dragula’, complaints are few and far between.

SUNDAY

Did we mention that the weather’s been great? An hour or so of drizzle aside, this has been a world away from last year’s ‘Drownload’ washout. You’d struggle to find a friendlier crowd, too; one that’s more than ready with hugs and high fives for kindred spirits.

Fozzy kick things off on the Main Stage with a melodic hard rock vibe, but ultimately pale against the might of ORANGE GOBLIN. Not only do the London quartet have some of the Main Stage’s heaviest grooves, they’ve also got a frontman – Ben Ward – who’s arguably even happier to see us than we are him. Ever a band of the people, they deliver a horns-throwing, foot-stomping, head-banging Sunday sermon of a set, and exit to roars of approval.

Over on the Avalanche Stage, BLOOD YOUTH have a whole lotta angst, but use it to effective ends, whipping the crowd into a frenzy with ‘Making Waves’ and ‘Failure’. The Lincoln quartet seem to have mastered the art of crafting fists-aloft anthems without resorting to saccharine clichés, and the large (and loud) turnout is a just reward.

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The most annoying clash of the weekend for us is DEVILDRIVER vs. IN FLAMES; Dez Fafara’s crew get off to a suitably fearsome start, but ultimately we decide we’d rather have our metal Gothenburg-style. “Ok, here’s some more disco music for you” quips Anders Friden, clearly aware that there are heavier offerings elsewhere on the bill, but ‘Cloud Connected’ and a closing ‘Take This Life’ still have one hell of a sting in the tail.

Those who are craving more industrial metal thrills after Rob Zombie’s set are surely as sated as they’ll ever be once MINISTRY are done with us. It’s easy to wonder just how Al Jourgensen is still alive, let alone stalking the stage like some kind of demented preacher, but it’s impossible to deny the effect the pounding beats and riffs of ‘Psalm 69’ and ‘Just One Fix’ have on the crowd, with a great big slam-dancing mess down the front and pumping fists as far back as we can see. Regarded as godfathers of industrial metal, today they justify that tag, and then some.

The weekend suddenly starts to catch up with me, to the extent that I wander off to find a place to lie down, and promptly doze through half of CLUTCH’s set. Sleeping during a Clutch set – how will I live that down? Answers on a postcard, please. Happily, we can report that the Maryland quartet are still masters of the groove, and – for the most part – keep the musical noodling on a tight leash.

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And then it happens. I am reinvigorated, revitalised, reborn. No, not through coffee (although that did help). SLAYER. Last time we saw Tom Araya’s crew (at Sonisphere 2014), they were hampered by a sub-par sound, and arguably also by the crowd’s expectations of what was their first UK show since the death of founding member Jeff Hanneman. This evening is different.

The sun hides behind a cloud as the intro music kicks in, and as the band rip into a ferocious opening salvo of ‘Repentless’, ‘Disciple’ and ‘Mandatory Suicide’, the crowd goes utterly apeshit in a way that most bands can only dream of. Make no mistake, this is Slayer firing on all cylinders, loud and malevolent as they should be, and delivering an almighty middle finger salute to any notions of comfortably settling in as thrash metal’s elder statesman. This is a band with something to prove, and as Kerry King and Gary Holt trade buzzsaw riffs and squalling solos on the likes of ‘Dead Skin Mask’ and ‘Hate Worldwide’, we feel kind of foolish that we ever doubted them. It’s tempting to imagine that if there was a nuclear holocaust tomorrow, Slayer would probably survive it, write a song about it, and then deafen all the cockroaches with it.

And hey, if that all sounds a bit too sinister for your tastes, consider the added bonus of Tom’s giggling fit midway through ‘Seasons in The Abyss’ – which in turn sets us off. Maybe he saw the girl moshing in a Pikachu onesie.

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As far as we’re concerned, Download 2017 could finish now, but there’s still AEROSMITH to close the Main Stage. In summary: too many covers, and too much blues-rock jamming, especially in the first half. ‘Love In An Elevator’ and ‘Dream On’ still make for a great sing-along, though, and Steven Tyler is a born showman. If this does indeed prove to be their last ever UK show, it’ll have made for a decent Aero-vederci (their words, not mine), and a fitting end to another great weekend at Donington Park. Cheers for having us, guys.

