Friday, June 15, 2012

Metal week guest post - Stephan reviews Download Pt 2

Stephan Burn is a far better and more diligent writer than I will ever be.You can read his Endless Realms blog and find him on Twitter at @onlystephan. He filed this report from the muddy trenches of last weekend's Download festival.


Halestorm were pretty good, and one of the very few female fronted bands over the weekend. I wonder though whether that fact alone made them stand out in my head, because subsequent listens tells me they were outstanding in their field, but not in my headphones.

Black Veil Brides. Oh my, where do I start? This is what happens when a bunch of Hollywood, CA emos take up the metal baton and refuse to put it down again. Precious, affected, thin-skinned perma-victims. The music? Genero-metal.

Gun. One song. You know which one.

Steel Panther. Now, here I am in a bit of quandary and its name is ironic misogyny. Steel Panther stood out to me an incredible amount, not by their music but by their performance, their show that consisted of a very knowing playing up of (glam)rock stereotypes. Take The Darkness, throw away the subtlety (yes, I know), add the “Boobs! LOL!” mentality of a 15 year old boy and you have a band that tries to carefully balance on that razor’s edge of parody. 

They were fun, I was entertained a lot, they were a much-needed antidote to the over-bearing seriousness of the whole festival, but I am constantly reminded of the editor of one or other of the lad’s mags in the late 90s claiming they weren’t sexist, but merely being ironic. I didn’t buy it then either.

Theory of a Deadman? MMRRPP. Kids in Glass Houses? MMRRPP.

Biffy Clyro still haven’t learnt to speak to the crowd, bless them. I wonder if it’s painful, crippling shyness. Their set was dull too, compared to other times I’ve seen them.

You Me At Six, or You Meat 6 as they became due to a typo? MMRRPP.

We caught parts of Metallica from a distance. They were doing what Metallica do as only Metallica can do. Only more so.


God I hated this day. We were kicked out of our campervan early on the weakest day of the festival and we ended up lurching from one disappointment to another. By this time I was metalled out, grumpy and wanted to go home and sleep.

Kyuss Lives, I barely registered as happening, though I do recall there was less interaction with the crowd than even Biffy Clyro. A talent they shouldn’t squander.

Black Label Society was METAL. Old men with beards and spikes and leather and a 15 minute guitar solo that actually put me into a coma for a while.

I went to see Ugly Kid Joe with Bryce, not because I’m a fan, but because Penny and Olly were going to see Lamb of God, who they both liked but were too hardcore for me. UKJ did exactly what you’d expect of them. I’m told the LoG Jam was very good though, if you were into that kind of thing.

Dropkick Murphys were fun and again were memorable for being different. When I heard the concept of metal/hardcore Irish battle-hymns, nobody needed to tell me they were from Boston. This bouncy, energetic band could perhaps be described as IRA-core, but, you know, in a good way. On subsequent listens though, post festival? Celtic Diaspora MMRRPP.

Rise Against: MMRRPP.

We caught a few minutes of Sabbath from a distance but weren’t enticed closer. Ozzy frequently called out to the audience that he couldn’t hear them. We nodded sagely and hoped that he’d be able to afford that hearing aid soon.

So that was Download for me. I did enjoy myself, for the most part, my irascible diatribe aside, but I’m unlikely to ever go back. Most of the bits that were fun were hanging out with my friends and the bits of Download that broke the sameness of Download. New bands that I might start listening to more? Probably Halestorm.

Penny will probably end up listening to more Marmozets, Lamb of God and Dropkick Murphy’s.

Bryce, I believe, is preparing his own review as I write this. (He is, and it's here in all its awesomeness - Tim)

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