Well 2012 has sucked for me, I am not one of these new year fresh start people, I’m just saying, from the weeks leading up to the new year I hadn’t been feeling great and 5 months and 28 days into 2012, things have only seemed to get worse. Thank Christ I have Download to look forward to this year, it’s been really the only thing on my mind that’s got me excited or motivated to do anything in ages, but no more blabbering, I’m so excited I’m writing my preview of the bands playing.
I’ll start with the bands I intend to check out from the main stage downwards, so it looks like main stage may kick off with Rise to Remain, I have yet to see this band, despite playing I think at every festival I’ve been to, last year’s album was a decent Metalcore offering, decent, sounding just as good as the bands around them but not sounding strong enough to break through, but I have heard good things about them live so there. Cancer Bats nothing more really needs to be said, if I had to rate my top 5 favourite gigs ever the bats would probably be number one, I saw them in Cardiff after Bears, Mayors, Scraps and Bones came out and was in agony for weeks after, an insane show, and they’ve been amazing every time I’ve seen them. I only worry for them playing outside on the second stage because I’m afraid that their sound may blur, but a definite band to see regardless.
Fear Factory seem to be the standard heavy band playing, heavy in both sound and err, size. But you can’t really argue with tracks like Resurrection, Martyr or really anything off Demanufacture. I’m sure I’ll have no GodDamn regrets in going to see them. (see what I did there?) I may catch NOFX, they’ve never really been my thing but I have Punk in Drublic and it is good, and they do seem like a good fun band. The band I finally get to finally loose my sight virginity too is Billy Talent, I have been a fan of theirs for years but live they always seemed to slip under my radar, but after watching video’s on that trusted Youtube I really am excited.
Every band on Friday, and maybe the entire weekend may have to really compete with Machine ‘Fuckin’ Head for the performance of the weekend award, a band that have never failed me live and this time they have something to prove, on a day when they support a controversial D&B act despite many thinking this was the year that Robb Flynn’s troops would stampede the headline spot, Machine Head may have the grit in their teeth that they had at the first Sonisphere in 2009 with the whole Limp Bizkit incident, and it may be enough to send the band into overdrive. Also there is added pressure, everyone remembers what happened last time they played Download, this set is going to be unenviable. Chase and Status probably the most controversial band choice of the weekend, but I feel most of the criticism comes from their positioning on the bill and not the fact that they are playing, anyway, I can’t see myself going to see them despite being interested in them, I just think my attention may be averted elsewhere by this time. The Prodigy offers so far my first confliction of the weekend, I have their greatest hits album, and despite my initial ‘Err I dunno if I can be bothered with them’ after getting drunk and hearing them on the Jukebox a few months ago, I’ve gathered excitement for them. At the minute my plan is to watch Slash and hopefully catch the end of these guys.
It doesn’t look as though I am going to be spending much time at the second stage this year, at least not on the Friday, Opeth are the first band that grab my attention from that line-up, however I am not overly fussed about checking them out, especially after the misery that I endower every time I listen to Heritage, I know some people like that album, so I won’t say too much, just really not to my liking. Nightwish on the other hand have my attention, probably for the wrong reasons, I don’t feel that the quality of the previous two albums matches up well with what has come before, and I know that despite being a big Nightwish fan, I’m not going to be seeing Tarja, this may sound shallow, but I don’t know how anyone is meant to compete with that voice. The main reason for me making plans to see them is that I am a fan of the band and whenever they do tour the U.K. they go nowhere near Wales and there not the band that I would spend a night in London to see. I say that, Unless there was a reunion tour, in which case you couldn’t keep me away. Check out ‘End of an Era’
Slash is Slash, what can I say that has not been said before, yes I am a Guns ‘N Roses fan, but you’re going to be good to find someone who doesn’t know the words to Welcome to the Jungle, so that is not a valid argument. The fact is that, Slash is probably the last ‘Icon’ that the metal/rock world have left. When you think of Metal you think of Iron Maiden with their giant Eddie, you think of the black album, you think of Angus Young doing his strut, You think of KISS breathing fire and you think of a black haired, topless guy, wearing shades and a top hat probably with a cigarette in his mouth. It is hard to think of another band or person that still symbolises what we love in the modern era, and to see him still excited about music with his Velvet Revolver and new Slash project just fills you with hope and respect. I will be going to see Slash with Myles Kennedy, who by the way has one of the best voices in rock music today.