Words: Alex Gosman
Photos: Matt Eachus, Ben Gibson & Ross Silcocks

Broken Social Scene

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Broken Social Scene
Halfway Home
Arts & Crafts

Marking their first recorded material since 2010’s Forgiveness Rock Record, the return of Broken Social Scene delivers everything you could ever want from their comeback single and more. An extended choir, a string section that doesn’t just back up the band, but carries them forth to heights otherwise unthinkable, and of course, an outro of rallying horns piping in high and true, a fanfare ringing with sheer joy. The gang’s all here. To miss them at Brixton Academy in May would be lunacy. Get tickets here.

New album ‘Hug Of Thunder’ will be released on July 7th.

Crossfire Albums of the Year 2016

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CLAIRE ALLEAUME

1. Radiohead – A Moon Shaped Pool (XL Recordings)
2. Logan Richardson – Shift (Blue Note Records)
3. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Skeleton Tree (Bad Seed Ltd)
4. Plague Vendor – Blood Sweat (Epitaph Records)
5. David Bowie – Black Star (Columbia Records)
6. Theo Croker – Escape Velocity (Okeh Records)
7. Lambchop – FLOTUS (City Slang / Merge)
8. Júníus Meyvant – Floating Harmonies (Record Records)
9. Leonard Cohen – You Want It Darker (Columbia Records)
10. PUP – The Dream is Over (Royal Mountain Records)

Honourable mentions: De La Soul, The Coathangers, Paul Simon

Song of the year: Sheer Mag – Can’t Stop Fighting

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JONO COOTE

1. Minneapolis Uranium Club – Human Exploration (Static Shock Records)
2. Serious Sam Barrett – Sometimes You’ve Got To Lose (Yadig? Records)
3. Dinosaur Jr – Give a Glimpse of What Yer Not (Jagjaguwar)
4. Sheer Mag – III (Static Shock Records)
5. Descendents – Hypercaffium Spazzinate (Epitaph Records)
6. Clean Shirts – Marginal (Kids of the Lughole)
7. Thee Oh Sees – A Weird Exits (Castle Face Records)
8. Skiplickers – Skiplickers (Kids of the Lughole)
9. A Tribe Called Quest – We Got It From Here…Thank You 4 Your Service (Epic Records)
10. Anxiety – S/T (La Vida es un Mus)

Song of the year: Serious Sam Barrett – ‘Sometimes You’ve Got To Lose’

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HENRY CALVERT

1. King Gizzard and the Wizard Lizard – Nonagon Infinity (ATO Records)
2. DIIV – Is There Is Are (Captured Tracks)
3. Savages – Adore Life (Matador Records)
4. Fat White Family – Songs for our mothers (Fat Possum Records)
5. Bad Breeding – Bad Breed (S/R)
6. Jamie T – Trick (Virgin EMI Records)
7. YAK – Alas Salvation (Octopus Electrical)
8. Honeyblood – Babes Never Die (FatCat Records)
9. Eagulls – Ullages (Partisan Records)
10. The Wytches – All Your Happy Life (Dine Alone Music Inc.)

Honourable Mentions: Strange Bones, Sleaford Mods, Parquet Courts, Pink Kink.

Song of the year:
Cabbage – Uber Capitalist Death Trade

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JAMES SHERRY

1. Poison Idea – Calling All Ghosts (American Leather Records)
2. Ruts DC – Music Must Destroy (Westworld)
3. Thee Oh Sees – A Weird Exists (Castle Face Records)
4. David Bowie – Blackstar (Columbia Records)
5. Bad Breeding – ST (s/r)
6. King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard – Nonagon Infinity (Heavenly Recordings)
7. Iggy Pop – Post Pop Depression (Loma Vista Recordings)
8. The Minneapolis Uranium Club – All Of Them Naturals (Static Shock Records)
9. Black Mountain – IV (Jagjaguwar)
10. Wire – Nocturnal Koreans (Pink Flag)

Song of the year: Ruts DC – Psychic Attack

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DAVE PALMER

1. Diiv – Is The Is Are (Captured Tracks)
2. Black Mountain – IV (Jagjaguwar)
3. Goon – Dusk Of Punk (s/r)
4. Kikagaku Moyo – House In The Tall Grass (Gurugurubrain)
5. King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard – Nonagon Infinity (Heavenly)
6. The Skiffle Players – Skifflin’ (Spiritual Pajamas)
7. Radiohead – A Moon Shaped Pool (XL)
8. Swans – The Glowing Man (Young God)
9. Cass McCombs – Mangy Love (Anti)
10. Steve Gunn – Eyes On The Lines (Matador)

