Written with contribution from Marta Tavares.
Check out our Friday review here - http://roomthirteen.com/features/1261/Download_Festival_2022_Review_.html
Heading back on to site fairly early on the Saturday, our first foray at the second stage for the day absolutely bludgeoned all the grumblings held over the rubbish conclusion to the Friday (you'll need to click the link above for more of that). Malevolence (12/13) were quite simply triumphant. With every single track they brutally rattled through they earnt new fans and delighted the current legions as they gradually drew a bigger and bigger crowd - which for a 1.20pm set was very welcome to see. There was a genuine buzz at the conclusion of the set which took a while to subside - pay attention Download booking team. Not too long after them came Loathe (11/13) on the Avalanche Stage (or third stage). Another huge sounding set from a band on the lower half of the line-up, the Liverpudlian four piece proved exactly why there is so much buzz around them at the moment. Perhaps the only downside of their set were the moments they brought out their more ambient side - that's not to say this material isn't good, it was more that they lost a lot of the crowd with it sandwiched between a set of ragers in which everyone was in a complete frenzy.
A little later in the day and back to the best sounding stage of the weekend with Bleed From Within (12/13). The Scottish metal unit were largely hailed as the band of the weekend at the Download Pilot last year and you can see from this set exactly why many were scratching their hands that an opportunity on one of the big two stages hadn't been gifted to them. From the first minute right through to the end they simply didn't let up; banger after banger after banger pummelled through the tent with tracks from their new record seamlessly woven in to the setlist as well. A band who treat each live set like their lives depended on it, and it shows.
Ambling back across to the second stage and the endlessly brilliant Mastodon (11/13) were next up. Despite the sound being truly awful in the first minute or so, Mastodon managed to deliver a set which both heavily leaned in to their new record Hushed and Grim but also brought some very heavy crowd favourites to the dance. They did lose the crowd a little after a one-two punch of Crystal Skull and Megalodon as only those right down the front cared enough about tracks like The Crux but even those not entirely "in" to the new ones would tell you they were undoubtedly performed brilliantly by the band. On the whole, they just seemed to be having an absolutely lovely time - Brent Hinds especially was on rare form, not only sounding excellent but keeping the crowd entertained during the short bursts of chat between tracks. Easily one of the most hit and miss bands at festivals, we're happy to say this was one of the very good ones.
Speaking of very good, who better to check out at a festival with the kind of back catalogue they carry than the Brazilian metal legends Sepultura (11/13)? Opening with Arise and Territory is a fucking statement and it threatened the foundations of the Dogtooth Stage from the word go. The packed out crowd became a sea of limbs and joy - an audience looking to end their Saturday night with a dose of mad groove rather than the vaguely embarrassing fare on the main stage. After a small flurry of more modern day Sepultura tracks, Andreas Kisser's weirdly sweet little Brazilian accent popped through to announce that they'd be playing some oldies, and that they fucking did. This of course culminated in the ever crushing Refuse/Resist and Roots Bloody Roots with Derrick Green sounding absolutely imperious. Headlining this particular stage on the Saturday night, they came to prove that they are far from having their own sepulturas dug.
Onwards to the next legendary band on Saturday night and the almighty Megadeth (12/13). Much like we mentioned with Mastodon, Megadeth are another one of those bands who over the years have proven to be insanely hit and miss when it comes to festival shows. Thankfully much like their Atlantan peers this was very much on the "hit" side of things. Due to Iron Maiden's persistently irritating requirement to have all other stages turned off whilst they perform at Download, Megadeth's headlining set on the second stage fell very early in the running time but thankfully this didn't have too much of an adverse effect on the overall atmosphere. From a set-list perspective, Mustaine and co. were absolutely not fucking around. The only slight lull came with a duo of tracks from Dystopia but outside of that it was an absolute embarrassment of riches as the band rolled through the years and the hits. The closing duo of Peace Sells and Holy Wars... The Punishment Due sent the place in to an absolute frenzy and was quite frankly a brilliant closing point for the Saturday. There was a genuine feeling that this was a band with refreshed and renewed energy and we cannot wait to hear their new record due later this year.
Sunday was a bit of a quieter day for us in terms of volume but it was certainly packed with quality.
Kicking off our day were Baroness (11/13) - a band so consistently good live we had absolutely no hesitation in predicting they would deliver once again when compiling our preview features. Opening their set with Take My Bones Away the band were greeted with a heroes welcome, despite the alarmingly small crowd size. The star of the stage from the off was Gina Gleason whose ever present enthusiasm was as strong a driving force as her guitar leads. A Horse Called Golgotha and Shock Me were some of the other big highlights in a set which felt like it flashed by in no time at all.
Next for us were another clear contender for band of the weekend. Korn (11/13) have frankly become the perfect festival band. When you can open your set with Here To Stay, Got The Life and Falling Away From Me it's bordering on being utterly ridiculous. From the off, the entire crowd were engaged and ready to GO with pits galore, people shouting themselves hoarse and more bounce across the audience than a mob of kangaroos. Jonathan Davis was on fine form, marching around the stage with intense purpose and pulling on the strings of his subjects in front of him. Helpful as always at an outdoor show, a shout-out does need to go out to the sound team for this one as it was impeccable throughout. As the crescendo of Twist, A.D.I.D.A.S and Blind seen Korn bow out from yet another brilliant Donington performance. Judging by the crowd size for Biffy Clyro, for many this was their headliner Sunday set.
After the absolute battery ram that was Korn, anything we watched following was always going to struggle. Descendents (9/13) did their best to drive forwards with the Sunday evening energy but it did fall slightly short. The crowd size was very small indeed - absolutely not a reflection on how good a band this is - but they did well in bursts. As the set drew towards a close you couldn't help but think there was something missing.
There was certainly something missing for Biffy Clyro (10/13) - a crowd. Nah that's unfair but in all the years we have covered Download Festival there is absolutely no question this was the smallest crowd we've ever seen for a headline performance. The odds were stacked against them, and in all honesty they'd been set up to fail. The Sunday slot is always a tough one to do so for Download to have placed a band already fairly divisive amongst the festival faithful in that position with an unspeakably large time-gap before they came on just spelt trouble. The band themselves reacted as only Biffy normally do, by proving themselves yet again to be a far better band live than on record. The set geared quite heavily towards the bands more recent releases which may have perhaps been a surprise for those expecting a "heavier" Download set but for those in attendance all of it was greeted very favourably indeed.
Overall then, for their big return to a full set up this was yet another strong year for Download Festival. We cannot wait to see what they've got lined up for their special FOUR day event in 2023.
Written with contribution from Marta Tavares.