Other bands I hope to be seeing on the Friday include The Defiled, I felt their Grave Times album released last year was the finest metal release since Deep Blue the year prior, which I thought was the best thing since The Blackening, so that tells you what realm I believe that debut album is, I believe this could be a great chance for this band. Especially seeing as they look like they are playing just before While She Sleep, another fine band from the current hardcore scene, who are going into this weekend with a bit of momentum, with the release of single ‘This is the Six’ also things went off for them last year at Sonisphere. (See previous post) I am going to take a miss on Soil and Axe Wound and unfortunately probably Devin Townsend. The final band I have the intention of going to see on the Friday are Gallows with new frontman Wade McNeil, I really want to see how it comes across with the Canadian screamer replacing the pint-sized hell house that was Frank Carter.
Saturday Mainstage doesn’t really hot up for me until Black Veil Brides, maybe? I mean that, I saw them with Murderdolls last year and wasn’t too impressed, nor have I been impressed with either of their albums, but there is something curious about them, I feel I owe them one more chance, then again, I’ll probably just give them a miss. Trvium however are one of the bands of the weekend I am most looking forward to seeing, they are abit of a curious case, for a while I saw them three shows running and they were supporting bugger bands and then they had a big tour with Machine Head of all bands supporting them, then The Crusade happened, and they haven’t really been the same since. Album quality has improved, their previous two outings have would be certified classics if they still had the support and backing they had at the period. This will be the first time seeing Trvium in 5 years for me, a shocking thought.
If I have to see Steel Panther I will, just depends who they clash with, I have no idea how their version of rock is going to come off live, either way, Death to all but Metal is a tune. Tenacious D may also get viewed, but that is purely because I have friends who love the idea, I on the other hand, seemed to have grown out of the joke, a saddening thought when I consider that a dew years ago I knew the debut album off by heart, skits and all. Biffy Clyro is probably the one band I did not see coming, from one of the best headline slots at Sonisphere last year, the Scots return to open up for Metallica, this could be seen as a step backwards, but you have to consider just how strong the Download line up is this year and you say, fair play, this is probably what they need. A tough Metallica crowd, where they will probably have to win over the majority of Metalheads, and I feel Biffy can do it.
Probably the only headliners I will see on Saturday is Metallica, I am not a You Me At Six fan, that brand of pop-punk I find repetitive and boring, and obviously no one else wanted to take on the mighty ‘Tallica playing their famous ‘Black Album’ in its entirety. Here’s why I am honestly 50/50 on this. Firstly this is the third time in four years I am going to be seeing Metallica headline a festival, and the second time in 11 months, but that same argument can be made for Biffy. Secondly, I am not a fan of the Black Album, yeah I’ll admit to not liking it that much, sure Enter Sandman is one of the finest metal songs ever written, no arguments, and there are metal classics, Sad But True, you’ve got to be a special kind of idiot to say is not a great song, but for me the album peaks at ‘The Unforgiven’ and everything after that barley holds my interest, sorry folk, my opinion. So does the idea of seeing it being played in its entirety excite me? No, not even backwards? No, but I won’t complain for the following reasons. The two times I have seen Metallica they have brought it, especially last year, an incredible live band. Secondly I love the Unforgiven, I will happily sit through that set just to hear that, and if I get the Unforgiven II (I know I won’t but still) I’ll be chuffed, but Metallica have some of the strongest songs ever placed on record, for every ‘Struggle Within’ there’s a ‘Master of Puppets’ for every ‘Through The Never’ there’s a ‘Creeping Death’ Metallica- No arguments.