Honourable mentions: William Tyler, Wrong, White Lung, Nails, Jambinai, Blown Out, Arabrot, Alex Cameron

Song of the year: King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard – Gamma Knife

King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard

king_gizzardKing Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard
‘Rattlesnake’
Heavenly Recordings

It’s no question that King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard are the crowned kings of contemporary psychedelic rock in 2016. With nine full-length albums released in only four years, their ethos and work ethic is both inspiring and immensely admirable. However, today they surpass all expectations with the news that they will not only be releasing their tenth album, the wonderfully titled ‘Flying Microtonal Banana’, in 2017 but also FOUR other records. In ONE year.

Let that sink in whilst first cut ‘Rattlesnake’ slithers into your ear canals. This can only be one of two things, suicide or pure genius.

Pre-order Flying Microtonal Banana here – http://heavenlyemporium.com/buy/flying-microtonal-banana/

Royal Republic live in London

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London Garage
7th October 2016

Opening the main stage of an increasingly rain-soaked festival can be a daunting task, not least because most folks present will probably be focused more on getting lunch and staying dry than on any of your band’s efforts to create a rock show par excellence. Royal Republic, however, managed to do just that at this year’s Download Festival, and made it look painfully easy into the bargain. Fast-forward four months to a sold-out Garage, packed with people itching for the Swedish rockers to give them a good seeing-to.

But all in good time. Canadian quintet Bleeker kick things off with some punchy power pop tunes. The venue is barely a quarter full as they start, but they give it their all, and just about manage to edge ahead of the increasingly crowded bar in terms of head count.

Next up are Dinosaur Pile-Up, whose frontman, Matt Bigland, cuts something of a Kurt Cobain figure with his bleach-blonde hair. He’s probably sick of such comparisons, but his band’s way with a melody and love of fuzzed-up guitar action recall the ‘Nevermind’ legends in the best possible way. We’d probably be singing ‘Nature, Nurture’ all the way home, if it weren’t for the headliners.

Some bands play rock n’ roll because they love to, but Royal Republic play it as if they’d otherwise self-destruct – or, at least, go running naked through the streets of Malmo (their hometown). Fortunately, they also do it very well; be it the staccato attack of opener ‘When I See You Dance With Another’, the earworm chorus of ‘Tommy Gun’ or the disco pulse of ‘Weekend Man’ and ‘Baby’, tonight is like a sweaty, bouncy Greatest Hits-style party. Not bad for a band with only three albums (plus the odd EP) to their name.

Granted, the Royal Republic live experience wouldn’t be quite as much fun without the master of ceremonies that is frontman Adam Grahn. A showman in a similar mould to his compatriot Pelle Almqvist (of The Hives fame), he does ramble on a bit at times, but there’s plenty of heart underneath all that amusing faux-braggadocio. When the crowd scream as one for a closing ‘Full Steam Space Machine’, he and his band are happy to oblige, and it’s awesome to witness band and crowd unite for an explosive ending. If this marks the start of Royal Republic’s journey to the O2 Academies and Apollos of this land, it’ll be just what they deserve.

Alex Gosman

The entire Dischord Records archive is streaming on Bandcamp

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Stop what you’re doing. Over thirty years of rich U.S. punk history have been immortalised online for your listening pleasure. Dischord Records have uploaded their entire discography to Bandcamp.

Renowned for their ever-uncompromising DIY ethic, this is a wonderfully savvy move. Fans can now feast on the likes of Minor Threat, Rites Of Spring, Dag Nasty, Fugazi and so, so many more classics, and obscurities, for free, in their entirety, without a whiff of Apple Music or Spotify.

Tune in below to the eight tracks that started it all and click here to browse the full archives.

Dinosaur Jr

Dinosaur_Jr_press_20120609_2047x1365Dinosaur Jr
‘Tiny’
Jagjaguwar

As if anything with the words Dinosaur Jr attached to it isn’t exciting enough, how about J taking his dog for a cruise in his new VW, then hitting the bowl for a sesh?

Watch the hilarious and endearing new video below and pre-order a copy of their new album, Give A Glimpse Of What Yer Not here, out August 5th via Jagjaguwar.

