Review of Download Festival 2013 (Day 3)

Download Festival 2013 Day 3: Rammstein et al

So after my dismal effort on the Saturday where I only made it out of the campsite to see two bands I’m happy to say that the final day was more productive. We got six more bands to get through so let’s get under way.

Huntress 8/10

Kick-starting the day was the female-fronted metal outfit known was Huntress who had a snappy 20 minute set down at the Red Bull tent. Only 4 songs were played but they made a very decent impression in that time. Sound was tight and the crowd was certainly on board – especially the guy at the front who held a cucumber above his head for the duration of the set. Some serious paradigm breaking compared to the more traditional concert items ie. flags, phones and lighters.

Huntress play Download 2013

Huntress play Download 2013

The star of this show was without a doubt the leading lady Jill Janus who quite frankly scared the living shit out of me. Shifting between VERY powerful screams and “melodic” (I’m being quite generous with the definition here) singing this woman demonstrated a hardcore set of lungs and in regard to her stage presence… let’s just say I’m not gonna forget her anytime soon.

The music itself is your standard conventional heavy metal, nothing groundbreaking but it’s still a solid sound and these guys (and girl) put on a fun performance. Absolute highlight was the penultimate number ‘I Want To Fuck You To Death’ mainly because of the title and the way Jill smiled sweetly, jumped her voice up about 3 octaves and affectionately declared “this song is so romantic!” before descending back into madness.

Amon Amarth 5/10

Next up was melodic death metal group Amon Amarth, I’m a big fan of these guys but never seen them live before. The band arrived on stage late due to technical difficulties meaning they could only play 4 songs.

In short the performance was crap, I suppose I should elaborate. The dwindling set was plagued with mixing issues much like Maiden the night before only this time it was tenfold worse! The drumwork was the only thing that was consistently audible, the sound engineer obviously worked on the opinion that trivialities such as guitars, vocals and bass were optional extras… or just things that happen to other bands. This was a mixing issue and not the guys completely arsing up, which was evident as on the rare occasions I could discern the guitar work it seemed to be descent enough although I’m pretty sure they botched up the solo on ‘Twilight Of The Thunder God’. Johan was not a particularly interesting frontman and his live death growls were certainly no match for their studio counterparts not that it mattered because I couldn’t hear him most of the time anyway.

Stage show? Well there seemed to be a lot of post-set talk about the band bringing an ENTIRE Viking longship onto the stage… nautical experts would have realised it was just the bow. Ok so I’m being unfairly cynical now, it was a fun novelty but did little to compensate for my other gripes. Very disappointed!

Stone Sour 6/10

First main stage event of the day, seen ‘em before and loved them but this time not so much. The band played an extensive set considering the time restrictions, firing out the usual favourites eg. ‘Say You’ll Haunt Me’ and ‘Through Glass’ along with a couple of more recent songs off their excellent new record entitled ‘House of Gold & Bones Part 2‘.

The main issue of the show was the sound, once again levels were all over the place and the overall volume was pretty subdued. Corey Taylor is the only member worth mentioning since the others were totally static and uninspired in comparison. Corey’s voice was struggling during Friday’s Slipknot set and it had only gotten worse since then. This was apparent throughout but most notable on the softer numbers such as ‘Bother’ and the aforementioned ‘Through Glass’. This did not stop Corey from jumping around the stage and being his usual engaging self and kudos for the effort but the guy really couldn’t sing today.

The crowd down the front was having a good time, no doubts there but the energy quickly fizzled out beyond that with the overall response being pretty lukewarm. ‘Made Of Scars’ and set finisher ‘30/30-150’ managed to squeeze some enthusiasm out of the masses but that was about the extent of it. This is the first time I’ve find myself genuinely bored by a Stone Sour show although the Black Sabbath cover ‘Children Of The Grave’ was pretty cool and my personal highlight of the set.