There is an argument to be made that some of the bands playing the second stage could easily be on the first stage, this doesn’t include Fozzy, making a return to the UK, Wrestling nerds unite. Halestorm are also up on Saturday, and that’s something to look forward to as ‘The Curious Case of…’ is unrealistically catchy and ‘Rock Show’ is the cheesiest thing I have heard in ages I love it. Lower Than Atlantis one of my favourite bands going around at the minute (Also the only band I’ve seen this year, summing up my first 6 months) are going to be fun to see, a band who have improved live every time I’ve seen them and were a true highlight again at Sonisphere last year. Skindred are one of the bands that could be playing the first stage and actually I am surprised their not, I don’t care as long as I see them, nothing can really get in the way of seeing these guys, a formidable live act who just cannot fail when preforming live. Nothing more really needs to be said, finally on the second stage, Killswitch Engage; Finally, ‘The End of Heartache’ is one of my favourite albums ever and I’ve prayed for this announcement for years, I don’t know what it’s going to be like with Jesse back on vocals as opposed to Howard, but it will be interesting, I don’t know how you perform a KSE show without tunes like ‘Rose of Sharyn’ or ‘My Curse’ that said, there’s more than enough quality on ‘Alive or just Breathing’ to suffice.
Sunday quickly becomes one of the saddest days of the year, usually around the 11.05 P.M. mark when you realise your going home in the morning, so why not go large on the final day, Yeah fuck it seems to be the idea from Mr Copping, compromising one of the most mental mainstage line-ups in festival history (my opinion) Devil Driver are straight up metal, a band that attempt to try and break a world record for the largest circle pit can have few complaints, and when you consider the amount of classic tracks that this band hold, Devil Driver should have no problems holding the attention of the probably hung-over crowd. I’ve managed to see Anthrax at least once a year since 2009, even last year at Download I Scott Ian was in attendance with ‘The Damned Things’ I;m not complaining too much, Anthrax are a legendary band and I can at least once a year scream ‘I Am The Law, You Won’t Fuck Around No More.’
Black Label Society I dare anyone to say they’re not interested in seeing one of the few guitar heroes left or even contemplating not banging their head to some of the heaviest riffs and chant along choruses of any metal band. Speaking of heavy, Lamb of God, I’ll be honest, I’m not the biggest fan of the modern masters of heavy metal but this years ‘Resolution’ album is one of the finest metal albums I’ve heard in years and would put it second to ‘Sacrament’ anyway, that’s irrelevant, it’s Lamb of God, the name alone signifies something different, and in the term of performances that what you get with Lamb of God, something different—an unrelenting modern heavy metal assault.
Last year, me and my best mate got drunk and laughed for ages talking about quotes from sections of Megadeth lyrics, even waking upto the line ‘Hello me, meet the real me’ in fact we once walked home from my local train station singing ‘Peaaaace, Peace Sells… But who’s Buying?’ not to mention the fact that Megadeth are Legends who managed to keep delivering album wise, I’d say out of the Big 4, there the only band to be able to say that in the 2000’s era they’ve managed to release 3 albums of pure metal to some incredibly high standard. Can a live performance follow though? Soundgarden any other year could headline apparently, I don’t know about that, but I’m glad they are here this year. ‘Jesus Christ Pose’ has been one of my favourite songs for years and I never thought I’d see the band.
Same as Slash, what can be said that hasn’t been said already, Black Sabbath, the reason this festival exists in my opinion, how many of the bands playing this festival would be around without them. I can understand some people not wanting to see them, Ozzy’s live performances haven’t always been the stuff of legend, and there’s no point tainting that legendary image of the band, and the music may not seem as heavy, scary or fast as it once did so it may be harder to maintain attention, the thing is however is that Black Sabbath songs are pure genius. You could probably fill an entire set based around the first three albums alone. It is a shame Bill Ward isn’t playing, but we should be thankful the band are playing at all. An extra show of appreciation needs to be shown to Mr. Tony Iommi after the year he’s had. This month’s edition of Metal Hammer does this more justice than I can.
Black Spiders for my reckoning are the finest rock n roll outfit at the minute, last year’s ‘Sons of the North features some of the catchiest, foot stomping shout along albums in years and also features some of the greatest lyrics ever written ‘Eat Thunder, Shit Lightening’ I can’t wait to scream ‘Fuck You Black Spiders’ Refused are a very important band to me, being a big fan of post-hardcore and punk music, a chance to see the originators of the music that I live my life with is going to be a pleasing honour.