Reviewed: Download Festival 2016

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Download Festival 2016, Donington Park, 10th-12th June 2016

Words: Alex Gosman
Photo credits to: Ben Gibson, Jen O’Neil, Ross Silcocks, Matt Eachus & Derek Bremmer for Download 2016

Damn, that was a fun three days, despite some traditional British weather making an unwelcome guest appearance! Yep, Donington Park’s annual rock and metal bash recently celebrated its 14th birthday, and Crossfire was there to soak it all up (the music, that is). Here’s how things went down…

FRIDAY

ROYAL REPUBLIC singer/guitarist Adam Grahn’s confidence borders on cockiness, but that’s forgivable for a band armed with songs as good as ‘Make Love Not War’. Whether dispensing between love-life advice, or leading the crowd through a stomp-tastic rendition of ‘Full Steam Space Machine’, the Swedes provide an entertaining and explosive start to Download 2016.

It doesn’t take long for the heavens to open, to the annoyance of most – but not all – people here. “Thanks to the rain for bringing you all in here, and to Babymetal for being a novelty act, so no-one wants to watch them!” declares HECK frontman Jonny to a packed Maverick Stage tent. Who’d be Heck’s manager? Clearly unafraid of ruffling a few feathers, the guitarists spend most of the set either in or on top of the moshpit, to the soundtrack of possibly the finest twisted hardcore attack this side of Converge. Amazing.

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Back on the main stage, KILLSWITCH ENGAGE are delighted to be back at Donington, and have little trouble whipping up one of the weekend’s gnarliest pits. Guitarist Adam D is still the foul-mouthed court jester of metalcore, and although a couple of cuts from recent LP ‘Incarnate’ sound great, it’s a triple whammy of ‘My Last Serenade’, ‘Rose Of Sharyn’ and ‘The End Of Heartache’ that hits home the hardest.

“We’ve been told not to incite any moshpits…so no moshing!” cackles HAVOK vocalist David Sanchez, a man who speaks rather like Steven Tyler on amphetamines. Amusing, yes, but he and his band are seriously good at injecting fresh vitality into tried-and-tested thrash sounds, and the likes of ‘Living Nightmare’ are greeted with the kind of frenzied circle pits they deserve.

MOTORHEAD were due to play third from top on the main stage, which has been renamed the Lemmy Stage after Mr Kilmister’s sad passing at the end of last year. Rumour had it that some of his old friends and bandmates would get together at Download to jam through a few ‘Head classics, but the reality is far less exciting – nothing more than the stage-side video screens showing some old Motorhead festival performance videos, interspersed with some interview clips, mainly from the ‘Lemmy’ movie. Better than nothing, admittedly, but you can’t help but feel that both we and he deserved more.

Thankfully, THE WILDHEARTS are here to provide some (not quite so) old-school rock n’ roll thrills. The rain appears to have let up, but much to Ginger’s delight, the Maverick Stage tent remains packed, and that’s understandable when classics like ‘Nita Nitro’ and ‘Everlone’ sparkle as brightly as they ever have.

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And so it’s back to the Lemmy Stage for RAMMSTEIN, the first of this weekend’s headliners. The German industrial metal titans steal the show with almost frightening ease; be it vocalist Till Lindemann’s Charlie Chaplin-esque entrance, the onslaught of pyrotechnics during a thunderous ‘Du Hast’, or a surprisingly effective (and affecting) semi-acoustic rendition of ‘Ohne Dich’, this is about as great a marriage of song and spectacle as you could hope to witness at Download. It’s a bit of a shame that they’ve toned down the more, shall we say, homoerotic elements of the stage show, but they sound magnificent throughout, and as we head back to the campsites, no-one’s complaining.

SATURDAY

Saturday starts much as Friday ended – theatrically. Swedes AVATAR are dressed like The Joker’s unholy marching band, and easily win over the curious with some genuine anthems in ‘The Eagle Has Landed’, and closer ‘Smells Like A Freakshow’. Over at the Encore Stage, all five members of SANTA CRUZ look like the lovechildren of Michael Monroe, and remain as gloriously in thrall to 1980’s Sunset Strip glam rock as ever. “Who wants to fuck tonight?” screeches vocalist Archie Kuosmanen, a man whose spirits have not been dampened one iota by the rain. Sounds like fun, dude!