Heaven’s Basement 9/10

I missed the Heaven’s Basement set the previous day but fortunately they were doing an acoustic set on the Jagermeister tent. As far as acoustic shows go this was a hectic affair and the band displayed serious enthusiasm and a lot of love for what they do. The sound was tight, the boys were full of energy and above all else it was just great fun! Aaron Buchanan has the makings of a great frontman. He’s got charisma and a powerful voice but also a touching sense of humility like when he admitted to being a “scared little boy” when playing 2nd stage the previous morning. Encouraging the crowd to dance, having the men lift the ladies onto their shoulders, and trying to break some kind of record for how many crowd surfers you can get over the barrier in a single song… he had a different idea for every number.

The likes of ‘Fire, Fire’ and ‘I Am Electric’ translated very well into acoustic numbers but didn’t lose much intensity. A great set in general… I tried to get tickets to see these guys at their upcoming London gig, bloody thing has sold out!

Modestep 9/10

I accompanied a friend to the Modestep set since I had nothing better to do and he said they “kinda sound like Prodigy” (FYI they don’t, it’s basically a mash-up of hard rock and dubstep). I’m so glad I went though because they were awesome!

They played the Pepsi Max tent immediately before Rammstein’s set and absolutely tore the place up. Sound quality was blindingly good, the guys gave it everything they had and the audience was fucking loving it. One of my friends commented that the pit was larger for Modestep’s set than it was for Slipknot, perhaps an exaggeration but they generated some serious crowd movement!

Opening track ‘Praying For Silence’ was one of many highlights and Josh Friend has a decent singing voice although my favourite band member was his brother Tony, the most overly enthusiastic DJ I’ve ever seen. Buying their debut record ‘Evolution Theory‘ was the first thing I did when I got back to London (after having my first shower in 4 days).

Rammstein 10/10

I saw these guys way back in February 2012 at the O2 Arena as part of their ‘Made In Germany Greatest Hits Tour‘. They are still touring the hits and barring a few subtle changes the setlist was mostly intact from that show. Rammstein is a band of over-the-top theatricality whose love for pyrotechnics fringes on the erotic, I’ve only got so many words to describe the multi-faceted mayhem so for a better understanding of a typical Rammstein show I urge you to check out my previous review.

Rammstein at Download 2013

Rammstein at Download 2013

The stage was covered in a curtain that fell on the drop of set opener ‘Ich Tu Dir Weh’, my favourite Rammstein song which they didn’t play it last time! The usual industrial stage set-up that Rammstein has used since pretty much ever was in place and Till Lindemann descended from the lighting rig on a platform wearing a moronic pink fluffy jacket.

The sound was tight, like, REALLY tight… and loud! The band smashed through all the usual hits but also some more obscure numbers. ‘Wiener Blut’ (another song that wasn’t at the O2 gig) was my highlight of the show, one of the few occasions where Till actually screams and it’s terrifying.

In terms of on-stage gimmicks the band didn’t deviate too much from the norm, pyro masks, Chris Flake getting scorched in a pot on ‘Mein Teil’, Till getting doused in a shower of sparks on the ballad ‘Ohne Dich’, the penis/jizz cannon on ‘Pussy’ etc etc. Couple of things I haven’t seen before included Richard and Paul strapping flamethrowers to their guitars that went off every time they hit a power chord and a dude pretending to be a member of the audience who ran on stage and got his hoodie set on fire. The only major omission here was the fiery angel wings since they didn’t play ‘Engel’ strangely enough.

First song of the encore was a piano iteration of the classic ‘Mein Hertz Brennt’, which involved literally just Till singing to Flake‘s keyboard. A serious standout moment considering how much it differed to the thundering cacophony that was the rest of the set and one I thoroughly enjoyed. Although they weren’t bringing anything new to the table in regard to their OTT stage show it still made for an amazing experience and I actually thought it was a superior effort to the last time I saw them. It’s all as well they closed the weekend because myself along with the majority of my group regarded them as the best band of the whole festival. In short, Slipknot set a high bar and

Rammstein took a collective shit on it!

Review by Al Westlake

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