And so it begins- Donington, perhaps the most metal place on earth.
The first night was so cold. Literally freezing.
This is Ricky from Wigan. At first, he pretty much ruined my festival. Looking back, he was pretty funny. Looking back again, he was an ultimate bell.
After yawning through an average display of 'rock' from second stagers Steadlur (4) and dismissing Hollywood Undead's (3) main stage embarrassing fuse of rap and scenecore bullshit, I stumbled across Sleepercurve (7)- a mix of solid drumming, catchy guitars and ear pleasing synths. Think of a heavier and original Keane. A band which deserves some recognition.
I was quite dissapointed with In This Moment's (5) vocalist. Firstly, she could not sing like she does on their album. Secondly, she isn't as hot as she looks in photoshoots. A tidy band musically, but if you can't deliver the songs (and appearance) live then don't deliver them at all.
After watching an energetic and charasmatic Bleed From Within (6), it was Sylosis (9) who were really the first band of the weekend that delivered. With a huge underground following, these guys are sure to get really big really soon- amazing riffs, chunky breakdowns, great use of unclean and clean vocals and drums that you just can't refuse to bang your head to.
Just in time for a personal favourite of mine- Killswitch Engage. (7) Killswitch really got the crowd going with all the fan favourites- but that was it, they just played fan favourites. Almost the same setlist as 2007. Perhaps they should have given 2009 a miss and came back with more new material next year. With that in mind, the songs they did play were amazing, a truly great live band.
Say what you want about Limp Bizkit, (9) even the most hardened Bizkit haters can't deny they were mouthing every word to every song. 50,000+ people swaying a fist in the air to Rollin' can't be wrong- Limp Bizkit are back, and fucking amazing live.
Korn (6) do nothing wrong, but something seems to be missing. Perhaps it's the fact that they've been here 4 times in the past 5 years. There was no excitement, as you almost expect them to be at Download to just 'do it again.' None of this seems relevant once the breakdown to Freak on a Leash kicks in.
Bring Me The Horizon's Oli Sykes. I'm not really a fan, but me and Callum got a photo for novelty purposes.
Motley Crue (3) weren't disappointing, as quite frankly I expected them to be shit. I'm not really a fan of the Crue to start with, and I wasn't convinced by their live effort either. Vince Neil's vocals were higher than baby bollocks and pierced right through my brain. Give it up, you've had your fun.
I explored the 'village' at night. It's pretty shit really.
The first band to play on Saturday were Ripper Owens (4) who were blander than Tesco's own brand chocolate bars.
I've been a fan of Five Finger Death Punch (9) for quite some time now, and it's about time they got some recognition in the UK, as they are amazing. Setting the benchmark for metal music, their live performance was just as impressive as their debut album. From very crunching riff and deafening drum beat down to the tech solos and harmonic melodies, 5FDP are a live band you need to see.
My chicken wrap and beer (costing an incredible £8.50) accompained me whilst watching DevilDriver (?). To be honest I wasn't really listening, so I can't give them a score. I was too busy trying not to melt in the scorching sun and reapplying sun cream every two hours.
I was really looking forward to seeing Fightstar (8) and they didn't disappoint. They could have done with some more material from their new album, but overall a really strong performance. Go watch them live, then try flapping your gums with all that 'he was in Busted' crap.
Again, I wasn't really watching Down (5) so my rating might not be fair. Phil Anselmo and co. sound like a poor man's Pantera in all honesty, but that's what you get when some crazed lunatic merks up iconic guitarists I guess.
Dragonforce (5) did the same thing they always do- prance about on stage and annoy me with ridiculously lengthy songs that all sound the same. I'm pretty much over this band, and there isn't really anywhere else they can go from here.
You Me At Six (8) have very recently become a guilty pleasure of mine. Their uncomplicated, simple melodies coupled with high octave vocals would usually irritate me, but something just clicks with this band. I normally wouldn't give them a chance, but watch them at a festival and see for yourself. YMA6 are awesome.
Like in 2007, Marilyn Manson (1) is a waste of space. His 'controversial' antics on stage are irrelevant, and his music is shite. Take a leaf out of Limp Bizkit's book and play some singles- no one knows any of your latest album bullturd.
Slipknot (10) deserve all the success they get. Not one aspect of their performance can be improved. It was that perfect. Slipknot are the kind of band, like Iron Maiden, who's live show is just as important as the music they play. You see Slipknot, you see a show.
I'll even go as far as saying it was the best gig I've ever seen. Corey Taylor is the world's greatest frontman. Multiply that with the other 8 weirdo's energetic display of musicianship and you might just get the greatest metal band of today.
As for Sunday, the line-up was pretty dire. Although I would have loved to wait 10 hours in the burning sun just to see Trivium at the end of the day, I felt I didn't miss much going home in the morning as I would be seeing Trivium the following day in London at Metal Hammer's Golden God awards!
Saxon (8) opened the stage and totally blew me away. After familiarising myself with thier material once I saw them support Motorhead last December, I could truly appreciate their awesomeness.
I gave my other free ticket to Kieren, and somehow Ollie managed to blag himself in with his friend.
This time I did watch DevilDriver (7) and with good reason too. Although I don't quite see the fuss over their material, I can't deny their live show is a bloody good one.
This is an awards show remember? Check here for who won what.
Five Finger Death Punch rightfully won 'best new band.' I told you, they're gonna be big.
'Machine-Fucking-Head' received the 'best label' award on RoadRunner's behalf. They thanked Nickelback for their support.
This is the part where they made a really un-funny joke of 'the last award we won was for tightest trousers.' Myself, along with everyone else, laughed nervously so we didn't upset good old Saxon.
Steel Panther are Motley Crue meets Spinal Tap. Whatever, I wasn't that bothered, but some girl behind us was going crazy with hatred for them! 'Die! Die! Die! I like your plastic surgery you fucking dickheads!' Chillout, don't get your willy out etc. etc.
Scott Ian of Anthrax played with Anvil (4) but not even an original guitarist from one of the 'big four' could savour Anvil's excuse for metal.
Lamb of God won 'best album' and had one of these 'up-your-own-arse-can't-be-there-coz-its-not-really-a-real-award' videos on. Nah, apparently they're touring with Metallica in Finland, so I'll let them off.
Slipknot won 'best live band' (of course!) and 'best international band' but couldn't be there because of touring commitments. (Even though they played Download 2 days before?) Whatever. A band that good can do whatever they want.
But we all know why we came to this thing for... Trivium (10) don't give a shit how big a gig is or how important it is, they always give it their all.
Trivium are going to be metal superstars, and it makes me glad I've had the chance to see them in tiny venues like this before they sell out stadiums in 20 years time...
However, 3 broken bearings later we were sat on Cantelowe's park flying Kieren's awesome remote controlled plane.
So I'm finally moved back in to Leicester. Hopefully the Summer will have less of this- Chavs throwing burning coals at us on the skatepark.