It isn’t until TURBOWOLF take the stage, however, that our day truly kicks into gear. The Bristol crew may be buried halfway down the Maverick Stage bill, but they play with all the confidence and swagger of main stage headliners. Chris Georgiadis is a true master of ceremonies, leading his band through gems like ‘Rabbit’s Foot’ and ‘Solid Gold’ with no little panache, and as the tent fills up, you can’t help but feel this should be the start of something big.

Over to the Dogtooth Stage now, to see what the musical yoof are up to. MILK TEETH don’t waste a second of their painfully short slot, getting the whole tent bouncing like it’s 1992 with fuzzed up grunge-pop gems like ‘Vitamins’. DEAD! have something of an identity crisis going on, hopping from power-pop to hardcore to funk-punk (plus various points in between), but deliver it all in a gleefully snotty, carefree way.

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MEGADETH’s set, like their recent ‘Dystopia’ album, sees Dave Mustaine and co back to their snarling best. Predictably, recent cuts like ‘Post American World’ go down almost as well as classics like ‘Peace Sells…’, but there’s an extra surprise in store; namely, the appearance of Nikki Sixx for a (admittedly ramshackle) cover of the Sex Pistols ‘Anarchy In The UK’. “Hell has frozen over!” declares a grinning Dave.

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The rain has started again, but the thrash party doesn’t stop – it merely squeezes itself into the Dogtooth Stage tent for MUNICIPAL WASTE’s first UK show in four years. The band sound like they’re channeling a new-found hunger as they rip through what seems like 50 songs in 40 minutes, and their irreverent sense of humour remains intact, with ‘I Want To Kill The President’ reworked as ‘I Want To Kill Donald Trump’. Oh, and they deservedly get the circle pit of the weekend.

As annoying as the rain can be, it seems appropriate enough for BLACK SABBATH’s final UK festival show, and it lends their opening self-titled anthem that certain extra gravitas. Considering all the mockery directed at Ozzy Osbourne during (and since) that awful reality show, he truly seems in his element tonight, doing what he does best with a gigantic crowd firmly on his side. Sure, he’s a little off-key for the first few songs, but that matters little when Tony Iommi’s riffs sound ten times as imposing as they do on record. Wisely sticking to the classic early stuff, Sabbath barely put a foot wrong tonight, and the sound of thousands of voices singing along to the likes of ‘Iron Man’ and ‘NIB’ will surely linger long in the memory.

“Let me here you shout ‘One more song’!” cries Ozzy, following the penultimate ‘Children Of The Grave’, and the place goes utterly nuts as the band launch into ‘Paranoid’. There’s a certain sadness to knowing we’ll never see them here again, but also a sense of pride in seeing the gods of British metal conquer a festival that probably would not exist, had it not been for their pioneering early 70s work. Gentlemen, as you sail off into the sunset, we salute you.

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SUNDAY

MONSTER TRUCK and their riffs seem like they’d work better at a Deep South chili cook-off, but they still sound pretty good in a mud-soaked East Midlands field. Sleepy heads nod respectfully as we all wonder how bare-chested guitarist Jeremy Widerman can be so perky at this ungodly hour.

AMON AMARTH give this weekend’s main stage headliners a real run for their money in terms of stage show. Armed with two huge dragon’s head props that regularly spew smoke, along with a decent helping of pyro, they stomp their way through ace Viking metal anthems like ‘Raise Your Horns’ like a true band of the people. Magnificent, and deserving of a far higher slot next time around.

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WITCHSORROW play quality doom metal, and for half an hour, they turn the Dogtooth Stage tent into their own dark church, full of baying acolytes whose appetite for monolithic riffs was clearly not completely sated by Sabbath. The band sound great, and have surely converted a few more to their cause. We wander out for a while, and catch the last couple of DELAIN songs; Dutch symphonic metal that proves oddly catchy, even as the weather continues its onslaught.

There isn’t a single dull moment during FRANK CARTER AND THE RATTLESNAKES’ set, with no little credit due to the man himself. Whether singing atop the crowd (or in the middle of it, for a poignant ‘Beautiful Death’), telling stories of past circle-pit injuries, or getting the power cut for inciting a wall of death, he’s the perfect frontman for the Rattlesnakes’ fury-fuelled anthems. ‘Juggernaut’, in particular, sounds utterly unstoppable today, and the sing-along to the closing ‘I Hate You’ could make Maiden blush.

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ELECTRIC WIZARD boast some of the best non-Iommi riffs of the weekend, and hone them ever further during their monstrously slow and heavy set. They also get bonus points for drowning out the sound of Disturbed frontman David Draiman croaking and hacking away on the main stage. Now there’s a man who needs more fibre in his diet.

The day is drawing to a close, but BILLY TALENT aren’t about to let us slack off. “I know you want to go home, get in the bath, jerk off and watch Game Of Thrones – so do I!” Thank you, Ben Kowalewicz, for arguably the quote of the weekend. And thanks also to your band for firing on all cylinders – ripping through the likes of ‘Red Flag’ and ‘Fallen Leaves’ like the punk rock warriors you are – despite having more than enough great tunes for a perfunctory ‘Greatest Hits’ walk-through.

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The Main Stage crowd rise en masse from their soggy camping chairs as UFO’s ‘Doctor Doctor’ booms out from the PA – a sure sign that IRON MAIDEN are about to kick off. To a degree, your enjoyment of tonight’s set depends on how familiar you are with Maiden’s recent ‘The Book Of Souls’ album, although the affecting, Robin Williams-inspired ‘Tears Of A Clown’ impresses old and new fans alike. Bruce is in fine form (if we had a shot of whiskey every time he shouts “Scream for me, Donington!”, we’d never make it back home alive), and there’s a veritable feast for the eyes, too – with various props from the ‘Powerslave’ era wheeled out, along with all manner of Eddie-related antics.

The second half of the show sees an onslaught of hits; ‘The Trooper’, ‘The Number Of The Beast’ and a closing ‘Wasted Years’ all received like old friends by a crowd that’s exhausted but damned if they’re gonna fold before Download 2016 does. Semi-regulars on the festival circuit they may be, but Iron Maiden still create a sense of occasion whenever and wherever they play, and tonight they close proceedings in fine style.

Overall? Download Festival 1, weather gods 0 (but, y’know, full marks for trying). Here’s to 2017, whatever it may bring…

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Ty Segall

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Ty Segall
‘Candy Sam’
Drag City

Throw away your paisley preconceptions of psych and take a gander at these big bawlers and squealers instead. Revered sonic avenger Ty Segall has dropped a sinister new music video for ‘Candy Sam’, and as his muggers’ glorious volley of fuzz riffs proceed to blow the roof clean-off the filthy garage in which they were undoubtedly conceived, there’s an overwhelming sense of foreboding as this collage of suckling tots floods your retinal lobes.

You might well be left wondering, “just who exactly is Candy Sam?” But take into account the macabre artwork that matches Segall’s most recent LP, Emotional Mugger, and track titles like ‘Squealer’ and ‘Baby Big Man (I Want A Mommy)’. He’s playing with infantile memories with gusto, and though these grinning cherubs initially evoke an innate sense of joy, stare too long and you might get spooked.

Ty Segall and The Muggers will land in Europe this month for dates stretching through to July. We are more than excited for their London show at The Forum on June 24. Get your copy of Emotional Mugger here.

Tour Dates
May 31 – Paris, FR @ Villette Sonique
June 1 – Brussels, BE @ Botanique Orangerie
June 2 – Dudingen, CH @ Kilby Bad Bonn
June 3 – Nimes, FR @ This Is Not A Love Song Festival
June 4 – Barcelona, ES @ Primavera Sound Festival
June 5 – Barcelona, ES @ Sala Apolo (Primavera Closing Party)
June 6 – Lyon, FR @ L’Epicerie Moderne
June 7 – Marina di Ravenna, IT @ Beaches Brew Festival
June 9 – Bordeaux, FR @ Krakatoa
June 11 – Porto, PT @ NOS Primavera Sound
June 13 – Nantes, FR @ Le Stereolux Club
June 15 – Hamburg, DE @ Knust
June 17 – Helsinki, FI @ Sideways Festival
June 18 – Stockholm, SE @ Debaser Medis
June 19 – Oslo, NO @ Rockefeller
June 21 – Leeds, UK @ Stylus
June 22 – Glasgow, UK @ The Art School
June 23 – Manchester, UK @ The Ritz
June 24 – London, UK @ The Forum
June 25 – Beuningen, NL @Down In The Rabbit Hole Festival
June 26 – Lille, FR @ Le Grand Mix
June 27 – Koln, DE @ Gebaeude 9
June 28 – Berlin, DE @ Astra Kulturhaus
June 30 – Cluzes, FR @ Musiques En Stock Festival
July 1 – Belfort, FR @ Eurockeennes Festival
July 3 – Keflavík, IS @ ATP Festival

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10 BANDS TO SEE AT DOWNLOAD 2016

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Yes, it’s nearly that time of the year again; when, for three days, Donington Park gets very, VERY loud! Crossfire will be there, and assuming that we once again survive a weekend of consuming half our body weight in beer and crisps, we’ll post a review afterwards. You’re probably already salivating at the thought of seeing big guns like Rammstein and Iron Maiden, not to mention what looks to be the final UK performance from metal gods Black Sabbath, but how about the lesser-known bands on the bill? Here’s our guide to some of the best.

1. ROYAL REPUBLIC (Lemmy Stage, Friday)

Now that Motorhead are – for sadly obvious reasons – no longer on the bill, who’s gonna bring the rock n’ roll swagger to Download 2016? Swedish quartet Royal Republic are armed with jagged, insistent garage rock riffs, earworm choruses and a delightfully deranged frontman in Adam Grahn. You’d be well advised to surrender, and let them shake you out of your warm lager-induced hangover.

2. FRANK CARTER AND THE RATTLESNAKES (3rd Stage, Sunday)

Last year’s ‘Blossom’ debut saw Frank Carter back to his furious best; imagine a British Queens Of The Stone Age with a hardcore edge and plenty of sarcastic wit. Given his (and his Rattlesnakes’) reputation for inciting crowd chaos with feral performances, this one should be unmissable.

3. HECK (3rd Stage, Friday)

Listening to these guys is the musical equivalent of having a nervous breakdown in the middle of a 20-man Shaolin Kung Fu battle royale – but much more fun, and only slightly less dangerous. They’re not afraid to get involved in their own moshpits, and their twisted hardcore attack should have fans of Converge, Gallows and Pulled Apart By Horses salivating with glee.

4. MUNCIE GIRLS (4th Stage, Sunday)

If Sunday morning sees you feeling rather the worse for wear, and not ready for yet another barrage of sledgehammer riffs, then go and check out Muncie Girls. In fact, go and check them out whatever your mental/physical state, because their gloriously melodic yet rough-edged punk rock tunes really deserve as many ears as possible.

5. TURBOWOLF (3rd Stage, Saturday)

This Bristol quartet is arguably one of the UK’s most inventive bands, mixing up hard rock, psychedelia, punk, and electronica in an unpredictable and brilliantly explosive way. Excellent second album ‘Two Hands’ was released last year; give it a spin, and be equally thrilled and revitalised.

6. THE MEN THAT WILL NOT BE BLAMED FOR NOTHING (Zippo Encore Stage, Saturday)

Every good festival needs a wild card of sorts, and it’s safe to say that Download hasn’t seen many bands like The Men That… before. Self-described as “putting the punk into steampunk”, if the likes of ‘The Gin Song’ don’t get you singing along with a stupid grin plastered across your face, then you are a po-faced bastard and we here at Crossfire are laughing at YOU.

7. HAVOK (4th Stage, Friday)

Sad that Slayer aren’t playing this year? Cheer up, because Colorado’s Havok are flying the flag for heads-down, no-nonsense thrash – and are doing a fine job of it. You know the deal, razor-sharp riffing, breakneck speed, circle pits… these guys deliver the goods.

8. MILK TEETH (4th Stage, Saturday)

More quality West Country punk rock, this time with an awesome melodic grunge twist that recalls Sonic Youth at their most direct. Are the guitarists trying to play their instruments or destroy them? Sometimes it’s hard to tell, but the band hold it all together brilliantly. Grow your hair out and get ready to fucking bounce.

9. PUPPY (3rd Stage, Friday)

Worst band name of the festival? Quite possibly, but it’s harder to argue with Puppy’s knack for languid, Weezer-esque pop-rock tunes. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself humming the likes of ‘Forever’ on your journey home.



10. BLACK FOXXES (4th Stage, Sunday)

Damn, is this the year of the South-West Takeover? Devon’s Black Foxxes play “ragged noise”, apparently, and there’s certainly no end of tortured screams and squalling guitars on the likes of ‘River’ and ‘Husk’. They also have a calmer, melancholic side, though, and it’s a combination which should endear them to fans of bands like Deftones and Brand New to no end.

Download 2016 runs from June 10th-12th at Donnington Park, Leicestershire. Check www.downloadfestival.co.uk for more info and tickets.

Alex Gosman